Elbakyan at Harvard University in 2010
|Alma mater||Satbayev Kazakh National Technical University|
|Years active||Currently active|
|Fields||Neural engineering, Computer Science|
Alexandra Asanovna Elbakyan (Russian: Алекса́ндра Аса́новна Элбакя́н) is a Kazakhstani computer programmer, the creator of the site Sci-Hub, described as an Internet "pirate in hiding" & "Science's Pirate Queen". Nature has listed her in 2016 in the top ten people that mattered in science, Ars Technica has compared her to Aaron Swartz, and The New York Times has compared her to Edward Snowden.
Elbakyan was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 6 November 1988. She is of Armenian, Slavic, and Asian descent. Elbakyan undertook university studies in Almaty, where she developed skills in computer hacking. A year working in computer security in Moscow gave her the finances to proceed to Freiburg in 2010 to work on a brain–computer interface project, and she developed an interest in transhumanism, which led her to a summer internship at Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States, where she studied "Neuroscience and Consciousness". In 2009, she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the Kazakh National Technical University, specializing in information security.
She began Sci-Hub on her return to Kazakhstan in 2011, characterised by Science correspondent John Bohannon as "an awe-inspiring act of altruism or a massive criminal enterprise, depending on whom you ask." Following a lawsuit brought in the US by the publisher Elsevier, Elbakyan is presently in hiding due to the risk of extradition; Elsevier has been granted an injunction against her and $15 million in damages. According to a 2016 interview, her neuroscience research is on hold, but she has enrolled in a history of science master’s program at a "small private university" in an undisclosed location. Her thesis focuses on scientific communication. In December 2016, Nature Publishing Group named Alexandra Elbakyan as one of the 10 people who most mattered in science in 2016.
Elbakyan and Sci-Hub were again involved in a lawsuit in 2017, this time with the American Chemical Society. ACS sued the site for copyright and trademark violations, and conversion. Later that year, the court ruled in favor of ACS, fining Sci-Hub $4,800,000 in damages.
Elbakyan has stated that she is inspired by communist ideals, although she does not consider herself a strict Marxist. She has stated that she supports a strong state which can stand up to the Western world, and that she does not want "the scientists of Russia and of my native Kazakhstan to share the fates of the scientists of Iraq, Libya, and Syria, that were 'helped' by the USA to become more democratic."
In particular, Elbakyan is strongly critical of the former Dynasty Foundation and its associated figures, believing that the foundation was politicized, tied to Russia's liberal opposition, and fit the legal definition of a "foreign agent"; Dynasty's founder, in her opinion, financed those researchers whose political views agreed with its own. Elbakyan states that after she began to investigate the foundation's activities and published her findings online, she became the target of a cyberharassment campaign by Dynasty's supporters.
In 2017, a species of parasitoid wasps discovered by Russian and Mexican entomologists was named after Elbakyan (Idiogramma elbakyanae). Elbakyan was offended by this, writing, "If you analyse the situation with scientific publications, the real parasites are scientific publishers, and Sci-Hub, on the contrary, fights for equal access to scientific information." Following this event, and in the context of her long-running tense relations with the liberal, pro-Western wing of the Russian scientific community, she blocked access to Sci-Hub for users from the Russian Federation. Sci-Hub access was later restored to Russia and Elbakyan said in an interview that many fans contacted her and convinced her "that the opinion of the so-called 'science popularizers' who attacked me on the Internet cannot be considered the opinion of the scientific community." The Russian entomologist responsible for naming the wasp stated that he supports Sci-Hub, and that in any event, the naming was not an insult, in particular because parasitoids are closer to predators than to parasites.
Elbakyan is a strong supporter of the Open Access movement and claims that Sci-Hub's mission falls perfectly in line with the movement. She argues that websites like Sci-Hub are part of the goal Open Access proponents are striving towards. Elbakyan believes that via this Open Access movement, citizens can become more informed.
In December 2019, it was reported that the United States Department of Justice is investigating Elbakyan for suspected ties to Russia’s military intelligence arm, the GRU, to steal U.S. military secrets from defense contractors. Elbakyan has denied this, saying that Sci-Hub “is not in any way directly affiliated with Russian or some other country’s intelligence,” but noting that “of course, there could be some indirect help. The same as with donations, anyone can send them; they are completely anonymous, so I do not know who exactly is donating to Sci-Hub.”
We have a recent addition to our lineup of speakers that we’ll start off the day with: Alexandra Elbakyan. As many of you know, Alexandra is a Kazakhstani graduate student, computer programmer, and the creator of the controversial Sci-Hub site.
In 2009, when she was a graduate student working on her final-year research project in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Elbakyan became frustrated at being unable to read many scholarly papers because she couldn’t afford them...
Just as Swartz did, this hacker is freeing tens of millions of research articles from paywalls, metaphorically hoisting a middle finger to the academic publishing industry, which, by the way, has again reacted with labels like "hacker" and "criminal." Meet Alexandra Elbakyan, the developer of Sci-Hub, a Pirate Bay-like site for the science nerd. It's a portal that offers free and searchable access "to most publishers, especially well-known ones."
Née en 1988 au Kazakhstan, elle est fascinée par « les livres de science soviétiques, qui expliquent scientifiquement tous les miracles attribués aux dieux ou à la magie ». Elle étudie les neurosciences à Astana et son université n’a pas les moyens de payer l’abonnement aux publications des éditeurs scientifiques. Pour son projet de recherche (l’interactivité cerveau-machine), elle aurait dû acheter chaque article autour de 30 dollars – un prix faramineux quand on sait qu’il faut consulter des dizaines ou des centaines d’articles. Elle n’a qu’une solution : les pirater.
Alexandra Elbakyan [...] Summer 2010 [...] Programming and data analysis
Alexandra Elbakyan, a 27-year-old researcher from Kazakhstan, started out with the same issues. While she was studying ‘Neuroscience and Consciousness’ in labs at Georgia Tech (US) and University of Freiburg (Germany), she was forced to pirate papers for herself and other researchers.
Elbakyan, a software developer and neurotechnology researcher, created Sci-Hub originally out of frustration over lack of access to scholarly material in her native Kazakhstan. After studying neuroscience and transhumanism (a futurist movement positing that the human species can evolve through technology) at Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Elbakyan returned to Kazakhstan, where Internet access was limited, article purchase fees steep, and interlibrary loan periods long. She often located pirated journal articles through online content access communities, and helped procure them for her fellow students; eventually she decided to automate the process and launched Sci-Hub.
Alexandra Elbakyan is a neurotechnology researcher and advocate, and a software developer. Alexandra holds a BS in CS from Kazakh National Technical University in Almaty, Kazakhstan, specializing in information security. During the last year of her study, she worked on a security system that would recognize individuals by their brainwaves. After obtaining her BS she worked for a while with the Human Media Interaction Group at the University of Twente on the mind-controlled game Bacteria Hunt. Later she joined the Human Higher Nervous Activity Lab dedicated to the study of consciousness. Currently she is working in The Brain Machine Interfacing Initiative at Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg on the development of ECoG-based hand prostheses
Alexandra A. Elbakyan graduated from KazNTU with a bachelor's degree in IT in June 2009. She conducted a study regarding person identification by EEG in her final year thesis. She is going to continue her research in brain-computer interfaces and brain implants
Elbakyan also answered nearly every question I had about her operation of the website, interaction with users, and even her personal life. Among the few things she would not disclose is her current location, because she is at risk of financial ruin, extradition, and imprisonment because of a lawsuit launched by Elsevier last year.
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