Re: Re: Re: What are useful for a phd?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Wed Dec 06 2006 - 21:36:26 MST

> A build-your-own PhD may result in an advisor who doesn't understand
> or care about your dissertation, and thus has no way of deciding when
> you are "done".
> Find a professor who has a grant, and a problem for you to work on.
> Work on it and graduate.
> Better yet, get an MS, get a job, be given a real problem to work on,
> and use it for your dissertation.

Phil, I feel your advice is overly cynical!!!

For instance, Moshe Looks (who works with me on Novamente), is just
now wrapping up his PhD at Washington University (in CS). What he
did was:

-- fund his PhD via working on a professor's research grant, i.e.
working in their lab part of each week on some narrow-AI research

-- do a PhD thesis on a topic of his own choice, closely tied to the
Novamente AGI system but also with more academically acceptable
narrow-AI aspects (see www.

In terms of coursework, he took mostly CS courses as expected but also
got permission to do some cog sci courses in the psychology

His adviser is not extremely expert in his thesis area but is a
lateral thinker, and was happy to supervise his thesis anyway. His
thesis committee includes a number of outsiders including myself and a
couple folks from universities other than Wash. U.

The point is, there actually is some flexibility in the graduate
education system, if you find the right people and convince them you
are capable of independent work and learning.

I am not in love with contemporary academia by any means, but Phil,
you seem to be overstating the case against it ;-)

-- Ben G

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