Ministry of science and technology, a dangerous delay

Ministry of science and technology, a dangerous delay

On 7 March, the project that would be created by the Ministry of Science and Technology again suffered a back in its processing - this time in the upper house - due to disagreement in two of its proposals. With the initiative sent to the Joint Commission to resolve the rules at issue, the Vice-Chancellor of Research and Development of our campus, Flavio Salazar, reflects on the next column published in the newspaper La Tercera, on the unjustified delay of a law that he considers urgent for the country.

It is regrettable that the deferment and sending to the joint commission of the bill created by the Ministry of Science and Technology, for lack of agreement on a couple of specific points. Fundamentally because, beyond its imperfections, the initiative is a first attempt to establish a close relationship between science, understood in its full range of expressions, with a development plan of the country. Between the report of the Presidential Commission and the discussion in the Senate, countless and unreleased instances of debate were generated. Like never before, between academic, political and community circles was installed the consensual will to give a solid structure to a system of science and technology, which would value the generation and transmission of knowledge.

The painful thing is that the bread is burned at the door of the oven, because of the strange tendency of our politicians to think that every law plays all or nothing and that what is written in a regulation will be engraved on fire forever. What real impact could an ultra-detailed law article on intellectual property have on the orientation of the country's economic model? No specific wording in such a law can change the productive relationships that exist in Chile, nor reorient the course of our development model on its own, especially since it is not supported today by the creation or transfer of knowledge. The necessary discussion at the global level, and by the way local, regarding social propertyversusindividual appropriation of knowledge is not resolved by far in a bill whose purpose is to take a first and wobbly step towards creating an institutional organic that makes democratic discussion of these aspects possible in the short term.

In particular, there are as many models of distribution of intellectual property as there are countries in the world, and they all contemplate their own local reality and the specific areas of each innovation and the potential impact they can have on their strategic plan as a state. In the legislative discussion it seems that distrust prevailed, above all; State and its representatives to investigators; researchers to the higher education institutions that shelter them; regional visions of centralism, and vice versa.

The fundamental error of discussion, cross-cutting across the political spectrum, is to favor the economic edges associated with knowledge - which in today's national reality still have a marginal impact - over the need to strengthen the cultivation of sciences to understand reality and be better, an essential premise in any structural change initiative. Chile misses an opportunity to continue to delve into this beautiful debate about how we put knowledge, science and culture at the service of the country, people and its everyday reality. It is to be expected that the new Congress will soon return to this urgent challenge.