So my time in Annecy is coming to an end – next week I relocate to Paris. In the meantime, I’ve been to Grenoble and taken classes in Deep Learning.
Annecy in Autumn
The weather is turning colder, and it’s time for a few last photos of Annecy before I leave next week for Paris, and new adventures.
I spent a day in Grenoble, which is two hours from Annecy by train. I went there to catch up with a friend. Many of the people I know in Annecy – who have graduated and have their baccalaureate, – are now moving far and wide to pursue tertiary education.
Grenoble is a mix of pretty and urban, I guess the norm for a University focused town. It’s surrounded by mountains and has a very efficient tram system.
A river winds through the town, a lot like the Seine in Paris. There is a bastille on one of the hills on the north side of the river that you can reach by cable car. From there you get great views of the whole region.
It’s definitely a place I’ll visit again before I head north. I think I’ll miss the towns and the people in this part of France, always so warm and friendly.
Joining the Putty Tribe
One of the issues I’ve faced my whole life is an unbounded interest in far too many topics. I am obsessed with learning, and this is probably one of the reasons why I never really settled down with a 9-to-5 day job focused on one specific career. I never knew how I ended up this way; growing up in a little dairy-focused village in rural New Zealand, combined with a (Government-tested, just so you know) I.Q. of 156 and a hyperemotional sensitivity meant I spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts. Learning always seemed to fill the void.
I recently discovered a TED talk by a woman with similar issues – Emilie Wapnick. She also wrote a book called “How to be Everything” that talks about dealing with having so many interests and not being able to focus on one specifically.
She also started a community she calls the “Putty Tribe”. There’s a public website at puttylike.com and you can join a private community of similar-minded people at theputtytribe.com. So far I’ve found it very rewarding and the feedback from other people dealing with similar issues is very helpful.
I’ve always been fascinated by artificial intelligence and machine learning. With the growth of super powerful GPUs that allow neural networks to train in shorter times than ever before, the field of machine learning is exploding. That’s evidenced by the huge amount of investment in projects like self-driving cars. I decided to take the leap! That involved learning a new programming language, Python, and also learning to use tools and deep learning libraries such as Google’s TensorFlow. It’s been challenging, and I threw myself in head first by signing up not only for the Udacity nano degree, but the Coursera one as well. I just passed the first module of the Coursera programme so I’m happy about that.
Deep Learning and AI scare a lot of people, but it’s really just about building tools that can analyse huge data sets and learn to make predictions. This can involve techniques like logistic regression (for example, predicting house prices based on house sale data), convolutional neural networks (analyzing images and being able to identify what’s in them), recurrent neural networks (learning sequences like text) and so on. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve been building a tool to analyse the entire Harry Potter series and then generate new paragraphs in the same style.
Harry Potter and the Department of Mygical Cleak
Harry looked at him. Harry stopped, and then he saw that he was thinking about his forehead.
“Well – ” said Ron, who was staring at the castle and then the street standing in the common room.
“I don’t know what the Dark Lord was there,” said Harry slightly.
“Well – ”
“What is it was a surprise?” said Madam Hooch.
“Well, I didn’t know,” said Mr. Weasley, who was still singing around the stairs to the common room. “I’ve got a litter one who has never seen it wants to go.”
The documentary on Joseph Viatte, contact juggler, is still underway. It’s in the editing phase and brings a bunch of interesting challenges.
I’m also working on a screenplay, and once I’m in Paris I’ll start to get involved in various filmmaking groups there, and get myself back into the industry – it’s been a long time since my days on Lord of the Rings.
I’m attending the World A.I. Summit in October, and then heading back to New Zealand for a month or so over Christmas.