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🎁 Valentin's Present - Curiosity - #2

Hope you find this week's present interesting.

🎁 Valentin's Present

September 9 · Issue #2 · View online
Weekly gift. Mouthwatering concepts, tempting questions, juicy books, delicious songs, exquisite short films, and other surprises.

Hope you find this week’s present interesting.

Provoking Picture
Day to night photo of Serengeti by Stephen Wilkes
Photographer Stephen Wilkes takes awesome “Day to Night” photographs. He takes a bunch of photos of the same frame, then chooses the most special moments and compresses them all into a single, beautiful photo.

Mouthwatering Concepts
One of the most interesting scientific papers I’ve read is
“Driven by Compression Progress: A Simple Principle Explains Essential Aspects of Subjective Beauty, Novelty, Surprise, Interestingness, Attention, Curiosity, Creativity, Art, Science, Music, Jokes” by Jürgen Schmidhuber. Link to PDF.
The paper looks at humans as information processing machines that compress complex experiences into simpler concepts that help us understand and remember aspects of the world.
Compressing lots of information into concepts like “exercise improves my health” or “E=mc^2” helps us be more efficient.
Jürgen tries to use this “compression” principle to understand concepts such as beauty, curiosity, jokes, etc., in a computational sense, arguing for tons of mouthwatering concepts such as:

Beauty is Compression
From the paper:
“The subjective beauty B(D, O(t)) of a new observation D [with respect to the observer O at time t is] proportional to the number of bits required to encode D, given the observer’s limited previous knowledge embodied by the current state of its adaptive compressor.”
Basically, from the perspective of some observer, the more compressed something is, the more beautiful it is.  
An easy example to illustrate this concept is faces. Studies have shown that our brains store a representative model of a human face, and then perceive a new face by looking at only the differences between it and this model.
This immediately explains why many human observers prefer faces similar to their own. What they see every day in the mirror will influence their subjective prototype face, for simple reasons of coding efficiency. Similarly, faces that are symmetrical are more easily compressed, and thus appear to us as more beautiful.
Another example is that mathematicians find beauty in compressing lots of information into a simple proof or equation, like E=mc^2 or:
Euler's formula, considered one of the "most beautiful equations".

Interestingness is the derivative (steepness) of Compression (Beauty)
“What’s beautiful is not necessarily interesting. A beautiful thing is interesting only as long as it is new, that is, as long as the algorithmic regularity that makes it simple has not yet been fully assimilated by the adaptive observer who is still learning to compress the data better. It makes sense to define the time-dependent subjective Interestingness I(D, O(t)) of data D relative to observer O at time t as the first derivative of Beauty.”
Essentially, the greater the improvement from an old compression to a new one, the more interesting you find a piece of data.
For example, when Newton introduced the law of Gravity, people found it super interesting because this simple concept explained so many observations of falling apples and other objects.
Curiosity is the desire to compress
“Curiosity is the desire to create or discover more regular data that is novel and surprising … in the sense that it allows for compression progress because its regularity was not yet known”
We have that compressing helps us create beauty and be more efficient — but how do we do this?
We humans are already wired to feel a super cool emotion called curiosity that makes us crave interesting things — and thus find what things can have the greatest compression progress.
So, big takeaway is to follow your curiosity.
Curiosity helps us find or create beautiful things and be more efficient.

Exquisite Short Film
You Can Learn Anything - YouTube
Awesome minute and a half showing how learning isn’t instantaneous but you can learn anything.

Juicy Book
Link. This book has one of the juiciest descriptions I’ve ever seen and it lives up to it. The book relates a lot with our mouthwatering concepts of compression and progress.
“In this groundbreaking book, award-winning physicist David Deutsch argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe—and that improving them is the basic regulating principle of all successful human endeavor. Taking us on a journey through every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilization, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress—which he argues is potentially boundless—can and cannot happen. Hugely ambitious and highly original, The Beginning of Infinity explores and establishes deep connections between the laws of nature, the human condition, knowledge, and the possibility for progress.”

Craveable Short Poem
might make them angry.
it will make you free.
— if no one has ever told you, your freedom is more important than their anger
By Nayyirah Waheed
Melt-in-your-mouth Podcast
Breaker: The Joe Rogan Experience - #1169 - Elon Musk
This past Thursday Elon was in Joe’s podcast and they talked about pretty interesting things.

Delicious Music
Chan Chan by Buena Vista Social Club, which tastes like a Cuban Sandwich with Afro Sauce, the most recent musical dish I’ve cooked.
Beautiful by Bazzi and Camila Cabello, which tastes like Plums.
And if you want something more chill for studying now that school started, you can try a Maple Glazed Donut.

Hope this present piqued your curiosity at some point. Let me know any thoughts or feedback. Do you prefer this on Sundays over Saturdays? Just hit reply.

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