Confessions of a researchaholic

July 22, 2023

Bugs are unintended consequences

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:30 am

I joked that the world needs computer scientists because only they can fix the bugs they created.

Bugs are basically intended consequences of the code originally wrote.

But then I realized that unintended consequences apply to all human creations, such as technology (e.g., carbon emission), economy (e.g., globalization), policy (e.g., communism), and culture (e.g., feminism).

January 29, 2023

Sense of self as an evolutionary construct

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:56 am

How would individual cells of our bodies work together as individuals?
The sense of self might be an evolutionary construct to help that happen, without other (deep) philosophical or religious reasons.

January 13, 2023

New technology new bugs

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:38 pm

Programmers are well aware of the fact that every time we add some new code we may also create new bugs.
(And when we fix the old bugs we may create new ones, ad infinitum.)

This seems to apply to technology in general, for impact in climate, environment, biology, economy, culture, society, etc.

August 23, 2022

Dall-E prompt optimization

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:21 am
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Recent language-based image generators can output amazing results given the right kind of input prompts (e.g., book and market), which can be tricky to produce and rely on experiences. This led me to predict the emergence of a cottage industry of “image prompt optimization” analogous to search engine optimization, and research of machine learning modules (e.g., another network) that can learn translating ordinary natural language inputs to language-generator prompts that can lead to desired outcomes.

May 7, 2022

If you can’t draw it simply, you don’t see it well enough.

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:45 am
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The traditional way to render a realistic image is from a physics perspective: provide a complete enough description of the scene and simulate light propagation and image formation with sufficient accuracy.
The end goal of physical realism can facilitate the understanding of the physical universe, at the expense of costly computation.
Thus, computer graphics research has been mainly about how to hack this entire process to achieve maximum realism with minimum effort.
A key ingredient for this hack is the (limit of) human perception, where both sensorial and neural passageways cap the amount of generated information beyond which further enhancements cannot be perceived (and efforts wasted).

This “rendering hack” has long preceded computer graphics (or machine computation) in visual art, which are traditionally based on manual efforts and thus impractical for brute force computation.
The end goal of artistic ideal can facilitate the understanding of perceptual mechanisms which in turn provide opportunities for subjective variations (such as different artistic styles and movements).

This is one main reason why I have been practicing drawing, sketching, painting, animation, design, and other creative forms. It is more of an exercise to see than to draw. (Besides, it is fun and diversifies my daily routines.)

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – A quote attributed to Albert Einstein.

Recent trends in black-box machine learning further moves in the opposite direction, by making the visual computation even more expensive and opaque than traditional forward rendering in computer graphics.
I look forward to see if machine learning can shed light on the artistic and subjective aspects of image formation.

March 20, 2022


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:55 pm
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Before the industrial revolution humans got enough physical exercises in their daily routines without needing extra workouts or diets, which are signs of unnatural design for the modern environment and activities.

Should our cities be centered around driveways for cars, or walking/biking lanes with public transports?

Why are we sitting in front of stationary devices instead of walking around manipulating objects for work?

November 15, 2021


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:13 am
Tags: ,

Persistence (grit, tenacity) is perhaps the quality that I admired the most from a person, who has a strong desire to achieve something without ever giving up.
(Sometimes I wonder if I have too little desire, like a monk.)

November 13, 2021

Moral judgement on the two sides of the same coin

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:14 am
Tags: ,

There are situations where one activity receives lower moral judgement than another, such as spending and saving, resting and working, consumption and production, which are actually two sides of the same coin and can only co-exist together.

November 8, 2021

The implications of the physics of time

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:18 pm
Tags: ,

Time only moves forward.
We cannot change the past or predict the future.
So it is pointless to regret the past or fear the future.

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