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Bucket List Progress in 2023
In 2023 I didn't buy a house, change jobs, speak at a conference, or go through a pandemic at the level where I'd center the past few years. The memorable moments were probably family reunion and weddings, biking in Wisconsin, the eye scare and Jamaica, riding in a Waymo and a FSD Tesla, and the Utah national parks trip.
I crossed 100 days practicing Bahasa Indonesia on Duolingo. It remains to be seen if my brain stored any of that, because I still can't understand a Wiki article or a TikTok. But it did help me plan travel for spring 2024.
I learned how to train LLaMA models (quantization and LoRA adapters), fine-tuned an image model, mentored an existential risk project for a paper co-author credit, made an HTML-screenshot loop for GPT-4, messed with the cartoon dataset, and drafted a method to test models' awareness of their abilities (this hasn't gone anywhere special).
To be serious about ML, there's a lot more that I need to complete, and follow through on. It'd be interesting to meet alignment researchers - maybe one of the hubs in Europe (Serbia?). I had an idea around running a workshop at INLG or NeurIPS on mental health models, but the relevant people in my network didn't commit. In 2024, I should aim to post something cool on /r/LocalLLaMA, where all the cool kids share info.
One unrealized interest is genetics / seed banks / resilience. Work on CRISPR or epigenetics would also be cool plus a good investment. I made a list of links and applied to a few relevant companies. Recently the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative opened a "Biohub" in the West Loop. My other leads for doing something in this space are: a biotech office space in Lincoln Park, the Zoo and Conservatory (which have a conservation genomics program with Northwestern), and the International Potato Center in Peru (which has wikis and websites). Local universities have ag programs, but I haven't had ideas which they can't do themselves (e.g. soybeans dataset).
I was pushed to get involved in CTF and Bug Bounty cybersecurity programs, but I haven't tried anything yet. Reportedly Grammarly has been generous with bounties. There's also tiny corp / tinygrad which is offering bounties for good PRs.
The book Some Kind of Justice on former Yugoslavia made a strong impression, but my attempt to connect with orgs led to something smaller-scale. My international law friend was rightfully cautioning me that the orgs which I've heard of are elite and competitive, but maybe someone will want a map (similar to how I worked at MoMA).
In the future I ought to write a book on travel during antiquity, or autonomous regions around the world. I didn't make progress on this, and forgot about my notes on the latter idea. After the World Conference on Statelessness next year, I could consider a journalistic piece on that vs. the Liberty in our Lifetime / Free Cities Foundation conference - two different critiques of the modern state.