2017 is over. Was it successful for me? Definitely! Probably one of the best years of my life. Why? Here is the list of things which I’m really proud of:
Einstein: His Life and Universe is the third book written by Walter Isaacson which I’ve just finished (previously: Steve Jobs and The Innovators). For the 3rd time, I was impressed by the wealth of information about Einstein’s life, relationships, struggles, philosophies and of course the field of science which he dedicated his life to – theoretical physics.
Book tells very detailed story about unnoticed and underestimated genius who proposed the most famous equation: E=mc², Theory of Relativity and many other breakthrough theories. Even if they were just theoretical considerations, based on them we could build GPS system, nuclear energy (and atomic bomb), lasers, modern scientific cosmology and many others.
Einstein doesn’t have to be physics professor (actually he wasn’t even a teacher) to perform the most sophisticated thought experiments in the history. It is undoubtedly that his nonconformist personality, curiosity and passions unlocked limitless creativity which accompanied his whole life.
Einstein: His Life and Universe is really good read about how to achieve the mastery. Einstein did it for sure, changing our lives.
I highly recommend this book as a source of inspiration!
It’s Saturday. Your todo list is full of tasks, you have plenty of plans and dreams about the future. But, yeah, it’s Saturday, so everything can wait until Monday, correct?
If you decided to stay at home and procrastinate a bit, you definitely have to see this TED talk by Tim Urban:
And if you don’t know who Tim Urban is, there is nothing better than reading about hard things (form procrastination to AI) on his blog: Wait But Why.
Today I visited a bookstore and, like many times in the past, the same thing happened again. There were so many great books waiting to be read (The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly, Death’s Acre by William Bass, Jon Jefferson, Console Wars by Blake Harris, The Universe in Your Hand by Christophe Galfard) but I couldn’t get them. Not until I finish at least the most important ones which I’ve been reading (Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson).
At the end, I went out with The Inevitable, but there was something else. Finally, I decided to buy a guide for fast reading. Hopefully, when I come back here after a month or a year, I’ll be grateful for this decision.
If not? Well, currently I can’t afford to not try. There are so many amazing written things waiting to be read.
Two days ago Apple released iOS 11 (I wrote about it more in my summary of WWDC 2017). One of the big new features was ARKit – a new framework for augmented reality experiences. If you haven’t had a chance to get familiar with this, either as a developer or end-user, here is an amazing demo showed during WWDC:
Unreal Engine demo by Wingnut AR – Augmented Reality studio led by Sir Peter Jackson
Ben Chestnut, co-founder and CEO of MailChimp – marketing automation tool, talks about the history of the company. But also about management and cultivating creative culture. Video is full of smiles and inspiration, I highly encourage to watch it!
There are hundreds of tech conferences around the world and everyone is different. One of them, @Scale, is a series of events for engineers who build systems working in huge scale. Systems which handle traffic from millions of people, have extremely complex infrastructure or are maintained and developed by tens/hundreds of software engineers.
Not everyone or every company will be there. But some of us for sure. If you want to be ready (or you are just curious), I highly encourage to see video recordings from lates @Scale Conference which took place at San Jose Convention Center, 31st of August.
There is a discovery in the field of AI, called Moravec’s paradox which tells that activities like abstract thinking and reasoning or skills classified as “hard” – engineering, maths or art are way easier to handle by machine than sensory or motor based unconscious activities.
It’s much easier to implement specialized computers to mimic adult human experts (professional chess or Go players, artists – painters or musicians) than building a machine with skills of 1-year old children with abilities to learn how to move around, recognize faces and voice or pay attention to interesting things. Easy problems are hard and require enormous computation resources, hard problems are easy and require very little computation.
Researchers look for the explanation in theory of evolution – our unconscious skills were developed and optimized during the natural selection process, over millions of years of evolution. And the “newer” skill is (like abstract thinking which appeared “only” hundreds thousands of years ago), the less time nature had to adjust our brains to handle it.
It’s not easy to interpret Moravec’s paradox. Some tell that it describes the future where machines will take jobs which require specialistic skills, making people serving an army of robotic chiefs and analysts. Others argue that paradox guarantees that AI will always need an assistance of people. Or, perhaps more correctly, people will use AI to improve those skills which aren’t as highly developed by nature.
For sure Moravec’s paradox proves one thing – the fact that we developed computer to beat human in Go or Chess doesn’t mean that General Artificial Intelligence is just around the corner. Yes, we are one step closer. But as long as AGI means for us “full copy of human intelligence”, over time it will be only harder.
How to achieve long term goals? Continuously make small steps toward a success. If we use the power of habit, we’ll automate a process of getting better, every single day.
Do you want to decrease the number of times when you open social media from your device? Remove Facebook/Twitter/Instagram from your launch screen and make sure that you need to tap at least a couple of times to get there.
Design something to make your good habits easier to achieve and add more steps between you and bad behaviors.
Do you have 25 minutes more? See these and many more hints from James Clear about how to be 1% better every day.
Yesterday I published my brief summary of DeepMind’s paper “Neuroscience-Inspired Artificial Intelligence” – publication about how much different fields of AI are inspired by research in neuroscience.
If you are a techie person like me and you don’t know much about the human brain, there is a really great book which I would like to recommend:
The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean
It’s not only full of information about processes happening inside our heads or roots of our behaviors. It also shows how do we actually know what we know about our brain.
If you have at least general knowledge about AI, you will find a lot of similarities between engineering and biology. Definitely worth reading to broaden your horizons!
— Mirek Stanek 🤖📱 (@froger_mcs) July 3, 2017