Artificial Intelligence, Contrast Showers & Creative Chefs

The High Five - Edition #5

Good evening!

I hope you are getting some quiet moments this weekend to sit back with a cup of tea or coffee. If you are, then ‘The High Five’ can be a good companion for moments like those :-).

I have an interesting bunch of pieces this weekend. Let’s dive right in.

Musings on Emerging Technologies & Artificial Intelligence: GPT-3

Consider this Tweet: "People don't change. They just reveal themselves. It is your responsibility to be with people who are worth your time".

Or this Tweet: "Watching someone who truly has a passion for what they do, inspires you more than the one who is just desperate to get there"

These Tweets came from the handle of Ankur Warikoo, who is an entrepreneur and a public speaker. Ankur usually tweets aphorisms like these around a variety of topics such as motivation, startups, teaming, management etc. But these Tweets are a little different. He revealed that these tweets were generated by GPT-3, an artificial intelligence system, after analyzing many of his previous tweets. GPT-3 uses deep learning to produce a text as humans do. As you might have felt reading the above Tweets, the quality of the text seems to be too good, so much that it is difficult to distinguish from that written by a human. How? I don't know yet. Also, it is not perfect yet. And clearly, it is not in the realm of Responsible-AI yet, as argued in this piece by MIT. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating accomplishment on the AI front.

And I know what you are thinking now - the next frontiers are just writing essays and probably novels/books. Possible. Given the rapid advancement of these technologies, the day is not very far when we might see a well-crafted novel, replete with all the elements we like - plot, sub-plot, character development, screenplay etc. - dished out by GPT-3. But I’d still argue that it might not completely get that which is unique to writers - style, sensibility and aesthetics. Still, a lot of writing seems to be a possibility of using GPT-3. And there could be so many other possibilities., within the confines of the textual medium of communication. Of course, like any AI technology, this one will have it's own bad applications too. But when technologies are being reimagined, we too can extrapolate some possibilities in newer areas.

What I began to wonder about is the idea of a GPT-3 like technology for voice. Imagine a system that analyzes the voice of a very famous distinguished speaker or actor (let's say James Earl Jones or Amitabh Bacchan, who are famous for their deep baritone laden voice-overs) from millions of bytes of audio files and reconstructs or replicates the voice to great accuracy, while reading out any text you feed into it. You can then have options to have your favourite book read to you in the voice of your favourite star (their mortality isn't irrelevant) on your audiobooks app (Are you listening, Mr Bezos?). What a fascinating way to immortalize the legacy of some artists! Taking it a step further, consider a GPT-3 like technology for music. Something that can analyze a lot of great music done in a particular genre like jazz or Indian Classical (both relying a lot on imagination), understand the patterns, dynamics and then create chunks of new compositions. Possible, do you think?

Health & Fitness: Contrast Showers

Last week, I came across this concept of Contrast Showers, which is about alternating the temperature of the water during a shower, between hot and cold. There seems to be a lot of research saying that switching between hot and cold temperatures has many advantages. It is part of the system followed by endurance athletes or sportspersons in general. Contrast showers help in boosting blood circulation, immunity, weight-loss, prevents muscle soreness (post-work-outs) and also helps in dealing with depression. I got curious about it and came across many articles confirming the same. The one I linked here provides a good summary and rationale. When you contrast temperatures, your body tries to conserve its natural temperature and adjusts the blood circulation speeds, which essentially results in a sort of a pump-like mechanism. And this mechanism helps to sweep the toxins out of the body. This also seems to prevent common illnesses like flu and cold. And if you are into working-out, contrast showers helps in dealing with inflammations that arise out of any sprains and strains.

It's fascinating that something as simple as this has so much bearing on how our body operates in various circumstances. Contrast Showers method is very simple:

  • Shower in warm/hot water for 3-5 minutes.

  • Turn off the hot water and shower under cool/cold water for 1 minute only.

  • Repeat 3-5 times.

  • Make sure to finish with cold water.

This sounds like a bit of Pomodoro technique for shower :-). I am going to try this out.

Inspiring Story: A short profile of René Redzepi

I came across this series of tweets that captured a profile of René Redzepi, the Chef behind a restaurant named 'Noma', which was rated as World's Best Restaurant for 4 years. One of the USP's of René is that he believes in harvesting his ingredients, as he believes that a cuisine needs to reflect the local soil and climate. In this series of tweets, the below one piqued my curiosity a lot:

"René believes that cooks create languages. In a language, you need a vocabulary and alphabet to build sentences and paragraphs. In the culinary world, ingredients are the alphabet. The more letters are available, the more beautiful the prose."

I always believe artists have this unique ability to conjure up some amazing creations by connecting the dots. And chefs are artists anyway. The way artists absorb some concepts and interpret them and re-apply them in a different dimension to give birth to creative output is something I deeply admire. René seems to be doing just that. And he doesn't do that himself but encourages his team to do that as well. What's fascinating is his penchant for reinvention. René seems to be acutely aware of his success and the trappings it comes with, in terms of limitations to creativity. So it takes great courage to abandon one successful endeavour and reboot in a different endeavour. Read the short profile in the link above - it certainly makes you think about success and creativity. While there are no right or wrong approaches to bridge them, his approach to finding more meaning is something inspirational.

A quote that resonated with me: "Creativity is the ability to store the special moments, big or small, that occur throughout your life, then being able to see how they connect to the moment you’re in. When past and present merge, something new happens." -René Redzepi

A question I pondered about: This week, I read that the CEO to worker pay-ratio moved from 20:1 in the mid-1960s to 320:1 today (in America). Does Capitalism have a natural tendency to move the capital up? What do you think?

Playlist for this post: Devi, a Carnatic album, that has some beautiful Piano layers joining the violin, creating a very unique soundscape.

If you liked this post and you think that friend of your’s might enjoy it as well, please forward it. And I’d love to hear your thoughts about this week’s ‘The High Five’.