A few thoughts on life, fiction and artificial intelligence

I wonder about life sometimes.

Should I accept it is a gift, calm down and enjoy myself a bit?

Or should I look at it as a competition? A fight to the top, where I can be the best version of myself?

Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. Balance is key.

Balance is hard to achieve, harder to maintain.

Body wants sensual pleasures, stuff that brings immediate gratification to eyes, skin, ears, tongue and of course, our fun parts. Like a strawberry pistachio milkshake with a healthy dollop of whipped cream.

To nourish the spirit, one must do things that are likely to be unpleasant to the body. Like drinking yellowish green slush filled with all sorts of healthy stuff like lemongrass, kale and chia seeds.

***

I have recently rediscovered how wondrous it is to be able to write.

Human consciousness can only focus on so many things at a given moment. Thoughts come and go, many get lost.

With writing, you have building blocks on which your thoughts can progress. Create something that might last for a millennia.

Programming is a lot like writing. Except you can watch your thoughts in action. You can ask a machine to calculate the implications of your thoughts, and based on the results, make tangible changes in meat space.

I recently learned that “meat space” is a term used by hackers to refer to the flesh and blood physical word.

You can move mountains with your thoughts, provided your thoughts are hooked up to a giant robot with mountain-moving capabilities.

It’s not a novel idea, I have seen movies like Pacific Rim and Real Steel. However, before I knew how to code I did not understand the underlying principles behind it, deep down inside, I never really believed we could reach those levels of seamless integration.

Writing fiction is hard. Preparing a speech is easy. It’s one way communication. One to many. But essentially just in one direction.

It is me, speaking to you.

Good fiction has multiple ways of communication, all the characters interacting with each other on a structured yet chaotic level and having us guessing how the culmination of all these actions affect their collective destiny.

By writing good fiction, something that is so believable that it is not almost real, something that permeates meatspace from scribbling on a piece of paper, stone tablet, or an electronic medium like the one I am using now to jot down my thoughts.

I think it is good to have a conversation with yourself. In a way you are writing yourself, or programming yourself.

A letter to yourself is written in a code that no one in the world understands better than you.

***

Even though I have been writing for some time, and I have shaky belief that it is still my calling. I often do have legitimate doubts.

If I am good at what I do why am I not famous yet?

Am I doing something wrong?

Could it be possible that I am simply not talented enough to achieve what I hope to achieve?

Should I stop pursuing this course of passion because it is not going to bring me fame and fortune?

***

Should you focus on doing something that makes your heart sing?

The answer to that question is not as easy as it seems.

You need to do a realistic evaluation of yourself.

How do you measure up against the current masters who are most successful in the craft you wish you could utilize to make money?

Do you honestly see yourself attaining their level of mastery and beyond if you practice hard enough?

If the answer is yes, is it hubris?

Or is it truth?

So let’s say we adopt the design thinking method to solve this problem. I will use aspiring fiction writers more specifically myself as a case study.

***

Let me empathize with the person experiencing the problem (me) for a bit.

I want to earn a lot of money, want to be famous at the same time, but don’t want those things doing something else like being a financial analyst.

Now let’s define the problem. What is preventing me from achieving fame and fortune in my chosen vocation?

a. Self-doubt
b. Unwilling to put in required effort because you are scared it won’t be worth it
c. Lack the discipline to put in required effort

Now that the problem is defined, I can ideate possible solutions to those problems.

a. Aim for some respected publications with large readership to build personal credibility and diminish self-doubt
b. Visualize myself succeeding more often
c. Set a minimum viable requirement even it is ten words everyday

Now the prototype would be working on my next book, working title of which is “Dirty Laundry”.

And finally, test how successful the prototype was. From the last prototype, “Wallowing in Dhaka”, I have learned that people prefer paperbacks. And Bangladeshi expats are hungry for a book that tells their story. From “Dirty Laundry”, I can learn more.

The whole thing is a cycle. Ending with a prototype. The sooner I complete one cycle, the sooner I can advance to the next stage, with better capabilities.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It needs to exist first.

***

I am glad that I did not pursue accounting and finance as a career.

I am certain that this field is going to be taken over by artificial intelligence.

Do you ever recall yourself comparing auditors and accountants with robots?

The rise of artificial intelligence marks the dawn of the artist, and the fall of the human-robots.

Because frankly speaking, robots are being better at robots than us human beings.

***

If I look back at my old writings, it makes me cringe. Reminds me of the often circulating meme where the protagonist cringes when he or she is reminded of a facebook statues they wrote many years ago.

I have read somewhere that a quantum event cannot be observed without that act of observation affecting the event itself. I still struggle to make sense of that statement. I honestly cannot claim to fully understand it.

***

Sometimes I wonder if it would be a bit much to ask an escort you think you want to bang to come up with a sales pitch. I mean if they could list their USPs, in the form of a powerpoint presentation, while wearing some kinky lingerie, that’d be something.

See the trouble with non-fiction is that you cannot say something like what I just said without seeming like a pervert. Even though a surprisingly large portion of society would probably agree with me.

At least, I think they would. It could say for sure if I had data on it. Maybe that’s a research project worth pursuing someday.

I know Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory scoffs at what he calls “soft science” like social sciences. But I find social science to be fascinating. It is hard to quantify, which is precisely why it is fascinating.

For example let’s consider a universally accepted saying that proclaims, “Humans are social animals.”

But what is considered “social” varies from person to person.

***
Does writing truly give me immense joy?

Well right now I feel very free. I am in total control of the narrative. There is something serene about this situation.

However, I must admit craft beer and edibles with magic ingredients also may have something to do with my current state of mind.

***

Maybe there is truth to my shaky beliefs.

Maybe it is true that with every word I write, my shaky belief becomes that much firmer.

Maybe I should stop putting up mental barriers for myself.

Maybe I should stop telling myself to stop, at 1000 words, 3000 words or 5000 words.

Maybe instead of looking at this like a chore, I should look at it like meditation.

The Bangla word for it is “Aradhana”, which is also synonymous with trying to attain something through self-reflection and continuously striving to improve.

It is far more potent than prayer.

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