Linda Linsefors

Hi, I am a Physicist, an Effective Altruist and AI Safety student/rehearser.


Online LessWrong Community Weekend, September 11th-13th

Good point. I don't think LessWrong Deutschland have paypal. But if you sent it to me, then I can forward the money.

My paypal is my normal email:

Was a PhD necessary to solve outstanding math problems?
A PhD is an opportunity to do focused, original research. People should only choose that path if that’s what they really want.

I completely agree. Doing a PhD for credentials is not a good strategy. Doing a PhD for money makes no sense what so ever.

Was a PhD necessary to solve outstanding math problems?

There is also the fact that there are much fewer academic post-doc jobs compared to PhD position. This is probably different in different fields, but my math friend says this is defiantly the case in math. Sure the more successful are more likely to get the next job, but it is more about relative success compared to your competition, than absolute success. I don't know if the bar to keep going happens to be reasonable in absolute terms.

The way I view a PhD is that it is an entry level research job. If you want to have a research career, you start with an entry level research job, more or less similar to other career path.

I wonder, if you want to do maths research, and don't do a PhD, what is the alternative? The best thing about a PhD is that you get paid to do research, which is very uncommon every where else, unless you do something very applied.

Do you know of any reasonable alternatives to working in academia for less applied research? Or maybe this is what you mean by gate-keeping, that academia has monopolised funding?

Was a PhD necessary to solve outstanding math problems?

Some what related:

  • This trailer for the documentary "Death (& Rebirth) Of A PhD" claims that getting a PhD used to be great, but is now crap.
  • And here's an almost finished blogpost I'm working on: "Should you do a PhD?" Where I try to sort out some misconceptions I've seen, and give some very general advise.

However, neither of these exactly address the question of the post.

However again, I think it is probably more useful to ask the question: If I want to solve outstanding maths problems, is a PhD my best choice.

Was a PhD necessary to solve outstanding math problems?

I've read this after I wrote my own reply. This seems like a reasonable hypothesis too. One thing a PhD supervisor is great for, is telling you what has already been done, and what papers you should read to learn more about some particular thing.

Was a PhD necessary to solve outstanding math problems?

I don't think a PhD is necessary for ground breaking math. A more plausible explanation (or so I think) is that academia is a preferable work environment, compared to being by yourself. Even for an introvert, being part of academia will be more convenient. Therefore, everyone who want to do math research will try to find a job in academia, and everyone who is smart/competent enough to do groundbreaking research is also more than smart/competent enough to get a PhD.

I have to say that I also expected some of the work to be done by non-PhDs. But given the result I think that the correlation has at least as much to do with common cause, as with causality from PhD -> research.

On the other hand, it could be the other way around? Did you check if they got their PhD before or after that result. If you do a ground breaking research, you can just write it up as a thesis and get a PhD.

Rationality: From AI to Zombies

I'm leaving this comment so that I can find my way back here in the future.

Announcing Web-TAISU, May 13-17

So... apparently I underestimate the need to send out event reminders, but better late than never. Today is the 2:nd day (out of 4) of Web-TAISU, and it is not too late to join.

General information about the event:

Collaborative Schedule:

Let me know if you have any questions.

Using vector fields to visualise preferences and make them consistent

As mentioned, I did think of this of this model before, and I also disagree with Justin/Convergence on how to use it.

Lets say that the underlying space for the vector field is the state of the world. Should we really remove curl? I'd say no. It is completely valid to want to move along some particular path, even a circle, or more likely, a spiral.

Alternatively, lets say that the underlying space for the vector field is world histories. Now we should remove curl, becasue any circular preference in this space is inconsistent. But what even is the vector field in this picture?


My reason for considering values as a vector is becasue that is sort of how it feels to me on the inside. I have noticed that my own values are very different depending on my current mood and situation.

  • When I'm sand/depressed, I become a selfish hedonist. All I care about is for me to be happy again.
  • When I'm happy I have more complex and more altruistic values. I care about truth and the well-being of others.

It's like these wants are not tracking my global values at all, but just pointing out a direction in which I want to move. I doubt that I even have global values, because that would be very complicated, and also what would be the use of that? (Except when building a super intelligent AI, but that did not happen much in our ancestral environment.)

Load More