Computer Vision, Code, Calm, and Chaos

Code mimics nature, at least as far as computer vision is concerned. I give little attention to how I see things in 3D as a human being from birth until last month.

But having to face the task of training a computer or machine to “see” images and detect features opened up a whole new dimension to the concept of being able to see things in 3D. The whole thing is a piece of massive work when you try to teach the computer to do what you have always done naturally unless you are blind.

It’s one whole complex algorithm to teach a computer to detect edges of lines (e.g. faces, road networks on a satellite image, lines of streams or rivers in a large scope of mapping areas, etc.). It’s another complex algorithm to make it see using two photo set views (similar to the two eyes that we human beings have) and create a single image view out of it. We human beings are a set of complex algorithms that seamlessly function well despite the code masks like some miraculous freak of nature. Or maybe we are complex fuck ups with lucky features inside. Either way, there is a universe to be discovered inside the human mind and body that can be translated somewhat to machines like computers with the right concepts combined.

Take for example this ability to SEE. We humans all have it in us, naturally, without any need for explicit code, matrix manipulation, or supreme effort that will physically come from our end. The more we discover, the more we marvel at what we naturally have that we do not really think of that much. I think that this is amazing in itself. We have an immense ability to look at variations in color. We are rich in things we are not fully aware of having unless we are compelled to recreate it in one way or another. For me, the realization of immense gratitude came when I had to mathematically replicate the motion and mechanism of my human eyes into the computer. 

This whole time, I am extremely busy and incommunicado for most people because I decided to tinker under the digital hood of things for a living. I am always digging towards a new place where I have never been before as far as my new technical explorations are concerned. The more I go through with it, the more I begin to feel like learning is a bottomless pit and all the efforts of my life will always be only the tip of the knowledge iceberg. Knowledge is infinite and even if I devote my entire life wearing myself out with books, I will never get to the very bottom of everything. But I have to keep trying because that’s what my brain is made for. I have proven this time and time again with my life experiences. When you know what you are wired for, you just cannot turn your back no matter how much work it will entail, even if it causes you to lose other things. 

One truth: I have a finite resource of time, life, and abilities. And the only thing left for me to do is just do my best with it and not waste time on other things. Unfortunately, my human defects make me waste time. My inability to say no to wasteful activities makes me waste time. My fear of missing out on YOLO things make me waste time. A new lesson learned today: telling people that they are wasting their time out of concern or love is still wasting my time! 😀

A good friend who is also into life optimization told me that she hated feelings because feelings distracted her from her goals. I chuckled at it when she mentioned it to me hours ago but I think about it now and I realize that excessive feeling does distract us from our activities. Just an hour ago, I think I got really worked up over something stupid and meaningless. I wasted around an hour over that stupid thing and I realize now that I should have just devoted that hour to cracking this computer vision equation I am cooking up for a project. I could have done better progress, but I let myself be distracted for an hour. A full hour! Damn!

(Tell you what, I already lost that hour of my life forever and there is no manufacturing plant that will give it back to me in bottled or reusable form. So I need to work on writing this paragraph about that wasted hour in under five minutes so that I can go back to my other more important topics and not have it waste any more additional time.)

I really wanted to sink in a cave for a full month (one without snakes in it and with a nice Linux machine on a bean couch). Just sink there and let my systems hang loose so that I can figure out how I can have those enlightening experiences that some authors claim to have. I think it was an Og Mandino book that I got recently. He was about to kill himself when he started turning things around for his life. He had a gun in his hand and less than ten dollars in his pocket at the time of his epiphany. He felt like his life was pond scum. But it’s like St. Paul’s Damascus calling. He ended up writing really nice books that sold. I bought one from a book sale in Iligan last month and I continue to be amazed at how he turned things around for his life in a good way. Light hits us in different ways. And I like those encounters because it inspires me not to put a gun in my head or do other drastic things in the midst of my figuring things out. It reminds me some encouragement in my head along the lines of: “Hey girl, some great people trudged through life ahead of you and felt like life shitted on them but did not end up killing themselves. Just before they pulled the trigger to end things, things turned around for the better. So hang in there, girl.”

I have trained myself to coach myself that way when I am feeling down. Because you will be surprised at how stingy people are with encouragement these days. If I rely on other people’s inputs for my life satisfaction or motivation, I would have been better off as a dead person or a zombie.

I want to be calm and steady like unruffled water in a lake. But I am very much inclined to nurture fire in my belly and a lot of passion for the causes that I firmly believe in, so much that sometimes I scorch the people around me even without meaning to. I actually felt before that I was not the marrying type precisely for this reason. Yet here I am now through no meritorious deed of my own to show for it, writing this  long blog post in bed beside my sleeping husband about chaos, computer vision, and code. Sometimes, I wonder if my husband was sane when he made the decision to marry someone as unconventional as I am. I am quite a handful and I vigilantly if his hair is starting to turn white. (It is.)

There is nothing easy about living with someone like me, although I am fiercely loving. And I try to show love in so many unconventional ways, in ways  that only I can because I don’t naturally get to do the other ways that normal wives show their love for their husbands. I just can’t. But occasionally, I still do the conventional wife things because he deserves the best of my efforts, even in those things that I am not naturally good at.

A lot of people just casually tell me: you need to calm down and take it easy. When I think of how much time is being wasted globally or how many brains are actually very slightly used in this planet now that could have been better off if sold in eBay or Sulit, even at this very minute, it eludes me how I can actually calm down and take it easy myself.

Then I remember the chaos– that everything is chaos and control is an illusion. Then I remember that even my own way of seeing physically has an order ordained to function awake and asleep in the middle of all this chaos. And I kind of tend to sit back and relax because I know that I am no God of this universe to worry about the things I cannot control. And then I take it easy, soothed by the fact that I am not this universe’s God, and thankfully so.

Then. after some time, I forget that. I get worked up again in one way or another and then I have to do this exercise all over again until I calm down. I will have to do this exercise until my last breath because I am always getting worked up for numerous reasons. It’s a recurring loop of my life’s code.

I used to be so into introspection and then I got tired of the same old thing I am seeing inside day in and day out. So I optimized other things. Instead of ruminate of wasteful things, I just surrendered my neurons to the things and problems of computer vision, of algorithms, of tensors, of web development, of Django, of travel plans, of my instagram androidography attempts, of my blog, of literary attempts, of magnetic poetry, of everything else that needs helping.

And in there, I find the comfort in the chaos. Because some tiny ducks of life can still be lined up in those fields even when everything else is just not going right.










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