Thursday, July 18, 2024

Success? Just Keep Showing Up

Success stories are often told with a focus on the glamorous parts: the perfect timing, the right connections, the natural talent. But let's be real—these factors are often exaggerated. True success comes from the grind, the daily commitment to keep going no matter what. It's about sticking to your path, even when it's tough, and not letting yourself get complacent or overconfident.

Think about those early morning runs in the freezing cold, pushing through the last pages of a book when you're ready to collapse, or perfecting that tiny detail on your product's website. These seemingly small actions are the real indicators of success, much more than we usually give them credit for.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Finding AI Project Ideas and the Impact on Jobs

Andrew Ng recently shared some compelling insights on X and deeplearning.ai. Here are a couple of excerpts that struck a chord with me:

On Identifying AI-Focused Project Ideas for Business:
Andrew suggests a practical approach for brainstorming AI projects:
  • Break down the jobs of employees and contractors into individual tasks.
  • Analyze each task to determine if it can be assisted (augmented) or automated using AI tools like supervised learning or generative AI.
  • Evaluate the potential value of implementing such AI solutions.

On the Future of Jobs with AI:
Andrew also discusses the jobs landscape in the age of AI:

  • Many jobs with tasks that can be automated won’t vanish. Instead, AI will complement human work, allowing people to focus on what they excel at. However, jobs that are mostly or entirely automatable may disappear, leading to job losses.
  • Society has a responsibility to support those affected by these changes. On the flip side, AI will reduce the cost of delivering certain services, thereby increasing demand for some roles. This dual effect means AI will both create and eliminate jobs.
  • While some programmers worry about generative AI automating their work, Andrew believes programming involves enough diverse tasks, many of which are challenging to automate, making it unlikely that AI will replace programmers in the near future.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Goals can be anti-goals

 Human motivation is an incredible force. At its peak, it can move mountains, change the course of rivers, and build monumental structures. Yet, it can also fail us particularly when we are burned out. This elusiveness of motivation can be quite frustrating, disheartening and practically difficult to manage. 
  
One way to combat this is to avoid 'anti-goals,' instead of chasing 'goals'.

Humans, by evolution, are adept at avoiding unpleasant situations and working sharply and diligently (and sometimes collaboratively) against unwanted outcomes. Many successes are, in fact, an outcome of avoidance of failures, and they should be celebrated as such. When the going gets tough and motivation is scarce, try aiming to avoid certain failures. 

  • Want to cultivate a reading habit; try **not** to be the one who doesn't read for a few minutes daily.  
  • Want to walk 10K steps everyday; try **not** to be the one who doesn't walk for a few minutes a day. 

Goals can be anti-goals.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Data Ladder

 As humans, we rely on three types of data to navigate through different aspects of our lives: information, knowledge, and wisdom.


a) Information: This data is crucial for day-to-day or short-term use. It helps us complete specific tasks or processes. For example, if you want to enroll your kids in school, you need information about school timings, uniforms, document requirements, and the application process etc. Information is often disposable – once used, we can move on.

b) Knowledge: This data is essential for long-term goals and aligns with our individual personalities. For instance, as a programmer, you may need knowledge on how to develop a compiler. Knowledge comes from specialized sources and has a lasting impact on our work or personal lives.

c) Wisdom: This data brings a fresh perspective to our days and a deeper understanding of life or challenges. It is not actively sought on a daily basis but provides profound insights. Wisdom can be seen as distilled knowledge.

Together they form a ladder; a data ladder. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

First-rate Intelligence

 I often find myself thinking about  F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous quote: 

"The test of a first-rate intellect is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." 

We live in the world where the ideas stemming out of seeing things in black-and-white are not only prevalent, but are also defended by incessant repititions and thumbs up, thanks to social media algorithm. This obviously leads to a world view where facts and figures align with ideologies, contradictions and ambiguities seldom trespass, and opposing viewpoints are seen as 'hidden agenda' being peddled by 'others'.


Fitzgerald's words eloquently remind us of a critical truth: the ability to thrive amidst contradictions signifies the presence of an exceptional intellect. A hallmark of such intellects is their capacity to operate without immediate acceptance.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Perception vs Reality - a lesson from science

I came across an amazing insight from Bill Bryson's 'The Body: A Guide for Occupants' last night, which is actually one of many others: how much we rely on our perceptions is truly difficult to grasp and fully appreciate

For instance, one of the first things we notice about everything, and everyone, are the inputs we receive from our senses: colors, scents, and sounds. However, the truth is that photons have no color, molecules have no smell, and sound waves have no inherent sound - it is our brain that processes this input and creates a vivid, melodic, and fragrant experience for us. Isn't it incredible?


From a philosophical perspective, perhaps those of us who prefer to see things in absolutes and disregard the complexities should pay attention here. Reality is much more nuanced and influenced by perception than we tend to acknowledge.


Monday, July 8, 2024

Why I'm a fan of listening to audio books *now*

For a while, I was unsure about the idea of 'listening' to books. However, for some reason, I decided to subscribe to Audible last month and have now made the choice to continue the subscription after the trial period. 

The two compelling reasons which convinced me were:

  • Enjoying fiction: While I usually prefer marking, highlighting, and adding comments to non-fiction books, I discovered the joy of listening to fiction books like Dune and Crime and Punishment. This experience adds a delightful twist and brings excitement to my daily reading routine.
  • Enhancing retention of non-fiction: To boost retention, give listening to non-fiction books a try after reading them once. You'll be amazed at how much you can remember and discuss in conversations. Perhaps it's because different parts of the brain engage with the information, forming stronger neural connections.

I'd suggest giving it a go. I'll come back to this post a few months later to share a review of this idea from a longer time frame perspective.