|Volume 1: No. 10|
Ron Gershon (email@example.com) would like to know if there are corporate relationships between the labs that I mentioned in V1 N9. [Is it Mitsubishi or Matsushita that owns the Panasonic name? Is there really going to be a Matsushita lab in Cambridge? Is there any tie between the Panasonic lab and Lee Giles' NEC lab in New Jersey? What is the funding source now for the International Computer Sciences Institute (ICSI) in Berkeley? And who has signed on at the new Canon lab in Palo Alto?] Also, how do the other Computists feel about these labs snatching top researchers in the U.S.? Is Japan just tapping the world's best basic research, or is this a political move to address balance-of- trade criticisms and hedge against technology export laws?
If the U.S. labs worry you, you might consider whether you prefer the new Asian science parks. IEEE Spectrum (6/91) lists seven in Japan (Tsukuba Science City, 21st Century Plaza, Eniwa Business Research Park, Nagaoka Research Park, Toyama Center, Kanagawa Science Park, and Kurume Techno Research Park). Japan also has the Fuzzy Logic Systems Institute in Iizuka, near the Kyushu Institute of Technology and its 200 computer science faculty. MITI is planning some 40 other semi-rural technopolis centers for engineers and computer scientists.
Then there's Daedok Science Town in South Korea, Singapore Science Park in (you guessed it!) Singapore, and Hsinchu Science- Based Industrial Park in Taiwan. (The Hsinchu park may soon spin off a Software Industrial Park. A core feature of Taiwan's Science City in Hsinchu will be optical-fiber links to a supercomputing center.) Hong Kong is also building a small science center and has plans for a science park. Two new parks are opening in the Philippines, and Shanghai is planning a huge science, technology, and trade zone.
India is particularly focused on information technologies, including telecommunications, multimedia communication, and large, distributed databases. India has an "electronics city" in Bangalore, where 43 engineering colleges turn out 11,000 engineers each year. The Indian Institute of Science there is a major center for basic research. Many foreign high-tech companies are building labs, including Texas Instruments software research center for semiconductor chip design.
Many factors are at work here. One is that a growing economy can afford research, thus ensuring future success. (Have you ever played with the old Club of Rome simulation of world technology? Crank research spending as high as possible if you want to avoid global economic and environmental collapse.) Another is the relatively low cost of foreign research labs. Larry Press reports [CACM, 2/91] that a university-trained C/UNIX programmer in India costs $12,000 per year, with typical programmers only $2,400. (The industry has grown 59% per year since 1985, to $10- 15M in exports, but now faces a shortage of programmers and lack of experience with big projects and turnkey or packaged software.) Corporate-paid training (university, in-house, or via job rotation) is also feasible since lifetime employment policies mean that knowledge assets will not be lost. If you were building a large software lab, where would you put it?