A pretentious title that has caught on in the high-tech
industries, referring to the most senior person in the company
who works with the company's technology (as opposed to
the big cheese, the top bean counter, and other
high-muckety-mucks of management).
While they are certainly knowledgeable of the technology used
by their industries, perhaps getting their hands dirty or perhaps
just being the idea man, they are not (in general)
scientists, simply because what they do is not (in general) science.
Some companies, or individuals, use Chief Technology Officer
to describe the head geek (though there may be legal
or other reasons to avoid that if the person is not an officer of the
company); that term is not objectionable.
Unfortunately, the term science (and scientist, by derivation) has become
synonomous with work involving technology or mathematics.
Do I detect umbrage
? Do I hear the raising of hackles
? To say that
a field of endeavor is not science is not to denigrate it; it simply means
that the practitioners do not follow the scientific method
The scientific method consists of
- Observing the workings of a system of interest
- Constructing an hypothesis to explain how and why it works the way it does
- Performing an experiment that will support the hypothesis or contradict it
- Preferably, using the hypothesis to predict other properties
of the system not yet observed, then performing other observations or
experiments to test the predictions
- Discarding the theory if a later observation contradicts it
Because the "chief scientist" at SGI (just to pick an
example; nothing personal) revolutionizes the application of computing
to the making of movies, does not make him engaged in science.
Amusingly, a player of some kinds of computer games is engaging in
scientific research when, for instance, e uses the
scientific method to discover the rules involved in building a civilization
starting with just stone knives and bearskins.
The results don't have to be significant or useful, but the process must be