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Losing Google Would Hit Chinese Science Hard 161

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the talk-to-your-government dept.
An anonymous reader writes to share recent statements by Chinese scientists that indicate troubled waters ahead if Google were to pull out of China. "More than three-quarters of scientists in China use the search engine Google as a primary research tool and say their work would be significantly hampered if they were to lose it, a survey showed on Wednesday. In the survey, 84 percent said losing Google would 'somewhat or significantly' hamper their research and 78 percent said international collaborations would be affected. 'Research without Google would be like life without electricity,' one Chinese scientist said in the survey, which asked more than 700 scientists for their views."
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Losing Google Would Hit Chinese Science Hard

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  • With all of the "free trade" efforts leading to "We'll take your jobs, thanks," maybe this is something we should inflict on China.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Targon (17348)

      So, who wants to start up a fundraiser to pay Google to shut down operations in China?

      • by G33kDragon (699950) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:53PM (#31289698) Homepage

        How about we also commission Google to shutdown services wherever we feel science and technology growth threatens our national security?

        No more Iranian Google results for "How to build a nuclear bomb"

        • How about we also commission Google to shutdown services wherever we feel science and technology growth threatens our national security?

          Unfortunately, that would also shut down the kind of communication which would be needed to encourage those places to stop being a threat to our national security.

          Essentially, we can't keep people from being able to build nukes. It's a fundamental property of the Universe that matter can be converted to energy, and the design is obvious enough. The best we can do is try to keep the raw materials out of reach of the actual lunatics, and try to persuade the general population to play nice with us.

          • try to persuade the general population to play nice with us.

            I don't think we are doing a great job of that lately. We are losing our friendly face and honor with the collateral damage from every well-intended military action we take. I know, we have to kill people to stay safe. It's the only way, right? Terrorists are not human, they are unfathomably evil beings from hell and we cannot ever talk to or try to understand them. Time for our 5 minute hate now.

            • I don't think we are doing a great job of that lately. We are losing our friendly face and honor with the collateral damage from every well-intended military action we take.

              Still, I don't think an appropriate response is to make it worse.

              Terrorists are not human, they are unfathomably evil beings from hell and we cannot ever talk to or try to understand them.

              I think you're being sarcastic... well, I hope...

              Besides which, it's not just the terrorists, it's the people. If Iran were really a nation of terrorists -- if every single person in Iran was a terrorist -- we'd all be dead by now.

              • Besides which, it's not just the terrorists, it's the people. If Iran were really a nation of terrorists -- if every single person in Iran was a terrorist -- we'd all be dead b

                Or Iran would be glowing in the dark. But that's irrelevant. The problem with terrorism (with destruction in general) is that it's so much easier and less expensive than it's antithesis, creation. It takes an entire people to build a civilization, to build something lasting ... but only a fraction of that number to bring it all crashing down.

                That's the problem with terrorists. It really doesn't take that many.

                • It takes an entire people to build a civilization, to build something lasting ... but only a fraction of that number to bring it all crashing down.

                  Think back to the root word of "Terrorism".

                  That fraction of that number can be a catalyst, yes. What determines whether or not it all comes crashing down is largely how we react. The Patriot Act was one of the greatest successes of terrorism -- they scared us so much that we gave away some of our most sacred liberties -- but they couldn't have done it without our help.

                  Now, nuclear weapons change that somewhat, but not a lot. There's still a fair amount of raw materials and resources needed, so you still nee

                  • nd the obvious response is, dismantle the nukes.

                    That is not as easy as you make it sound. It's a very difficult and expensive procedure, and you still end up with a lot of weapons grade fissionable material, which is a lot easier to steal when it's not part of a weapon.

                    Regardless, the reason that we have been able to implement significant force reductions since the Cold War days is because of our nuclear arsenal. If we give that away (and I hope we don't) then conventional forces become the deciding factor once again. That's not necessarily a good thi

                    • It's a very difficult and expensive procedure, and you still end up with a lot of weapons grade fissionable material, which is a lot easier to steal when it's not part of a weapon.

                      Easier to steal, maybe, but you then still have to build a weapon. And wouldn't it be possible to put that to use, in, say, nuclear reactors?

                      If we give that away (and I hope we don't) then conventional forces become the deciding factor once again. That's not necessarily a good thing...

                      Not necessarily a bad thing, either.

                      The endgame of conventional weapons is conventional war, which is devastating and horrible, but survivable.

                      The endgame of nuclear weapons is MAD and nuclear winter, which would cause far more death and destruction, if, indeed, any humans survived at all.

                      MAD may be a less likely outcome, as it's less likely that either side would want

              • Just for the record, yes I was being sarcastic. Sorry about that. It is sad how many in our country now are turning to international violence as a supposed solution to "terrorism," which is an undefined term in international law, conveniently for any nation that wants to start a war. Even Iran uses it to justify their actions now. You cannot wage a war on terrorists, any more than you can wage a war on poverty or on drugs, except figuratively. There is no end to this so-called war and the main casualti
      • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:14PM (#31291384)

        I'd rather pay them to change all the results to

        "Did you mean Tiananmen Square?"

        and force all GIS to "Safesearch: Off"

        China then becomes a self-correcting problem.

      • --we should buy them a million Exchange licenses. Even at full retail cost it'd be a huge win for the US. OTOH, this might violate the Geneva Conventions. Better get Yoo to write another memo.
    • I gotta love the mod war that has broken out over this post... It's taken more than 15 mod points to put it right back where it started at 2.
  • Survey says.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:58PM (#31288916)

    What's going on when somebody in China is allowed to ask 700 people of any kind about any political issue? Isn't that close to that "voting" thing their leaders are afraid of?

    • by Venik (915777)
      Nevermind the "voting" thing. Without Google China may find itself without scientists. Just as India without Google may find itself out of IT specialists.
  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:00PM (#31288940)
    So, how long, then, until we see the govt "encouraging" Google to get out of China for national security reasons?
  • What about Baidu? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jfengel (409917) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:02PM (#31288982) Homepage Journal

    I was under the impression that Baidu had significantly more market share already. Is there something that Google does particularly well for research that Baidu doesn't? Is it something Baidu would find difficult to replicate?

    TFA doesn't even mention Baidu, though the first comment declares it "pretty lame" (with no support that assertion).

    Google is a remarkable company and a remarkable search engine, but it shouldn't be that hard for other engines to provide at least a facsimile of what it does in the search area.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Chinese scientists rely on Google Calculator. Isn't it obvious?

      • by Entropius (188861)

        Why not? American scientists use it too.

        Just because you have sophisticated tools doesn't mean that you don't need a good old fashioned wrench sometimes.

    • Yeah, I'm pretty sure the alternatives would be picked up pretty quick. It's literally as easy as configuring a button on a browser. At the end of the day, they may have to deal with slightly less refined searches. Oh noes.

      For as mighty as a company as Google is, nations and fields of research are not yet dependent on them. If they ever were locked in with google (as they essentially are with Windows), that is the moment I would jump ship and scream for the blood of the googlites.
      • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:29PM (#31289420)

        ...nations and fields of research are not yet dependent on them...

        So you're willfully ignoring the testimony of Chinese scientists? That's like watching something fall and then saying you don't believe in gravity.

        Baidu is a sino-centric search engine, which for the average Chinese is a positive thing as they don't frequently need international results, but for scientists who constantly need international and multi-lingual results, Baidu doesn't hold a candle to Google. That's why Baidu has the majority of marketshare in China nationally, but is a minority among Chinese scientists.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HeckRuler (1369601)
          I regularly ignore the testimony of the masses when it comes to religion, politics, economics, and yes, tech as well.
          Why? Because at times I'm cynical and think everyone is an idiot. Case in point: The ipod sold well.

          So why not Bing, Yahoo, Altavista, Dogpile, yada yada.... Or why not go to a foreign Google site?
          • Because as TFA mentions, Google has Scholar, which other search engines lack. There are similar services, but they aren't free. Others [slashdot.org] have already [slashdot.org] said this [slashdot.org] here.

            Foreign Google sites are naturally not localized, and depending on how the CCP feels on a given day, might require some somersaults to access.
            • Sooooooo "Losing Google Scholar Would Hit Chinese Science Hard" would have been a better title.
            • The problem with Google Scholar is that, to put it bluntly, it sucks. Of all of the search tools I've used for looking up papers, Google Scholar is the least likely to find relevant (and, more importantly, recent) papers. If Chinese scientists are using Google Scholar in preference to other tools then Google pulling out of China would probably give a boost to Chinese science.
    • Baidu has reasonable enough results for the Chinese web, but doesn't really search the English web at all. Google.cn does both very well.

      I am guessing their problem is that a lot of the papers they wish to read and general scientific world is based on English. As there aren't any other major search engines in China, having only Baidu would be close to having no search engine at all for people who need to search English documents.

    • Re:What about Baidu? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jank1887 (815982) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:28PM (#31289396)

      Since these are scientists, I assume that Google Scholar is the thing they'd miss most. Before, you had to subscribe to indexing services (Ovid, Web of Science, etc.) to get access to searchable abstracts, reference spidering, etc. Then, you'd find the article of interest and go to the publisher site to see your options for obtaining the article. Now, I can Google Scholar >95% of the technical literature I'm interested in, I'm shown the multiple versions of a file, some of which might be available for free, I can search a very broad range of topics through a single portal, and it'll take me to the publisher site if that's what's needed.

      Can't beat it. Nobody else has anything close for free.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      Google is a remarkable company and a remarkable search engine, but it shouldn't be that hard for other engines to provide at least a facsimile of what it does in the search area.

      I haven't seen much (in terms of free web-based services) to compete with Google Scholar in terms of searching journals, searching forward and back through their mutual citations, and finding the versions of articles that aren't the main one locked behind the original journal's paywall.

    • by Alinabi (464689)
      Yes. It's called Google Scholar [google.com]
  • Google Scholar (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rary (566291) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:04PM (#31289010)

    My initial reaction to this was "what, they don't have other search engines on the Internet?" I mean, I use Google myself, and I'm quite happy with it, but if it disappeared tomorrow I'd just start using something else.

    Then I (gasp!) read TFA, which I know many (most?) of you won't do, so I'll fill you in on the part that the summary missed. The issue here isn't so much that they fear losing Google, but that they fear losing Google Scholar, which, as far as I can tell (although I've never used it), has no free (as in beer) alternatives.

    • Re:Google Scholar (Score:5, Informative)

      by routerl (976394) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:26PM (#31289372)
      Google Scholar is the most comprehensive index of scholarly articles in the world, period. Not only are there no free alternatives, there are no alternatives at all. There are services like JSTOR, which only index a limited number of journals from specific services, but nothing that compares to the completeness of Google Scholar (AFAIK). The only real alternative to Scholar is going to individual sites of individual journals and searching for what you're looking for dozens of times in different places. This quickly becomes a day-long project, compared to a 2 minute search.
      • by khallow (566160)
        The remarkable thing about Google Scholar is that it shows other things on the same level. Blogging, for example, can also be a valid research source (exposition or informal review of papers) and Google Scholar often has that.
      • Re:Google Scholar (Score:4, Informative)

        by Elendil (11919) on Friday February 26, 2010 @04:50PM (#31290382) Homepage

        > Google Scholar is the most comprehensive index of scholarly articles in the world, period.

        You can't possibly know that, as Google doesn't tell us exactly what's covered by GS.

        > Not only are there no free alternatives, there are no alternatives at all.

        Wrong. The Web of Knowledge and Scopus (commercial) and Scirus (free) are perfectly valid alternatives. Furthermore, a number of studies in various fields have shown that all of these tools, as well as GS, usually return a number of hits that were not found by the others (again, including GS). Therefore, they can always be seen as complementing each other.

        What you cound argue, on another hand, is that GS offers the best quality/price ratio. I for one would accept that.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        there are no alternatives at all.

        Does Google somehow have a monopoly on this information? I find it hard to believe that nobody else has done it. Unless Google Scholar is Good Enough (tm) that nobody else is going to bother.

        But then, if Google can do it, I fail to see how anybody else cannot do it. In that case, then Google pulling out of China would only be bad for science until a competing service appears.

        • Google Scholar is Good Enough (tm) that nobody else is going to bother.

          Nail on the head.

          It's free, Google benefits from adwords, and Google has done all the footwork to get the material indexed and searchable. Competitors looking to dupe the service would have to do all the the same steps to only hope to be on par with Google Scholar, which already enjoys a huge following and integration with the rest of the Google suite of search tools. That's not to say it won't happen, but Joe Scholar will have to jump through some massive hoops to create a free (as in beer) index that i

        • by ErikZ (55491) *

          If Google did it, why would you waste time replicating the work to do it yourself?

          Do you look for Hamburgers that are "Just like McDonalds" instead of just going to McDonalds?

    • Re:Google Scholar (Score:4, Informative)

      by W3bbo (727049) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:58PM (#31289744)
      Microsoft Research has their own Academic Search site, which is pretty useful to me (I hardly ever use Google Scholar). It's more focused on academic research papers and the links between authors than the broader net GScholar casts (there's no Patent search, for example) but it is a free alternative. http://academic.research.microsoft.com/ [microsoft.com]
    • My initial reaction to this was "what, they don't have other search engines on the Internet?" I mean, I use Google myself, and I'm quite happy with it, but if it disappeared tomorrow I'd just start using something else.

      My initial reaction was, "what, China actually conducts its own research rather than steal it?!?!?!"

      But that is an unfair generalization. As I thought about it more carefully I realized that of course China does its own research. It is after all, a world leader in industrial espionage,
  • by icebike (68054) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:04PM (#31289014)

    Why would Google have to be IN China for the "scientists" to use it as a search engine?

    Just because Google has no offices or data centers in China would not mean it would be unavailable there.

    Censored perhaps, but how difficult would it be for "Scientists" to get around that, or be exempted from it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Just because Google has no offices or data centers in China would not mean it would be unavailable there.

      Well, if you go to China you'll find that it's amazingly easy to trigger the GFW. Browsing the English web is really flaky. Even if the Chinese govt didn't pro-actively block Google (as they have done with Facebook and YouTube) it'd still be a pain to use it.

      Censored perhaps, but how difficult would it be for "Scientists" to get around that, or be exempted from it?

      I don't think the Chinese government off

    • by forkazoo (138186) <(wrosecrans) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:17PM (#31289238) Homepage

      Why would Google have to be IN China for the "scientists" to use it as a search engine?
      Just because Google has no offices or data centers in China would not mean it would be unavailable there.
      Censored perhaps, but how difficult would it be for "Scientists" to get around that, or be exempted from it?

      By "censored," you mean blocked. Google's ability to operate in China was dependent on censoring all search results to make sure nothing slipped out. Trying to do that kind of content filtering on the national firewall level would be impractical. Where the physical data centers are located is almosta complete non-issue. It's whether or not Google will restrict their content offerings to Chinese central government standards.

      • I was in China and was able to use google.com long before google.cn was set up. The government once tried to block it but failed because too many people complaint (yeah -- news for you -- they can complain to government in China.) This "serving Chinese users" theoery is crap. The Chinese users were served by google.com without censoring (by Google,) the only thing that google couldn't do is to sell ads in China. And that's why they set up google.cn and started filtering.
    • by BitZtream (692029) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:38PM (#31289524)

      Its not 'pulling out of china' in the sense of not having an office there.

      Its pulling out of china in the sense of removing all ties with the government, stopping censoring, pulling offices back out of the country, and then waiting for China to blacklist them. Possibly blacklisting china's address space themselves if the chinese government doesn't get around to it fast enough to prove the point.

      • Possibly blacklisting china's address space themselves if the chinese government doesn't get around to it fast enough to prove the point.

        I see absolutely no reason to believe Google would do that.

  • Link is to an article that does not name who did the "survey." For all we know the whole thing was made up.

  • by AP31R0N (723649) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:45PM (#31289594)

    Losing Google Would Hit Chinese Reverse Engineering Hard

    FTfY

    Funny thing: our schools are packed with Chinese students and profs.

  • Back in '96 I took a social psych class. If you're not familiar, the one sentence reductionist oversimplified explanation of the core theories of social psych is that people are influenced by the talk around them.

    One of the (somewhat prophetic?) things I remember my professor talking about was the struggle between freedom of information and scholarship in China. In his view, China either had to choose to shut out internet access to the rest of the world (in which case their scholars would be significantly

  • "Research"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:23PM (#31290836) Homepage

    Chinese "research", eh?

    I wonder how much of that research is "find places to steal information from and use it". Seems we've had a fair number of news articles lately about Chinese espionage, and it doesn't take much imagination to see that a lot of the "new" things from China are actually reverse engineered Western items.

    Without effective search, I suspect all the shops in China making Apple product knockoffs would be hard pressed to bring products to market. Likewise for many other industries.

    • by agurkan (523320)

      Did you look at the demographics of graduate students in the US lately? China has now programs to revert the brain drain, offering nice jobs to successful Chinese academics in the US and elsewhere.

      Just look at the attendance list of scientific conferences. You will see at least one or two Chinese names in every big international event, in pretty much any field. The ones that are held in China has more than half the attendants from China.

      And they are good. They have a tradition of working hard, and there

  • GOOD (Score:2, Insightful)

    They've been stealing our tech for so long, they deserve it.
  • I bet at least half the people interpreted this question as being about "research without search", and not specifically "without google". That is what the answers suggest. You might lose coke/sprite, but if you still have pepsi/7up life can go on pretty much unhampered.

  • You would think that if you were a real scientist researching real things you would be reading scientific journals and not searching the web for random web pages.
  • I can think of another explanation for why "most scientists in China use Google": if you type some words into the search bar, most browsers will go and search for those words on some search engine - which just happened to default to Google, at least until fairly recently. And if you don't mind, you are not going to change. Another things is - just because they asked a number of scientists which search engine they tend to use, it doesn't mean that they use that one for finding information critical to their r

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