Monday, 10 July 2017

From Intelligence Quotient (IQ) to Innovation Quotient (InQ)

With more than half of human population directly or indirectly connected to the Internet1, we have silently slid into a new epoch - Diktyocene (Diktyo in Greek means Networked). Without any competing alternative, networks grew exponentially to engulf the whole planet and even beyond. Willfully or otherwise, we are increasingly getting entangled in the network. They have grown to proportions big enough to influence human behavior2. The ability to deliver information or provide service to a remote user, without prior requirement of continuous physical infrastructure, is an impressive attribute that encourage Governments to articulate technology for human development. This, in turn, is a positive feedback that draws more people into network.

As with adoption of conventional technology, network enabled services also faces the five classes of users. Whilst innovators get inspired, laggards will switch to a networked option, as the last resort. Factors that influence social adoption of network technologies, transcend demographic and physiological characteristics of the respective adopter groups. It is not surprising to find the proportion of innovators skewed favorably towards post-millennial children. They are more comfortable and tend to adopt seamlessly with new technologies3

Whilst our early ancestors relied more on instinct and reflex to ensure physical security and satisfy their needs, our post-industrial revolution forefathers, had at their disposal; mechanical and chemical powers to surmount challenges. In the last century, success of an individual was related to knowledge acquired through formal education and his or her ability to use it in productive ways. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a metric that points to this ability. It indicates the capacity of an individual to integrate all cognitive capabilities. 

Mere possession of higher IQ will not assure an individual’s success in the Diktyocene. The ability to innovate and find solutions to challenges is a more desired contemporary attribute that employers seek in prospective candidates. This is one step higher than the capacity to integrate cognitive capabilities to develop holistic understanding. I define a new metric, Innovation Quotient (InQ) to denote the ability of an individual to (a) perform tasks and (b) perform tasks 'aliter'  (Aliter is the Latin word for differently). 

The ability of an individual to perform tasks is expressed using Technology Quotient (TQ) and the ability to it aliter, is assessed case by case. Standalone, TQ will be important to evaluate technology (of  products) and predict their social acceptability.  

[How to compute InQ is described elsewhere].

Sunday, 2 July 2017

India, China and the NATO

India, China and the NATO

Imagine you own a plot of land and have plans for future, in place. How would you feel, if someone starts to build a road through your land, just because the Patriarch in his family dreams to have direct access to the main road? 

Well, I will try to stop the bully by all logical means. It may begin with a direct conversation and if required may be scaled up to involve my well-wishers. If things do not straighten up, I will have to think of legal options. However, if the bully is too arrogant and cares to ignore any legal orders (evidenced by experience in recent past), what do I do? I may have to join a group that provides collective strength to silence the bully.

There may be many within my family who will criticize my decision to align with a team. However, in such instances, the end justifies the means. Instead, if I remain indecisive and shy away from acting today, my land will get split into two forever.

An almost similar situation is evolving with India-China relation. The Patriarch at the other end has a magnanimous dream of building roads that cuts through our land. We find ourselves unable to stop it. Unlike our case, the Patriarch has no opposition within his house. He does not have to align himself to face elections. The Patriarch is clever to use his voting rights at international forums to ensure that individuals who bleed us are not labelled. It can also not be ruled out that the Patriarch is fanning internal unrest and shouting in our house. What so ever be the systemic and historic reasons, we have slacked in our progress. Whilst we take pride in our social diversity, we continue to pay a price for it. Our high ethnocentrism comes between ‘us as Indians’ and ‘individuals as the beneficiary’. This gap is widely used as soft wood by people who keep us divided. Hence, despite sincere efforts, we are two decades behind in developing our fiscal and physical muscles so as to be respected by the Patriarch.

Our internal squabbles have emboldened the Patriarch to recently start work on a second road. Over this, he has reminded us to learn from history. I personally felt insulted on reading about this in newspaper. If we remain indecisive and do not act in the fear of internal protests, he will soon start doing more such. It is easy to nip in the bud and remind the Patriarch that our motherland is not something to please him and implement his dreams. 

It is important to remember that the lag of two decades stated above, is a factor, which if articulated, can decisively be used by us. The Patriarch has recently permitted his citizens to produce more children. He has done so because, despite having the world’s largest army, the average age of his soldier is much higher. He is keen in opening new roads to facilitate fast movement of his aged soldiers. In two decades, liberally breeding population will help him bring down the average age of his army. By then, it will be too late for anyone to challenge him. 

In spite of our best efforts, we cannot state with certainty that in two decades from now, we will make him respect us. The next best alternative is to team up with someone so that the Patriarch will have to think many times over. 

Clinging on to our historic burden is not going to help us. Everything is bound to change with time. In a decisively more unipolar world, the question of alignment is irrelevant. Loyalty and commitment of old friends who are today themselves struggling to regain lost glory, cannot be taken for granted. It does not mean that we break away from them. Neither should it refrain from seeking new friendship.
Why should we even have second thoughts, if by joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), we can reign the bullying Patriarch?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Academia-Industry-Government (AmIGo) Model of Partnership

Academia-Industry-Government (AmIGo) Model of Partnership

Academia-Industry partnerships are widely known. They are mostly profit driven and based on formal agreement between an individual or an institution with an industry. The intellectual property that transforms into marketable product can either generate independently or be anticipated and funded by industry. 

Whilst it is not a crime to generate profit, a more inclusive approach would be Academia-Industry-Government (AmIGo) model of partnership. The element of profit is safely embedded within the AmIGo model. However, a share of it goes to the Government. 

The Government, takes intellectual output from academia and reach out to develop products/solutions with entrepreneurs (jointly or otherwise). The academia, in turn, will be motivated to find innovative solutions for socially relevant challenges. They will be forced to think out of their disciplines (i.e. encourage trans-disciplinary thinking/ collaborations). The entrepreneur gets a well defined goal to work towards. S/he will also be able to seek counsel of experienced Government professionals and there-by reduce the element of risk. The society stands to benefit by adopting the product/solution and even contribute through a feedback mechanism to improve it. 

AmIGo can also be a means to:

  • Revive sagging Government owned enterprises.
  • Increase revenue flow to Government coffers (for services provided to citizens).
  • Enhance transparency.
  • Foster socially relevant innovation
  • Nurture entrepreneurship.
  • Create employment and
  • Enhance academic output (trans and inter-disciplinary research; patents filed/ granted)
  • Provide facility for societal (user) feedback for improved deliver of Governmental services. 

Such partnership models will be pivotal to ensure timely delivery of indigenously developed products and solutions to make our cities 'smart'.   

Friday, 9 June 2017

Will you cut down a tree that speak with you?

Need for a Paradigm Shift from Capacity Building to Empathy Enhancement for Successful Conservation Efforts

A lot has been said about and invested to build and enhance human capacity for successful biodiversity conservation. However, with consistently fading ground realities, it does not require high intellect to gauge utility of these investments. It leads to think, whether capacity enhancement is the right goal. 

I would prefer to replace 'capacity building' with 'empathy enhancement'. The phrase 'capacity for conservation' implies an acquired attribute. Even with the most massive effort, acquired attributes will be gained by an insignificant number of people, compared to the population whose daily activities cumulatively erodes natural wealth. It is important to realize that most of these people do not have a viable and long-term alternative in front of them. Hence investments made to educate to appreciate and alter human behavior into a sustainable trajectory will either be 'partially' successful or re-emerge as some other issue. In most cases, people will not welcome 'new-issues', but would accommodate 'older' ones, as they are used to it since childhood.

However, if efforts are made to build empathy towards something, chances are that it will get protected. Ability to communicate with, or understand signals of other organisms is the best way to instill empathy towards it. Human behavior to domesticated animals and pets are classic cases that exemplifies the above statement. For this we need to understand what plants and animals try to convey through their flowers and sound.

Will you cut down a tree that speak with you?     

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Paris Accord, POTUS & Horse Latitudes

Humanity is today facing one of its biggest threats - Climate Change.  It can be viewed as a polymorphic organism that props up in different forms at different locations. Beneath water, it manifests as bleach, at the surface, it expresses as elevated temperature, level rise, etc. On land, it is shortened winter, droughts or deluges. Climate change is neither the first, nor will be the last test for humanity. On many occasions during the course of human evolution, humanity found itself pushed to the wall. At every instance, we devised new ways to scale seemingly insurmountable walls. However, today we acknowledge climate change as a contemporary challenge and have agreed to pool wisdom, knowledge, information available at our individual and collective disposal and strive to come out with flying colours. A formal accord towards synchronized efforts to overcome the challenge was agreed to at Paris in late 2016. It was hailed across the world as, unprecedented.      
The Paris accord was a timely collective step in the right direction. Finer interpretation of supporting technical documents reveals that we have understood the challenge to a reasonable depth. Climate change is different from other challenges faced by humanity. Its dual form; of being both creeping and abrupt, necessitates us to redraw new and dynamic strategies to counter it. Prioritizing wealth (over money) was identified as the central, non-negotiable principle of the Paris accord.

As for almost all global scale efforts, the United States of America (USA) - militarily the most powerful nation on Earth – was looked upon as the leader and POTUS; the captain to steer the accord to its logical objectives. I do not view POTUS as an individual. It is one of the most powerful offices’ on the planet. Common man in any nation on this planet holds POTUS in high esteem. Hence the conventional ideal of chivalry viz. morality tied to honour, service, and respect was expected from it.

As the captain of the ship (Earth), POTUS was expected to go down with it. However, with the unilateral declaration to withdraw from the Paris accord, POTUS has behaved as a captain who has abandoned his ship at time of emergency. The only measurable consequence of this withdrawal is the steep plummet of the image of POTUS. The 21st century world is different. It has many nations with towering leaders, who are competent to steer the ship successfully forward. 

As said in the Gita; Whatever Happens, Happen For Good.

Looking back, after a couple of years, we may claim that in mid-2017, our ship crossed the Horse Latitudes!