That companies and organizations are full of utterly untalented and wholly ill-suited & miserable folks who somehow lucked into lofty and well-paying jobs.
And yet there are gifted people like gwern who cannot seem to catch a break no matter how demonstrably prolific they are.
I think we should stop telling kids that life rewards the passionate and the skilled.
(By rewards I don't mean some inner solace coming from indulging in what you love, but the conventional rewards of recognition and remuneration.)
Life is rigged in favor of the opportunists.
The schemers, hustlers, the witty-talkers and the seize-rs.
But certainly not the plainspoken and the adept.
No matter how you dice it, your conscience tells you that this is more than a bit unfair and disenchanting.
Why does it astound you that opportunities go to the opportunists?
I think that what you're seeing here is that gifted people do eventually catch a break and luck into a lofty and well-paying job. And then their employer starts telling them what to work on (because, after all, people don't pay you for being smart - they pay you to do things for them), and they don't have time to work on the cool-but-relatively-useless public-domain stuff. From the outside, it looks like they've suddenly become utterly untalented, ill-suited, and miserable. But from the inside, they're just as smart as they ever were, it's just that their talents have been redirected into invisible things that people will actually pay for.
If Gwern wants a job at Google, I'll be happy to refer him.
Just curious: Are you equally satisfied with the not-so-public work you're doing now?
I'd say that on balance, yes, I'm equally satisfied. But that probably means that I'll end up switching between the two a few times during my career.
Sorry, I would prefer he continue to work on gwern.net.
U.K. businessman James McCormick convicted of selling golf ball finders as bomb detectors to Iraq
Or we can look at our own homegrown example:
Drones Hacked with $26 Software
These are even public because of their national security consequences.
Your average publicly traded corporation and even large non-profits and charities are filled with utterly moronic placeholders who are very good at self-preservation and climbing rungs.
The brain trust in most companies doesn't fill a beer boot.
Typically if smart people have difficulty finding or keeping a job, it's either because a.) they don't want one or b.) they have mental or emotional problems that make them difficult to work with. The latter is a real problem, but not really an injustice (or rather, it's an injustice that people are born with or develop these problems, but not that they aren't hired if they have them). In that case, one's mental energy is often better spent dealing with those problems or enlisting help to deal with those problems than on becoming smarter, because you get a much higher payoff from the former.
True, but I'd then make the usual counterpoint that average is not the median or mode and can be misleading in its own way - the average human has half a vagina and <1 ball and <1 breast, the average human has <4 limbs and <2 eyes, etc
The average person can be quite feckless, even if you live in a population split between preternaturally intelligent clones of John von Neumann and people tragically in a coma...
Hiding behind a pseudonym is a great way to avoid being recognized for your works in the short-term, unless you're some sort of prolific writer, but I think we know that's a lot different than developing software.
If gwern would associate these works you all revere him for with his real name, I'm sure he'd have plenty of job offers.