I would like to simply argue that scientific progress is in fact linear, and this despite the capitalization of past results into current research (“accelerating returns”), and despite an exponentially increasing population of scientists and engineers working on advancing it (resource explosion). And since I don’t want to argue in the realm of opinion, I am going to propose a simple, convincing mathematical model of the progress of science. Using the same model, I’ll point out that a hypothetical self-improving AI would actually see its own research progress and intelligence stagnate soon enough, rather than explode —unless we provide it with exponentially increasing computing resources, in which case it may do linear progress (or even better, given a fast enough exponential rate of resource increase).
Today, after several weeks of hard work, I’m opening Wysp.ws to beta testing.
Wysp is a place for artists who want to focus on improving their skills —as opposed to merely showing off their work, as on deviantArt or Pixiv. Besides connecting you with other artists that can inspire you and provide you with feedback, Wysp encourages you to post daily, and proposes to you each day inspiration themes and personalized art challenges to push you out of your confort zone, where learning happens.
But Wysp will not stop at this version. The vision behind it is much larger.
The long term vision is to provide you with a deeply personalized creative and educative journey towards a better you, by leverage both collective and artificial intelligence at a large scale.
The next step will be the creation of a virtual art teacher that will connect users with a stack of fast-paced and interactive tutorials, by analyzing the impact that each tutorial has on each profile of user, and using this information to predict, for each day, which tutorial is most likely to make you grow further as an artist.
Such a technology can also be used to make you discover each day what next artworks and ressources from the community are most likely to resonate with your own projects and inspire you. A good librarian. Or, if you will, an inspiration engine.
And if it works with art, I see no reason not to expand these principles to other fields.
However that is but the distant future. For now go play with the beta at www.wysp.ws! Please send me feedback at francois.chollet at gmail.com, whether about the features, the design, bugs, the content, the ideas! I’d love to discuss it with you.
Thirteen days ago today, my co-founder left me. Which incidentally happened quasi-simultaneously with a really bad fight with my girlfriend.
On Wednesday evening I received out of the blue an email from Alexis (that was my co-founder), saying he was quitting the Cognitive Social Web project because he was feeling overly stressed and did not feel motivated enough to continue. Only nine days after the official annoucement… that he posted himself.
The news came as quite a shock. At the time I did not remotely feel ready to handle absolutely alone the founding of a company and the development of an advanced web product. The amount of work and risk felt simply overwhelming.
Not to mention my disappointment to realize that Alexis was not, in fact, converted to the original vision of the project. At least not enough to stay on board.
Being alone changes everything to the way you think about the future. Knowing that there is somebody by your side that will take care of half there is fantastically mind-soothing. You can mentally write off most problems just out of knowing that you will get help, that every decision will be double-researched and double-checked. But alone, you have to keep every single detail in mind. Every single choice, each minuscule action, is yours to research, implement, and test. The amount of work may be only twice as much, but the amount of mental space it takes is tenfold.
I started brooding and obsessing about every aspect of the project, day and night. As it happened, I had to travel to Madrid for a week —leaving just 2 days after Alexis’ departure— to attend a seminar on the Semantic Web. The change of environment, meeting lots of new people, etc., certainly did have a positive impact on me and helped me make up my mind. Various things happened, but I will leave that to my inexistant personal blog.
As I was innerly obsessing over the project, I recused every technical decision made from the beginning, big and small (hosting, file upload & serving system, etc.). On what little time I could find, I rewrote nearly all of what my co-founder had written so far, using different technical choices —at times because I had different solutions in mind, and at times because I could not quite understand his code. When you are alone you have to fully understand every single line of code in your application. No legacy.
It wasn’t just tech. Obssessing about the theory of social networks, I ended up making a series of realizations about what would make the project fly or crash. I decided to remove one feature and take the time to add a few new features that would ensure that the product would be truly viable on launch.
When this mental flood started receding, it left me with a plan. I am no longer thinking about finding another co-founder. I am no longer afraid to be alone.
To be alone, is to be free. Can you see it? This is what a purpose feels like.
Expect the release within a few days.
Over the last ten months, François and I shared on this blog our vision of a better Internet, that would care less about what people consume and more about what they create. We talked about a project-driven Internet fueled by inspiration, learning, and motivation reinforcement.
As we start our last year as engineering students in Paris, we decided to partner and start building a product around this vision. We want to build an application that will help people reach their creative goals, by inspiring them with great content, and motivating them on a daily basis.
In order to make it manageable, we decided to focus our first prototype on a very specific goal that François is very familiar with: learn to draw. The product is based on the idea that a great way to get better at drawing is to actually make a drawing every day. So that’s what we want our users to focus on: ship one drawing every single day.
Starting from there, we have to answer several questions:
- what teaching material will people use? Should we provide them with daily themes/challenges?
- what can we concretely do to motivate the user, on a daily basis?
- how will people get a sense of the progress they make over time, a sense of journey?
Right now, we’re working hard to answer these questions and build a first prototype that people can play with. We plan to ship something by the end of 2011, but we wanted to pitch this project publicly here to open the discussion and hopefully gather some early feedback and ideas.
We will give updates about the project on a regular basis, so stay tuned!
What do you think of this idea? Are you interested in trying this application? If you are, you can reach me directly at alexis.taugeron(at)gmail(dot)com, or on Twitter: @ataugeron.
If there are artists, or aspiring artists among your friends, don’t hesitate to share this article with them!
In a previous article, we stressed the fact that the primary focus of the Cognitive Social Web is not your life and your personal information, but you as a person and what you can come up with to contribute to the global edifice of mankind. We talked about a project-driven Internet, and emphasized on the fact that it all start with personal motivation.
In my experience, the hardest part about motivation is to keep it: passed the initial enthusiasm, how do you maintain this driving force long enough to achieve your goals?
We have this vision of an Internet that not only provides you with technical resources and knowledge for your projects, but also leverages your own personal psychology to keep you focused on the goals you set to yourself. Motivation reinforcement is at the core of the Cognitive Social Web.
First, let’s get back on the concept of motivation. I want to propose a simple yet powerful model that I personally use to hack my own motivation in my everyday life: the MRT cycle…