In the midst of a crowded array of desires lies a most herculean task. Of assigning each of them with the right precedence. The undeniable fact that the world is quite to eager to readily rank these desires for you makes the task more difficult than it already is. The world is quite eager to frame the narrative. It is also more than willing to define the boundaries of what constitutes success and what is construed as failure – a form of totalitarianism that is easy to succumb to. Only by understanding that your choices should and must be a function of your upbringing, your values and your contributions to life can this task be met. It is only then that the nebulous predicament will dissipate, ushering in a wave of clarity that is the root of all happiness and progress.
Perhaps the most peculiar oddities of the world is its premium on ascription – the direct correlation of success and wealth with one’s upbringing and familial support. As hackneyed and browbeaten as it may sound, the fact is that talent is universal but opportunities are severely limited. It is perhaps the most glaring moral vexation of our times, one that continues to haunt and besmirch all humanity. We still live in a world that produces a twenty two year old billionaire and countless abhorrent stories of hunger, deprivation and suffering.
A clarion call to action
Growing up as a child in a family of doctors has given me a chance to see life from many perspectives. I have seen my grandparents see hundreds of thousands of patients, young and old, rich and poor. I have seen people experiencing heart attacks. I’ve seen people who were told that their loved one would probably not live for long. I have seen kids who were my age, but born with major congenital heart defects, only that their anguished parents could not afford the surgery that could save their child’s life.
The pulse of life is often taken for granted and forgotten in the hectic parley of our daily chores and our materialistic craving. The pulse of life is precious. It is fragile and is limited in time. Only two things matter – the people who you love and your responsibility to realize your God-given capacities to do what you can to further life for those that need it. There are many ways to achieve this, and to each his own.
Fight for what you love
One of the most extraordinary and magical gifts in my life is that I continue to meet remarkable human beings everywhere I go. At every stage in my twenty-four years of existence, I have met with gracious and kind human beings that are as noble as the pristine sun. I am deeply inspired by them. Their unbounded enthusiasm and their goodwill towards me and my well-being reminds me everyday of who I really am and what I must do in my life.
Even in the quandary of many choices, limitations and circumstances, you have to do what you really love. As my wonderful manager told me very recently, you are called upon to fight for what you love. Secure in the knowledge that I have the complete and unrestrained support of an army of well-wishers, loved ones and that of the overwhelming force of providence itself, I am about set forth on an adventure filled with purpose.
The return of my Jean Louise
From the time I read the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, and I couldn’t but draw some very nice comparisons between the chief character in the book and someone who means a lot to me. That thought has come back to me again. This week, I will get to meet my dear, dear sister, who is about to embark on an adventure of her own. From the countless discussions that we had about Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings to the often funny fights which required the intervention of my mother, I can hardly say how excited I am to be seeing her again.
To borrow an apt conjecture from Tolkien himself, the coming of my sister is like the ‘the falling of stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains, an event that hasn’t happened since the Elder days’. My Jean Louise is coming back to me.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
I am electrified and galvanized to be starting as a graduate student at MIT’s Media Lab. That we have continue to suffer in an human-computer interaction model that is stuck in the 1970s is an affront to science itself. Instead of humanizing technology, we continue to gallop in path carved in the 1970’s enslaving ourselves to bending over to technology rather than making technology bend over to let us be humans.
My adventure at MIT will take me through the intelligence of the artificial, through the understanding of natural language cognition, perception and speech interfaces. From the place that housed polymaths such as Herbert Simon and Allen Newell, I am now going to into the land of Marvin Minsky, Seymour Papert and Noam Chomsky. I am determined to be the best that I can humanly be at MIT.
Lessons from the primordial slime
President Bill Clinton, in his commencement speech to Yale graduates, talks about the CP-symmetry violation that was discovered by researchers at the large hadron collider at CERN, telling us that subatomic particles of matter, previously thought of being in equal proportion of positive and negative charges, would cancel each other out. It so happens that the positive forces are slightly more than the negative ones. This is such a powerful metaphor to how we should be thinking about our lives too and a telling story from our primordial slime.
There are many great and beautiful things that are yet to come.