back to article US faces critical lack of (mad) computer scientists

Famed Pentagon wildcard boffinry outfit DARPA issued a stark message today. According to the military crazytech bureau, America faces a crippling shortage of mad scientists - in particular, of mad computer scientists - in the near future, and only drastic action in the US educational system can rectify this. According to a DARPA …

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Coffee/keyboard

DARPA raves, film at 11

Everything that happens after the mad science requirement announcement is to be expected to be highly classified, obviously only americans are "elegible", so importing them from abroad isn't an option. Though only madmen would want to go there, now. Not that it matters much, the madness has well and truly infested Europe. But still Europeans won't be elegible.

How do I get out of this chickenshit outfit?

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Happy

DARPA

Maybe there is only a shortage of programmers willing to work on military applications. I blame the whole "thou shalt not kill" thing we learned at school.

Perhaps DARPA could open the field to applicants from other countries e.g. Russia, Iraq, Iran, China, etc.

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Not to forget

UK as we don't abide by the whole "thou shalt not kill" thing either.

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Alien

The Current Problem being Solved is ...... War is so Yesterday Man

"Perhaps DARPA could open the field to applicants from other countries e.g. Russia, Iraq, Iran, China, etc." ... Eddie Edwards Posted Wednesday 13th January 2010 12:36 GMT

Err, I think you will find that they are already there, Eddie Edwards, although not in any acknowledged official capacity, which is what is driving the US crazy, for their Secrets and Future Plans are being Systematically and Methodically Stripped away, leaving them Isolated and Naked and Vulnerable to Catastrophic Virtual Assault on their Vital Support Systems, and they have no Idea how it is being done, and being done right down to the Core Source Power levels, or Much More Importantly for an Immediate Fix, how to Deal with it Quickly and Stealthily with IT whilst still Retaining Systems Command and Control Integrity. However, for A.N.Other and/or Others would that be theior Business and No Problem.

And whilst it is true that Top Secret programs will normally automatically exclude Non US Citizens, there are automatic Provisions for Anyone to become One too, for as long as their Skills are Needed, if their Skills are Needed ...... and ESPecially so for any Hot DARPA/IARPA No Mission Impossible Mission Skills/Mindsets ...... who I notice have a shiny new website/phishing station .... http://www.iarpa.gov/index.html

It is somewhat ironic and creative of America to think of itself as a United Nation and Country whenever a collection of semi autonomous independent states with an odd mad mix of enterprising foreigners and disadvantaged immigrants, legal aliens and right dodgy characters. It's Globalised Political Character is more as a Steam Rollering Military Industrial Complex delivering Death and Destruction for the Blunder that is Covert Plunder and Invasive Suppressive Occupation ....... Post Modernist Rape and Pillage and although a Bold and Profitable and Stealthy Steganograhic Business Model, an Old and Discredited and Debilitating One, and No Longer One Offering a Modus Operandi/Vivendi which is thought to be Secure and Sustainable and Acceptable in an Age of Transparent Shared Communications and Advanced Intelligence with Virtual Defences. ....... CyberIntelAIgents and Great Global Gaming Fabrications and Factories.

Hence the somewhat Chaotic Present Reorganisations for Future Revised Programming Projects. We Heartily Apologize for any Necessary Inconvenience and Beta Services will be Resumed as Soon as is Possible and ESPecial Intelligence Servers Kicks in with ITs Novel AIdDrives and Prime Intellectual Property for Operating Progressive Systems.

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Joke

Here's how.

"reaching out to American kids as early as middle school, somehow getting them hooked......."

There's a time honoured method that just needs a little updating.

Old way: Shady bloke wearing a long mac hangs around schools going "Psst, wanna try some crack?"

New way: Shady bloke wearing a lab coat hangs around schools going: "Psst, wanna free trial WoW subscription?"

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Psst, wanna Play for Real Money High Stakes

"New way: Shady bloke wearing a lab coat hangs around schools going: "Psst, wanna free trial WoW subscription?"" ..... TeeCee Posted Wednesday 13th January 2010 12:41 GMT

TeeCee, There's not much point in having the bright sparks playing silly war games whenever the Fed and Fort Knox and Wall Street are being emptied of all value, which is the New Frontier for Change and Engagement with the Real Smart Networking Players and Non State Actors. Why shed blood and guts in a hostile free fire zone whenever you can feast on sweet and sticky honey in a Perfumed Garden and Relax in the Finest of Houses of the Rising Sun?

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No biggie

Shurely won't be long before DARPA can just build these to order, robocop stylee.

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Troll

Before they all wake up

Before all the American CS majors wake up and post about how there's plenty of them and not enough massively overpaid jobs let's just qualify the headline a little further:

US FACES CRITICAL LACK OF _HIGH QUALITY_ COMPUTER SCIENTISTS

I mean the ones that can do the R&D to make computers do really really amazing things, not the dime a dozen ones that can program a bit of .NET

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Plenty of mind power, but recruiters are idiots

No, there are actually plenty of high-quality people, but the idiots who are hired to recruit people are complete idiots. They DO NOT know what is on a resume, and to them its all Geek, anyways. Apparently its an "in" thing to call someone up, and immediately disparage the candidate. "Gee, we can't find anybody qualified. They keep hanging up on us."

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Coffee/keyboard

Interviews suck

Ah, I see you interviewed with Google. I don't get why everybody assumes it's the most perfect place in the world to work. After the fiasco of an interview I had there, there's no way I'd want anywhere near that place.

So many companies forget that interviews are a two-way street. They're trying to find a future employee, the interviewee is trying to find a company they can be happy with. Convincing them they won't be happy there is a great way to scare off the talent, so you can complain that there's nobody qualified.

To be fair, though, if the recruiters had a real skill, they wouldn't be recruiters, now would they?

The Esc key, because I wished I had one at the time.

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Unhappy

Really?

Critical lack of computer scientists or just lack of *cheap* computer scientists ?!!!

I'm an employee of a US multinational with a Ph.D. in computer science. While I don't work on DARPA funded projects, neither do the vast majority of computer scientists. In my experience (and that of many of my colleagues in other US companies) the qualification of computer scientist has been greatly devalued by ignorant, financially minded management. We loose more and more projects to cheaper but inexperienced teams in India every day. I have nothing against Indians, many are fine engineers and scientists, but when your job that required a Ph.D with 10 years experience in the west is expected to be done by a team of second rate engineers with on average 18 months experience it leaves you wondering.

A smart young student today will be asking himself/herself "what job could I do in 4 years time that can't be easily outsourced to a cheaper country?" Computer science is not a safe bet.

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what title

snip - A smart young student today will be asking himself/herself "what job could I do in 4 years time that can't be easily outsourced to a cheaper country?" Computer science is not a safe bet. snip

yup, why the hell would any right thinking student work toward getting into the business right now, given that they'll forever be living in fear of being outsourced to whichever impoverished country can deliver the low paid workforce flavour of the month (who will then fail to deliver agreed levels of service), ending up with a more or less wortless qualification....

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Hear Hear

This has been my experience. In fact, most business resents clever-clogs software types. Much of the crafted software I, and colleagues produced got replaced by expensive commodity junk for various reasons. Often just to get something new.

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Anonymous Coward

Who can blame the youth...

for not pursuing a CS or any other degree in the US of A. The cost of a degree there is so high that if a student (average income family) had to finance the whole thing they'd be retiring by the time they had it paid off.

Those smart enough to make computers do amazing things, as mentioned by a poster above, are also smart enough to see that they can make a lot more money and probably have a lot more fun in the financial market. Financiers are on the road to record breaking bonuses this, I've heard.

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Go

Cost of a CS degree

If you/your family can't afford the cost, work your way up. Get an Associate's degree at a community college, then get a low-level job with a company that offers education benefits. Or join the U.S. armed services and use their benefits. Those options will cost you more time, but less money.

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damn titles

"Or join the U.S. armed services and use their benefits. Those options will cost you more time, but less money."

Whilst agreeing that there are advantages to this idea, even the most hardened American would find it difficult to dispute the risks attached. You'd also still end up once you have your degree stuck in a profession where the majority of company directors would like nothing more than to have your job farmed off to some poor schmo working for bugger all, somewhere in the third world.

Further, if you graduated well and showed enough aptitude, you'd end up seconded to DARPA projects, but at forces rates of pay, I suspect, rather than market rates. Bearing in mind that you'd have an inordinately high probability of facing all too real bullets at some point in return for this marvellous education...... You'd need to be rather more than committed to take up that option....

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Linux

they should stop limiting the field then

they do not use open source software in any of the K-12 grades and so by that very fact they are limiting the field of potential geeks to those with financial backing to not only purchase the hardware but also the software for the budding geek. What is more likely to produce more, a system where everything the child wants to explore in CS costs atleast $100 a try or one where only the hardware costs exist?

They are limiting the geeks by limiting them to Microsoft software. Give them OSS and give everyone a chance to explore their inner geek.

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Heart

Bloop bleep bloop.

I don't think they really want mad computer scientists, because I'm kill,kill,kill them all, mad and they've never rang me up.

Perhaps the author meant they want talented computer scientists, or maybe innovative, oh! and US citizens only.

Both of these talents are innate, you're born with an innovative mind, you can't teach it.

It's unlikely that they're ever going to get them anyway, as I just had some agent state that my cv had too much english in it. Apparently the commas were just too complicated for the end client's personnel department, who couldn't understand a perfectly normal sentence written in English.

It seems they don't want someone to show on their CV that they've a full SDLC, they want someone to state on their CV "I have full SDLC", because they can't work it out from a cv whether they have or they haven't.

I'm thinking of forming an agency which only employs software guys as agents, instead of hairdressers and ex airline stewardesses.

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Right

I've never got into a company via Recruitment agency or Personell firewalls. This is a problem for the truly mad. (Software engineers seem to get on ok with me).

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FAIL

With all due respect... November 2007??

That would be on the other side of the current economic downturn ... I'm not sure that job trend numbers before the Wall Street debacles and real estate crash (and resulting recession) have much relevance in 2010.

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Boffin

How to make and recruit a Mad Scientist:

Step One: Cut his/her funding unexpectedly.

Step Two: Give the funding to his/her rival

.At this point you'll have a wide-eyed, frothing at the mouth Mad Scientist, just chomping at the bit to do some seriously bent science. So on to...

Step Three: Approach him/her as a sympathetic third party and offer to fund him/her to work on your latest project.

Step Four: At project completion, announce your demands to the UN! Er, I mean, let him/her bask in vindication and the accolades of his peers!

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excoriated

I wished to grow up as a mad scientist until I got to college and found out that the CS department graduated at most FIVE undergraduates a year. At that point I realized that CS people are 1337ist and I gave up. How many more gave up like me, eh?

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It's a funny world

I worked in a college, and a brilliant young undergraduate failed is CS degree, but produced the best BCPL (forerunner of C) compiler, and an amazingly compact Pascal compiler before he failed. He just didn't spend time on all the other (90%) subjects which were not very technical. The true mad computer scientist is probably useless at anything other than challenging technical problems.

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Flame

Here we go again... (I thought we all understood the problem).

Here we go again...

Unless you foster a love of science and techie things by the time they're 7 you'll lose them to something more appealing or that which is more lucrative. Good scientists and techies need to have an almost apriori love of science and you can only get that at a very early age by being exposed to technical or scientific things.

With most education systems in English-speaking democracies having been $#@!ed up by do-gooder postmodernists over the last 30/40 years or so, there's a lot to do even if we could begin tomorrow.

Stop mollycoddling kids, bring back things like fireworks, chemistry sets and such. Unless kids get real hands-on experience at a very early age they essentially be useless to science.

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@Graham Wilson...

My ex-wife is of the wrap-'em-in-cotton-wool-and-don't-let-them-near-the-explosives school of parenting and I find it insane. As a youth I was given those wonderful junior chemistry sets and encouraged to find out why and how things worked, which is something that I have been grateful for my whole life.

I agree with your mollycoddling statement, if it ain't dangerous, it ain't educational!!

Bring back MacGyver is what I say.

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Amen...

Twenty some years ago in the U.S., I went out to purchase "toys" for a toddler, a four, and a seven year old. By the '80s, all toys that required the least bit of mechanical manipulation and allowed the imagination of the child to express itself had disappeared and been replaced by battery powered finished products that blinked, buzzed and whirred in one mode or two, at most. No more erector sets - not even building blocks. Even the lowly Leggo's came in the form of pre-assembled objects that could only be disassembled and reassembled one way. As a behavioral scientist, I understand the importance of developing hands-on mechanical/physical intuition early on as a lead-in to most technical abilities and as a reference point for the abstract ideas that are presented later in schools. While such experience won't aid the child much beyond elementary Newton, it is where we start in retracing the history of scientific knowledge as we learn and, if those experiences are good ones, then the learning can continue. Without such background, technical things and technical subjects become nuisances to be avoided with immediately gratifying things being preferred.

Those are the generation that has eschewed science and technology and though many protested early on, as I do here, our voices were drowned out by the growing commercializaiton and monetization of everything under the sun, including the formative years of childhood. Corporations can't prosper selling building blocks. If there is an evil in all this, it is the ill-conceived belief on the part of many parents that children make the best choices for themselves and that the parents' job is to keep the child happy at all times by satisfying all of its wants without regard for its needs beyond shelter - with clothing.and food having pretty much gone the same way of toys as obesity statistics and fad-clothing styles attest.

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Megaphone

Most of us realize...

That is exactly the problem in the States and I suspect other parts of the world. Parents these days are more concerned with being their child's best friend and this does them a horrible disservice. It doesn't allow them to develop normal social skills and they grow up to be wretched adults that no one wants to deal with. Part of the reason I've stayed single for so long. I thought it was the norm when I was raised to say "Please", "Thank you", "Yes sir/Yes mam" but apparently I had a privileged upbringing. As I've gotten older I just see where so many adults never had that kind of parenting as a child because their parents were only concerned with their eternal happiness. We need more explosives for the kids and less coddling. I played with all these things when I was young and it certainly fostered my love of science, technology and all the cool things we do as a species.

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Of course there aren't enough

That's deliberate US educational policy --- read your Chomsky.

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FAIL

untitled

Ask Al Turing why there's a shortage of _good_ hacks willing to work for the

housecats who occupy the security establishment.

Oh, wait, they didn't like him.

~D

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Seeing as CS jobs are largely thought of as...

The hamburger flipping level of employment, well, this asserted desire for CS whizz kids is a pipe dream, and in all likelihood dishonest.

American industry wants the cheapest labour and the cheapest materials on a day-to-day basis, unless there's a one of need to toss a few dollars at an actual worker or resources. All-in-all a pretty good framework for turning the place into a far more obvious than it can look third world country.

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Alert

A Radical proposal...

"DARPA is interested in proposals with innovative new ideas to encourage students to major in CS-STEM and pursue careers as engineers and scientists."

I have an innovative new idea: encourage living wages for STEM graduates. Hell, really go out on a limb, and encourage companies to compensate these people well, or even handsomely. Work with government and industry partners to increase job security for people in STEM positions, and suddenly they become attractive options.

As a complete departure from the normal way of doing things, (and perhaps at a completely acute angle to the rest of the universe,) you might consider things such as bonuses and other incentives as methods of encouraging hard work, loyalty and excellence amongst staff. Please note that "we won't outsource your job to India...today..." is not a bonus. The differences I am talking about are the application of positive reinforcement (carrot) instead of negative reinforcement (stick.)

These and other “innovative new ideas” will make use the of “the market” and it’s mysterious voodoo known as “market forces” to encourage an increase in STEM applicants. With luck, an increased number of graduates will follow a few years later. A few years after that, the wheat will be sorted for the chaff. You will have a pool of talented, experienced, highly qualified STEM professionals from which to pick your next generation of cyber-warriors.

So, a set of “innovative new ideas” that go utterly and completely against the established grain, and break every law of HR and modern corporatism…but are guaranteed to get the requested results. Where do I collect my “prize?

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Megaphone

Maybe....

Maybe they should consider offering misguided hackers with borderline Asberger's syndrome a job, rather than trying to lock them up for twenty years?

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Pint

If it's happening in the US......

.....then there must be a similar problem in the UK. It's just that we don't talk about it, at least not in public.

I would venture that geeks and mad scientists don't always look good in modern business terms, especially when private companies rather than the state or educational establishments provide much of the R&D effort and funding, so that their positions in such organisations fall foul of the accountants axe.

I agree with Nigel 11 in that you must be better employing a hacker who has come clean rather than chasing him/her through the courts.

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Alien

Kansas

I'm a mad scientist who went to school in Kansas, but they don't want me. I know, as a Kansas educated scientist, that any problem can be solved by insulting biologists but DARPA doesn't seem to recognise my expertise for some reason.

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FAIL

Maybe you need to learn Hindu.

I hear the US likes to hire people in India rather than people in their own nation.

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Silver badge

Madness without Experience is a Recipe for Chaos delivering Bedlam rather than Crazy Order.

Take Care ........ Who Dares Win Wins.

Errr ..... isn't MkUltraSensitive TopSecret type Phishing/Phorming/MetaDataMining Technology supposed to be able to find Sharp Needles in amongst all the Giant Haystacks when all the Dots are in Play. With everyone even with half a brain online nowadays, sharing their interests and displaying their wares and virtual abilities, shouldn't it be dead easy for outfits like DARPA, who are bound to part of the Spooky Intelligence Crowd with Virtual Terrain Team Forces in the Cloud, to plug into their Search Facility/Algorithm and find exactly what they are Looking for, be that even on the other side of the world.

Or is that a Capability just Virtually Pimped as Readily Available and Up and Running but in Reality, just Hot Air and still way above at the Top of the Wish List?

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What about the others?

What about the kids who are techies? Do we get some sort of bonus or something along those lines?

My advice is relativly simple, banner ads. But straticically placed all of 4chan.org, that way whoever goes to /g/ or even /k/ for that matter; just not that speical place, they will get mad.

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WTF?

Ha, what?

Obama is too busy obsessing over health care to be busy worrying about anything else - let alone education. Also, one would think that with the rampant outsourcing of US jobs to India and China there should be plenty of engineers sitting around.

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