Justin Li


Lost in Life

2008-02-20

I'm feeling a little lost right now.

My projects this quarter are going okay, not great, but it's progressing. But that's not the sense in which I'm getting lost (although I think it contributes). I'm a little worried about what will happen in the future.

When I graduated from high school, I was pretty sure what I wanted to be: a computer science professor, teaching and doing research, most likely in some field of artificial intelligence. I have stuck to that dream job for most of the past three years, except for the past week I began having slight doubts. I'm not sure I'm suited for that profession.

It is not the case that suddenly find myself disliking computers. I still love to program, still love to hear ideas about how to turn a dumb piece of silicon into a reasoning, helpful machine. But I realized that I want to do something more. Not only something more interesting than aggregating search results, but something different.

In other words, something ground breaking.

And that's when I begin to have doubts. I've talked about this with some of my friends before. A lot of the great people in the last century were already great when they were young. Feynman, my ideal of a quirky genius, was already a genius in high school. One of my friends have co-written papers in ACM. While I'm here blogging away, not really helping the community at all.

I sometimes wonder if my smaller projects will be remembered and glorified in a future biography.

At the same time, I feel like my interests are also drawn somewhere else. I have an interest in modeling evolution, currently most prominently in modeling how reciprocal can develop giving the right environments. I like teaching, computer science or otherwise, and have recently taken an interest in finding ways of making computers more accessible to people without a technical background. And then there's design, which is not one of my fortes but still one of my curiosities.

All that, and I graduate in one and a half years. What am I going to do with myself?

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