Astera is dedicated to the principles of metascience, the basic belief that science can do better. The current scientific system is generally successful, but it is surely also suboptimal. Since the “replication crisis,” we have grown much more aware of the widespread errors and bad practices across multiple fields. Studying, identifying, and rooting out these inherent biases and flaws is to the good of science and society.
Multiple metrics indicate that overall progress is slowing and the cost of research is increasing. Efficiency, accuracy, and best practices are more vital and important than ever. Astera believes that the “science-of-science” and its systematic application may yield some of the greatest possible ROI of all scientific fields. Whether through essential tweaks and fixes or large-scale structural change, it is essential that we constantly examine, repair, and retrofit the apparatus of knowledge and progress.
In particular, Astera is invested in big, bold organizational experiments that reimagine how research and development is accomplished. What is the best way to structure a research lab? What funding models provide the best ROI? How do existing orgs excel and where do they fall short? What are the gaps and how do we fill them? We look to past triumphs, such as the early decades of Bell Labs and ARPA, to find concrete lessons, and we also imagine creative new models that have not previously existed. As a civilization, we are only exploring a tiny bit of the possible design space. It behooves us to try new ways.
We hope to become a home for fresh thinking about research and development that provides a clear benefit across scientific disciplines. Current metascience projects include the Focused Research Organization (FRO), which combines basic research with coordinated engineering and systems-building to solve a specific technological challenge, and the Private Advanced Research Projects Agency (PARPA), a privately funded riff on the most successful aspects of DARPA.