I’m slated to post another column at 3 Quarks Daily this coming Monday, October 15. Over the weekend I decided that I would devote it to the MacArthur Fellows program, and perhaps more generally to the problem of identifying talented people. So I yesterday I downloaded the foundation’s summary of the 2012-2013 review of the program and looked through it today and sat down to write up some notes toward that up-coming column.
As you may know, I’ve already given this a bit of thought starting in 2013 and ongoing. Back then I started with the simple thought that they could improve the program by not giving any fellowships to people with tenure at elite universities – which I explained at some length over the years, most recently here. So I decided that I’d do a bit of digging in a different direction for that upcoming 3QD piece.
And you know what? It’s tough! It really is. So I’ve decided to write some post each day this week toward that end. I’m not going to go for polished in these preliminaries, quick, rude, and crude will do. Thinking out loud.
And I may throw in a few words about a new, and somewhat smaller, talent search, the Emergent Ventures program just announced by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. This is a much smaller program, with no track record to speak of, thought it’s already given out two awards. And one of them sure looks like a winner to me:
I'm honored to accept a grant from @tylercowen's Emergent Venture's to create a genealogy of street art, using machine learning. To learn more, see here: https://t.co/7zh0IYeXiK— Leonard Bogdonoff (@rememberlenny) September 26, 2018
What’s not to like? You know I’m all over graffiti here at New Savanna, and I’m interested in machine learning as well.
And you know what, I might as well take another look at Zeal’s World Island project. And Sabine Hossenfelder’s been calling out theoretical physics for being out to lunch. I might as well work her into the mix. Maybe I’ll give a shout out to Charlie Keil. [Zeal: Yeah, I know, interesting name, he picked it himself.]
Who knows what other mischief I’ll get up to.
Oh, PS and for the record, what got me stumped as I was thinking about this was getting more precise, moving to the next layer of detail, about just why I thought that the Fellows program would improve by cutting out tenured faculty at elite schools. Moving to that next layer of detail, that’s going to be tough. I mean, maybe that’ll require a 10-fold expansion or more, plus call on expertise that I don’t have.