I’ve been trying to understand why it is that non democratic regimes around the world can innovate, excel, and sometimes (rarely) even lead in the technology sphere, but always lag in the sciences? A perfect example of this phenomenon is China. While their technological might is definitely hyped well beyond its actuality, it is a real power, and it has shown some real ability to innovate in the technology space. Some have argued they have a leading position in AI (a statement that actually fits the Chinese very well as I have written about previously) and that they may be the equal or even superior of the west in other areas of technology as well. You will see no (very few) such arguments made in the case of any of the sciences (mathematics is not science in case that possibly crossed your mind). Why is that?
My personal belief is that it is all about the method, the scientific method to be precise. At it’s core the scientific method is a radical method, it is one that questions everything, and by extension everyone. It challenges us to falsify authority, to show why it is wrong to believe a thing just because everyone else does, to “prove” that what is taken as fact today may not be actual fact. This sort of thinking is anathema to non democratic regimes whose power often rests in great measure on an unquestioning obedience to authority. An acceptance that what most people believe or think is correct. More specifically that what the government thinks or says or does is correct an must not be questioned. There is simply no way to square the scientific method with that sort of mindset. Thus, it cannot be taught in schools, at least not as it should be taught, and therefore science in such a country will always be less then it should be. It will never be as powerful as it could be and thus these countries will always lag in its application. Case in point, China. Until the elite in that country accept and embrace the scientific method they will never be the equal of the west in any scientific discipline. That said, the Chinese have thus far proven they can succeed and prosper in the absence of that method, and so maybe it doesn’t matter. It seems the age of science is coming to an end. It is a new age now, the age of technology. Maybe science is no longer needed, at least not needed as much as it once was. But, we must never lose sight of the fact that it was science that enabled technology. It is science from which all the technology we use and rely upon today sprung. Technology was born of science and still relies upon its principles though it has long since abandoned its method. That is a thing which technology and non democratic regimes the world over share in common.