Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
How many jobs really require college? (devinhelton.com)
258 points by woodcroft 71 days ago | hide | past | web | 304 comments | favorite



I think the author of this post is making the same mistake that a lot of other people (particularly smart folks) make whenever they are thinking about the ills of modern education system and what can be done to improve it. Like Peter Thiel and others, I don't think they understand how and why students are failing in classrooms today.

Take for example the author's suggestions on how school systems can be improved:

Create a set of free, online high school and college degree programs that any American could enroll in, and pursue at their own pace.

Can you really expect high school students to perform well in online classes? The most elite companies in the valley have correctly found out that remote doesn't work (in most cases)... and yet we're going to do remote with our students? I took online classes when I went back to complete college at an older age... it was the worst mistake of my life. As a human, I needed the social imposition of a disappointed teacher telling me that I performed poorly on my test, I needed the camaraderie of students with whom I could study somewhere. Online classes, especially at high school stage are very bad (perhaps with the exception of "gifted" students who probably would benefit from being in a fast-tracked line).

At age 13, give everyone a $100k education voucher.

You're giving too much credit to students, they don't know what is best for them. This $100k will be exploited in some way by profit-seeking companies before you have a second to glance back at the money.

Legalize and normalize apprenticeship contracts.

I agree with this.


What you're really pointing out is that people are different. Some need more structure than others. For whatever reason, I'm a pretty motivated person. Remote work is great for me because any time I can save is more time I have to do the list of things I want to get done that day.

My wife OTOH, requires structure. She's smart and works hard, but if she was left to work at home she would procrastinate until the 11th hour. She needed a brick and mortar college, and in that structure managed to get her 4 year degree is 2.5 years.

One thing not discussed is that quality online degree programs can significantly lower the cost bar for students. I was lucky enough to have a decent school near my parents, so I lived at home for my entire undergrad degree. We simply did not have the money to do anything different, and I refused to take out loans unless absolutely necessary (I worked instead). It would have been amazing if there had been self paced online degrees offered by big name colleges at the time I was in undergrad.


Yeah, the parent comment basically just described the optimal learning environment for their personality type, and then intentionally or unintentionally ignored the fact that another person's optimal environment may be different from theirs. I've always been naturally inclined to teach things to myself, at my own pace, so online education enabled me to thrive while I would have struggled with conventional schooling structure.

...and I'm not sure what evidence lead them to believe that "most companies" in silicon valley have discovered that remote doesn't work, but I'm willing to bet it's anecdotal.


Optimal for the majority of people is what I believe the parent was arguing. The vast majority of people are not self motivated and forward thinking enough to learn calculus all by themselves.


Fundamentals like Calculus are difficult because they're almost never presented in the context of a problem a person wants to solve. I had a difficult time feeling motivated until I picked up something I wanted to achieve, saw course material as tools to get there, then all of a sudden it was a very different matter. Math isn't fun by itself IMO, but using it to solve problems I actually want to solve is a lot of fun (even the fundamentals).


We really need to start asking ourselves why this dichotomy exists where some people can succeed without structure and some require it. Near as I can tell a lot of the reason many people require structure is because most primary education is geared towards making students subservient and dependent upon structure. We need to rethink primary education so more people grow up not requiring structure to learn. Near as I can tell, systems such as Montessori do a decent job achieving this educational goal, but I'm sure it's not the only approach out there that can achieve this.


Remote doesn't work very well when team effort is required compounded by processes that do not work well when there isn't a shared work space.

For PSOs for example remote works perfectly well since in many cases it's mainly individual work and even when a project requires a team the workstreams are individual and often independent.


> The most elite companies in the valley have correctly found out that remote doesn't work

There are enough companies out there with remote employees and even remotely distributed teams to disprove the assertion that "remote doesn't work".


I have the feeling remote works only for people who have an intrinsic motivation to be good at what they do.

I met a whole bunch of people who want to be a dev because it pays well. Most of them need constant supervision.


This continues to be a discussion point around remote work. This is displaced. You're talking about poor hiring standards. It has literally nothing to do with remote work.


In a discussion about education it is very relevant. What about the 99% of the population that are not qualified and will never be qualified to work at Google, Apple or Amazon? Do we as a society just leave them behind?

Society has to accommodate for workers that bomb interviews and that you would never hire on your team even if your particular company has the luxury of pretending they don't exist.


What does any of this have to do with hiring standards? Companies like Google can hire for passion, but most just want competent employees that can consistently fulfill their responsibilities in a happy team while providing positive ROI to the company.

Most people aren't inherently motivated by their jobs, and I'd say this applies even more in office settings. Work is work, "work / life balance" exists because work is the obligation that pays for life. If this is indicative of how America as a whole feels, then this has everything to do with remote work.


I wouldn't say nothing. If there are some people who are poor as remote workers, but improve significantly in collocation, then the remoteness can indeed mean something in itself.

Anecdotally, if the work environment is healthy (i.e., not open office trash), I think everyone benefits. I personally think remote is a good option if collocation is not possible--but not preferred.


> I have the feeling remote works only for people who have an intrinsic motivation to be good at what they do.

Have you met kids? Many (most?) of them have an innate curiousity which is not hard to channel into a passion for learning given they get to learn things they enjoy, and if you tell them how well they're doing, they can get quite competitive about doing better.

Self-motivation wasn't instilled by a system of proscribing to kids what and how they had to learn, but that doesn't mean a system can't be built around nurturing it.


My intrinsic motivation for choosing software engineering is pay. I don't think painting people like me with a broad brush of "needing constant supervision" is charitable. I am motivated to be good at what I do because I want to maintain my high pay, and push it higher still.


It's not "intrinsic motivation to be good at what they do" that enables one to successfully work remotely, it's enough discipline to do one's job outside of an office setting.

I myself try to hire for devs that don't need supervision because we're all adults here and being a nanny isn't something I'm interested in. I prefer trusting others to do their work in a timely manner, and if that trust is broken, we move on.


This is a conversation I've had many times over the years. I've come to the conclusion that other than as a very cursory skills check, interviews are best performed simply as a test to see how well you get along with a person.

The first few weeks will tell you if they're going to work out or not, and if not, it's better for all involved to move on quickly. They will either perform their duties as an adult, which includes working without constant oversight, or they won't. And if they can't do so, out they go before the probationary period is over, because you can't train someone to care.


I'm in it for the money and haven't failed hard enough to prompt much supervision in a while. Intrinsic/extrinsic has nothing to do with it (I struggle with some things I'm intrinsically motivated to do more than programming.) Certainly "person X doing Y" requires different amount of supervision depending on X and Y but I think we know little about exactly how and why it varies.

One source of variability: some care about impact on coworkers, some don't. Guess who will upset you more. Intrinsic/extrinsic is orthogonal to this.


"Intrinsic/extrinsic has nothing to do with it (I struggle with some things I'm intrinsically motivated to do more than programming.)"

Sounds like you got intrinsic and extrinsic mixed up, at least unknowingly.


OK, lets change it to "remote work doesn't work for everyone". There are plenty of cases where it didn't work too.


Remote doesn't work.

I know, I work remote with people in 4 continents across 6 timezones. It simply doesn't work.

You can't teach people, you can't train people, you can't show anything over a phone or a chat.

On top of that, as soon as you have different timezones with little to no overlap. You cannot synchronise or work with your colleagues at all.

Remote work and remote teams should be limited to people who are already senior, fully autonomous and experienced. And even there, it's a constant battle and it takes a lot of self discipline.


The conversation about remote work is often very emotionally charged and filled with false dichotomies.

I can concede that remote work doesn't work for everyone. I'll even concede that remote work is probably not ideal for most software engineers and the companies that employ them, even in "high tech."

But I'm going to draw the line there. The team I work with is entirely distributed, between the east and west coasts. For most of my career across several companies I've worked remotely. It works spectacularly well for us because we are all very motivated and have the self-discipline to complete our work according to deadlines.

I have also worked remotely on a team where one person was across the Atlantic. I admit that was a bit more of a struggle because we were frequently not online at the same time, but it wasn't a deal breaker in the end either.

Remote work probably doesn't work for most teams because the teams are very large and the work process requires a lot of synchronous communication. But it's really disingenuous to use a caricature of remote work (distributed across several time zones where heavy mentoring and synchronous communication is required) to say it simply doesn't work as a concept.


It's all about time zones. US east to US west is 3 hours. It's fine.

When there are people in Europe, Asia, Russia, Australia, it gets a lot harder.

The criticism is more about working across time difference than just remote.

P.S. Mentoring is always required, unless you only hire the most experienced people you can find. Communication is always required, unless you work on trivial problems.

Out of curiosity, what do you work on?


Then saying "remote doesn't work" is unhelpful. How about "remote doesn't work when it's across different continents"?


Even then, there are exceptions. I (in California) am currently working on a small project with a couple guys in Australia. Between the three of us, there are eyes on the servers 24/7 without needing to worry about getting woken up in the middle of the night, and there's always someone available to answer questions from our clients. It's great.


> Remote doesn't work

For you. I work in an office where some team members are remote. If something is urgent, you have to consider what's urgent about it. Is it you feel unable to proceed without discussing a topic face to face? If so, you are the problem , not remote work. I'd argue that 99.9% of things people claim are urgent, aren't urgent and could wait 8-10 hours.

Remote work is diffeeent to office work. If you treat asynchronous programming the same as synchronous programming, you're gonna have a bad time. If you design your work and your environment around remote work, it can and does work.


I never talked about urgent work. I dunno why you are talking about that. You're conflating different topics.


If something isn't urgent, then schedule it.


You can't teach people, you can't train people, you can't show anything over a phone or a chat.

I'm going to challenge that. If you need direct, synchronous, face-to-face communication in order to teach or train, I have to question the quality of your documentation. I would also question whether the people with whom you are engaging in direct face-to-face communication are being trained adequately. For many people, verbal communication isn't the most effective way of teaching. They would rather have a written document that they can refer to, over and over again, as they learn whatever it is they need to do.


Do you have any other proof than your single anectdotal evidence? No?


How about you provide proof that it works instead?

Prove me that you can have a conversation with someone who's 8+ hours away and sleeping when you are awake.

Prove me that you can teach someone over the phone to use a python profiler, knowing he's never used a profiler before. (That's one of the thing I had to do last week).


Why are you teaching people at all? If you hire professionals they either know what you need already, or you tell them "We use X. Go and learn X."

There are remote-only outfits, and they do fine - at least as well "We're not getting any work done because we're in an open plan office and we can't hear ourselves think" outfits.

But hiring policy is an issue, and so is PM. It needs people with a compatible attitude, and that includes management.

It's not that remote is a panacea, but it shouldn't be a showstopper either. There are plenty of productivity killers in non-remote work styles too.


How are you supposed to onboard people onto a project? with training and teaching.

What do you professionals do? They work with other professionals and progress with each other.

What do you do with the world class experts you have? Make them work with other world class experts to make the impossible possible. Again, lots of collaboration and interactions needed!

For anything non trivial or not explained by a stack overflow answer, the "go learn X by yourself" could easily take weeks to years, whereas it could be explained in a few days with face to face interactions.

The "can't hear ourselves think in an open plan" are dysfunctional organisation. Of course, a lot of things do better than that, including other dysfunctional organisations. Let's have a better point of comparison than that ;)


You give them a task, point them to the source code that the task involves and let them figure it out. They can ask questions here and there, but they won't learn unless they are ass deep in the code trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

I mean the world was educated through text for over a millennia. It works.


>>I mean the world was educated through text for over a millennia. It works

I would replace text with mentors


You certainly make a good point. I would say hands on mentors are much more valuable in hands on skills, like an electrician or physician. I think programming falls into a less hands on skill like Math, Philosophy, or writing. You can have a Math mentor, but you gain most of your knowledge from reading what your mentors have written down.


To continue on the math example, you will need explanation from the mentor as long as you are facing something unfamiliar, or you're up for a very long struggle.


Yes, but it doesn't have to be in person, it can be in text. Something like electrician or plumbing probably requires hands on mentoring. Many times, the person who wrote the original code is long gone, so there isn't a mentor.

The original point I was trying to make is you don't have to be "in the office" to learn programming stuff.


On top of this there are multiple learning styles (e.g. visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile) of which many people are able to harness all or a combination thereof, whereas others learn best by only using one style.


By your reasoning, open source projects should never be able to onboard new contributors or maintainers.

You seem to be suggesting that "collaboration" and "interactions" are things that necessarily can only happen synchronously and via richer media than text. Even if you want to move away from OSS as an example, I'd point towards the centuries of intellectual discussion that took place via hand-written snail mail letters.

Is in-person communication faster? No question. Is it the only way to effectively communicate ideas as part of a two-sided discussion? I should hope not.


> prove me that you can have a conversation with someone who is 8+ hours away and sleeping when you are awake?

What's the context of the conversation? That's really important. Of course you can't have a conversation with someone who is sleeping.

Equally you can't expect a well thought out response from your colleague when you are sitting over their shoulder asking them questions, wheeeas you will get that if you give them time to respond.

> prove me you can teach someone over the phone to use a python profiler, ...

Again, why? In that case surely it makes sense for: A) you to do the task (as you colleague can't use a profiler)

B) your colleague to learn to use the profiler. If your job is to teach someone to use a tool over the air, then yes you have a very valid point. If it's mot, then you tell them to earn how to use a profiler or you'll do the task and they should tackle something else instead


So basically, everything problem comes down to "I have to do the task myself".

That sounds dysfunctional to me. What's the point in having co-workers, teams, company if I am on my own for everything? What's gonna happen when I get hit by a bus? What's gonna happen when another guy get hit by a bus and noone knew anything he was doing?


> So basically, everything problem comes down to "I have to do the task myself"

No. Every problem comes down to "there's a problem that needs to be solved".


I hope you don't mean a literal phone? And I talk everyday to people who wake up as much as 6 hours sooner than I do (same timezone, but my sleep schedule is a bit off).


Phone, skype, lynq, slack, hipchat, tried them all :D

6 hours is about the limit to still have a bit of overlap. That's London-Houston for me.


Why would you use a phone? Use Skype screen share or something of that nature so you can direct what they are doing. This situation you propose doesn't even make sense.


It sounds like it might be a tooling issue. I probably couldn't do this with someone over the phone, but I do this kind of thing all the time with remote colleagues using a screen share.


> Can you really expect high school students to perform well in online classes? The most elite companies in the valley have correctly found out that remote doesn't work... and yet we're going to do remote with our students? I took online classes when I went back to complete college at an older age... it was the worst mistake of my life

I think this really depends on the person. I learned coding on my own as a teenager off the internet, I was entirely employable at 19, so I think its totally reasonable for this setup to work... if the kid is interested in the subject. Thats really the unspoken weakness of modern education -- we feed kids into an environment that resembles a prison, stamp out their natural curiosity about what adults actually do, and then act surprised that our glorified state run day-cares have taught the children nothing.


This x1000, I've seen 15 year olds learn about semiconductor lithography because their interested about it.


Can you really expect high school students to perform well in online classes?

Does it matter? At what point do we put the failure of the student on the student? Education being unaffordable is a broadly sympathetic position. Not getting an education because you couldn't be troubled to take advantage of a free education is an unsympathetic position.

You're giving too much credit to students, they don't know what is best for them. This $100k will be exploited in some way by profit-seeking companies before you have a second to glance back at the money.

This plays right into the author's point. It's exploitation to culturally coerce young people into large amounts of debt to purchase a degree in communications or international studies, only to end up tending bar or hauling trash.

Instead, under the author's plan, they could have tested the waters of secondary education at 14 or 15, decided it wasn't for them, got a job hauling trash and be a mortgage-free home owner before they're 25.


The point of education (or public policy in general) is usually not to assign moral blame. You can personally assign blame to anyone you want, but society has a harder problem : maximizing good outcomes. That means policy has to account for people that are lazy, people who have bad intentions, people who are stupid, and so forth. Society can't pretend those people don't exist even if you can, because if they end up uneducated, jobless and ignored they will just cause huge problems later. While you might feel good about blaming them for those problems, wouldn't it be better to prevent them in the first place? It is better to provide the best possible educational track that we can and try to make sure they have a viable career or work path open to them.


>Does it matter? At what point do we put the failure of the student on the student? Education being unaffordable is a broadly sympathetic position. Not getting an education because you couldn't be troubled to take advantage of a free education is an unsympathetic position.

Sympathy is besides the point. Look at the bigger picture: if US citizens are unprepared for the jobs the world economy demands, the country fails economically, putting it in the position to be exploited by others.

Education is important. This weird attitude that college is worthless somehow is not illustrated in the numbers: earning potential, mate selection, general career advancement.


College clearly has value for those who graduate, although sometimes not much compared to what they paid (in dollars, and opportunity). A bigger issue with '100% college' is the dollar and opportunity cost for those people who attend college and don't graduate. I've known many people that just didn't get much benefit out of their year or two of failing out of college, which also cost them thousands of dollars.


> The most elite companies in the valley have correctly found out that remote doesn't work...

The success of remote workers is entirely dependent on the culture of the company and team. I may not work for some hotshot silicon valley startup or Google, but our entire development team works remotely without issue. Daily standups ensure work is getting completed, and we all have GoToMeeting licenses so we can jump on a call and talk when IM doesn't cut it.

> and yet we're going to do remote with our students?

Probably not a wise idea for every student, I'll agree with you on this part. However, I don't think the idea of self-paced curriculum is a bad idea either - and it can be offered both in-person and online with ease.

Before I dropped out in my sophomore year in high school I attended a self-paced program for a semester, and it was amazing - I could burn through the topics at which I excelled leaving me time to focus one ones that gave me difficulties without pressure of getting the assignment in on-time. All in all, had I stuck with it I could have easily graduated a by the end of my Junior year.

Now, this is my personal anecdote - so take it for what it's worth.

> You're giving too much credit to students, they don't know what is best for them. This $100k will be exploited in some way by profit-seeking companies before you have a second to glance back at the money.

One only needs to look at for-profit universities to see how this is a bad idea. It would have to require you use it on a state-run institution or one that has been properly vetted, at that point why not just offer free tuition at public universities and call it done?


> The most elite companies in the valley have correctly found out that remote doesn't work (in most cases)... and yet we're going to do remote with our students?

I can't name a single "elite company" that doesn't rely on consultants at some point. Most of these consultants do work remote. So... if it works for some people, why can't it work for every person?

It's not correct that remote work doesn't work.

Remote work doesn't get embraced by a lot of companies because they care about things outside of the results. Managers / decision makers care about "seeing" people work (I suspect this has more to do with narcism than anything else, but probably also a bit because they don't know how to use Google Hangouts and / or can't put the same level of emotional pressure on people via a monitor), HR cares about establishing "culture" and somehow that's accomplished by having people play foosball (but not Overwatch) together.

Anyway, because of all this crap, we're forced to waste 2 hours a day commuting -- and who knows how long shaving, dropping off dry cleaning... and all that other crap we do just so we can go into an office). Then we sit in shitty big open spaces that are horrible for introverts or anyone who needs focus to get their job done and waste a ton of time trying to figure out who to go out to lunch with and what to have for lunch and how to decorate our cubes / desks...

Anyway, look... all I'm saying is that every company uses remote workers when the shit hits the fan and results are all that matter. The fact that they don't embrace it for all employees... it has more to do with management being petty and insecure, or technologically short sighted, or trying to make the drones look busy to investors than it has to do with anything else.


>You're giving too much credit to students, they don't know what is best for them. This $100k will be exploited in some way by profit-seeking companies before you have a second to glance back at the money.

Like the near limitless non-dischargeable loans those same students are able to take right now? At least after it was taken by those same bad actors that are taking it right now, they wouldn't have to spend the rest of their lives "paying it back".


1) Those loans are offered mainly to 18-22 year olds, not 13 year olds

2) Subsidized loans are far less prone to moral hazard than handing out large vouchers to everyone.

3) Yes there are already bad actors exploiting students with federal benefits. We don't want to make it any worse.


Perhaps the reason many students require the imposition of an authority is because the educational system does not encourage the development of self-learning skills? From the first year of elementary school onward, students are explicitly told what to learn and when to learn it; even homework assignments are generally just the completion of predetermined exercises. It should come as no surprise that many will then fail with self-directed learning, as they have not practiced the required skills before.


Oddly enough (and anecdotally of course), I actually needed the classroom environment to learn some subjects, but not others. So it can't be that my brain is locked into a particular mode of learning.

I learned computer programming and electronics, completely on my own, except for one introductory course in each subject.

On the other hand, it would have been hard for me to learn math and physics on my own, and those subjects became my college majors.


Which is exactly the argument FOR letting kids choose their own path.

There are a few subjects which kids have 'forced' on them which they end up 'never using', and certain others which they do end up needing later but are introduced to in a different way or context which makes it actually interesting.

It's not a bad idea to let them start with the subjects they like, give them the assurance and security of knowing that a stable life exists for them having that basis, then encourage them to pursue other subjects at their leisure if and when those things become relevant.


Perhaps this is related to the more theoretical nature of math and physics? With computer programming especially, you can immediately apply the concepts you learn and get instant feedback and satisfaction from seeing simple programs actually achieve things.

With math and physics, I've found that I am far motivated to learn concepts when having an immediate practical application for them, say in the context of computer graphics. Being able to apply what you're learning to create things is tremendously motivating, while if you remain in the pure theoretical domain, it can seem abstract and aimless without an external structure to direct you.


Disclaimer: I haven't read the article yet.

However, I wanted to say that my kid sister is in 9th grade and is doing online high school.. It's been a bit more stressful but she's been learning a lot more because she has to actually go through all of the lessons herself each day rather than zoning out in class. All of her grades have improved at least 1 letter grade versus a traditional classroom (and from what I've seen it's not because the work is any easier, it's actually harder and there's a lot more of it).

So, I think that free online high school could definitely work. But also definitely not for everyone


I'm curious - does she have an engaged "education supervisor" of some sort for this? Like you or a parent? I have no educational experience, but my thinking is that these things are likely to work well with someone engaged and capable in motivating progress. This (again, in my non-professional opinion) is the most important role of a teacher. The presentation of material is much easier to replace with books, videos, and published exercises.


You're ignoring the quality of the teacher. If you learn remotely, you can learn from good (or at least adequate) teachers, at a pace that is right for you.

I wish that resources such as Khan Academy existed when I was at school. I don't know about you, but many of my high school teachers barely understood the material they were teaching.


> I wish that resources such as Khan Academy existed when I was at school.

I say this so often. And it's not that my teachers were dumb, but in a class full of people they may not have time to help those who are struggling on a topic or need a prior topic review.

I've always thought an interesting experiment would be to tell students to go watch the Khan videos before the class lecture. That way the teacher can focus on helping everyone get the deeper understanding in person rather than going over the basics. This seems like it would work particularly well with math.


This is called an "inverted classroom" and it is well known and popular amongst teachers I know. I feel like it would have worked particularly well in college, where a huge amount of classroom time was spent passively watching a professor lecture.


>Can you really expect high school students to perform well in online classes? The most elite companies in the valley have correctly found out that remote doesn't work (in most cases)... and yet we're going to do remote with our students?

Perhaps the reason why a remote work setup is difficult to execute is because students are never trained for it in the first place.


Remote work is changing. With better video chats, slack chats and such, I don't feel that remote is that much different than being there. If the whole class does get together from time to time, and the whole class is remote, I think it can work. Especially if they are in the same geographical region so they can get together and do things outside of class.

The "pursue at their own pace" is probably the part I disagree with as well. Most young people just don't have enough internal motivation to actually finish on time. You still need the structure a class and school provides. I just think it doesn't have to 100% on site.


I experienced pretty much the exact opposite of what you're saying. Most of the skills I have I learned by researching/studying by myself. College was mostly useless to me. And I'm much more productive when working remotely. So obviously, people are configured differently.


>"The most elite companies in the valley have correctly found out that remote doesn't work (in most cases)... and yet we're going to do remote with our students?"

I'm curious do you have a citation for this? Have those "elite companies" - Google, FB, etc ever actually embraced a remote work force? My impression was they were always on-site shops. But maybe someone here knows more?


There's no source because it's a completely false claim. The "remote doesn't work" trope is perpetuated by Silicon Valley Culture[1][2]. Remote work is like security. You can't bolt it on and expect it to work. You can't half-ass it and expect it to work. The companies that do it correctly make it a foundation of their culture. I will cede the fact that remote work isn't for every individual, but I think even that can be overcome with the right company culture and support network.

1. http://startupclass.samaltman.com/courses/lec07/ 2. https://www.amazon.com/Peopleware-Productive-Projects-Teams-...


I honestly think that even that is too binary. Clearly there are fully remote and no/minimal remote companies. But there are also a lot who (mostly) started with an onsite culture and as they've grown/acquired teams/etc. they've become more distributed and remote work-oriented organically. And they usually find it works better for some teams and roles than others.


I agree with you completely and suspect there is no evidence to corroborate the claim. I thought I would ask though.


It's weird, I'm closer to the opposite. I never get motivated unless it comes deep within myself--if I feel like something is worth my time, be it because to groom my GPA, because it's interesting material, I feel a drive to do it (which sometimes makes me unhappy because it's grueling work). The social interactions at school are great in its own right, but I feel like that bit is decoupled from my work.

You know one of those clicker games, like cookie clicker? It's hilariously dumb if you think about it--it's kind a parody of what a video game really is. You click, and then you get a reward, and you use that reward to do the click thing better, faster, and automated. Some people love it because they are really receptive to operant conditioning and self-motivated just to see that number rise (however stupid it may be), and some people feel like they need a deeper reason to play something like that. That was kind of my analogy for the whole shebang.


I don't doubt online learning wouldn't work well for some or maybe most high schoolers, but to use your own one-off experience of making a mistake of doing online school (which apparently doesn't work well for you), and if I'm not mistaken, generalizing it to mean that everyone has to do it your way is not helpful at all.

I had a usual on campus undergraduate degree experience, except I also took some fully and partially online courses, and I did great in them and enjoyed them even more as I didn't need to spend time physically putting myself into a classroom. I also got a master's degree which was mostly online in a math-heavy discipline, and I did fine because I do the work necessary.

I've just been working remote for weeks, and have done remote days many times for my job, and honestly I can usually get more done because I'm not distracted by everyone interrupting me and making smalltalk around the office.

So remote works well for me, and probably for many others. It doesn't work well for you, and possibly many others. Please, let's not impose our 'best way of doing things' on everyone else (I'm including myself here).


What makes you think that you would have done better in a brick-and-mortar programme?


The author's suggested improvements may not be perfect, but they are 100% in the right direction.


> At age 13, give everyone a $100k education voucher.

Good lord, how about just give that money to schools?


Some of the most valuable education one can receive isn't offered at school. If the $100k can be spent freely on education, that becomes quite powerful.


> Some of the most valuable education one can receive isn't offered at school.

Yes, but all the rest of it is.


It is absolutely true that for a lot of people, having a structured environment with someone keeping you honest via evaluations and social pressure is a real benefit of college.

That said, it's clear that online education has the potential to transform millions of lives for people who have the discipline, vigor, and intention of going into a specific field.

Many people around the world are learning on their own time, be it linear algebra or Python programming, without needing to spend thousands of dollars on a formalized education.

The current explosion in peoples interest Deep Learning is in no small part because of the availability of information on the internet, such as free or inexpensive textbooks, free video and written tutorials from dozens of high quality sources, research papers on Arxiv, and tons of written information by the leading researchers of our time. If you're interested in Deep Learning, going to a local college that isn't an elite institution is unlikely to have significantly larger benefit over spending the next few years studying and learning on your own.

I can honestly say that from my college education, only a small % was truly applicable to my eventual career. Was it worth $40k+? For the social network, yes, but for the practical methods of improving my own skillset, hardly. Most of my professors were quite frankly lesser skilled than the students who eventually graduated. Clearly, I didn't go to Stanford or MIT!

On the topic of the "camaraderie of students," there's nothing that says people can't form their own groups without the need of a university environment, such as through Meetup.com or Facebook. I'm currently part of a study group that's going through an online Deep Learning course, where we meet every week to discuss the weeks work. And we sometimes bring in a PhD level practitioner to answer questions and give feedback.

I'll also just underline this: the level of teaching of particular subjects varies from college to college. You are not guaranteed to get a good professor on the topics you truly care about. A lot of people will never have the experience of going to an elite institution that has industry leaders or excellent teachers. The wonder of online education is that you can find a teacher who absolutely has a style and process that works for you and you may learn a lot more through that process than going to a class where the teacher sucks the life out of the topic. Or just simply makes you do work that isn't structured well.

For example, look at comments written on highly popular math videos on YouTube, where students lament the fact that they're taught basic things in a way that is extremely abstract, pushing them to just learn rote memorization. It takes people like 3Blue1Brown and Sal Khan to open up their minds to the intuition.


Aren't apprenticeship contracts functionally slavery? You think free money will be abused, but this won't be?


So I don't know about all fields, but I know about programming.

Do you know how much value a high school type person has in writing computer programs for an actual software company? Something fairly negative. Say -$10 an hour or -$50 an hour, based on how much experienced person time they take up and how much damage they do.

If you run a small profitable business, even if you could get high schoolers to work for free to write you code, you should not do it. If you need to pay them minimum wage... even MORE reason not do it.

I feel this is a situation that other industries have dealt with for 100s of years. For example the day 1 statue carver was probably a huge negative value also. I suspect they had to sign something like "I will work for enough pay to feed myself for 2 years, and then work for a industry standard wage for 2 years after that if you agree to train me". So all in agreeing to 4 years of work for training. (And some pay, but not really break the bank pay). At the end of the 4 years, the company got a decent amount of value out of the statue carver, and the statue carver learned a bunch of skills without going to college.

Not really anything like this in programming. Not even sure it would be legally enforceable. But I think that is a big reason why there is a gap in needs of programmers vs people willing to train people to do the job. It really would suck for most people to train someone how to do a job for a year (losing tons of money), and then the person job hops to someone who pays higher and bears none of the training cost. This is why so many jobs advertise 1-3 years of experience required. They want people over the initial learning hump, but not making the big bucks yet.

So perhaps I am proposing a way to bring back bonded labor apprentices? Hum, seems terrible. But also seems like it could work...


> Do you know how much value a high school type person has in writing computer programs for an actual software company? Something fairly negative.

I highly doubt it is negative. My first development job came when I was still I high school, and I worked on (even sole) projects that were put into useful production for a number of years. While I don't know what kind of revenue my work helped generate, I cannot imagine they made negative amounts of money. It did what was needed, and would have been pretty easy to throw out.

Or maybe you at least need to qualify that statement? I suppose it could see it being true if the student (or anyone of any age, for that matter) has never touched a computer before. I came with programming experience even before starting that job. It is not like programming is particularly difficult to learn.


>Do you know how much value a high school type person has in writing computer programs for an actual software company? Something fairly negative. Say -$10 an hour or -$50 an hour, based on how much experienced person time they take up and how much damage they do.

I don't know. Motivated HS kids today could be pretty good employees. My first programming job happened when I was a sophomore in college, and code I wrote was going into production products.


It sucks for the big corps to not be able to contractually force labor out of workers who they have trained. But it sucks far far more if you are stuck in an abusive contract.


Maybe. But the end result is where we are now. People go to college to try and learn a skill. Don't really learn the skill as well as an apprenticeship. Get a lot of debt.


Don't know how apprenticeships work in the US, but in Switzerland where they are very common (about two-thirds of youths coming out of mandatory school) for all sort of fields (carpenter, nurse, draftsman, business clerk, programmer, etc), they are paid and heavily regulated, since your are only 15-17 years old when you start.

In Switzerland an apprentice on average costs the company more than what they bring in value for the first two years, but make that loss up in the final two.


Slavery? More like paid education. The best possible education in many cases.


Is apprenticeship where you do not get into debt but not remunerated for you work any worse form slavery than the 4-year degree that leaves the student with 100K debt, which the student has to service the next decade or so of his life?

Not only you are cheapening "slavery" as a word, but mis-framing the issue.


> Is apprenticeship where you do not get into debt but not remunerated for you work

That is not apprenticeship, it is unpaid internship, and it is much worse then taking on debt to get an education because it creates a vast gap in opportunity based on existing wealth.


Graft is a constant in human endeavors. It's like a scaling problem, you deal with it as it presents itself.


This sort of article comes up on Hackerrank a lot. Zero research, a spreadsheet, and a prescription to change eduction from the ground up. The author advocates curiosity as a motivator for education, yet he doesn't appear to know anything about professional architecture (certification is complicated and not always tied to education) and doesn't seem to care enough to research it before bloviating.

I read his article dedicated to architecture on his blog, and it was equally ill-informed. Of course buildings built in the 1880s didn't require architects with a college degree. They didn't require that you know CAD, either.

What appeals to people about this type of article? The author doesn't bring any experience with education policy or teaching. He doesn't back his assertions with research, primary sources, or even secondary sources. He doesn't bother interviewing anyone with experience with the problem or who has thought about it.

And, his reasoning is fairly shoddy. Much of what he's arguing for already exists in parallel with formal education. Nothing stopped me in the past from supplementing my learning on Coursera or hiring a programmer without a degree in computer science. A good friend of mine dropped out of high school, got his GED, and went back to college. Nothing is stopping anyone, you just limit your opportunities.

Even if formal education was abolished or fully privatized, businesses would find a similar, expensive process for screening applicants. The government is rarely requiring this. It's usually industry associations.

I read this article because I'm curious about this sort of thinking. Why do we not only have a desire for simple solutions but a need for radical ones from people with no experience in the field they're discussing? Why is this appealing?

If you're curious about radical approaches to education and the deschooling movement, read Ivan Illich or research the free schools movement. I read Illich before sending my daughters to public school. I didn't think Illich had any answers, and much of what he advocated wasn't precluded by formal education. School doesn't take that much time. My kids thrived in public school, and one of them wants to be a teacher.


The author also has a huge blind spot for treating the world like it's a computer program where you can just increment everybody's account by $100,000 in education coupons and there will be no taxation effects, bubbles, scams, or opportunity costs. No understanding of economic incentives, no humility about the difficulty of social engineering, no respect for freedom. "Let's require all businesses to hire 14% apprentices, this will inevitably have exactly one effect, the positive one I envision. We won't require any input from the people I am commanding to carry out my untested plan."

Like you say, for this to get upvoted there must be a high demand for sweeping, uninformed radical change.


I'd like to propose a Star Trek test. A lot of people get extremely worked up when sci-fi cooks up something entirely unrealistic, and Hollywood has all manner of advisors on call just to keep fans from jumping down their throats.

People in computer programming professions should extend the same courtesy to the social sciences we expect from Hollywood. There's no reason for Hollywood to care that they're making stuff up, but they have enough shame to care that their imaginary worlds pass the sniff test. Our pronouncements on education, politics, and economics should require us to do the same.


You may need to go back further than 1880. I'm sure architecture was a college major in the 1880s. Engineering certainly was. Not much has changed since then.


It's weird. This article is so poorly informed and, frankly, straight-up dumb that I'm surprised that the author would put it out there under his real name. But what's more surprising is how every time a startup geek shows up and insists he alone understands an enormous, extremely complicated, century-old distributed market system better than those who have been studying it for decades -- everybody actually stops and takes it seriously. I mean, we're supposed to take hearsay like this:

> Even fifteen years ago at an Ivy League school I did not like to say things too far outside the zeitgeist in section, because it just wasn’t worth the risk of making someone in class angry. And I hear the problem is even worse now.

and a bunch of literally made up numbers (ahem, "subjective assessment") seriously?

So yeah. That's the question. Why does nobody listen to the actual experts on the American education system? The people who've been studying this for decades? And when people aren't willing to do the hard work (that requires expertise)... how do you even talk about solutions in a serious manner?


College degrees largely serve the social function titles of nobility once did. Having one shows that you have a shared set of experiences and a personal investment in a certain set of values and social norms. Requiring one for many jobs is much more about ensuring applicants belong to the class the employer prefers than any specific education the job requires.


True, but regardless of whether you think that is a good or bad thing it's part of the value of a college degree, and should be included in your calculation when you decide if college is worth it.

I've seen the insecurity of some of my colleges without degrees, almost like they think college is a mystical place where deep and unique knowledge is shared. That insecurity can really cripple your career.


> That insecurity can really cripple your career.

I struggled with it daily as a self taught developer working at a large company. I eventually dropped out of the workforce and went back to school because of it. I feel pretty awkward now as a 30 something in class with freshman, but the satisfaction and confidence of having that piece of paper seems worth it to me.


Just realizing the paper is not the change might be a cheaper solution to what amounts to a psychologocal issue.


Well, "just the paper" isn't really all of it. Since I've started going back to school and learning the fundamental maths and science that I missed out on, I've come to understand how ignorant I am to practically everything. If I had just kept going the path I was on as a web developer, I feel like I would have ended up with a career as a specialized technician, which is something I really don't want. Learning just calculus and basic physics is really blowing my mind and opening me up to completely new ways of thinking.


> Requiring one for many jobs is much more about ensuring applicants belong to the class the employer prefers than any specific education the job requires.

I'm not sure this is the case. A lot of employers probably just require a degree because they get so many applicants and it serves as a lazy filter.

On a practical level it also shows that a given applicant has the tenacity to power through a long term plan and come out successful.

Supposedly a degree is also signal of critical thinking, but this has not been my experience with people at all.


Lots of interesting ideas here, but also some wacky or condescending assumptions about other people's lines of work. Let's take two:

TRUCK DRIVERS: They don't just move big rigs around. They also need to keep detailed log books, plan out routes, pass inspections -- and know how to talk civilly and constructively to DOT inspectors. An eighth grade education will not get you there. Especially on the last part. The back-and-forth of a high-school classroom socializes teenagers to work with authority. Most high school dropouts give up because they can't conform to those norms, not because they can't do the work. Trucking companies rightfully insist on a high school degree for exactly this reason.

FINANCIAL ADVISERS: Met any lately? I work in a co-lo space with several within 50 feet. They're all college educated, and they put non-obvious skills from their education to work, every day. They need to provide their clients with highly literate, personalized updates via quarterly letters. They need a sophisticated understanding of clients' expressed and unstated needs -- and you're not going to be fully capable of doing that with just a high school education. Some college-level psychology classes, history classes or behavioral econ classes will get you in the game. And if you actually want to be a financial adviser with some understanding of how markets work, an econ/finance major is your best path in.

Some of the other analysis is quite interesting. But the classification errors in this piece are more than just a matter of tweaking a spreadsheet. They come from a deeper misunderstanding of what many jobs are all about.


My father has been a truck driver from the late eighties on.

He is from rural Mexico and became a naturalized citizen of the US in his early 50s a couple years ago. The extent of his formal education was through 6th grade which was the furthest offered in his area when he grew up; he has had no further contact with the educational system since then.

In the nearly three decades that he has been driving trucks he has routinely won driver of the year awards as well as other frequent commendations for excellent performance in all job aspects while not a single time receiving a reprimand for uncivil or unconstructive conduct in any situation. His previous job experience before entering trucking in the 80s was a bit of construction work followed by quite a few years of dairy work; not places where he would have frequently encountered and worked along side better educated people that would have given him the opportunity to pick up on their habits and means of operating.

I believe that his example shows that it is not necessary to go through eighth grade to learn these skills; I suspect that rather than eighth grade imparting superior skill towards functioning in society, it is instead a filter for those students that our one-size-fits-all school system fails to accommodate that then disposes those students outside of the system without any recourse or additional assistance which sets them up for a failed and miserable life in many cases.

For what it's worth I have worked jobs between high school and college where I met people that graduated high school but lacked the ability to anything as slightly complex as the activities that you described. Eighth grade and beyond did not seem to have much effect in imparting those skills to them.


They also need to keep detailed log books, >electronic log books

> plan out routes

And then get chewed out for wasting 30min deviating from the route the GPS says even though the GPS told you to go under an over-height bridge.

>pass inspections

CDL school deals with that.

>know how to talk civilly and constructively to DOT inspectors.

If you're talking to DOT anywhere other than a weigh station you're already screwed. If you're talking at a weigh station you need to know about three sentences of english.

You seem to think every trucker is an owner operator. Most are just "steering wheel holders" for a big dry van company. You don't need a high school degree for that. English literacy would probably be beneficial but I would say it's not a hard necessity.

Education credentials don't matter much anyway since many truckers are immigrants who speak little English (it works well for them for a variety of reasons) and who's education level doesn't map well onto the US system.

Basically, if you can pass the CDL exam you can move a dry van from A to B


> Trucking companies rightfully insist on a high school degree...

Not sure about these days, but ~10 years ago, my friend's family's company did not require a high school degree. To your point, however, I know this because he specifically complained about dealing with under educated employees.

From some rudimentary googling, it seems requiring a HS degree is the norm, but there are plenty of cases of forgoing the degree/GED.


Thanks for the extra info. It's almost worth a whole 'nother thread on the pros/cons of the GED and other high-school equivalency programs. Economics Nobel laureate James Hickman has done some big studies here.

If I remember right, he found that the GED was a good way of recognizing sound minds that had been too stormy to finish high school (prison population in particular), but that the social issues that limited some high-school dropouts' opportunities did not go away with this new certificate.

In the spirit of OP's main argument, there's room for a lot of cheaper/faster alternatives to college, especially for a lot of middle-skill positions. I like that part of the argument a lot. I'd just urge that we think harder about ways of helping candidates master the social/interpersonal skills that affect long-term success and employability. For now, it feels as if a face-to-face component is needed, too, beyond the technical skills that can be conveyed online.


Oddly, the standards for the GED are almost always much higher than those for a hs degree. The real issues are the 'christian homeschool' degree mills. I understand many states still make their graduates take the GED for that reason.


>TRUCK DRIVERS: They don't just move big rigs around. They also need to keep detailed log books, plan out routes, pass inspections -- and know how to talk civilly and constructively to DOT inspectors. An eighth grade education will not get you there. Especially on the last part. The back-and-forth of a high-school classroom socializes teenagers to work with authority. Most high school dropouts give up because they can't conform to those norms, not because they can't do the work. Trucking companies rightfully insist on a high school degree for exactly this reason.

ASSEMBLING IKEA FURNITURE: It's not just about unpacking the pieces. First one needs to plan out the transportation and move the items to their apartment safely. This is much faster and easier with the help of other people. The back-and-forth of a high-school classroom socializes teenagers to work together with their peers and to form groups when their problems are too hard to solve individually. During the actual assembly, one needs to consult the manual, which requires considerable attention to detail. IKEA rightfully requires its customers to have at least a high-school degree for those reasons.


Funny! Of course, the consequences of poorly assembled furniture are pretty trivial, so Ikea's current laissez-faire attitude towards its customers doesn't ruin society as we know it. (Besides, college grads like me are probably some of the worst furniture assemblers. We don't know what we don't know.) The consequences of truck-driving mistakes can be more serious, affecting many other lives in irreversible ways. Thus the greater interest in credentials, training, regulation, etc.

But I enjoyed the spoof anyway. Thanks for posting.


> They also need to keep detailed log books, plan out routes, pass inspections -- and know how to talk civilly and constructively to DOT inspectors. An eighth grade education will not get you there. Especially on the last part.

I don't think you need a high school or college education to learn how to talk civilly and constructively with authority; decent parents should be sufficient. Ignorance need not automatically mean petulance.


Far from needing a college degree, financial advisors benefit from the unique professional advantage of not needing to exist.


Let me guess - you think financial advisors aren't worth their fees, and their jobs are entirely obviated by index funds with sensible portfolio allocations. Is that about the sum of it?

Everyone who agrees with you already nodded to themselves in agreement and scrolled on. No one who doesn't already agree with your just-so statement was persuaded to consider a different perspective. You came into a conversation about the professional merits of education and used a passing comment about financial advisors to inject your ideology.

So what'd we achieve? What's this all been for?


Problem is, like used car salesmen, lawyers and mechanics, they are a useful, if not nessarry people in many cases, but are also in a unique position to fuck you. A good one is worth their weight and then some. The extremes make for most public perception, and here we are.


Wow! Not sure where all these assumptions came from, but let's try to get back to the simple point of the original post. Financial advisers, at their best, inject common sense and steady judgment into the lives of some highly successful people who might make reckless money decisions otherwise. That's impossible without commanding the respect of your clients.

Consider a guy I know that we'll call Jack. He's rich and headstrong. On his own, he'd be buying jets and chasing hot tips in the stock market. A financial adviser helped Jack keep his money decisions sane enough that after the inevitable divorce, there was still enough money for Jack's kids to be able to go to college.

Focusing only on portfolio modeling (with or without index funds) misses the essence of the job. Getting the person-to-person stuff right is huge. College helps make that happen.


1 point by aswanson 2 minutes ago | parent | edit | delete [-] | on: Mike Judge, the Bard of Suck

Shut up. You went to a 4th rate school and are a 4th rate intellect doing backend web dev because you are 4th rate. Accept your lot in life, swallow it, and move on. You are inferior, and you know it. You are a genetic failure. Good night.


Yeah, cause there's no need of advice of as to what to do with the product of a life's efforts. You're so fucking dumb it defies imagination.


High school doesn't teach you how to bullshit!


One of the things I learned in college is that when someone says "I have thought about this social problem and understand both the cause and solution, please join me as I attempt to radically address it via state action" you should get as far away from him as possible. The history of such programs is, to say the least, not a story of success and progress and rainbows.


Advocates of this general position, whether it's Peter Thiel and "hey don't go to college I'll just pay you" or this author's "hey your job isn't that complicated, you can figure it out in less time for less money", all miss the point of college.

The best purpose of college is to make you a reasonable citizen in a democracy. Most Americans voting in elections can't even name the Vice President, let alone articulate what plenary powers are, what the 4th and 5th amendments say (or seriously any amendment), name more than 3 executive branch departments (Defense, State and... uh...), point out where Iraq is on a map, etc. It's really no surprise we get the elected officials we get.

Sure, professional training is important and I think our education system is not particularly efficient about it. But education is more than just "here's how you work for the man". It's supposed to make you a well-rounded, well-educated citizen so you can participate effectively in a democratic government.

Which is why things like public education, state colleges and universities, a separation of religion and education, and state subsidized college tuition are so important, and why religious schools, charter schools, and for-profit colleges/universities are so antithetical to democracy: their agenda is entirely separate from "be a well-educated democratic citizen".


I had a different college experience. A degree in computer engineering required very little coursework outside of engineering. Due to human nature, I ended up hanging out with primarily other engineering students. All of the non-academic socializing, in retrospect, was very limited to a narrow college bubble.

It was only after I graduated and lived in the real world for a few years that I felt more 'well rounded'.

The tools to become a 'well informed citizen' should be taught at the high school level since not everyone goes to college.


Yeah I don't have a strong preference about when they're taught. I think college is probably best because the 17-23 age is probably the earliest that most people are equipped to start learning stuff like this, but then again if you can vote when you're 18 maybe it should start a lot earlier.

I think there's too much siloing between, say, STEM majors and Liberal Arts majors. You get Philosophy majors who are pretty good with concepts like confirmation bias (just for example), but super bad when it comes to things like "why is the sky blue" and "just what is the Internet, anyway". Conversely you get engineers who are pretty good programmers or EEs, but really don't understand things like "Affirmative Action isn't racist" or "taxation isn't government theft or class warfare".

I... mostly think high school is useless? I guess it's more accurate to say I think middle school (6-8th grade) should be more like high school, and high school should be a lot more practical, applied learning. If you're interested in cars, do that. If you're interested in chemistry, do that. Do them both at the same time, and do some music too, whatever.


>Conversely you get engineers who are pretty good programmers or EEs, but really don't understand things like "Affirmative Action isn't racist" or "taxation isn't government theft or class warfare".

You can't teach opinions. What you can teach is how to talk to people with a differing opinion.

Let's take this statement: "Affirmative Action isn't racist"

The disagreement probably wouldn't be about affirmative action at all, but rather about the definition of racism and whether both parties define it the same way.


> You can't teach opinions.

I mean, you can. Basically every parent does this.

> The disagreement probably wouldn't be about affirmative action at all, but rather about the definition of racism and whether both parties define it the same way.

Yeah classes about race in the US define the difference between isolated cases of discrimination and institutional discrimination against a racial minority. They go over the history of racial discrimination in colleges and universities and other public institutions as a method to disenfranchise and disempower minorities. They illustrate that college admissions or job positions aren't zero-sum quantities, and that the state goes to great lengths to increase the capacity of universities and add jobs every day so that there are enough for everyone. Finally, they point out that failing to enact policies to level the playing field entrenches privilege: without something to break the cycle of institutionalized racism (and other institutional discrimination), minority groups remain trapped in a cycle of lower opportunity and higher risk.


>I had a different college experience. A degree in computer engineering required very little coursework outside of engineering.

This has been my experience at an engineering uni in Europe as well.

The place that tried (somewhat successfully) to make people just better, rather than better at some narrow marketable skill, was (an elite) high-school. I'd estimate the likelihood of a regular high-school being as good at about 10%.


The premise of this post is that the author has performed an analysis of the educational requirements for jobs and can extrapolate from it. But this author thinks that only a grade school education and not more than 6 months of training is required to be a cook --- a profession people go to post-secondary school for --- and that some college study is required to be a programmer. How seriously should I take their conclusions?


The arrogance of the opening of this piece is amazing. Essentially: "I know nothing about analyzing occupations, I do not work in or hire for any of these occupations, now I will classify these occupations based on my subjective analysis of how much education one really needs to do these jobs."


Unfortunately, if you read any of the other posts on this blog, you'll see this is kind of par for his course.


"Cook" is a very broad set of jobs. For the basic "chef's assistant" job then grade school and on the job training is probably fine. You wouldn't be surprised if a high-school student got a job like that.


From my experience college is not so much about actual knowledge acquired but mostly about learning to learn and think. I could have studied civil engineering instead of CS and be exactly as good software developer as I am, maybe even better.

Is college absolutely necessary to perform some jobs? Probably not. But I think I'd benefit if my hairdresser or tailor (I don't actually use services of any of those) attended some technical university during his/her career. Real shame is that not everybody has time and money to do that.


That's totally confirmation bias. Smart people are more likely to go to college. Almost everyone becomes wiser between the ages of 18 to 22.

Why are you so sure that college is causative here?

I don't doubt that college is where many people grow up more intellectually, but I have yet to see proof that it is the cause of that growth.


> I don't doubt that college is where many people grow up more intellectually, but I have yet to see proof that it is the cause of that growth.

I can agree that it's not the sole cause. But I really have trouble believing that being exercised and lectured about the stuff you knew nothing about every working day and being strongly challenged at least semiannually has no effect on people.


Well it's not as if people who don't go to college sit about twiddling their thumbs.

There's an argument to be made that people who don't spend those years having their life structured and defined by a university learn other important lessons.

There's particular irony to making the point that college is where you learn to think on HN. Many founders, like Bill Gates, dropped out of college to be hyper focused on their mission.

Rather than thinking of college as a blanket solution for everybody I wish people viewed it as a tool. Some people need it, some people flat out don't.


Well it's not as if people who don't go to college sit about twiddling their thumbs.

Additionally there's an argument to be made that people who don't spend those years having their life structured and defined by a university learn other important lessons.

There's particular irony to making the point that college is where you learn to think on HN. Many founders, like Bill gates dropped out of college to be hyper focused on their mission.

Rather than thinking of college as a blanket solution for everybody I wish people viewed it as a tool. Some people need it, some people flat out don't.


> Well it's not as if people who don't go to college sit about twiddling their thumbs.

If I never went to college I'd just play more computer games and probably get a job few years earlier. Jobs are easy so I don't expect them to develop and challenge me anywhere near as much as college did.

> Bill gates dropped out of college to be hyper focused on their mission.

As I said, shame that not everybody has the time or money do go through college. Bill didn't have time.

> Some people need it, some people flat out don't.

You don't exactly need much in life. Not starving and not dying in the cold on the streets is pretty much enough. The thing is that everything is better when people are doing some things they don't really need to do.


This kind of thing always sounds like an excuse to me. If learning to think was a thing, surely the content of the course should matter? After all, this argument implies that it's not included in what was taught before university. And why wasn't it taught in high school if it was so important?


> And why wasn't it taught in high school if it was so important?

Sometimes it is taught earlier but that just requires a great teacher and only so few of great teachers want to deal with adolescent youth for disgraceful payment.

College is a good time to start teaching people to think and to learn because it's the first time when most of the young people begin to understand that learning is just for their benefit and nobody else actually cares if they learn anything.

> If learning to think was a thing, surely the content of the course should matter?

It does matter to some degree. Learning to prove mathematical theorems teaches you to think better than analyzing poetry.


have known and worked with great programmers who majored in biology, english and film.. so I absolutely concur with this statement.


The author makes a lot of great points here but I took issue with this sentence:

All jobs that currently require a degree, should instead require a knowledge test. The employer should not care how the knowledge was obtained, just that the applicant has the knowledge.

I would argue that the degree does provide some value beyond what can be easily tested in an interview setting. I'm not sure if it is the only way but the type of person who completes a degree is the type of person who is able to sit down and start a difficult task and complete it. Often these tasks are not directly related to what the student is passionate about, and sometimes not even necessary without taking into consideration the bigger picture of a multi-year program. In my experience dealing with the drudgery of the tedious day-to-day of most white-collar jobs, this college education degree provides a coarse litmus test for the type of person who will thrive in this environment. A person who will do things well and thorough for their own sake and deal with the bullshit.


Just as a hypothesis: is it possible that the sheer number of people we're putting through increasingly bureaucratic college curricula (do this busywork, now go sit in this room listening to a topic you don't care about for a while, etc) is creating a feedback system that encourages the creation of tedious drudge work since that's what we've "trained" people to be good at? Though I'm not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg in this situation.


Not only have we trained people to be good at it but we have filtered and sorted them based on that.


To me it looks like we asking young people, in their brightest years (from a neurological point of view) to sit through boring classes, under-qualified teachers, just so that afterwards they'll have proven themselves able to stand a boring job too? That seems very perverse. It is _not_ a "skill" to be able to do what you don't like and be happy with it. It is a skill to learn to (genuinely) like it or get out.


With the quality of education as it is today, and no improvements in sight in the near or long-term future, I'd say a college education--or self-guided personal learning for the few who have the motivation and ability to do it--is required in the US if one is to not be considered stupid. There are exceptions at certain private--and usually incredibly expensive schools--but overall, even the best public schools are atrocious and don't teach children the skills and knowledge they need to be decent citizens, let alone how to prosper. This is why attending college is not primarily about job preparation. Even when job preparation is not necessary, the rest of the education is. Yes, much of it should have been taught in grades K-12, but since that isn't happening, college is the last defense against stupidity that's likely to last a lifetime. Thus, the question the article asks is not very important, and the article's dismissal of any use for college other than job preparation is short-sighted and ill-defended.


Any "job" does not require a college degree. A "job" is something that anyone can be trained to do. If you think that the purpose of college is to train you for a "job" then you're doing it wrong. The point of college is teach you the underlying fundamentals of how things like language and science work, so that you can extend those rules and use them to create new things and new ideas. You go to college to learn how to create value, not get a job. There will always be a need for vocational training. But putting in the long, hard work of accumulating intuitive knowledge of the fundamental sciences, and having that knowledge verified by society to assure you haven't deluded yourself, is the only way to operate at the highest level of intellectual ability for anyone short of a true genius.


There's a lot good about this point of view, but it comes from a fundamentally privileged point of view.

For first generation college students, the goal is to get a return on the substantial investment they are making. Achievement in abstract notions is fine, but paying off loans and escaping the career trajectories of their parents and neighbors is paramount.

Maybe the "advancement of humanity" education needs to be more distinct from elite vocational training.


Exactly. It is baffling that to this day so many people believe the purpose of University is to provide some sort of vocational training.


Thank you for sharing this way of thinking about college. I feel like your statement "You go to college to learn how to create value, not get a job" really set things into perspective for me. I'm now really looking forward to taking on the coming week at school (midterm included).


College has become little more than an aptitude test for many jobs. If you're willing to grind through the years of studying and financial hardship to get a degree, then you'll probably be able to handle the job.


More importantly, you'll probably not have the financial resources to walk away from the job.


I may be putting words in your mouth but I think you are saying that non-graduates who are not soaked in debt have more choices, and if so I'd agree.

Employers want in order of preference:

* h1-b - work late or life as you know it ends

* big mortgage with family - work late or I ruin your family's life

* big university debt - work late or I ruin your life

Debt is a tool of control.


I might agree that a hypothetical crappy employer would want those things. Every employer I've worked for wanted good programmers, and that's all they wanted.


>h1-b - work late or life as you know it ends

I wonder if this would be the case even for people who don't care about progress towards the green card? E.g. literally being in the US just for the job, no plans to settle down.


I, or my high-paying competitor who wants you working for him :)


Although, with some exception where protectionism ensures high pay, the higher the paying the work, the less concerned the market is with degrees. This is more due to the fact that high paying jobs are high paying because it's difficult to find people, and you can't be choosy when your options are already limited. But the secondary effect is that with the high pay, the benefits of "debt control" is lost anyway, so there's still no reason to look for workers with degrees.

Hence why the reasonably high paying software industry couldn't care less about formal education, but lowly office jobs that barely pay minimum wage expect the world from their applicants.


For the majority of IT workers this isn't the case. At the top-end of the market it works.

But my point was the average case for employers. They don't want people with choices.


My first employer actively encouraged its employees to get into debt (cars, housing, etc). Sadly it took me some time to connect the dots and realise what they were doing.


My father led the chemical safety laboratory of a ~10000 employee Hungarian drug company from 1990 to 2010 or so. He said this and this stuck with me, that when he started he was able to hire the lowest level assistants straight out of trade school but by the end everyone needed a univ degree because every instrument became so complicated.


I recently helped transform a customer service department from being an embarrassing shambles to something we could be proud of. The queue of tickets is now empty whereas before, when we didn't have things automated, our many customer service agents were struggling to keep up with the back of a 4000 long queue. Things are now pro-active, we fix problems before customers know rather than wait for them to complain.

Essentially it is the same job but done properly, however, now everything is in order, we just need two people rather than hordes of people. Note that these two people are college educated, i.e. able to listen and learn, write good English and show up in the morning.

We get customer service ratings and these also come in for the things that the computer does rather than just what a human agent has done. The computer always writes impeccably, my human colleagues are nearer grunt and point level. The humans are lucky to get 76% satisfaction level, the automated stuff consistently gets 91% satisfaction level.

The net result is that our remaining customer service staff are the educated ones, their work is now pretty professional albeit not to rocket surgery levels and the job pays fairly rather than it being a temp type of arrangement. As a company we no longer need the hordes and the people to manage/hire/fire them.

My point being that college education is more helpful than one might think. It does not matter what the education is in particularly, it is the skills of being able to do basic things like work without disrupting others, being able to write and being able to learn that matter.


Was the college degree itself really the difference here though?

I would guess it was more of a high level indicator of someone who has ambition, some base level of intelligence, perseverance, etc.

That still leaves you with false negatives and false positives. Just something somewhat better than hiring randomly. There are other criteria you could have used that had nothing to do with a college degree, that would likely have similar results.

The enlisted ranks of the US military, for example, use something called an ASVAB test as a bar for certain highly skilled jobs. It's also not perfect, but yields at least similar results. And the pool has very few college grads.


It does not matter what the education is in particularly, it is the skills of being able to do basic things like work without disrupting others, being able to write and being able to learn that matter.

Which should be what a high school diploma indicates. Otherwise, what the heck are we doing with kids for 12+ years?


I'm pretty sure your colleagues were able to 'listen and learn, write good English and show up in the morning' before they went to college.


Sure, very few jobs give you the direct day to day skills required to do a job. That's neither the claim colleges are making, nor the primary reason that business require degrees. This feels like pure opinion with almost no evidence to back it up, divorced from reality. The table displaying apparent sub-percent accuracy for the completely subjective (made up) number of jobs requiring degrees is demonstrating this disconnect hilariously.

I've actually tried hiring people with less schooling than college -- has the author? It tends to not work out that well, especially in tech. Programmers with high school diplomas and two year degrees are usually missing all the theory and most of the practical experience you get during a 4 year degree. Not because someone who skips college can't learn these things, and not because they can't get experience or learn on the job, it just so happens that in the real world they usually don't.

One of the biggest reasons that college is a good idea is that someone with a degree in a field related to the job is more often more capable than someone with only a high school diploma. Not always, of course, but statistically more frequently. So who will the employer choose? The college grad is an easy choice. This means getting a degree is simple market competition for employment, and probably won't go away even if people make convincing sounding arguments. Why would employers choose the minimum necessary qualifications if some candidates will do more? Why would people who want good jobs expect to get hired with less experience than others who are applying for the same job? College is something many people are choosing.


In my view, something that has to be considered is the feedback of a worker's education level on the nature of their job. If you stop requiring a college degree for a particular occupation, the nature of that occupation may change, and it may open up a space for new occupations to form.

Remember, anybody can stop requiring a degree for any job, today, so long as the degree isn't required by law. We could stop requiring an engineering degree for Solid Works operators. (Just to choose an example)

In fact, about half of our mechanical CAD operators have degrees. I notice a big difference between those groups when getting CAD work done. If the operator has a degree, it's much more likely that they can take a vague idea of mine, and come back with a nice design that even handles a bunch of issues that I overlooked.

If not, then I pretty much have to give them a complete specification (taking longer than just doing it in CAD myself) or sit next to them at the CAD terminal and direct them. If a design step requires math, I do the math. If a decision is needed, I make it. K-12 teaching would become a different profession if the college degree requirement were dropped, as was proposed in my state.


The author risks to make mistakes related to the Dunning-Kruger effect [1].

Quote:

> The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive incapacity, on the part of those with low ability, to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their competence accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: high-ability individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect


"Dunning-Kruger" has become the new "cognitive dissonance", a phrase everyone recognizes just enough to throw around as an epithet in lieu of making an actual point.


Could you expand on why you think this?


When writing Developer job descriptions I typically settle on "Bachelors degree or equivalent" for the education requirement.

The best Programmers I've worked with were self-taught autodidacts with insatiable curiosity.


How do people prove they have autodidacted the "equivalent" of a bachelors degree?


I prefer a take-home coding exercise for interviews, paid at an hourly rate. Equal parts subjective and objective.

The exercise requires candidates to git clone, unit test, document, submit PR, and walk a reviewer through the solution.... basically go full lifecycle on a coding task.


Considering I've met bachelors holders that couldn't write FizzBuzz in a language of their choice, I wouldn't think that's a huge concern.


The article's classifications aren't even observed in other OECD countries: for example law and medicine are undergraduate degrees is most of Europe and Australia and people do fine (obviously doctors still need residency etc in order to become skilled). And those countries are doing fine -- better than the US in many ways.


Very few. I think it's much more a matter of job culture and a bit of red queen (useless arms race) competition that has brought on this situation. Probably with a sprinkling of politicians wanting to be able to say that "in my country 50% of high school students go on to university" when they hob nob at international conferences.

In almost all white collar jobs the apprenticeship model would work just fine, but that doesn't work well when people want to change jobs every few years. It's not that most desk jobs are actually harder to learn that most skilled manual labor jobs.


>the most elite companies in the valley have discovered correctly that remote work doesn't work

That's extraordinarily presumptive. Is IBM and a handful of others gods of all things HR? Why? There's conflicting data on both sides of the table, IBM just went with one choice over another. Recently, by the way, so we don't even know it's going to work. Furthermore, there's a strong argument that the move was an easy way to achieve layoffs, which kind of nullifies the "IBM is big and smart and so they switched because remote work doesn't work" argument.

Finally, I'm not even sure some of these companies you're describing as elite (I'm assuming you mean "companies in the bay area we've all heard of that don't do remote work") are universally regarded as elite. And how do you account for the actual bay area giants that do allow for it, such as Google?


Good point. Didn't Yahoo abandon remote work as soon as Mayer took over?


Depending on who you talk to, this was either a ploy to do a non-layoff layoff, or since all the good people had already left the people still at Yahoo were just cashing paychecks. It didn't matter if they were in the office or not.

Pointing to the burning, foreclosed house is not a very accurate way to draw conclusions about the whole neighborhood.


The litmus test is pretty straightforward: Will the law come down on you if you do the job without a degree? If yes, the job requires it. Otherwise, it does not.


If your job doesn't require college, then pretty soon it won't require a human either. The more brain required the longer you have until a robot or computer can do it better.


You ironically couldn't be more wrong and you are looking at this the wrong way.

A cleaning lady is going to be able to keep her job longer than a radiologist as the radiologist requires mostly the ability to understand visual patterns where as a cleaning lady requires general purpose AI.

It's way harder to lift the rug, get in between the books etc.

Furthermore you get it wrong.

Specialization requires knowledge yes but mostly requires less of the brain. A cleaning lady have to use all sorts of different parts to do their jobs.

So your rule is right in some way but you apply the wrong people to it. It's the cleaning lady who uses most of her brain not the specialist.


You're being biased by presentism. In an age where robots are cheap and ubiquitous, we won't still hire cleaning ladies (interesting assumption they're still ladies) just because they'll be able to clean under the rug. Instead, home furniture will change so that it becomes easier to clean for robots.


Custodial work like a live-in housekeeper performs covers a very large range of skills I've yet to see successfully automated in a single package. Sorting/pre-treating/running laundry (including identifying dry clean items to set aside), folding and putting up clothes (including setting aside and matching missing items like socks, accessories, etc.), loading/unloading/put up dishes (including all the kitchen gadgets that go into the dishwasher), identifying and hand-washing kitchen items, dusting/cleaning (including knowing when to take care around fragile items), cleaning the kitchen,..., the list is quite long.

Just folding clothes is only commercially automated in very expensive and limited contexts (can fold shirts, but not blankets), and it won't put up the items for you. There are any number of restaurants that would love a kitchen-cleaning robot that guarantees that part of the restaurant inspector's rounds is always taken care of to a consistent degree. Just a robot modified from a pick and place solution to declutter by putting up out-of-place items and remembering where everything is located would find a large market. We're nowhere near good solutions for these and many other "simple" skills, much less mass market solutions.

I sometimes wonder if a giant "donut" job market will develop: many pattern-based very high-end specialties get automated, and many extremely low-end (Roomba, for example) ultra-repetitive tasks get automated, but lots of low'ish end jobs like custodial work stubbornly remain. Above the income strata of those low'ish end jobs in the middle sits a group of steadily-insecure positions as automation constantly nibbles away at their edges from the higher-end income stratas.


>I've yet to see successfully automated in a single package

Why would it need to be a single package? Is there a point to making the roomba do laundry?


I want an ever-decreasing number of limited-purpose appliances and devices in my life. Personally, I want to see software and even limited AI (not to speak of general AI) fulfill a personal ideal of mine to deliver increasingly general-purpose devices, using intelligence (whether embedded by design or learned) to drive general-purpose arrangements of atoms.

Initially, we will be forced by circumstance and market to adopt single-purpose robots like the Roomba if we want to avail ourselves of their benefits. But there are so many different tasks that I do not foresee a future of mass adoption of such single-purpose devices; the economics do not support such an outcome unless you imagine a near-future where most of the planet's population is compensated around the current US median household income per year.


That hasn't happened yet though. Stock brokers, on the other hand, once the quintessential white collar job, have been completely replaced by automated trading algorithms.


Because robots aren't cheap, at least for now. We're still at a stage where compute is cheap but interacting with real world using interfaces that go beyond screens and keyboards is still cumbersome and expensive.

But coming back to stock brokers, is there an epidemic of college educated stock brokers ending up unemployed due to automation? I don't think so and that's because they have other skills they gained from their education. Automated trading algorithms don't make stock brokers useless in the same what that automated garbage collection doesn't make programmers useless.


It's not just that they aren't cheap. They don't exist yet.


What do you think roomba is, if not a house-cleaning robot?

ED: yes, they're not perfect but give it about 20 years. I'm pretty sure we won't have human cleaners by then.


You are joking right.

Have you ever had a cleaning job?

A Roomba isn't going to solve your cleaning needs, not even by a longshot.


No I am not being biased by anything. I said that they will get replaced AFTER radiologist will which was the point here. Longer education does not secure your position.


If all a radiologist does is pattern matching, the market would've replaced them with techs a long time ago. If not in the US, this would've happened in at least a few other countries.


What else do you think a radiologist do?


I'm not a radiologist, so I can't answer accurately and I'm not even going to try. If you really want an answer, there's plenty of information on the web. But they're most certainly not just pattern matchers in the same way that I'm not a typist.

Also what's your evidence that there's no relation between college degrees and automation? What we know for a fact is that wage growth for people without college degrees has been flat or negative for the past eight or so years, while people with college degrees have seen some wage growth. Note, this can't be explained by illegal immigration because the number of undocumented immigrants has stayed constant or declined since the beginning of the Obama-era.


I know a couple of radiologist so I know what they are doing and there is nothing in there that won't be possible for a AI to deal with.

The reasons why it isn't being used instead of doctors are mostly political, institutional and human. First doctors will use them as assistants then they will be doing all the work.

But when it comes to actually detecting the patterns which is exactly what a radiologist trains to learn computers are not only better at finding the problems they also find much subtler and thus more early stage signs.

Some people in collage with collage degree have wage growth, you go ask your friend who studied english literature when they last had a pay-rise.

The original claim was that collage meant more use of brain thus better job security.

Thats simply wrong on both accounts.


Well they are full medical doctors, so see, and treat patients, carry malpractice insurance so you have some one to sue when they miss your cancer.

If it were just about reading the films, the tech who does the procedure would read the films. To be effective at a tech job you must know what you are looking at so that you can tell if you have successfully captured images for the doctor's report. If something looks off they may need to take further measurements and images.


Perhaps guide a catheter up your artery under real-time x-ray? Isn't that what an interventional radiologist does?


Whether a job requires college degree or not is a pretty lousy predictor of whether it can be replaced a robot or computer.


You'd be surprised. Some of the last jobs to go will be ones that require human judgement and motor skills but not much in the way of education.


More likely it's the other way around. Most jobs requiring college education are actually pretty simple, and I think the next wave of AI powered automation will replace many of them.

Meanwhile, it will take longer for people to build robots for each particular manual job. Not to mention the service industry where a lot of people prefer to deal with other humans, even when it wouldn't be necessary.


In many cases the reverse is true: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moravec%27s_paradox


Plenty of jobs that require a brain don't require college-- creative work, trades that can be learned through apprenticeship...


Lots of automation-resistant jobs require "cleverness" which is different than intelligence, and isn't much taught in school anyway.


Can you give a few examples of such jobs, and what consitutes "cleverness" in them? Really curious.


Full stack web development, growth hacking, lead generation/user acquisition, on- and offline marketing and entrepreneurship in general. I have half a dozen close friends who dropped out of high school and/or college and used their raw "ingenuity or shrewdness" rather than any learned skills in order to achieve enormous success (tens of millions of dollars). Some of them in Silicon Valley, but others in boring places and boring fields. In the past there were significant barriers to entry in many fields that required expensive, time consuming, often discriminatory pedigree to pass. These barriers have largely been destroyed over the last decade. The walls have been torn down and the ladders burned (much to the discomfort of those mid-climb), and they aren't coming back. Persistence and cleverness are the deadliest combination these days.


Cleaning lady, construction worker, janitor, plumber, electrician, building inspector I could go on.


Ah, but those jobs are being eaten away by automation, even if it's happening slowly.

Cleaning ladies are being displaced by disposable products that don't need to be cleaned.

Plumbers and electricians are being displaced by labor saving technologies. A new house contains no copper tubing or sweat fittings -- they use flexible hose and swaged connections. Wiring is no longer done with hard conduit. Framing is done with machine made components such as roof trusses.

Inspection is done by bribery. ;-)


Sure but before that ex. radiologist will have been replaced.


Ah, yes, but the person who owns the AI radiology business, and the equipment, will happen to be a radiologist.


No they wont. In fact they aren't today so why should they be in the future.

And furthermore you need only very few people running a whole radiology business for billions of people.


Maybe radiology is an exception (or my understanding is outdated), but from what I've read, a large portion of the medical industry is doctor-owned. For instance I've read that doctors provide a large portion of the investment pool for big ticket diagnostic equipment, and for businesses such as clinics, provider systems, and malpractice insurance companies.

"The workers own the means of production." ;-)


Doctor owned not doctors owned.

The point is that you don't need the amount of radiologist you are currently education if pattern recognition gets done by machines.


Not quite. Some medical jobs could be among the first to be in jeopardy, for example. I believe those will be replaced before some very simple, low wage jobs like tech support in a call center.

Why is this? Because many medical jobs consist of looking at information, making a diagnosis, and suggesting the course of action most likely to work. This is something that machines excel at. Many medical professionals never even communicate directly with the patient, leaving that to the doctor, while they assist the doctor with diagnosis behind the scenes. Take a radiologist, for example.

On the other hand, a call center employee must be able to communicate in real time with a human at conversation level. That is doable by AI, but is much more difficult, and requires something closer to AGI.

So the jobs that will be replaced first have nothing to do with education. They have to do with jobs which are reliant upon pattern recognition and information analysis. Those will go first, and some of them are very high paying and require quite a lot of education.


That is one of the point the article argues against: thinking a college education is required to be highly skilled is confusing cause and effect. Especially for programming, the most important skills are acquired either through self-study or on-the-job training, making a formal 4 year program a waste of money, time and productivity.


I'm a web developer, self-taught, some college, but no degree. Teaching myself ML now, so someday I can code AI -- pretty sure I'll keep teaching myself into a career without college, until all jobs are obsolete and we live in a post-scarcity society.


Just curious so you are learning the statistics and linear algebra background yourself so you can learn ML?


this is a bimodal distribution. my plumber/electrician/mechanic and my investment banker/lawyer aren't going to be replaced by robots any time soon.


Your investment banker might be replaced sooner than your plumber.


I once worked for a company that aimed to replace investment bankers with their robots. Basically an AI that reads news and other data sources, and gives stock trading advices.


investment banker != trader or investment manager

an investment banker typically advises on M&A transactions which is a very human business where your career path is strongly correlated with your social skills and status rather than technical knowledge.


correct - it's a sales job. very few people actually know what an investment banker does. it's just selling or (selling disguised as) buying ownership of shit to rich people.


Thanks, good to know


Why wouldn't your investment banker be replaced? Most trades are by bots anyway.


wrong job. i suggest you consider that you may not know as much as you think you know; this is one of those points in your life where cognitive dissonance kicks in.


Thanks, that's the rudest thing ever said to me on this website :) had to happen eventually


All the plumbers, electricians, welders, drivers & construction & assembly folks who build the infrastructure you rely on will appreciate.


It's gonna be a long time before we can automate the trades.

Pretty much everything they do is non-repetitive except at the lowest level.


Complete automation sure. Tools and techniques that remove a lot of direct labor? Those have already had a big impact on trades.


Arguably many jobs that require a degree are still nothing more than desk work that can be automated with relative ease.


Designing robots doesn't require college. Once the robots are left to do that autonomously, what jobs are left?


I knew a lot of people in college that didn't work all that hard except for last minute rushes to get things turned in at finals. Those people had a hard time finding jobs that justified the cost of their education. I also saw people that consistently worked hard. They are doing quite well. I think going to college is something you shouldn't do if you're not taking it seriously. If you're using college to put off real life, you might be better off waiting tables.


I am 100% convinced that colleges were created for good reasons but were quickly exploited for profit. Today's version of college is designed to empty savings in the maximum way possible. I can't think of too many professions that require the general education requirements that colleges claim you need. I'd say most if not all professions can be learned through training and on the job practice. Take nursing for example. Today's nurses have to write countless nonsense papers that have nothing to do with improving their knowledge. Dental Technician can do their job without prior education yet many are swindled into a technical program. They say designers need formal education to be taught human computer interaction, color theory etc yet here providing for myself and family with less than 8 months of self-taught reading. One time I wanted to check out a Standford online course to see what designers learn there and was blown away by the uselessness of that information. Pardon the typos, I'm on mobile with whacky autocorrect.


How many jobs require college is a fair question when you are young. But at the other end of life, I ask how many jobs would have taught you the same things as college. Lifelong education and self improvement is important. Whether it come from college, work, or somewhere else is not as important as just making sure it happens.


In my experience as a hiring manager, a degree can be useful as an indicator, but I wouldn't actually require it for most positions. A degree requirement can also be a crutch for HR departments that are overwhelmed by applicant volume and lesser hiring managers that put more stock in a culturally defined checklist than their own judgement about any given candidate's suitability.

The biggest problem with the degree-as-a-substitute-for-judgement approach is that not all degree programs are equal to start with. There are degree programs which absolutely speak well of a candidate (on a resume) and there are programs you can graduate from which would be less of an indicator of suitability than relevant work experience. Certainly not all degrees are equal. There are some real bullshit things you can major in insofar as being an indicator for employ-ability is concerned. So for me to care about a degree on a resume, it has to be an appropriate degree and it has to be from a program that I know indicates some skill and perseverance on the part of the candidate... otherwise I dismiss it as an evaluation factor: at that point it's simply an uninformative data point.... it's just noise.

To be fair, I say this as someone that has had a good career in technology without a degree. I have do have a fair amount of college (in one of those bullshit majors I was mentioning), but no sheepskin. (Actually, one of the schools I attended seemingly attached so little to the degree in terms of success of the candidate, that they had a policy of indefinite re-admittance since many wanted to finish solely for self-enrichment after they had gone off and had their career success pre-graduation :-) ).


The question implies "how many jobs require college to do". A better question is "how many jobs require college to get".


It's cute how software engineers are attributed as the likely inventors of HVAC robots. Whatever happened to mechanical & electrical engineers?


EE and ME are not sexy; so 20th century. Labor to be farmed out offshore. Most people think EE is hooking up an Arduino, or ME using Legos. Meanwhile the money is tossed at brogrammers writing sexting apps. /sarcasm.


The mistake of the education system is its focus on jobs. Education should be motivated by virtue, to raise a generation that can think, reason, innovate, in all aspects of life, emotionally, culturally, artificially, physically, scientifically, spiritually, etc.

If we educated more people that way, we'd probably have a society that could solve the job problem.


I can't help but feeling this has something to do with women. Namely that women are "winning" the education game. Each year, the fraction of women to men in (almost) all programs are steadily increasing.

Since men aren't winning anymore, the game clearly wasn't that important. Let's create a new game and play that instead!


The author's cherry picked examples from the 19th century are pretty misleading. The state of the art, as well as society's expectations for most professions have changed significantly since the 19th century.

I wouldn't want to live in a building made to 19th century safety and efficiency standards, and while I'm sure some people can teach themselves how to design and build modern buildings, I'm also sure that a good way to get up to speed is to go to school for architecture or civil engineering. Ditto with law and mechanical engineering.

I'm also wary of anybody claiming software engineers and computer programmers don't need a degree or other training. Software quality in general is really crappy, and I'm skeptical the solution is less education.


One of the best things you can support, whether you agree with Bill Gates, or with OP, is investment in making primary education as good as is absolutely possible. The result is:

1) people are smarter and more mature even if they don't go to college 2) people who do go to college are already ready to do great work

If, like OP, you seriously want people to effectively graduate at age 13 you need to put a lot of work into primary education first. I admit, if like Gates, you just want more competent graduates, then it is probably going to be more nuanced.


College may improve the bargaining position of laborers vis-a-vis employers. Compare eight apprenticeships which provide the ability to work one job each vs a college which provides the ability to work all eight jobs. If students filter into one of the apprenticeships they're locked in; if they go to college then employers must compete for labor across sectors.


Most do.

Most high school graduates can barely string a sentence together in writing, and are more likely to have similar limitations in reading.


"You need to be able to read and write to do this job" is not the same as "You need college to do this job."


But the pool of college graduates who can read and write is much larger than the pool of high school graduates who can read and write.

Considering that requiring interviewees to pass a literacy test may open you up to lawsuits, and that there is a large pool of college grads with no jobs and lots of debt, it's easier to just hire only college grads.


How many jobs will be really required?


I think that the really fundamental problem is the proposition that college has the goal of getting you prepared for a job.

That should not be (and IMO is not) the primary goal of education.

The primary goal of education should be to make you a better, more informed member of society. That's the only way democracy can work.


I agree with the author's conclusions that college is mostly an expensive waste of time and money. Job training can and should be done in a more cost-effective way with paid apprenticeships. Universities should focus on pushing the boundaries of knowledge (research) not job training.


Nobody has really commented yet on how highly suspect the methodology here is, nor the tradeoff between education and experience, nor the tradeoffs inherent in the world "acceptable" when you're trying to figure out what the minimum acceptable education is to land a certain job.

Just for the easiest example, the given education stat for top executives (chief executives, general and operations managers, and legislators) is listed as "high school." It's not even "some college". Now if I come to you and say, "hey, my niece actually just graduated high school and she's pretty smart, has a lot of ambition and drive, really great extracurricular involvement -- can we set up a job interview where she might take over your company as CEO?" you would laugh at me! You would say, "let her get her MBA and manage real people for a few years, and then let's talk. Or I mean if she really can't wait, let's give her an entry-level position and if she's really as good as you say, she'll be managing in 5 years and might be able to get to the top in 5 more."

But if we say "minimum" as in "could you start a company with only a high-school education and find yourself as its CEO?" then of course the answer is yes. Heck, let's knock this one down a peg, that could happen even if you don't graduate high school, it's just less likely. Legislator? Sure. I mean, most legislators today are presumably former lawyers who have 7 years of post-high-school schooling in them, but all you really need to legislate is to be elected.

Or for another example, Devin has said, "Any job specific training takes less than six months. Examples: ...cook." I mean, that's partly true, some 1/4 of cooks in this country work at fast food joints, some other 1/4 of cooks work in cafeterias etc., but placing it at "high school" as if culinary school isn't a thing is just deluding yourself for the other half or so of cooks. And if you have the choice between going to culinary school for a year or going to work in a kitchen that will take you for a year, probably if you're fresh out of high school you're going to get a lot more out of the culinary school. And that's because education has a different sort of value from work experience, which makes them very hard to compare evenly. The cook who went to culinary school for a year probably knows how to cook a much broader diversity of things, but the one-year-anniversary line cook will probably have greater appreciations for, say, prepping quickly and efficiently, taking multiple orders at once, estimating the time that dishes take to cook and communicating that to others, and so forth. They're not easily comparable.


I don't understand all the agurments for apprenticeship, what we're dealing with now are the problems of workers being unable to move over/up after being displaced by technology.

Apprenticeship systems would only exacerbate that problem.


Number of births in US per year: 4.24 million

Proposed stipend: $100,000

Budget for proposal: $424B/yr, assuming no overhead (lol)

That's 2.5% of GDP, minimum, which is almost as much as the total non-defense discretionary budget is today.


The question to ask is what jobs require you to get educated through either close social interaction with others or needs access to resources you can't just get at home.


I go a step further, how many jobs can be done by most people, and things like college or personal connections decide who fills those jobs.


Almost none of them, outside of STEM fields. Even then, not even some of those.

One of the biggest scams of modern times.


christ - reading through this person's website he seems like a parody of the 'arrogant engineer' stereotype.


How many jobs really require people?


Far fewer than most will admit.


Most, according to economic signaling theory.


This person has a bunch of essays but he comes across as an sad person who doesn't believe in civil rights for women.

In an eassy on his website [1], he says "Men have natural abilities and disposition towards leadership. To deny this, to mandate equality of results, to push women into masculine roles, to domesticate and feminize men, only results in misery for both men and women.

Universal suffrage elections are virtually always a bad idea."

1. https://devinhelton.com/principles-of-formalism


This is like the definition of an ad-hominem attack. Your argument is basically "he believes some unpopular things so all his ideas should be discredited." I dont know this guy and I doubt I think the way he thinks, but the essay is the essay -- it should stand or fall on its own merits.


"Unpopular?" That's the word you choose to describe this?

"Men have natural abilities and disposition towards leadership. To deny this, to mandate equality of results, to push women into masculine roles, to domesticate and feminize men, only results in misery for both men and women. Universal suffrage elections are virtually always a bad idea."

Ad hominem doesn't render an argument invalid, it just speaks to the credibility of the author. So on that note, where are the merits?


Just because I dont feel the need to vent my outrage doesnt mean I approve. "Unpopular" seems totally accurate.

If you're talking merits/credibility, I feel like his opinions on the other things just aren't relevant here. Is the standard that every time someone shares an opinion their entire history is judged?


Is the standard that every time someone shares an opinion their entire history is judged?

To some degree (I won't say 'entire'), this is the very definition of "credibility."


You're right that it's an ad hominem, as it rightly should be - the character and state of mind of author should be considered when judging their work.

We might have an obligation to read charitably, but we shouldn't be obsequious towards ideas (or people) that are ontologically broken or fly in the face of basic humanism. This author falls firmly into that category, and a quick survey of their work will confirm that for you.


I would counter that the reason we consider ad-hominem bad is because it enables lazy thinkers to avoid the topic at hand and redirect it to something thats a lot easier to criticize. Thats the path of sophistry.


Maybe it does, but that's perhaps not the point.

The point, at least in this case, is that the author is counting on being treated as a serious thinker at the table of ideas. He is relying on our good faith to promote ideas that are fundamentally incompatible with the existence of exactly the kind of dialogue he's being given on this site. Do not think, should he win, that he will afford you the same charity.

Criticizing someone who uses dialogue in bad faith is an exercise in futility. It's better to recognize their actions before hand and label them as such -- a sophist, or a pseudophilosopher, or whatever. That won't stop them from speaking (nor should we want it to), but it gives us the power to redirect dialogue towards more serious participants.

Edit: I realize that I didn't make this clear: criticizing the easier thing is not sophistry. At the worst, it's poor argumentation. Sophistry involves using rhetoric to hide intellectual bankruptcy and bad faith.


Ok but still youre not arguing what he said, youre arguing what he is. To me, thats the dark path. It's intellectually dishonest. This is what generally annoys me about the social justice scene: its always about silencing or shunning people, never about engaging them.


Intellectual dishonesty would be denying it. I make no such denial - I have rejected this person's writings because I can't find any reason to believe that this person entertains discussion (or even the idea of discussion) in good faith.

I do not do this out of hand, or on a whim. I've read this person's writings before, and have made a genuine attempt to read him charitably.

> its always about silencing or shunning people, never about engaging them.

Shunning, maybe. I don't think it's inappropriate to stop a conversation that you know is going to be used as a weapon against you later by someone with truly onerous views. I don't have an obligation to engage with people whose only interest in engagement is to use it a token of their ideological legitimacy. Silencing, never.


Your actions contradict your words though. None of what this guy said about education matters to you because ideas from "this kind of person" is the overwhelming factor to you. Who cares if he has a point about college if he doesnt towe the feminist line, basically.


My actions are commensurate with my words. I don't ask that he be censored - I ask that his status as an intellectual hack be considered, and that we recognize that his writings on education are informed by his much more onerous positions.

We don't debate round-earth denialists, since we know that their only motive in debate is to maximize their audience and legitimacy. It doesn't matter whether they're actually talking about their ungrounded views in a particular instance, because all that matters is that they gain legitimacy to be spent later.

You're the one who keeps bringing up feminism and social justice, not me. Have you considered that you're trying to imply an ulterior motive that doesn't exist? Every movement has its fair share of people just like Devin Helton.


[flagged]


I don't think name-calling is making your argument any more persuasive.


I probably got a bit more aggressive than I meant to, but there was no name calling.


so what? Henry ford didn't like the Jews but he sure wasn't an idiot when it came to management.


That line of "reasoning" is only possibly justifiable if you can come up with a specific way it discredits his argument - ending at "see he thinks X, clearly we shouldn't listen to anything else" is just burying your head in the sand.


I do think that one's overall world views and comments does change how I understand and think about their writing, but it is a little bit directed at the person of course to say that. So a bit of a fair criticism. :-) So what about his ideas -

In regards to the article, I think the general direction of his ideas that we should send fewer people to college is wrong. One of many reasons for thinking that is that a lot more jobs will be eliminated by automation and the only way for people to have a chance at a great, productive life with enough money to live on and do the things he describes (live in a safe place, things to do, access to doctors, and most importantly craft beer), will be to have education that allows one to do creative work that is harder to replace with automation. People will have to study things that align with that creative work, and possibly reeducate themselves as they go along in life (like most programmers are constantly doing). Many of those fields he listed that people could do without extra education are likely to be automated away (financial adviser, executive, or a marketing manager).


Saying women shouldn't be able to full civil rights is like saying gay people shouldn't be counted a full humans, or using the n word for black people. It's just not acceptable, in my opinion, and taints anything one writes. It's beyond the pale.


So your point is that we should ignore any point he made because he thinks something bad on a separate topic? You realize if thats your standard you should probably exclude most famous historical philosophers, along with the 6 billion or so living humans who dont subscribe to modern western philosophy. It turns out you can learn something from people that dont share your values. Or you can read Jezebel all day and ride the outrage train.


I do understand that anyone from history will have held views that are morally repugnant to anyone in the modern world. Think of Thomas Jefferson and having children with his slaves and I think those children were slaves, while also thinking about the universal rights of man (and not women, blacks, or non-landholding white men).

But there is a historic millieu that one has to use to judge that person's views and ideas within, and that does allow me to consider the views of people from antiquity. But that notion also applies to judging the ideas of people writing in the world that I live in. Today, it's just clear that women should have civil rights and be equal partners in society with men. It's silly to state otherwise, and so when someone who is a contemporary states otherwise, it does call into question their views.


To be fair though, if you believe people from antiquity had some highly problematic views (no doubt), then wouldn't it be easy to extrapolate that people a hundred years from now are going to look on your beliefs in horror? I cant imagine slave owners thought they were bad people either. It's easy to write it off because you'll be long gone, so who cares, but we'd be a much better society if we realized a lot of what we think is fundamentally true tends to historically go in and out of fashion, and the people that are out of fashion tend to have ideas most of us havent heard. Again Im not arguing for his views, Im just saying, the reason we have the concept of logical fallacies (ad-hominem being one of them) is history is long and these ideas have worked well.


I agree, I am sure some of my views will be judged to be wrong, horrifying. One I have thought of is because I like to eat meat, I'll be judged to be a monster. I have considered becoming a vegatarian, but I do love a steak with wine, or a burger. I used to visit my grandmother's farm when I was a kid and we had cows and chickens, and I'm under no misconceptions about where food comes from :-)

Actually I'm interested in learning more about the world and educating my self and not just being stuck on one view of what is right and wrong.

I will disagree with one thing your wrote, about ideas coming and and out of fashion over time - certainly that happens but the idea of civil rights for all individuals must be a universal thing. I think that's very different than views about religion or proper foods to eat or ideas about what are good jobs for men or women.


Did you actually read the article? Or even the paragraph? It's not arguing against civil rights for anybody.


This author is, in fact, against civil rights:

> Universal suffrage elections are virtually always a bad idea. The process simply polarizes the population, and causes everyone to believe in myths and propganda. There is no way that the results of an election can be channeled into the subtleties needed to make good government and good policy.


I read that more as an allusion to public choice theory, but your interpretation of that paragraph is also plausible; conceded!

It looks like this guy discusses the matter at greater length here, if anybody is curious:

https://devinhelton.com/2015/08/dictatorship-and-democracy


He might also have problematic opinions about changing the oil in your car every 3000 miles. Which is about as relevant. (which to be clear, I dont support his viewpoints, but lazy arguments need to be called out)


Not to say that the thing about men vs. women isn't problematic, but that quote is taken out of context. The suffrage part is a completely separate bullet point and isn't saying that women shouldn't have the right to vote as your quote suggests.

Also, the main point preceding the quote that men and women may have different natural dispositions is a reasonable one. He only oversteps by implying men are better leaders, a claim that may be defensible under some very specific definition of "good leadership" but is mostly just inflammatory in this case.


You are right, I didn't notice at first that I was conflating two different ideas. Thanks for the correction!

But it is a short step from "men have natural abilities and disposition toward leadership" and "people shouldn't have universal sufferage" to women shouldn't vote.


Ah, he's an NRx guy....


[flagged]


That's a big claim you're making with no evidence. In fact that kind of assumption about someone that thinks differently is what the author was probably referring to.


Just check his other posts:

Racist: https://devinhelton.com/hate-group-history Sexist: https://devinhelton.com/principles-of-formalism Libertarian nutjob: all of them


I don't see how you can objectively say all of those points are nutjob - many are just summaries of our existing structure. Perhaps you don't agree with all of them but that doesn't make them nutjob.

Racist claim - not seeing it. While I wouldn't try to equate the Black Panthers w the KKK, ignoring the Black Panther violence against innocents is dishonest. And not understanding why someone would boycott a celeb who promotes a group w a violent history isn't being honest either. That's not an unreasonable thing.


glorious racist sexist libertarian views

How on Earth are you divining racism and sexism out of this article???


I mean people who say stuff like that are almost without fail racist sexist shitheads but I had to dig a bit further for proof:

https://devinhelton.com/hate-group-history

https://devinhelton.com/principles-of-formalism


What exactly is your critique of his Black Panther article? I'm reading it now, but I need more than just you pointing me at an article and telling me "It's racist".

Why is it racist? What are your counterpoints? What is your actual argument here? On the face of it, sans anything substantive to what you're saying, what you're doing right now looks like textbook character assassination.


Wew... You're asking me to explain why it's racist???


Because you're the one who made the claim, and I've already stated I am just now reading the article, yes-in fact I am.

And let me offer some context for you here for a second: I am a black man. And there are elements of the black community that deserves some critique from within the black community, but is labelled prima facie as "racist" by individuals engaging in what I've learned to call "performative wokeness" when it comes from not-black voices. Sometimes (and sometimes often) without care or regard for the factual accuracy and relevance of those critiques. Moral conviction be damned.

So yes, I'm still reading the article, but you're making the claim, I'm holding you to that claim considering your profile identifies you as someone who "push[es] back the tide of racist libertarians and startup bros"

If you're going to "push back", there should be a reasonable expectation of resistance from people who want an honest, earnest and intelligent debate. Otherwise, IMO you're just putting on performances.


> If you're going to "push back", there should be a reasonable expectation of resistance from people who want an honest, earnest and intelligent debate. Otherwise, IMO you're just putting on performances.

I'd like to think it's more like venting than performance, but fair criticism, and thanks for the thoughtful response. Intelligent debate just doesn't sound like fun when so much of the HN crowd is like the guy from this article.


Intelligent debate can't happen if people don't actually, you know, debate.


Someone already replied towards the first link, so I'll address the second.

The only thing in that post that could be construed as sexist is 10th point:

> Humans were born unequal in talent and desires. The gifts of nature were not distributed equally among the sexes or various peoples. Governance systems must select for talent, and any such selection process will produce inequalities. The never-ending attempts to purge all such inequalites will eventually destroy the ability of the government to function. Men have natural abilities and disposition towards leadership. To deny this, to mandate equality of results, to push women into masculine roles, to domesticate and feminize men, only results in misery for both men and women.

One could pin the label of sexism on this if one thinks this is an indirect jab at inclusiveness and equality. Perhaps if the author had also paralleled and listed the qualities women have over men, he could've covered his bases.

It's more likely that the author holds more "traditional" views on gender roles, but without the prejudice and hate towards women commonly found in sexists.


The article has some interesting ideas. But it tries to solve a problem that is already solved in other countries. Why do not, instead, start looking at how those countries do it?

The problem needs thinking out-of-the-box. Education is not "too expensive", remove that from your equation. Education is a great investment.

Why is your country not paying for it? Try to solve that instead.


1) People don't know what they want to be when they are 11 years old, so how you do determine who gets what kind of education?

2) People don't want to be truck drivers for their whole lives. Hell, truck driver might not even be a job.

3) The goal of education isn't to get a job, it's to get an education. The job comes after and can be unrelated to the education.

Those are the three things I can think of that make me think this guy hasn't thought his argument through very well.


tl;dr I should have been able to get a 4 year degree after taking 3-4 classes. Why do people who have equivalent education need to _waste_ 4 years of their life?

I think that the largest problem is that there is no way for people who have achieved the equivalent or more of a college education to gain the same recognition. But possibly that is just because it affects me directly.

While working a technician type job for years with lots of downtime, I studied CS at home and with my work downtime. I took lots of the free courses from the elite universities and finished them. I read lots of good book, most of the No Starch Press books, and did all the exercises. Then I had the money to fund a four year degree, with high expectations for the higher level classes I persisted through the absolutely painfully trivial, tedious work. I got anxious about wasting so much time not learning, after I was not just out of high school.

I've burnt out on busywork, started neglecting schoolwork for stuff that actually improved my skill, or to drill way deeper into some interesting bit of a class than needed to get to something challenging. I ignored school for side projects that stretched my legs. It really hit when I took 300-400 level courses and realized that i really wouldn't learn anything CS at all. I've even helped nearly 10 other students learn Python which the school doesn't even teach pair programming with them on a very non-trivial project.

But now here I am, way more advanced and capable than a standard graduate, terrible GPA, not going to graduate, and no job opportunities. I don't even care how much I make, I like programming, I like making things, I like solving problems. Probably going to have to go back to what I was doing.

That said I did pick up a couple math tricks, but _wasting_ 4 years of my life for 3-4 good classes which could have been taken in 3 months, not even remotely worth it.

Been here for a while but using a throwaway for obvious reasons.


The solution is to be long in anti-fragile assets such as bitcoins and gold. If approximately everybody else is getting it wrong about degrees, the economy and the value of its fragile assets, especially paper money, will shrink systematically, while my assets will keep gaining value. In that sense, it is better to encourage most other people to get it wrong. Hence, they should get MORE useless degrees and saddle themselves with MORE stupid and MORE enormous student loans. That is what will eventually sink the boat completely and make me more money.


Come on, bitcoin and gold are very fragile. Look at their huge variation in value over short time frames. A new crypocurrency could arrive to take bitcoins place, also, or govt regulation could make it hard to use in the us or china. There might be an argument for diversifying your investments in these things, but these aren't the certain safe places to put your money for long term.


Yup, and inb4 "it's anon so impossible to regulate". You're not fighting someone trying to stop you from purchasing it, you're fighting an apathetic system that will go with "whatever works" and isn't a pain in the ass to use.

All it takes is for some litigators to decide that operating businesses anonymously is illegal, and now those "anonymous customers" could be police stings making your "system" more trouble than it's worth to use anonymously.

Truly-anonymous currency is either a fantasy or will only exist in niche markets. In reality all they really have to do is scare people at the point of sale, and the point of sale is by the nature of markets not hard-to-find or 'hear about on the street' (because it has to attain customers).


How do you think student loans will "sink the boat completely"? They aren't traded, the money is mainly owed to public institions and banks, and it isn't the biggest piece of the debt pie. I'm even more confused how you think gold and bitcoin are hedges against a crash in the dollar. Historically, real gold returns have been worse during higher inflation. And during previous currency devaluations, holding commodities only worked out if you held the right ones. Oil has done far better than gold depending on which time period. Foreign currency can do just as well and is easier to trade than gold. To properly hedge the dollar you need to hold more then just bitcoin and gold, you would need silver, oil, and a basket of currencies as well.


> especially paper money

(A) someone either forgot about or doesn't grasp the scale of the derivatives market

(B) Given the choice (and that's assuming they're given a choice) between the long-standing fiat-based currency we currently have in which the skilled already have some measure of "wealth", and a system that largely favors unknown entities and a bunch of smelly basement-dwellers who had leftover pizza money back in the aughts, guess which one the people will go with lol




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: