What follows is my explanation to a friend of how the problem of Local Maxima had a direct relation to her real life.

In essence: When dealing with problem spaces (a way of considering any given problem as a multi-dimensional space of possible states, where each dimension is relevant to the problem somehow) Local Maxima are optimized solutions for a given portion of the problem space, but they may not be even vaguely optimized regarding the whole space.

I usually think of it like a landscape, where the North, East, South and West represent the different approaches I could take, and the altitude is how good an approach it is. It’s easy (whether human or AI) to get “stuck on a hill” – find a solution that seems better than those immediately around it, and slowly refine it, but either not see the mountains in the distance that represent truly fantastic possibilities, OR not have the ability to navigate to them.

You in Vancouver before you left was a bit like a local maximum. You’d tweaked things a fair bit, had a circle of friends, a decent job, (if I remember right) a pretty good living arrangement…. but it was a hill. It wasn’t what you really wanted. What was awesome was that you took the plunge through the unknown, and the challenges (off the hill and into a Valley) in order to find something that was better for you.

Similarly, the oodles of awesome I respect about Aimée taking the plunge into the total unknown to come to a place she didn’t know with no job lined up, nor existing social network – thereby changing her and my lives for the better in SO many wonderful ways 

It makes me think of our friends and neighbours Ryan and Laura, and the leap of faith to follow a passion.

There’s a LOT more to say on the subject, and on how game theory, math, artificial intelligence and such relate to our challenges – both the normal everyday ones and the “taking the plunge” sorts of ones.

But in short: When looking back at one’s life, it is typically the places of great risk and change that led to extraordinary growth and “leveling up”. So take the plunge.

[Cue: “Can’t Find a Better Man]