Sydney Brenner on how academia and publishing are destroying scientific innovation (Dzeng interview, 2014)

At dinner with Sydney Brenner, 2013

One of the highlights of my time as a scientist was having a long dinner with the great molecular biologist Sydney Brenner, who was a pivotal figure in the history of biology and whom sadly passed away in 2019.

This, along with interviewing Garry Kasparov the same year, marked the start of my interest in how we might learn from prior scientific environments to create better ones today.

There is an excellent interview of him that is sadly no longer online, so I am reposting it here.

There is also a short clip which highlights Brenner’s views, shared by many such as David Hubel [article], as to how the structure of science has changed.[YouTube]. He says:

‘Nowadays, most people who say they are in science aren’t really in science. They’re in something else. They’re in the management of science…. And these people do believe that everything can be solved by the application of what the Americans call ‘process’…. Their only challenge is ‘will I be awarded good points?’, ‘will I be promoted?’, ‘will I be able to survive in the economy of science?’’’