Rylan Schaeffer

Kernel Papers

30 September 2020

The Idea Machine

by {"name"=>"Rylan Schaeffer", "email"=>"rylanschaeffer@gmail.com", "twitter"=>"RylanSchaeffer"}

Learning at Harvard and MIT in the Age of Artificial Intelligence


One of my favorite books is The Idea Factory: Learning to Think at MIT by Pepper White. It tells Pepper’s story as a student earning his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering at MIT in the 1980s, capturing his experiences as a student and as a researcher, including his constant feelings of inadequacy. Forty years later, as a Master’s student at Harvard conducting research in MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Science Department, these posts are my stories, inspired by Pepper and in tribute to those who came before. To highlight my favorite quote, “If I could see […] an insight, a new way of looking at [a problem] that would maybe, just maybe, find its way into future generations […] In the Eiffel tower of technology, I would be a rivet.”

NeurIPS Acceptance

My paper was accepted at NeurIPS 2020! My first paper, and boy does it feel good. The morning of, my mother asked me when results were scheduled to be released, and I told her 8 pm Pacific Time. She told me I must be wrong, and when I stood my ground, she started to argue the point.


Scholarship Applications

I’ve been working on scholarship applications, and one of the scholarship questions has absolutely brilliant questions. They state at the onset that their questions are intended to help you reflect and that they hope you find the exercise enjoyable. My favorite question asks you to list 8 improbable (unlikely but true) facts about yourself. I haven’t decided on my final set of facts, but these are the candidates I’m currently thinking of:

tags: idea-machine - 2020 - MIT - Harvard