This is a mandatory reading for all my (current and future) students with an initial Asian training:
First of all, let me share one of the biggest secrets of China (and to some degree other Asian countries like Japan and Korea as well as ethnic Chinese states like Taiwan and Singapore). Do you ever wonder why China developed this authoritarian culture in the first place? It is very simple: a conforming population is much easier to rule than one that can think freely. The Chinese emperors were very calculating on this; they did not even allow alternative sources of authorities to challenge them (like the bishops who can thorn up to European emperors’ arses). On the other hand, they also want the population to be reasonably fluent so that the country can be productive. Thus the duality of the Chinese/Asian education system: on one hand it enforces conformity, and on the other encourages intellect and hard working.
Unfortunately, even though this system worked for the past agriculture and manufacture dominant economic systems, a knowledge-based economy will require citizens who can think. So China will have to change its culture and education systems, or face competitive disadvantages.
Part of the fun for my past MSR and current HKU posts is being close enough to help while far enough to not get dragged down into the sinkhole. I am curious how much I can do as an individual, or there is really some grander scale environmental stuff that I simply cannot reproduce. Results so far are very encouraging; Asian students who worked with me for sufficiently long periods of time (at least one SIGGRAPH cycle) have shown significant progress of thinking skills and at least one of them managed to create SIGGRAPH ideas.
For the sake of more fun, I now extend my grand challenge to MSR Asia to all my (past, current, and future) students: the first one to publish a single-authored SIGGRAPH paper will receive my full financial support, out of my own pocket instead of any grant, to make the trip. (Really, it is not that hard; I am not very smart, and I did that twice already. I make this challenge because only with a single-authored SIGGRAPH paper can you prove your full independence, including creativity.)
I have a tremendous 6-year with MSR. I would like to thank all my friends who helped me become a better person. Fortunately, we can continue our friendships due to the nature of my next job. In fact, I can finally work with anybody without any legal restrictions.
MSR is a great place to be, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in computer science research.
I also have a tremendous job hunting process in the past several months. I interviewed with a variety of sectors (technology, finance, research, and education) over different continents. I would like to thank everyone who helped me during this process. For those of you who kindly gave me job offers that I could not take, I would hope to collaborate in alternative fashions. For those of you who turned me down, I would like to thank you for helping me fulfill my destiny.
Jaron Lanier and I recently started a new project termed “somatic computing” in Microsoft Research San Francisco. We are looking for an intern who would be interested in working with us. For more information, please take a look at our project page.
There is this guy who I regularly bumped into around my office building as well as the nearby bus stop.
From the way he talked and walked it appears that he has suffered from some kind of strokes and/or autism/Asperger syndromes. I regularly saw him during holidays and weekends in our office building. Often, he just sat in the corner of a conference room table without seeming to be doing anything else. I can also detect certain stale smells on him through my somehow sensitive olfactory system (a main reason that I do not eat meat). All in all, he appears to be a strange guy, even in my standard.
But my experience also told me that a seeming eccentric guy in MSR is probably famous or important or both, so the day before I chatted with him while waiting for the bus together, got his name, and looked it up online. Well, he is obviously famous enough to have a Wikipedia page, and according to that he has made fundamental theoretical contributions to cryptography. He also has an Erdos number of 1 and received several major awards.
I wonder if I will be (or already am) considered eccentric by other people around me. But honestly I do not think I care. I plan to chat with that guy more next time I bump into him.
I had this special kind of grain for lunch in the company cafeteria today. The Bolivian red quinoa is mixed with roasted vegetables, and sided with corns plus carrots.
The red quinoa is crunch and delicious. It is also entirely vegetarian.
I am impressed by the creativity of the cafeteria in my current office building.
Once in a while the company gave me a little granite (?) cube for a filed patent.