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ERSU ABLAK > Are we going forward or backward?

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Writing a column on Turkish technology events and news once a week is clearly not enough. The subjects just pile up until yesterday. Turkey is going through a very active phase in terms of technology-related news. Naturally some of this news is for the better and some for the worse. For example the news about technological entrepreneurship is amazing. There is a very strong wave of young entrepreneurs who invest money and time primarily on Internet ventures. The last example of successful start-ups is “Pembe Pancur” (The Pink Window). Pembe Pancur is a dating website that works with cognitive software. The website received investment from Etohum Fund and Gideros Mobile. Yesterday they faced “European Dragons” (European Technology Investors, the name taken from a TV show) in Holland with Endeavour Turkey’s Invitation. Hopefully they will be able to secure more funds at the event.

More good news came from outer space. Our first Turkish-made satellite began sending photos. Hopefully Turkey will catch up with more developed countries in the space race, which it has started very late. In the U.S. and Europe, the private sector is leading new space endeavors. Turkey has a lot to do before we can reach that point. I don’t necessarily mean that we are technologically backward. What is more important is the fact that we don’t have investors like Sir Richard Branson. Turkey’s wealthiest are still working on ways to make money from less risky areas, such as real estate. It is my humble idea, unless Turkey’s richest increase their risk-taking appetite, we can forget about leading the technology race in any area.

It is nice that the Minister of Science, Industry and Technology Nihat Ergün has a vision of making Turkey a technology driven country. However, as I have written before it is still unclear how Turkey will reach that goal and how the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology will play a part in it. In the speech he delivered at the 8th GEO congress in Istanbul he said Turkey will be a technology hub, adding that there will funds widely available to entrepreneurs.

On one hand we hear a speech like this and become very happy, but on the other hand the same minister forces 50 scientists to resign from the Turkiash Academy of Sciences (TÜBA) membership and makes a move to select his own people for a purely scientific institution that should have been free from political pressure.

There was one part of Ergün’s otherwise great speech that led me to worry; it was when he said: “We as humankind are the greatest creation among others, but it should not mean that we can do everything to the other creations as we please.” It is known that the current government is very sensitive about Islamic ways and they can be considered as the Turkish conservative party. However I was expecting the Minister of Science, Industry and Technology to be more open minded about science. If the Minister of Science openly propagates creationism, then what chance does the high school teacher have to talk about it freely in class?

Turkey is going forward and backward at the same time. I believe the reason is the lack of teaching in philosophy and ethical behavior codes. I will write about it more in the coming weeks

November/16/2011

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