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Rohit Singh
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Wed, 01 Aug 2007

MERL's Having Issues

MERL, Mitshubishi's Research Lab, has been undergoing fairly drastic reorgs. They're shedding much of the open-ended research projects (and people) and focusing on technologies with more immediate impact. Since they are practically across the street from Stata and I've friends who work there, there's been news about this for a while now. But it's getting noticed elsewhere too, including a discussion at Slashdot.

I'm saddened that MERL won't be as good as they used to-- they have been really good in computer vision and graphics. But then again, I'm almost surprised Mitsubishi supported MERL this long. Mitsubishi isn't a company I'd have credited with supporting open-ended research, particularly the kind that isn't in a field they specialize in. It takes a monopoly (rare) or a strong founder-manager with a broad, long-term vision (even rarer) to put money into open-ended research.

Not that it does much good crying about the unfairness of this situation. Companies are run for profit (and usually owned by shareholders who care a lot more about the short-term than the long-term); this goal rarely aligns with the act of funding basic, open-ended research. All the more reason why such research should be supported by governments and philanthropists.

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