Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Essay on Adaptation, leaky cost function and online Learning...a society analogy

I fall on the Paul Graham article on cities and ambition and it made my think of writing this blog on adaptation, leaky cost function, online learning and an analogy to the sinking French Quebec society.

To make the bridge with the 3 first concepts, I will use a analogy with the Quebec society.

In order the learn, we need adaptive systems as Neural Networks. In online learning, the adaptation capacity should stay constant along the time. Local minimums can screw you up but let's ignore it for the time been.

Quebec society analogy intro

In order to understand my analogy with the society I live in, I want to share some of my reflexions about the puzzle to understand the Quebec Society. I am born in France and I migrated to Quebec at 9 years olds. During the last 5 years, I tried to elucidate my profound incomprehension of the deep ambitions of the French Quebec Society, if they have some;). According to me, it seems to be a leaky cost function assumption that lead them to their stagnation, coming assimilation and their slow extinction.

To understand my point of view, we need to elaborate on key concepts which are adaptation, equality versus inequality and education access.

Adaptation pros and cons, local minimal and ambition

Adaptation is one of the greatest ability of the human kind but also one of the worst. Adaptation to mediocrity can be a survival strategy to get through hard time but getting use to it reflects true low ambitions or incapacity to do online learning. The Quebec nation seems to have this disease.
  • Quebec people accept staying in a destructive mode seen 1982, a constitutional status quo that lead to politic instability, economic stagnation and reduced political power by excluding them self from the Canadian power with the Bloc Quebecois for too long.
  • Quebec people accept the status of a sub nation (nation inside the Canada).
  • Quebec people accept mediocre governments, mediocre public transport systems, way too expensive and inefficient heath system, highest taxes in north america etc.
Quebec people seems to have no real will for improvement, it is doing the job (you should see "Le confort et l'indifférence"). In the machine learning point of view, is that a local minimal? What is the problem with Quebec society cost function? Is that only the lack of ambition? Knowing that close to half of the population have voted for the separation of Canada in the 95 referendum, it might shadow something more rooted to the French culture.

Cost function assumption : Equality versus inequality

From an anthropology point of view, French nuclear family lead to a conception of a world of equality (see Emmanuel Todd). to simplify, everyone should have the same chance, same access to education, same heath services and so on.
The Anglos-Saxon culture lead to the conception of an inequality world. The inequality conception lead people to work harder knowing there is no lower boundary and they can go deeper if they are too lazy.
Knowing we are born unequal, Anglos-axon assumption conception seems to be better adapted to human kind reality. On the other hand equality lead to an education level increase of the society indepedandly of the economy which as lot of pros and cons.
Why equality is a weak assumption? Equality can stand in rich societies because they can afford it. Unfortunately, Quebec society is getting poorer and its population is disadvantaged by its illusion of equality that leaks from everywhere (i.e.: health system, education, public kid garden etc.)

Missing link: Education and production of wealth

Quebec has the most affordable access to education in north America and few take advantage of it. Anyone knows that the more educated is your society, the more productive and healthy she will be and the more accessible the utopia of an equality world can be possible. By using education to get more productive, a society will create wealth and can afford utopia as the equality concept. French society seems to miss this key point.

French Quebec society is dying and the Anglo-Saxon supremacy should take over

The leaky equality concept and the low ambition of the Quebec society seems to lead this society to online learning incapacity, its incapacity to adapt further. This incapacity leads to its extermination by the growing assimilation to the Anglo-Saxon supremacy of its global cost function model. Inequality based cost function seems to be better adapted for a society that want to stay alive.

Wrap up (it is time to conclude)
Leaky cost function assumption can lead online learning to adaptation incapacity like been stuck in a local minimal as a slow death as the French Quebec nation folklorisation current process. It is simply the evolution, a Darwin consequence, who can't adapt simply die. Facing reality makes life easier.
The most important thing is that the cost function should reflect your goals. If you have a supervisor, try to get a good estimation of its cost function because it will simplify your ascention everywhere.

Quebec French culture creates a huge retention for me to stay in montreal but I wish Montreal a better drive for machine learning, startups as you can get in California. Montreal is simply sub-exploited. Don't take my words for granted, it is an essay. Make you own judgement from your own eyes and exploration.

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