Why you should not care about god

6 minute read

I don’t personally remember believing in God or religion for the longest time I can remember. I used to go to the temple as a child. As I grew older, I have memories of skipping a temple, like my classmates used to skip class. To avoid conflict, there were times I would leave home and go for a rather long food walk instead of the temple.

I was never quite able to put out the exact reason for this shift. Maybe it was my interest in Science. As a kid, I was most interested in understanding how science has changed our lives. I was fascinated with exploring the universe. And religion used to stop me from asking the questions. I realized I wanted to see planets as part of the universe and understand the physics behind it instead of praying to them. The story of the universe always sounded better than creationism.

Or maybe it was the fundamental belief in freedom of expression. A belief that every human has a way to define his own path. Each one of us has the right to set out own morality. I had started seeing religion as fundamentally against free speech. There just can’t be only one righteous way. ..... 

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Genetics – Origins 🧬

29 minute read

Science-fiction has always been fascinating. Growing up watching Sci-fi has ensured that I am always excited about the future. From Smartphones to Smart homes, voice-enabled AI to driverless cars. While not all of Science fiction has come true, at least not yet, we seem to be making progress.

An area of Science fiction that has seen relatively much less action in real life, the superheroes. Is that never going to be possible? So it got me interested to read more about what is currently going on in the world of Genetics.

Genetics is the study of genes. Genes are the software that runs a biological organism. Genetic engineering has indeed made progress over the last 2 decades, we have just not seen superhumans yet. But we are on the path.

Given my fascination with the future, I wanted to understand, what lies ahead. I have been keeping an eye on the developments over the last few years. And suddenly it seems we are very close to a major shift in what we know about Genes and what can we do with them.  ..... 

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Ideas, Implementation, and People

2 minute read

Our everyday interaction is with products and outcomes. Everything good around us is probably the end result of an idea, implemented by some people behind it. From the bottle that helps you drink water, to our constitution, is an end product of a combination of all of the above. When we argue for or against something, are we arguing against the Idea, the Implementation or the People?

An idea is a broad vision. It is abstract in itself. It is theoretical. Ideas have long term consequences in the world. Powerful ideas change our everyday world. The idea of democracy, completely changed in the world, for the generations that came into a world after it existed. The idea of a Social Network, completely changed how connected we are with each other. It is most often a solution to a problem.

Implementation is the execution of the idea. It the process that brings reality to that abstract thought. Implementation has to take into account the boundaries of reality. A good implementation will take into account both the benefit of the idea, vs the cost of the idea. The cost and benefit are not just economically but can go into the domains of society, environment, and other factors. The further you go in the implementation, it becomes less about the idea and more about the constraints. The constitution of India and the United States both promote democracy but are very different than each other. Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, and WeChat are all social networks but have very different implementations and granular problems they are trying to solve.  ..... 

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Exponential Growth

8 minute read

Exponents are counterintuitive. When we measure change, in common life we are more often than not, looking at absolutes. We rarely in daily life, except some professional use cases track the rate of change. The difference in looking at linear and exponent is the difference between looking at absolutes and relatives.

During the current Coronavirus spread, this term has been going around. Yet the world seems to have not been able to comprehend the speed or scale of the spread of the virus. Most countries have underestimated the danger and the extent of the virus. In the initial days, when the numbers were low the intuitive sense had not imagined how the numbers will grow. A graph that now most people are familiar with

People who were able to plot these numbers and had done the research, including credible people like Bill Gates, were ignored. The reason for this still remains that exponential growth is counterintuitive.

This is not to say, that we don’t understand exponents. We look at exponents all the time. Everything big happening at the world scale is generally happening at an exponential rate.  ..... 

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Letter #5 – COVID-19 Test, Cure, and Vaccine

16 minute read

The last letter covered what is a virus, more details on how coronavirus impacts the body, common symptoms and how to slow down the spread. If you have not read the last letter, this should be a good starting point before you get further.

From some time scientists have feared and run simulations on how bad disease like this can be. It has all the elements of making it one of the hardest epidemics to fight against.

  • It’s respiratory which means it can be transferred through respiratory droplets not just when you are in contact with people but even if you are close.
  • The virus can sustain on surfaces for a few hours to days.
  • R the constant that describes how many people does a single infected person infect is anywhere between 2-5 in different conditions.
  • Asymptomatic people can transmit this disease, so people who believe are healthy, feel no health issues or a minor cold are going to spread it. This also makes it difficult to trace.
  • Mortality is high. Currently, while not a final figure the mortality rate lies between 1-4%.
  • Symptoms can take up to two weeks to show and till then the virus has spread to many more people and places.

We discussed the SEIR model and the goal. The first goal is to slow down the spread of this epidemic so that we can buy time to create better test kits, find a cure and in the end find a vaccine.

What individuals can continue to do

Hygiene which includes washing your hands with soap multiple times and use of sanitizer. The virus is basically inside a shell of fat which breaks down when soap is rubbed on it. Soap also makes hands slippery and the motion removes the virus from your hands.
Masks ensure that the virus does not spread from respiratory droplets. This is essential as it covers the face and protests the nose and mouth of the healthy ones, and keeps it from spreading if you have actually caught the virus.  ..... 

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Letter #4 – COVID-19

10 minute read

Read Part 2 – Test Kits, Cures and Vaccines.

The virus that managed to jump from animal to human sometime back in November / December last year, has managed to bring the entire world to a halt in a matter of weeks. There are just so many aspects to look at this spread that it requires a newsletter in itself.

What is a Virus

Walter Reid was one of the first people to discover a virus back in 1901. Viruses are present across the world, in every species and in the air. We take in and throw out thousands of viruses every day. They are like bacteria but so tiny that if bacteria could see, they would also not be able to see them.

Viruses are not living but they have organic matter than can self replicate. A virus is a shell made of protein that contains genetic material either DNA or RNA. The problem is it cannot replicate alone. It needs to infect another living cell to replicate itself. And as is true for all life around, the only thing every genome is looking to do is replicate.

Cell the smallest living unit whose job is to make DNA, manufacture protein and store resources. Once a virus has overtaken a cell, it uses it to create its genetic material and a protein shell, in essence, creating a new virus. Aim of the virus is the infect a cell and get the replication going.  ..... 

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Corona ICO

< 1 minute

Corona has suddenly taken over the world. Business is shut and the cash flow is massively impacted. IOU (I owe you) is usually an informal document acknowledging the debt. For people familiar with cryptocurrency this is similar to an ICO offering where a company can give you credits before launch to fundraise that you can use at a later point of time.

During this period while most of the cost still remains customers do not. Revenue is hit badly and cash flow issues are forcing businesses to shut down, businesses are forced to lay off people. IOU / ICO can be a way to help out the business you love and help them get through this time frame.

The curfews and lockdowns will go away and you would want the services you love to survive this. Start by asking business and shop owners around you if they would be interested in raising some money during this period from their customers that they can use in the future.

You can help by sharing details of business trying to achieve this. To follow this go here ..... 

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Letter #2

3 minute read

Overton Window

As we start looking for some context to understand the world better, we would need to get a better understanding of how the world works. The understanding of how ideas flow and how they become more mainstream.

Explainer: Overton window describes the stages and flow of ideas. The acceptance of a new idea in the mass public depends on that window. How quickly and if at all will there be acceptance for it.

If you are looking for a quick understanding of it VOX explains it well in this youtube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v-hzc6blGI

You can read a brief introduction about it on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

If you are looking to get a deeper understanding of it and how it affects the society at large you can read about it in a waitbutwhy post. https://waitbutwhy.com/2019/09/mute-button.html

Bottoms up Programming

While the essay is focused on bottoms-up software development, the same principles can be used for other problem solving as well. http://paulgraham.com/progbot.html

2008 financial crash

The global financial crisis of 2008 was a major financial disaster. Millions across the world lost their homes and their savings. The main driver behind the crisis bad incentives and too much credit risk. tldr; ..... 

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Letter #1

2 minute read

Jack Ma and Elon Musk hold a debate in Shanghai on AI

An interesting conversation between Musk and Jack Ma. The difference in thoughts on AI. You may also notice Elon Musk’s reactions to some of Jack’s answers. And there is the reason why a Musk appeals so much more to a problem solver brain, while a Jack Ma appeals to the wealth creator part of the brain.

Aadhaar information online #Security

A twitter thread by Elliot Alderson on availability of taking you down an online rabbit-hole of finding Aadhaar cards. Currently, it seems finding Aadhaar information online is not hard. A large amount of this information is available on governmental sites with almost no security. But reporting has also helped in closing those public datasets. Read the full thread on twitter.

Sociology: Introduction

To be better at “context”, sociology is a great starting point. The whole course is extremely interesting but even the preview helps explain how the same thing can be looked at from multiple angles. How building a perspective is important, but also explains how and why other perspectives are formed. ..... 

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