Infrequently Asked Questions
Do you really expect people to read all this? What's the purpose of this page?
If you read this one page about me, you would know me better than you know your neighbours. It can be hard to learn about a person from their social media profiles. You meet so many people in different situations, that most of them only know one aspect of your personality. That's why I made this page.
Okay, who are you again?
I’m an engineer, and formerly a business strategy executive. Right now I'm studying Systems Engineering at Cornell University in the USA. I've been working on artificial intelligence and robots. I like combining knowledge from multiple disciplines to solve problems. I got my education in India and China, studying everything from semiconductors to public health, and from art & design to financial history. I am a plant-based athlete for health, environment, economic and ethical reasons. And I am also a teacher - most recently, I gave a guest lecture to artists at Tokyo Zokei University about AI and human creativity (I spoke in Japanese).
What are a few cool things you're capable of?
- I could build software which can drive a car, fly a plane, or even be your doorman.
- I have coached hundreds of people in getting their dream jobs.
- In 2015 I wrote a thesis predicting that the price of crude oil would stay low for 3 years. My prediction has been 100% true. Pity I didn't short some oil stocks.
- Nothing bragworthy here, but I can converse in English, Hindi, French, Chinese and Japanese. Actually I could communicate with pretty much anyone regardless of what language they use.
It seems you switched back from business to engineering? Why?
Technology revolutions like the one happening right now come once in decades, so I decided that I want to dedicate some time to AI and autonomous robots. At the same time, the planet faces an urgent problem of climate change and pollution - so I also want to work on these challenges, especially in our supply of food, energy and materials.
All these initiatives required me to be a hands-on engineer once again. I've always been very technology-oriented and had business acumen, but for a long time only 10% of my work was about technology. Now it is 90% and I'm loving it.
It's also worth saying that once you develop your skills in marketing and operations to a high degree, they become a natural part of your way of thinking in everyday life. After that, whether you're an engineer or a teacher or a doctor, you'll always think about a problem from multiple perspectives.
What is 'Systems Engineering' all about?
Systems Engineering is an engineering methodology that helps you build the best solution to a problem, at the lowest cost, in the most efficient and flexible manner. It is especially useful to follow such a methodology in the case of large, complex systems where there are a lot of system requirements, many stakeholders, very diverse teams of experts working together, in high-stakes environments - when you can't always wing it or follow a "move fast and break things" approach.
As Systems Engineers we are rigorously meticulous - we employ modeling tools and processes that help us along every step of the project, from assessing the customer's needs to testing and deploying the system, and keeping everyone on the same page. Systems Engineering is used extensively in organizations that build safety-critical systems, such as spacecraft, airplanes, autonomous vehicles, etc.
Where can I learn more about your work and ideas, or send you a business inquiry?
You could just email me and chat. To find my email address, you will go on a journey of heroic, swashbuckling adventure to the bottom of... this page.
I write essays explaining complex things with simple talk. There are millions of very smart people who don't use English as their first language. It's difficult for them to read advanced scientific texts and business articles shared online by most English speakers. I also have a low tolerance for unnecessarily sophisticated talk. So I decided to do something about both these things. You can read my essays here.
I am also building a web platform called DenseLayers, on which people can help each other understand hard-to-read scientific research papers and discuss ideas. It's going to be amazing, believe me!
Why did you go to study in China? How was your experience?
It's a big, beautiful and influential country, with a rich culture. And yet it seemed so mysterious. I decided to explore its land and meet its people, and it was one of my best decisions ever. Got lifelong friends and lifelong lessons. Now I can use chopsticks in the traditional way, and I also know how NOT to use the word 小姐.
You mentioned 'combining knowledge from multiple disciplines'. Can you give one example?
At Duke, I took some classes in public health policy. Now, health measures often involve giving people some advice like "exercise for 20 minutes every day" or "reduce the amount of oil you use in cooking by 80%" etc, depending on the health problem. But how do you ensure that people actually follow these instructions at home without 'cheating'? There has been a lot of research into this question and I found it fascinating. Later when I worked in online education, I was once responsible for making sure that a large number of students stay on track and study regularly to complete their training program in time. Most of the techniques I used came from what I studied in my public health classes, and they were very successful.
Are you a nerd?
If there was a worldwide competition to find the biggest nerd ever, I wouldn't even hear about the competition. So the answer is yes.
What do you do outside of work?
I practice mainly two martial arts, Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. My main throws, if you'd like to know, are the usual Uchi Mata, Ouchi Gari, and when on the ground I tend to try to choke people, and I have no idea why. I think I'm inherently not an armbar person.
Apart from that, I like watching international cinema. I read a lot of history. I love cooking. I also love traveling and meeting new people. I like working out and taking care of my body - handstand pushups, I'm coming!
How did you come up with that opening line at the top?
I spent 15 minutes generating as many title lines on paper as I could. This one popped out of my brain towards the end. Maybe you can call it a forced fart of creativity? I don't know.