[extropy-chat] Turbulence of obsolesence (was: Anti-virus protection -- problem fixed!)

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Fri Apr 22 18:20:43 UTC 2005

--- Emlyn <emlynoregan at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Anyway, thread over.
> Oops, sorry :-)

No worries.  You bring up a good point.  Personally, I suspect that
directing people to college from the outset might cause them to give
up, as college is a fairly major investment, especially if one is
already carrying a high debt load and needs to find work soon.  That's
why I direct people in said circumstances to paths where they can get a
job soon, and then self-study while getting a paycheck to pick up the
rest of what they need.  College, if possible, is better, but it's
often not an immediate option...even if the skills are needed

I was just trying to cut off protest about "But my MSCE DOES mean I'm
worth $100K/year!  Why won't anyone pay me what I'm worth?!?  That
CAN'T be my fault; we MUST be in a depression!" or similar, which I've
heard far too many times, and I'd really rather not bother with yet
again.  I didn't see a clear way to block that without stopping the
entire debate.

As to your point about being a constant learner - that seems to be a
requirement for a growing number of new-tech fields.  For example, I've
been mucking around in a nanofabrication facility on the side, and one
of the things that strikes me is the vast array of new techniques and
considerations, such that even the experts seem to have only mastered
narrow portions of it.  I know I'm a bit of an amateur in the lab, but
it looks like any would-be nanotech worker who is unwilling to
frequently learn new tricks and techniques has a rather limited
career...quite analogous to the IT career of someone who switches off
their desire (and thus ability) to learn after getting a MSCE.

Learning how to learn - on the fly, identifying what concepts one needs
to pick up and how best to acquire them, and how to quickly distill
down to what one immediately needs to accomplish one's immediate tasks
- seems like the ultimate meta-skill, the absence of which
fundamentally limits one's potential career options (in extreme cases,
to the point of unemployment outside of menial jobs).  Our schools and
colleges try to teach that, but always by example and practice.  I
wonder if anyone's developed a useful theory that one can study, and
then apply this theory to certain examples (e.g., here is how you
learn, and here's a biology facet - assuming you're not already a bio
whiz - that you can apply the method to).  I wonder if it's just
because the effects of this skill (or its absence) are so powerful, and
because it takes years to properly master, that many people seem to
assume it's either inborn or not, and not actually something that
almost anyone can eventually learn?  (A long learning curve is not a
cliff, even if those on the bottom might think it is.)

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