What do people here think of going into condensed matter physics to work on technology relevant for the continuation of some form of Moore's Law?

The basic motivation here is that having progress in our capacity to engineer the physical basis for information processing grind to a halt would be a bad thing. My comparative advantage is probably working in experimental or theoretical condensed matter physics.

I am an undergraduate physics concentrator, and specifically I am interested in quantum computing (esp. topological) 70%, spintronics 10%, valleytronics 10%, traditional solid state nanoelectronics 5%, atomtronics 5%.

The basic motivation here is that having progress in our capacity to engineer the physical basis for information processing grind to a halt would be a bad thing.

Why? Continuation of Moore's law might make AGI come sooner and thus more likely to be unfriendly.

8Manfred4yA great question. As a condensed matter physics grad student (doing scanning tunneling microscopy), I should start my reply by saying that going to grad school in physics is something that fewer people should be doing. If you want to do research in the field it is basically irreplaceable, but you have to be aware that there are many fewer spaces for postgraduate researchers, especially faculty, than there are grad students. If you are accepted at a top university, or get to work in a prestigious lab (good publications in Nature, PRL, Nature Physics, etc.), then you at least have a shot, but even then there's not enough space and too many hopefuls. Don't depend on everything going right, and if you have other plans, consider them. If you don't have any other plans that are even mildly appealing, this is a warning sign that you need to spend some more time planning. A little time on plans can save you a lot of trouble. That said, doing a PhD can force you to improve yourself. You'll become better at doing research. It can be a lot of fun. And sometimes not so much fun, but hey, that's why they pay you and not vice versa. Just keep in mind that if you do it, you should do it because you enjoy it, because the odds are against you being a researcher in the field in 15 years. Okay, with the important but slightly tangential stuff out of the way, let's talk about Moore's law. Why do you consider an end to Moore's law to be bad? If you're an unreflective computerphile, your answer might be "computers are great, and faster, cheaper computer are greater," but I call this unreflective because it values computers based only on themselves, rather than mentioning the impact that computers have on people. If you're a transhumanist, your answer might be "there's people suffering and dying out there, and the faster we get to post-scarcity the better for everyone." Or if you think AI will have a huge impact on the future, replace 'post-scarcity' with 'a positive singularity.' Ar

Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016

by [anonymous] 1 min read27th Dec 2015145 comments


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