Monday, July 01, 2024

A Fragrant Journey Through Time: The World's First Library of Heritage Smells


At the National Museum in Kraków, history is not just seen and heard – it is also smelled. Imagine stepping into a museum and being enveloped by the scent of an old painting or catching a whiff of a poet's snuffbox from centuries ago. This is now a reality, thanks to the world’s first "library of heritage smells."

Capturing the Scent of History

The National Museum in Kraków has launched an innovative project named Odotheka, which uses scientific methods to capture and reproduce the scents associated with historical objects. This pioneering initiative is in collaboration with the National Museum of Slovenia in Ljubljana and aims to archive the smells of heritage items, including masterpieces by famous Polish painters and a national poet's snuffbox from Slovenia.

The first fragrance created as part of this project was extracted from Leonardo da Vinci’s renowned painting, "Lady with an Ermine." This beloved artwork, painted between 1489 and 1491, exudes the rich scent of walnut panels, paint, and varnish. The meticulous process of scent extraction took nine months, during which scientists collected and analyzed the scent compounds using advanced laboratory equipment and their keen sense of smell.

Elżbieta Zygier, the chief curator of the National Museum in Kraków, emphasizes the importance of this sensory dimension: “The use of multiple senses makes the exhibition very attractive. Scent certainly also influences the emotions of visitors.” Indeed, the ability to smell these historical scents adds a new layer of engagement and accessibility, especially for visually impaired visitors.

A Library of Knowledge and Scent

The Odotheka project is not just about recreating smells but preserving them for future generations. Tomasz Sawoszczuk, who coordinates the research part of the project at the Kraków University of Economics, explains, “It will be a library of knowledge about the scent of a given heritage object, taking into account the historical context. We will learn what chemical compounds need to be mixed to obtain a particular odour.”

In total, ten objects will have their scents archived, including works by Polish artists Stanisław Wyspiański, Olga Boznańska, and Alina Szapocznikow. Each fragrance captures a piece of history, offering a sensory connection to the past that goes beyond visual appreciation.

The Pioneers of Heritage Smell Preservation

The Odotheka project is part of a broader European initiative led by Odeuropa, a group dedicated to the study and preservation of olfactory heritage. Odeuropa's mission is to identify, preserve, and promote the importance of scents in our cultural heritage. Through interdisciplinary research, they aim to highlight how smells contribute to our understanding of history and cultural identity.

A Global Trend: Scent in Cultural Heritage

This novel approach to preserving heritage through scent is part of a growing global trend. In Germany, scents are being used to enhance travel experiences, making them more immersive. According to a National Geographic article, these olfactory experiences can transport travelers back in time, enriching their understanding and memory of a place. The sense of smell, being closely linked to memory, can evoke vivid recollections and emotional responses, making the past feel tangible and alive.

Similarly, in India, an article on characterization of the smell of bustling cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Calcutta, and Chennai was published on the Vice portal. These cities are characterized by their distinct scents, from the spices of street markets to the earthy smell of monsoon rains. India, with its incredible diversity and rich cultural heritage, stands to benefit greatly from such an initiative. Preserving these olfactory elements would help maintain a sensory connection to its history and vibrant present, offering a multi-sensory exploration of India's legacy.

The Future of Olfactory Heritage

The preservation of olfactory heritage opens new avenues for experiencing and understanding history. By engaging multiple senses, museums and cultural institutions can offer more immersive and inclusive experiences. The initiative taken by National Museum in Kraków is a pioneering step in this direction, setting a precedent for how we can connect with our past in deeper, more meaningful ways.

As visitors to the museum catch the scent of da Vinci's masterpiece or the snuffbox of a Slovenian poet, they are not just observing history; they are creating a distinct memory of this experience, allowing the fragrances to transport them through time. This innovative blend of art, science, and sensory experience ensures that the essence of history is preserved and appreciated in all its richness.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Discover What ChatGPT Can Do: A Comprehensive Guide to AI Chatbot Capabilities

Discover What ChatGPT Can Do: A Comprehensive Guide to AI Chatbot Capabilities

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more integrated into our daily lives. One of the most exciting advancements in AI is ChatGPT. Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT is a chatbot designed to interact with users in a conversational manner. Its ability to understand and generate human-like text has made it a valuable tool in many areas. This guide explores what ChatGPT can do and why it matters.

Understanding ChatGPT

ChatGPT is built on the GPT-4 architecture. GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer. This technology allows ChatGPT to understand and generate text based on the context of the conversation. It can perform various tasks, from answering questions to writing essays.

Everyday Uses of ChatGPT

Answering Questions

ChatGPT is excellent at answering questions. It provides information on a wide range of topics. For example, you can ask about the weather, historical events, or how to solve a math problem. ChatGPT gives detailed and accurate responses.

Writing Assistance

ChatGPT is a helpful tool for writing tasks. It can help compose emails, write essays, and generate creative content like stories or poems. This makes it a valuable assistant for students, professionals, and anyone who needs help with writing.

Language Translation

ChatGPT can translate text from one language to another. This makes it easier to communicate with people who speak different languages. This feature is especially useful for travelers and international business communications.

Professional Applications

Customer Support

Many companies use ChatGPT for customer support. The chatbot can handle inquiries, troubleshoot problems, and provide information about products and services. This reduces the workload on human support agents and improves response times for customers.


In education, ChatGPT can act as a tutor. It explains complex topics in simple terms, provides practice problems, and helps with homework. This makes learning more accessible and personalized for students.

Coding Assistance

For programmers, ChatGPT is a great resource. It helps write and debug code, suggest improvements, and explain coding concepts. This is particularly useful for beginners who need guidance and experienced developers looking for quick solutions.

How ChatGPT Works

ChatGPT uses natural language processing (NLP) to understand and generate human-like responses. When you ask ChatGPT a question, it analyzes the text, understands the context, and generates a relevant response. This process involves complex algorithms and vast amounts of data, making ChatGPT's responses accurate and relevant.

Limitations of ChatGPT

While ChatGPT is powerful, it has limitations. It relies on the data it was trained on, LLM's are prone to data hallucinations. Some versions of ChatGPT like 3.5 are not up to date and not connected to the internet. It may not provide accurate answers to very recent events or highly specialized knowledge. Additionally, ChatGPT can sometimes produce incorrect or nonsensical answers, so it’s important to verify the information it provides.

The Future of ChatGPT

The potential of ChatGPT and similar AI technologies is immense. As AI continues to advance, we can expect even more sophisticated and accurate conversational agents. These advancements will further integrate AI into our daily lives, making tasks easier and more efficient.


ChatGPT is a versatile and powerful tool that showcases the capabilities of modern AI. Its ability to understand and generate human-like text makes it useful in various contexts, from answering simple questions to assisting in professional tasks. While it has limitations, its contributions to fields like customer support, education, and programming are significant. As AI technology continues to evolve, tools like ChatGPT will become even more integral to our daily lives, helping us communicate, learn, and work more effectively.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Spirit of Mumbai - A Satire Poster Series



Mumbai is known for the grit and resolve of its people, who keep the city going. As a Mumbaikar by birth, I watched the city evolve as I grew and found it slowly crushing under the expectations and troubles of an overcrowded population.

Despite the additions to infrastructure and an effort to improve the quality of life for its citizens, the apathy to civic issues leaves a lot to be desired. I created this satire poster series that puts the indomitable 'Spirit of Mumbai' in the spotlight. 


You can purchase the individual posters from this series here


You can buy the entire five poster bundle @ 25% discount from here


Details: 2:3 Poster size JPG | 300 DPI, Digital Download Printable 

Terms: Personal use only; commercial use or resale not permitted.


The Irreplaceable Human Touch: Why Software Developers Will Thrive in the Age of AI


(Image generated by author in Midjourney)

The recent explosion of generative AI, particularly tools like ChatGPT, has ignited a firestorm of speculation. Companies are abuzz with talk of leveraging this technology to slash development costs and democratize application creation. Naturally, such discussions raise concerns about the future of software developers.

However, these fears are misplaced. While AI code generation tools offer intriguing possibilities, they are far from rendering human developers obsolete.

I have been reading about the impact of AI on other professions like media, telemarketing, accounting, graphic designers, legal assistants, traders, and retail sales professionals.

Irrespective of the profession you belong to, start looking at the developments in the adoption of artificial intelligence in your field and assess your position to understand how long it will take for AI to catch up to your role. 

If you thrive on people skills and are an average subject matter expert or don't like to get your hands dirty, then I am afraid the job conditions will evolve to a stage where your current skills may not be strong enough to sustain your position.

I went through this transition when I moved from a BPO career into project management and then built my niche into a governance, risk, and compliance role. Earlier, you had time to up skill; now, I have seen the technology stack change in a two-year cycle. When I look back at 2020, I remember the hype on Blockchain and Web 3 gaining steam, and in 2024, it seems we are in a completely different timeline now.

The Immaturity of AI Code Generation

Generative AI tools are in their nascent stages, much like other groundbreaking technological advancements. Their true capabilities and integration with existing technologies remain a mystery. Critical questions linger:

  • How will AI-generated code interact with existing systems?
  • What happens when a generated line of code malfunctions or requires modification?
  • Can AI produce truly novel solutions or effectively address unique challenges?
  • What security vulnerabilities might AI-generated code introduce?

These uncertainties highlight the limitations of current AI tools. They lack the critical thinking and problem-solving prowess of human developers.

A Déjà Vu: The Low-Code/No-Code Conundrum

The quest for streamlined development isn't new. Low-code/no-code platforms emerged a decade ago with the promise of empowering non-technical individuals to build applications. These solutions touted a future where companies wouldn't need dedicated software developers.

However, reality paints a different picture. Low-code/no-code solutions often lead to a mountain of technical debt – issues that require the expertise of experienced developers to fix. Building complex software is an intricate art form, not a simple assembly process.

While these platforms excel at creating basic apps and static web pages, they fail to address complex functionalities like optical character recognition (OCR) or internet-of-things (IoT) connectivity. They fail to account for the nuances human developers instinctively incorporate. Ultimately, low-code/no-code solutions are incomplete – they lack the human ingenuity needed to tackle unique problems.

AI Code Generators: Similar Promise, Different Facade

Like their low-code/no-code counterparts, AI code generators aim to empower non-technical individuals to build software. However, there's a crucial distinction: AI code generators promise expertise alongside ease of use. But where does this expertise genuinely reside?

The answer is clear – the expertise lies with the human guiding the AI tool. While instances of successful code generation with ChatGPT exist, it's crucial to remember that the AI tool wouldn't function independently. Human input remains the driving force.

This highlights the enduring need for skilled developers, especially when crafting intricate software with advanced functionalities.

The Future: Human-AI Collaboration

The complexity of modern software development demands a human touch. AI code generators aren't here to replace developers but to empower them. As the technology matures, we can utilize them as developer enablement tools. Imagine a future where AI handles the mundane tasks, freeing developers to focus on the intricate problems and innovative solutions that truly drive progress.

Instead of fearing displacement, software developers should embrace AI as a potential collaborator. This human-AI synergy holds immense potential to revolutionize software development, propelling efficiency and innovation to new heights.

The road ahead is one of collaboration, not competition. By leveraging the unique strengths of humans and AI, we can forge a future where software development reaches unprecedented levels of sophistication and functionality.