Sunday 10 May 2020

How a quantum mechanics system is similar to a raytracing algorithm and also to the human brain

This phenomenon of when you measure a particle it collapses from a wave to a particle and stays that way kind of reminds me of raytracing & polygon rendering.

It's like the universe always starts with raytracing, because it just follows the principles, the rules of the universe and is very abstract & generic; not specialized to the situation.
Like it's trying to conserve computational power (even though I know raytracing is harder for computers. But come on, this is the universe we're talking about, it has "invented" the physics rules so its form of raytracing should be cheaper than trying to keep track of individual particles).
But then, if somebody needs to drill into the details, then it says, "well ok, then I guess I'll have to render the whole scene with polygons. It's more computationally intensive for me but since not everyone is asking me to do it at the same time, I can accommodate it".

It also reminds me of how the brain tries to do fuzzy routing if he can get away with it, because it is less computationally intensive. It interprets the world & gives instructions with the minimum possible level of detail. But then, if it spots out-of-context, it goes "well, I guess I'll need to turn my attention and add a lot of resolution to my input & output".

And this is just one of the many, many examples where I see repeatable patterns in the way systems get designed from the micro to the macro level. At some point in the future, I will analyze this in full detail.

Friday 2 August 2019

Math and time

We can view math as a future prediction mechanism. With its equations it can describe/predict how one thing will transform into another.
This makes time more fundamental than math and in fact a separate from all other dimensions.
If future evolution is not deterministic then math may not be the most useful prediction tool. 
We can try to circumvent that with special math, but still what we're fundamentally trying to do is predict the future. 
We can put equations that don't include time, but still it's going to be implied. Because every math sign, every calculation is a transformation and this implies time. 
So time is fundamental, prediction for the evolution over time is what most complexity layers do, and math is a very good tool for that, for some layers. 

Sunday 16 June 2019

Your most precious resource

Your most precious resource is your attention.
Be very careful on where you dedicate it to. 

Saturday 2 January 2016

The problem with 3D movies

One simple reason (among others) of why 3D has failed to take off as technology, and the movie industry is really struggling to capitalize on its investment, is the following: the viewer does not have voluntary control on the Depth of Field.
In other words, you may have a picture in front of you that gets interpreted in 3D in your brain and you can really understand that there are some objects in the back of the frame and some that are close by, but... you cannot decide to focus either on the near or on the far. You necessarily need to follow what the camera & the director decided to do! If the director wants you to look close, the far end will appear blurry, and vice versa.
This is not the same in real life. Yes, indeed when you focus on an object close to you, the ones on the back will blur out, BUT whenever you decide you switch your focus to the distant objects and now the near ones are blurry.
The difference of course is the voluntary control, and it's indeed quite difficult for the movies to replicate that. You would need to have everything on the frame appear crisp/focused so that the user can focus wherever he wants, but I suspect that would ruin again the effect, as we're not accustomed to see everything crystal-clear. The only solution I can think of is using Lytro-type cameras to capture all depths of field when filming the movie, and then transitioning to a personalized viewing experience by the use of VR headsets like Oculus Rift. These would need to be enhanced with some retina-tracking technology to understand where we're trying to focus on adjust the DOF in real-time (and it would need to be really-really quick).
In terms of technical capability this might not be that far in the future, but it is quite different from the approach the industry has followed, and thus difficult to deploy en mass and to market. And in the end, the differential gain won't be that significant to justify the cost.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

What is more important, the question or the answer?

My father posed this question on Facebook. I gave the following answer, which I paste as is in Greek (too lazy to translate)

Το ερώτημα για να το θέσεις, πάει να πει ότι σε ενδιαφέρει. Επομένως θέλεις και να το λύσεις. Άρα είναι ένας στόχος,ένα Driving pocket. Κάτι που θα τριγυρίζει στο μυαλό σου... Και η απάντηση θα σβήσει το Driving pocket, θα σταματήσει να σε απασχολεί, αφού το συνέδεσες πλέον με κάτι γνωστό /αναμενόμενο.
Έλα όμως που η ανθρώπινη φύση είναι έτσι που η επίλυση του Driving pocket φέρνει απόλαυση φευγαλέα, ενώ η αναζήτηση της λύσης (ανάλογα και με το χαρακτήρα του ανθρώπου) μπορεί να σε τυραννάει πολύ, και για καιρό.
Με άλλα λόγια, από πλευράς μεγιστοποίησης της απόλαυσης, το καλύτερο είναι να μην θέσεις καν το ερώτημα από την αρχή, γιατί θα σου δώσει δυσφορία διάρκειας και απόλαυση της στιγμής... Καταλήγουμε επομένως στο γνωστό ρητό "μακάριοι οι πτωχοί τω πνεύματι"!
Όσο για το γεγονός ότι η οποιαδήποτε πρόοδος στη ζωή έχει σαν προαπαιτούμενο να τεθεί πρώτα το σωστό ερώτημα.... φανερώνει ίσως την τραγική ειρωνεία της ύπαρξης και το γεγονός ότι ο άνθρωπος ίσως δεν ήρθε πάνω σε αυτή τη γη για να ευτυχήσει.

Sunday 14 June 2015

Why your every attempt to get fit fails in the long run...

I see it everywhere around me.
People are trying to get fit, lose a few of those extra pounds, do a little more exercise, become a more lean & slender version of themselves.
And to accomplish it, they are willing to undergo hardship, suffering, hunger, sweat, and become miserable in the short-term. All for the greater cause. They try, they really do honest efforts. Others for a few days, many for a few weeks, a few for even a couple of years... And they get startled when they experience failure in the end. It just seems unfair to them. And they have probably paid good money for it; all until this dessert comes along and becomes the last drop in their mind that lower all resistance and throws you all out to feast like there's no tomorrow, wondering why you were depriving yourself of such pleasures for so long. Life is too short to be always miserable trying to become/stay fit. You're just fine the way you are.

Sounds familiar? The reason I'm writing this blog post is to mention a very simple concept in the struggle for fitness, that may help you overcome the aforementioned obstacles.
If we tried to simplify a lot a equation for fitness, we would say that
fitness = knowhow x discipline

You have a level of knowhow and a level of discipline. When you do gradual increases to the one or the other, your overall level of fitness gradually increases. In whichever way you try to vary these two variables, in the long-term you will always be gradually converging back to your "natural" fitness level.
When I'm talking about know-how, I refer to knowing which foods you should eat, in which way, when, how combined, etc. Also what type of exercises you should be doing based on your fitness goals, the technique, the regularity, etc.
When I'm talking about discipline, I'm talking about the strength you find within you to follow this goal despite the short-term discomfort. The willingness to not skip the workout today, even though you're tired/lazy. The strength to skip the dessert because you're already full, even though it looks delicious. The strength to order to healthy choice instead of the fast-food.

Following along with this example, when you go visit a nutritionist and he gives you a strict, tailored nutrition plan, what essentially you are doing is a short-term injection of know-how. It temporarily brings your knowhow level a few clicks up and the longer you maintain it, you will be able to gradually converge to a higher level of fitness. The trick is though that it's an external effect that will cease once you stop it. And you will fall back to your previous level. Oh, and by the way, this nutritionist is giving you know-how, but he's not giving you extra discipline, and that's an extra reason why it's highly likely that you'll fail.

Going to the discipline factor... here the things are even harder. Unfortunately I think that some people are just less willing to suffer than others, and will quit much earlier than other when things get tough. It's not something you can easily fix, you were either probably born with it or it was formed quite early in your childhood. There ARE things that you can do to raise your level; it won't skyrocket but still it has the potential to be better. The simple thing is to find some long-term incentives to align with fitness. A very simple example is when it's about health. Another one (but usually more short-lived) is when you're trying to be attractive to the opposite sex. 
Whatever it is, it has to mean something important for you and not be another external factor. So, getting a personal trainer is not effective, for the same reason as before. You are injecting a short-term increase in discipline (you must go to workout because someone else is indirectly forcing you to) and in know-how. But since it's external, once you cease doing it, you will gradually roll back to your earlier state.

As a conclusion, I want to repeat the previous equation.
Fitness = knowhow x discipline

  • focus on building your personal knowhow, little by little
  • set realistic goals (because if it's too much your self-discipline will betray you soon, you'll burn out)
  • work on building up an intrinsic motivation, by binding/synergizing your fitness goals with other important goals of your life, in order to secure higher discipline

Or just leave it like that, but be happy about it, because now you know the path, but it's your choice not to follow it :)

Monday 20 April 2015

Moments of doubt

Sometimes I'm daunted by the complexity, sometimes I fray from cloudiness and other times I notice behaviors so remarkable that I know I'll never be able to fully explain.
But then again I remind myself that I don't need to invent the Pentium; I only need to build an ENIAC...
The rest will follow naturally