Thursday, April 23, 2009

Uniqueness of Horoscope: Theory of Probability and Black Swan of Astrology

Is one’s horoscope unique? What are the chances that any other person might have similar horoscope and hence similar destiny?

Well that could be a mathematical GMAT problem...Asking what is the probability of finding two identical horoscopes?

According to Vedic Astrology there are 9 important planetary objects: Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Sun, Moon, Venus, Mercury, Rahu, and Ketu.

There are twelve houses in one’s horoscope. And these 9 planetary objects can occupy any of the twelve houses. More than one planetary object can occupy a same house. Only constraint is that Rahu and Ketu should always be in opposite houses.

So there are (8) ^ 12 combinations possible i.e. 68719476736 (68. 7 billion)

Well they are more complexities
Each Planet can be placed in any of the 12 Zodiac Signs i.e. Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

Thus total possible combinations are now (8) ^ 24 i.e. 4.72236648 × 10^21 (4722 billion times billion)…I cannot count them..! (Is it the limit of human population on earth / universe / space? Well that can be another point of discussion!)

Further, there are additional complexities in horoscope such as divisional charts having their own multiple possible combinations (Ignore this complexity in this discussion)

Still for 6 Billion Population we have 4722 billion times billion or more possible combinations…So possibilities of uniqueness of horoscopes cannot be doubted!!

With so much complexities and possibilities in a single horoscope how do astrologers predict? Here is the catch...They look for individual combinations and placements of planetary objects in isolation whose probability is often 1/12 or 1/6 like any planetary object is in particular house/ in particular zodiac sign or two planets are in same house/ opposite to each other.

Each heuristic when looked upon individually looks manageable (1 in 12 persons may have this astrological combination). Astrologers predict the pattern and destiny by combining few of these heuristics
So with uncountable number of possible combinations can these heuristics predict all possibilities? Not possible.
When there are uncountable number of combinations, do astrologers know patterns for all success? No, again not possible

How were these heuristics developed? Guess they were developed studying backwards (Observing extraordinary successes and failures and in turn identifying commonalities in their horoscope patterns).

So, what astrologers know are past patterns of some of the heuristics associated with individual success or failures. They try identifying and looking for similar patterns in an individual’s horoscope while doing predictions.

However, when unexpected success or failure comes up, astrologers again work backwards and develop new heuristics or a possible explanation of existing heuristics with second, third or fourth order effect.

Hence, astrology can explain successes or failures based on past patterns but it cannot anticipate unexpected new outcomes. Similar is the story of risk management and black swan phenomena. Most of our knowledge of risk management is based on past events. From this knowledge, we keep try developing fool proof systems but they cannot guarantee safety from unexpected events. Yes history repeats itself, but not always. Sometimes new history is also created. This is exactly Taleb’s “Black Swan” and possible limitations of predictive astrology…Black Swans of Astrology can and will appear…

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What will be the future of software? Achieving Imperfection !

Software acts like substitute of human mind with much more processing capacity. Combining software with hardware (machine) acts like a substitute of complete human with mind to process and body to perform action.

Software has already replaced many tasks which were done by human mind earlier (individual or collective) such as ERP, Accounting, Business Intelligence… List will increase in future.

Combining Software with Machine to make smart machines is still on early evolution path. Basic rule based control systems can be performed now and this will evolve into smarter machines, appliances, cars, gadgets …

What is the future of software? To understand this, one needs to understand how mind works?

How does a human mind work?

Mind performs three broad categories of functions

*Analysis – Currently done by existing software but can be improved
*Imagination – Currently not done by existing software
*Information Collection – Currently existing software only receives user input – later self information collection by all senses – read, touch, hear, see

Comparing mind functions with existing software capabilities, It looks software capabilities are getting there. What can be the problems in future software evolution?

The biggest problem is that human mind doest not always work logically or in a rule bound way

Human mind has its own imperfections and biasness based on

*Intuition, Faith
*Emotions: Mood, Righteousness, Empathy, Hatred
*Selective Thinking: Exceptions, Processing full or only part of information
*Psychological Profile: Risk, Reward, Failure
*Prior Information: Curiosity, Information Gathering, Social Condition

Future of software development will demand development of competencies to understand above imperfections and incorporate them in software development.

For eg .. Risk management software tools in financial world failed because software were analytical, rule based and didn’t incorporate human imperfections. One can argue that software was right and human understanding of risk management was wrong. Well if end result is not achieved than blaming weakest link doesn’t offer any comfort.

Efforts of future software development will be to achieve this imperfection. If imperfection is achieved then distinguishing line between Man and Machine will get blurred.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Obama and Wall Street : Doctor & Barber

"Beware of the young doctor and the old barber" - Benjamin Franklin

Couldnt be a better oneliner to describe what is happening to US Economy today and potential dangers ahead !!