Confessions of a researchaholic

August 1, 2021

Green religion

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:27 am
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For gradual changes with consequences in the future bearing global responsibility like climate degradation, science can be less convincing than religion or death.

June 25, 2021

Geoengineering is not the solution for climate change

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:57 am
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Some thoughts I have after reading this article a while back.
Without a sufficiently accurate model for the entire planet earth, whatever solution we come up with may have unintended/unanticipated side effects.
And even if we can, the solution can carry moral hazard, encouraging people to continue with (or even increase) pollution and carbon production, causing reduced/negated effectiveness.

June 21, 2021

Exponential growth

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:19 am
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Human brains are not very capable of perceiving exponential growth; the beginning can seem minor but when we finally notice it is already overwhelming – finance (compound interests), biology (the spread of a disease), and climate (what if we only have 5 years left and thus pointless to talk about carbon neutral by 2050?).

October 31, 2020

Epistemic dependence

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:16 am
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I found this article a nice read, which highlights the much faster growth of our collective knowledge (accelerated by computers and algorithms) than our individual brain capacities (constrained by biology and evolution). Each one of us knows a shrinking slice of the world, and this has profound implications on our society and civilization.

One, as mentioned in the article, is the increasing need of collaboration among researchers, especially for experimental science. (At this moment of writing, it is still feasible to single author a computer science paper.)
Even though the numbers of co-authors of my papers have not increased too much, I do find it increasingly harder to know exactly what is going on in every aspect of a project, notably detailed implementations and user studies.

Another timely topic is about politics.
The policies can become so complex that nobody really understands what is going on.
Thus, each voter knows only a tiny aspect of each political topic or candidate, and thus can form drastically different opinions from one another. This can be a scientific factor driving political polarization, even without other factors like social media. Fortunately, Monte Carlo sampling indicates that with enough (sufficiently independent) samples, the aggregate estimation can still be robust (low bias/variance).
For example, the US essentially has 100+ million votes for the presidency, which should give us confidence on the outcome, no matter how ridiculous it may look.

April 25, 2020

Virtual meetings

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:38 am
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I usually share my screen instead of my face during virtual meetings.
I believe people mostly care about my content than what I look like.


The reason Zoom calls drain your energy

April 21, 2020

Mimetic desire

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:21 am
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It takes intelligent and independent minds to desire what are really wanted.

March 30, 2020

The influence we have

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:37 am
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Both this NPR hidden brain podcast on the influence you have and this book on confessions of a sociopath point to the interesting aspects on how we know (and don’t know) about the psychological influences we can have on other people.

December 20, 2018

Time perception

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:59 pm
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I found drawing to be an excellent in-flight entertainment, especially long-haul flights that provide ample time. Aside from occasional turbulence that can shake my strokes (especially on glass tablet surfaces), drawing is pretty much immune to other distractions like engine noises and passenger commotions.
I had so much fun and focus that the plane landed before I realized.

These two drawings are from the same photo which I like a lot.

November 5, 2018

A bipolar city

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:43 am
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In a fancy restaurant, two guys in their early twenties were boasting about the funding of (their?) biotech startups, faces red with excitement boosted from their blood alcohol levels and profanity-filled conversations which, even without biotech background, I can detect nonsense from their tones, facial expressions, and body languages.

Meanwhile, on the streets scattered a few guys gathering manhole cover heat, and on a BART train, a guy was telling random strangers about his difficulty of finding jobs.

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