Re: _Going Inside: A Tour Round a Single Moment of Consciousness_, John McCrone

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Apr 19 2001 - 19:43:40 MDT

Eugene Leitl wrote:
> On Tue, 27 Mar 2001, J. R. Molloy wrote:
> > Jim Fehlinger quoted,
> > > A charismatic figure, Edelman proved adept at drumming up
> > > sponsorship. Eventually, enough money was raised to found the
> > > Neurosciences Institute, a $16 million 'monastery of science'
> > > built into a hillside at the Scripps Research Institute in
> > > southern California. The cash paid for wet labs to study
> > > neurology and dry labs for computer simulations of brain
> > > circuits. Edelman could also afford thirty full-time staff. For
> > > other neuroscientists, it was bad enough that a complete outsider
> > > was getting his own lab, free of any of the usual teaching
> > > responsibilities or funding constraints
> >
> > Sounds like Eliezer.
> Thirty full time staff means neuroscientists, starting at postdoctoral
> grade. Maybe a few lab assistants and grad students, to wash the dishes.
> The only initial position for a computer person without a degree is a
> sysadmin, maybe. I'd be really surprised if they'll hire hotshot
> programmers without a pedigree (i.e. experience as numerics wonks).

Uh, some of us gray-hairs who have been hacking since before the
beginning of internet time often do not have degrees or certainly not
degrees equal to the types of projects we design and build. At one time
I took all the tech courses I needed for the first piece of paper, but
they insisted I needed a lot of off-subject "rounding" BS I had no time
for and less interest in. Hell, I didn't go to college until I was 25
and already had dependents to support. I was as "well rounded" as I was
ever going to be. So I simply went to work and started designing and
building things that the academics might talk about (but only build toy
versions of, if that) but that working programmers were amazed to see
actually implemented and running. Over the years of course I have kept
up my education in my field and outside of it, better than many PhD CS
folks I know.

A degree is a piece of paper. You need people with well tuned brains, a
passion for the work and enough practical experience to avoid the
pitfalls they and others have already experienced. I don't work for
places or people too stupid to understand that.

> I don't think this sounds like Eliezer, because he doesn't want get a
> degree in the area he's pursuing, creating an artificial intelligence.
> Also, he doesn't seem to think much of neuroscience, at least judging from
> his post history.

If you can read, understand and work with the concepts of a branch or
multiple branches of learning then precisely why is it worthwhile to
spend N years getting a degree in them? There are many, many PhD'ed
people out there who do not deserve more consideration just for that and
who do not receive more consideration because of it.

> It is not a good idea to start your carreer by deliberately narrowing down
> your choices. Getting a Ph.D. by the time you're 25 is very possible for
> a hardworking person of a larger than average intelligence working in the
> right place, and opens a lot of doors.

Perhaps, in normal times. If you want to go to normal R&D jobs in
someone else's lab or get an academic post with enough funding. But if
you are on fire to create then I would not automatically recommend it.
Not even to those half my age.

- samantha

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