Monday, March 30, 2009

Communicative ads

Lately because of watching CNN I ran into two appealing advertisements which I am embedding below. Different ads appeal to different people. I like inspirational and inclusive ads with good music.

I met many American undergrads here in Madison who major in journalism, communications and some of them want to direct ads. Creating excellent ads is a very very creative job! Any skill eventually gets recognized only when communicated in some way or another, for almost trivial reasons. The better the communication skills the sooner you can further you can your career. American products, research, service etc. all usually lead the world because of both good communication and content. BTW it does not pay to just learn the superficial presentation skills. In fact a good communication actually involves real underlying content!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth hour

I have been posting a few times with environment awareness this year. Today evening 8:30PM local time is a call for a world-wide symbolic event about earth consciousness where people involved turn off all unessential lighting for an hour. A similar type of event happens more on a regular basis (third Sunday of every month) for world peace through their meditative perspectives.

Without getting too much into what's essential and what's not to pick on this event just think about adding "earth factor" in your life in general. See people always make decisions by using many variables like money, subjective satisfaction, long-term (conceivable) benefit, short-term reliefs etc. Just add one more to that list. It's not that hard actually. For e.g. limit hot water usage, don't use straws, lids when you are not drinking while moving, check the size of napkins before using them (tear them into two if they are too big, for reuse), volunteer at your house by separating trash from recyclable stuff (win at home before winning outside) etc. etc. Your brain becomes a bit sharper too!

I had started liking actor Edward Norton since his performance in Illusionist (actually knew about him since only then :) Recently I saw him on Larry King live where I learnt he is an activist for earth consciousness related stuff. My admiration of him grew very much. When he said he does not own a car and drives only hybrids when he rents one, I was totally flat and actually felt proud because I have been successful so far in not buying a car even when some of my friends suggested me to buy one in since I have a "job" and the car market's kind of favorable for buying!

Stand as an example in your local neighborhoods of influence and slowly it can become global process. One thing I learnt that helps is not to preach. Just do it if you believe in it. Time will select those who pass the tests anyways.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Versing in inverses

Inverse problems form a central part for researchers in pattern analysis and machine intelligence. Data is assumed to be generated by an "underlying process" linear or non-linear and the goal is to "understand" the process. By understanding here I mean having an increased control on the predictability of the data. There are two main top-level categories of processes that effect the data we observe: (1) The true/hidden process and (2) the data acquisition process. The actual goal is to understand (1). The more we account for (2) explicitly the better versed we can be in the real inverse problem of understanding (1).

I have worked on contour grouping and robot mapping problems where the goal was to use 2D spatial data and range data respectively for recognition and navigation applications. In computer vision and robotics main stream pretty much focuses on inferring the computers very specific abilities of humans like recognition and navigation without worrying the true underlying process that generates recognition and navigation abilities. It's like relaxing the problem of predictability to constrained replicability using the observed data without all the way going back to the process that generated the original data. I should mention some people are working in that direction.

Lately I have been working on brain image data. Besides using 3D spatial data there is quite an effort to reach closer to the original process that still has a lot of fertility in terms of academic careers. Since brain imaging has medical implications the conclusions/applications tend to be conservative and hence the goal becomes to get to the real process as closely as possible before we generate new applications from observed data. To put it in different words, it's a very conservative data mining AI application. Yesterday I met Daniel Rowe who was all advertising about his grand unified theory (GUT) about fMRI data processing to account for (2) as much as possible in a unified way. This is very useful as it allows us to get closer to the real (1).

Life is a very interesting process too that generates lots of data in Nature. Understanding life is a very hard inverse problem. We need as much data as possible to be able to confidently understand non-trivial facts about life. Hence the basic assumption of life is to sustain it as long as we can and for that we need to make it valuable and interesting without influencing independent will too much that can reduce the utility of the data. Many generations have been trying to understand the process using contemporary analytical tools. In some sense its hardness is what actually makes it interesting, as I kind of discussed about it before.

I thought about writing about this about 6 months ago. Finally almost as a total random event, I just decided to write it up tonight! It's hard to completely explain the underlying process of my thoughts :) A key problem in data analysis is scale. I would like to post about it sometime but for a nice discussion about this problem in the context of computer vision, look at this paper by Song-Chun Zhu whose work I really admire.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Is 200 years long enough?

Thanks to my roommates' TV I watch news these days more regularly and also today started to use the "TeVo" feature to record British Prime Minister, Gordon Browns' address to the joint congress session in Washington. I saw the first few minutes and he was all praising US for it's leadership for the past 200 years and all. I hope to watch the rest later (if my TeVo recording trial works).

When people praise America for its greatness and leadership that it has shown so far, the nay sayers tell that 200 years is not that of a long time. My argument is that 200 years is really a long time given the strides of changes we have seen in the past two centuries. In my opinion a lot more recordable and impacting things happened recently. Science has seen tremendous progress mainly because of its impact on our survival abilities. We are more globally connected than ever before. And besides that all these things happened very fast. When the Great Depression that happened in 30s the world was a different place than what it is now. If the economy goes down in one major country then the rest of the world kind of goes down with it and vice versa. Word Wars brought a lot of changes in the world but at a cost of lot of lives. This economic crisis is better than those wars because atleast we are not paying lives. I have strong faith in resilience of the human civilization.

Infact you know I see this crisis as a kind of progress in our civilization because instead of needing "deadly-life-threatening" crisis to become better at survival we just need a "deadly-economy-threatening" crisis to make a new stride in terms of improved survival like becoming more aware of the climate in terms of reusing, recyling and optimizing energy usage etc., becoming more aware that peace and security are more feasible by better means (like giving hope and opportunities) than just killing etc.

It's not the absolute number of years that matters it how much we got done during those years that matters if those years are long enough. So yeah I think the leadership shown by US in the past 200 years is not just beginners luck or random chance but an outcome of a strife towards achieving a principled approach in dealing with human civilization.