We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Engineering and doctor

If engineering has something to deal with engines aka machines. For example, auto-mobile engineering with auto-mobiles, computer engineering with Computers, Robotic engineering with robotics, aeronautical engineering with aeroplanes etc, then if the human body is the ultimate machine, why it is not termed simply as human engineering or something similar?

Why did the term *medical* come into existence? And if all of these people who are trained to operate in the respective engineering fields are called Engineers, why is a person who operates on human body (the ultimate engineering machine) called a doctor?

Coming back to the Computer Engineering terminology. If brain is the ultimate processor that could never be reproduced in terms of artificially created computer processors, then that makes the neurosurgeon ultimate engineer, because he operates on the ultimate super-processor aka brain. Now since he does not really reproduce any new processor but keeps on analysing the existing creation by lets assume GOD, he is actually an engineer of highest calibre, who understands and fixes functioning of brain. Remember he does not produce new brain. He just operates on existing ones. Experiments, analyses, draws conclusions and provides analysis.
Lots of abstract ideas and thoughts as I start thinking about this in more and more deep.

However, the term doctor still confuses me now that I have thought on this. A doctor should be some sort of a "Bio Engineer".

Interesting thought.

Technology and Emotions

What role does technology play in emotional upheaval of a person?

What role Facebook / social media plays in emotions of a person who is present in his country / away from country?

Emotion is a mental state in which a person feels a sense of neediness, belonging to a certain object. This object could be a living being, a physical object, a memory of a feeling in the past etc. An object could be any abstract as well physical entity. So emotions are a result of the attachment that arises due to the feeling of dependency on this object. Is it absolutely necessary to have this kind of object to be in place for feeling emotional? Yes. Can we control our emotions by being aware that such an object exists. May be.

Emotions need a vent to get expressed. Different mediums of expressions exist. Such as bodily expressions, physical expressions, abstract expressions, virtual expressions. Technology allows an instant solution to vent out the expressions and reach them to the concerned people.

Facebook or any social networking site, where people lose open their expressions is an excellent mass medium for such tasks. Twitter goes one step further, and allows the expressions in a more concise manner by sticking to 128 character format.

I wonder what would be the next tweak in the medium of social media to allow people a better way to express themselves. Perhaps a different type of "Emoticons", or visual social network, which will allow emotions to be expressed in a visual way. Smaller is the new better.

Here is an idea whose time has arrived.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jobs in Internet Cafes - Amazon Mechanical Turk - Low skilled workers

Will people be willing to work on low skilled jobs on Computers / Mobile phones if enough payment is provided to them? I recently finished off with this project and results were very good.

Amazon Mechanical Turk. www.mturk.com is a marketplace where low skilled jobs are put for people to work. These jobs are categorised mainly into three types
1. Transcription type jobs.
2. Article writing type of jobs
3. other menial jobs.

The payment varies from $20 to $.01 depending on the complexity of job. It was found that these jobs are not much popular and not picking up fast. Why is it so? After a good research the answer was found to be in the User Interface of such jobs. Low skilled people are too un-techsavy to understand fluent use of the interface provided by mturk.

The next question that could be raised was. If enough payment is provided, will people be willing to work on similar jobs if a good user interface is provided to them? How much is enough? We designed jobs which will pay users around Rs. 100 per hour.

We tried answering this question by running experiments in Internet cafes in India and Africa for around 2 months. We designed our own setup, strategy, user interaction, data collection and analysis. The results were encouraging. Different places displayed different trends, and users had different expectations. It was good to mingle with low end businessmen, low skilled people, and observe their behaviour.

This research will be published in the research track for "Technology for emerging countries".