7 min read

Weekend Briefing No. 6

Whatever fills your sense of adventure, the key thing to realizing it is to get out and do it or at least work toward it
Weekend Briefing No. 6
Photo by Greg Rosenke / Unsplash

Good Saturday morning! I hope you had a wonderful and safe July 4th weekend! In this weekend's briefing, we touch on new AI architectures, algorithms, hyperdimensional computing, and walking 100s of miles! Plus, I write about how to build an extraordinary life of adventure.

Interesting data points

Meta releases I-JEPA

The AI world is realizing that today's AI models and architecture have limitations, so researchers are proposing and releasing new hardware, code, and architectures to make things run faster, better, and hopefully cheaper.

Meta, under the guidance of Chief AI Scientist Yann LeCun, released I-JPEA (Image Joint Embedding Predictive Architecture) for computer vision tasks as a way to compare abstract representations of images instead of comparing image pixels instead.

I-JEPA: The first AI model based on Yann LeCun’s vision for more human-like AI
I-JEPA learns by creating an internal model of the outside world, which compares abstract representations of images (rather than comparing the pixels themselves).

I think this is a smart way of building computer vision models because it's similar to how we humans compare and fill in missing pieces of images.

The idea behind I-JEPA is to predict missing information in an abstract representation that’s more akin to the general understanding people have. Compared to generative methods that predict in pixel/token space, I-JEPA uses abstract prediction targets for which unnecessary pixel-level details are potentially eliminated, thereby leading the model to learn more semantic features.

Sort of like this:

I-JEPA Missing Information

Hyperdimensional Computing

On the heels of I-JEPA comes a "not so new but recently discovered by this author" method of abstract computing called hyperdimensional computing.

Toward a brain-like AI with hyperdimensional computing
The human brain has always been under study for inspiration of computing systems. Although there’s a very long way to go until we can achieve a computing system that matches the efficiency of the human brain for cognitive tasks, several brain-inspired computing paradigms are being researched. Convol…
Hyperdimensional computing, or HDC, is a relatively new paradigm for computing using large vectors (like 10000 bits each) and is inspired by patterns of neural activity in the human brain. The means by which can allow AI-based computing systems to retain memory can reduce their computing and power demands.

I found this application to AI systems intriguing and it reminded me of Support Vector Machines (SVMs). If you do a search on GitHub there are a lot of examples to play with but I've been playing with this Julia notebook example. This is one area of computing that I need to learn more about in the coming months.

DeepMind Looks to Eclipse ChatGPT

From the creators of AlphaGo, the Monte-Carlo Tree-based super algorithm that beat World Champion Lee Sedol in March 2016 4 games to 1, comes something new named Gemini.

Gemini is DeepMind's (creators of AlphaGo) Large Language Model (LLM) that aims to take on OpenAI's ChatGPT4.

Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis Says Its Next Algorithm Will Eclipse ChatGPT
The company is working on a system called Gemini that will draw on techniques that powered AlphaGo to a historic victory over a Go champion in 2016.
“At a high level you can think of Gemini as combining some of the strengths of AlphaGo-type systems with the amazing language capabilities of the large models,” Hassabis says. “We also have some new innovations that are going to be pretty interesting.” Gemini was first teased at Google's developer conference last month, when the company announced a raft of new AI projects.

Of course, training this new LLM will cost DeepMind (aka Google) several million dollars and use a ton of TPU resources.

Gemini is still in development, a process that will take a number of months, Hassabis says. It could cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO, said in April that creating GPT-4 cost more than $100 million.

It's safe to say that LLM is the new AI gold rush. Get it while it's hot.

The Year of The Long Walk

My partner and I (and family too) love to hike, bike, camp, and generally be outdoors. It's been a dream of mine to hike the Appalachian Trail and Camino de Santiago. So when the NY Times puts together a list of walking adventures for the summer, I take notice! If you do try any of this, just make sure to dress appropriately and keep cool!

My two favorites from this list might just be The Michinoku Coastal Trail in Japan and The Island Walk on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Mostly because I always wanted to visit Japan and Prince Edward Island to walk where haiku poet Basho traveled and immerse myself in the environment that inspired L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” books.

If any one of you did any of the walking trails listed in the article, drop me a comment and let me know how it went!

End Notes

My end notes this weekend is about adventure and building an extraordinary life. My love for adventure, no matter how big or small, was ignited the day I got in my friend's car and we drove across the country. I was 21 at the time and although it was an uncomfortable trip, it was a glorious one. We camped in rest stops, slept in our cars, and ate cans of soup for nearly every meal. We finally made it to San Francisco after 4 days and I fell in love with that city ever since.

That trip eventually led me to pack up my meager belongings after college graduation and move to Albuquerque, an unfamiliar place that offered me a full-time job as an Engineer. I mountain biked, camped, hiked, made a lot of friends, and learned a lot about life there. I left New Mexico and returned to New Jersey in 1999 but the Land of Enchantment holds a dear place in my heart to this day. So much so, I took my family on a grand southwest canyon adventure and visited Albuquerque in late 2022.

My partner and I raised our children to be inspired and feel awe at the surrounding world. Whether it's visiting an art museum or learning about bird species, I made sure to tell my children, when they were young, that life is an adventure. That is if you make it so.

Adventure is a mindset I told them. You can take the most mundane errand trip for groceries and turn it into something fun. We used to go to the supermarket and find weird fruits, take out my mobile phone, and search for where it came from.

If it was from Brazil or South America, we'd look at a map or find what kind of wild animals lived there. We dreamed of what it would be like to visit there. We talked of how we would get there, walking, flying, driving, or biking. It was a time when we expanded our minds with possibilities.

When the kids got a bit older we started to go camping. Trips down to Chincoteague are still talked about to this day. It was where my daughter learned to use a crab trap and catch blue crabs. It was where my son learned to help set up the campsite which led him to the Boy Scouts.

Then we started taking road trips to Gettysburg, Washington DC, and elsewhere. We started "hunting" for out-of-the-ordinary things. Sometimes we'd see random street art that inspired my daughter to become a Maker. I would take the scenic route and find farm stands that my partner so dearly loves.

It's the smallest of things that make the biggest difference in our lives, and building an extraordinary life starts with something small. It starts with deciding that the life you lead will be your own life and your own making. You are the author of your life's novel and you get to fill it with whatever you want!

A good novel is filled with joy and sadness, with lessons learned, and all kinds of experiences that you live through and can share with others. That's how you build an extraordinary life. You start by getting out of your comfort zone and getting uncomfortable. You start with a small adventure and live through it, no matter how it turns out.

Remember, adventure can mean so many things to different people. Some believe adventure is backpacking through the Grand Canyon. Others like visiting different ports on a cruise ship. Some love the thrill of finding special items at local thrift shops.

Whatever fills your sense of adventure, the key thing to realizing it is to get out and do it or at least work toward it. Once you do that, you're extraordinary life will take care of itself. Your friends, lovers, and family will notice something different about you. They'll say you've changed, matured, or even gotten wiser.

That all starts when you take that first small step.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Chinese Proverb

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