Magic, Lost

I have about 15 draft posts in my drafts for this blog, some are at over 1000 words, and I’m still not publishing them. I can’t seem to bring myself to publish them, so instead, I’ve pledged to write something light today, just to get my groove back. Today I’ll write about magic lost.

When I was a child, I would watch a show called Magic’s Greatest Secrets Finally Revealed. In that show, the Masked Magician (now revealed to be Val Valentino) would reveal the stage tricks of magicians, and at the end of every episode, I would feel much cleverer, having known the secrets. I guess that feeling of wanting to know things has always followed me.

Nowadays have a lot more knowledge, and as a result my brain keeps reverse engineering things as a default. And a feeling I hadn’t felt when I was younger has crept in, that is the feeling of magic lost.

Earlier this afternoon, zybler, cfgt and I were discussing Google Image Search. Since all three of us were well versed in statistics and machine learning, it didn’t take long for us to work out how Google Image Search worked, at least in broad strokes. We very quickly came to the conclusion that the image is hashed, and a search for the hash is then done. Meta information is used from the hash to provide similar pictures. At first we figured that there were some fancy computer vision algorithm behind it, but after figuring out the general gist of the idea, we were rather disappointed. We knew what kind of image you could feed Google Image Search and make it return with suboptimal results.  It’s like the magic had just disappeared.

I now understand why people don’t like movies or TV series to be spoiled. There is a want to feel that magic, to feel oneself being conned. To me, there is also the want to find out how things work. I guess balancing these two wants is the challenge. Do I mind that the magic is lost? It doesn’t bother me much. I like to know things, and I often work hard to find out how things work. The magic is only transient anyway.

What do you think? Do you like to find out how tricks were done?

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