engineuring

Last weeks, I read many varying opinions on my website.

What was especially surpising for me is that there are many people who view Sci-Hub as some kind of a tool to change the system. Like changing the system was a goal, and Sci-Hub was a tool to achieve it.

My view is completely different. For me, Sci-Hub has a value by itself, as a website where users can access knowledge. There are many websites where you can see pictures, share tweets, download music, read ebooks. And Sci-Hub is a website where you can read research articles.

On the Internet, we obviously need websites like Sci-Hub where people can access and read research literature. The problem is, such websites oftenly cannot operate without interruptions, because current system does not allow it.

The system has to be changed so that websites like Sci-Hub can work without running into problems. Sci-Hub is a goal, changing the system is one of the methods to achieve it.

Of course Sci-Hub is not going to die when research articles will be free. Why? For example, anecdotes and horoscopes are legal to distribute. However, the websites with horoscopes are not going to die just because horoscopes are free.

In the same way, websites where you can access research literature are not going to die when it becomes free and legal. The opposite is true: there will be even more websites like these.

This article is to reply to some points made by publishers as well as some librarians who don’t like what Sci-Hub is doing to their job now.

I will start with an article published last wekk by Ernesto Priego Signal, Not Solution: Notes on Why Sci-Hub Is Not Opening Access

The title is misleading by itself, if not funny. Sci-Hub is not a signal: for many researchers out there in the world, Sci-Hub is the only solution available to access articles. I can support my words by providing letters I received as well as some statistics, but I will do this in future posts. The problem are paywalls, and Sci-Hub is a tool that solves this problem. A signal is when someone talks about the problem of paywalls, like many OA advocates do. What differentiates Sci-Hub from this talk, is that Sci-Hub not talking, but actually solving this problem, providing access to those researchers who need it, including myself.

Sci-Hub is not a signal nor a symptom — it a tool that is actually and actively used by many students and researchers accross the world. Why don’t you say then Google is a symptom of a problem that we cannot easily lookup information on the Web, and hence Google was developed to signal us about this problem! Just funny.

About the second part of the title: if Sci-Hub is not Opening Access, then author has to open sci-hub.io website and check himself: just input URL of any paywalled article into the box, and you get the access! If that is not opening access, then what else it is?

The title looks as a good attempt to disregard what Sci-Hub is actually doing. The real problem is that such kind of rhetoric can be used by publishers and autorities as an argument to shut down Sci-Hub. Because if that is not the solution, but mere a signal, hence what’s the problem shutting it down? Instead of suporting Sci-Hub in the fight against publishing system, the author helps publishers fighting Sci-Hub!

After the title, he says: I see it as an example of a collective failure to communicate successfully the principles of openness to the mainstream

Well, at least you have not failed to communicate your ideas to me! I was inspired by Open Access movement, and a year before I made Sci-Hub, I was trying to open my own open access journal. This did not work, however in the process I became involved in the life of online communties for researchers, started sharing research papers and eventually this lead to development of Sci-Hub. Even more, if not argumentation developed by Open Access, then it would be much harder for me to defend what Sci-Hub doing is right thing to do.

About Aaron Swartz, of course that is a tragedy what happened to this guy. But it also needs to be made clear that our methods are very different. This guy was clearly not trying to do the same thing as Sci-Hub. Our ideas to make science open are similar, but these ideas are shared by many people. The case of Sci-Hub cannot be easily compared to the case of Aaron.

Sci-Hub is a short-cut, a workaround, that distributes scholarly content in a form not intended by its authors, let alone its original publishers

Here I need to ask: was it intended by authors that their work will be hidden behind paywalls forever? For example:

Elsevier s a short-cut, a workaround, that distributes scholarly content in a form not intended by its authors

And yet, what is the problem with shortcuts or workarounds if they do the job of making science open?

Sci-Hub itself does not concern itself with ‘access’, at least not with a capital A

That is simply not true. Sci-Hub supports Open Access.

The publishers remain the same. The journal brands remain the same. Their H-Indexing and Impact Factor continues strong. Scholarly Publishing remains the same. There is no real cultural change

Sorry but this is a complete bullshit. Of course the things do not remain the same. Before Sci-Hub, all research on a massive scale was closed behind paywalls, and now anyone can access it! It will be impossible to shut down the website completely, so that change is forever. And what about publishers? I do not see the problem with publishers, if all articles they publish can be easily fetched from websites like Sci-Hub, then what’s the problem? But the effect of long-term operation of Sci-Hub will be that publishers change their publishing models to support Open Access, because closed access will make no sense anymore.

The more researchers pirate paywalled content, the more the paywalled system of scholarly publishing is canonised.

Again, what is the point in paywalls if research can be easily pirated? Who needs paywalls if any article can be fetched from Sci-Hub? The more researchers pirate the paywalled content, the less sense paywall system is making. I thought that are obvious points; turned out they are not.

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that Sci-Hub breaks the law

In modern society, the law is not given from God but is written by people and for people. Like any other system — like publishing system, for example — the law system can be fixed, and Sci-Hub is the clear case when the law has to be fixed, allowing the websites like Sci-Hub to operate without problems.

immediate goal that however distracts us from important sustainable solutions

I wonder what else is distracting the author from developing “important solutions” that he is working on? TV shows?

The rest of the article is simply reciting the above arguments:

but as it stands now, by itself, it does not offer the solution

Sci-Hub clearly offers the solution to the most important problem: access to research results. And what is enough for the problem to be solved completely, is for Sci-Hub to continue its operation. That will be enough.

Sci-Hub gives us, for the time being, a free ride

Our expenditures counted for several thousands USD each month, that we collected from donations. How free is this ride? And do you understand creating a website like Sci-Hub is a hard work too?

The author has a good point that, for example, some additional changes should be made, like abolishing the copyright for Sci-Hub to operate legally. However, the article seems to be, in general, very unsupportive of Sci-Hub, trying to dismiss the important work the project is doing. That is the problem. Instead of fighting the system, you start fighting Sci-Hub — that is the result of media attention, yes? Publishers may be happy that Sci-Hub is the point of attention now, not them.

We can steal from the rich ‘to give to the poor’, but we still need to see evidence that such strategy has ever worked to erradicate poverty

It is working already. Check yourself at sci-hub.io !

 

Another article, the link to which I lost, was by a small publisher arguing that Sci-Hub will do harm not to big publishers like Elsevier, but to scholarly societies or non-profits that depend on subscription income. I wonder: what kind of non-profit is that that depends on commercial subscription sales? Sci-Hub is a non-profit, we operate by donations. That’s how non-profits work. For small scholarly societies, membership fee can be an option.

 

 

 

A few weeks ago I’ve been interviewed for H+ Magazine on my project of re-engineering human consciousness with new technologies such as brain-machine interfaces, and I attach the most interesting points from the interview here. Shortly about the project:  to develop such brain-machine interface that will enable us to actually feel what is going on inside the machine, and even become aware of what is going on inside the minds of other connected people. It turns out, however, that there is much more usefulness into this project than just the potential to spy into others’ minds (don’t take me wrong – it can actually help us understand each other better!) – there is also potential for increase in our lifespan up to the immortality, and for increase in our level of spiritual freedom. If you’re interested how – read points #06 and #07. There is also discussion of the most relevant research that will provide a decent base for implementing the project – #02 and #08, and lot of other interesting stuff:)

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I’ve just posted that old program to read data from KT88-1016 amplifier here:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/conteckt88/files/

– look for file named eegRead.zip

It’s written in C++ and should complie without problems with Borland C++ Builder 6.0 – which can be downloaded from torrent.

Also, I threw there a OpenViBe driver sketch – kt88-1016-openvibe.zip – to use Contec KT88 with OpenViBe BCI software. Disclaimer: It has only basic functionality and some features like configuration still has to be done.

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Here the poster I presented at the Toward a Science of Consciousness 2010 conference. I propose a new approach for building sensory prostheses. Neuroprostheses that are developed today evoke sensory experiences by stimulating the brain. Brain produces visual, tactile or auditory experiences in response to stimulation. In proposed model, experiences are not generated by brain – they are produced by electronic device that is capable of conscious experiences – “qualia” – by itself. The conscious experiences of this device and biological brain are then merged through special kind of brain-machine interface.

Motor prostheses and intelligence augmentation are mentioned too😉

Consciousness in mixed systems: merging artificial and biological minds via Brain-Machine Interface

Poster abstract:

The rapidly developing field of Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) technology seeks to establish a direct communication-and-control channel between human brain and machines. Practical applications for BMI include restoration of lost vision and motor functions, and even extending normal human capabilities. But unfortunately current BMI systems are far too poor to achieve even a level of performance that is comparable to what humans are normally capable of, let alone improving it. And this situation holds on for quite a while. The possible solution for coming out is to move research focus to those aspects of brain-machine interaction that usually do not receive much attention.

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I was one of those happy participants of TSC 2010 that took place in Tucson, Arizona past week. It is the biggest event dedicated to consciousness this year, with diverse participants and their approaches ranging from meditation and philosophy to neurobiology and quantum physics.

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