The greeNsort® project requires little funding for huge savings of up to 50 TWh/year and emission savings up to 30 MtCO2e/year.

German and European Politics struggles to understand the economics of software — there is no funding for green software.

EU Funding is a mess

Much of the software in use today is free. If you want people to use greener software, it must also be free, otherwise nobody uses it. But there is no serious funding for free software1, let alone green software. EU-funding (whether for climate or innovation) is only available for projects of multi-partner-collaborations, bureaucracy is overwhelming and only feasible for established players, all the money which is meant to promote innovation trickles down established channels and never reaches critical mass. National and state funding (we tried Germany and Bavaria) is only available for established research institutions or for-profit companies. For private entrepreneurs focusing on public value there is at best small project funding like hackathon events2.

Wasting public goods

Protecting public goods is already a challenge:

The tragedy of the commons is a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling the shared resource through their collective action — Wikipedia

There are suggestions by nobel price winners3 to cope with the free-rider problem of public goods. But there are few implementations against free-riding, by contrast, economic wisdom on free-riding is often ignored by governments or overuled by courts.

Creating public goods

The situation is even worse when it comes to creating the public good.

Thus, in current theory the existence of a public good is assumed prior to the government provision of that good. Yet no social, economic or technological mechanism is even faintly suggested that ensures this existence. Many of the same theoretical principles and practicalities of creation, maintenance and governance also apply to free goods — John Forster (1999)4

This is particularly true for technology and even more so for knowledge:

technology has long been seen as an important domain for government, in view of the market failure case for government intervention, arising from the difficulty of appropriating the gains from innovation and the case in favour of widespread diffusion of the benefits … knowledge is not just a matter of technology … markets are not very satisfactory for spreading knowledge … information and communication technologies are of course, by definition, the carriers of information. The information they carry is of potential benefit to everybody on this planet … concerning technology, it is evident that the production of key technologies will continue to be the domain of the developed economies, almost by definition. But the application of technologies affects all countries, even those at earliest stages of development. … Without losing all the many benefits of markets, the state can also be … entrepreneur, especially in its ability to have a ‘vision’ of the future, and alongside that, its capability of constructing institutions (such as redefining property rights) that might help realise such a vision … Freedom of information and legislation to encourage it should be seen as a public duty on the part of the state … Along with this goes the need for a tight performance monitoring system to ensure that the ‘prizes’ are justly earned. In practice, subsidies from the state have often acted to increase inequality and aggrandize private power — United Nations (1999)5

Clever governments compensate for market failures

The Critical Role of Federal Investment: In assessing how to maintain America’s leadership in networking and information technology, a common fallacy is to overestimate the role of technology development and to underestimate the role of fundamental research. In fact, computer science research, carried out to a great extent in America’s research universities with funding from Federal agencies such as DARPA and NSF, lies at the heart of this leadership. — Report to the President and Congress6

For example the US have

and attract talent from all over the world

we see that the United States has been, overwhelmingly, the largest contributor to algorithm development with 38% of all discoverers born there and 64% of all discoverers working there —  Thompson et al (2020)7

A US publication might be biased here, so let’s do a fact-check for the progress in sorting during the last decades (using a subjective selection of relevant works):

That’s more or less compatible with the above claim, well, unless the greeNsort® algorithms are taken into consideration.

Germany is trying to catch-up

Well organized as we Germans are, we founded two moonshot innovation agencies, a military would-like DARPA Cyberagency and a non-military would-like ARPA SPRIN-D, which dilutes effectivness — Angela Merkel8

How military is this Cyberagency recruiting ad? Cyberagency chief Christoph Igel has given up the fight and returned to the German Armed Forces. SPRIN-D chief Rafael Laguna de la Vera is still fighting, let’s see, whether he can do the right thing.

I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts — Bill Gates

  1. James Turner (2021) Open source has a funding problem↩︎

  2. Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland↩︎

  3. Elinor Ostrom, William D. Nordhaus↩︎

  4. The Creation, Maintenance and Governance of Public Goods and Free Goods, Public Management an International Journal of Research and Theory, p.319↩︎


  6. Designing a Digital Future: Federally Funded Research and Development in Networking and Information Technology↩︎

  7. Thompson, Ge & Sherry (2020) Building the algorithm commons: Who discovered the algorithms that underpin computing in the modern enterprise? Global Strategy Journal, Volume 11, Issue 1 Special Issue: Digitalization and Global Strategy↩︎

  8. “Angela Merkel sprach Klartext. Da die Bundesregierung sich entschieden habe, „sehr deutsch“, zwei Agenturen für Sprunginnovationen zu gründen, eine militärische und eine zivile, „haben wir uns natürlich ein weiteres großes Potenzial von Innovation genommen“ – so dass der Output nicht „so dramatisch“ sein werde, prophezeite sie beim Forschungsgipfel im Mai” — Der Tagesspiegel↩︎

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