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one can (never) cure cancer?
(01-19-2015, 09:59 PM)chris0033547 Wrote: However even though I think that it would be too early to seek an alternative for capitalism, because humanity hasn't developed a post-scarcity global civilisation yet

I don't think we need to reach that stage to drastically change, if not move beyond, capitalism. Indeed I think most countries will have to at least start moving towards a social democracy model of capitalism before we start approaching post-scarcity. Otherwise we may end up in a situation where, rather than wealth beyond distributed, it's hoarded by a few and most people deal with pleasant but relatively poor and restrictive conditions. I won't go into that more here I'd suggest the short story Manna. It's not the best written story but it does show a believable world transitioning towards post-scarcity through automation. Problem is as the poor become unemployed they are rounded up and essentially imprisoned.

(01-19-2015, 09:59 PM)chris0033547 Wrote: , there may be specific ways to give pharmaceutical companies more incentives to develop new treatments for diseases. I think that the only way to do it in our current society is crowdfunding. Unfortunately current crowdfunding methods don't work very well as can be seen here for example:

The accumulation rate of money seems to be rather slow when it comes to crowdfunding and I think that it's impossible to collect large sums of money like this in order to finance new research directions in medicine. However if one could find ways to make crowdfunding much more effective it might be possible to circumvent the influence of big pharmaceutical companies on the medical market and do research directly sponsored by "people on the street".

I'm very skeptical that crowdfunding can be used in this way, for three reasons:

1) We already utilise indirect crowdfunding. We call it charity and some charities do this very well indeed: in 2014 Cancer Research UK raised £490 million ($735 million), over 80% of which went directly towards funding research. I somehow doubt that people will give more than they are already giving if they had to fund the research directly.

2) The people on the street don't have the relevant education to decide what to fund. This may sound harsh but it's true (it's also true for scientists in decisions outside of their field). The average person wanting to fund research will generally pick a disease they'd like to see cured: cancer, alzhiemer's, ebola etc. It then makes sense for them to give this money to a charity that will hire educated people to decide which scientific proposals make more sense to fund. If the average person was asked to choose between funding research between new nanopourous materials for rapid cancer genome analysis or the development of a new HER2-receptor inhibitor how are they meant to make an informed decision? Moreover will the majority of people have the time to even try to understand? I'd say the answer was pretty obviously no. Instead scientists would be force to advertise, to simplify and try to win over the lay public. That would lead to popularity and media contests, not funding the best science.

3) Crowdfunding almost never generates much money. There are five projects that have been funded more than ten million dollars, the highest recorded is around 50 million dollars (see here for more). The average cost of developing a new drug from concept to market is over $2 billion dollars. You would need more than fifty times the funding of the current world record just to develop one drug. I don't see that being at all common, or likely. Crowdfunding is great for minor projects, it's not a good model for long term multi-billion dollar projects. That's the realm of large companies and governments.

(01-19-2015, 09:59 PM)chris0033547 Wrote: One can participate in this state lottery and - if one is extremely lucky - win huge sums of money. The state lottery is an additional source of income for the state. So I wonder, why there are no state programs to organize a state lottery dedicated to the support of specific research fields like medicine?

The lottery in my country does fund all sorts of things, some of which are scientific research. Whilst that is very good it's not a huge sum of money in the grand scheme of things. Again it gets back to that figure above: billions of dollars. That's the average cost. When you take into account that charities like Cancer Research UK throw hundreds of millions of dollars at the problem each year and we still make tiny improvements at a time it becomes clear how huge of a challenge this sort of thing is.

My PhD alone is funded, in total, to approximately $150,000. Many small labs in universities doing basic research receive grants of millions, which last the best part of a few years at most. Science is expensive and whilst we should look towards new ways of getting funding there isn't an effective, simple solution.

What we need is what we've always needed IMO: big government institutions that can annually spend billions of dollars to fund basic research and develop unprofitable but good medicines and a competitive market in medicines for drugs that can be "easily" produced and made profitable. To varying degrees different countries to have that. The big thing we lack is a concerted effort by governments to produce their own pharmaceuticals, even if it is at a financial loss.
OA Wish list:
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  2. Internal medical system
  3. A dormbot, because domestic chores suck!

Messages In This Thread
one can (never) cure cancer? - by chris0033547 - 11-25-2014, 12:48 AM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by Rynn - 11-25-2014, 03:26 AM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by Rynn - 01-19-2015, 09:01 PM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by Rynn - 01-19-2015, 10:37 PM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by Rynn - 11-26-2014, 07:06 AM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by Matterplay1 - 11-26-2014, 02:55 PM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by iancampbell - 11-27-2014, 06:44 AM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by Rynn - 11-28-2014, 08:57 AM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by iancampbell - 11-28-2014, 09:59 AM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by Rynn - 12-24-2014, 08:31 PM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by Rynn - 01-04-2015, 01:07 AM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by Rynn - 01-28-2015, 03:21 AM
RE: one can (never) cure cancer? - by QhpA - 06-13-2024, 11:40 PM

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