Posts

Finding My Parter

Finding my partner feels more like finding  my kind . I’m this rare mix of an Indian boy with Indian familial ties, but European hobbies and a European way of leading life. I've lived in both worlds for 15 years each. There aren't many that have seen and lived in both worlds, and experienced completely different ways of life. Maybe I am asking for too much, but I don’t understand why one wouldn’t. If I have high standards for most things that I do in life, why wouldn’t I hope or want my partner to think from the same lens? Here's my value system. Be generally optimistic. A positive, happy person whose baseline state is to lean towards an optimistic outlook towards everything in life. Be fit. If one is not physically fit, there's low chance they're mentally fit. Plus, being fit shows discipline and consistency. Be hard working. Everything in life is a project. From raising children, to picking up groceries weekly, to building a home. And no one wants to work with a

Two Worlds, Two Lives

I’ve been in India for the past two months now, and for the first time in my life, I can imagine myself live here again. Nothing drastic has changed in my day to day life, nor in either of the nations per se, but maybe I’ve had enough time to experience the flip-side to know what India’s strengths are. I’ve always acknowledged how I get the chance to live in two different worlds. But this is the very first time I’ve realized I also lead two different lives each time I switch countries. For me, Germany is a nation where you put the self first - you learn about yourself as an individual. It’s also a country where you learn to live life in the way they show us in movies - walks in parks, play sports any time of the day, vacations in every season the climate has to offer, meetups at little cafes with chairs out on the street. Work is secondary, rarely one’s primary driver in life. Therefore, it is also rarely one’s identity. The country and the mindset is averse to change. The philosophy h

Keeping Fit in India

I have a bold claim to make: As compared to Europe, it's much easier to get and keep fit in India. But it's far less likely. Easier because: Relatability In India, you can relate to the others' bodies. Everyone around you has the same body style, our carb heavy diet that causes so many of us to be skinny fat. And so when you go to a calisthenics gym, it really helps to be able to look around and see that a person who looks like you is fit . That shines hope, telling you that it is possible in the first place. In Europe, the same is counterproductive. Looking at the European's low body fat, tall yet muscular physique makes me think they're just born with it. (Which is not true. I suppose they really do have great genes, but their meat heavy diet and walkable/cycleable cities help with keeping fit). Food is easier in India. You know your food here. You know the spices we use and how it tastes. It's that familiar feeling of eating something you know, as opposed to

Systems not Rules

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Systems work. Rules don't. There's a juice counter at work with two machines placed on either side of a central slab with fruits and vegetables. The one on the right has a sign in red that reads "No Ginger". One of the machines stopped working one day, and so after calling a lady from the kitchen staff, I started chatting with her. After a few exchanges, she told me "You know what, you're all smart folks working at the top software company in the world. And yet, I'm always dumbfounded here. No one reads this sign and I find ginger every other day in this machine on the right!" There's a simple fix. Move the ginger out of the center and to the side that allows juicing ginger. Keep the sign for sure, but now that you have an additional barrier, it would really take conscious effort for a person to mistakenly not read the sign. Humans tend to take the path of least resistence. So, setup systems that cause barriers or hindrances, making the easier so

Hey AI, Predict the Future Please

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This isn't hype. This is happening, and it's happening faster than our brains can imagine.  Technology doesn't remove jobs, it reduces cost. And this time, with powerful AI, the reduction in cost is every field that isn't  directly  involved with the physical world. Animals, as far as we know, can't think in time. The zebra enjoys itself when eating, and knows it must run when being eaten. But poor man, man thinks in time. He fears an unlikely tomorrow like it is currently taking place. He is able to construct a world inside his head, one that will never occur in reality. ( Cue Alan Watts, the Ocean ). The animal can foresee a single step into the future - if I run, I'm not eaten. If I eat, I'm not hungry now. The human brain can see a few more steps into the future - if I buy groceries today, and if I go to the party on Saturday, I won't have to go buy them on Saturday, so it makes sense for me to go today. If my airplane gets delayed and if it's pa

You're an LLM and so am I

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The more I use LLMs, the more I think they're just like us. We try to differentiate them from us, but I find far more similarities than differences.  "AI is merely fancy autocomplete" Oh yeah? As a human, are you any different? When you start a sentence, before you can complete the sentence, can you tell me what the last word would be? Nope! Do try though, it's a fun experiment. "AI is terrible at Math" Yeah. And so are most humans. Just in the same way I can't ask you what 56 x 97 is and expect an answer once you've learnt how to speak a language. As a human, what do you do to learn Math? You first learn the fundamentals. You learn through repetition the same concepts over and over because they're hard. You don't talk  math, you try to feed into your brain  how math works. For mental arithmetic, you practice over and over. You memorize the tables by heart. You have a separate training to get that autocomplete right. "AI is confidently w

Big Tech needs Leaders

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Consensus building takes a lot of time. Decisions take exponentially longer to arrive at with each additional person involved. And because big tech works in a fashion where everyone has a say and each say matters , decisions take ridiculously long. And this is where I've concluded: Big Tech needs leaders. You need a leader sitting at the helm of each product who dictates  the direction of the product. The whole org working under them just worries about how to make it happen , rather than aligning themselves on what decision to make . I highly respect leaders who: Listen to all arguments. Think from first principles, so that their decisions hold value when tested. Make decisions that are self consistent and based in logic. Make opinion based decisions unwaveringly. Decisions often come down to making a tradeoff. Have the magic sauce. That is, they generally have a good sense of intuition. Are transparent about their values. Say: We're doing xyz . Get it done. Naturally, the le

Moving Mountains

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Nisar works at the Ministry of Road Transport. If you don’t know much about government jobs, there’s surely one thing you know - things move at a snail’s pace. I met Nisar after many years, and naturally we got to talking about his job. “I’ve been in this department for 7 years now. 7 years! It’s incredible how much power you have once you’re in the system”. He speaks of his job very passionately. He’s the lead ML Engineer in the Ministry, having created the position when he first joined. He has since led initiatives for where roads should be constructed based on all the data the government has collected about public movement. He describes how his team decides where the roads should be built.  He tells me how they end up using really simple ML models, and most of the things can just be done using regular Excel Sheets (!!), and that the core engineering isn’t actually very difficult.  “Doesn’t that bother you though? That you you're far from doing sophisticated engineering, and th

Practical vs Ideal & Building Traffic Lights

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You’re a team member of a construction company and you’re tasked with solving a discomfort for commuters at a three-way intersection. It’s a moderately busy street with pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and trucks all crossing by, and the way the traffic lights are configured result in everyone waiting far longer than they ideally should. Now the situation is in no immediate need of fixing - it’s a mild discomfort, but the people accept it for what it is. However, the city is growing and your team knows this intersection might be a cause for concern in the future. (Side Note: Mini Motorways is just such an aesthetically pleasing game!) What do you do? Well, there are two approaches to solve the problem at hand. You modify the current traffic lights configuration with the caveat that the road will be in need of change once the city grows. You make an extensive, elaborate plan to understand what the future potentially holds, and preemptively fix the situation before it ever possibly arises.

ChatGPT is a Hallucination

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There's a Bollywood movie in which the protagonist studies the life of Mahatma Gandhi for weeks on end spending night after night in the library - till one day he starts talking with Mahatma Gandhi himself - well really just a hallucinated version of him. And through the movie, the hallucinated character helps the protagonist lead a life of Gandhigiri. He also helps him answer peculiar questions of Gandhi's life - which one would agree is a cool thing to have around. Except, one day the antagonist asks the protagonist to ask Gandhi a very specific question - a thing only he would know.  At that point, his hallucination goes silent. To me, that's ChatGPT. It's really helpful with things I already know about. It can write scripts which would otherwise take me an hour to write. It's also great for normal chit-chat and asking it to be an unbiased judge of morals and values. But for things that are very specific, like how to get Bazel to include the exported targets in t