[ExI] all we are is just llms

efc at swisscows.email efc at swisscows.email
Fri Apr 21 23:06:47 UTC 2023

On Fri, 21 Apr 2023, spike jones via extropy-chat wrote:

> When covid lockdowns came, we transitioned suddenly to online learning.  That didn't work for some of the students.  Others pulled way ahead of their classmates, way ahead of where they would have been had they been in the classroom.

Yes, this mirrors my experiences teaching exactly. The best get better
and the worst get further behind.

> ...and admitted straight out that he cannot improve on this.  I subscribed and listened to about 20 of the lectures, all of the controls stuff, and I am still floored at how good it is.  A motivated student can get with the best online free material and get a good undergrad level engineering education that way, just with currently-available online resources.

People are different. I remember at university, I learned computer
science by tinkering. I solved all practical programming labs by
experimenting and tinkering and usually did not do as well on the
theoretical tests. There were some students who did really well on the
theoretical tests, and I had to help them with their labs. ;)

On the other hand... when I studied philosophy, I really loved the
classes and discussing and debating with my fellow class mates. I cannot
imagine studying philosophy as effectively and having as good a time in
a purely online environment when it comes to philosophy. Add to that,
one of the best teachers in philosophy I ever had, professor Snapper,
who recognized the students who were genuinly interested and arranged
private lessons for them. We would sit in his office for a few hours
discussing what ever came to mind. Very unstructured, very
improvisational and lessons I still remember to this day.

> This brings up a new and interesting question.  Can we make a university or college or for-profit institution which would evaluate students reliably, so that industry can choose these candidates.

I do this in a way. Part of my own business is helping companies
recruit. Since I teach my students, I get to know them for about 6-12
months depending on the classes I teach, and I tell the companies I
recruit for that there is no better way (well, I'm sure there is, so
let's moderate it a bit)... teaching students and getting to know them
for 6-12 months is a great way to tell the motivated from the rest, and
the motivated who are passionate about what they are studying will make
the best entry level employees.

The problem is that this is a slow process and it doesn't really scale
that well, but still, it is a small and nice extra bit of business for
me, apart from my teaching and my "hands on" consulting.

And... then there is the other side of the equation, the companies. Many
companies fear hiring junior people and only want people with ridiculous
amounts of experience. This is at least the case in sweden with draconic
labour laws, so companies are extremely afraid of making a wrong hire,
so it is very difficult to convince companies to bet on junior talent,
and grow them in the company.

I've persuaded a customer of mine, and I built a first class support
team based on only junior talent without university degrees and they are
"crushing it" as I think the american saying goes. So I am absolutely
convinced that companies as well are to blame and a solution needs to
address both education _and_ current hiring practices.

Best regards, 

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