Still, a number of top scientists argue that the Pentagon's shift in priorities could not have come at a worse time. Most American companies have largely ended basic research and have begun to outsource product research and development extensively even as investments in Asia and Europe are rising quickly.Now, those of us who were involved in computer science research back in the boom years of the '90's, when industry was spending like crazy on it, might scratch our heads a bit at this claim. You see, I'm trying to recall if any of these same professors back then used to chide DARPA for funding so much CS research, and reassure them that the government's money could best be spent elsewhere, since industry was easily taking up the slack in the CS area.
I clearly recall some academics arguing that industry's massive funding of CS research required a matching injection of government funds. I seem to remember the occasional claim that government funding had to keep pace with industry, to avoid private corporations "capturing" the expected massively lucrative fruits of basic CS research by claiming intellectual property rights on them. Maybe somebody might have argued that the surge in industrial funding of CS research was a sign that the research area had a lot of potential, and was hence deserving of government largesse. Or that it proved the economic importance of research to the hi-tech industry, which therefore needed still more government funding of research to help it stave off competition from other countries.
But I somehow can't seem to recall a single one of the professors quoted in the article arguing back then that government funding is most needed when industry isn't bothering to supply much funding of its own, and therefore that the abundance of industrial funding at the time was a sign that government research funds were less urgent, and could safely be cut back without harming the field or the economy.
Then again, perhaps it's just my poor memory.