Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! The common interpretation of the poem is that we're supposed to appreciate the irony of the self-styled king of kings' works not being around anymore. Time, like sand, eventually wears everything out. But I always found it funny that the pharaoh is addressing "ye Mighty,". Is it out of respect or irony that Ramesses II addresses his non-peers this way? The pharaoh not-so gently cues them to despair, so I don't suppose it's out of respect. But the irony is also a bit uncalled for: he already drove the point home about who's in charge with his title. Why "ye Mighty," then? Unless it's not supposed to be ironic, but earnest. Maybe Shelley isn't picturing a cocky, hubristic ruler, but a wise one. He was, after all, one of the most successful pharaohs of Egypt, in both war and diplomacy. Maybe the pharaoh is trying to send an important message to those who happen upon his works: "It doesn't m

An interview with Steve Wozniak by Jessica Livingston cured my AI anxiety

Note: there's no hidden knowledge contained in this post, it's just a reflection on how reading someone's reaction to an analogous situation changed my outlook Like everyone who works in an information job, I have been worried these last few months about how AI would impact my place in the labor force in the coming decade. Even though I didn't get to the depressed extremes we've been seeing on the Internet, I could not shake off the feeling that what I could offer to a company - no, to the whole economy, which just means "other people" - would get a lot less valuable. Come mid January, I wast taking a week off and had taken to read a few books since I read so little non-technical content on a day to day basis. One of these books was "Founders at work" by author and YC co-founder Jessica Livingston. The book is a series of interviews conducted by Jessica with the founders of some of the most important tech companies - sometimes specific products -

Today I Learned: arsinh(x)

A few weeks ago I was looking for a function that would squeeze variables with large magnitude, but behaved like the identity function close to zero. After a couple of days without finding something that suited me, I gave up. Luckily for me, however, Kaiser Fung blogged a couple days ago about a weird scale used on an article and one of the commenters pointed out that arsinh(x) (that is, the inverse of the sinh(x) function) works like a "pseudo-log" (the poster themselves use this name for a different function described on the same comment), and best of all, fits my need for something close to the identity around zero. Talk about coincidences. Well, this post makes it public to the world that even after a whole Engineering degree and nearing 10 years in Statistics/ML, I had never studied nor used hyperbolic functions before. One day I'll find out why and where I should use sinh and cosh, but for today, adding arsinh(x) to my data visualization toolkit is enough. Click

Man has a dream and that's the... stars?

Carousel of Progress is one of the most famous attractions in Disney World. It's a 20-minute "ride" of pure, unadultered promethean americana and for anyone who believes in - and hopes for - the material progress of the human race it's hard to leave the show unmoved by the ideal of progress presented therein. As a non-American children who didn't speak English as his first language, though, I didn't quite understand the full lyrics for some time and even when I got fluent in English I still misheard one crucial part of the lyrics: instead of Man has a dream and that's the start I heard Man has a dream and that's the stars In other words, I thought old Walt was proclaiming his support for the exploration of the final frontier. And when got on that stage, that would be "a dream come true, for you and me". That always struck me as very romantic: this idea that after shaping our world to support our well-being - the obvious sequence to the peri

What if regular exercise is the best cognitive exercise?

File this under highly speculative. I’m sure there is better research on this topic than this writing This past week, for no obvious reason, I considered a few thoughts at the same time: Exercise is supposedly one of the best anti-aging “drugs”, and also highly effective (relatively speaking) against cognitive decline There’s this vague idea that after you become “professionally inactive”, you accelerate your cognitive decline To avoid cognitive decline, one must keep “exercising the brain”, so the incentive for seniors to have hobbies, do crosswords, sudoku, etc Now, from this point it seems that I’d go to a very commonplace conclusion about how exercising is probably better than sudoku or something, and to be frank that’s exactly where I’m going. But another two things crossed my mind at the same time: Recent advances in AI, and less recent advances in computing in general showed that a lot of the things we consider “cognitively hard” - from symbolic manipulation to arithmetic, “draw

Today I Learned - 2022-11-06

 Following the great advice I just read on (thanks Hacker News for the pointer), I'll try to start posting TILs So, Today I Learned how to use tags on git

Negative voting

It's election year in my country and we'll be choosing our next president through the traditional two-round system . The two major contenders this year have both very high rejection in part of the electorate, and this rejection is usually manifested by supporting the candidate which is most likely to defeat the rejected candidate in the second round. I wish it was possible for voters to manifest their disapproval more directly, through some kind of negative voting schema. For example, if candidate A gets 50 votes for and 30 agains (net 20), Candidate B gets 40 votes for and 10 against (net 30) and candidate C gets 30 votes for and 5 (net 25) against, the second round would be against B and C. Since the second round is a binary option, negative votes count exactly the same as a vote for the opponent, so negative voting wouldn't be necessary. I know that there's an infinite number of potential voting schemas, and not any of them is perfect, but I believe that simplicity i