王明瑞,极有趣的中国青年

通过一位丹麦人,我有幸认识到了王明瑞,一位中国研究生。但与典型的循规蹈矩死读书的研究生恰恰相反。比如,他翻译了理查德·林恩,专门研究智商及其种族和性别差异的心理学教授,撰写的Eugenics: A Reassessment (Human Evolution, Behavior, and Intelligence)(翻译成中文为《优生学:重评(人类进化,行为和智力)》),但目前还无法将此出版。同时,他还是中文维基百科具有十一年编辑经验的人。前几天,我给他看了我的《祝党的生日快乐》一文,他却回,“最后一个链接所指的中文维基百科页是我添加的”。我总是好奇是什么样的中国人为中文维基百科和百度百科这些中文百科做相当大贡献,猜测肯定大多是一些具有某种性格的学生,只能说很高兴终于认识到了此中一员。我想他肯定还有其它的我未知的才华和成就,毕竟我对它这个人还了解的相当少,刚网上认识吗。中国像他这样的人看来还是有不少,但是我觉得还是远远不够,与美国相比,这当然跟中国的应试教育体制有一定的关系,当然在中国考上大学或进入真正工作之后也不太在乎这些的,还是要看你能做出什么真正的成果来,之后学习没有考试,要靠自己主动,而靠非考试的方式展示自己的知识和技能。前几天发邮件我还写道:

I created a few days a Baidu account using my US mobile phone number, with the thought of possibly contributing a bit to Baidu Encyclopedia, which to my disappointment doesn’t even have LaTeX support, though I have learned much from its non-mathematical content over the years. China still has a long way to go, but I believe they will get there in a matter of time.

还想强调在这方面中国人还真的是比白人差一些,白人有更多愿意自愿投入这类的。刚和他(在脸书上)又聊了另一个话题:

MingruiOnAntiCPCPropaganda

所以王明瑞是非常独立思考的人,为了满足求知欲要翻墙,但翻了墙后对新的信息依然保持批判性思维,多赞!谁知道那,说不定王明瑞的星星之火会将来燎起中国的优生大原。我就希望中国能多出一些像王明瑞这样的人。

 

Speech recognition between American and Chinese companies

I’ve already written here that I started trying out speech input. I’ve tried various ones for both Chinese and English, namely Apple, Sogou, and IFlyTek. Sogou is a relatively well known, at least in China, company that used to have sizable search market share quite a while ago. It’s also famous for its Chinese input method, which is its default. IFlyTek is this little known company in Hefei, Anhui, that can tap smart graduates of the University of Science and Technology of China (中国科技大学) there, arguably the nerdiest school in China. I was rather disappointed, and my impression was that these Chinese companies have a long way to go in AI, compared the top American ones.

Curious to see a more objective comparison, I did a test, where I recorded something on this matter that I thought of impromptu.

Yes, it sounds very hesitant and stumbly, because it was entirely improvised. But it’s good enough. What did, Apple, Sogou, and IFlyTek generate respectively when tested on this audio file.

Apple

我想做一下作业,然后试试中国公司和美国公司的语音识别比较一下。我排客之后对这些中国公司感到非常的失望,就不用说,谷歌苹果很可能都比最好的中国公司多苹果。的强项不是我觉得中国的科技公司这两年好多都是媒体可以的。他们斗地主还是继续在美国所找到的人也都是下个二流的同时,很可能在中国的顶级的开发人,还知道那就是说最好的开发员可能在美国还比中国多多得多。(here, many characters were actually omitted as opposed to misrecognized)

Sogou

我想在这上面做一下录音然后试一试中国公司和美国公司的。语音识别你想一下我还克我肯定会之后对那些中国公司感到非常的失望就不用说,谷歌苹果很可能都比这里好的,公司的好多。虽然苹果强项不是人工智能我觉得中国科技公司这两年好多都是媒体吹的他们谁小技术还是咱俩落后基本上没到的人也都是香的,二流的。同时很可能在中国的电机的开发员还少那就是说最好开发员华人开发员在美国还比中国多甚至多的多

IFlyTek

我想,在这上面,做一下录音,然后试一试。中国公司和美国公司的,语音识别,比较一下。拍客,我肯定会,之后,对,那些中国公司,感到非常,的失望。就不用说谷歌了。苹果,很可能都比,这个好的中国公司,做的好的多。苹果。都瞧瞧,不是人工智能。我觉得中国。的,科技公司,这两年。好多都是媒体吹的,他们,11首。的技术,还是落后,即使在美国,所招到的人,也,都是相对流的,同时,很可能,在中国的。顶级的开发员,还。,那就是说。最好,的开发员。华人开发员。在,美国,比中国,多,甚至多得多。

It turned out that Sogou and IFlyTek are actually a bit better than Apple for speech recognition, to my surprise, which just goes to show how flawed subjective impressions can be. Of course, all of them made numerous major errors, such that I can see why speech input still isn’t widely used (as far as I know). Even for English, Apple make some errors. I told me friend this, and he said, “strange, it’s usually pretty reliable for me, maybe your voice isn’t clear enough.” Though he was using Google’s on an Android, and we all know that Google is the world leader in AI, almost certainly quite a ways ahead of the other top companies in it. So I tried out Google’s as well, via this, and the result was

我想在这上面做一下录音然后试一试中国公司和美国公司的语音识别比较一下我差可我肯定会之后对那些中国公司感到非常的失望就不用说谷歌苹果很可能都比最好的中国公司做的好的多虽然苹果的强项不是人工智能我觉得中国的科技公司这两年好多都是媒体吹的他们实际上的技术还是等等6号其实在美国所招到的人也都是香奈儿流的同时很可能在中国的顶级的开发源还非常少那就是说最好的开发华人开房源可能在美国还比中国多甚至多的多

It’s comparable in accuracy to IFlyTek, maybe a bit worse.

Of course, I’m sure Google and Apple invested relatively little on Chinese speech recognition. Just like Sogou and IFlyTek invested little on English (or maybe they trained on English spoken with Chinese accents), because their English speech recognition basically felt like complete garbage.

In any case, we can still see that speech recognition and AI in general still has a long way to go. After all, your AI is only as good as the data you feed to train it. It will never handle cases exceptional to the training set and not programmatically hard coded, unless there is a major paradigm shift in how state-of-the-art AI is done (so something even better than neural nets).

Whoever reads this is welcome to do a similar experiment comparing Google Translate with Baidu Translate. I did, but I didn’t record the results so it doesn’t really count as a completed experiment.

祝党的生日快乐!

97年了,我无话多言,直连到此文。此终结为:

上世纪20年代的青年思索救亡图存,30年代的学生投笔从戎,60年代的学子以身许国献身戈壁,当代年轻人面向社会追寻人生意义……一代代青年人的从心而行,何尝不是一种精神传承?让信仰之火熊熊不息,让红色基因融入血脉,让红色精神激发力量,我们就能更坚定、更执着、更无畏地前行,为国家为人民创造一个更好的明天。

哈哈,说是这么说,只不过据我所观察现在的人大多已经失去往时这种宝贵精神了,人也远远不如老革命那一辈了。总是感觉现在的人比起以前过于保守,缺乏胆量。作为一位在美国长大的被动无声的minority(少数民族)的一员,在一种腐朽无味的文化环境中,何以得到精神力量?当然,有个人的学习和事业,但我想说的不是这个。所想说的是文化认同。在这一点,不是多沉浸于ABC的伪文化中,而是多认识我们的革命前辈,从之得以启发。可惜与我同感的人实在太少。

今年初,我有幸得知并读中共创始人李大钊的《狱中自述》,感受到了他为党壮烈牺牲所留下的信念。共产党当时在受蒋介石发动的白色恐怖下的残酷冲击,此余力最终逃避生存而从建真是奇迹,从而中华民族得以新的诞生。此文之外,还看了讲这位民族英雄的一部纪录片,里面有不少他写的诗,开头还有他二十年代在莫斯科向当时多位共产主义战士演讲的镜头。

提到莫斯科,我还想说我业余自学俄文,直到今天基本能读会说一点,也很大处于更深入理解党的历史背景的愿望,当然,苏联的那一套也有不少非常值得学习的。

从建党建国的历程可以看到组织和动力的重要性。不用说,当时的人的确与现在非常不一样的,现在的社会太放纵,诱惑太多,过于注重金钱,人愈来愈自私,缺乏社会责任感和理想。我觉得市场经济是有一定用处的,但是同时,他鼓励很多对社会不良的表现,过于注重短期谋利,导致有长远意义的工作难以实施。在我前文所提,金钱的诱惑干扰实在太大,使得现在中国愿意静下心长期投入核心科技研制的精英越来越少,前辈知识分子坚持信念以身许国的精神已大大消失。

当然,你可以说我太理想主义了,可是我觉得接近于马克思想象的那种共产主义社会还是有可能的,尤其在现在机械化信息化高产能社会,此与以前的未工业化社会相比截然不同。以前稀缺是因为生产技术不够发达,而现在的稀缺大多是人为的,出于少数大资本家掌握太多物质资源,为了他们自己的利益囤积居奇,中国的房地产泡沫就是个好的例子。美国的大学学费过高也是又一个例子。在美国,公立教育是很烂的,学校提供的极少,完全需要家人自己投入。同样,美国没有医疗保证,好多人都没有医疗保险,有不少人得病而破产。总之而言,中国由于他的红色基因和毛主席时代的遗产比美国好得多,在价值观上。在美国资本家完全不会在乎你,也不在乎社会的健康,就为了你的钱,鼓励或垄断迫使大量销售,而且媒体由于被私人掌握好多都是故意误导人的。可惜中国人,尤其是领导人,不够自信缺乏志气,经常还要向美国这些学习,若不是毛泽东时代所留下的遗产,可能中国也会面临俄罗斯同样的遭遇。

在冷战时期社会主义苏联和中国的存在慢慢给世界形成了新的社会规范。两国在有经济条件的情况下都提供免费教育和医疗,加上有分配房子,按马克思的“各尽所能,各取所需”的原则。同时,社会主义国家所提供的育儿也提升了妇女的地位。相反,美国现在天天闹虚伪的,反常识的女权主义,而不解决此最根本的问题。强大的对手这样做导致美国资本家把在美国内地的剥削和系统种族歧视减轻了一些,好避免美国人民造反推翻他们的风险和赢得世界非白种人对美国的支持以对付社会主义阵营。当然,我们都知道中苏之间不久决裂了,毛时代晚期起,中国却开始偏向美国,所谓的逻辑是打着红旗反红旗威胁比公开资本主义更大,当然也是为自己利益的一种妥协。改革开放后,美国所施加的软压力和诱惑实在太大,导致了89年运动不当处理所引发的六四事件,此突然更大弱化了早已决裂的社会主义阵营。在这一点,我的确发觉到六四所制造的国际政治影响对苏联及东方集团的崩溃有了相当大的催化作用。我想,若社会主义在此复辟,何况共产主义实现,胡耀邦赵紫阳这俩王八蛋,如赫鲁晓夫一样,肯定会被划为历史的罪人。

当然,不少人用苏联的最终失败和中国的转型来证实社会主义制度的劣势。当时,从科学严谨角度而言,这一点都算不上什么证实,只不过是一种容易忽悠人的政治宣传而已。在冷战时期,因为美国特别怕红色中国,才给了日本和四小龙大量的经济援助和政治支持,在彻底封锁红色中国的同时,欲之崩溃。这样当然更加貌似资本主义民主制度优越于社会主义民主集中制,可说服大多数人。当然,也有少数一般智商比较高的人,如我的美国数学奥赛金牌朋友(纯粹美国人)也说好多是因为苏联二战后还是很落后于美国,中国与美国的主要盟国英法日加起来就更不用说了。我也想,可能当时如果苏联没有变修,采取适当的改革,并且维持与中国的结盟合作,结果会是反过来的,那就是社会主义赢得冷战,在美国进行更多向着社会主义的和平演变。当然,冷战不光是意识形态的冲突,也是大国之间的冲突,要是苏联和中国要赢,肯定也要像美国传播一种服从似的社会主义,此也是中苏分裂的根源,那就是中国到了一定的程度不想继续做服从的社会主义二哥。

虽然大国之争,民族之争处于人的本性,不可避免,只可良化,我还是相信社会规范是可以并且值得进步的,一点因为此在历史过程中大致是进步的,二点因为世界现在还有很多极其糟糕不仁的制度和社会规范,甚至可以说苏联垮台之后,美国统治阶级无压力,为所欲为,使之退步。比方说,我想有可能,甚至,如果我乐观,很可能,一百年后,现在美国这样的没有免费教育和医疗的社会是难以想象的,至少在发达国家。也可以想象一百年后,通过发达的基因检测及胚胎筛选的实施,社会不会允许智商低于80的人和有昂贵遗传疾病的人出生。无论如何,我相信中国共产党97年前的诞生会经得起历史的检验。这是什么意思?比如,中华人民共和国的不断成功和世界地位的上升已经给中国的体制增强了威望,当然,现在世界舆论还大由美国为首的西方国家掌握,它们还可以说这是因为中国改革开放起转向了资本主义制度,只不过不民主,而若民主只会更好。这中说法我觉得很扯淡,没有根据,认为中国人要敢于在强大的压力下坚持真理,自信主动地带领人类的社会进步,科学的决定并且尝试制度,包括更社会主义的制度,少在意美国如何看待。要想超越别人,带领新的潮流,走向更先进的社会,必须敢于挑战当前的权威,在学习它的同时解开他的缺点漏洞,发展自己的独特之处,大胆而科学的探索尝试新的方法,让时间所检的更佳结果和优越不得不得到世界的认可。

其实,鉴于此文在纪念党的生日,我觉得中共所领导的做的好多都是惊人的,具有无比勇气的。统一了百年军阀混战的中国是一。建国没捞着喘什么气又跟世界老大直接打了一仗,而且还赢了,至少平了。此代价是世界老大采取几乎所有措施让你崩溃,但是二十年后,中国从几乎零的基础下研制出了两弹一星,世界老大也不得不认输了。之后,跟世界老大建交了,他非要让你改变你的制度,到处污蔑你好对你施加压力,但中共依然坚持抵抗着,直到今天发展到世界老大真的怕你代替他咯。所以从任何客观的角度这都是很神的党,奇迹性的政治组织,美国当权派及其走狗对它的诬蔑只能客观表示一种自己深厚的畏惧和对自己失败的回避,是一种拒绝面对客观事实的表现,用另一句话说,是一种sore loser的表现。当然,中国在共产党的领导下还要好多做的不足的地方,如此前文所述,还有很漫长的路要走。我个人觉得中共改革开放那帮领导相对比较差,比较没有骨气,此可以以六四和中国的人才流失证实,当然我也认识到中国要融入美国为首的国际体系就是要失去一定的独立自主为代价。(注:读者别把我搞错,我绝对不是一个极左,四人帮当然也有很多糟糕的地方,基本上是一些弱智流氓,但至少他们是立场坚定,不会去走卖国的自由主义。)

作为终结,我想引用一下我很尊重的一位英国学者所分析的,那就是:

Not that I am any sort of unreconstructed Maoist: I also approve of Deng Xiaoping, including his willingness to be harsh when necessary.  Both Mao and Deng played a big part in producing today’s China, but in a future article I will argue that it was Deng who came closest to wrecking it. Contrary to what most analysts will tell you, Mao always had a fall-back position that he could return to if one of his radical experiments went wrong.

翻译成中文是:

不是我是任何教条的毛派:我也认可邓小平,尤其是他在需要的时候肯采取严厉措施。毛和邓都对建立今天的中国起了决定性的作用,但是在未来的文章,我会论证为何是邓最接近毁之。与大多评论家会说的相反,毛总是,以备他的某个大试验出问题的可能,有了适当的退却安排。

其实随着我对相关背景的不断了解,我也得出了类似的结论(当然,我这么说无法证明这不是看到上文所产生的后见之明偏误。盼望这位可被视为奇异的学者尽快发表对他此”异常”观点的论证!

A bug in WeChat

Nothing major. But you see, I shared my first moment on it. The result was:

WeChatHyperlinkBugScreenshot

You see the problem right? Broken hyperlink. The bug I filed:

WeChatBugFiling

I’m kind of surprised and disappointed that they’ve missed this edge case for so long. And to be honest, I don’t feel like WeChat is all that great technically. A while ago, I tried their web interface, and it was shit, barely usable. I didn’t find their Moments (朋友圈) feature social_wechat_moment in Discover (发现) easy to use either. I wanted to post the above message, and I had to Google to find that to post one without a photo, you need to hold the camera icon at the top right corner for a bit. Not a terribly intuitive interface.

So, in spite of all the recent hype, a Danish data scientist told me that Chinese are deeply incompetent, due to corruption and incompetent leadership, and that other Euros who know China have told him the same. Similarly, University of Washington CS prof (now at Stanford) James Landay, who spent a few years at Microsoft Research Asia, wrote December of 2011 that Chinese computer science, while having made tremendous strides, is still leagues behind. I doubt his opinion has changed that much over the past almost seven years. Personally, I haven’t found most Chinese from China software engineers here all that impressive, though of course, I’ve also seen some really brilliant and creative ones. Of course, there is also that software engineers in general, wherever they’re from, are just not that smart, compared to say mathematicians or physicists or real engineers, due to the low intellectual difficulty of most of the work. Apparently, a senior engineer at Google can think that “eigenvalue” is “specialized terminology.” Of course, any serious STEM person will think you’re a total joke if you say that. Luboš Motls has written on his blog that most programmers think like folks in the humanities, not natural scientists. On this, I concur almost 100%.

 

Trying out speech input

I wrote my previous blog article lying in bed at night very tired, trying out speech recognition input. I was using the one provided by Sogou. It turned out that even after many manual corrections, there were still several errors made which I didn’t catch. You can check the complexity and level of ambiguity of the writing itself (of course you’ll have to read Chinese). You also don’t know how clearly I spoke. Yes, it can be a problem when you speak quickly without a certain level of enunciation, especially when your combination of words isn’t all that frequent. There are of course also exceptional cases which a smart human would easily recognize that the machine cannot, like when I say Sogou, a human with the contextual knowledge would not see it as “so go.” Of course, this is expected, AI is only as good as your training data.

I tried Google’s speech recognition too, here, and initially it seemed to work much better, until it started to make errors too. Next, I tried IFlyTek, this company in Hefei which supposedly hires a ton of USTC (中科大) grads. Still not much better. It’s much easier to type Chinese and have to select something other than the default very occasionally. Turns out that the statistical NLP techniques for Chinese input work well enough, especially given the corpus that Sogou, whose input method I use, has accumulated over time. I had read that back a while ago, it even criticized Google for using some of their data for their Pinyin input method, and Google actually conceded that it did. It’s expected that the Chinese companies in China would have easier access to such data. Even so, Google Translate still works visibly better than Baidu Translate, even for Chinese.

From an HCI perspective, it’s much easier to input English on phone than to input Chinese. Why? Because spelling (Pinyin in the case of Chinese) correction, necessarily for phone touch-screen keyboard, works much better for English than for Chinese. Sure, Sogou provides a 9 key input method as shown below (as opposed to the traditional 26 key),

SogouNineKeyScreenshot

where once one is sufficiently practiced, the key press error rate goes down significantly, but the tradeoff is more ambiguity, which means more error in inference to manually correct. In the example below, 需要(xu’yao) and 语言(yu’yan) are equivalent under the key-based equivalence relation (where equivalence classes are ABC, DEF, PQRS, etc). Unfortunately, I meant 语言(yu’yan) but the system detected as 需要(xu’yao).

SogouNineKeyInferenceError

You can kind of guess that I wanted to say that “Chinese this language is shit.” The monosyllabic-ness of the spoken Chinese language, in contrast to the polysyllabic (?) languages in the Middle East for which the alphabet was first developed, obstructed the creation of an alphabet. Because each distinct syllable in Chinese maps to so many distinct characters with different meanings, there would be much ambiguity without characters. For an extreme example of this, Chinese linguistic genius Yuen Ren Chao (赵元任) composed an actually meaningful passage with 92 characters all pronounced shi by the name of Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den.

I remember how in 8th grade history class, an American kid in some discussion said how our (Western) languages are so much better than their (Chinese-based) languages, and the teacher responded with: I wouldn’t say better, I would say different. Honestly, that kid has a point. Don’t get me wrong. I much appreciate the aesthetic beauty of the Chinese language. I’m the complete opposite of all those idiot ABCs who refuse to learn it. But no one can really deny that the lack of an alphabet made progress significantly harder in many ways for Chinese civilization. Not just literacy. Printing was so much harder to develop, though that is now a solved problem, thanks much to this guy. There is also that Sogou’s Chinese OCR, which I just tried, basically doesn’t work. Of course, nobody really worries about this now, unlike in the older days. In the early 20th century, there were prominent Chinese intellectuals like Qian Xuantong (钱玄同) who advocated for the abolishment of Chinese characters. Moreover, early on in the computer era, people were worried that Chinese characters would be a problem for it.

In any case, unless I am presented with something substantially better, I can only conclude that any claim, such as this one, that computers now rival humans at speech is bullshit. I was telling a guy yesterday that AI is only as a good as your training data. It cannot really learn autonomously. There will be edge cases in less restricted contexts (unlike in chess and go, where there are very precisely defined rules) such as a computer vision and speech recognition obvious to a human that would fool the computer, until the appropriate training data is added for said edge case and its associates. Analogously, there has been a near perpetual war between CAPTCHA generators and bots over the past few decades, with more sophisticated arsenals developed by both sides over time. Technical, mathematically literate people, so long as they take a little time to learn the most commonly used AI models and algorithms, all know. Of course, there will always be AI bureaucrats/salesmen conning the public/investors to get more funding and attention to their field.

Don’t get me wrong. I still find the results in AI so far very impressive. Google search uses AI algorithms to find you the most relevant content, and now deep learning is being applied to extract information directly from image context itself, vastly improving image search. I can imagine in a decade we’ll have the same for video working relatively well. To illustrate this, China now has face recognition deployed on a wide scale. This could potentially be used to search for all the videos a specific person appears in by computationally scanning through all videos in the index, and indexing corresponding between specific people and times in specific videos. Of course, much of the progress has been driven by advances in hardware (GPUs in particular) which enable 100x+ speedup in the training time. AI is mostly an engineering problem. The math behind it is not all that hard, and in fact, relatively trivial compared to much of what serious mathematicians do. Backpropagation, the idea and mathematical model behind deep learning that was conceived in the 80s or even 70s in the academic paper setting but far too computationally costly to implement at that time on real world data, is pretty straightforward and nowhere near the difficulty of many models for theoretical physics developed long ago. What’s beautiful about AI is that simple models often work sufficiently well for certain types problems so long as the training data and computational power is there.

为什么中国核心科技依然薄弱

我与一位清华电子工程毕业但博士之后转至软件开发的人午饭聊天,他说若Facebook消失,人很可能变得更加有效,而相反,若Intel消失,科技及我们的现代生活会几乎停顿。此理明显,而甚少所提。在本人眼中,将网络公司英文述为”tech”,其实是对技术的一种严重歪曲,对理工真才实学的人是一种笑话,也是对他们的一种贬值,因为这种虚伪的词语宣传只不过是起一种误导公众及反知识反科学的不良效应。当然,在市场经济,真正的天分和能力经常是不太受重视并经济价值不高,价值高的反而是会做买卖会搞关系会吹的人和技术含量不高但助做买卖的工作,典型为网络公司的码农。一般来讲,高级的理工人才非常的专或者如果做理论的东西未有直接的经济价值,选择(若留在他们的专长里)极少,所以很少能拿到特别高的工资。这也是为什么中国(美国也差不多)愿意投资或投入核心科技产品,以芯片为典型例子,的人极少,即使非常聪明天性善于真正科技的人也经常随着社会及经济压力和诱惑离开他们当前的热爱,这是很可怜的趋势。一般人的视野是极其肤浅的,没办法,只能通过优生加上教育提高一个社会的整体素质,可惜的是,在市场经济下,连教育都会成为给学生提供的产品,尤其在现在的制度文化放纵的美国。不过美国由于他之前某些划时代性创新,如半导体的发明,所积累的领先地位,无论如何,都会有精英追求真正的工作,当然现在比以前也少的多了。中国不然,还很落后,必须依靠明智的计划制度弥补多年的空白。

中国人基础科学做的牛的与国外相比的确比较少,而且大多在国外,这没有什么争议。中国的精英科学文化的确还远远差于西方,缺乏适当的传统,这只能慢慢建立,在这一点可以像很成功的日本学习一下。我感觉从某种角度而言,中国人还是非常缺乏日本人所有的那种为民族奉献的精神,这一点,老一辈是有,但是从改革开放上大学那一辈开始就基本消失了,受美国人的精神污染了。共和国头30年被迫隔离于美国大大推迟了,从某种角度,中国的经济发展,但是迫使了中国建立一种科技上自力更生的传统。随着改革开放,中国融入美国为主的体系,这种精神有了大大的涣散,但是也有遗留。比如我跟我的美国朋友说中国计算机上还未出过真正有国际影响的尖端产品,他却回答中国阻止美国网络公司而建立自己的网络企业是明智的选择不然早就被外国给吞下去了。中国封闭Google和Facebook的确很丢人,可是为了自己的经济实力和国家战略角度而言,此代价不用说是远远直得的。我也想到过,如果中国政府如五六十年代那样限制精英的个人自由绝对不允许出国留学的”彻底叛变”但是给他们远远更好地培养和工作安排,中国今天的科技水平会远远更高研制出远远更多的尖端技术产品,拥有独立的包括芯片及其生态系统(是包括操作系统和兼容的以后所有重要的应用软件)。

有人说中国快要超过美国了,我问在什么方面?他回“在所有方面。”我说在经济上凭中国的量加上整体水平相当高会很可怕的,但是以科技代表的质量还有很漫长的路要走,中国的尖端科技水平还是太落后了,有很漫长的路要走。中国人必须在学习先进国家的同时,发展出自己独特的科技研发的体系和风格,敢于采取在适当的情况下极端的措施为实现目的,不要太在乎别人的看法,尤其美国的看法,因为中国现在已经有足够的实力和好的趋势支撑全心全意的追求自己的道路。

有一位从中国过来的在计算机行业工作的人有一次跟我说“ABC最惨,既不能当美国人又失去了当中国人的机会。”他觉得在美国的华人作为被动的少数民族是非常可怜的。在看到哈弗大学对华裔学生的系统其实被证实的情况下,我自己也会说,凭自己的经验,天分高的华人与他们能力复合的培养和发展机会是相对难的,导致华人的水平和地位低于他们的天分,与白人相比。美国的体制把好多先天很好的中国孩子搞坏,不光在事业上,同时也给他们一些自我认同问题。这些人如果留在中国,在得到足够政府支持的情况下,能为中国作出伟大的贡献而非在美国被荒废掉。不光是他们,还有他们的子孙。由于移民制度对高智商的筛选(大略,移民率是智商的单挑函数),在美国的华人的智商分布会有很粗的右尾巴,但是美国种族配额和歧视能容纳的给华人的高智商发展机会是有限的,很多华人必然怀才不遇,大材小用。

我小学一年级来美国,但慢慢的发觉美国文化有很多非常骗人的地方,所以要防止洗脑啊。在了解美国文化和体质和学习美国好的东西的同时,阅读中文,学习俄文,接触欣赏苏联和中国的红色基因给了我对世界更多元化的认识。虽然前苏联已经大败解体了,未能全面,即使在科技的范围内,追上美国,它依然做出好多精彩的结果,以严峻危机所促进的革命性的新制度实现了奇迹,震惊了世界,给了当时贫穷落后受列国欺凌的中国适当的启发和榜样,也提供了决定性的科技知识和援助,让中国千年的古文明在近代战火的背景下浴火重生,直到今天,面临着超级大国的地位。苏联创造的新制度,新文化给世界留下了宝贵的财富,在科学上,在艺术上,在政治思想和体质上。我觉得苏联的那套远远的更符合中国的国情,尤其与美国相比,中国应当把苏联的东西适当的与自己的文化和情况相结合,把社会主义带到前所未有的高峰。当然,中国若要真正成为前苏联那样的超级大国,必须先成为科技强国,做一些颠覆性带领潮流的首先,像苏联的航天那样,而非仅在别人的核心工作基础之上做出一些实用性科技。这需要自信而系统的发挥自己文化和体质的强点和独特之处,大胆的投入长期的核心科技研发和基础探索,促成更多的不同尖端领域的独特文化和群体。中国精英知识分子要多发扬先辈所继承的革命精神,非崇洋媚外,敢于挑战权威,创造新的奇迹载入史册。

Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-Americans

It was revealed last week or so that Harvard systematically rates Asian-Americans lower on personality, on subjective traits such as “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected.” I’m not surprised at all by this. Though they could have at least been a bit smarter about this by keeping this shit off the record. Now the investigators could actually reveal something about their process to the public that would undermine the institution’s credibility.

Though I am an Asian-American, I will not try to pretend. It’s so far for Harvard’s institutional interests more or less rational to do what they’re doing. Asian-Americans have very little power and influence over the institution. Sure, there is no shortage of prominent Asian-Americans professors at Harvard, mostly in STEM, but they don’t actually have all that much influence over the institution, and are mostly being used by the institution to advance its own academic reputation. The same goes for being an Asian academic undergrad admit (who can, say, win a high place for Harvard at the Putnam Contest). There is also the implicit assumption that because Asians face race-related disadvantages in the career game, especially in the corporate world, due to unconscious bias, lack of ethnic affinity networks, etc, they should be penalized, as future career success, of a form not perceived as too threatening to the current elite, is crudely what admissions is optimizing for. So, life is not fair, get used to it, and do the little that you can to try to make things more fair (or more in your favor).

I’ve actually seen some not actually very talented Asian-Americans without hooks who did make it to HYP under very striverish behavior. They played the game of try hard resume optimization, of appearing less Asian. The thing is that most of those people end up not well at all after graduation. Don’t think that HYP guarantees a good job. There is no guarantee is today’s world. Those people did too little in terms of developing actually employable skills. What they got by playing the college admissions game was essentially a pyrrhic victory. Actually competent state school kids do much better than them in the workplace. So, don’t be stupid like that.

Even many actually smart Asian-American HYP grads don’t do all that great. A common outcome is a merely solid engineer at a respected technology company. Some go to a top grad school, but success much depends on the field. Academia has very few openings nowadays, though for engineering, due to industrial demand, it is much less competitive than math or science. A common route of course for the really technically exceptional is quant finance, though those positions tend to be taken by immigrants, who generally undergo a much more rigorous STEM education with less distraction compared to what Asian-Americans receive. The thing is that so many people are irrationally desperate to attend an elite school. Some middle class parents will burn a fortune to send their kid to some fancy prep school full of rich kids, where they easily end up at the bottom half of the school’s social hierarchy, let alone for an elite university. They lose sight of the fact that in many if not most cases, major determines what you do much more than school. There are many cases of these try hards wasting much time, money, and stress for nothing.

Like it or not, America is still very much a white country. Asian-Americans can and should try, but they shouldn’t realistically expect equality. If Chinese parents really want their son to become a lawyer or politician, they should probably stay in China. It’ll be hard there as well, but your odds of success will be probably at least an order of magnitude higher than in America. Here, I use only the male qualification of child in light of how “on average, Asian American women received higher personal ratings and extracurricular ratings than Asian American men.”[3] This is, of course, consistent with what goes on in the real world as well. And it is expected, considering how historically, sexism and racism have always gone together.

A while ago, I wrote on here a rather cynical (or whatever you call it) piece in Chinese regarding elite US schools, which to my pleasant surprise a Chinese international of my acquaintance who attended Harvard commented on affirmatively. Its title has somewhat of a sensationalist provocative vibe to it, translated to English as “American elite universities as a political tool for brainwashing and uplifting (pseudo) elite of Chinese descent.” Of course, I have more or less the highest regard for the STEM being done at these top American institutions, though maybe it is a bit overrated. Much of the humanities and social science coming from those places I find quite questionable though, and that goes along with the cultural and political values fostered by these institutions. On that, I brought up how the former unsuccessful regime of China, the Republic of China, was led and run largely by Chinese graduates of Ivies of their time, who were but superficially Westernized and modernized Chinese. Despite their graduating from these elite schools, they lost the civil war and failed to modernize China, though perhaps that also had much to do with their being in the wrong time. Certainly though, many of the elite Chinese who played prominent roles in China’s modernization from the 50s on did advanced study in STEM in these top American schools. I’ll say that from my experience, it certainly does seem that these schools tend to select for Asians whose social and political viewpoints, often not very grounded on reality, tend to fit them into the aforementioned category, like Jeff Yang, with whom Steve Hsu had a debate. This is of course part of the pattern of American elites’ desire to bring elites of other countries into their circle, in a sufficiently subordinate position. On this, I’ll say how I’ve read comments on how over past half century or so, affirmative action by Harvard and other Ivies has won for American elites not only (a facade of) charity but also cultural and ethnic representatives to advance their interests in, say, African countries. For that, Harvard was useful as a binding force. Surely, Harvard has always played a quintessential role in persisting the rule and influence of the current American elite throughout the world, and like it or not, kissing the ruler’s ass is almost always the easiest way to rise up on the social ladder. In Chinese, to be America’s dog is spoken of as pejorative, but so what, there were and are too many small countries willing to do so, because it brings them, their elites in particular, much economic and political benefit.

Asians tend to be pretty obsessed with prestige. Chinese are very, and Koreans are especially so. In the 80s and 90s and 00s, a degree from a prestigious or good American school was much an upper mobility ticket in China. Now, this is much less so, because there are too many such Chinese now, and also maybe because people in China have increasingly realized that maybe these people aren’t actually all that good, in spite of their brand-name American school. A PhD from MIT from China once told me that now in China, companies are increasingly reluctant to hire “sea turtles;” you have to pay them more, when more often than not, you can find a local guy who can do the job as well or better for much less. This is a sign of devaluation of elite American institutions, and I believe this will continue, given the relatively low level of STEM education and preparation in America (which is impossible to hide to any actually smart, scientifically literate person) along with America’s overall decline.

The short-sighted and personally motivated decisions of the intellectually mediocre and politically delusional American elite over the past generation are, cumulatively, really taking its toll now, on the American economy and the credibility of its ruling class. Their elite institutions, nepotistic and corrupt in its admissions, are losing the public’s trust and alienating Asian-Americans especially, many of whom moved to a foreign country speaking little English with too much blind faith in the so-called American Dream that they sought for themselves and more so for their children. American elites may have thought that they themselves could neglect STEM, that there are plenty of talented foreigners, many of whom Asian, willing to do those jobs indefinitely, often grossly under-compensated and with their American-born, American-raised kids facing higher hurdles in education and at work. This might have been so decades ago, when in their home countries, there was still lack of economic opportunity for smart people. Nowadays, there is a booming and internationally competitive high technology sector in China, with India going that direction as well, in spite of brain drain into America. Collectively, the STEM expertise has over time not only grown itself but transformed into significant leverage for the group, so much that the elites running Harvard need to resort to rogue tactics to preserve themselves. I don’t exactly blame them. It’s just like how people who go the bullshit business and social climbing route do so largely to compensate for their inherent intellectual deficit; at least to me, that’s never a pleasant or honorable position to be in. But what else can you do, if not to accept defeat? I can already foresee such an entrenched group fighting desperately for its own survival. Harvard will do all that it can to get away with what it’s doing right now amidst much backlash. And it’s an extraordinary rich, powerful, well-connected institution, much able to manipulate the outcomes. Either they win, or they reform themselves accordingly, or they become slowly sidelined. We’ll see. I just hope they don’t resort to even nastier tactics. Though that tends to happen when power and survival is at serious risk.

References

[1] http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/06/harvard-office-of-institutional.html

[2] http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/06/harvard-office-of-institutional_21.html

[3] http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-lee-harvard-legacy-student-advantage-20180622-story.html

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gekcNqlHptM

More evidence for my hypothesis on South Asians vis-a-vis East Asians

Link to comment on Steve Hsu’s blog. The “my hypothesis” in the title is with reference to one of my previous blog posts. Content copy-pasted below.

https://www.imo-official.or…

In pure-visual ability, above data clearly indicated East Asian ability. Naturally they excel in STEM field.

But in silicon valley, South Asian engineers move up easily in corporate world. Advancing in corporate world is depending more on social skill than engineering skill. South Asian also display strong social skill as result of people from high density origin.

Some Chinese American engineers told me about their experience in silicon valley. They did most work while Indian colleagues seems not able to do much. But once the project is done, these Indian colleagues are fantastic at putting everybody’s work together and present to the superiors. These Indian American are natural conference presenters. Good social skill gets all credits for career advance.

Indeed, making other thinking you smart is more important than wether you are really smart in subjective world (social dependency world). This is so true for most part of world.

When objective measurement is criteria, you get totally different picture because God is judge here. Human opinion is meaningless.

 

Russian vs Jewish social skill

I just saw Steve Hsu’s latest blog post, on the revelations of penalization of Asian-Americans on subjective personality evaluation by Harvard admissions. Looking through the comments, the most memorable one was this:

In world war two, Jewish death was 6 millions; Soviet death was 26 millions.

But Jewish death seems to be major impression in people’s mind today. Russian? Who cares.

Simple, Jewish social skill and Russian social skill are at different levels. Social skill is most important factor in subjective/emotional control.

If you don’t believe me, here’s the link.

Of course, it’s not just that. There’s also that the Anglo world was and is so much stronger culturally. To the extent that this is quantifiable, based on media representation statistics, I would say at least an order of magnitude. And ever since the USSR fell, the Anglo media has basically been able to gloss over the critical if not decisive role of the Soviet side in WWII with impunity.

The Brahmins

The cognitive and personality profile, and overall achievement package, of Indians as a group is a rather interestingly unbalanced one. Sometimes they do spectacular things, like discovering the infinite series for trigonometric functions of sine, cosine, tangent, and arctangent as early as the 14th century, producing a good number of real geniuses like Ramanujan and Satyendra Nath Bose, and reaching Mars orbit on its first attempt, being the first Asian nation to do so, and doing so at a small fraction of the cost expended by NASA. An IMO gold medalist I talk to once said to me that there are probably more Indians than Chinese with IQ 160+ due to very high Brahmin IQ that has stabilized (meaning regression to a stable high Brahmin mean as opposed to the low Indian mean) over millennia of inbreeding within caste. I thought maybe. Certainly, I do sometimes get the impression that Indians, at least in science, are better than Chinese at breeding the type of genius with the right combination of technical ability and scientific discernment that manages to discover radically deep and groundbreaking science in a very independent and spectacular fashion. The Chinese have produced geniuses of the highest order (or close) in science the 20th century, like Chen Ning Yang in theoretical physics and Shing-Shen Chern in pure math, with Yang-Mills and Chern classes ubiquitous now in the literature of their respective fields, which are now very intertwined. However, they did so only after much training, exposure, and reinforcement based on the whole framework of modern science developed in the West over many centuries, and ancient China, on the other hand, did not produce in pure science anything near what Indians did, a sign of lack of genius and of poor taste, both in its rare individuals and at the collective societal level. On this, I like to think that Indians are Greeks and Chinese are Romans.

In sharp contrast to China, India in practical matters has been largely a complete fuckup, or at least vastly outmatched by China. It is well known that the ancient Chinese invented gunpowder and paper-making, whereas nothing of equal direct impact came out of ancient India. In modern times, China developed nuclear weapons way faster than India did, and even before that, defeated India in a war in 1962, which, even worse for India, was entirely her fault. Economically and infrastructurally, holistically speaking, India, exemplified by its frequent power outages and accident-prone train system, could be regarded as a few decades behind China, which is further confirmed by that India’s life expectancy and infant mortality rate is, today, where China had been at 20+ years ago. Given that the two had been around the same level in 1950, India’s development has unambiguously been a complete failure.

How to explain this? On this, I recall how my Chinese friend’s mom had said that it’s not because China’s elite is smarter than India’s elite, but because China’s grassroots is smarter than India’s grassroots. This is well-confirmed by international IQ studies which tend to put China’s average IQ at around 105 and India’s around 82, which is a 1.5 sigma difference. So even if India’s +3 sigma is as smart or smarter than China’s +3 sigma, there are too many dumb, dysfunctional people holding India back, from their needing to be fed while doing the routine work rather poorly. So, the smart, (usually) high caste Indians opt to go to America to escape India’s dysfunction, so ubiquitous that even the ultra-rich at home cannot immune itself. The best and brightest in that category tend to go through the IITs at home for undergrad, the most reliable ticket to a high paying tech job in the United States. That stratum of Indians has established by now quite a presence in top American tech companies and universities (just about every top STEM academic department in the US has several prominent Indian profs). For example, Microsoft and Google both have Indian CEOs, and plenty of Indian engineers and managers, with many of them in high ranking positions, especially at Google. In contrast, there are few Chinese in top leadership positions. When I learned that Google has several Indian SVPs but no Chinese, a guy from China responded with humorous ease followed by sarcastic insult: “不用担心,阿里巴巴的SVP全都是中国人,百度的SVP也全都是中国人,没有一个印度人。(In translation: Don’t worry, Alibaba’s SVPs are all Chinese, Baidu’s SVPs are all Chinese, not a single Indian) What does India have? Tata? Infosys?” This is, based on my experience, similar to how people react to the astronomical success of certain Indian academics, entrepreneurs, and business leaders in America. They will say: “Sure, an individual brilliant Indian does extremely well in America. But what does India as a nation get from that?”

Even such brilliance of these elite Indians is somewhat questionable. On TopCoder, which plenty of Indians obsess over on Quora, now infested by low status Indians, India is ranked, as I am currently writing this, only 11th out of the 31 countries on there, with only two red (the highest category) coders, despite having more than twice the number of members as China, the second most populous nation in this algorithmic coding contest. They’ve actually done better in recent years. I remember back years ago when I participated, I, having been on the lower side of yellow (the second highest category) coder, would have ranked close to the top among the Indians. Of course, one must not discount the possibility that the best Indians have better things to do than practice for a contest where one solves artificial algorithmic problems, which is consistent with my having seen and worked with many Indians who are very competent at real software engineering, with quite a strong sense for systems design and real world production code, which are rather orthogonal to, and much more consequential than, what one sees in those contrived coding contests and interviews. Still, the dismally low performance of Indians on TopCoder still raises suspicions, because TopCoder, like the International Math Olympiad, which India is complete garbage at, is a 100% objective and fair contest, whereas success in the real world software engineering, determined by promotions and professional level, has a political and context component. It’s not just the Indians at home; even in America, where the smartest Indians tend to go, the Chinese kids beat the Indian kids by a wide margin on the elite math, computing, and physics olympiads, even when the Indian kids seem to have improved a fair bit over the recent years. From this, one can only conclude that Indians are naturally not that strong in the abilities which these contests load on, though of course they may be relatively much more talented in research and engineering, for which these contests are very imperfect predictors.

You, the reader, have probably noticed that up to now, we’ve focused mostly on brains and technical ability. Yes, they are essential, but personality characteristics (both individual and collective) and “soft skills” also matter, especially if one wants to rise to a leadership position. From my personal observation, Indians are, in general, very good at projecting confidence and assertiveness from the way the talk and present themselves, much better than Chinese are, at least in the American cultural context, even when you discount the language barrier Chinese face relative to Indians. I’m talking not only about how one says things in terms of word choice, but the vocal tone and body language behind it. Sure, you can disdain this as superficial, but it matters. Perception matters as much, and in some cases, more, than substance. There is also that Indians seem to have a stronger network and help each out more in the career world. Collective intelligence or ethnic nepotism, you be the judge.

I have stories to tell on this. First of all, I remember vividly how when I interned at the place as an Indian schoolmate, he was the only one who scheduled, successfully in a few cases, coffee meetings with executives, as an intern (!!!!!), when it never would have occurred to me, or probably almost everyone else except him, to even try. One can sort of link this to collective intelligence, in that it is an indicator of discernment with regard to who matters (the executives) and who doesn’t (the engineer worker bees) within the political organization. And needless to say, you rise up in the organization by aligning yourself with the people who matter. Yes, my telling a full-time engineer this was met largely with a response in the likes of: “He knows who matters and who doesn’t. And even if he completely fucks up, he has nothing to lose, he’s only a 2nd year college intern. In any case, he gets good practice interacting with people who matter.” There is also that multiple people I know have complained about blatant Indian favoritism in interviews in the likes of what is described in this Quora answer. Yes, others have told me that when Indians interview other Indians, the bar is much lower. It’s not just in interviews. Another guy told me about how he once worked for a company that turned into ruins after Indian managers protected some Indian fuckups from getting fired. Personally, I have seen a case of Indians getting promoted way faster than those of other ethnic groups on a big team with an Indian director. So sometimes, I ask myself the verboten. Could it be that Indians really are far higher ranked in tech companies than their ability and contribution, because they are much more self-promoting and collectively nepotistic than those of other groups? Moreover, could it be that many people secretly think and resent this but are too afraid to say out of fear of being publicly vilified for “being racist” and having their careers ruined from alienating a national group increasingly powerful in corporate America? And that gradually, other groups, as they awake to the rigging of the game and get past, reluctantly, their moral objections, will quietly do the same, transforming tech companies and the American workplace at large into literal prison gangs contend, destroying whatever is left of the ideal of meritocracy and fair play in this country, ever more mired in identity politics?

Don’t get me wrong. There is much variance in personality and character and ability in those of any ethnic group, including for Indians, and much overlap between ethnic groups. Like, I know of this really brilliant Indian who donates most of his tech salary to very worthy causes, leaving little for himself, and he would be the last person I would expect, based on his characterized as autistic personality, to successfully climb the corporate ladder, though through sheer talent alone, he should do just fine in the appropriate position. Moreover, I have interacted with several Indians who had been very kind, tolerant, and helpful towards me. However, averages can differ by a standard deviation or more, with enormous social consequences.

I actually feel somewhat sympathetic for India and the Indians here. Somebody, on this, even said something along the lines of: “India is just such a shitty place that the Indians here have nothing to lose, so they play dirty political games and engage in the most spineless social climbing.” What can be done to resolve this? Immediately, I cannot think of anything other than drastically reducing the number of abjectly impoverished, low IQ Indians in India by simultaneously improving economic conditions and enforcing birth control on the poor and unable, so that less suffering and dysfunction is spread to the next generation. India could, instead of drinking the democracy Kool-Aid, learn from China, in a way compatible to its own culture and circumstances, just as China did from the West and the Soviet Union, to great success. Its elite needs to correct many of its deeply flawed social attitudes, and not only that, actually act accordingly with full force; otherwise, the excessive damage India does to itself, America, and the world at large with its internal dysfunction and exported corruption will always far outweigh what its elites contribute to science and technology. I can’t be optimistic on this though, barring some really radical change.