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Unfortunately, he doesn't have a day job and he's really poor. If you like his research, consider a donation in paypal dollars or bitcoin.



From the site: 1L7LgaRtr3WSw5g1MaJQWj19T6RByssz41


Just donated $5.


Do you know him personally?


No, but I do interact with him on a daily basis on IRC.


This is what consistently appalls me ( and yet astounds me at the same time )

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.


"That companies and organizations are full of utterly untalented and wholly ill-suited & miserable folks who somehow lucked into lofty and well-paying jobs."

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.

I used to do cool stuff like teach folks how to write Scheme interpreters in Haskell or port Arc to Javascript or spend half a day re-implementing Tetris on a webpage. Eventually enough people noticed that I got a nice job at Google. I still work on cool stuff, but nobody notices anymore, partly because everybody takes the fact that Google Search just works for granted and because I work with enough other talented people that I can't claim sole credit for anything I do anymore.

If Gwern wants a job at Google, I'll be happy to refer him.


> I still work on cool stuff, but nobody notices anymore, partly because everybody takes the fact that Google Search just works for granted and because I work with enough other talented people that I can't claim sole credit for anything I do anymore.

Just curious: Are you equally satisfied with the not-so-public work you're doing now?


Tough question. The work I'm doing is challenging and I'm paid well for it, so yes, on that end I'm satisfied with it. I'd be lying if I said there weren't moments where I wish more of it were public, though, or that I could do something impressive in its own right rather than part of a major software system (and hence constrained by the other design choices made for that system), or that it doesn't sting when the project you're working on, which is doing some very cool technical things, gets canceled because it doesn't fit into the direction that your group is going.

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.


> If Gwern wants a job at Google...

Sorry, I would prefer he continue to work on gwern.net.


If this is the case I hope you are donating to him.


In case you are not, at first brush, convinced that "specialists" with "vast amount of expertise" in organizations of national importance are routinely found to be incompetent schleps easily manipulated by your average conman, we can hop over to Great Britain:

U.K. businessman James McCormick convicted of selling golf ball finders as bomb detectors to Iraq

Source(s) :

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2318182/British-mill...

Or we can look at our own homegrown example:

Drones Hacked with $26 Software

Source(s):

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5989599n

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126102247889095011.html

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.


So mediocre opportunists who fill the ranks of nearly every outfit in America do not appall you?

The brain trust in most companies doesn't fill a beer boot.


No. The average person is, by definition, average. If mediocre opportunists didn't fill the ranks of nearly every outfit in America, they'd all be unemployed.

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.


> The average person is, by definition, average.

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...


Have you considered the possibility that maybe he just doesn't want a regular job?


Someone once said "If you don't toot your own horn, no one else will."

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.




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