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Wei_Dai comments on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) - Less Wrong

42 Post author: orthonormal 12 August 2010 01:08AM

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Comment author: Wei_Dai 04 November 2011 09:20:30AM 3 points [-]

Why do you intend to study physics or economics in college?

Comment author: Celestia 04 November 2011 01:00:05PM 0 points [-]

Because I'm strongly interested in both subjects, could very well pursue a career in one of them (or related fields), and there are excellent resources for both in the university system, especially for physics (research opportunities, labs, etc.).

Comment author: Wei_Dai 05 November 2011 02:53:56AM 5 points [-]

I think the consensus around here is that too many high IQ people go into physics compared to what is socially optimal. Unfortunately my Google-fu is failing me and I can't find the posts/discussions I have in mind. (Anyone want to help me out?) The closest I could find is Paul Christiano's The Value of Theoretical Research.

Comment author: komponisto 06 November 2011 12:00:56AM 3 points [-]

There's also the comment of Peter Thiel at the 2009 Singularity Summit, referenced here.

But in any case note that studying physics in college does not necessarily commit one to "going into" physics. Indeed, Robin Hanson now studies economics professionally but started out studying physics!

Comment author: Wei_Dai 07 November 2011 01:18:14AM 3 points [-]

Thanks, I think between you and gwern you've probably covered what I had in mind. From your linked comment:

Shortly thereafter, Peter Thiel expressed a wish that all the people currently working on string theory would shift their attention to AI or aging; no disagreement was heard from anyone present.

It might be hard to argue that everyone currently working on string theory should shift their attention, but much easier to argue that at the margins, we need more highly capable people working on creating a positive Singularity, or reducing existential risk, or aging, and fewer doing theoretical research. It's unlikely we can make all string theorists shift their attention anyway, but I feel like we'd be doing some good if we could change a few people's minds (like Celestia's for example). Do you disagree?

But in any case note that studying physics in college does not necessarily commit one to "going into" physics.

Sure, but if one doesn't intend to pursue a career in physics, why not study something more generally useful, like computer science?

Comment author: Vaniver 07 November 2011 03:42:21AM 0 points [-]

Sure, but if one doesn't intend to pursue a career in physics, why not study something more generally useful, like computer science?

You can do both. Some of the value of adding physics is that it's a credible signal and your classmates are a cut above most other departments (and you do pick up some problem-solving techniques).

Comment author: gwern 05 November 2011 04:20:14AM 1 point [-]

Well, you might be thinking of http://lesswrong.com/lw/1hh/rationality_quotes_november_2009/1ac4 - either de Grey or the mathematician story would do.