Grace and I recently spent our vacation in Singapore over her Spring Break. From the moment that Grace’s parents picked us up at the airport to when they brought us back a week later, our trip was filled with what I’ve now come to expect from Singapore: gatherings with friends and family, often over good and cheap food, various cheap public transit options to get between them, and the continual pursuit of air conditioning to avoid the year-round heat and humidity.
While the flights were super long and the trip felt short, we really appreciated being able to spend that time with friends and family. Even though we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted to see, it was still very refreshing to catch up and have fun together with those that we could.
Queuing, or as we Americans call it, waiting in line, is everywhere in modern life. From grocery store registers to vacations at Disney to daily commutes by car, we spend minutes every day waiting our turn.
Most discussions of queuing focus on the individual: How can you avoid waiting in line, or make the most of that otherwise lost time? We rarely see a consideration of the effect of your actions on others. But for those of us who more or less believe we should value everyone equally, we should consider what effect our waiting in line has on everyone else there.
What does it take to live a meaningful life? When everything is said and done, what will truly have mattered? Is it the accomplishments we achieved, the recognition we received, the legacy we left behind? Or is there something inherently meaningful in the lives we lead, the experiences we cherish, the people we love?
When I first heard about the concept of a Career Fair in my freshman year at Caltech, I half-joked to my friends, “I don’t want a career!” I came to college to learn math and science, and was quite honestly disgusted with classmates who would choose their course loads, student groups, or volunteer opportunities for the sole purpose of looking good on a resume.
This didn’t mean that I resisted growing up or planning ahead. I suspected I would want to go to graduate school, so I spent my first two summers doing research in my two favorite fields: math and chemistry. After all, this looked good on a grad school application for precisely the right reason: Experience doing research would prove to both myself and graduate admissions committees that I would thrive there.
During the rest of the year, I tried to learn all the things. I took the more difficult options for physics and biology requirements in addition to numerous advanced math and chemistry classes as a freshman and sophomore. I even sat in on the first few weeks of the main major-specific classes for astronomy and biology my sophomore year before the workload of organic chemistry lab caught up to me.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been fascinated and inspired by an important milestone at the cutting edge of Artificial Intelligence: The first 11 games of StarCraft played between professional StarCraft players and AlphaStar, a team of AI StarCraft agents built by DeepMind, the team behind previous expert-defeating game-players AlphaGo and AlphaZero.
It started with this 5-minute teaser video put out by the DeepMind team a couple of weeks ago:
If you’re as hooked by that teaser as I was, you might enjoy the full demonstration video with famous StarCraft casters Artosis and RotterdaM:
Finally, if you’re more able to read than watch, I’d recommend DeepMind’s write-up. Spoilers coming ahead…