anything you want

Thunk on or about 14 November 2003

I forget who said it, but it goes something like this:

You can have anything you want but you can't have everything you want

Given our individual physical and mental limitations I think this is basically true. In my own case I could never be a footballer or a professional solver of Rubik's Cubes (damn things) but otherwise I've been pretty lucky. I could have studied whatever I wanted at University. For reasons best known to my subconscious I elected to study Archaeology but I had Science down as a second preference and would have been quite happy with that option.

What has prompted this Think? I was having an email discussion with a friend on incentives and what incentives are to different people. I commented idly that I would cheerfully take a pay cut to get an interesting job in AI or robotics.

This provoked the thought - why don't you get up and do something about it Hart you lazy bastard. Well, it's not that simple.

First I would have to do another university degree - probably a mixture of electrical engineering and computing. I think Sydney University might also have a robotics option. At the moment I would have to do it part time because of my family. Possibly I could move to full time in a few years when Robert goes to school.

About a quarter of a century ago I would have had enough maths skills. I strongly suspect those skills might be a bit rusty, so add in a refresher course. I did top level Science in the HSC in 1974 but this might not impress current University administrators. Add another refresher course.

So we're looking at six to eight years of hard work before I am in a position to apply for one of these jobs. No guarantee that I'll actually get one, particularly as I'll then be over fifty.

Despite (or possibly because of) my declining years, I believe I have the mental capacity to do the degree. I even believe I would stand a reasonable chance of getting an interesting job. But, frankly, it just isn't worth it.

To get this interesting job (with associated pay cut) I would have to give up every other thing I want to achieve, probably for the next decade.

I've heard people say they wouldn't want to live forever because eventually they would get bored. I can't see it myself. An individual is forced to acquire knowledge arithmetically. Total human knowledge is expanding geometrically. You could live for an awfully long time without getting bored.

However, barring very rapid and startling advances in geriatric medicine, I am unlikely to live much longer than the average span. My son, perhaps, has a better chance but for my generation it ain't gonna be.

Ah well. Looks like I'm stuck with being a corporate drone for the next few years.

Unless someone out there has an interesting job going...?


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