How increased automation could lead to a happier and more egalitarian society

First, watch this video titled ‘Humans Need Not Apply’.

Now answer this question: what would happen when all jobs that humans perform today will be automated?

The scenario of nobody having a job might seem fancy and theoretical at first, but it’s becoming more realistic with each passing day. Google, Uber, BMW, and a lot of other organizations are on track to release self driving vehicles as soon as next year. And as the video demonstrates so beautifully, this is not just happening to the transportation industry. Automation will impact every sphere of human activity – be it creative, mechanical, cognitive or managerial.

We live in a world of machine learning, APIs, exponentially improving technology, billion dollar disruptions. A lot of such innovations are about making humans redundant.

What will millions of jobless people do?

Taking transportation as an example again, as self-driving cars become commonplace we will rapidly have millions of jobless drivers who are unskilled.… Read the rest

Sorry, your “cool” webapp is probably not going to make money

Sorry for crushing your dreams but your web app for tracking happiness levels (or for “social-aware” todo lists) is probably not going to make enough money to let you retire in Hawaii. Many programmers and web developers find making a web app very satisfying and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as you are doing it for fun, it is OK. But making web apps is the trivial part. After all, most web apps are nothing more than a slick interface for CRUD operations. The key to making money is to find a market where people are willing to pay for those simple CRUD operations.

The usual approach for making web apps (or “startup” as some would like to call it) is this:

  • Have a “cool” idea
  • Implement it in X number of hours
  • Try to justify its need by finding users who may use it

I am just making up a statistic here, but I have seen 9/10 efforts losing hope after the third step and the web app just languishes with the creator given up on it after initial euphoria.… Read the rest

How to do research on a new idea/target industry using Twitter

I just thought of sharing a technique I have been using lately for collecting knowledge on target industry or a new tool/startup idea

For example, you have been trying to something in online backups (a purely hypothetical example).

First, come up with top 3 relevant keywords that people search for while thinking of online backups. You may use Google insights for search.

Here are the relevant keywords I found: “online backups”, “data backups”, “server backups”

Now here is the juicy part. Go to Twitter search and for each of your keyword, search on following themes:

  • What people like: search combination of keyword with words “like”, “love”, “great”, “cool”, “:)”. Example – “online backup” “love”
  • What people dislike: search for “hate”, “sucks”, “:(“, “bad”, “worst”
  • What people want: search for “want”, “wish”, “if only”, “lacking”

This will give you a pretty good idea of what people like, dislike and want in this particular industry.… Read the rest

ContextSense on ReadWriteWeb

ReadWriteWeb had a nice, long article written on Wingify’s ContextSense. Read the article titled Identify Any Website’s Sentiment with ContextSense.

To quote:

To test out ContextSense’s accuracy, we put in the URL for ReadWriteWeb.com (but of course). The end result was mostly on target, identifying our main concepts as a top ten list including things like software, Google, iPhone, news and media, commenting, semantic web, and more. The last three items in the list – AJAX, class libraries, and JavaScript – were off base. Perhaps that’s why they were greyed out while the rest of the list was in black, though. There isn’t any explanation as to what the shading means, but that’s a logical leap.

The categories list was similar to the concepts list except it showed more of a drill-down as to what broader topics the concepts came from. For example, for “Semantic Web,” the associated category was “Reference Knowledge Management Knowledge Representation Semantic Web.”

The tool also ranked our site as “slightly positive,” which makes sense since we’re passionate about technology and don’t (often) post negative reviews – we tend to just skip product reviews for those sites and services we don’t think much of.

Read the rest

Wingify in HT Mint

HT Mint ran an article on Pluggd.in and Wingify was featured as one of the few startups that the blog helped (which was very true). To quote:

Meanwhile, some very young firms have gained from Pluggd.In’s coverage. For six-month-old Wingify, a New Delhi-based firm that offers website optimization software, the biggest challenge was in getting early adopters. The firm is yet to launch its product, but was pleasantly surprised when, within three weeks of being featured on Pluggd.In, it got 10 early users and possibly its first customer. Pluggd.In had profiled the firm in July, says Paras Chopra, chief executive, Wingify. The start-up had approached Sinha for using its optimization software on his website.

He used it, liked it and profiled it, says Chopra, adding that Sinha continues to use the software. The firm is now in talks with a Bangalore-based venture capital firm, which has a portfolio company looking for the kind of technology Wingify offers, said Chopra, adding that the talks are at an advanced stage.

Read the rest

Digital Evolution Basics

For those who are not aware of digital evolution, I am writing a quick short summary. Digital evolution means evolution of computer programs who compete for limited resources such as CPU and memory. In short, it goes something like this:

– You define a universe, which is virtual memory (space) and CPU (time)
– You create energy (CPU cycles)
– You define an extremely limited instruction set for Virtual Machine (Physics). Instruction set being limited is important because you want to mimic physics, not chemistry or biology
– You seed randomly generated programs of varying length
– You start parallel execution the random programs
– Each instruction eats up energy and at random times you feed energy into universe
– At random times mis-execute program instructions
– Run it for a long time and Voila! finally self replication gets evolved from very simple instructions
– Then arms race gets started between programs and things get interesting

Some people argue that digital evolution is not merely an emulation of real thing but is indeed a real manifestation of evolution and I tend to believe the same.… Read the rest

April Fools Pranks on the Internet

I randomly stumbled across many interesting April Fools pranks on the Internet today. So, I thought of sharing them here:

Enjoy! I will try to add more as I come across them. Do let me know if you any interesting pranks.… Read the rest

Music Genres and Programming Languages

Lately, I have been thinking that certain music genres correspond to the design, philosophy, practice and perception of certain programming languages. Let me know if you (dis)agree with me.

  • Pop is Java and .NET
  • Jazz is C and C++
  • Hip-Hop is PHP and Ruby on Rails
  • Electronica/Trance is Prolog, Lisp and other functional languages
  • Nursery Rhymes is Visual Basic
  • Classical is Fortran, Cobol and Assembly
  • World Music/Fusion is Clojure, Jython, etc.
  • Rock is definitely Python and Ruby

Have I missed any major genres and programming languages?… Read the rest