No Noose… a piece of fiction.

conversation…to hang him? Are you bloody insane?!

He’s a suicide bomber. He would have readily blown himself along with the countless many around, and all you want to punish him with is death penalty when he himself is perfectly willing to offer it?

Yes i agree it would have been a ghastly occurrence. He had enough nitrates in his jacket to blow two floors of the mall with its bustling weekend crowd. The attempt’s been foiled due to some sharp wits and quick steps. We caught him and he’s convicted. Now its a question of what next?

Look i know his crime is of the severest of kind. And by your argument, he deserves the severest of punishment. But you are skipping the point that ‘severest of punishment’ isn’t something absolute. It depends on the person you are meting it to. For a man who is willing to die, giving him death is not quite severe?

What to punish him with? Well first tell me why do you want to punish him?!

Yes. To serve as a deterrent. The rationale behind the punishment for crime is not to set the score even. Its not a means to avenge. Its not about retribution. Its about taking steps to keep off the occurrence and recurrence of such acts of terrorism. So we have two objectives to achieve through the punishment that we may pronounce. One, to instill in the minds of the many else to not follow in his lead. And two, to ensure that this man will not redo his act.

What, you think he is beyond reforming? Well, i do not know that and have nothing to say as about that.

Well, you say killing him will keep him from redoing his acts. But i hope you realise that it doesn’t affect the former objective in an amicable way. It in no way would serve as a deterrent to the others. And if anything, they will be all the more infused with the rage to go for the kill because one way or  the other, as through your act or its subsequent punishment if foiled, you become a martyr and ascent to heaven!

I know that sounds ridiculous. But its a logic infallibly ingrained in their minds. You cant beat that.

So what is my solution? Kill not him but his spirit to kill. If he is a psychopath, bring a doctor, or if he is a religious fanatic, get a preacher from his clan, and set up a confrontation. Have his logic squashed, his reason to kill which he takes as to be a moral prerogative undone and damned, and make him realise that his conception was wrong. He would be devasted for sure, but if not, at least try to make him feel thoroughly guilty. Now you got two case scenarios. One, he realises his folly. Set up a camera and have him deliver a message to ‘all his brothers’ about how and why and where he went wrong, and whats the right alternative. Broadcast this through various media all around the globe. Sharing is no more hard labour. Two, he remains stubborn and sticky, impervious to the wits and charms of the councellor, then dont set up the camera to broadcast. In both cases, though, lock them up for life in isolation. Well, do let his kids come meet him once in a while. Or at least, show him their photo’s and video and give him news of them. The kids will be glad to know their dad know’s. They did no wrong.

Why lock them up? For the latter case its quite easy to conceive. To keep him from setting charges around again.

Why not kill him? Like i said, to keep him from becoming a martyr. And to give him a life full of isolation and boredom, the sufferance will serve as the deterrent.

Now wait! You jump the gun time-again and make me lose my stead. Where was i.. yes, lock both for a life-time. Yes, life-time, till their last breath. I know it would ‘not feel right’ to keep the reformed guy insider. The former case. But the reform is ‘apparent’. You never know. Moreover, its tough if not impossible for the families of the aggrieved to keep self from hurting this man if they get hold of him. Its better we lock him up, if at all, for his own good.

You dont think it will work? I dont know. But it will serve a deterrent, i hope. And like i stated before, should keep such occurrences and any recurrence at bay.

You arent convinced of its sanity? Well neither am i. Its theory. Try it out to see if it works! We have decades of archaic laws akin to ancient customs that refuse to give way to more sane ways. Its worth a shot for if it works, the returns would be huge.

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On Reading Books and Going Nuts!

In response to the IndiSpire,

‘Reading books has reduced dramatically in today’s youth. Kids who read books are treated as socially incapable nerds. What is your take on this topic?’

 

read-booksNope. No no no no no! Hope the too many no’s add mileage to my argument as when I quip, no (again!!), we young men and fellow women do read!

Time for a quick survey, ‘if you are in the honorable age-group of teen’s and twenties’, poke ur mom n dad, and get a number for the books they read back then’.  You are well advised to poke them separately, for we don’t want to pique in them a burly competition. As when I did, the numbers soared as at auction!

Now let’s put on our poker face and get objective. There are three cute-little red-ribboned reasons I base my claim upon.

One, we got more avenue. Reading books in my Kindle counts!! I got a library in my hand. And I don’t need subject self to the misery of going to the end of a poorly written book just cos I bought it or took that horrendous ride to the city library in noon traffic. I can also always jump books and read one I find relish in. Allows one to experiment with genres, authors and literary styles. Plus, downloading is cheap. Believe me. I know one needs calories to lift the index-finger and click on the ‘download’ icon. But potatoes are cheap too. And potatoes give calories.

Two, more books around, courtesy the many IIT and IIM pass-outs so bent on telling us their heartaches, breaks, and baked-cakes, adding to the already burgeoning freelance writers. We all need thank Microsoft for MS Word, for making it possible, and charming. Fountain pens and typewriters sure got their antique appeal and romantic feel, but believe me, its easy doing spell-check on Word. And flipcart gets me a book written by an author on the other side of the globe in no time. Actually 5 days. But thanks to Tim Berners, WWW can shrink the 5 days to 5 seconds of transaction and I start reading my book on my dimmed flat screen right away.

Quite very truly, IT has made more books possible, and in retrospect, it would be wrong that people would publish as avidly as they do today, if there was no readership! Reduction ad absurdum!! Thus our initial assumption that readership among youth (majority population, except for in Japan) is taking a plunge is incorrect. Also, that would be all latin I know!

And third, Global Warming! I hate to go play in heat and even for going out, my girlfriend is ever bothered of her complexion. So we sit home and read. Honest!

Switching to the part about socially incapable nerds, well, I want to collapse that part of the topic in wordplay. Yummy! Now nerd by definition, from a dictionary which conveniently gave the definition I was looking for, is ‘someone dedicated to non-social pursuit’. So by definition, thankfully, their focus is on things other than improving their social capability and getting dates! But the definition (again!) sure doesn’t mean that they need be socially awkward.

I think its just the pop-culture and macho-bro-code sensationalized in television, where they think digging into a book makes you socially sick. Let’s get real! Ask any girl, she will always pick a well-read guy to one born-and-bred in a gym. And well if she doesn’t, then don’t bother asking her out. She probably belongs to the clan who feel ‘Earth is the best planet in the world’. Skip! Pass! Run!

images (26)I just don’t think one becomes boring from reading. I think the pop-culture reference came about as because those who are socially withdrawn retreat into books. And this may have got caught up and glamourised. Thus, social ineptness and books relate in being the other way than as stated. Being bookish aint gona make you socially awkward. But, chances are that if you are socially awkward, you will go on an extended holiday into your world of books. And frankly, I think that’s okay.

Thanks reading. Do finish the survey. And lets join hands to plant trees (actually plant saplings which then may grow into trees!!), not cut down more and make this place less warm. But then that will bring down readership of books! Who cares! I will get to go out and play in a greener cooler earth. Plus, there will be girls out too taking walks in their giggly girlie gangs! Which is, kind of, cute!

WAR

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Out in the East

The Sun refused to rise

As if, this would keep

The dreadful day from unfolding.

 

But spurred by its sincerity,

it did indeed rise!

It rose, it rose to light the ground

Restoring vision to eyes, which were

Only to be staunched with bloody red.

 

With the break of dawn

were trumpets blared.

The war-cries exchanged

And the savage instinct of kill unleashed.

 

Men dressed in blue jumped

Over ones in red.

Swords were crossed,

shield struck

Arrows shot and blows exchanged.

 

But with the day progressing

The kill peaked, only to be subdued.

It did indeed subdue

But not till only two heads remained unsplit.

 

One of a man, clad in red, and

The other of a horse, with blue saddle above.

It was only these two that stirred

While all that remained was stilled

By the piteous onslaught.

 

Men, with swords pierced through their heart

Brave-hearts with arrows in their eye

Dove-eyed, with shields severing their necks

And thick-necked, with no head to support.

 

It ended. It all did end.

But for the exultation of only one!

 

That single man, clad in red

Sprinkled the red blood of blue over his brow

He touched, O yes, he did indeed

The fore-head of his enemy general

With his dirty half-smashed left little toe.

 

He jumped in feigned ecstasy

He sung in coarse joviality

He swore full throttle, and he swooned

For what little life was left in his tattered body

Got spent in cruel merriment.

 

While as his body fell onto the ground

His eyes, with unwonted pity

Cast upon the only unfortunate survivor

Of the defeated battalion,

The horse in blue.

 

Knelt was it, knelt on all its four

with its tail stilled

its eyes half-filled

it lowered its head

 

To lick upon its dead master

Dressed in blue, though drenched in wicked red!

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When I was asked to cut my beard, trim my hair and wear a clean white coat

stubble faceLife is a giant cogwheel of change. Though change is an inherent characteristic of it, the individuals who constitute it are expected to conform. Right from very early in our life, even before we have developed the discretion to make our own conscious choices, till the day we give it off to the tough dictates of senility, our existence is a continuing attempt at finding acceptance. An acceptance in this world of ever morphing beliefs and paradigms. This acceptance, we strive for at a multitude of facets. Beginning from the acceptance by the family, through the neighborhood, the band of friends at school, at college and then in finality, the wide open vast wilderness of the world we get to realize we live in.

Things go easy at the formative years of life, from the innocence of childhood and through the flirtatious shyness of high school. It’s into the college that complications arise. It’s a stage in life, wherein we want to stand apart. We break rules. We disregard orders. We make a sham of obedience. It’s not just a want, rather a need. A need to develop an individuality of our own, a personality that’s personal. And this is followed by a furious attempt to uphold it, while at the same time, striving to be accepted while being recognized. Complex as it may seen, it’s etched into each one’s psyche, and we attempt for it just as naturally as quenching thirst with water.

Now let me go more personal to present before you such a clash of priorities that I happened to witness at first-hand once in college.

I used to have a beard, a neat and beloved French beard. And to top it, a flowing lock which I had parted in the middle. To complement this set-up would be my tasteful choice of clothing. And once in the morning, after the Op class the Professor caught up with me and quipped, “Tomorrow I need you to come with a clean shave, a trim cut and a clean white coat over that imposing designer shirt of yours.” The very idea was devastating and the thought of me new look revolting.

“Sir, but I like it this way. Makes me feel comfortable of self.” Thus objected the self-preservation instinct in me. Isn’t it my liberty about how I tend to self?! I am a reasonably good student. I read my courses, observe with finesse at the wards and also endeavor to answer in the Op. If I fail in any of these, I may deserve reprimand. But my looks, aren’t they my liberty?!

But the professor wasn’t to let me off with it. “In our profession we follow a code. And you are expected to conform so as to be part of that community which we doctor’s constitute. You need to wear a white coat to identify self amidst us. And a clean shave and a trim cut to find acceptance among us. It’s something we expect from you over and above dedication and hard-work. Better I see you in your new look tomorrow. Bet you would look just as smart if not more.”

Having being told so, I had no second thought but to adopt the new look. I wouldn’t have minded to, if it was my own conscious decision, my choice. But the fact that I did it on being told to do so, never went easy with me. Maybe to find acceptance in something that means a lot for you, actually more than anything else, you need to conform. You need to stake your liberty at places. You need to make a bargain between your priorities. You need to lose something, to gain something. Or maybe not. Be it what it may, I still got many years to learn before me, and many more wisdom to gather. Bet I have my answers someday.

The Lost Souvenir

Characterizing-Uncertainty-SWIRL-graphic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The twilight had set in

and I was at my study.

The house had been vacated to me for a day

and I liked not solitude, conferred.

 

Tired, I tried to merse self in things dear

and fetched my pouch of souvenirs.

I cradled the closed blue package ribboned red

with my heart awaiting pure bliss contained.

 

The ribbon fell loose and the package open

and gleamed in light my very precious.

Things, each significant, signifying something

Played images in minds eyes, differing from eyes

 

I rummaged through them, handling each

with care and tender love.

And having lived with each for some moments

caressed them back in.

 

Ribboned, I placed the package in its place

and closed my eyes to appreciate the feel.

Blinked in me a thought though

of a souvenir long lost.

 

This little piece of heart, a souvenir very dear

given to me in anger and play

Was an old piece of ruled paper

That bore words, words of tease.

 

They had read, the last when I read,

 

“You have a goat-like face

an irritating voice

an unnerving profile

and, a disgusting like for the colour pink.”

 

Lost, nay, it was requested return

by the giver who then said

‘Let that be unsaid, shall it…

… for you have become a dear!’
OurPhilosophy

Can an engineer’s design better the engineer?!

cognitive bias 6It was a warm sunny noon and to keep selves from breaking sweat, me and a friend of mine decided to remain in-doors. We were debating on cognition and stretched it far and wide till our wits could sustain. A furlong down, we changed gears into Artificial Intelligence and since neither had any background nor had done any homework upon it, both were essentially playing devil’s advocate.

We hit a juncture where both held diametrically opposite stand. She proposed that ‘no computer could ever beat human intelligence because its a human who has programmed its intelligence’. I was aghast! It seemed so flatly wrong. One, the logic basing which she had forwarded her claim seemed quite bleak. Moreover, the claim was clearly smeared in the implicit desire to remain on top of the evolutionary tree and not go redundant. I have always considered an emotionally backed claim as the stumbling block in any good argument. Emotion essentially always is just so plain irrational!

I gathered my thoughts and set to plunder her stand. I held that the proposition could be approached through three steads, each adding to why its plain wrong that ‘a human cant create a computer that beats human intelligence’. Note, by intelligence i do not mean just computational prowess, but all cognitive attributes that we take to be quintessentially human, thus also referring to creativity, imagination, inventiveness, artistic-genius, et al.

So here’s the conquest. Lets begin with the west gate! We humans are intelligent, allegedly, but lets take it to be true for arguments sake at least! Now we didnt require an intelligent designer to make us intelligent. We evolved to this state through purely non-deterministic stochastic processes guided by natural selection. Note, evolution doesnt have foresight, its blind. Now, evolution gives a mechanism for how complex can emerge from the simple. Having said this, the fact that we are intelligent and our intelligence didnt need a designer comes out clear. Savour this, we too are part of this ecosystem. So any creation by us, though in an anthropic sense is man-made, is in fact, still natural because we are also part of nature! When nature, which is blind and non-cognitive, can by evolution create human intelligence, why not we, also part of nature, while with the ability to cognition and foresight, create another intelligence, purportedly better?! Now if you hold the contention that the intelligence as evolved by nature is purely by chance and if by design one were set to create an intelligence, one cant beat ones own ceiling  well then, what makes you think that the mental processes happening in our brain are not ‘non-deterministic stochastic processes guided by natural selection’?!

cognitive bias 1The second approach. Lets barge in through the North gate this time! Consider intelligence as a confluence of faculties. Each faculty being encoded and processed by a neural circuit. Now the algorithm for the faculty could be computational or non-computational, but be it either, it is going to have a rule (a rule to smooth-en out the
randomness in the latter case). If we can figure that rule and better it, we could have an algorithm that performs that particular faculty still better. Extend the argument to every faculty and we have a smarter brain. Note, as my tricky quirky friend pointed out, this second point stands on an implicit assumption that the algorithm for the faculty has no ceiling, ie, that there is no best was of performing a particular instruction which cannot be bettered. While logically true, we hardly see a ‘perfect’ in nature. And all through our evolutionary history, we have been pushing further the optimum and redefined perfect. So i can hope the argument is to stay.

And finally the third one. Lets ambush from all around! A very subtle yet powerful point that we learn from evolution is that randomness, when operated upon a very long long long time, under suitable selection pressure, can churn out stable systems (stable as in accordance to the selection pressure applied). Why not try the same?! Why not use the principle of evolution as a mathematical tool to create algorithms?! Make a mundane program for say ‘identifying faces’. Now create a mutator program. It keeps messing with the coding of the ‘identifying faces’ program every once in a while as the program copies itself into two. Apply a selection through an operator who says when the program identified a face correct and when incorrect. Also include a clause wherein as the correctness of the response rate increases, the frequency of the operation of mutator in the program decreases and the copy-number of the program increases. Viola! We recreated the evolutionary process in an electronic system. The coding is the trait, mutator is akin to mutation introducing variations and the selection-operator playing the role of natural selection providing direction (again in a non-deterministic way). As evolution always occurs in direction of the selection pressure, we are sure to end up with a program that doesnt stop getting more intelligent, though, when given sufficiently long long long time. Thus, we end up with a program that’s more intelligent than us in face identification (note, i have preferred the term face-identification over the more prevalent term of neuroscience face-recognition because there is more to recognition than identification, and i wanted the example to remain simple). Now extend the same to all faculties of brain and bingo! we got a better brain.

And as i finished with my three arguments, i sincerely hoped she would fall prostrate at my feet in surrender. But she instead chose to brush her hair to behind her ear, make a pout and barged into the kitchen to help herself with coffee. Such lovable creature she is! Though am sure i would need some illogical aka dil-logical pleading and prodding to be done before she would make an extra cup for me.