Some good qualities for HN threads: curious, factual, neutral.
Some bad ones: indignant, denunciatory, flamey.
The money is not just the directly reward from the Thousand Talents Program. Being a Thousand Talents Program recruit, you can easily become a professor and lab director in China. This gives you money and status.
I knew a physicist worked in a 100~150 rank state University as a research scientist for a decade, low pay, cannot find a tenure position. But he got in the Thousand Talents Program, so he left the U.S. and became a professor in a top 10 University in China.
The people listed in this article, like Alan List and Thomas Sellers, don't seem to be Chinese nationals.
Because it is not. US tenure positions are already saturated with far more applicants than available positions.
There are still a lot of top tier chinese professors at US universities. But, the US is skimming the cream of the cream of cream. Some inevitably fall through the cracks.
Also, US universities expect their profs to teach. I know for a fact, that grad school rejected professors for not having adequate English proficiency for teaching. These same people probably excel at teaching in Chinese back in China.
It is also a culture thing. Sometimes US universities want to recruit talent that fits in with their culture. Sometimes, bad culture matches for US universities, might just be good culture matches for Chinese universities.
Look, a professor may need 5 to 10 PhD students, but there won't be so many positions open when those students graduate. In the past physics and biology graduates will try to stay as postdoc or research assistant as long as possible. Or find a position in industry. Nevertheless, this is just not a sustainable model in the long run. Eventually it will come to a point where more and more of them will go back to their home country.
It is unclear whether having many more scientists would increase the rate of novel discoveries or of general useful information production in a country like the US. On the other hand, China intends to be a full member of the international scientific community and needs publications in prestiguous journals to get there.
That everyone is wringing their hands over this issue today is quite telling. The people doing it aren't interested in advancing research - they are interested in using public money to make privately capitalizable discoveries.
If a single penny of public money was used in research, the results should be public. At that point, it doesn't matter whether or not that research ended up going to China.
 Yes, it's possible for researchers to immigrate to the US. But it's not exactly easy. It's a mountain of beurocracy, stress, legal fees, arbitrary restrictions on travel, and a big drain on your time. Combine that with all the other costs of permanently moving to another country, and you shouldn't be surprised that a lot of people opt not to do it.
This assumes academia cares for the research (as opposed for milking students, getting grants, and so on).
It's obviously the latter, yet cafes exist, and lattes get made.
If some country or company ignores your monopoly, then why should you make the discovery public? Why should you spend hard time and money researching something that you'll never see the profit from at all? That hurts everyone. IP law encourages research. And specifically, it encourages you making that research public in order to get a government monopoly on it.
Now, we could argue about nuances on how long such a monopoly should last, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find people willing to throw good money after bad in order to get someone else rich. Researchers would keep as much as possible as corporate secrets, and medical research would slow down significantly.
The recognition of private property in intellectual endeavors necesarily means that more capital is invested in intellectual endeavors.
Personally I think that creating an artificial wall to make more people devote time to entertainment, or certain research, etc is pretty dumb and would be better not to exist at all.
He had a pipeline and dedicated spots in our lab for Chinese graduate students who wanted to do a "postdoc" in the US. He was talking to one of his non-Chinese postdocs (with me present) who was considering taking a tenure-track faculty position at a university. He says, "You don't want to work there." She says, "Why do you say that?". He says, "The majority of students there are white. You won't get any quality students."
On another occasion, I was speaking with a S. Korean member of the lab who was well recognized at our university and in the field. He said to me, "When I first got here, I was bullied heavily. I was told: Koreans are stupid. Koreans are lazy. At least you're better than the white students."
This is all anecdote. But I personally saw that a lot of what we learned, discovered, developed, or otherwise worked on in our lab was taken on the road to share with Chinese Universities. I never once learned of something that was brought back to help us. I was told by a couple postdocs, actually, not to trust papers published by Chinese journals unless the same finding was corroborated by a non-mainland journal.
We did not share this kind of information very frequently or at that kind of volume with any other lab or university in the US. As a matter of fact, when I discovered a variation of a protocol that was much more effective and when I also had some preliminary findings on my own research and wanted to share this with another lab in the US that was doing similar work (to help them, and to learn from them - respectively). I was told I couldn't even tell them I was working on this because we didn't want them to beat us to publish.
Science is supposed to be about collaboration. It shouldn't know borders. But I have never seen such shady, unethical practice. When I raised concerns, I was told to keep my head down. I'm not in that field anymore... and it's always just a "Can you believe this happens..." story that I like to tell. But every time I see reports like this... I expect to read my old PI's name. Odd stuff.
Science being funded across borders isn’t a bad thing. Collaboration leads to greater understanding and faster discoveries. The article doesn’t seem to mention any positives, only painting everything as shady back room dealings that need to be exposed. I’m curious if anyone in the science community has a more positive perspective than the one that’s being written about here? It seems to only mention China as the threat, but I see research is constantly shared with European universities. Will those also come under investigation?
Basically, are the issues brought up in the article actually bad things that we want to prevent? If these new policies are carried through, will we be better off or not?
Collaboration is the key word here.
This isn't science being funded across borders, this is research being stolen, such that the work is quickly finished off in China and published before the researchers in the US do, the thief and China getting all the credit to themselves and a bunch of knowledge at no cost.
The difference with the EU is that it is mutual, consensual collaboration with both sides putting in work and funding.
Well, I guess copied would be a better word, as the people who "had the research" still has it.
> quickly finished off in China and published before the researchers in the US do
Sounds like they are doing a better job than US researchers then? Unless of course, they do a sloppy job finishing it, but then US researchers can just take their time, do it properly and people would use their research instead. Free market of research basically, just have to make sure your research is actually better.
I honestly cannot understand this viewpoint that stealing private information is not only cool, but a good thing to do. I literally hear it only on hackernews and no where else in my life.
The target here is China. They alone are responsible for the largest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen (Trillions $$ in IP theft from western tax payers). There is a great book called "Future Wars-Mark Goodman" that details some of this theft of technology that the Chinese Gov and their agents have carried out not just from the US but Europe also.
Support for SciHub is orthogonal to this, these academic papers don't exist yet. So not even the Arxiv would make sense, its not even a preprint, its work in progress thats being co-opted and used for gain within China.
If you could explain how this state of affairs, aka upending the academic publishing model entirely by undermining the entire idea and using unpublished research for your own gain in another country, that would be a constructive way of addressing the issue at hand. As the issue at hand isn't directly economic, but it will affect economics at some point as money is involved.
This is the contradiction. A reduction in revenue directly translates to a reduction in productive capacity.
I don't want to make it sound like I'm saying "why, this is simple, obvious to even the most casual of observers" -- what I'm saying is more that this is in line with the kind of decisions societies and individuals have to make all the time about what is and isn't acceptable.
I'm a fiction author myself, and I'm not against giving my work away for free! But I don't think it's unreasonable for me to think I should be the one to make the decision whether or not to do so -- and that means that, at some level, I need control over the "intellectual property" of my fiction. I don't think that having my work digitally available means I somehow automatically forfeit the right to that control that I would have had thirty years ago when you pretty much would have had to buy a physical copy on paper. What readers are ostensibly paying for, after all -- or what I'm giving away, if I choose -- isn't the medium, it's the work expressed in that medium.
And, you know, there are nuances and arguments to be made around that. There's a lot of things about IP law as it exists now I disagree with. But seriously making the argument that we can't let a book publisher enforce their copyright against a pirate ebook site because to do so will inexorably lead us to the Triangle Shirt Fire -- I'm just saying, I think that's a pretty damn hard case to make.
Try "wealth division", by the very act of more people having access to the rights the earnings from its exploitation are distributed.
If I own the patent to the screw, I make all the money from its sale and use. There isn't more money created if you steal it and sell the plans to a hundred thousand fabricators who compete for the same and further markets.
This is such a thieve's attitude, "what good is money sitting in this rich man's house unused, when I can create opportunities for all who I would spend it on?"
In terms of % of global GDP is it in fact greater than the transfer to the US of European technologies in the 18th and in particular 19th centuries (a famous IP theft being, for example, the spinning mill)? Or smuggled transplantation of crops between rival European empires (e.g. rubber from Brazil to to Malaya).
Not trying to defend or accuse anyone here; simply curious about the term "largest".
Welcome to the trade war.
> They alone are responsible for the largest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen (Trillions $$ in IP theft from western tax payers).
The largest transfer of wealth was either from china to europe/america ( opium wars ), colonialism in africa/india and the confiscation of land in the americas ( particularly the US ). If your assertion were true, china would be ruling the world and their economy would be bigger than US + EU combined. China's economy is only 1/3rd the size of US + EU while having 300 million more people. Not quite the largest of wealth transfers. Also, wealth transfers normally happen via war. Don't recall china winning a war recently.
Incidentally, would you consider someone getting paid 1/10th what an American worker would need to get paid, to make a widget, to be wealth transfer? In which direction? To me, it seems to be a wealth transfer from the person employed in the sweatshop, to the west.  We have been enjoying the benefits of this sort of wealth transfer for the past four decades. I must say, hundreds of millions of people giving you their labour for next to nothing, for decades, dwarfs whatever impact IP has in, ah, transferring wealth.
 For some odd reason, a large number of modern politicians think that it is a wealth transfer in the other direction. I'm not sure they understand, or appreciate the fact that people on the other side of the world are willing to work for us, nearly for free.
Edit: Cleaned up the language.
"Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."
If you post that way, you'll evoke better from others, instead of worse.
This is in itself a problem that ought to be solved, but for the time being makes this argument void.
"The success of the program in recruiting U.S.-trained scientists back to China has been viewed with concern from the U.S., with a June 2018 report from the National Intelligence Council declaring an underlying motivation of the program to be “to facilitate the legal and illicit transfer of US technology, intellectual property and know-how” to China." 
In fact, cherry-picking the worldwide top talent is one of the core aspects of silicon valley culture.
Why is it offensive that China is using the same approach as the US for building their own silicon valley equivalent?
Intellectual property concerns seem to be the issue at hand which definitely does not grok.
If the NIH is giving out money for research, the results of that research should be public, un-patented, free, to benefit the whole species, not Florida, not the US.
If there are concerns about training people with funds in the US who plan to leave, I get it. If there are concerns about sabotage, I get it. Otherwise, wtf?
There are many arguments, but no thesis. "China bad" isn't good enough.
In fact there is a rule of thumb from the Cold War...US - Nuclear, Soviets - Chemical, Chinese - Biological. Indeed most plagues have originated in China due to the population density and the prevalence of swine (there is a reason many religions don’t consume certain types of meat and in particular pork, it’s correlation with plague goes back thousands of years).
Besides these biological weapons which can be quickly looked up online at US Think Tanks and places like the Army War College...China has also maintained a pretty firm grip on HackerNews.
Twice now as a cybersecurity researcher I’ve come across Elasticsearch clusters employing Logstash in combination with a filebeat that streams in HackerNews topics and comments. This ingestion pipeline seems to be set off if you hit enough “hot words” after which time an Elastalert is sent out to presumably trigger human-in-the-loop to comment and pounce on any criticism. Based on the architecture that I saw in both cases this is a straightforward if not modest and not that sinister interpretation of the infrastructure. Yet it is still very concerning in the aggregate.
In conclusion, China could use these innovations for weapons to kill not as much us as their own people. Additionally their attempts to monitor and at times squelch free speech abroad goes against...a lot of things that people who live in Democracies would agree is valuable and worth protecting.
Two assertions I can extract from this
* China would use medical research for nefarious uses
Ostensibly, all of this research would be public anyway. Whether or not Chinese agents were involved seems irrelevant. That information would be available to them either way.
* China would force it's own state-interest moral code in these organizations
Well, ok, possibly. Is this something people are really worried about with hiring researchers with Chinese ties? I suppose you could combat this with well formed organization policies, but it seems hard to justify strict reporting of certain ties to prevent this. It just seems like xenophobia if there isn't specific evidence.
These posts were rapidly put up as I wrestled with the cloud hosted Ghost platform, so excuse the grammar mistakes.
Further posts on the topic you’re referring to, broad surveillance of the forums, comments, and chat rooms of the internet using streaming timeseries databases, I am working on now.
I guess if they are at a "shadow lab" and are not working their grants that's something, but lol at how often professors just take time off to do consulting for companies!
The point of filing the disclosure is clear, if you give it some thought from the POV of the university.
For instance, suppose a professor is performing research for NIH. When the grant/contract application is filed, the university is promising NIH that X research will be performed at that university. There is an agreement between the university and NIH, and the university has the duty of monitoring funds and activity. (This is part of the rationale for the ~30-50% overhead charge that everyone also likes to argue about.) If it's a contract (opposed to a grant, both are given by NIH) there are also deliverables to NIH that are guaranteed by the university.
[Aside: above is pushing back against some people's notion that NSF/NIH grants/contracts are a mostly-unrestricted dollar award to a specific faculty member to do cool stuff; that may the the informal working-model especially for grants to long-time faculty but it's not the letter of the law]
For this reason, the university itself has a direct interest in making sure an investigator is not taking money from another source for the same (worst case!) or similar research/deliverables. This is why major universities now require COI disclosure for outside consulting, etc. -- basically anything where flows of external funds could affect the course of work that the university is supposed to monitor.
If you read the article with this in mind, it appears that the university discovered that these researchers had taken money from these outside entities without disclosure to the university. This is a big no-no, and it is indeed very surprising that the CEO of the entire cancer center would not have disclosed.
In some cases, the failure to disclose is the real issue, because it gives the appearance of "hiding something." Hope this helps!
China and Russia are authoritarian regimes actively attacking the US, controlling information for 2B+ people, and (in China's case) committing a hidden genocide.
What good is there in allowing those types of regimes to take credit for research that was mostly done in the US?
I'm not sure about Russia, but it's clear that at least some Chinese researchers are not collaborating in good faith. Why wouldn't we at least investigate?
Historically, the US was so strong in academic funding and freedom that we could bring the best researchers here as immigrants. I wish we could return to that status quo.
As far as I can see there is always going to be boundaries be it cultural, tribal or artificial. Tendency is just there. Look at SF for instance where there was one neighborhood that rebranded itself (The East cut).
Humans lived in city-states for most of our history, I see no reason why we shouldn't expect the city-state to be resurgent in the current century.
They also conveniently left open an Elasticsearch cluster with 600,000 US Air Force personnel PII records.
Yesterday it was posted about front companies acquiring massive resources in the US. Who are these people?
If you want help getting media attention on the breach to try to get it shamed into being closed, I'd suggest reaching out to Troy Hunt (HIBP?) or Brian Krebs.