Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

John_Maxwell_IV comments on LessWrong 2.0 - Less Wrong

89 Post author: Vaniver 09 December 2015 06:59PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (316)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 03 December 2015 07:10:16AM *  22 points [-]

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Online community design is an important subfield of group rationality, which is arguably more important than individual rationality. It's hard to deny that many of the biggest group rationality failures are happening online nowadays.

  • A great thing about online communities is they let you aggregate the work of a variety of sporadic contributors. People have heard of Yvain because he writes good stuff on a consistent schedule. Imagine alternate universe Yvain whose blog has two posts, spaced 6 months apart: Meditations on Moloch and The Control Group Is Out Of Control. Since alternate universe Yvain does not write on a consistent schedule, few people have heard of his blog and his insights aren't read by many people.


I think the "Self-Improvement or Shiny Distraction" post is wrong, which is unfortunate because I suspect it played a big role in killing LW.

Let's rewind to the dawn of the internet era. We're having coffee with Tim Berners-Lee and talking about his new invention, the World Wide Web. Speculatively we can see the Web disrupting many industries, but predicting that the Web will disrupt academia seems downright unimaginative. Heck, Tim is using the Web to share physics research already. After all, the Web means

  • An end to credentialism. Now any amateur physicist can contribute in their spare time.

  • Smoother, better peer review processes.

  • Cheap, universal distribution.

Academia could use a shakeup anyway: much academic writing stinks, and philosophy in particular has gone astray.

Now fast forward to the present. The academic utopia we envisioned has happened to some degree--see Wikipedia and the AskHistorians subreddit, for instance. But it hasn't happened to the degree we hoped. Why not? I can think of a few reasons:

  • Financial incentives and prestige inertia that benefit established systems. See e.g. Bryan Caplan on this.

  • Lack of a profit motive. The Web revolutionized areas it was possible to get rich revolutionizing. Revolutionizing academia has much less profit potential. (Revolutionizing credentialing might make someone rich, but academia serves valuable roles for society that aren't credentialing and are hard to make money from. For example, it certifies smart people as high status topic experts. If you've attended high school you know that smart people are not high status by default. We're lucky to live in a world where journalists are more likely to interview college professors for trend pieces than celebrities. If colleges went away and cons + Mensa became the primary places smart people gathered, that might change.)

  • The acceleration of addictiveness. The Web is selecting for addictive stimuli. Blogs are a more addictive version of personal websites. Twitter and Facebook are more addictive versions of blogs. If the web-based version of academia is optimizing for something other than addictiveness, it's likely to get crowded out. (I suspect this is playing a role in Wikipedia's decline.)

All of these factors seem surmountable, and indeed LW made decent progress despite them. They haven't been surmounted due to a combination of apathy and this problem not being on peoples' radar.

That's the research side of academia. Now let's look at the teaching side.

Imagine you're a professor teaching a critical thinking class. Out of all the classes in the general education curriculum, the case for your class actually helping the lives of your students is among the strongest. You're a really good teacher, and your students are so engaged with your assigned readings that they are putting off homework for other classes to do them. Sounds great right?

That's basically the problem Patri's post complained about. It's a "first world" problem by professorial standards. If your students are really having issues with their other classes because they are so excited about the readings for your class, maybe do the readings during class so they aren't a distraction while doing other homework, prevent students from reading ahead, or something like that.

The higher education bubble is likely going to "pop" eventually. (Maybe when employers realize that taking Coursera classes is a positive signal of conscientiousness, curiosity, and having the wisdom to avoid debt... Google's HR guy is already on record saying people who make their way without college are "exceptional human beings".) The market will provide a new solution for credentialing because there's money in that. There's less money in the other stuff academia does, and it'd be great if we could start laying the foundation for that now. Stretch goal: bake EA principles in from the start.

Comment author: ingres 03 December 2015 07:24:50AM 13 points [-]

Stretch goal: bake EA principles in from the start.

This would be a huge turnoff for many people, including myself.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 03 December 2015 09:31:58AM 3 points [-]

So you'd be upset to, say, see research proposals prioritized for funding using explicitly utilitarian criteria? How would you rather see them prioritized?

Comment author: Vaniver 04 December 2015 12:58:17AM *  16 points [-]

I have had on the back burner for... probably six months now a post on why I am turned off by / leery about EA, despite donating 10% of my income to charity, caring about x-risk, and so on. One of the reasons that post has stayed on the back burner is "Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate" plus "The Virtue of Silence"--given how few of the issues are methodological, better to just silently let EA be, or swallow my disagreements and endorse it, than spell out my disagreements and expect them to be taken seriously.

But this is suggesting to me that I probably should put them forward, in order to make this conversation easier if nothing else.

Comment author: Vaniver 14 December 2015 06:45:43PM *  7 points [-]

After talking with some EAs at the SF Solstice, I think it would be net positive to write this post. Expect it by the end of December if all goes well.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 04 December 2015 08:40:17AM 3 points [-]

If there's some reason to avoid broadcasting your thinking, you could just leave a comment in this thread instead of making a toplevel post. (Or send me a private message.) Anyway, you've got me curious already... is your objection to EA in principle, what the EA movement looks like in practice, or what the EA movement might become in practice? Does it extend to any explicit utilitarian calculations in general? (Feel free not to answer if you don't want to.) Personally I'm a bit apprehensive about what the EA movement might become, but the EA leadership seems apprehensive too, so that's reassuring.

Comment author: 27chaos 06 December 2015 12:56:33AM 2 points [-]

Please do.

Comment author: [deleted] 07 December 2015 01:53:10PM 1 point [-]

Why not post it as username2? (If this is an equivalent to username, that is. I think LW shouldn't disregard confessionals, since clearly people talk much more freely there.)

Comment author: 27chaos 06 December 2015 12:55:48AM *  1 point [-]

Same. I like my arguments modular. I say this despite liking EA a lot.

Comment author: helldalgo 03 December 2015 08:24:23AM *  12 points [-]

Less Wrong has a high barrier of entry if you're at all intimidated by math, idiosyncratic language, and the idea that ONE GUY has written most of its core content. I think the diaspora is good for mainstreaming the concepts on this site. I wish I had been an active member when it was still a catalyst for motion. The book's existence is good, and HPMoR will still bring people here. This site is important for archival and educational reasons.

Less Wrong might be in a good place to mature in several different directions. If other community members branch out in the way that CFAR and MIRI have, integrating the education-without-academia principles should be a priority in their organizations. It's not a stretch: Eliezer Yudkowsky does not have a degree, and he has done excellent work from a teaching point of view. He also seems to be respectable among academics for his theory work (I'm not knowledgeable enough to vet that personally).

Teaching people to use effective signaling of their competence, without resorting to Dark Arts, might be useful too.

I'm in favor of EA, but ingres is not wrong that embedding those principles could be off-putting. I don't know their personal reasons for feeling that way, but I know many people feel that utility-maximizing about human lives is "icky." To be more charitable, they believe that human life has inherent sacred properties. They also believe that assigning mathematical values to people signals that you're "cold." If someone comes to Less Wrong with those ideals, they have to a) digest a LOT of LW philosophy to be okay with EA principles, or b) stick around despite their distaste for certain core principles.

Comment author: VAuroch 06 December 2015 09:52:16PM 3 points [-]

Back when LW was more active, there was much lower math density in posts here.

Comment author: Viliam 06 December 2015 11:25:58PM *  6 points [-]

Back when LW was more active, there was much lower math density in posts here.

Maybe because many people are not sure whether their topics are "LW-worthy", but when they do something mathematical they feel comfortable about posting it here. If I write my opinion about something, people will most likely disagree; but if I write an equation and solve it correctly, there is nothing to disagree with.

Comment author: glorius_lasagne 07 December 2015 07:01:54AM 6 points [-]

I believe that this is the main reason newcomers are reluctant to post anything here. Right now, I notice that I am reluctant to reply to you because I am uncertain if my acknowledgement and agreement with your comment is 'LW-worthy'. While the high standard of posts maintain Lesswrong as a well-kept garden, it discourages people from starting stimulating, although not strictly Hollywood-esque 'rational', discussions.

Comment author: Viliam 07 December 2015 09:23:26AM 6 points [-]

To say the most obvious thing, the quality threshold for comments should be much lower than for articles. And maybe these should be also some "chat" area where comments just appear and disappear without voting, so that no one would hesitate to post there; and then after receiving some positive feedback they would feel comfortable with posting regular comments.

Maybe there could be a special posting mode for newcomers, which would provide some advantages and disadvantages, like training wheels. For example it would not display negative comment karma (karma below zero would be displayed as zero), it could encourage specific verbal feedback which would be visible only to the comment author (or perhaps require downvoters to select one of predefined explanations, such as "you were rude" or "you promoted pseudoscience"), but it would also limit the number of comments per day and per thread (to prevent spamming by people who can't take a hint). After receiving enough total karma, the newbie mode would be turned off. -- That's just a quick idea, maybe completely wrong.

Or maybe we could encourage people being nice to each other by giving positive feedback additionally to upvotes. Such as "this is nice" or "thank you for the research", which would be displayed as small icons above the comment. Generally, to add some optional flavor to the numbers, whether positive or negative.

Comment author: wafflepudding 23 December 2015 12:46:14AM 3 points [-]

In reading the Sequences, I feel weird about replying to comments because most of them are from seven years ago. Is it frowned upon to respond to something crazy old and possibly obsolete?

Comment author: Lumifer 23 December 2015 01:01:01AM 13 points [-]

No, necroing is perfectly fine.

Comment author: helldalgo 23 December 2015 09:43:39AM 4 points [-]

It seems like that's actually an acceptable practice; it's not unusual for "Recent Comments" to be on posts that are several years old.

Comment author: Sarunas 07 December 2015 09:01:31PM 1 point [-]

Assuming this trend exists (I haven't noticed it) I think that in addition to that we also have a fact that reaching higher hanging fruit requires better tools.

Comment author: VAuroch 11 December 2015 01:59:16AM 0 points [-]

Yes, I agree completely. Honestly, I thought this line of reasoning was common knowledge in the rationalsphere, since I think I've seen it discussed a couple times on Tumblr and in person (IIRC, both in Portland, and in the Bay Area).

Comment author: helldalgo 06 December 2015 10:42:39PM 2 points [-]

That's interesting.

There's also less math density on the rationalist blogs and the rationalist Tumblr-space, which at this point have much more current activity than LW.

Comment author: satt 09 December 2015 12:24:13AM 0 points [-]

Is that true? How do we know?

Comment author: VAuroch 11 December 2015 02:05:42AM *  2 points [-]

Well, no posts are deleted. If you look at Main and sort chronologically, you can go through and count articles per time and what fraction of them are math-heavy (which should be easy to check from a once-over skim).

I think this is pretty much accepted wisdom in the rationalsphere. Several people, online and in person, have said things to the effect of "Tumblr is for socializing, private blogs are for commenting on whatever the blogger writes about, and LessWrong is for math-heavy things, quotes threads, and meetup scheduling." But if you doubt it, you can absolutely check.

Comment author: satt 12 December 2015 01:58:32PM 0 points [-]

I know I could check; I was more wondering whether you, or someone you knew, had checked yourself/themselves.

I think it's quite possible that Discussion has had a higher maths density over the last two or three months, mainly because of Stuart Armstrong posting his run of ideas from his AI risk retreat. Aside from that, though, I'm doubtful that LW's had a strong rise in maths density over the last few years. To me it feels like an idea that's probably more truthy than true.

It's possible the LW diaspora has concrete evidence on this and I haven't encountered it. I look at rationalist Tumblr only intermittently and I don't have Facebook, so I would likely have missed it.

Comment author: VAuroch 27 December 2015 11:48:43PM 1 point [-]

I have heard this discussed for at least the last year, well before Stuart started his series, and would be very surprised if it was not true. I'd put down $30 to your $10 on the matter, pending an agreed-upon resolution mechanism for the bet.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 09 January 2016 12:37:38AM *  0 points [-]

After all, the Web means

An end to credentialism. Now any amateur physicist can contribute in their spare time. Smoother, better peer review processes. Cheap, universal distribution.

Physics (and STEM more generally) is a terrible example of credentialism. Almost all original research in STEM is not done by amateurs (e.g. the uncredentialed), with good reason.

The higher education bubble is likely going to "pop" eventually. (Maybe when employers realize that taking Coursera classes is a positive signal of

Yeah, I am sure enough about this not happening that I am willing to place bets. There is an enormous amount of intangibles Coursera can't give you (I agree it can be useful for a certain type of person for certain types of aims).

Comment author: Lumifer 11 January 2016 03:51:31PM 2 points [-]

There is an enormous amount of intangibles Coursera can't give you

I am of two minds about learning in an institutional setting and absorbing the intangible knowledge about how things are done.

On the one hand, you are correct in that the oral tradition is important and without it you are likely to get stuck reinventing the wheel for a long time.

On the other hand, this setting and the oral tradition provide pre-made ruts for your mind and that's not necessarily a good thing.

I'd probably say that being an autodidact is a skewed and high-variance strategy: most of the time it will hold you back, but occasionally it will generate a breakthrough. Most people who wander the desert or sit facing a cave wall fail, but some achieve enlightenment. It's probably useful to have some people wander.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 09 January 2016 08:57:44AM *  1 point [-]

Yeah, I am sure enough about this not happening that I am willing to place bets. There is an enormous amount of intangibles Coursera can't give you (I agree it can be useful for a certain type of person for certain types of aims).

Agree that being inside academia is probably a lot bigger deal than people outside it really appreciate. We're about to see the first generation that grew up with a really ubiquitous internet come to grad school age though. Currently in addition to the assumption that generally clever people will want to go to university, we've treated it as obvious that the Nobel prize winning clever people will have an academic background. Which has been pretty much mandatory, since that used to be the only way you got to talk with other academicians and to access academic publications.

What I'm interested in now is whether in the next couple decades we're going to see a Grigori Perelman or Shinichi Mochizuki style extreme outlier produce some result that ends up widely acknowledged to be an equally big deal as what Perelman did, without ever having seen the inside of an university. You can read pretty much any textbook or article you want over an internet connection now, and it's probably not impossible to get professional mathematicians talking with you even when they have no idea who you are if it's evident from the start that you have some idea what their research is about. And an extreme outlier might be clever enough to figure things on their own, obsessive enough to keep working on them on their own for years, and somewhat eccentric so that they take a dim view on academia and decline to play along out of principle.

It'd basically be a fluke statistically, but it would put a brand new spin on the narrative about academia. Academia wouldn't be the obvious one source of higher learning anymore, it'd be the place where you go when you're pretty smart but not quite good and original enough to go it alone.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 09 January 2016 05:36:43PM *  3 points [-]

We're about to see the first generation that grew up with a really ubiquitous internet come to grad school age though

I only know about STEM, but I don't think it will make a ton of difference (will report back once I see a few graduate).

What I'm interested in now is whether in the next couple decades we're going to see a Grigori Perelman or Shinichi Mochizuki style extreme outlier produce some result that ends up widely acknowledged to be an equally big deal as what Perelman did, without ever having seen the inside of an university.

I am quite certain this is very unlikely to become any type of trend (it is certainly possible for outsiders to be great, Ramanujan was an outsider after all).


edit: I think a better example of "credentialism" is docs vs nurses. MDs know a lot more than nurses do, but there is a ton of routine healthcare stuff that needs a doc for no good reason, basically. In academia people ultimately just care if you are good or not. One of the smartest mathematical minds I know is an MD, not a PhD (and is an enormously influential academic doing mathy stuff). There is a famous mathematician at UCLA without a PhD, I think.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 10 January 2016 05:32:06AM *  1 point [-]

I am quite certain this is very unlikely to become any type of trend (it is certainly possible for outsiders to be great, Ramanujan was an outsider after all).

Not in the present circumstances, no. The interesting thing is if it would strike a match with the current disaffection with academia (perceptions of must-have-bachelor's-for-any-kind-of-job student loan rackets and stressed-out researchers who spend most of their energy gaming administrative systems and grinding out cookie-cutter research tailored to fit standardized bureaucratic metrics for acceptable tenure-track career path progress), cause more young people who think they are talented and exceptional to drop out, and what they will do once they have and if that trend might continue far enough to change the wider circumstances around academia.

Comment author: Lumifer 11 January 2016 03:28:00PM 1 point [-]

more young people who think they are talented and exceptional to drop out, and what they will do once they have

The "traditional" answer :-/ is that they will do startups.

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 January 2016 01:59:06PM 0 points [-]

If we include the economics "nobel", do you find it unlikely that some quant in a bank who was never inside an university wins it?

Comment author: Lumifer 11 January 2016 03:32:43PM 1 point [-]

some quant in a bank who was never inside an university

Ain't no such thing. Banks are highly regulated conservative institutions and want credentials at least as much as any other employer.

In some exotic hedge fund, maybe, but I still don't know about a Nobel...

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 10 January 2016 06:02:11PM *  0 points [-]

Quants are often STEM PhDs, actually. There is a very famous Pearl student who is a quant now (Thomas Verma). Thomas is famous enough to have a constraint named after him.


It is true that what is considered worthwhile academic work is somehow socially constructed in the end, even in STEM. But in STEM there is a rigorous footing for these things that helps a lot with not running off to lala land (e.g. the process by which these things are socially constructed does not result in nonsense or arbitrary things being rewarded just because credentialed people did them). If a quant outsider constructs a very influential model, I could see that ending up in a Nobel, especially if it goes through a conventional publication process. I think though quants are generally kept very busy with non-academic things. You need space and time to do good work, and people outside academia or places like Google labs just don't have either.

Comment author: ChristianKl 11 January 2016 02:33:34PM 1 point [-]

I think there are quants who make a lot of money and then find that money isn't everything and who wants to do more public work afterwards. Nassim Taleb sort of fits into that model, even through of cause he doesn't count since he has an academic degree.

You need space and time to do good work, and people outside academia or places like Google labs just don't have either.

Einstein was in neither academia nor Google labs in 1905. He simply had a day job that left him and his wife enough time.

In the area of medicine I consider it possible that someone without an academic background has a startup idea that turns out to change medicine. Given that I studied bioinformatics there a bit of a change that I overestimate people who never went to university to look at certain paths of thoughts but I did spent years thinking about certain ideas outside of a formal academic setting.

But in STEM there is a rigorous footing for these things that helps a lot with not running off to lala land

I'm not sure whether the academic physics community community really succeeds at this task these days. The Gender Science community even less.

I think there are multiple different ways of getting feedback that keeps you from going of into lala land that are different from academia. In the field of health QS partly has the property. It's not perfect but neither is academia.

Comment author: Vaniver 10 January 2016 06:12:42PM 1 point [-]

If a quant outsider constructs a very influential model, I could see that ending up in a Nobel, especially if it goes through a conventional publication process. I think though quants are generally kept very busy with non-academic things.

For finance in particular, my impression is that quants that make good discoveries keep them to themselves, because that's how they make money! After a while, some academic notices the same thing, formalizes it, and then publishes, and then the opportunity is gone.

Comment author: Lumifer 11 January 2016 03:37:30PM 1 point [-]

that quants that make good discoveries keep them to themselves, because that's how they make money!

There is a saying: In finance, if you get results you trade and if you don't, you publish :-/

There are exceptions, of course -- Asness comes to mind.

Comment author: EHeller 09 January 2016 08:51:06PM 2 points [-]

In STEM fields, there is a great deal of necessary knowledge that simply is not in journals or articles, and is carried forward as institutional knowledge passed around among grad students and professors.

Maybe someday someone clever will figure out how to disseminate that knowledge, but it simply isn't there yet.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 10 January 2016 09:45:55AM 0 points [-]

Maybe someday someone clever will figure out how to disseminate that knowledge, but it simply isn't there yet.

Based on Razib Khan's blog posts, many cutting edge researchers seem to be pretty active on Twitter where they can talk about their own stuff and keep up on what their colleagues are up to. Grad students on social media will probably respond to someone asking about their subfield if it looks like they know their basics and may be up to something interesting.

The tiny bandwidth is of course a problem. "Professor Z has probably proven math lemma A" fits in a tweet, instruction on lab work rituals not so much.

Clever people who don't want to pay for plane tickets and tuition might be pretty resourceful though, once they figure out they want to talk with each other to learn what they need to know.

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 January 2016 01:57:49PM 1 point [-]

The tiny bandwidth is of course a problem. "Professor Z has probably proven math lemma A" fits in a tweet, instruction on lab work rituals not so much.

That does fit a tweet but knowing that that doesn't mean that a situation exists where that communication happens. In many cases you don't know what you don't know, so you can't ask.

For the questions where you can ask StackExchange is great.

Comment author: btrettel 10 January 2016 04:06:20AM 0 points [-]

Interesting point. Can you give an example of this knowledge?

I'm working on a PhD myself (in engineering), but the main things I feel I get from this are access to top scholars, mentoring, structure, and the chance to talk with others who are interested in learning more and research. One could also have access to difficult to obtain equipment in academia, but a large corporation could also provide such equipment. In principle I don't think these things are unique to academia.

Comment author: EHeller 10 January 2016 06:49:49AM 2 points [-]

Sure, not 100% unique to academia, there are also industrial research environments.

My phd was in physics, and there were lots of examples. Weird tricks for aligning optics benches, semi-classical models that gave good order of magnitude estimates despite a lack of rigour, which estimates from the literature were trust worthy (and which estimates were garbage). Biophysics labs and material science lab all sorts of rituals around sample and culture growth and preparation. Many were voodoo, but there were good reasons for a lot of them as well.

Even tricks for using equipment- such and such piece of equipment might need really good impedance matching at one connection, but you could get by being sloppy on other connections because of reasons A, B and C,etc.

A friend of mine in math was stuck trying to prove a lemma for several months when famous professor Y suggested to him that famous professor Z had probably proven it but never bothered to publish.

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 January 2016 12:59:30PM 1 point [-]

Jason Mitchell writes in "On the emptiness of failed replications" that there certain knowledge you need to replicate experiments that's not in the paper:

I have a particular cookbook that I love, and even though I follow the recipes as closely as I can, the food somehow never quite looks as good as it does in the photos. Does this mean that the recipes are deficient, perhaps even that the authors have misrepresented the quality of their food? Or could it be that there is more to great cooking than simply following a recipe? I do wish the authors would specify how many millimeters constitutes a “thinly” sliced onion, or the maximum torque allowed when “fluffing” rice, or even just the acceptable range in degrees Fahrenheit for “medium” heat. They don’t, because they assume that I share tacit knowledge of certain culinary conventions and techniques;

[...]

Likewise, there is more to being a successful experimenter than merely following what’s printed in a method section. Experimenters develop a sense, honed over many years, of how to use a method successfully. Much of this knowledge is implicit. Collecting meaningful neuroimaging data, for example, requires that participants remain near-motionless during scanning, and thus in my lab, we go through great lengths to encourage participants to keep still. We whine about how we will have spent a lot of money for nothing if they move, we plead with them not to sneeze or cough or wiggle their foot while in the scanner, and we deliver frequent pep talks and reminders throughout the session.

How best to give those pep talks would be an example.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 10 January 2016 06:08:40PM 2 points [-]

Yes I think even in math a lot of what is called "mathematical sophistication" is implicit knowledge that's hard to communicate without being steeped in the social context in which math is developed and read.

Comment author: btrettel 10 January 2016 08:18:44PM 0 points [-]

As an example, do you mean something like correctly understanding how to "abuse" mathematical notation in a way that remains rigorous?

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 10 January 2016 08:34:07PM *  4 points [-]

It's hard to explain, it's the way you think and talk about math, it's not about visible signs like notation.

I like the Scott Bakker analogy for magic, there is the visible part of math (formulas, etc.), and the corresponding mental habits. The visible part without the correct way of thinking behind the scenes doesn't work.

I guess one example is an ontology of "the type of math that's being done" in one's head, that lets people quickly figure out what the paper is trying to do after reading relatively little of it.

Comment author: Lumifer 11 January 2016 03:30:24PM 1 point [-]

even though I follow the recipes as closely as I can, the food somehow never quite looks as good as it does in the photos

The guy is profoundly misguided about the purpose of food X-D

And food photography is a specialized and lucrative field for a reason.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 11 January 2016 03:52:55AM 0 points [-]

Yeah, I am sure enough about this not happening that I am willing to place bets. There is an enormous amount of intangibles Coursera can't give you (I agree it can be useful for a certain type of person for certain types of aims).

Which of these intangibles do you think are highly valued by a typical employer?

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 11 January 2016 04:47:45AM 0 points [-]

Sorry, I thought we were talking about novel research.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 11 January 2016 06:43:02AM 0 points [-]

No worries. Yeah if you're talking about novel research, it does seem plausible that credible alternatives largely don't currently exist outside academia... which is what makes the question of how to create those alternatives if academia's subsidy were to collapse an interesting one to me.