Friday, August 25, 2006

Tagged (1)

Candid Diary 's questions have been quite hilarious and interesting! Although pretty late, yet here they go...

If you were to adopt a pseodonym it would be:
Anything other than Mary/Kathy/Kristie... every other woman here has one of these names... oh my god! This sucks...

If Condi Rice/ Jim Kerry proposes you:
Condi Rice: Oh, please, now don't do diplomacy with me!
Jim Kerry: Are you really serious?? Or still being in your humorous mood??

What’s you solution for conflict between Israel and Lebanon:
Ohh wow! Ask Uncle Sam: the so-called mediator of all the wars (sarcastic smile)...

Your recipe for a weird food. Yuck!
'Cockroach Soup': I heard they cook something like that in China! Or may be 'Shit Curry'...

What would you do when you find there is no toilet paper/ water in a loo:
Would first check and only then go! Else look for other options!

What do you do when your partner weighs 300 lbs?
Ditch and will find a new partner!

What do you do with a schizophrenic cat?
Exchange her with the neighbor's!

How do you handle a wrong job?
I am never in a wrong job: since otherwise I won't be there!

When did you have your last black out?
Oh! Don't ask me! That is a part and parcel property of my memory's hard disk!

If you were to choose between aphrodisiac and an aged partner…
Age doesn't really matter always you see: the 'urge' and 'ability' to 'perform' is important!

You catch Cupid admiring his work on you. What do you tell him?
Okay, tell me, what exactly you want?

Something that you would never tell your bf / gf?
That I went out on a date with his friend (not to talk of gf!)...

What’s the secret of your health?
Just not to be too much conscious about it!

One reason why a dog is better than a man:
Dogs don't 'pretend' like Men...

Your message to the blogger community:
Yeah, please do keep on reading my craps!

The Pros and Cons

There have been 5 long years in the engineering sector: now, attempting to steer away a bit from the conventional research realm and trying to look at the engineering aspects from an altogether different perspective, landed into exploring this course on Cognitive Psychology and Ergonomics. But as I have moved ahead of the superficial academic nook and corner of it, I have started to think differently now. This, coupled with me having been in the mundanely-captioned 'Land-Of-Opportunities' for an year now, let me put down the pros and cons of the education system here: might be a lesson to consider for the 'thoughtful' administrators back in India!

(1) Education, whatever is your major from Fine Arts to Finance to Rocket Technology, happens under the same physical location mostly, affiliated to the same co-existent university: this faciliates interaction, engineers interested in photography can take courses with the Art & Sciences Department. This encourages inter-disciplinary academics and research. Contrast with the Indian system: now you know why US is foremost in all the good research!
(2) Students in their undergraduation are free for the first two years to look around, take course from several majors from music and theater to civil engineering, and then decide on one as per their performance in those and interests. Contrast with Indian system: you will hardly find another Tom, Dick or Harry complaining that "I don't know why I did enginnering"!
(3) Graduate courses hardly have those time-bound examination concepts. Instructors profess a more spread out and overall performance of a candidate through the semester. Contrast with the Indian system: only the sincere and actually 'smart' guys succeed!
(4) Students mostly are more self-responsible. Many of them are supporting their own education since they graduate from the high school. Contrast with Indian system: you won't find parents visiting their kid(s) every year twice during the exams!

PS: Not to talk about the great 'boons' to our Indian system, like the high degree of corruption, political tools like reservation, the act of selling examination papers much before the actual test, and favoribility on the basis of being some MLA'a kith and kin, minority, or regional/religious/caste/creed/sect/sex issues...

(1) Jobs opportunities in US are better; and there really is a high 'dignity of labor'. So you might argue, many undergraduate students can be found to be idling away the four years learning nothing! This is kind of less common in India, since they face this tremendous competition for jobs to survive.
(2) Can you think you another good thing with the Indian education system?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The other day was just going through the MIT Media Lab site (of course, in context of the discussion with some friends and bosses about the insight into human behavior as a computer scientist!). Even if you are miles away from this kind of domain, I would suggest you to definitely visit the research work there as an interesting past time: they attempt to look at some of the most commonplace, intuitive aspects of human mind, tangibility and behavior, far away from the techie aspects of conventional research.

They have a pretty few very interesting research groups. One of them that caught my attention is the group on eRationality! They say, "The eRationality group studies ways in which human decision processes deviate from the expected rational prescriptions. We investigate (and practice) semi rationality, bounded rationality, and just plain irrationality. Our long-term goal is to create new environments: physical and digital, in which tools are implemented to overcome irrationality-based behaviors in order to ultimately increase welfare and maximize happiness."

Imagine some system trying to tackle your unintentional irrational behavior on the Blogger, for the 'welfare' of the larger community as a whole! But more than that, like the ever-unanswered-question "who will guard the guards" the question arises, how do you define 'irrationality'. And provided the freedom that a person has to fully express his/her thoughts and views which he/she thinks rational, who is a system to put a bar to that?

The broader question arises, "Are we embedding technology too much in our lives today? What is a research just for the sake of research if it shatters the very base of how our society is built?"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Contrasting Philosophy And Technology...

This is not one of those areas that I generally would think of in my idle hours. Nor am I those thoughtful-kinda-philosophical researchers who would think windingly on whatever issues they encounter in casual talks. But it kind of ignited this desire in me to look for what people think in this arena: and that was after we, three colleagues had this heated thoughtful brainstorming on the philosophical aspects to be nurtured in a PhD student of engineering (I was although reticent, just digesting whatever they were putting forward).
The problem is that engineering and philosophy are typically conceived as two mutually exclusive domains. In the minds of most people, engineering and philosophy do not have much to do with each other. They are, as it were, giant islands separated by a large body of water.
In fact, from the perspective of some members of the engineering community - not to mention those of the philosophy community - the situation is even worse. Engineering is customarily divided into a number of different branches: civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering, etc. Something similar goes for philosophy. It too includes different branches: logic, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, etc. Representatives of some of these areas of the philosophy world, especially ethics and aesthetics, seem to have mounted canons on their areas of the philosophy island in order to fire away at selected domains of the engineering world.
Since quite a while, members of the philosophical community or its fellow travellers have been accusing engineers of building nuclear weapons that could destroy civilization, manufacturing transportation systems that are a blight on urban culture, designing communication technologies that can enhance central or authoritarian controls by both governments and private corporations, creating computers that depersonalize human life.
Insofar as they have become aware of such attacks - and to understand and defend against them - philosophy is crucial to engineers. Philosophy is thus important too, in a second instance, because engineers actually face problems internally or professionally that they admit cannot be resolved simply with engineering methods alone.
There are times in the engineering world when engineers ask themselves questions about what they should be doing or how they should do it that cannot be solved by technical expertise alone. Questions of safety, risk, and environmental protection are only the more obvious manifestations of variables that call for ethical judgment in assessing their proper influence on design decisions. Philosophy (especially ethics) is an internal practical need of engineering - and is so recognized by the professional engineering community.
What is mean is not that philosophy and engineering are two geographically distant islands anymore, as is hyped of. Both the parties actually realize the need for a symbiotic relationship in between. And whenever one party would try to let down the other and falsify the symbiosis, 'existence' would lose existence in the real sense...