On Friday, the class were unanimous on the concept that scientific research or technological innovation are highly dependent on financial resource. Then, a question, "can government regulation or legislation speed up research and innovation?" was proposed. In my perspective, regulations are not able to speed up research in certain field. At least, I cannot imagine how would such regulation work. Also, the class were unable to give an example of such regulation. With respect to such lack of regulation in speeding up certain research field, I find two possible explanation: first, such regulation seems unreasonable. It is not feasible to force money and scientists devote into certain area. Only dictatorship sets up such regulation. Second, politician are highly correlated with "money sources" -- politicians need a lot of investment to win their campaign. Thus, during their terms, they vote for policies and regulations in favor of those who support politicians' campaign, and it is very likely that regulations, which will force money goes to less lucrative fields, are rejected.
Then, is there any method to speed up research in certain field? I think there definitely is. For example, government can made incentive and sort of bait money to certain field, and incentives are completely different from regulation. In China now, there is many incentives leading money to solar projects. Companies invest in solar projects receives reduced tax rates. They are qualified to buy land from the nation in a lower price (in China, land is owned by the government, and individual can purchase land but rent it for a period of 70 years). Above policies are extraordinarily effective. BYD (a solar automobile company) is developing very well in technologies related to solar automobiles.
Aside from discussion in class, I think difficulty is a significant cause that certain fields are developing very slowly. I define this cause as "intelligence barrier." Last summer, I joined a computer science conference in China. At the end of that conference, there was a Q&A section. A student randomly asked a question for fun.He said,"Prof. Yang, have you ever met any difficulties during your academic life?" The professor stared at him for a moment and teased, "I did, when I was studying quantum mechanics, but not after I changed my field to computer science." It was a joke, but a reasonable one. Obviously, CS is a much easier topic compare to quantum physics. In the last century, CS developed much faster than quantum physics because more people are able to understand and contribute to CS.
In conclusion, I do not think regulation can speed up certain technological innovation, but government can set up incentive to achieve this. Besides financial resources, difficulty is another main reason that certain fields are developing slower.