There are many people in the world who would like to have the opportunity to just think. All day, every day, doing nothing but thinking, writing, creating, developing new ideas and rehashing old ones. They don't like dealing with "the real world", since the "real world" is full of greed, hypocrisy, crime, apathy, and indifference. These people want to be in an environment which fosters growth and discovery, not one in which you must struggle day to day to pay needless bills and put food in your mouth. And, yes, I'm one of these people.
If certain grants could be obtained, whether from the government or from private citizens or other groups, this could happen. I know there are fellowships that do such things as this, but they usually pay for one person for a set time. I also know about some government grants, but they are filled with red tape and are for a specific need or goal. I'm talking about a freeform institution where those of us who wish to be free of the mundane aspects of day-to-day life can live while developing whatever ideas or thoughts interest us at the moment. Science, medicine, philosophy, art, music, political science...any and all of these, and many things not listed, would be "fair game" for people.
The institution could be funded by those wealthier members of society or via government grants. People and organizations could pledge support. The support would go for building upkeep, food, to pay a few staff members (cook, accountant, lawyer, and those "interfacing" with the "real world"), and purchase supplies (books, food, clothing, etc.). The residents could work or not work, as their personal circumstances and wishes dictate, but they'd always have food, clothing, a roof, and a nurturing environment for their studies.
The residents would not be able to patent or copyright their work or research - that would be done by the institution's non-profit corporate structure, or placed somehow in the public domain completely. This would keep the information free and of use to everyone. A resident could use his ideas to make money, but the ideas themselves would be "open source" or "public domain" somehow. This model has worked incredibly well for Linux and other open source operating systems; it can work well for other sorts of information, too.
What would the donors get in return? The understanding that all information and research done here is useful in some way or another and will benefit mankind. They would get no special rights to anything done at the institution, although they could use them like anyone else could.
The institution library would be incredible, with books and media on every topic imaginable, and with published works on all research and study done at the institution. A monthly magazine could be published of current research currents and ideas. A website would give up-to-the-minute info from the institution and the residents, who would be required to publish on the Internet and in print about their progress as often as is practical.
I'd love to live somewhere like this. This is what universities used to be, I think, or at least what their ideal state should have been. This could be a freeform think-tank, a place for new ideas to spawn and grow.
I wish it were so.
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