Patentes

Patentes

Marta Caravantes: Patentes: la apropiación ilícita de la biodiversidad

Marta Caravantes: Patentes: la apropiación ilícita de la biodiversidad

Asistimos en los últimos años a lo que podríamos denominar la "sofisticación del expolio", es decir, la creación de sutiles medidas, recursos y legislaciones por parte de los países ricos para apropiarse de los recursos naturales del Sur. La usurpación de la biodiversidad por métodos 'legales' se lleva a cabo con la misma dinámica sofisticada de aquellos desvirtuadores de la realidad que califican de 'humanitarias' las guerras o de 'desarrollo' la perpetuación del bienestar para unos pocos. Uno de esos sutiles modos de robo es el actual sistema de patentes. Los famosos "derechos de propiedad intelectual" se han convertido en la clave para que unas pocas trasnacionales acaparen los recursos naturales del mundo. Mientras en los foros internacionales se constata cómo los mecanismos para acabar con el hambre no prosperan, las multinacionales compiten en una feroz carrera donde todo vale para patentar cualquier pedazo de vida que sea susceptible de negocio, ya sean especies de plantas cultivables, microorganismos, animales, procesos biológicos universales o segmentos genéticos procedentes de seres humanos.

Pablo González Casanova: La nueva Universidad

Pablo González CasanovaPablo González Casanova: La nueva Universidad (1)

En la realidad

La nueva universidad no es sólo un proyecto, es una realidad. Empezó a perfilarse más o menos hace treinta años, tras los habituales antecedentes de todo fenómeno complejo. La nueva universidad, hecha de variadísimas universidades, manifiesta tres cambios principales, uno relacionado con la revolución tecnocientífica que se inició a mediados del siglo XX y se consolidó en los ochenta; otro relacionado con la crisis de la socialdemocracia, del nacionalismo revolucionario y del comunismo, y otro más asociado al auge y crisis del neoliberalismo y a la recuperación del capitalismo sin freno. En tan amplio marco histórico-social apareció la nueva universidad con nuevos medios de enseñanza y nuevos métodos de organización y de trabajo asociados a la computación y a los sistemas auto-regulados que aprender. La nueva universidad emergió con nuevos tipos de docencia, investigación y difusión, funcionales al orden existente, o porque perfeccionan sus técnicas como ciencia, o porque lo legitiman como humanismo. En ese amplio marco surgió lo que Sheila Slaugher y Larrie L. Leslie de la Universidad de Arizona llaman el "capitalismo académico" que es el que más precisamente expresa las novedades tecnológicas, ideológicas y sistémicas de la nueva universidad realmente existente y en proceso de dominación y reestructuración de los modelos tradicionales de la academia. Aunque Slaugher y Leslie realizaron su investigación sólo en cuatro países (Australia, Canadá, Estados Unidos e Inglaterra) muchas de sus observaciones se aplican a los demás países centrales y periféricos con las diferencias que caracterizan a unos y otros, y que van en detrimento de estos últimos.

Por capitalismo académico entienden en una definición operacional: "El conjunto de actividades que tienden a la capitalización sobre la base de la investigación universitaria o del conocimiento experto universitario que se realizan en busca de solución a problemas públicos o comerciales".(Slaugher y Leslie, p-2l7) En una formulación más sencilla definen el capitalismo académico como "los esfuerzos institucionales y del profesorado para obtener fondos externos a la manera del mercado o como parte del mercado"(p.209). De hecho el concepto de capitalismo académico permite descubrir las transformaciones de las universidades en empresas lucrativas, o parecidas a las lucrativas, o como parte de las empresas lucrativas. Permite también descubrir la transformación de sus servicios en mercancías, y el predominio creciente de aquellas actividades que sirven para ganar mercados y para resolver los problemas propios resolviendo los de los mercados.

Corinna Heineke (comp.): La vida en venta (PDF)

Corinna Heineke (comp.): La vida en venta (PDF)

El ex-gobierno de centro-izquierda de Holanda entregó a mediados de julio 2002 el mando a la nueva coalición de derecha. De no haber sido por el homicidio de un líder de la extrema derecha holandesa acaecido poco antes de los comicios, esta alternancia en el poder hubiera pasado casi desapercibida por los medios de comunicación internacionales.

No obstante hay una decisión tomada en el contexto de dicho traspaso que sin lugar a duda va a pasar a la historia de la ciencia y convertirse – ojalá – en un fuerte debate público en los próximos años: Jan Pronk, el ahora ex-Ministro de Vivienda, Planeamiento Territorial y Medio Ambiente y encargado especial para la Cumbre de la Tierra en Johannesburgo del Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas, Kofi Annan, avaló – días antes de dejar su cargo de ministro – un proyecto de investigación que por primera vez en la historia de la humanidad pretende usar a personas como conejillos de India en un experimento con organismos genéticamente modificados – los OGMs.

Prefacio

Introducción

Seguridad en la planificación y patentes
Conflictos sobre recursos genéticos
Ulrich Brand / Monika Kalcsics

El Reordenamiento de la Naturaleza: Impactos ambientales y sociales de los Transgénicos

Transgénicos: Una panacea o amenaza?
Úrsula Oswald Spring

El hambre en el Tercer Mundo y la ingeniería genética: ¿Una tecnología apropiada?
Peter Rosset

El poder corporativo y las nuevas generaciones de transgénicos
Silvia Ribeiro

Transgénicos y bioseguridad en México. La contaminación del maíz
Liza Covantes

Más ayuda el que no ayuda en Centroamérica
Magda Lanuza

Monsanto contra los Agricultores:
Una entrevista con el agricultor Canadiense Percy Schmeiser

Privatizando la Vida – Diversidad Biológica, Biopiratería y Propiedad Intelectual

Biopiratería y Bioimperialismo: Patentes sobre la vida y los grupos indígenas de América Central
Corinna Milborn

Las Mujeres en la Conservación de la Biodiversidad
Ivannia Ayales, Vivienne Solís Rivera, Patricia Madrigal

El Corredor Biológico Mesoamericano: La nueva inserción de la biodiversidad en el mercado global
Laura Carlsen

Implementación del Convenio sobre Diversidad Biológica: Por donde vamos y qué paso?
Margarita Flores

La Expropiación Privada de la Naturaleza
Dagoberto Gutiérrez

La Articulación Pública por parte de Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil

En Defensa del Maíz
Apartado sobre Propiedad Intelectual de las Alternativas para las Américas

Listado de páginas web relacionadas con el tema

Adela Cortina: La arrogancia neoliberal

Adela Cortina: La arrogancia neoliberal

La Organización Mundial del Comercio alcanzó por fin en Ginebra, el día 30 de agosto, un acuerdo sobre medicamentos genéricos que permitirá a los países más pobres acceder a ellos, siempre que declaren emergencia sanitaria y pidan a los países suministradores que supriman los derechos de patente del fármaco correspondiente.

Una noticia semejante, aun con todas las reservas del caso, es una buena noticia. Pero tan buena como el voto de las mujeres o la abolición de la esclavitud, conquistas ambas que no merecen una felicitación calurosa a quienes por fin cedieron para que fueran posibles, sino un "¡ya era hora!", o más bien: "¡hace siglos que ya era hora!". Bastante tonto es el refrán "nunca es tarde si la dicha es buena", porque puede ser tardísimo, cuando se han perdido muchas vidas y generado sufrimiento evitable. Más inteligente es, en todo caso, el "más vale tarde que nunca", sólo que muchas veces despuntan esos "pequeños agradecimientos" de que habla Sen, ese saltar de alegría por concesiones minúsculas por parte de quienes están en la más pura miseria.

Alejandro Teitelbaum: La Organización Mundial del Comercio

Alejandro Teitelbaum: La Organización Mundial del Comercio

La Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC) se creó en virtud de uno de los acuerdos contenidos en el Acta Final de la Ronda Uruguay, firmada en Marrakech en abril de 1994 y entró oficialmente en funciones el 1º de enero de 1995.

El GATT (Acuerdo General de Aranceles Aduaneros y Comercio) que existió desde 1947, no era una institución sino un tratado de 38 artículos, con una estructura burocrática muy ligera: un director, un director general adjunto, tres subdirectores, etc., hasta que fue reemplazado en 1995 por la Organización Mundial del Comercio. En el GATT las negociaciones entre países podían ser globales, lo que posibilitaba que las partes pudieran hacer concesiones recíprocas sobre sectores distintos (por ejemplo productos agrícolas contra productos manufacturados).

Derek Bok: The Purely Pragmatic University. The costs of commercializing the academy

Derek Bok: The Purely Pragmatic University. The costs of commercializing the academy
Derek Bok was president of Harvard from 1971 to 1991. He is currently 300th Anniversary University Professor. He adapted this article from his new book, Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education, published in April by Princeton University Press.

American universities face exceptional opportunities and exceptional risks. Their research is needed more than ever, now that new scientific discoveries and expert knowledge have become so essential to progress in healthcare, national security, economic growth, and other endeavors that matter to the nation. At the same time, with jobs becoming more complicated and careers increasingly subject to sudden change, adults in many occupations and many stages of life are returning to campus for further study. Many of those seeking help from the academy are willing to pay handsomely for what they need. As a result, universities and their faculties are discovering more opportunities to earn a profit from their work than ever before.

While president, for example, I was asked to have Harvard invest in start-up companies founded by professors to capitalize on their research; to allow a drug company to pay the Medical School a handsome fee for helping create a Harvard TV series about health, complete with corporate advertising; to operate entire educational divisions at a profit to subsidize other campus programs. Since universities are forever in need of funds, such opportunities are extremely tempting. Unfortunately, however, the quest for profit could easily end by damaging universities and sullying their contributions to the nation's welfare.

Fortunately, Harvard has been quite prudent in choosing which profit-making ventures to pursue. But many universities have been much less careful. Eventually, they are likely to discover that attempts to make money in the world of commerce often come with a Faustian bargain in which academic institutions have to compromise their academic values — and thereby risk their very souls — in order to enjoy the rewards of the marketplace.

Of course, not all ties with industry are suspect, nor should universities avoid every attempt to earn a financial return from their activities. The money made from patenting scientific discoveries has elicited much valuable effort to put laboratory advances to practical use. The profits earned from executive-training programs have encouraged faculties to work hard to create better programs to serve genuine business needs. Properly managed, universities can find many legitimate ways to share their knowledge with industry and meet the growing demand for continuing education while making some money along the way.

Thus far, however, too many universities have ignored the risks that profit-making activities often bring in their wake. In the struggle for competitive advantage, they have embraced one dubious venture after another in the hope of gaining added revenue. The end to which this process could lead is not a pretty sight to behold. One can imagine a university of the future tenuring professors of modest talent because they bring in large amounts of patent royalties and industrial funding; paying high salaries to recruit "celebrity" scholars who can improve the institution's image; admitting less-than-qualified students in return for handsome parental gifts; allowing corporate advertising to accompany popular executive programs in exchange for a hefty subsidy; promoting profitable Internet courses of inferior quality while canceling more substantial conventional offerings that cannot cover their costs; encouraging professors to spend more time delivering routine research services to attract corporate clients; even presenting symposia and "academic" conferences planned by marketing experts in its development office to lure potential donors to the campus.

Should this vision come to pass, university officials would doubtless defend their practices as a means of financing other valuable academic pursuits that cannot pay their way. Yet in the end, experience suggests that after officials finish paying for unexpectedly high marketing costs, sharing the profits with insistent faculty participants, and absorbing the losses from various failed initiatives, little money will remain to give to other worthwhile programs. In return for such meager rewards, universities will have compromised many of their basic academic standards and jeopardized their reputations in the eyes of the public.

 

Endangering Education

This picture of the future may seem exaggerated, but it does not go very far beyond existing practices. There is not much difference between granting admission in return for a handsome gift and giving preference to the children of major donors. Nor is corporate influence over curricula more than an extension of what currently occurs in organizing continuing-education programs for doctors. Some universities have allowed commercial advertising to accompany educational programs, and some development officers have inspired "academic" symposia as a way of cultivating potential donors. Universities may not yet be willing to trade all of their academic values for money, but they have proceeded much farther down that road than their officials are willing to acknowledge.

This process is most apparent in the field of intercollegiate athletics, which represents the oldest example of commercialization on campus. To sustain their athletics programs, most colleges currently admit from 5 percent of all their students (in public universities) to more than 30 percent (in liberal-arts colleges) with the expectation that they will play on varsity teams, according to James L. Shulman and William G. Bowen in The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values (2001). While some of these students would be welcome even if they had no athletic ability, many would never be admitted save for a talent that bears no necessary relation to the true mission of the university.

In high-profile programs in the revenue-producing sports, such as football and basketball, the compromises with academic standards are particularly severe. In most of these programs, education is completely subordinate to the demands of the sport. The athletes involved typically enter with academic credentials far below those of their classmates. Once admitted, athletics dominate their lives, interfering with their classes, affecting their choice of courses, allowing them too little time to have a full college life. Eventually, they either fail to graduate or finish only with the help of intensive tutoring, frequently taking courses of questionable rigor specially designed for their benefit.

Unfortunately, the damage done by intercollegiate athletics is by no means confined to schools that maintain big-time programs. Even small liberal-arts colleges assemble football, basketball, and hockey teams by admitting students recruited by their coaching staff with test scores substantially beneath the school-wide average. Most of these students perform well below their potential academically. More than two-thirds finish in the bottom third of their graduating class. Although the schools involved do not give athletic scholarships or indulge in many of the worst practices of the big-time universities, their small size leads them to admit much larger proportions of their entire student body for athletic reasons. As a result, the effects of their athletic recruiting and admissions practices are much more widely felt throughout the college community.

Commercialization has also taken a toll on the quality of educational programs. Many institutions seeking to profit from their continuing-education divisions have followed academic policies of a kind they would never allow in their regular degree programs. They have granted little or no financial aid, while keeping faculty compensation well below the normal scale for the rest of the university. As a result, access to these programs has suffered, along with the quality of instruction. In medical schools, pharmaceutical companies offering large subsidies threaten the objectivity and balance of programs for practicing physicians. In the future, further harm could result from commercializing Internet programs if universities, in their zeal to make money, try to attract large paying audiences by offering flashy lecture courses that do not take full advantage of the interactive power that new technology gives to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning.

The encroachment of commercialization on educational values is particularly unfortunate because it depends, at bottom, on a willingness to take unfair advantage of students. Years ago, university-sponsored correspondence schools tried to make money by using high-pressure marketing coupled with policies that denied students refunds when they tried to drop courses that proved to be disappointing. Today, colleges in Division I arguably exploit their football and basketball players by agreeing with other institutions to restrict their compensation while working them long hours and giving them an education that often falls far short of what other undergraduates receive. Tomorrow, universities may use the Internet to peddle courses of doubtful quality to unwary individuals eager to gain a credential from a well-known institution. Even if such practices break no laws, it is unworthy of universities to earn money by exploiting students — no matter how lofty the purposes for which the profits will allegedly be used. Every action of this kind violates the obligation to make all educational decisions for the benefit of those being taught and not for some ulterior purpose.

 

Subverting Science

In the case of scientific research, the worst fears about the effects of corporate funding have not yet come to pass. Even so, universities have clearly made compromises with standards of behavior long considered important to a healthy process of inquiry. In exchange for industry funding, campus officials have accepted secrecy requirements that often last longer than corporate sponsors need to protect their legitimate interests. Many medical faculties have failed to take sufficiently strong measures to prevent conflicts of interest, despite evidence that financial considerations can skew the results of clinical research and even compromise the welfare of patients. Universities and their hospitals have not always shielded their faculty from corporate pressure to suppress unfavorable research findings; in some cases, they have failed to stop company sponsors from blocking publication, editing research results, or even writing drafts of articles and reports that later appear in print under the names of faculty investigators. It is impossible to measure the harm that results from these shabby practices. What is clear is that most of the damage could have been avoided with little, if any, sacrifice of corporate funding had universities merely been more vigilant in guarding their basic academic values.

Fortunately, researchers have been surprisingly resistant to the worst temptations of commercialism. Contrary to much popular opinion, relatively few scientists chase after lucrative business opportunities at the expense of their teaching duties or research agendas. By most accounts, the time spent consulting outside the university has not increased significantly in recent decades, and professors who consult a lot teach as much and perform as many administrative chores as their colleagues. By and large, therefore, academic norms have proved to be stronger than the lure of making money.

University leaders would make a great mistake, however, if they assumed that this state of affairs will continue indefinitely. The world of academic science is still dominated by senior figures who grew up and acquired their values in a much less commercial environment. No one knows what will happen when the mantle of authority passes to a generation of researchers who have spent their entire professional lives surrounded by tempting opportunities to start new firms or to help private companies develop lucrative products. There is evidence, however, that entrepreneurial activity is most likely to grow in departments that already have a cluster of members engaged in such pursuits. Such findings suggest that once new values begin to take hold and alter the priorities of university scientists, the trend will be increasingly difficult to stop.

 

At the Brink

The preceding discussion reveals clear signs of excessive commercialization in every aspect of university work. Fortunately, the trend is not yet irreversible in any area (barring a few high-profile competitive sports). In the all-important domains of education and research, academic leaders still have the power to develop appropriate policies. But universities are approaching a critical juncture. They can try hard to create and enforce more effective limits on commercialization. Or, they can temporize, compromise, rationalize, and continue the gradual slide into habits that could eventually alter their character in ways detrimental to their teaching, research, and standing in the community.

Why should university leaders want to seize the moment to stop such decay? Setting proper limits and providing supportive structures to maintain them will take a lot of work by faculty, administration, and trustees. The effort will not be free of controversy. Entrepreneurial professors may resist new rules. Boosters may protest athletic reforms. Corporations may occasionally refuse to enter into a lucrative research contract.

But even though these difficulties are real, the cost of continued neglect promises to be even greater. The purely pragmatic university, intent upon increasing its financial resources by any lawful means, may gain a temporary advantage now and then, but it is not an institution that is likely to prosper in the long run.

By compromising basic academic principles, universities tamper with the ideals that give meaning to the scholarly community. These common values are the glue that binds together an institution already fragmented by a host of separate disciplines, research centers, teaching programs, and personal ambitions. They keep the faculty focused on the work of discovery, scholarship, and learning despite the manifold temptations of the outside world. They help maintain high standards of student admissions and faculty appointments. They sustain the belief of scientists and scholars in the worth of what they are doing and thereby preserve academic careers as a calling, rather than just another way to earn a living.

Defending these academic values with tenacity and courage, even at the risk of financial loss, wins admiration from the students, loyalty from the faculty, respect from alumni, and trust from the public in what professors say and do. In contrast, when campus authorities sacrifice values in the search for money, their moral authority shrinks. Observing what their universities do for money, faculty members grow less mindful of their own academic responsibilities, less collegial in their relationships, less inclined to take on campus chores beyond the bare minimum required. Individual faculty members become more willing to pursue private ventures at a cost to the common enterprise.

Once profit-seeking increases throughout the university, inequities and inequalities grow more visible and pronounced, and weaker groups feel impelled to organize collectively to protect their interests. As internal norms give way, formal rules are required to ensure that the work of the institution gets done. If the university — out of fear of offending the faculty — will not act, the government will eventually intervene to protect legitimate interests. Bit by bit, therefore, commercialization promises to change the character of the institution in ways that limit its freedom and sap its effectiveness. Worst of all, the financial entanglements and commercial ventures of the university lead the public to question its motives, lose confidence in the objectivity of its scholars, and place less trust in statements by professors on subjects of importance to society.

Hard pressed for resources to meet internal demands for quality and growth, universities are understandably tempted to ignore these hazards and take the expedient course. As new opportunities for profit appear, the money to be made seems all too tangible, while the risks appear to be manageable and slight. Most profit-seeking ventures start, not with flagrant violations of principle, but with modest compromises that carry few immediate costs. The problems come so gradually and silently that their link to commercialization may not even be perceived. Like individuals who experiment with drugs, therefore, campus officials may believe that they can proceed without serious risk.

Before succumbing to these temptations, university leaders should recall the history of intercollegiate athletics and ponder the lessons it teaches. In the quest for larger audiences and more lucrative TV revenues, educational standards have gradually eroded in order to field more successful teams. Confounding expectations, the hoped-for profits have generally failed to materialize, while the damage to academic and institutional integrity has often proved severe and eventually irreversible. The same sorry process could easily be repeated in even more important areas of academic work. Once compromises have been tolerated long enough, universities will find it difficult to rebuild the public's trust, regain the faculty's respect, and return to the happier conditions of earlier times. In exchange for ephemeral gains in the continuing struggle for progress and prestige, they will have sacrificed essential values that are all but impossible to restore.

 Harvard Magazine, maio-xuño 2003, Vol. 105, Nº 5

César Rendueles: Copiar, robar, mandar

César Rendueles: Copiar, robar, mandar

El crecimiento de los beneficios derivados de la propiedad intelectual constituye una de las principales componentes de la reorganización del capitalismo mundial de los últimos veinte años. Ya a principios de los años noventa la propiedad intelectual constituía el 30% de las exportaciones de Estados Unidos. Precisamente una de las principales diferencias de la OMC respecto al GATT fue la inclusión del comercio invisible entre sus áreas de competencia y la aceptación de las normas de la Organización Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual. En este sentido al menos, es evidente que la industria del copyright guarda una estrecha relación con el gigantesco desarrollo del capitalismo financiero de las últimas décadas. Pero se puede ir más lejos y afirmar que el comercio intelectual comparte con la especulación financiera e inmobiliaria rasgos formales de eso que la tradición marxista ha llamado ``capital ficticio"". En principio, la legitimidad del capital ficticio se basa en las expectativas de que será validado por futuras actividades productivas; por ejemplo, en el campo inmobiliario, su razón de ser sería atender las previsiones de la próxima demanda de vivienda. No obstante, en la economía actual es la fuente de beneficios de rentistas y especuladores que sacan provecho de su poder monopolista pero que, recordémoslo, ``en principio, no son un elemento integral del capitalismo"".1 Es decir, en los mercados financieros, como en las grandes operaciones inmobiliarias o en el comercio invisible existen royalties que no proceden de la producción sino que constituyen una auténtica usura social. Así, en aquellos medios de comunicación de masas en los que el coste marginal de cada nuevo uso tiende a cero y es posible limitar su acceso, las multinacionales pueden cobrarnos por productos virtualmente gratuitos. Esto marca una diferencia considerable respecto a la industria de la copia tradicional donde por mucho que existan asombrosas economías de escala cada nuevo uso implica una nueva mercancía con tiempo de trabajo social incorporado. Es como si los mercaderes del copyright, cumpliendo una añeja fantasía infantil, tuvieran en su oficina la máquina de fabricar dinero.

Janice Newson: The Corporate-Linked University: From Social Project to Market Force

Janice Newson: The Corporate-Linked University: From Social Project to Market Force
Canadian Journal of Communication, Volume 23, Number 1, 1998

Abstract: Recently, Canadian university campuses have begun to display signs of increasing corporate influence in their affairs. In spite of the recent appearance of these signs, the foundation was laid in the early 1980s for this increasing corporate influence through the shift in government policies and the political effectiveness of groups like the Corporate-Higher Education Forum, the Business Council on National Issues, and the Canadian Manufacturer's Association. However, universities themselves have neither been passive nor helpless in relation to these external pressures. They have been active agents in a process of self-transformation in which budget-based rationalization and corporate linking have been their means of institutional survival. As a consequence, universities are now functioning less as institutions whose essence derives from their educational and scholarly commitments and more as businesses that deliver educational services and produce knowledge-based products.

David Noble: The Future of the Faculty in the Digital Diploma Mill

David Noble: The Future of the Faculty in the Digital Diploma Mill
Academe, September-October 2001

Distance education may not make money, but with the military’s help it may restructure the university—and not in the faculty’s interest.


Since I began chronicling the impact of distance education on the academic community more than four years ago, events have confirmed the concerns and followed the course outlined in my original manifesto and elaborated in later articles. Nearly all postsecondary institutions have climbed aboard the digital bandwagon in search of new revenues and in fear for their piece of higher education turf, only to discover the hard way that the bloom is already off the rose. At the same time, in league with their private-sector partners, they have secured taxpayer subsidy of their online efforts, thereby partially offsetting their losses and the absence of any real market demand. In addition, university administrators have learned that the technology of online education, whether cost effective or not, provides a way to restructure their institutions to their managerial advantage. Meanwhile, faculty resistance to this restructuring, and to the deprofessionalization of the professoriate that it entails, has increased and gained coherence and confidence.

Sheila Slaughter: Professional Values and the Allure of the Market

Sheila Slaughter: Professional Values and the Allure of the Market
Academe, September-October 2001

When college presidents become CEOs, professors act as free agents, and students turn into consumers, will the traditional values of higher education survive?


So the hallmark of the current form of global capitalism, the feature that sets it apart from earlier versions, is its pervasive success: the intensification of the profit motive and its penetration into areas . . . previously governed by other considerations. Nonmonetary values used to play a larger role in people’s lives; in particular, culture and the professions were supposed to be governed by cultural and professional values and not construed as business enterprises. To understand how the current global capitalist regime differs from previous regimes, we must recognize the growing role of money as intrinsic value. It is no exaggeration to say that money rules peoples’ lives to a greater extent than ever before.

—George Soros, The Crisis of Global Capitalism

At the close of the nineteenth century, when laissez-faire liberalism and industrial capitalism reigned, professors made it clear that they did not want to be part of cutthroat capitalism, nor to ally themselves with what they saw as the radical demands of organized labor. Instead, they tried to create a space between capital and labor where values such as objectivity, expertise, and knowledge could support a common intellectual project directed toward the public good. Although they may have romanticized the purity of their intentions, and their potential for objectivity, they nonetheless made important contributions in areas such as health, schooling, safety, agriculture, economic and industrial development, and modern warfare. Moreover, professors, speaking with the authority of science, often served as arbiters among competing groups in deciding public questions.

Jennifer Washburn: The Kept University

Jennifer Washburn: The Kept University

In the fall of 1964 a twenty-one-year-old Berkeley undergraduate named Mario Savio climbed the steps of Sproul Hall and denounced his university for bending over backwards to "serve the need of American industry." Savio, the leader of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, accused the university of functioning as "a factory that turns out a certain product needed by industry" rather than serving as the conscience and a critic of society. To the modern ear this sixties rhetoric may sound outdated. To many people in the academic world, however, Savio's words ring truer today than ever. Although our national conversation about higher education remains focused on issues of diversity and affirmative action, nothing provoked more debate on many college campuses last year than the growing ties between universities and business -- and nowhere was the debate livelier than at Berkeley.

Philippe Quéau: La información y el conocimiento son bienes públicos mundiales

Philippe Quéau: La información y el conocimiento son bienes públicos mundiales

Artículo publicado en francés por Transversales, diciembre 2000, nº 66, y en castellano en Iniciativa Socialista nº 60, primavera 2001. Philippe Quéau, director de la división “Sociedad de la información” de la UNESCO (esta contribución es responsabilidad de su autor, y no de la organización a la que pertenece).

Aunque ciertos saberes estén protegidos por la propiedad intelectual, su interés público sigue estando potencialmente presente. La sociedad reconoce al inventor un monopolio de explotación de su invención pero durante un periodo limitado, entendiéndose que el interés general exige que esta invención sea después accesible a todos. Al cabo de veinte años, las patentes “caen en el dominio público”. De modo más general, “el mantenimiento, avance y difusión del saber”, la “conservación y la protección del patrimonio documental mundial” y “el acceso de todos los pueblos a lo que cada uno de ellos publica” forman parte de las misiones esenciales de la Unesco, en nombre del interés general mundial.

Robert M. Berdahl: The Privatization of Public Universities

Robert M. Berdahl: The Privatization of Public Universities
Chancellor
University of California, Berkeley

President Bergsdorf, distinguished faculty and students, honored guests, government officials. It is a great privilege for me to be here today, to capture some of the excitement and enthusiasm for this new university, located at the geographic center of the new Germany. As a historian of Germany, it also gives me great pleasure to visit this historic city, this historic university town with the claim of being the third oldest university in Germany. The symbolic fusion of the old and the new that is represented in this institution is powerful. I have followed with great interest the plans for the development of this university, in part because of its somewhat conscious emulation of aspects of American universities, but also because it represents an effort at structural reform that promises to put the learning experiences of students at the center of its purpose. Who cannot be excited at the prospect of Erfurt once again fulfilling Martin Luther's claim: "Wer gut studieren will, der gehe nach Erfurt."?

Jennifer Washburn: Don't Kill the Goose

Jennifer Washburn: Don't Kill the Goose

In asking the university to become more commercial in its orientation, we must not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

Since passage of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980, which encouraged universities to patent federally funded inventions, university-industry collaborations have exploded. Universities operate their own venture capital firms to finance start-up companies, hold equity in professors' companies and seek to generate royalty income from their faculty's research -- all of which has brought commercial imperatives directly into the heart of academic life as never before.

IBM, 10 años con récord de patentes

IBM, 10 años con récord de patentes

IBM ha sido la empresa que más patentes ha generado en el año 2002, obteniendo el record de las registradas en la oficina de Patentes y Marcas de Estados Unidos por décimo año consecutivo. IBM ha inscrito un total de 3.288 patentes, el doble de las realizadas por la siguiente empresa en el ránking.

Durante la década pasada, los inventores de IBM han recibido el récord de 22.357 patentes, superando a la compañía más cercana, Canon, en más de 7.000 patentes. Durante este período de tiempo, IBM ha generado más patentes que las 10 compañías de tecnologías de la información más importantes de Estados Unidos juntas, tales como Hewlett Packard/Compaq, Intel, Sun, Microsoft, Dell, Apple, EMC, Oracle y EDS.

IBM, además, es la única empresa que ha superado la cifra de 3.000 patentes en un único año.

"Nuestro liderazgo en el registro de patentes es una muestra de que la decisión de mantener una inversión fuerte en investigación y desarrollo y de crear una cultura que estimule la innovación es acertada", según Nick Donofrio, vicepresidente senior de tecnología y desarrollo corporativo de IBM. "Sin embargo, nuestro mayor éxito es la ventaja competitiva que podemos ofrecer a nuestros clientes a través de las avanzadas tecnologías y soluciones derivadas de estas innovaciones".

Asimismo, el amplio portfolio de patentes de IBM ha ayudado a generar un promedio de más de 1.000 millones de euros (más de 1.000 millones de dólares) en royalties de propiedad intelectual durante los últimos 10 años.

Patentes registradas

Las patentes de IBM registradas en el año 2002 anticipan la era del "e-business bajo demanda", extendiendo el liderazgo de la Compañía en áreas como la Informática Autónoma (Autonomic Computing), la tecnología Grid y la Nanotecnología.

Entre las patentes registradas en el año 2002 , y a modo de ejemplo, caben destacar:

  • Una patente que permite a los ordenadores solicitar ayuda y enviar instrucciones a otros ordenadores a través de una red. El "ayudante" ejecuta automáticamente las tareas solicitadas por el ordenador inicial.

  • Otra patente que detalla un método para que el ordenador se monitorice por sí mismo y determine si su entorno está causando algún fallo en los componentes del sistema, tales como la potencia del suministro eléctrico o los componentes de ventilación. Ésta supone un paso importante hacia la auto reparación de los ordenadores.

  • Otra de las patentes registradas describe cómo un ordenador puede detectar automáticamente cambios en el entorno de trabajo (por ejemplo, el traslado de una oficina al entorno de un aeropuerto) y reconectarse a la red sin necesidad de intervención humana.

  • La patente que describe un método para controlar la modificación de los nanotubos de carbono para la fabricación de dispositivos electrónicos.

DiarioTI, 13/01/03

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