When In IIT

It was June-End 1998, I joined IIT-Kanpur for my B.Tech Program …

The very first week, some seniors took a bunch of us to their hostel to rag us … they started belittling us … also, they were trying to brag about themselves … they showed us Penthouse and Debonaire which they brought when they were on their internships in US and Hong Kong. I got disillusioned :(

… they were in their final year, and they were bragging about being the proud owners of some almost-porn magazines which were not available in India …. When I was preparing for IIT, I thought IITians are the guys who build rockets which will someday take us to Mars. And here they were, bragging about having Penthouse :(

After a few days, I happened to explore the Central Library, I was mesmerized … It had so many books. I come from a middle-class background, books used to be an expensive luxury.

I attended all the classes for the first few weeks, I also scored 10/10 in my first quiz which happened to be in Mathematics … but after that, somehow I lost all interest. I started skipping classes, quizzes, even mid-sems :)

That was the time when I discovered the Computer Center (CC).

Henceforth I used to spend most of my time either in CC or in Library. I stopped attending classes completely.

In Library, I was usually found in the Philosophy Section or in the Physics Section. I read several books on Philosophy and Physics in the first few months. Then my neighbor, and later very good friend, Ashish Bhaskar introduced me to Computers and Java …. I spent the next few months exploring Java … I built my first website using Java Applets in 1998 … Next month I learned shell programing and I cracked the passwords of almost all my friends, with help from Ashish … the program we wrote ran for around 15 days but cracked more than 70% of the passwords.

There was one more library in the Students Activity Center (SAC), I got the membership and the first book I got issued was Mein Kampf. I got fascinated with Hitler … But somehow I found, I myself was not interested in Politics.

And that was the time I learned about Artificial Intelligence (AI). I went back to Central Library, they had an entire section devoted to AI. I still visually remember the whole shelf … there were hundreds of books on AI. I found a row which had books on AI through LISP … There were these books, all in blue. I liked one series, it had around 26 Volumes. I picked Vol. 1. Finished in 2–3 days, but didn’t understand a word. I picked 2nd Volume, finished again in 3–4 days … again didn’t get anything … Somehow I can’t give up easily … I picked 3rd Volume … halfway through, I thought probably it’s not my cup of tea 😄.

I now focused solely on Philosophy … found Vivekananda … His first book that I read was Raja Yoga. I got fascinated … I stopped caring about anything … Now I wanted to get all the supernormal powers mentioned in that booklet :) … I was probably imagining myself in future slaying dragons with my superpowers :)

… to be continued.



Building Artificial General Intelligence

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