I think Bostrom puts it nicely in his new book "Superintelligence":

A colleague of mine likes to point out that a Fields Medal (the highest honor in mathematics) indicates two things about the recipient: that he was capable of accomplishing something important, and that he didn't.

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I'm reminded of my petroleum engineering professor who assured me that a friend would eventually stop wasting his time on physics and come around to what was really important, namely petroleum engineering.

15Mitchell_Porter6yWTF. That's a fucking ignorant remark. You know, I'm having a bit of a bad day, so there's more venom in me than there normally is. And I might sometimes hesitate to attack a person for being stupid, since I might have committed an isomorphic stupidity myself. But today, I am not going to care, I am just going to vent. Right now, I feel contempt for the arrogant ignorance of whoever said that. Lacking context, it's hard to know exactly where they are coming from. Is it some transhumanist, whose definition of "something important" reduces to research on life extension / nanotechnology / artificial intelligence / whatever activities it is whose importance they appreciate? Is it just someone, as one comment suggests, who uses applied math rather than working in pure math? Could it be a comment, not about math, but about the sort of math that wins the Fields Medal? Possible, but unlikely. Anyway, this will be the core of my rebuttal: progress in math is progress in expanding what's thinkable. There was a time when we didn't have the concept of chaos theory, or sets, or calculus, or... by god the remark is so retarded, it reduces me to tumblr levels of illiterate vituperation.
2IlyaShpitser6yThis colleague of his is a philosopher then?

[LINK] 2014 Fields Medals and Nevanlinna Prize anounced

by Sarunas 1 min read13th Aug 201417 comments

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http://www.mathunion.org/general/prizes/2014

On August 13, 2014, at the opening ceremony of the [International Congress of Mathematicians](http://www.icm2014.org)) the Fields Medals, the Nevanlinna Prize and several other prizes were announced.
A full list of awardees with short citations:

Fields medals:
Artur Avila

is awarded a Fields Medal for his profound contributions to dynamical systems theory, which have changed the face of the field, using the powerful idea of renormalization as a unifying principle.

Quanta Magazine on Artur Avila

Manjul Bhargava

is awarded a Fields Medal for developing powerful new methods in the geometry of numbers, which he applied to count rings of small rank and to bound the average rank of elliptic curves.

Quanta Magazine on Manjul Bhargava

Martin Hairer

is awarded a Fields Medal for his outstanding contributions to the theory of stochastic partial differential equations, and in particular for the creation of a theory of regularity structures for such equations.

Quanta Magazine on Martin Hairer

Maryam  Mirzakhani

is awarded the Fields Medal for her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.

Quanta Magazine on Maryam  Mirzakhani

Nevalinna prize:
Subhash Khot

is awarded the Nevanlinna Prize for his prescient definition of the “Unique Games” problem, and leading the effort to understand its complexity and its pivotal role in the study of efficient approximation of optimization problems; his work has led to breakthroughs in algorithmic design and approximation hardness, and to new exciting interactions between computational complexity, analysis and geometry.

Quanta Magazine on Subhash Khot

Gauss Prize:
Stanley Osher

is awarded the Gauss Prize for his influential contributions to several fields in applied mathematics, and for his far-ranging inventions that have changed our conception of physical, perceptual, and mathematical concepts, giving us new tools to apprehend the world.

Chern Medal Award:
Phillip Griffiths

is awarded the 2014 Chern Medal for his groundbreaking and transformative development of transcendental methods in complex geometry, particularly his seminal work in Hodge theory and periods of algebraic varieties.

Leelavati Prize:
Adrián Paenza

is awarded the Leelavati Prize for his decisive contributions to changing the mind of a whole country about the way it perceives mathematics in daily life, and in particular for his books, his TV programs, and his unique gift of enthusiasm and passion in communicating the beauty and joy of mathematics.

In addition to that, Georgia Benkart was announced as the  2014 ICM Emmy Noether lecturer.
It might be interesting to note a curious fact about the new group of Fields medalists:

each of them [is] a notable first for the Fields Medal: the first woman and the first Iranian, Maryam Mirzakhani; the first Canadian, Manjul Bhargava; Artur Avila, the first Brazilian; and Martin Hairer, the first Austrian to win a Fields Medal.

However, this unusual diversity of nationalities does not necessarily translate into a corresponding diversity of institutions, since (according to wikipedia) three out of four winners work in (or at least are affiliated with) universities that have already had awardees in the past.

Some notes on the works by Fields medalists can be found on Terence Tao's blog.

A related discussion on Hacker News.

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