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AFAIK, if someone wants to start a business, they start with an Idea. Then they go about doing market research and relevant analysis to see if it is a feasible idea and go forward with it if according to their analysis and experience if this could be something that could click. But, the fact remains that the starting point is an IDEA, data comes afterwards.

What if we could start with data first and then generate Ideas! Get the drift?

Imagine if we have an application to assist small entrepreneurs generate lucrative business ideas? If you select a field of business (Transport, Restaurants, Salons etc) and specify a locality and enter other business parameters, the engine sorts through all the data it has under its hood to look at patterns and generate Ideas that could turn out to be profitable for the business owner or impactful to the society.

Given the vast amount of meaningful data across fields that Google/Facebook has managed to get under its belt, and the way the Big Data is talking to each other to generate Ads, I was thinking of a venture that they might get into; like somewhat of a Idea generator app. This could be like an Idea-generator for budding young businessmen in countries like India where people from middle/lower strata of the society are ready to start a small business but just do not know what to do with the given amount of capital they have managed to accrue.

For example, given the number of Home Delivery searches (Pizza, Continental etc) made on the web by people around a locality which has an IT tech park, the Application can identify potential Hotspots in the locality where a small restaurant with a cuisine that can do well. The data is already there. But, we have not looked at it in a meaningful way.

Using simple AI algorithms, if the data is made available, it would be a good service to the community.

Just, set me thinking!

The topic bears no reference to the book published with a similar name. And the problem I am about to discuss in this post is largely unspoken and quite an important and a serious one. The issue is, “Getting fooled by Random events on the web”. In other words, making sense out of nonsense on the web to an extent that it affects people’s day to day lives.

Mental health incidents are on the rise in younger and younger ages due to the increasingly sedentary and online lifestyles that many millennials, youngsters and even kids of today are adopting to. Every so often, I get to hear funnier and funnier, to even scary stories about web-induced delusions and how people waste away their lives unperturbed, in this online la-la land. We just term this phenomenon as Internet-addiction. But, have we actually looked at what keeps people at it? This might even turn up to be one of the important social issues in the information-technology and artificial-intelligence age in the immediate future, if not addressed properly by regulatory agencies and IT-giants alike.

If you would like to understand a scenario of the aforementioned issue, please read this fictional story that I had published earlier here. As illustrated in the story, in extreme cases, web induced delusions can lead to paranoia, fear and an eventual breakdown.

Randomness, Artificial intelligence and the Human Psyche:

To bring order to disorder is one of the core human tendencies. It has helped us evolve into intelligent beings and we still have a long way to go. The picture below was picked up from popular social media sites and it serves as an example to how we have always adored and encouraged the ability to recognize and generate patterns.

cat

Source: Trending on popular Social media Sites

But, Randomness exists everywhere. In fact, we even have a physical law that states that Randomness (Disorder/Entropy) will always be on a rise in the universe. Even the fundamental Quantum theories we have developed state that unpredictability and chance operate at the smallest of levels making it impossible to even measure the position of a particle without a certain degree of error. We have mathematical theories to study Randomness in our daily life – the forgetfulness property of the exponential function in queueing theory for instance. All these advancements have watered our core human tenets, that today, we are working on making machines mimic the mind itself. Machines are increasingly learning to recognize patterns (one of our uniquely human tendency) and learn on their own (within defined constraints). Some of these developments have seeped out of the labs and into our lives – doing good for the most part but they have plagued the minds of many people as well. And this issue is largely unspoken.

Yes, the age of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning has dawned upon us. And, there is not going to be a “Neo” to protect us all!!

Pitfalls on the intelligent-internet – Web-Induced  Delusions and Paranoia:

In your online life, have you ever had the feeling that you are being watched or spied upon? Unless you have the Paparazzi and some serious stalkers behind your back, it is mostly a delusion. For a moment, you feel that video suggestions on YouTube, Ads on Gmail and Facebook seem to relate to you a “bit” too much. You are partly correct – because as mentioned earlier, the IT giants HAVE developed Machine Learning and AI algorithms in search engines and Ad-generation applications, and have set them loose on the web. Based on your browsing patterns and some crowdsourcing, the algorithms have evolved enough to provide you with relevant ads and other suggestive content. The content turns out to be so relevant and realistic that many people misconstrue the search engine to be an actual person. Firms do that because we hit the “Agree” button without actually reading the fine-print. And, when someone is e-illiterate, there is more tendency to misinterpret a machine generated storyline as a human action. It is the AI algorithms that mostly trigger these delusions of reference.

For instance, just say “I Love You”, in the YouTube search window and you will receive instant relevant video content. If you respond by clicking on any of the suggested videos, you get another set of suggestions which seem like a response from a human person. Eventually, you are bound to kick-off a romantic conversation with your imaginary girlfriend (who apparently controls YouTube). And, after a nice conversation with YouTube, you login to your Facebook account; you are immediately prompted with ads that ask you to order flowers for your newfound online crush. You might even get tricked into uncontrolled frivolous online spending! This is just an example. There are multitudes of similar addictive unmonitored scenarios around the web.

If mature adults can be enticed into these minor delusions, imagine the effect it might have on young kids. For many of them, it is their playground and think of the number of imaginary friends they end up making while growing up. Do you think it is a healthy habit? Of course not!!

That is not all. Whilst traversing down this seductive path, the person might seem addicted to the internet. These minor delusions can soon become self-driven by responding to internal stimuli and eventually prevent the individual from performing his daily tasks. Internal stimuli is similar to person lost in the desert who is walking in circles retracing his own footprints. What could happen next is as illustrated in the story, to which I had provided the link earlier.

Social media is a major starting point for such incidents. Since it is part human interaction and part computer code, people using them can usually not tell the difference. They might misconstrue their reality and eventually, simply lose touch. Children who are barely feeling their way through the real world are highly likely to paint the wrong picture about what is real, and what is computer-algorithms doing their bit. They are also more likely to develop a paranoid outlook towards life and people in general. The concept of a big-brother watching over them is reinforced into their heads.

How to avoid the online trap and some Epiphanies:

  • Learn to recognize delusionary symptoms at an early stage. If you become aware that delusions are getting into your head, just learn to Let-Go. Why let a laptop or a smartphone run your life? Your Sherlock Holmes kind of investigations is only going to make it worse. You are probably walking around in circles anyways!!
  • Become e-literate. Do a cursory reading about the developments in IT relating to Machine Learning, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. That way, you become aware and realize that what you are experiencing is just a piece of computer code doing its thing.
  • Understand that nobody has all the time in the world to check on your every move and possibly hack-into all your accounts. Keep it Simple.
  • If Iran and Iraq are at war, is it going to matter to you? Think about it. You are not that great anyways. You do not control the world, and are not the center of the universe. Cut down on that sense of Grandiosity!!
  • Finally, carry a positive view about life. Nobody is out there to harm you. These characteristics has to be inculcated right from a very young age. A solid sense of real has to be instilled. This is possible by more people-interaction and less lonely-time spent on the internet.

Conclusion:

Eventually, IT giants and regulatory agencies must realize that the issue of web-induced delusions is real, and take steps to control them. I am not advocating for the side that says, do not use the internet!! It is going to be impossible to stop relying upon the online world – as most of our day to day services have migrated online.

This less talked about subject on web-induced delusions must come to light and be discussed openly in public forums. The stakeholders must come together and take steps to educate the public about these dangers. People facing these delusions do not usually talk about it and maintain it as a well-kept secret. But once people are well informed, users can take proper steps to steer away from these clandestine, and mostly unspoken traps that lurk in the dark internet alleys of today.

For a brighter tomorrow!!

I am writing this post to basically elucidate about my love and hate relationship with this city I call home. I have lived in Namma Bengaluru for about, hmm, 7 Years now and Boy, it has been nothing short of a joyride.

Given the vast number of people who, like me, migrated to Bengaluru, when do you actually become a Bangalorean? Coming to think of it, this question has always puzzled me.

  1. Is it when you are born here?
  2. You own a lovely piece of property here?
  3. Studied college here?
  4. Have been working here for n years and:
  • You have been renting for the past n-a years (n > a obviously)?
  • Are commuting in and out of the city every day?
  • You can speak Kannada.

I have stayed in 2 countries for a considerable period of time. If airport transits count, the number would be much higher. In India, I have stayed in Calicut, Bangalore, Kolar Gold Fields (My Hometown) and Chennai – Cities pretty much along the same latitude. But then, this post is not about my stay in other cities, it is about our very own namma old Bengaluru and to celebrate my resident status with this beautiful, new, cool city!!

As always, let me start describing my relationship with Bangalore in the chronological order.

KGF Days:

My dad used to commute to Bangalore everyday for work whilst I was growing up in KGF. And every once in a while, we used to head to Bangalore. And I am talking about the early and mid-nineties. We used to board the Swarna passenger at 6:45 in the morning. And back in those days, there was not much crowd and they even had a first-class coach. I used to rush and reach out for the window seat and the sceneries were amazing. Not to mention the sight of Electric Train engines, they were a delight to watch. Even to this day, I get goosebumps when an Engine passes by.

And yes food, something we hold very dearly, was sweet in the old Bangalore. There were not many Darshini hotels back in those days and I loved it when my dad bought me Madhur vada and Dollop ice-creams at Kamat hotel.

Another major sweet-spot during my trip to Bangalore was visiting the Higginbotham’s at the City railway station and choose my favorite version of Tinkle. I loved the cartoons (Tantri the Mantri, Suppandi, Shikari Shambu, Pyarelal etc) and very often used to finish reading the entire Tinkle digest by the time we reached Bangarpet. Comic books were not a use and throw item back then. I used to treasure them and it was a wonderful aid to being lulled back to sleep. Even in my 2nd PUC, I used to pick up a Tinkle to get to sleep. Somewhere in the late nineties, the BMTC buses took on their present color and I always thought that they were BEML buses (they originally sported the lightblue-cream combination).

College and Cerner Days:

After I joined College, I had to travel through Bangalore to catch my bus to Calicut. But, I could never afford to go into the heart of the city and taste that famous luncheon at MTR. But once, I visited one of my close childhood friend and he took me around the city for some nice memorable experience. We hit the “The Club”, a place not very far from where I am put up now. Planet-M, MG Road, Brigade and the works. That day, I had a strong urge in my heart that one day, I will move to this wonderful city and enjoy my life.

During my final year in College, I got placed in this wonderful jolly company called Cerner. It was situated at a stone’s throw distance from MG and Brigade. I was so excited that in my college LAN status, I changed my Computer name to “Coolsville – Screw you guys, I’m going to Bangalore”, after this famous comical series called Southpark. And my dream stint in this wonderful city had begun. It was an unforgettable 2 years. Something that will stay young in my mind forever. Like all good things, the dream came to an end and I had to move elsewhere for better prospects in life. Good taste and being a social butterfly can only get you that far.

Back with a Bang!!

I returned back to Bangalore in 2013 and a lot of good events in my life have taken place after I moved back here. And hey, what can I say…life has been good to me.

Love you Life!!

Problem Statement:
Let us take the examples of Metro Trains Indian metropolitan cities. In the present scenario, when a train is crowded, the seating allocation is nothing short of total ruckus. There is a lot of passenger discomfort, arguments and fights over a seat. The real time seat allocation is randomized. Elderly, Female and Long distance travelling passengers do not always get justice. The dynamic seat allocation system is very competitive and not fair. Few passengers get undue privileges depending on chance.

Idea:
An IOT based solution to dynamically allocate seats in crowded public transportation. At the time of ticket purchase, the passenger scans his ticket to the mobile application and his details are synced with his current purchased ticket. Basic passenger information like Age, Sex, Travel Duration and Handicapped Status is recorded and fed to the centralized server.

A comfort algorithm then dynamically computes and allots a seat to the passenger and also lets him know his seat status in a real time basis. Initially, he might need to travel standing for a few stops as the seats in the train might be full, catering to people with a higher priority. Then, as per the Comfort algorithm, when an appropriate seat is identified for the person, he is intimated via his mobile. The passenger can then be seated as per the output given by the algorithm.

A location tracker is installed with the ticket. And the system knows when and where the passenger is located as per the seating matrix. As the system is dynamic, passengers can have the choice to choose a seat of their preference and logic is embedded into the comfort algorithms leading to a fair seating arrangement during peak hours in public transportations. Machine learning algorithms can be incorporated, hence, for each city/route, daily passenger patterns can be studied and better seating matrices can be applied.

Outcomes:

  • Dynamic seating arrangement catered for maximum crowd comfort.
  • Higher preference can be given to the respective passengers (example female and passengers headed for a longer duration) thus enabling maximum comfort for the entire crowd ensemble.
  • Passengers still have option to choose the train/coach/seat of their choosing.
  • Passengers can opt to choose yes/no depending on if they are comfortable with the seat.
  • Once allotted a seat, there is a high probability that he will occupy the same seat throughout his journey.
  • The seat allocation algorithm can be tweaked to get better outcomes.
  • Machine learning can be used for better maintenance.
  • Can reduce passenger conflict during travel.

Hailstones and Thunderstorms: This week, at our very own Rajarajeshwari nagar, there was a hail and thunder-storm (Kind of reminded me about the song Thunderstruck by ACDC). It just blew my mind away. Save except for a shattered window, it was a really good experience. Just love the rain!!

Artificial Intelligence: Planning to do some reading around this one. Did a few trainings on this back at office and now, I can make sense of the “Google – Delusion” in a much better way. Phew, that’s like a 1.5 ton weight off my head.

Blockchain and its Applications in Healthcare: Well, bitcoins and blood-pressure may not sail the same boat per se. But, seems interesting. And yeah, if I get a much better picture about blockchains, I can apply the same to the healthcare domain as well. Just had a few casual conversations on how we can use blockchain concept for insurance and claim verification. But yeah, loads of scope as always in Health-IT applications.

The Mobile Vigilante

Many a times, when I feel like writing, but just can’t come up with a topic to write about, I write about people!

You know what they say: Great writers discuss Ideas, Mediocre writers discuss events and poor writers discuss people – or something like that. Anyhew, the person I have picked up for today’s topic is SR.

SR hails from the land of the “Ela Machi Machi”. A quick aide to the distressed with the blood of a vigilantrinox running in his veins. He mounts his road-mobile at 2AM in the morning and heads back home with a loud “Turrrrr”. That is how the man starts his day!!

After reaching home however, he goes to bed with a constant “Purr”. He starts and ends his day at the Office. Wanna know how he does that?? Ask him.

When SR is at his desk, everybody knows!! It’s the constant “Tukk, Tukk” that emanates off of his keyboard. A truly perceptible individual. The project’s profitability came down due to the constant breakdown and depreciation of the terminal keyboards.

With the finesse of a barber with a pair of scissors in his hands, he slices and dices through the Database mazes reckoning meaning to it all.

Poetry in motion, it is, to watch him write those wonderful lines of query code. In his hands, the keyboard becomes a Piano and the CPU melts due to the display of pure awesomeness.

His Mobile works only in loudspeaker mode and cannot go on vibrate – imagine the troubles that’s going to cause.

There are rumors abound that SR was once called upon, to receive a Nobel Prize. But when SR stooped so low whilst receiving the prize on stage, the crowd got all teary eyed and finally decided that SR’s humility needs to be coveted with an award which is worth a lot more than just the Nobel Prize.

Hero by Chance, Engineer by Choice and an awesome Human by Heart. Gotta love his “Eey, publish mat karo Yaar!!”

Just thought I’d jot down some final year project ideas for Engineering Undergraduate students:

  1. Heat Transfer Modelling of an Isolated Decayed Tooth Pulp: 

Remember when you have a decayed tooth and when you drink something hot, it does not cause as much pain as opposed to having a cold drink? I would like to know if for a same temperature gradient, can cold water cause more pain than hot water, assuming an ambient initial pulp temperature?

The intent herewith should be to model the temperature profiles of an isolated tooth suspended in a hot or cold water bath. Boundary layers can be modeled and they show different heat transfer profiles for a hot vs. a cold solution suspensions. Packages like Fluent could be used to build the model.

       2. Finite Element Modelling of the Human Eye to determine Ocular Muscle Stresses for varying Optometrist Prescription Glass Specifications:

Using a good FEM package, a stress modeling of the human eye can be performed for varying prescription glass specifications. With a slight change in the focal length of the glass, the eye lens would assume a different profile causing minute stress/strains on the eye-ball. This would in turn pass on the stress to the muscles that hold the eyeball in place. This stress distribution needs to be studied and understood well.