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Rewind 2023: Why should we be grateful to be born as humans?

Note: Without questioning your intellectual ability, it is advisable to read this essay in a free mind or maybe print it because a. It is 3500+ words and b. It overlaps multiple topics. Happy Reading!

As 2023 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the passing moments rather than quantifying my life in years. I hold a fundamental belief that my existence on this Earth is comprised of a series of moments, and my purpose is to contribute to creating better moments for other humans (current and future generations). Nevertheless, acknowledging the conventional yearly perspective, I'd like to highlight a few discoveries and aspects of 2023 that have resonated with me.

Before delving into the depths of this essay, allow me to share a true story: During my ninth-grade year, we were introduced to Newton's laws, accompanied by the famous tale of an apple falling from a tree triggering his discoveries. Initially, I dismissed these laws as mere observations of the obvious – the inevitability of an apple falling (after falling, it can’t fly in the sky, no) or the correlation between heating and temperature increase (if you heat something, temperature will increase, it will not decrease). I questioned why figures like Newton received such acclaim for stating the obvious. Back then, my curiosity was limited; I excelled in memorization, I could memorize anything but lacked a genuine inquiry into the significance of these laws. As there was no one to answer my questions I accepted the norm was that these were the rules set by the Creator (God).

However, as I delved deeper into understanding our world on a fundamental level, questioning every aspect, I underwent a profound realization. Nothing in our world is inherently obvious; every principle, law, or discovery has been crafted or invented by humans, barring the natural phenomena. This enlightenment marked a shift in my perspective. I began to appreciate the privilege of being born as a human, developing a profound respect for those who laid the foundations of the modern world. It was a realization of the sheer luck associated with being human. If you are reading this essay, you, too, should express gratitude to the countless individuals who have enabled the exchange of thoughts across the vast intersection of space and time.

Starting from the Greek philosophers, who laid out the foundation of numbering systems, Alen Turning who envisioned a machine that can solve any problem and this list would be super long. Frankly, when I think about this I feel emotion because not many would ever know. After all, today’s world seems so obvious. "If the creator (God) asks us about civilization's achievement - we can proudly say, look we made everything obvious to billions of other humans and they think it is you (GOD) who created all these. And we as a human have no problem with you (God) taking the credit of our work (lol)". 

With this foundational understanding, let us embark on the exploration of 2023...   

I am acutely aware of the myriad problems and current global dynamics, and I empathize with those facing challenges. The unfortunate reality of our civilization is its imperfection; perfection remains elusive. Constructing an ideal society, devoid of suffering, proves an unattainable goal, given the inherent diversity shaping our evolution. Yet, I cherish everything about our world, particularly our society (India), and the predecessors who toiled to make all aspects accessible, including the peace of mind that I need not fear being targeted due to ideological differences. I owe gratitude to those who recognized the importance of rural banking, despite its negative economic implications. This acknowledgment paved the way for my education, as an engineering degree, given my family's economic status in 2013-14, seemed an insurmountable challenge.

It is easy to overlook these daily privileges, but the truth remains that our ability to eat, sleep, walk, pursue our interests, and be rewarded for hard work is a testament to the endeavors of those who came before us.

To understand the gravity of this aspect there is a beautiful video of Angelina Joly at the time of receiving an award, she says - “I don’t know why I am receiving this award even though I know there are many with similar talent, in fact, more talented and beautiful than me in some refugee camp. Still, here I am receiving this award, and there she is fighting for her life and death”. I thought about that video for a while and there was no answer except one. And let's assume if I ever meet Angelina Joly, this would be my answer: Angelina, it's not YOU, it is the humans before you who made sure America became a safe place where art and culture will get rewarded and celebrated, It’s the humans who created Hollywood, it’s the humans who invented all the technology that could convert art and culture into a billion dollar industry. Hence you are receiving this award, and others are stuck in some refugee camp. Hence, Angelina, you should be grateful to the humans of your country or the place where you are receiving this award! And this same applies to every one of us - if you are safe, if your hard work is being rewarded, if you have the opportunity to speak, express, debate etc  

The reality of our life is that every single second on this earth is the greatness of billions of humans who contributed to the progress of our world or our society. Of course, I have to be more grateful for our people who sacrificed, fought, risked everything and made sure, we can have the freedom to do whatever we want of course in-the limit that we all have agreed to makes sure everyone has the same freedom. This is such a topic that will demand a complete book (let's hope I will write someday) and still, the array of thoughts will not stop hence I am going to make this a multipart essay. This is part 1 which mostly includes a few humans thanks to them today, I am living in a house, I am travelling, I can type on this computer, I can talk to anyone in this world, and the rest of the things. 

The beauty of our world may not be readily apparent without an understanding of the complex evolution and countless hours invested in building its fundamental layers – mathematics, science, engineering, technology, biology etc. Here is an example: To start with, I love my body hence I take care of my body like a baby. However, this was not the case always. This taking care of my body has come in the past 3 years, when I understood the complexity, the marvellous engineering, self-structuring, layers of complex evolution, progression and the instance feedback loop of action (good or bad). I have reclaimed the vitality of my 23-year-old self, dispelling the sense of being 27.- there is no way, I will not take care of my body like a baby.  

How can I not express gratitude for Euclid's algorithm, the foundational concept underpinning the computers we use today? Euclid's contribution set the stage for Alan Turing's vision of a Universal Machine capable of solving any problem. The subsequent progress and development in technology owe much to these initial building blocks. Even before Euclid, acknowledgment is due to those who developed the numbering system, fostering collaboration and progress by embracing zero – a time when diverse societies maintained distinct numbering systems. This collaborative effort laid the groundwork for Turing's creation of algorithms and the conceptualization of a Universal Machine - an approximation of today’s machine. 

Even before delving into the intricate world of gratitude, I must extend my thanks to Indian Scholar Pingala (2nd BC) and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), who laid the foundation for the binary system. This binary system proved essential for testing the Turing system. The validation of Turing's system and the testing of its initial hypothesis marked one of the most significant breakthroughs in the progress of civilization. It opened the door to the possibility of constructing a universal machine capable of solving all of civilization’s problems. We only had to figure out answers to two questions:

  1. Could we convert that work into an algorithm? 

  2. Could the machine compute that algorithm, providing us with the answers? Hence, computability became intertwined with mathematics.  

  3. The 2nd question opens the gate of parallel computing, CPU, GPU, TPU etc. 

Reflecting on today's machines, it's remarkable how they still adhere to the same fundamental principle: the conversion of work into an algorithm and the provision of computing power for its execution. Imagining the first versions of coding involving punching sheets of paper or the early prompt-based computers, I appreciate the evolution. I, and billions like me, could not have navigated the realm of punch-card coding or prompt-based systems. Thus, my gratitude extends to the individuals who streamlined the complexities of machines, making them accessible to billions. Every time I contemplate this, I am reminded of the humans who laid the foundations of today's machines, a foundation without which we would feel utterly powerless.

Thanks to the efforts of those mentioned and countless others, we possess machines that contribute positively to our world's productivity. Despite acknowledging the negatives, the net impact remains positive. Even with these advanced machines at our disposal, I remain grateful to the humans who established the fundamentals of mathematics, science, engineering, biotechnology, and more. Given my affinity for mathematics, it is fitting to honour the individuals who made everything we encounter on a daily basis possible. Understanding mathematics, after all, is akin to understanding the universe.

Contemplating the vastness of mathematics and expressing gratitude becomes challenging due to the enormity of the foundational work. The very classification of math as a discovery or an invention is a debate among intellectual minds. Roger Penrose, author of "The Emperor's New Mind," offers an eloquent perspective on this debate, and I would like to quote directly from the book: “Is mathematics a discovery or invention? When mathematics came upon their results are they just producing elaborate mental constructions which have no actual reality, but whose power and elegance are sufficient to fool even their inventors into believing that these mere mental constructs are “real”? Or are mathematicians really uncovering truths which are, in fact, already there - truths whose existence is quite independent of the mathematician's activities?” 

Just on Roger’s above statement, I might write many pages, however, let’s assume that mathematicians are uncovering truths which are in fact already there because at least we can doubt. One of the ways to validate truth is to doubt it. 

Setting aside the debate, let's, for the moment, consider math as an invention. Regardless of its classification, the respect and gratitude it inspires within me are immense. Just envisioning that the physical structure of our world is grounded in mathematical principles, particularly geometry, evokes a sense of wonder. However, math alone couldn't have birthed our modern physical world. A simple equation encapsulates our reality:

Math + Physical Laws = Magic (Physical World)

Despite the accelerated progress in our digital world, the significance lies in the physical world where we desire to live. When you think of our world and ask this basic question what is your contribution, and you struggle for the answer or don’t find any - you feel grateful to be born as humans. If we eliminate the God-given arguments from the equation then you could have been anything and the chances of being born as a Human is one out of a billion. If that is the case, and also there is no contribution by you in the massive world - physical and digital. Don’t you think you should be grateful? But this part of the gratefulness can’t come if you don’t understand the foundation and the enormous amount of contribution made by other humans. Or I would say a few humans. 

At times, I find myself humbled, contemplating not taking myself too seriously. Yet, an awareness of the contributions made by humans, such as Greek mathematicians Plato and Euclid laying the foundation of geometry 2300 years ago, fuels a desire to live long and be reborn as a human repeatedly. The geometric foundations they established, which we work on daily without conscious thought, underline the importance of every individual in contributing to this world. Geometry, the basis of every physical world, connects to the physical laws developed over 2000 years. Taking oneself seriously becomes a tribute to the legacy of those who shaped the world, contributing to its continual evolution.

As this marks my final essay for 2023, I must constrain it while promising to continue this series with many more parts – a series I hope humans will love. :) 

2023 was a bit different compared to all the previous years, things were difficult and there was one moment when I thought of giving up but I asked a simple question and got this realisation that even my worst is not the best for many so no point in giving up (I don’t have the answer of why I compared, yet). 

Here are the highlights of 2023 

Books: I read 43 books, however before the end of 2023, I will cross 50 as I don’t have any plan for the new year except I will read! This year, I focused on quality and my selection of books was super-measured even though I didn’t ask for book recommendations from anyone. Almost all the books that I read upgraded me hence thanks to all the books that I read - I am 50X of what I was at the end of 2022. In 2023, there were a few books that I reread and I might reread those books in 2024 as well. 

All of Books of 2023: 

I read books on diverse topics Philosophy, Science, Technology, Biology, Genomics, Quantum Physics and Dynamics, Theoretical Physics, History, Medicine, Insurance, Management etc and spent around INR 74,111, I am sure this would cross INR 80,000 by the end of the year. The best investment!

Surprisingly, the four books that are in my “All Time Favourite” and I will request everyone to read. 

However, if you would like to read just one book, it would be - I am Malala (Nobel Peace Prize winner 2014) which is the story of a girl. This book was the realisation of why I should be grateful to our predecessors those who build a safe and sound nation where all of us can have opportunities. After reading this book, I was emotional and got the biggest boost of courage and told myself there is nothing worse I will go through than what Malala went through in her village and still fought for the rights of the girl. Today, my conviction of building and improving the lives of our people is the highest. I will also gift this book to a few people.

Essays: I wrote 45 essays in 2023 that generated 50,000+ views. it seems I missed a few weeks otherwise it must be 50+. I wrote on super diverse topics, and as I read more books, I questioned everything and to get the clarity of thoughts I wrote on the diverse topics. All my essays can be categorised into three categories. 

  1. Building Jile Health 

  2. Technical 

  3. Non-technical (Society and Humans) 

All my essays: 

I wrote about how we as a society make subconscious mistakes hence we should avoid making such mistakes. I also questioned the current definition of Power and argued why we need a new definition of Power because I highlighted how our doubts could be the only truth that we all should accept hence we must doubt the current definition of Power. I also touched the luxury and why I strive for invisible luxuries rather than visible (physical) luxuries and also argued why we should celebrate real heroes who make the lives of other members better by using their luxuries (Visible and invisible) because they are essentially eliminating darkness which is nothing but absence of light. I also realised how control is an illusion and still, we have this Scientific and technological power to solve any problem especially when we can change almost everything hence a good time to stop complaining about scientific progress citing it as unnatural

In 2023, I had the biggest pressure to get married, and I still ditched because for me meaning of love and marriage is different especially when I got to know that working moms are feeling guilty by thinking they are not giving their 100% and this is a good example of why should we all strive to create positive unintended consequences. And finally, there is nothing wrong in fighting for our people which is Patriotism considering a significant % of our people are still trapped in the Allegory of Cave.  

Here are my top 4 essays of 2023

  1. Nature Vs Nurture: I think we as a society must stop making these subconscious mistakes

  2. Marriage has the lowest NPS but still getting recommended by existing users (why?)

Podcast: As I love the long-form audio content this year and thanks to Spotify Wrap, I had stats without any hustle. I listened to Podcasts for around 18,000 minutes which is equivalent to 300 hours since most of these Podcasts, considering I listened to my Podcast at 2X speed this means it was around 150 hours. I have listened to it at times of exercise or travelling - so good use of mundane time. Here is the list of the top 5 Podcasts of 2023 

  1. Lax Fridman Podcast 

  2. All-in with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg 

  3. The 20Minutes VC

  4. First Principle 

  5. Acquired

The one episode that I will recommend everyone to listen to, and I have listened to 3 times: Is the episode of Gavin Uberti on Invest Like the Best. I envy Gavin because he has a fundamental understanding of the world at the age of 21. Even though this episode is about Hardware and AI, according to me this is the master class on the fundamentals of Science and Technology.

Now, I will end this essay with the year the best moment. There is an internal essay (unpublished) and this essay is already 3500+ hence I will keep this super short. On 7th Dec it was raining (it was bin mausam barshat), I mostly travelled with autos, to have direct exposure to the environment (as we are solving a complex problem) I was sitting with a mom holding her one-year-old kid in one hand, her purse in another. Seeing her holding a kid, I initiated the conversation by asking the age of her kid, and to pay auto driver fare she asked my help to rotate her purpose. I asked her whether her husband was on duty as she was holding her kid, she said yes however, instantly she replied with confidence: Bhaya, mai bhi kaam karti hu Sachiwale me and going to meet my mother because she is unwell (I also work in Sachiwale and going to meet my mom). I can’t tell you the sighing, confidence, self-worth, pride etc on her face, and it was due to her work. That was the best moment of 2023, I wonder what if every woman in this world has similar confidence… 

And ladies and gentlemen this was the story of my Bihar… 

In conclusion, 2023 was no way near what I envisioned but I will still take it because I have never been more confident than today on the thesis of building for India’s 8 quintiles - making quality healthcare accessible and affordable - and building India’s biggest company considering Healthcare in India might leapfrog like mobile and digital payment. Today, I am grateful to millions of humans and thanks to them I do what I want to do, I hope my contribution improves the lives of a few, the way I take many things obvious, built by other humans, I hope in the next 10 years these few take their Healthcare obvious. And for me that few is 1.2 billion Indians.

I am grateful to be born as a Human :)   

On the same table and chair, I spent all my weekends and weekdays of the last quarter of 2023, wrote most of my essays, read 50% of the books. When things were not according to me, I wanted to make sure, I was not letting that affect my time and somehow controlled my mind and stay productive.

Happy New Year everyone!  

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