Confessions of a researchaholic

April 17, 2016

Hiring mistakes

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:43 pm
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Hiring PhD students is even harder than hiring employees because younger folks have more potential to grow.
And unlike an industry researcher who can let interns come and go, a university professor sticks with the students.

Two prior PhD applicants to HKU whom I passed on have turned out with outstanding performance.

One of them is still collaborating with me, so I did not regret as much. Actually, if he had not gone to another school we would not have access to some crucial hardware environment for our project, and his adviser might not have warmed back to SIGGRAPH. So I probably still made the right call.

I clearly have a lot to learn, and will have hundreds of cases to practice every year.

March 27, 2016

Equality versus fairness

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:05 am
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A CEO gets paid 100 times the average employee salary. It is definitely not equal. But is it fair? The answer depends on whether the CEO has contributed 100 times than the average employees.

It is not always easy to tell fairness from equality, but it is important not to confuse the two.

Fairness should be maintained, but it is unfair and counter-productive to enforce equality.

Algorithmic species

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:04 am
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Algorithms can already devise algorithms and write programs.

It is just a matter of time before they can do that in a scale massive enough to displace many, if not most, programming jobs, just like what robots have already done to the manufacturing jobs.

July 6, 2015


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:36 am
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I chose engineering over medicine as my college major, mainly because the engineers understand their systems much better than the biologists.

(Ever since as a kid I can sense that the doctors do not know what is really going on inside my body, so I try to fix myself as much as possible before my parents can drag me to a hospital. The most complex software system pales in comparison to the human bodies.)

But that is before I touched economics, which turned out to be even hackier. As Soros said, social systems are reflexive.

June 20, 2015

Apprenticeship in a Star Wars universe

Filed under: Imaginary — liyiwei @ 11:46 am

The Jedi recruit those who are good enough.
They learn how to collaborate early on.
They graduate after passing tests, and let go otherwise.
They keep the universe in order most of the time.

The Sith recruits one (and only) who is the best.
He learns how to survive alone.
He graduates by defeating the master, or getting killed otherwise.
He remains low most of the time but eventually eliminates the entire Jedi order and conquers the whole universe.

April 16, 2015

Exponential ignorance

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:35 am

The ratio of collective over my knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. It feels like drowning.

Human evolution is too slow for and has yet to benefit from our recent technology advance. Some cybernetic or genetic intervention may save us.

April 10, 2015

Stop killing trees

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:41 pm

It is the 21st century. Please, send me electronic instead of paper documents.

Meanwhile, I wonder if there is a way to automatically bounce all incoming physical mails back to the original senders.

March 25, 2015


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:04 am
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If you are a university professor and you boast on social networks about sending your students to other schools for higher degrees, you are essentially acknowledging that you (and your school) are not as good.

March 7, 2015

Why living forever is probably a bad idea

Filed under: Imaginary — liyiwei @ 11:51 am
Tags: ,

Even if under optimal physical, mental, and social status:

. It will eventually become very boring.

. One cannot participate in evolution and thus becomes inferior (barring technology like dynamic genetic splicing).

. If the universe eventually ends it will drag you down to some unknown horrible state.

Reincarnation, or some form of jumping between different intelligent species, seems much more fun.

July 17, 2014

Constructive criticism

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:29 pm
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Criticisms can help us improve, but only if they contain constructive information.

Some examples:

Useless criticism: this result is unacceptable.
Constructive criticism: this result is unacceptable because it contains this specific form of artifacts.

Useless criticism: this presentation is uninteresting.
Constructive criticism: this presentation is uninteresting because I do not care topic X and would rather hear more about topic Y.

As a recipient, I feel excited about constructive criticisms, even if they are harsh or contain personal attacks. In contrast, I usually ignore non-constructive comments because they provide nothing I can act upon.

Non-constructive criticisms are a waste of time at best, and look like whining at worst.

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