Posts from May, 2020
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May 31st, 2020

At times, a year can be a day and a day can be a year. After the past several years since January 2020, it feels far-reaching nowadays to preach how awesome the human world is. But the progress cannot be stalled, the problem cannot solve itself with inaction.

So, good people continue to publish great works. The recent GPT-3 model shows some interesting abstract reasoning capability. While I still have some trouble to grasp how in-context conditioning works with such a big model. It seems interesting enough that a language model, with inputs of words of trillions, can demonstrate some basic arithmetic and logic understanding.

That’s probably because we have too many words, to name things, to show emotions, to communicate abstract concepts, and to describe this beautiful world. That is also why I am sad when people erase meanings from words. And when that happens, a small part of our shared consciousness dies.

When communism becomes simply satanic, who needs to read The Road to Serfdom to understand when central planning from so-called leaders can become the tyranny of dictatorship.

But here we are. Anti-fascism is the foundation of the post-WWII order. From Leningrad to Paris, from Saigon to Washington D.C., on both sides of the Berlin Wall, if there is one thought that connects people together, that is never-again for fascism.

Today, one man tries to erase one word. They chanted: war is peace, freedom is slavery, anti-fascism is fascism.

I am not a native English speaker. Sometimes I have trouble to differentiate between the hundreds of ways to insert please. But I love to learn new words. English is so powerful precisely because we shamelessly borrow words. We say chutzpah to describe how gutsy someone is. We call a person kaizen master to praise the continuous improvement efforts they put in place. The meaning of a word can change, but all these meanings become the historical footnotes. Words establish a common ground for us to start understanding each other.

Maybe there is a future version where we speak a sequence of 128d vectors, arguing between the L1 or L2 distances of these vectors. It could be high-bandwidth. Or there may be a future we learn from videos rather than words (and short videos can certainly be educational: But today, a compact word is still our best way to communicate big ideas, to grasp the complex reality that sometimes can be overwhelming.

And that is why the literacy in words, in the past 70 years, is our best defense against colonialism, extremism and fascism.

Use Wikipedia, go read the footnotes, don’t trivialize a word. Our world depends on it.