Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom--A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at $48 with coupon code "BFRIDAY20" ×
Science Technology The 2000 Beanies

Why Is There No Nobel Prize In Technology? (qz.com) 148

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: As the world focuses its attention on this year's recipients of the planet's most prestigious prize, the Nobel, it feels like something's missing from the list: technology. Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes more than century ago with the instruction that his entire estate be used to endow "prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind." The categories laid out in his will -- physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and peace -- have remained the basis of the awards, and a prize for economics was added in 1968. So, what gives? Why only those five original fields? Nobel didn't say, revealing only that he made his choices "after mature deliberation."

One way of looking at it is that when he was designing his categories, he wanted the prizes to only reflect advances in fundamental science. In this view, "lesser" sciences such as biology, geology, or computer science -- or technology-driven fields such as engineering or robotics -- don't qualify. As genome-sequencing pioneer Eric Lander once said, "You don't get a Nobel Prize for turning a crank." But what then of literature and peace, or the newer prize for economics (an applied science at best, and a pseudoscience at worst)? Technology isn't the only field to get the cold shoulder. Mathematics -- the international language, the foundation of so many scientific pursuits, and arguably the most fundamental theoretical discipline of all -- doesn't have a Nobel Prize, either. Mathematicians have complained about this for decades. One story suggests that Nobel disliked the Finnish mathematician Rolf Nevanlinna, and assumed that he would be the first winner of the mathematics prize, if he decided to award one. Alternatively, math undergraduates are often told that Nobel was jealous of a Swedish mathematician who had an affair with his wife (though this story is ruined by the fact that Nobel didn't actually have a wife).

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Is There No Nobel Prize In Technology?

Comments Filter:
  • Technology? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbengt ( 874751 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:07AM (#55320811)
    Technology is not a category in the same sense physics, chemistry, and physiology are.
    • Better still, Technology is just applied physics.

      • Re:Technology? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tsqr ( 808554 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:39AM (#55321001)

        Better still, Technology is just applied physics.

        Oops. You've triggered the obligatory xkcd. [xkcd.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Want a 'technology' prize? Invent a better transistor based on new physics. They awarded the prize to the original transistor - which was 'a better triode using newfangled solid-state physics'. So, no problem getting a tech prize - for the physics enabling the tech.

        The Nobel prize is more needed in basic research. Someone who invents the 'desktop computer' or 'the smart phone' has a good chance to get rich directly from the invention itself.

      • not to sound too star trek or something and steal that line the dude stole but everything is applied physics right ? since we're all basically made from compressed laughing gas somewhat-ish, at quantum level psychology is applied physics ... technology is not a science , allright :) storry to stoop to reverse semantics ... i'm really low on inspiration these days
    • Here is a list they could use to get ideas of new fields : https://gradschool.cornell.edu/academics/fields-of-study/fields [cornell.edu]
    • Re:Technology? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:49AM (#55321095)

      One of the previous winners is for the invention of the Blue LED. Wouldn't that be considered technology?

      However much of technology today would fall under one of the areas of key sciences.

      However most ground breaking technology often comes from being in the right spot at the right time. The Desktop Computer, Should Woz Get a noble prize for that? Yes it had changed the world in a big way... However what he did wasn't any breakthrough He just put a lot of purchased chips together and sold it as a kit. If he didn't do it, there were thousands of other people who could have done this, as making a personal computer was a hobby at the time.
       

      • Technology is the reduction of labor required to produce a result. Look at artisans versus the assembly line versus cellular manufacture--especially since assembly lines and cellular manufacture use the same tools, yet cellular manufacture is faster and uses less labor. That's technology.

      • by necro81 ( 917438 )
        A second example: the 2009 Physics prize was awarded to the inventors of the CCD sensor, which was the basis for digital imaging for many years.
      • One of the previous winners is for the invention of the Blue LED.

        The LED itself is technology. What he got the prize for was not the LED, but the physics that made it possible to manufacture the LED.

      • There were a few people before Wozniak.
      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        One of the previous winners is for the invention of the Blue LED. Wouldn't that be considered technology?

        Maybe.... The real category that's missing is fundamental advancements in computation that are Shared with mankind; not patented for exclusive use or kept secret.

        There's a fundamental difference between scientists who make discoveries and publish their work VS businesses who invent things or do things based on their own science kept secret and marketed for maximum personal profits.

      • The 'breaking' technology of the Apple 1 was not simply that it was 'a bunch of chips put together' that anybody else could do.

        The breakthrough was that it was a single board computer, complete. All you had to do was solder a power transformer onto it, solder a keyboard onto it, and plug in a TV set.

        There were thousands of other nerds fiddling around with computer technology and microprocessors. It took Woz and Jobs putting together a single board design like they did and selling it with an ad in Kilobaud

    • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @09:00AM (#55321179) Homepage Journal

      the Nobel Prizes are conducted in accordance with instructions in his will. that's how it is.

      • by necro81 ( 917438 )
        The Economics Prize was not in Nobel's will, either. It was established in 1968 [wikipedia.org] after the Swedish Bank ponied up the money.
      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        the Nobel Prizes are conducted in accordance with instructions in his will. that's how it is.

        Should he be allowed to maintain those instructions forever, though? I think not. He has been dead LONG since he wrote that will, and a dead person can't hold perpetual interest in things. After perhaps 100 years or so following their death, the public ought to say his authority to direct use of the funds has expired, and they will be used in whatever manner is in the best public interest, Or if he create

        • by Shinobi ( 19308 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @11:26AM (#55322221)

          The foundation IS managed in accordance with the will, as upheld by Swedish law. Swedish law is incredibly strict in regards to modifying foundations after establishment, especially foundations built upon a will. The reason for that is because the potential for fraud is too great without those strict laws.

        • He has been dead LONG since he wrote that will, and a dead person can't hold perpetual interest in things.

          Call on line 1. From the vatican or something.

          • by mysidia ( 191772 )

            Call on line 1. From the vatican or something.

            The Vatican? As if they're ones to talk. That's one of those oddball cities in Italy that is administered by cult leaders and still maintains the frivolous claim of being their own sovereign nation embedded inside another country, but they have no military so at the end of the day, their compound is at the mercy of the local authorities.

    • Technology is not a category in the same sense physics, chemistry, and physiology are.

      Yeah, one could just as easily ask

      - Why is there no Nobel Prize in Business?
      - Why is there no Nobel Prize in Conservation?
      - Why is there no Nobel Prize in Fisheries Management?
      - Why is there no Nobel Prize in Cuisine?

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Technology is not a category in the same sense physics, chemistry, and physiology are.

      Not to mention, not in the spirit of why Nobel created the prizes.

      Nobel created dynamite and various other explosives (far safer than the one previously invented by him). The problem was, when his brother died, an obituary in the paper was confused and thought he died. It said the "merchant of death has died" - given his inventions have killed people. Alfred Nobel, after reading this, realized that people might not think o

    • Technology is not a category in the same sense physics, chemistry, and physiology are.

      Indeed, there are three technology prizes:

      physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine

    • Technology is not a category in the same sense physics, chemistry, and physiology are.

      And literature, peace, and economics are?

  • Dynamite (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Because they do not want to give an award for something that turns out to be the next iteration of Dynamite.

  • Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HideyoshiJP ( 1392619 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:10AM (#55320829)
    I don't think there can be a Nobel Prize in technology until they stop claiming they're "disrupting" everything by making an app that does "real world thing X, but online/with an app"
    • Marketing is legalized lying.
      • Marketing is legalized lying.

        In EU, lying in advertisement is a no-no. In USA, lying is protected by 1. amendment or something. And before you point out that this is a gross oversimplification, Matthew 7:3:

        And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?

        • In EU, lying in advertisement is a no-no. In USA, lying is protected by 1. amendment or something.

          Well, no. Lying in ads is illegal in both the USA and the EU. 1st Amendment free speech decidedly does not cover fraud. They're illegal in both places, but only if they catch you. And there's the ever popular "We didn't lie; we can't be blamed if you drew the wrong conclusions."

          • They're illegal in both places, but only if they catch you

            Fair enough, I just assumed that in the context of this discussion law enforcement is follows presumption of innocence and other best practices of non-arbitrary law enforcement.

            We didn't lie; we can't be blamed if you drew the wrong conclusions

            I don't know about USA, but EU also covers deception in advertisement.

            • by fazig ( 2909523 )

              I don't know about USA, but EU also covers deception in advertisement.

              In theory, yes. But when you watch ads on TV, hear them on the radio or see them on the internet you know that this isn't quite as accurate as some people would like it to be. In reality deception requires intent, which you'd have to prove in court. Something that is usually very difficult unless they were really sloppy with their 'artistic licence' in the ads.

              • deception requires intent

                Perhaps in criminal case. In advertisement you can demonstrate that potential consumer is understanding the message incorrectly. If this is demonstrated, the first sanction is a warning and if the company withdraws its advert claims, no further sanctions are pushed. Usually companies comply, since such tends to get publicized and might hurt the brand.

    • Nobel prize, particularly Nobel Peace prize is a joke anyway, hardly prestigious considering that it's been awarded to the likes of: -

      * Obama - for doing nothing, except his job, with quite questionable policies;
      * Malala Yousafzai - for doing nothing, except running away from Taliban, seeking fame, and giving boring speeches, none of which are noteworthy;
      * Aung San Suu Kyi - for committing ethnic cleansing and genocide against her own people, the Rohingya.

      It's some-what of an insult if someone one the Nobel

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:10AM (#55320831)

    And imagine every goddamn company promoting their product as worthy "technology".

    "This year's Noble in Technology goes to Uber for their awesome app and innovative disruptive ride sharing technology!"

    "This year's Noble goes to Elon Musk for his innovative disruptive genius idea that he got from a 19th century World's Fair."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:10AM (#55320835)

    Technology is applied science. Its Nobel Prize is a billion dollar company.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:11AM (#55320843) Homepage Journal

    Because technology is a vague and nebulous term.

    And do you think someone should get a prize for inventing rounded corners or doing something that already existed - but on teh interwebses? Because if there was one, it would be shitcocks like them who win it.

  • Categories (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alopex ( 1973486 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:15AM (#55320865)

    "The categories laid out in his will -- physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and peace -- have remained the basis of the awards, and a prize for economics was added in 1968. So, what gives? Why only those five original fields?"

    The summary/article forgot about the literature category.

  • by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:16AM (#55320877)
    Any advance in tech is from a development in physics or math fundamentally. "Technology" is too vague a term.
    • Any advance in tech is from a development in physics or math fundamentally. "Technology" is too vague a term.

      I agree with this sentiment. If there's a technology Nobel Prize it will just be Google or Apple or Microsoft or IBM or Samsung for the first few years, then once they see the marketing value they will corrupt it more than it already is (much like the Peace and Economics prizes which were added,) then before long, because there are so many technology companies clamoring for PR, you will end up with every prize going to some stupid Apple patent like "for the geometric construct of a rounded button" because

    • Well, they created physics and chemistry which are pretty close. the thing is they don't want to dilute the existing "nobel" effect by creating new nobels for other fields.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Once the economists started getting awards, they didn't see any need to invest in further categories.

  • by Valacosa ( 863657 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:18AM (#55320887)

    Why Is There No Nobel Prize In Technology?

    There is. It's called "becoming a billionaire, and probably also a household name".

    There's also a Pulitzer in technology. It's called "Selling out to Google".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Because 90% of 'great' technology is marketing hype and fashion trends.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Nobel Prize is about discovery, technology is the act of monetizing existing science, not doing new science. Please.

  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:26AM (#55320921)

    Just look at some of the Nobel prizes in physics the last twenty years:
    * Blue LED, and by extension white LEDs and low-energy LED bulbs. (2014)
    * Graphene (2010)
    * CCD (2009)
    * Fibre-optics for communication (2009)
    * Semiconductor-based integrated circuits (2000)
    * Laser cooling (1997)

    And chemistry:
    * Nanotechnology (2016)
    * Conductive polymers (2000)

    All of those are more or less hugely important technologies ... that I as a non-physicist can have at least a fleeting grasp of what it is all about, so there may be something that I missed.
    Many of the other prizes have gone to more fundamental science -- that may be used for some important technology in the future --
    or to astrophysics or with applications mostly in medicine.

  • It is that technology ultimately does not help everyone and really contributes to the wealthy elite more than anything. If we look at the internet as a technology, there is still a large divide in access between those that live in densely populated areas and rural areas. Rural areas are often the last to get broadband and it is still slow when compared to the more urban areas. Often the only reason that rural areas even get internet access at all is because of some tax incentive, otherwise they would still
    • still a large divide in access

      Not as large as the divide in desire for internet.

    • It is that technology ultimately does not help everyone and really contributes to the wealthy elite more than anything.

      Wha?

      Technology is what transforms science into something practical that benefits real people. Mostly, it has benefited everybody. Some examples:

      Food production (beyond simply gathering)
      Clothing
      Shelter (beyond huddling in caves)
      Writing ... etc.

      All of that is technology.

      Just because there are specific technologies that primarily benefit a few doesn't tarnish the entire spectrum that is "technology".

  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:30AM (#55320947)
    they should get over "the affair" and create that mathematics nobel.
  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:30AM (#55320949)
    Math is mostly based around assumed axioms and the possibilities that you can directly derive from them, there is absolute proof as it is almost tautology.

    Sciences require the experimental method and you are never sure of anything, just that the data fits the theories and for bonus points the theories make new predictions that when new data is gathered from measuring those predictions it also fits. Typically Nobel prizes in science are given for a few fields when someone comes up with the latter and the new predictions fit theory in some way that significantly advances the field and new work can then be built off of it.

    Applied sciences, like technology and engineering don't typically create theory but simply apply the theory in a practical way that allows for the sciences to be turned into applications and products.

    You can't offer too many Nobel prize catagories or it would be overwhelming, but at the same time just because a Nobel prize isn't offered for that type of activity it does not mean it is a 'lesser' pursuit nor does it mean its equivalent to 'turning a crank'
  • by bfwebster ( 90513 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @08:41AM (#55321027) Homepage

    Trust me, within the IT field, the Turing Award is considered every bit as prestigious as the Nobel Prize.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] ..bruce..

    • Plus, what with the total farce that is the Nobel Peace Prize, who wants a Nobel? Especially when you can have an award named after one of the most actually noble people to ever live and who contributed personally such a great deal to field of computing.
    • Interviewer: "what are your qualifications?"
      candidate: "Well, I won the Turing Award."
      Interviewer: "That's cool. Ok, we're going to do white boarding. Can you write out fizz buzz on the board?"

      That's how it goes [joelgrus.com].
  • Mathematics is NOT a language - it consists of a shared set of further representations/symbols for things that have different words in different languages. For mathematics to be a language by itself, there would have to be only one (unique) set of words for each number/function etc.. (And if we talk about only what the information is of, separately from its labels and representations, then that, by its very nature is something even more fundamental that language itself.)
  • Alfred Nobel invented dynamite. Dynamite, for its time, was extremely advanced technology. It made it easier to open the ground, to excavate, to mine resources. It also made it easier to kill greater numbers of people in military actions.

    Nobel realized this when a newspaper errantly printed his obituary, believing he had died. Like anyone else, Nobel was interested in hearing what would be said about him after he died. When he realized the answer was terms like "butcher," or "greatest mass murderer of ou
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @09:01AM (#55321183)
    >> Mathematics -- the international language, the foundation of so many scientific pursuits, and arguably the most fundamental theoretical discipline of all -- doesn't have a Nobel Prize, either. Mathematicians have complained about this for decades.

    Not really. There's the "Fields Medal" after all.
    http://www.mathunion.org/general/prizes/fields/details/

    One of those is worth about four Nobel prizes because, well, math, yo.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The award is about scientific discovery.... Technology rarely is discovery, it's applying other people's discoveries.

    No Steve Jobs never deserved one, hah.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, 2017 @09:08AM (#55321221)

    Stop referring to the Nobel Prize in Economics. There's no Nobel Prize in Economics. There's the Swedish Central Bank's Prize in Alfred Nobel's Honour. It piggybacks off of the real Nobel prizes' good name. Every time you use the short name you take a piss on Alfred Nobel's grave.

    This and calling the "Right Livelihood Award" the "Alternative Nobel Prize" are among my pet peeves.

    • There's the Swedish National Bank's Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel[sic].

      Hey, thanks for clarifying that.
      You know what, since that's kind of long, why don't we just call it the "Nobel prize in economics" for short?

  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Friday October 06, 2017 @09:11AM (#55321243)

    but there should be an Arthur C Clarke Award for "Significantly Advanced Technology"

  • Computing has the Turing Award [acm.org], technology has the Lemelson-MIT Prize [mit.edu], Mathematics has the Fields Medal, I'm sure other non-Nobel fields have prestigious awards as well.

    As for "the greatest benefit to mankind" that Nobel wanted to recognize, the list of Turing Award winners includes those who brought us personal computing, the internet, and the world wide web.

    • As for "the greatest benefit to mankind" that Nobel wanted to recognize, the list of Turing Award winners includes those who brought us personal computing, the internet, and the world wide web.

      That's nothing. The "just invented" prize winners include the people who invented internal combustion, semiconductors and sliced bread. Oh, and a standing award for the faster-than-light people. See, it doesn't really matter how impressive the people who get your award are. Because they can get multiple awards.

      The

  • Because, simply, Alfred Nobel didn't think it worth having a category.

    "On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace - the Nobel Prizes."

    In 1968, the Swedish State Bank added Economics 'in memory of Nobel' and they are announced together, but technically it's not really a Nobel Prize.

    It would certainly be within the realm of possibility that some super-ric

  • It needs to be like the Oscars where you have categories like 'best foreign short film by a left-handed director'. Of course, they might have to split up the money a lot more so rather than getting a million dollars for the Nobel Prize for Chemistry you get $35.27 instead.
  • Aside from "technology" not being a science, it's also such a broad term as to border on useless. "Technology" is just "applied science". Literally everything we make and do that involves using the results of scientific research can be correctly called "technology".

  • Alternatively, math undergraduates are often told that Nobel was jealous of a Swedish mathematician who had an affair with his wife (though this story is ruined by the fact that Nobel didn't actually have a wife).

    Maybe the details of the story are just a tiny bit off... could it be that Nobel's jealousy drove him to seduce and have an affair with the wife of a Swedish mathematician? Hmmmm....

  • Alfred Nobel picked those fields for reasons that he chose to keep to himself. That's it. One can endlessly speculate about his reasons, but that is all that one can do. Quite frankly, there are far more important things to devote one's mental energies to.
    • I think the real question is, why are Nobel prizes considered so disproportionately prestigious? Is it because they are a quirky old tradition compared to more modern ones, such as the Millennium technology prize [wikipedia.org] with similar monetary worth?
  • Nevanlinna was born 22 October 1895. Nobel signed his last will 27 November 1895 establishing the funds for the Nobel Price. Nobel died 10 December 1896. So clearly Nobel knew nothing about Nevanlinna's mathematical work. The article is garbage. Bring up some unsubstantiated rumors. Add some click-bait names, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Satoshi Nakamoto. Instant Slashdot posting.
  • Some rich old dude left a bunch of money when he died for prizes to be awarded in four categories...and these prizes became pre-eminent in those fields. OK, so what? Why does that mean that we have to have a "Nobel prize for [insert name of pursuit here]"? Why don't we have a Nobel prize for movies (since there is already one for literature...why was film left out)? Who cares, we have the Academy awards, the Cannes film festival, the Golden lion in Venice, etc.

    Similarly, in technology, we have the Turing P

  • I especially don't get that they gave one to Bob Dylan. A man who's bean is so dark roasted he can only speak in gibberish.
  • What Nobels need is a culling. Peace and economics need to go. Completely subjective criteria; they're just there to fete the Davos Jetset with another bauble that enables their collective ego to place the likes of Yassir Arafat or Paul Krugman on intellectual pedestal comparable to the likes of Niels Bohr - which is a joke by itself.
  • It's called an IPO...
  • No new category has been added since the prizes were established. The "Nobel Prize for Economics" is a sham that was created by bankers. The memorial prize for economics goes against everything Nobel stood for.
  • Technology isn't the only field to get the cold shoulder.

    Technology isn't a field - it's a buzzword.

  • When the prize fund was established at the end of the 19th century, the word "technology" described the study of practical applications of the "useful arts." So it was not really considered as a category of knowledge. It was just a descriptor to identify a place where you could go to study them, as in " École Polytechnique" or "Massachusetts Institute of Technology." The former was founded at the end of the 18th century and the latter in the middle of the 19th, and reflect the accepted definition of

  • There are five Nobel Prizes: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. They are there because Nobel named them in his testament. He did not consider robotics, as there was no robotics at his time, and engineering in general was just craftsmanship. He also did not consider theology, philosophy, mathematics, social sciences, and psychology. This is most likely rooted in his time and his focus on the natural sciences. In his time, new findings in the natural sciences propelled mankind f

  • The Nobel Prices are about categories that _don't_ provide immediate payback to the investor but are for the general good of mankind without immediate financial gain.

  • Why Is There No Nobel Prize In Technology?

    Nobel didn't say, revealing only that he made his choices "after mature deliberation."

    There you are. He chose to not-say, for his own reasons. Unless someone uncovers a previously misplaced codicil to his will, or invents a time machine so he can be snatched from his death bed and tortured to get an answer (which may or may not be true), we don't know and will never know.

    In the time-machine-torture scenario, it is entirely possible that by the time of snatching, h

Let's organize this thing and take all the fun out of it.

Working...