Request for Advice : A.I. - can I make myself useful?

I’m a PhD stu­dent wrap­ping up a doc­torate in Ge­nomics. I started in biol­ogy and switched to anal­y­sis be­cause I have stupid hands. My opinion of my field is low. Work­ing in it has, on on the bright side, taught me some statis­tics and pro­gram­ming. I’m roughly up­per 5% on math abil­ity, rel­a­tive to my col­lege class. Once upon a time I could solve ODEs, now most of my math is gone. How­ever, I’m good with R, and can talk in­tel­li­gently about mixed lin­ear model, bayesi­anism vs. fre­quen­tism and about ge­net­ics, bio­chem­istry and de­vel­op­men­tal biol­ogy. It’s also taught me that huge seg­ments of the biol­ogy liter­a­ture are a mix­ture of non re­pro­ducible crap, and un­in­ter­est­ing, street-light sci­ence, dressed up as progress with de­cep­tive plots and statis­tics. I think a large part of my lack of en­thu­si­asm comes from my be­lief that ad­vances in ar­tifi­cial in­tel­li­gence are go­ing to make hu­man-run biol­ogy ir­rele­vant be­fore long. I think the ul­ti­mate prob­lems we’re tack­ling (pre­dict­ing geno­type from phe­no­type, re­li­able ma­nipu­la­tion of biol­ogy, cur­ing can­cer/​ag­ing/​death) are in­sol­u­ble with our cur­rent meth­ods—we need effec­tive robots to do the ex­per­i­ments, and A.I. to in­ter­pret the re­sults.


Here’s what I want to ask the less­wrong hive­mind:

1)Do you agree? Do you think there are im­por­tant prob­lems be­ing tack­led now in biol­ogy that some­one with my skil­lset could be use­ful in? E.g. an­a­lyz­ing the brain with ge­net­ics to try and get a han­dle on how it’s al­gorithms work? (I’m skep­ti­cal of this bot­tom up ap­proach to the brain my­self)

2)Do you think there are ar­eas closer to the AI prob­lem (or say, cry­on­ics...) I could be use­fully work­ing on?

Sorry for both­er­ing you with my per­sonal prob­lems, but I re­call a thread a while ago invit­ing this sort of thing, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m lean­ing to­wards the de­fault op­tion right now, which is to do some more courses, so I can say, bluff my way through Hadoop and Java, and then see how much cash I can earn in a bor­ing pri­vate sec­tor job. How­ever, I’d pre­fer to do some­thing I find in­trin­si­cally in­ter­est­ing.

Edit: Thanks guys—this has already been helpful.