The ACM Prize thing

Last week I got an email from Dina Katabi, my former MIT colleague, asking me to call her urgently. Am I in trouble? For what, though?? I haven’t even worked at MIT for five years!

Luckily, Dina only wanted to tell me that I’d been selected to receive the 2020 ACM Prize in Computing, a mid-career award founded in 2007 that comes with $250,000 from Infosys. Not the Turing Award but I’d happily take it! And I could even look back on 2020 fondly for something.

I was utterly humbled to see the list of past ACM Prize recipients, which includes amazing computer scientists I’ve been privileged to know and learn from (like Jon Kleinberg, Sanjeev Arora, and Dan Boneh) and others who I’ve admired from afar (like Daphne Koller, Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat of Google MapReduce, and David Silver of AlphaGo and AlphaZero).

I was even more humbled, later, to read my prize citation, which focuses on four things:

  1. The theoretical foundations of the sampling-based quantum supremacy experiments now being carried out (and in particular, my and Alex Arkhipov’s 2011 paper on BosonSampling);
  2. My and Avi Wigderson’s 2008 paper on the algebrization barrier in complexity theory;
  3. Work on the limitations of quantum computers (in particular, the 2002 quantum lower bound for the collision problem); and
  4. Public outreach about quantum computing, including through QCSD, popular talks and articles, and this blog.

I don’t know if I’m worthy of such a prize—but I know that if I am, then it’s mainly for work I did between roughly 2001 and 2012. This honor inspires me to want to be more like I was back then, when I was driven, non-jaded, and obsessed with figuring out the contours of BQP and efficient computation in the physical universe. It makes me want to justify the ACM’s faith in me.

I’m grateful to the committee and nominators, and more broadly, to the whole quantum computing and theoretical computer science communities—which I “joined” in some sense around age 16, and which were the first communities where I ever felt like I belonged. I’m grateful to the mentors who made me what I am, especially Chris Lynch, Bart Selman, Lov Grover, Umesh Vazirani, Avi Wigderson, and (if he’ll allow me to include him) John Preskill. I’m grateful to the slightly older quantum computer scientists who I looked up to and tried to emulate, like Dorit Aharonov, Andris Ambainis, Ronald de Wolf, and John Watrous. I’m grateful to my wonderful colleagues at UT Austin, in the CS department and beyond. I’m grateful to my students and postdocs, the pride of my professional life. I’m grateful, of course, to my wife, parents, and kids.

By coincidence, my last post was also about prizes to theoretical computer scientists—in that case, two prizes that attracted controversy because of the recipient’s (or would-be recipient’s) political actions or views. It would understate matters to point out that not everyone has always agreed with everything I’ve said on this blog. I’m ridiculously lucky, and I know it, that even living through this polarized and tumultuous era, I never felt forced to choose between academic success and the freedom to speak my conscience in public under my real name. If there’s been one constant in my public stands, I’d like to think that—inspired by memories of my own years as an unknown, awkward, self-conscious teenager—it’s been my determination to nurture and protect talented young scientists, whatever they look like and wherever they come from. And I’ve tried to live up to that ideal in real life, and I welcome anyone’s scrutiny as to how well I’ve done.

What should I do with the prize money? I confess that my first instinct was to donate it, in its entirety, to some suitable charity—specifically, something that would make all the strangers who’ve attacked me on Twitter, Reddit, and so forth over the years realize that I’m fundamentally a good person. But I was talked out of this plan by my family, who pointed out that
(1) in all likelihood, nothing will make online strangers stop hating me,
(2) in any case this seems like a poor basis for making decisions, and
(3) if I really want to give others a say in what to do with the winnings, then why not everyone who’s stood by me and supported me?

So, beloved commenters! Please mention your favorite charitable causes below, especially weird ones that I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. If I support their values, I’ll make a small donation from my prize winnings. Or a larger donation, especially if you donate yourself and challenge me to match. Whatever’s left after I get tired of donating will probably go to my kids’ college fund.

Update: And by an amusing coincidence, today is apparently “World Quantum Day”! I hope your Quantum Day is as pleasant as mine (and stable and coherent).

130 Responses to “The ACM Prize thing”

  1. John S. Adair Says:

    Congratulations!

    As for charities, how about Black Fret, an Austin-based charity that supports local music through a patronage model similar to those for the other arts?

  2. Joshua Zelinsky Says:

    I’ll mention two charities I’m fond of. Everybody Solar helps purchase and install solar panels for nonprofits https://www.everybodysolar.org/ . The Solar Electric Light Fund https://www.self.org/ . SELF works to provide solar power for people in developing countries in areas without regular electricity. This both helps the areas develop, and helps make sure that as they develop, they don’t go through the same carbon-heavy steps that much of the rest of the world has.

  3. Boaz Barak Says:

    Congratulations for the well deserved prize!!
    Such great news for you and our field!

    My recommended charity is the Lily and Daniel Aaronson education fund 🙂

  4. George F R Ellis Says:

    Hi Scott

    many many congratulations! I’d like to nominate my wife’s Project called PRAESA see http://www.praesa.org.za/ which is devoted to one of the most critical areas in child education: pre-school literacy. The standard viewpoint of phonics based education is killing children’s enthusiasm for reading. Carole and I have written a paper on this that might interest you showing the neuroscience reasons for a more holistic view: http://www.praesa.org.za/. Carole won the Astrid Lindgren memorial prize for this work: the world’s top prize in this area: https://alma.se/en/laureates/praesa/
    https://www.thenewsmarket.com/news/strong-feelings-when-praesa-received-the-astrid-lindgren-memorial-award-2015/s/d2a5d697-1206-414c-a59f-d964e96a8421
    .

  5. George F R Ellis Says:

    Hi Scott

    oops the article link got garbled. here it is: https://arxiv.org/abs/2012.03240

  6. Hamiltonianurst Says:

    I’m going to make sure someone says GiveDirectly, even if it’s pretty well known.

  7. H. James Hoover Says:

    Congratulations++! Although it is more work, you could use the prize to endow your own foundation. Then you have long term impact, and can change the focus of your charitable work over time as priorities change. You are not in the Gates league (yet), but small amounts carefully placed can have huge effects.

  8. Sam K Says:

    Congratulations, Scott! Long time lurker here…

    One charity worth considering is the Anita Borg foundation https://anitab.org/. Their mission, quoting the foundation: “we connect, inspire, and guide women in computing, and organizations that view technology innovation as a strategic imperative.”

    In my experience, having hired many technologists over the years, they do just that.

  9. Aeddon Chipman Says:

    Congratulations!

    https://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/gift/gift.htm

    Have you considered using your winnings to help pay off the U.S. public debt? The fire’s gotten pretty big, we need all the water pistols we have.

  10. Ash Jogalekar Says:

    Congratulations Scott – this is extremely well deserved! I would like to nominate my friend Ravi Athale’s non-profit organization “Reach IN-US” which funds and supports education and healthcare for poor tribal folks in the most rural parts of India and homeless folks in Virginia. Ravi has been a program manager for DARPA, ONL and MITRE.
    https://reachinus.org/what-we-do/

  11. Leonid Grinberg Says:

    My nomination would be a bail fund. I can’t find an Austin one, but this site has a few Texas ones: https://bailproject.org/. (There is, of course, no particular reason to specifically focus on a local one.) Bail funds are a pretty efficient way to donate money because they can reuse it.

  12. Matthijs Says:

    You may wish to invest a significant portion, so that after ~20 years of yearly donations you will have donated all this prize money, yet still have as much as you started with to donate also.

  13. Muthu V Says:

    Congrats Scott!

  14. Gary Drescher Says:

    Congratulations, Scott, on the prize and on the philanthropy. The latter may not shift haters’ opinion much, but it certainly reinforces the view of those of us who already respect and admire you.

  15. Manolis Kellis Says:

    What an awesome human being you are Scott. So proud to know you and be your friends, and your response to this fully-deserved prize, and to everything around you, only makes us prouder. Thank you for making this world a better place, and please continue being you, the old you, the new you, the future you, just you. We miss you, admire you, care about you, and are so proud of you!! Manolis, Lucile, and the rest of the gang 😉

  16. Nick Says:

    Beyond his technical contributions, Aaronson is credited with making quantum computing accessible to a wider audience. He maintains a popular blog, where he explains some of the deepest and unintuitive ideas in quantum computing in a remarkably simple and effective way. His posts, which range from fundamental theory questions to debates about current quantum devices, are widely read and trigger many interesting discussions. He has also written a major book on quantum computing and several articles for a popular science audience. He is a great expositor and has become a major spokesperson for quantum computing.

    It’s nice that this work is getting formally recognized. I’ve been reading this blog for ten years. My life is better off for it, and I know I’m not the only one. I’ll take this opportunity to list some of my favorite posts, ordered by length of title:

  17. Elad Hazan Says:

    Congrats Scott! very very well deserved.
    Best news I’ve heard all week 🙂

  18. Doug Fort Says:

    Buy more train sets!

  19. Patrick Says:

    Congratulations on the award! I’ve been reading your blog off-and-on since high school (I’m now about to finish a PhD). It’s given me many hours of entertainment and also taught me a lot.

    If you donate up to $1400 to either the Against Malaria Foundation or Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative, I will make a matching contribution to that same charity (I chose $1400 because it’s the size of the stimulus check).

  20. Harald Says:

    Doctors without Borders. Also, whatever Effective Altruism says (but at this point one should perhaps ask: maybe there should be a meta-calculation of utilitarian calculators?).

  21. CC Says:

    Hearty Congratulation Scott! Your writings have been an inspiration to many like myself. I do hope that you get back into undistracted research. Perhaps you can use the money to help you in some way to do that? That would be do justice to the prize.

  22. dankane Says:

    If you’d like to save lives with your donation, Against Malaria Foundation is hard to beat.

  23. Pablo Stafforini Says:

    I commend your decision to donate some of your prize earnings!

    I would encourage you to support Forecasting Causes, an initiative by the forecasting platform Metaculus. You can read more about it by following the link.

  24. Jonathan Paulson Says:

    Congratulations!

    I strongly endorse the Effective Altruism movement in general and GiveWell in particular. https://secure.givewell.org/

    I’ll challenge you to match $1k to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund (here I should post my donation receipt, but I’m not sure what the best way to so is. I did just make that donation)

  25. Aram Says:

    Congratulations on a well-deserved prize!
    And don’t be so hard on yourself about the recent work; sometimes there’s a “test of time” component to this where we see the impact some years later.

    I recommend MSF and Givedirectly, in part based on knowing people who’ve worked with both. Givewell doesn’t evaluate MSF but I think that is because not all work is easy to quantify. Also you should talk to an accountant (or at least take some time to research options) if you’re going to donate a lot because there are ways to do it that make a big tax difference.

  26. Michel Says:

    Scott: Congratulations.

    As in Leviticus: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Do not forget that the prize is a reward for your contributions. Allow a fair amount of self-love and allot a decent amount for yourself and your family. That may help you to better decide what you would like to support.
    So, how would you support people like your younger self?

    A few well-placed small contributions in your own neighbourhood, some random acts of kindness may well mean as much as supporting some larger cause.

  27. barbara Says:

    Congratulations on this well deserved price from a lurking learner. Please keep on doing what you are doing :).

  28. Michel Says:

    Oh, yes, another one: Set up a small ‘stupefied’ fund: Award a small amount to people (preferably students) that solve problems that have stupefied you. A bit like Paul Erdös did. Recycle some prize money as prize money. I can still remember how much fun it was to solve some problems that our professors could not solve. They dumped it on us, and now and again one or another of the students came up with the answer.

  29. Azure Says:

    Congratulations! I usually donate to and recommend Against Malaria.

    But I’ve been thinking of giving to SENS lately, less because of interest in living longer per se than because after seeing the effects on dementia on people I want to punch cognitive decline in the face and rip its throat out.

  30. Kyle Cameron Bogosian Says:

    Someone suggests a couple of charities which install solar panels. I recommend against these based on Lazard’s LCOE analysis (lazard.com/media/451419/lazards-levelized-cost-of-energy-version-140.pdf): small scale solar power is very expensive compared to utility-scale solar. If you want to promote clean energy, support government investment: https://lets-fund.org/clean-energy/.

  31. Jim Says:

    Scott, you could always start a donor-advised fund. That way you can take the tax benefit now and recommend/make donations to organizations as you please over time, without having to keep track of each individual donation for tax purposes. I have had good experience with Fidelity Charitable.

  32. Joshua Zelinsky Says:

    Kyle Cameron Bogosian #30. I agree that utility scale solar is more efficient in terms of power per dollar spent. However, I’m not at all convinced that putting money towards lobbying has enough of a payoff that donating money to lobbying for more government investment in this has better payoff. And government investment of solar in developed countries doesn’t have the other benefits that the Solar Electric Light Fund produces. (That said, as the person who suggested both, if Scott’s analysis is that donating to direct lobbying of this sort does make more sense, I certainly won’t be unhappy with him donating their.)

  33. somefan Says:

    Congrats, and thanks for your writings! 🙂

  34. Hamish Says:

    Congratulations!

    I’d recommend Effective Altruism fund. “Donate more effectively through philanthropic funds managed by experts”.

    I donated $5k last year, and intend to do so again this year.

    If you donate to EAF, I promise I’ll finally get around to reading your book this year!

  35. JimV Says:

    As my nephews say these days, sweet!

    Let me/us know some charity you support, and I’ll give them $50 also in your name. (If they have that option or can be donated to via Charity Navigator.) (Or just the money if they don’t have that “in recognition of” option.) (Plus processing fee, of course.)

  36. John Stricker Says:

    Congratulations Scott!

  37. jemand Says:

    Just another conspiracy-theory: Scott Aaronson does not exist!
    In reality these are twins (if not more). One man alone could not
    have done this quantity of quality. Nevertheless: congratulations
    to the two (if not more) of you!

  38. Jelani Nelson Says:

    > I confess that my first instinct was to donate it, in its after-tax entirety, to some suitable charity

    You should talk to an accountant to get professional advice, but I’m fairly sure the “after-tax” amount is the entire prize if you donate to a tax-exempt nonprofit, as you can itemize and deduct the entire donation from your income.

    In any case, congrats!

  39. Ronald de Wolf Says:

    That’s wonderful, congratulations Scott!

  40. Tu Says:

    Scott,

    I am in agreement with Nick #16. Though your case for receiving this prize is totally unassailable and bulletproof on research contributions alone, it is nice to see your public-facing efforts recognized in this way as well.

    To me, you represent proof that one does not need to choose between a devotion to research and a commitment to exposing others to important ideas. We need people who, like you, can both think hard about things and then also explain them to others in a way they can understand.

    As far as a donation is concerned, I am starting a Quantum Computing company that I suggest you invest in. Any effective altruist would agree that the utility of donating the returns you earn from my startup (even if they only materialize probabilistically) vastly outweighs the utility of donating a measly 250k now.

  41. glen Says:

    I’ll advocate MAPS: https://maps.org/

  42. Jon Tyson Says:

    I’d say you might do more good for the world if you put the money aside and invest it one day when you see some really good scientific idea come along. (Of course, if you buy it too high you might do nothing more than enrich a short seller.)

  43. Elton Pinto Says:

    Congratulations! You’ve been a big inspiration, and I hope to keep working on improving my skills and making a meaningful contribution to the world!

  44. Sonya Says:

    Congrats – on the award, and on being a good human and wanting to do something good with the money.

    Suggested charity – http://www.safechildafrica.org/ helps children in Nigeria who have been rejected by their families on account of a belief in witchcraft. I feel almost bad for posting this because the issue involved is depressing as all hell, really one of the worst things in the world, but it does involve doing two things I think you find important: combating ignorance and giving young people opportunity.

  45. Scott Says:

    Jelani Nelson #38: Duhhh, yes, thanks!! Everything except political contributions would presumably be tax-deductible. Edited.

  46. Scott Says:

    Thanks so much everyone, both for the congratulations and for the charity suggestions! I’ve been answering prize-related emails all day (when I wasn’t doing my usual Zoom meetings), but I’ll work my way through the charity suggestions as soon as I’m able.

  47. Matthew Leifer Says:

    Congratulations on the well deserved award. Have you heard of the Leifer Credit Card Debt Relief Fund? It is the most worthy cause I know of.

  48. Mayer Landau Says:

    Don’t give it to charity. Build an experimental quantum computing lab with the money.

  49. Scott Says:

    Mayer Landau #48: For $250,000?? I believe that would barely cover a single dilution fridge, not that I’d know how to turn one on.

  50. blk0 Says:

    Congratulations, Scott! What could be more appropriate than the https://unitary.fund/ ?

  51. James Gallagher Says:

    You deserved the prize and the money.

    I don’t think you can regain those passionate insights from your youth though, hardly happened with anyone in history especially in science/mathematics.

    Maybe just me 🙂 /s

    Congrats!

  52. Russ Abbott Says:

    Congratulations, Scott, and high praise for your impulse to donate some of the prize money to charity. My recommendation is the Abbott-Shuger Endowment for Software Abstraction at California State University, Los Angeles. (It is managed by the university’s Foundation.) I’ve been teaching at Cal State for nearly 50 years. (Hard to believe!) And will retire at the end of this semester. I created the Endowment about a decade ago by donating a condominium—worth about $375,000 at the time. The endowment is now greater than $800,000.

    The Cal State University system requires regular, tenured faculty to teach a 4-4 load. That’s simply too much. My goal was to build a foundation that would support a reduction in teaching for the CS faculty. I’ve required that very little of the money be spent while I’m teaching—the primary reason it’s grown as much as it has. It is still not large enough to provide ongoing support based on annual earnings. Hence my request.

    FYI I write about issues in the intersection of Computer Science and Philosophy. (I know that you are interested in that area. I very much enjoyed your paper on why philosophers should be interested in computational complexity.) For a brief taste of my interests, here is a 1,000-word abstract submitted to the upcoming conference sponsored by the Commission for the History and Philosophy of Computing. The paper is Autonomous causality and the under-appreciated significance of stigmergy. Thanks for your consideration.

  53. William Gasarch Says:

    1) Congrats of course!
    2) Many scientists did great work when they were older (and you are hardly `old’), see

    https://www.nextavenue.org/who-says-scientists-peak-age-50/

    3) I doubt the ACM gave you any guidelines on how you should spend the money; however, I would think that since it was given for academic work, some educational charity would make sense. Perhaps some charity that battles innumeracy or promotes math education in some form.

    4) In giving you the award they didn’t mention your busy beaver work! I doubt this bothers you, but as it is the strongest connection I have to you work, it bothers me. How much does it bother me? 1/BB(5).

  54. Vitaly Feldman Says:

    Congratulations on the well deserved award, Scott!

  55. M Says:

    Congratulations, Scott! Truly well done. I haven’t noticed any slouchiness from you in recent years, but since you seem to have, I also hope that you catch the second wind you refer to. I suspect you will.

    I’m writing also to nominate International Justice Mission (IJM). Full disclosure — it’s a Christian group, and I know you’re not. But I think you’ll appreciate both their goals and their methods if you take a moment to look, and I’ll happily match up to $100 (that I did not otherwise plan to give them) and email a receipt. If you prefer not to, that’s also totally fine — your money and values!

    Congratulations again.

  56. Alex Says:

    Hi,

    You could support independent projects that fight research and data siloing in corporations in various ML branches, e.g. this one – https://github.com/snakers4/silero-models

  57. Mahdi Says:

    This is incredible, congratulations on the very well-deserved award!

    One cause that I have recently realized the importance of is the issue of application fees. Most fee waiver schemes do not cover international students or even many domestic students who are desperately in need. As a result, our ability to provide an inclusive environment suffers. Last year, I tried the experiment of paying fees for students in need off my own salary, and I plan to do so in the future as well. I have explained the context here: https://mahdi.ch/fees/
    As a by-product, many applicants have shared thought-provoking stories with me, that I have shared in this link: http://mahdi.ch/fees-stories

    By the way, I’d like to strongly clarify that the controversy around Ullman’s award is not political at all, and is a *purely academic* issue. The issue is not his political views, he’s entitled to whatever views he has and nobody is questioning his freedom of speech or expression. The issue is taking those views on students, and that’s the precise moment where the issue turns from political to academic, and THAT is the red line he has crossed (discriminating students based on presumed political beliefs and national origin, a huge red flag against academic values). In other words, the issue is not about the person, it is precisely about his work (in the capacity of an educator). If he had instead said that he wants nothing to do with students from any 4-letter country because of his superstitious beliefs about country names that have 4 letters, the resulting controversy would be on exactly the same issue.

  58. Peter Rohde Says:

    Scott, my deepest congratulations on this fantastic achievement. Your work on boson-sampling played a major role in my career, and much of my work in the years after the publication of Aaronson & Arkhipov was inspired by it. Thank you for the influence your work has had on my own scientific career, and I have no doubt AA won’t be the last of your influences on my own intellectual development in life.

  59. Man to research Says:

    Money you can ask undergrads to teach you ml. Is it after or before tax? 75% put in Bitcoin of as you say crypto cannot be broken it would go up and remaining 10% put for kid funds which your kids can personally manage, 7% pay undergrads to teach you ml and 7% assist broke graduate students and 1% use it for personal pleasure.

  60. Andrés Says:

    Congratulations on the prize! I first got the email from the ACM and was happy to recognize you, as those emails usually mention people I don’t know of at all.

    I really commend the idea of donating (a portion of) the prize money, that’s awesome! One thing that has been left out are enviormental charities or charities e.g. for animal rights/animal welfare 🙂 For example the WWF or proveg is a nice one https://proveg.com/us/

    I also tried something similar the last years for my birthday, asking pepole to donate to their favorite charity instead of gifts (turns out it works much better to collect the money and donate together, otherwise no, anecdotally one does it). Obivously the sums were not comparable by any stretch of the imagination, but if even that felt good, I hope donating your prize money feels awesome 😉

  61. Rollo Burgess Says:

    Many congratulations on this award. I am not competent to evaluate your formal contributions to the field but, as a layman, the enthusiasm and clarity that you bring has got me amateurly interested in this and taught me lots.

    Re what to do with the winnings – honestly, I think your kids’ college fund is as worthy a cause as any! Keep them. After having an oligarch-style meal out with family and friends.

  62. LK2 Says:

    Well Scott: congratulations but above all: well deserved!

    For the charities, you might consider

    https://en.emergency.it/

    They organise and perform medical care in poor/war countries, also with complex surgery.
    Given how expensive college might be in USA, you are right in thinking about your children.

    Again congratulations!

  63. Jon Says:

    Congrats, I only know your blog, not your research work, but from the blog I can imagine it’s well deserved.

    Please consider using the coming economy growth to give 3 or 4 times more in the future. For example buying now $250 worth of a tracker of the Nasdaq-100 would allow you to give probably 1000 of 2030-dollars in 2030 to your preferred charity.

  64. RBG Says:

    Casa Marianella (https://www.casamarianella.org/) is a worthy charity in Austin that directly helps homeless immigrants and refugees and asylum seekers.

  65. David Says:

    Congratulations, Scott. It’s always nice to get recognition.

  66. broke physicist Says:

    donate it to some quantum computing startup

  67. Scott Says:

    Mahdi #57: Thanks!! I actually completely agree with you that the issue with Ullman is “academic” (how he took his views out on students) rather than merely “political” (the views themselves). I tried to gesture toward that with my awkward phrase “political actions or views” (actions, by their nature, being things that could cross boundaries into academia or any other domain), but I should’ve found a better way to say it.

  68. Mahdi Says:

    Scott #67: Thanks for the clarification.

  69. Abuzer Yakaryilmaz Says:

    Congratulations Scott!!!

    QWould would be very grateful if you consider denoting to us, as well.

    We have already created 16 local groups all around the world to popularize quantum technologies and software, and we have been implementing a variety of opportunities for free (introductory level workshops, internship programs, hackathons, training programs, webinars, and talks) for the interested ones being part of the second quantum revolution.

    The list of our local groups in their joining order: QLatvia, QTurkey, QHungary, QBalkan, QPoland, QRussia, QSlovakia, QPakistan, QCzech, QTunisia, QMexico, QIndia, QGreece, QMorocco, QEgypt, and QRomania.

    Our current projects and events:
    https://qworld.net/projects/
    https://qworld.net/events/

    Who we are: QWorld is a global network of individuals, groups, and communities collaborating on education and implementation of quantum technologies and research activities.

    What we do: QWorld works to popularize quantum technologies and quantum software and to involve more people in the field by working publicly and/or academically and locally and/or internationally.

    Our goal: Having an open-access global ecosystem for quantum technologies and quantum software by the year 2025 so that each interested hardworking individual, group, institute, or region can be easily part of the ecosystem.

    https://qworld.net/donate-to-us/

  70. fred Says:

    Amazing news, congratulations Scott! 🙂

    As for charities, there is St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Personally, I can’t imagine anything more horrible than little kids getting cancer. Donations are used so that families don’t have to pay for treatments (which can be very expensive). Cancer research is also making great progress lately, with things like immunotherapy.

  71. Leo Says:

    Seconding the recommendation for the Against Malaria Foundation. I’ve donated the equivalent of $12,444 to them. Should you choose to match this, I will send you an amusing stuffed toy.

  72. Mayer Landau Says:

    Scott #49. You don’t have to spend the money on a dilution fridge. $250k would buy you access to the University of Texas clean room. You could fund a grad student to fab bits on a chip.

  73. John Says:

    One rather quirky cause is animal welfare. https://animalcharityevaluators.org/ have a list of suggestions but one can also donate directly to their funds.

  74. Guy Srinivasan Says:

    Spend at least 1% on something extravagant for yourself, aiming to help prizes stay exciting to everyone.

  75. Gerard Says:

    Scott

    Congratulations on your award . As others have said I’m especially pleased that it explicitly recognizes your contributions in maintaining this blog (including answering a lot of my stupid questions). I think this is one of very few ways a person outside of academia and research can get an understanding of cutting edge developments in a field like yours and I consider that invaluable. I’ve certainly learned a great deal here.

    Perhaps you might consider using some of the money to try to extend and/or generalize the sorts of things you have been doing here. I don’t have any specific suggestions on how you might do that, but maybe it’s something that would be worth thinking about.

  76. Rand Says:

    Congratulations, Scott!!! I was super happy to hear that you received the prize, both because it draws attention to some amazing work and (more so) because you deserve it.

    Regarding what to do with the award: I’m guessing you have enough Effective Altruist friends that I don’t have to mention GiveWell (I haven’t read the comments yet). But I’m going to mention GiveWell anyhow. In particular, I’d recommend their charities that directly save lives or prevent permanent disabilities:

    — Malaria Consortium
    — Against Malaria Foundation
    — Helen Keller International (Vitamin A program)

    For HKI, GiveWell informed me that I provided a year’s worth of vitamin A supplements to over 100 children a few years back. (That was for a roughly $300 donation.) I really felt absurdly rich for somebody who had spent the last six years on a grad student stipend. (And I might have saved a life or prevented somebody from going blind, which is cool.)

  77. Andrew H Says:

    Such an incredibly well deserved recognition. One of the great researchers and teachers of our time.

    I’m excited to see where the dust settles technology-wise on the countless ideas you’ve been involved in/pioneered, including things like #QuantumMoney #ShadowTomography

    Let’s see what problems you tackle next Scott: I have a gut feeling you’ll hit whatever pitches you swing at, so for the sake of humanity, please stay brave & keep swinging big!

  78. Rand Says:

    BTW, I’ll add that if you plan on donating your prize to charity (which would be amazing), you should donate appreciated stock and invest the prize money in its place. This saves you a lot in capital gains taxes, which you could potentially use to boost the amount you donate. Fidelity Charitable makes this super easy, though GiveWell (and presumably other orgs) will accept direct stock donations.

    (I’m not any sort of tax person, but this is how I try to maximize my charitable giving.)

  79. Bob Jacobs Says:

    dankane #22 Only if we restrict “saving lives” to humans. If we count animal sentience too, then I highly recommend the Albert Schweitzer Foundation.

    Here is their site: https://albertschweitzerfoundation.org
    And here is a review of their work: https://animalcharityevaluators.org/charity-review/albert-schweitzer-foundation/

  80. Isaac Duarte Says:

    Congratulations, Scott! This is awesome! I’ve been following this blog from a long time and from my POV this prize is well deserved.

    I don’t know any charitable organization, but here in Brazil half of the population is enduring tuff times due to Covid-19 and a president 10x worse than Trump. Lots of homeless people and families without food. And as the current epicenter of the pandemic chaos, even new variants are a potential threat to everybody.

    Congrats again, and let’s hope for better times.

  81. Steinn Sigurdsson Says:

    δ++ https://arxiv.org/about/donate

  82. Greg Price Says:

    Congratulations and well deserved!

    A charity I think you will appreciate is BEAM: https://www.beammath.org/. It fits right in with your determination to nurture talented young scientists — that’s exactly what they do, with middle- and high-school students who love math, have talent in it, and come from backgrounds where they’d otherwise be unlikely to have the opportunity to develop their talent. The program has grown steadily over the past decade. The founder is an accomplished math teacher and community builder (and, full disclosure, an old friend of mine.)

    Here’s a good writeup from a few years ago:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/03/the-math-revolution/426855/

    You probably know well the reasoning for why a dollar given to a program like AMF or GiveDirectly can do more good than almost anything it could be spent on in the US or other rich countries, as other people have mentioned above. The bulk of my own charitable giving goes to GiveWell’s top charities. But BEAM is one of the few I donate to that’s not in that category. I think you have to have had a certain experience of math, and of being a nerdy kid who finds community in math, to fully appreciate its value; and that seems like a good reason for those of us who have had that experience to support it.

  83. Zorblaxian Says:

    Congratulations!
    I would go with Malaria Consortium or a deworming charity. These are boring answers, but often the boring answer is the good answer.
    Alternatively, I would recommend Population Services International, which is working for reproductive rights in the developing world, (eg distributing cheap contraception to women in need).

  84. Isaac G. Says:

    Congratulations on the award, you absolutely deserve it. I’ve followed this blog from high school to the present, most of the way through my PhD. As much as anyone, you helped me fall in love with theoretical computer science.

    I’d suggest donating to Project Vesta: https://www.projectvesta.org/

    They’re researching a new method for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, called enhanced weathering. It has the potential to be the cheapest way to achieve negative emissions, perhaps as low as 10$/ton if all goes well.

  85. AnonFromMars Says:

    “I don’t know if I’m worthy of such a prize—but I know that if I am, then it’s mainly for work I did between roughly 2001 and 2012. This honor inspires me to want to be more like I was back then…”
    Maybe the stuff you did over the last week will end up being more important than after 10 or 15 years.

  86. Dave Lewis Says:

    Congrats, well-deserved.

  87. Ted Says:

    I’d suggest donating to Wikipedia. Probably the most efficient and cost-effective mechanism for distributing reasonably accurate information worldwide invented in centuries (at least since the invention of the printing press). I think it really could make a huge difference in the (perhaps self-)education of a future Ramanujan in a developing part of the world.

    Otherwise, I’d also echo the previous suggestions of donating to fund the operations of a meta-charity like GiveWell or another charity evaluator (in addition to donating through them to the “direct” charities).

  88. Ajit R. Jadhav Says:

    1. I am a soft critic of the QC.

    I mean: My judgement (in the sense: the result of a weighing, or an informed inclination) is that people aren’t going to succeed in building a scalable QC (i.e., one which is at large enough a scale so as to be practically useful).

    Reason: There are nonlinearities, at least in my own approach to QM, and in general, nonlinearities are tough to handle i.e. to control.

    Now, sometimes nonlinearities do combine in a fortuitous way (for certain ranges of the relevant parameters) such that stability (at least in some respect(s)) can be an outcome. Examples: The very durability of so many forms in which matter exists, the definiteness of the conditions (like temperature, pressure, etc.) under which phase-transitions (a nonlinear phenomenon) occur.

    Yet, personally, I am not at all encouraged that given the very fragile kind of nonlinearities which come up in the QM (as in my approach anyway, to be published “soon” enough), these are going to permit hitting a sweet spot for a large enough an assemblage (consisting entirely of QM particles).

    But having said that, I also don’t mind if people still want to try and build one. It’s their money and their choice, and in fact, this matter has been thrashed out so many times right at this (Scott’s) blog with far better insights than I could ever manage.

    2. Another point.

    I don’t support certain pertinent values of any company which has, over the years, found reasons (often dumb but some times also creative) to keep me out of any job. (Cumulatively, for a decade, perhaps for a longer time; I haven’t counted the period in a long time.) I am not here for shaming, but if values are going to be mentioned, and if I am the commenter, then I can’t help noting this part. [Scott may decide to moderate this comment out, if he so desires. This is his blog.]

    3. Both the above points had to be noted (in the sense, I had to note them).

    However, inasmuch as this prize was decided by an ACM committee, and recognizes superior intellectual work, and yes, also especially considering that the recipient is Scott, I do heartily welcome this piece of news.

    Congratulations, Scott!

    [BTW, as others said / indicated: Guess you should consult a good family investment advisor before deciding on anything: whether mutual funds, stocks, gold, house, or whatever… ]

    Best,
    –Ajit

  89. Jan Says:

    People do not realize enough that the natural environment is also *our* living environment, suggested charity: The Nature Conservacy http://www.nature.org

  90. John K Clark Says:

    Congratulations Scott! If you want to give the money away to a worthy charity that’s fine, but if you decide to just use the money on something silly for yourself that’s OK too; you shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about it because you’ve earned it and deserve it. Being a good scientist and a good human being should be enough for anyone, striving to be a saint too might be overdoing it.

  91. Ethan Horsfall Says:

    woah awesome 🙂

    The against malaria foundation is a very practical, transparent organisation which distributes insecticide treated nets, which also tracks the donation from source to net production, to distribution. I think it’s c. £1.25 per net*, each of which covers on average around 2 individuals for 3-4 years. A back of the hand calculation means that the prize would provide over a million years of malaria net coverage 🙂

    /

    P.S. i recently bought your book (Quantum Computing since Democritus) and it is a joy. Also kudos to you for thinking of donating such a prize, it is good to be reminded how wonderful humans can be!
    /
    *i calculated this by dividing nets distributed over amount donated for my donor page, but i recall they calculate their own figures which will be more accurate
    /
    https://www.againstmalaria.com/Default.aspx

  92. fred Says:

    Ajit #88

    “There are nonlinearities, at least in my own approach to QM, and in general, nonlinearities are tough to handle i.e. to control. “

    That’s too vague of a statement to be useful.
    For example, transistors (semi-conductors) are non-linear devices.
    The only time we use them in linear mode (in first approximation) is as an amplifier in analog electronics. But non-linearity behavior is required to use them as switches in digital applications.

  93. eitan bachmat Says:

    Congratulations Scott!!
    Recently, I had the honor of working with two very worthy organizations that have been also noted in other comments, the first, Arxiv, fits Churchill’s saying “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”, with Paul Ginsparg, Steinn and Greg among the few. However, you can contribute by participation and that coud be even more effective. The second is effective altruism (I know the Israeli chapter) that is indeed effective and has absolutely brilliant people. Again, the way to contribute I believe is not financially, but rather by serving in a mentorship position which will be highly appreciated by them. I can help set it up if you (or other readers) are interested.
    My comment on your (good) strategy of endowing your kids educational fund is that the prize will be barely sufficient for 1 child only in the US (unless you have some UTexas arrangement), but for 4 children (including living expenses with leftovers for world travel and partying) in Israel with comparable quality

  94. ike Says:

    Congratulations!

  95. Ajit R. Jadhav Says:

    fred #92:

    I don’t want to be further eating into this thread, but since you ask, briefly:

    The nonlinearity I was referring to is the one which involves a feed-back from the output to input too, not just a nonlinear mapping in the forward direction alone (from the I/P to the O/P).

    Since you mention the nonlinear characteristics of an amp: A simplest example would be as in the Wiki on “Audio feedback”. But realize, there’s just one stage of nonlinear feedback in that “audio feedback” example. It’s basically a lumped system, not a “continuous” (distributed) one, and it involves only one (discrete) stage at which the feedback occurs.

    The nonlinearity in QM which I’ve in mind is broadly of the kind which arises in the nonlinear differential equations for field phenomena. A very simple example of such a nonlinear system from the “classical” physics would be: the N-body problem of gravity. For N > 2, such systems show SDIC (sensitive dependence on the initial condition). As another example, the Navier-Stokes system.

    Guess that’s enough of an indication. (For any further questions on my research, please raise them at my blog. Thanks in advance.)

    Best,
    –Ajit

  96. Bill Kaminsky Says:

    I may be late to this parade, but…

    1) …first and most importantly, let me continue the cavalcade of congratulations: Congratulations, Scott!!

    2) …I want to second Eitan Bachmat’s Comment #93 that perhaps the best use of (at least some nontrivial portion) of the prize money would be to defray the direct and opportunity costs of you taking some mentorship role in someplace you find worthy and at which you think you can make a difference.

    Postscript:
    Eitan’s mentorship suggestion is much better than the suggestion I was going to make initially. Namely, I was going to suggest initially that you should use some nontrivial portion of your prize money to defray the direct and opportunity costs of trying to become more of a “thought leader”. I mean if Andrew Yang has a real shot of becoming Mayor of NYC despite all of the Big Apple’s entrenched interests, and — in any case, win or lose — has really brought universal basic income into the limelight of mainstream(ish) politics, then surely you, Scott, have a real shot of… I don’t know… getting some sort of worthy policy proposal into some sort of, umm, more-limey-light?

    Seriously though, I’m kind thinking of how the other Scott — Scott Alexander — is using his Substack largess to at least implicitly underwrite (if not explicitly subsidize) his attempt to make a proof-of-principle model of cheaper and more-effective-for-many-more-patients psychiatry practice. Maybe there’s some analogue of that that appeals to you… or at least has been a passing fancy?

    I, of course, must confess I have no idea what your analogue of the other Scott’s endeavor would be.

    And I’ve babbled on enough to boot.

    So, in closing, I’ll just say that — of course — the direct costs to be defrayed in such a scenario likely include lots of $$$ to mental health professionals like Scott Alexander so as to deal with all the public-relations-crap/social-media-hellstorm that pretty much anyone who gains a public profile faces even if they’re just trying to do something new locally, let alone inject some political policy proposal into mainstream debate like a stereotypical “thought leader”. And that’s why I say, Eitan’s mentorship suggestion is much better than my initial
    suggestion. Nonetheless, maybe defraying some personal endeavors off the beaten path is worth thinking about. 😉

  97. Stephen Paul Jordan Says:

    Congratulations, Scott! Well deserved. I agree with your family: donate some money but not all. And donate only because you want to, not to win over your detractors. When I donate money I usually just send it to whatever the obsessive nerds at GiveWell have identified as their top recommendation. They spend a lot more time researching the matter than I can. Lately they have usually been pointing to the Against Malaria Foundation as the best choice, which sounds pretty plausible to me. A more contrarian move that also seems plausible to me would be to donate to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (i.e. Eliezer Yudkowski’s friendly AI effort).

  98. Krishna Chittur Says:

    Congratulations, Professor Aaronson! A well-deserved recognition. I think it would be neat if you could donate some of the money in service of online knowledge-gathering projects like the Complexity Zoo, but off the top of my head I can’t think of any specific such projects that are in need of donations.

  99. 1Zer0 Says:

    Congratulations! That’s very deserved.
    I found many of your blog posts and papers like “The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine” or “The Busy Beaver Frontier” to be inspiring and enlightening to read and commonly refer to them in discussions around the web.
    Probably almost no combination of words or deeds could make the online hate crowd not criticize you for something, so there is really no need to consider that in any way, shape or form.

  100. Ashley Lopez Says:

    Congratulations Scott!

    As a regular of your blog for more than a decade I find it elating myself (like, I can at least recognize a genius when I see one 🙂 )

    And please do not lose your ‘obsession’ from years before. (Though the expression of appreciation from others could provide one with motivation, IMHO please do not rely on that alone. You and I have purposes, and let that be it. I am tempted to find some quote from the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita here but I think I rather not.)

  101. Ben Says:

    givewell.org

  102. Antia Says:

    Congratulations! Very well deserved!

    I don’t have anything to add to the great charity suggestions already in the thread, but just point out that if you want to give yourself more time to donate the money and not pay a tax penalty, you can open a “donor advised fund”. Essentially you open an investment account that is designated for charity donations, but you get to choose when, to whom and how much to donate at an arbitrary point in the future. In the mean time the money can even be invested and grow to make a bigger pot for donation.

  103. Kent Says:

    Scott – Congrats! You deserve it.

    I would seriously consider giving a modest amount to emergent ventures – maybe with the prerequisite that it be used for something quantum computing related!

  104. Christopher J Leong Says:

    One possibility is the Effective Altruism Hotel which has now renamed itself to CEEALAR (https://ceealar.org/)

  105. Gabriel Says:

    This might be a silly question. It’s related to your Turing Machine independent of ZFC with Adam Yedidia a few years ago. Would it be possible to have a Turing machine that halts if and only if the Continuum Hypothesis is true? If not, then what is the difference between the CH and those “large cardinal hypotheses” used in the TM result?

    (BTW hope you didn’t forget you still owe us the CH exposition! :))

  106. Chseeker Says:

    def gab_105(conjecture = CH, axioms = Peano): #amator work
    ….for proof in endless_enumeration_from(axioms):
    ……..if proof == conjecture:
    …………print(« gotcha! »)
    …………print(« what? Oh no, sorry, no idea. »)
    …………print(« I’m not the kind of program that keep trace of which proof it was »)

  107. Scott Says:

    Gabriel #105:

      Would it be possible to have a Turing machine that halts if and only if the Continuum Hypothesis is true?

    Sure: if CH is true, then a TM that halts immediately, or if CH is false, then a TM that goes into a trivial infinite loop. 🙂

    More seriously: no, CH is not an “arithmetical” statement, which means that no one knows any way to encode it in terms of the behavior of Turing machines (or even oracle Turing machines)—unlike the majority of mathematical conjectures, it seems to be irreducibly a statement about transfinite sets.

    What are arithmetical, are questions about the consistency of CH or its negation with various systems of axioms (rather than its truth). Those questions were famously addressed by the famous results of Gödel and Cohen, who showed that CH and not(CH) are both consistent with ZFC. In other words: if you set a Turing machine searching for contradictions in either ZFC+CH or ZFC+not(CH), that machine will run forever without finding anything.

      If not, then what is the difference between the CH and those “large cardinal hypotheses” used in the TM result?

    Good question! The relevant difference is precisely that those hypotheses were about the consistency of certain large cardinal axioms, not about their truth. (Note that, in any case, Stefan O’Rear’s subsequent work removed the need for large cardinal axioms.)

  108. Scott Wins a Prize | Gödel's Lost Letter and P=NP Says:

    […] wonderful blog. About the prize, he says […]

  109. Patrick Says:

    Scott #107: It is not enough for a statement to be arithmetic to have its truth be provably equivalent to the termination of some specific Turing machine. It needs to be \(\Sigma^0_1\). (Though probably you already know that and were leaving it out because it’s more complicated to explain.)

  110. Scott Says:

    Patrick #109: Of course I know that; it was the reason for the parenthetical “or even oracle Turing machines” (I didn’t bother to explain further, since I figured anyone who cared would already know)

  111. Gabriel Says:

    Scott #107: Where is Stefan O’Rear’s work available?

  112. Scott Says:

    Gabriel #111: There’s no paper. The GitHub is here.

  113. Edo Arad Says:

    This new upcoming journal by Jeff McMahan, Francesca Minerva and Peter Singer is dedicated to controversial ideas – https://journalofcontroversialideas.org/.

    It’s having a fundraiser right now! https://www.gofundme.com/f/journal-of-controversial-ideas

  114. rossry Says:

    Well deserved, and congrats!

    I want to echo a suggestion from above, to make sure it doesn’t get lost — first, open a DAF. It will probably mean you get an extra >10% of the donation amount back in saved taxes.

    Open with Fidelity Charitable (or Vanguard Charitable, if you invest with Vanguard), donate to the DAF the investments that you bought the longest time ago (and in any case, more than 365 days ago), then recommend the charitable donations out of the DAF. Take an equivalent amount of money, and put it back in investments.

    (The donations will come out the same this year, and you get the same deductions now, but when you finally sell the things, they’ll have much less capital gains tax on them because the “capital gains” start price on the new investments will be today’s price — instead of the original price of the old investments.)

  115. rossry Says:

    Oh, a donation plug.

    One question that I’ve asked myself repeatedly in the last 12 months is why there aren’t more billionaires who see the potentially huge value of throwing money at the Covid problem and just do something (okay, except for that one Harvard dropout). It just seems so obvious that there are places where just one person with the resources and guts to write checks with few questions asked could make an enormous difference when everyone else is moving too slowly.

    Tyler Cowen, running Fast Grants, is the closest to getting this right of everyone I have seen (and believe me, I’ve looked). At the beginning of the pandemic, his team took in a few tens of millions from the Silicon Valley set and gave it to >100 research biologists with 48-hour(!) turnaround. Now, in 2021, Fast Grants is funding global work on strain sequencing (extremely neglected work, and a few hundred thousand dollars runs a local sequencing study) and getting low-cost therapeutic drugs to places still deeply in the throes of the pandemic.

    I’ve been proud to ally myself with the effective altruists for the past six years, but I’m relatively sure that a slow-and-sure style of careful quantitative analysis is not as important right now as swinging for the fences until we’re all out of the woods on this thing.

    I’ve already directed a lot to Fast Grants this year and last (and given a bunch out of my own donation budget), but if you want to give anything up to 2% of the prize — $5,000 — I’d be happy to match it 1.5:1!

  116. Siddharth Says:

    Scott, congratulations! And I’m really glad to see your outreach efforts recognized as well. Academia really ought to better incentivize people to communicate cutting edge work and debates in an entertaining way to the public. You have done that better than almost anyone else. I have learned a lot from this blog over the years, so it’s great that see you win this award.

    You might consider giving away your money along the lines of Tyler Cowen’s Emergent Ventures, wherein you invite smart motivated people to send in a very brief grant application for some project they’re working on, and you just select those you think are doing valuable underfunded work, and then you just give them a no-strings-attached project.

    Some potential charity recommendations. I’m certain you are already aware of GiveWell. However, you might also consider donating to the recommended charities of Animal Charity Evaluators. Animals in factory farms are treated absolutely horrifically and animal welfare is still massively underfunded, so a little will go a long way.

    Also, you might also find the Qualia Research Institute to be engaged in interesting work.

  117. Kai Shinbrough Says:

    Hi, some-time (>1 mo., <1 year) reader and first-time commenter here. I'm not sure how this comment will be received, but apropos of recent discussion on the blog, I will suggest https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/ .

    Many congratulations on the well-deserved award.

  118. HASH Says:

    “it’s been my determination to nurture and protect talented young scientists, whatever they look like and wherever they come from.”
    What a great personality (I don’t know why, I feel beyond happy and proud when my favorite scientist win/discover something). I WISH YOU FIND IMMORTALITY for higher IQ level people with full developed anterior insular cortex. Scientists like you can make universe better place.
    Congratulations!
    Cheers from overseas!

  119. Man to research Says:

    What is a query algorithm and what is a quantum query algorithm? Why is lower bounds and upper bounds on query algorithms relevant to algorithms in Turing model?

  120. Scott Says:

    Man to research #119: This is all stuff you could learn from introductory lecture notes (including mine). A query algorithm is an algorithm that makes queries to an oracle or black box. A quantum query algorithm is a quantum algorithm that does likewise, and that in particular, can make queries on superpositions of inputs. Many of the most important quantum algorithms we know (most famously, Shor’s and Grover’s algorithms) originally came from upper bounds on quantum query complexity. Meanwhile, lower bounds on query complexity at least imply weak lower bounds on computation time (in particular, on the number of times the input bits need to be queried), and also imply oracle separations between complexity classes.

  121. DR Says:

    Direct cash charity is the only kind of charity I believe in these days. No middlemen. And no strings attached, so the victim of whatever problem i want to help, can decide what they need the most and use the cash towards that. I feel this is the most effective and compassionate gorm of charity.

  122. MA Person Says:

    Congratulations Scott! You deserve it.
    I think you can support researchers who interested in science & mathematics in third country world. I mean, there are alot of people who’s have ambitions & ability to work on research but their societies don’t fund them, neither they would be interested to hear about these subjects.

    I see this as a good thing for them.

  123. John Says:

    DR #121, GiveDirectly gives direct, no-strings-attached money to poor people. They are a middle-man and do have som administrative costs, but they may be the closest to what you want.

  124. Lucius Says:

    AI Safety Support (AISS) is a small new organisation with the goal of providing support for aspiring AI safety researchers. They run regular discussion groups and conferences, and provide learning material for people to get up to speed with the current state of the field. They also provide individual career advice, get people in contact with mentors, and generally try to build up the ai safety research community.

    They are doing this because the main bottle neck in ai safety research right now is getting new researchers trained up. The field has ok funding now. There’s lots of bright young people who want to dedicate their career to it. They just don’t know where to start. The big existing organisations (MIRI/FHI) are kind of closed off, and don’t seem unable to match the great new demand for training and mentoring newcomers.

    Thus, AISS. Right now Linda Linsefors and JJ Hepburn are just a two person team doing all of this by themselves, and they can really use the funding. I donated 4.5k to them last year, and might donate a similar sum this year.

    Link to their website: https://www.aisafetysupport.org
    Link to an introductory post about AISS on the Effective Altruism forum: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/wpQ2qhF8Z6oonsaPX/announcing-ai-safety-support

  125. domenico Says:

    I am thinking that you could make a scolarship for disadvantaged, and promising, children in the third world.
    If the prize is divided in an even number of parts, and you make a non-binding request to
    1. to replicate the scolarship by the student, in the after working live of the student, to one female and one male student (like a chain letter), in a different place of the planet (to limit the localization)
    2. to make at least one good deed in life
    3. to send a letter, or an email, to a address (fixed for the next few centuries: for example a church or synagogue), with the description of the scholarship and good deeds histories; to study the effectiveness statistically, for nations and schools, in order to give others the opportunity to improve the process (if it is effective)
    There could be an exponential growth, over a long time (doubling time of the order of the school life).

  126. Man to research Says:

    Wigderson proved if E requires 2^Omega(n) circuits there is a prg which means p is BPP. It seems 1. P is BPP and 2.P is NP and 3. E requires 2^Omega(n) circuits.. all three are simultaneously possible. So it seems no matter what even if P is NP and E is tough it has to be the prg exists. But doesn’t prg exists means one way function exist? So have I not showed P not NP if E is tough?

  127. Man to research Says:

    Which is to state it seems E not in p/poly implies P is BPP and P not NP. No? How can prg exists and P is NP and one way functions exist?

  128. Scott Says:

    “Man to research” #126, #127: Your question conflates different kinds of PRGs. Impagliazzo and Wigderson showed that, if E requires exponential-size circuits, then there are weak, derandomization-style PRGs, which take polynomial time to apply and polynomial time to break, but which have seeds of size O(log n) and are good enough to imply P=BPP. Meanwhile, if there are strong, crypto-style PRGs, which take polynomial time to apply and superpolynomial time to break, that implies both P=BPP and P≠NP (and that one-way functions exist).

  129. Man To Research Says:

    I googled. I am hitting a blank box. What is the definition of breaking a derandomization-style PRG and a crypto-style PRG?

  130. Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » Open Problems Related to Quantum Query Complexity Says:

    […] on Quantum Computing, to contribute a perspective piece to that journal on the occasion of my ACM Prize. I agreed—but only on the condition that, rather than ponderously pontificate about the […]

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy: All comments are placed in moderation and reviewed prior to appearing. Comments can be left in moderation for any reason, but in particular, for ad-hominem attacks, hatred of groups of people, or snide and patronizing tone. Also: comments that link to a paper or article and, in effect, challenge me to respond to it are at severe risk of being left in moderation, as such comments place demands on my time that I can no longer meet. You'll have a much better chance of a response from me if you formulate your own argument here, rather than outsourcing the job to someone else. I sometimes accidentally miss perfectly reasonable comments in the moderation queue, or they get caught in the spam filter. If you feel this may have been the case with your comment, shoot me an email.

You can now use rich HTML in comments! You can also use basic TeX, by enclosing it within $$ $$ for displayed equations or \( \) for inline equations.