RE: Why I'm not more involved with academia

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Oct 23 2004 - 12:40:35 MDT


Honestly, getting a PhD, getting and holding a professor job, and getting
offers of tenure was pretty easy for me to do in my "spare time" while
working on my own whacky research with most of my time. I reckon the same
would be true for you. I could be wrong, of course. But I note that my
opinion here is based on a lot of actual knowledge about real universities,
gained via experience.... On this particular topic your opinions don't seem
well-grounded in experience.

About recruiting a PhD to be your spokesperson -- I guess the only way this
would work, would be if you found someone who was an intellectual and
visionary roughly equal to you, and wanted to collaborate with you and be
the spokesperson for your collective work. That would be great. But short
of that, I don't think that recruiting a spokesperson will work. People
don't want to talk to the spokesman, they want to talk to *da man*, the
visionary genius behind it all.... Eliezer-with-academic-legitimacy would
be a far better money magnet than

But anyway, I can see you're determined to follow your own idiosyncratic
path regardless of all this sage advice of mine ;-) ... and of course, I
wish you good fortune!

-- Ben G

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of Eliezer
> Yudkowsky
> Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 12:15 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Why I'm not more involved with academia
> Ben Goertzel wrote:
> >
> > In fact, knowing you moderately well as I do, I think that
> getting a PhD and
> > becoming an academic would be a reasonably good choice for you.
> Thanks, but no thanks. I'd love to live on a college campus, ideally
> within easy walking distance of the main technical library. I'd hate to
> actually *work* there.
> > Getting the PhD would be fairly easy for you,
> I am skeptical.
> > and once you had it, you could get a job as a professor,
> I am highly skeptical.
> > guaranteeing you a lifetime income,
> Getting tenure isn't difficult or anything, is it?
> > with fairly minimal duties
> Join the Army, learn to repair trucks. (And kill people, but that almost
> never happens.)
> > beyond doing and publishing your research. And, perhaps more
> > importantly, you having a PhD would make it significantly
> easier for SIAI to
> > raise money for your research.
> >
> > Personally, I benefited a lot from the research-time I obtained
> via being an
> > academic for 8 years; and in my business pursuits now, I'm taken more
> > seriously than I would be otherwise because I have a PhD.
> >
> > There's something to be said for boldly forging your own path
> in life, but
> > there's also some value to playing the games of the society
> you're embedded
> > within.
> There's also something to be said for thinking outside the box. Much
> faster to recruit an existing PhD as spokesperson than take the long
> circuitous uncertain route.
> --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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