Friday, April 6, 2018

GDPR will be tough on technology companies

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the data protection law that is going to be implemented in European Union on May 25th, 2018. The law is expected to give users more control over their personal data than the existing data privacy laws. However, it will be tough for the technology companies to comply with them.

The main argument of the law is that whenever the technology companies request the users for their data, their requests should be unambiguous. The users should know about all the processed and unprocessed data of the user and should have the right to control or delete that data. Currently, the technology companies also allow to download the data uploaded by the users but do not give any information regarding the data that resulted in using their data. Moreover, the data should be portable that users should be able to port their data from one technology company to another one.

The GDPR law informs the technology companies that how they should take care of the users' privacy. The law also details the fines if the technology companies do not comply with the law. The purpose of penalties in the law is to force the top level of the technology companies to think about privacy of the users as well.

Many organizations are expected to outsource the data related problems to a third party as a result of the law. These third parties will take care of all the privacy issues of the users’ data in the form of a global privacy infrastructure. However, it will be tough for small technology companies to comply with the law or outsource their data privacy issues due to financial reasons.

The critics of the law argue that the law will stop innovate business in European Union that depends upon data and artificial intelligence. Moreover, the law will also affect the technologies companies operating worldwide. The critics are also arguing that GDPR might not help much to the users. Already, many EU users are stuck in law cases with technology companies and technology companies are unable to help them in getting their processed data. The companies will have to restructure their data inventories in order to comply with the law that will highly affect them financially. The biggest challenge to the technology companies will be to comply with the single standard format of storing the users’ data for portability. Changing the format of data storage will certainly affect their working model. However, how much they will be affected? only time will tell.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The mathematical corporation where machine intelligence + human ingenuity achieve the impossible [ Notes from the book]

Book by
Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern

---------------------------Summary of what I read on April 3rd, 2018-------------------------------------

In the industrial era, we used the switches and the term “flip the switch” to perform different tasks. In the current era, the largest switch is a machine intelligence. However, modern advancement is not only due to technology-machine learning- but also due to leadership. Leadership with the technology makes the elements of the successful organization to whom we refer as “Mathematical cooperation”.

Mathematical corporations are driven by the data and algorithms. Data and algorithms have made the corporation forward-looking and experimental oriented. The forward-looking is a guide to future power for the organizations. However, none of the organization is mature enough in forward-looking using data but their leaders understand the critical pieces to guide the direction of their organization.

Instead of using big data and artificial intelligence to answer the old known questions regarding the organization, the leaders of the mathematical corporations are using big data and artificial intelligence to answer the unknown question that no one is asking today. Therefore, smart machines along with intelligent imagination of the leaders make “Big minds” that are driving force in mathematical corporations.

Leaders in the industry are all convinced that big mind is disrupting the current business. The power of big minds is predicting the future that can be valuable to their customers. Having the power to predict unknown universe was never available to the leaders of the past.

Why were we restricted in the past? We were restricted with our lack of ability in prediction. The magic of prediction is in viewing the details. In past, we don’t have all the knowledgeable data to understand the wellbeing of the organizations. With data, we are looking the things in detail and are predicting that we don’t know. However, how should we use the data? The answer lies in letting the machine to learn the patterns.  In order to teach machines to find the unknown patterns, we also need the thinking skills to work with the machines and this book is a guide to get the required thinking skills.

Recently, many leaders are turning their traditional organizations to mathematical corporations. Mark Field, CEO of Ford, is among those leaders. He allowed his employees to drive the cars fitted with hundreds of sensors in one of the experiments in the organization to gather and analyze data to better serve the customer needs. Traditionally, the survey-based mechanism is used to gather data from the customers. However, that mechanism is not enough as compared to data generated from sensors to understand the needs of the customer that even they don’t know. According to Mark, organizations work in two parallel worlds: real and digital. The digital world helps in making the real world better by predicting the unknown requirements. Ford is not alone gathering data and serving customers based on the users’ data.

There are many other examples as well. Gathering data from unconventional tools, such as social media has also helped many organization to better serve their customers.  For example, gathering data from social media helped Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) to recall one of its product and improve its reputation among customers. GSK succeed due to emerging new tools for data collection that were not available previously. Therefore, using ever growing new tools of data gathering, mathematical corporations will keep on disrupting business in new ways.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Social media and Surveillance capitalism

We all use the social media, such as Facebook and Twitter and these have become part of our daily life. I often ask a question from my students who are learning data mining as a subject that why are these platforms free of cost in this world where nothing is free? A number of students do answer that these companies earn through advertisement. However, these students also get stuck when I ask a continuing question that why you do not get annoyed with an advertisement on social media. We get really annoyed watching advertisement on TV and changes the channel during advertisements but hardly leave social media, why? If the advertisements are very few in the social media then how they earn? The answer lies in the term “surveillance capitalism” used by Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff.

Most of the people are aware of two big jargons in data science, Big Data and Personalized Recommender Systems. The business model of the social media companies, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google revolves around these two jargons. Using personalized recommender systems, the social media companies target individual advertisement to a user that most probably looking for such kind of a product. Therefore, when we see an advertisement on the social media, we hardly get annoyed. However, to understand the specific and individualized requirements of the users, the social media platforms require a lot and lot of personalized data. To gather the personalized data and in huge amount, the platform is provided free of cost. The users are profiled and compared with different users and are categorized. After categorization of people, the advertisements are targeted to specific people rather than in a random way. This is the good side of recommender systems. However, if we look closely, all surveillance systems are also built on the same model and this is pointed by Shoshana Zuboff.

Ok, now we know social media is a surveillance system but why we are not able to easily leave the social media platforms? The reason is that we are being used as Guinea pigs and a number of psychological and behavior predicting tests are being performed on us by the social media companies. To keep us connected to these social media platforms and to gather more data from us, we are being studied. As a result of tests, social media is engineered to be as habit-forming as cocaine to keep us connected to the platforms. I agree with the Julian Assange that ‏we are the product in the business model of the social media companies.

The social media companies are not restricted to only do surveillance for advertisement. Nothing is stopping them from playing dirty. Most importantly, these platforms are being used for brainwashing people for different agendas. Cambridge Analytica scandal has brought this dirty game into the limelight that these platforms even affects the results of the elections. If anyone of us thinks that it is not possible to brainwash him or her, he or she should look at the smartphone in his/her hand. The business model of the social media platforms requires the constant input of data. Therefore, use cases of smartphones have been devised. We are brainwashed to buy smartphones to constantly provide personalized data to these companies. Even the older mobile phone companies, such as Nokia fails to counter the force of social media companies. We have bought the bugging devices of these companies with our own will. Interesting, isn’t it. Have you ever wondered that why power in the batteries of the smartphones get consumed so quickly even if you are not using them? guess it yourself.

Apart from what we like or dislike, the smart mobile phones have helped the social media companies to know that where we work, where our homes are, what type of jobs we do, to whom we talk, and who our job mates are. For example, if someone wants to find out a number of Army officers of Pakistan in a certain city and their office locations, these companies can provide all the details much better than any insider. 

Looking at the power of the online surveillance used by social media companies, many countries are planning to profile their citizens and rate them. These countries will allow or restrict people on access to different things, such as travelling or online purchasing power based on their rating. On the outside, it looks good that governments will be able to track each individual citizen and this will help in curbing the problems, such as terrorism. However, the same power will also help authoritarian governments to control their citizen. They will be able to brainwash their citizen, suppress the freedom of speech, and gain more power.

In the real world, we do mistakes, learn from them and hide those mistakes in the past. However, in the systems where we are (social media and mobile phones) and will be (civilian rating systems by governments) profiled, we will not able to get rid of our past mistakes. The past mistakes will always remain as black spots on our profile. Guess, how you will feel when during a job interview, the interviewer tells you that you were booked by traffic police on one wheeling a bike 20 years ago or you had expressed a negative opinion against someone on your twitter account 10 years ago so you have less rating than the other guy.

Do you like to live like a Guinea pig who is constantly being observed and documented? I don’t.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pakistan needs Epistocracy rather than democracy

An epistocracy would try to copy what makes democracies work but do it better [1]. For the past 70 years, we had tried democracy with the exception of few decades in military dictatorships. Although, we consider military dictatorship as an evil form of governance but democracy has also not provided benefits to the people.  Researchers have shown that Pakistan has progressed economically better in a military dictatorship than civilian democracy [2]. Democracy provides the right of voting equally to everyone. An uneducated person’s opinion is considered equal to the opinion of PhD for the selection of the best person who can govern the country. In Pakistan, education has not remained a priority for the civilian governments [3] because it is easy to buy the vote of an uneducated person than the educated person. Instead of falling back to military dictatorship due to the continuous failures of the democracy, we should try Epistocracy in Pakistan. In epistocracy, more knowledgeable citizens’ vote count more [1].
Jason Brennan has challenged the morality of democracy in his recent book [4] and has created the debate on democracy vs epistocracy worldwide [5][7]. Epistocracy is different from technocracy where Government is done by some bureaucrats.  As described in [1], Technocracy revolves around “what the government does rather than who the government is” [1]. Epistocracy is similar to the ideas of an ancient Greek philosopher Plato who was the student of Socrates and was the teacher of Aristotle about restricting the governance to the knowledgeable [6]. Unlike, restricting the governance to a small elite that can abuse the power, Brennan presented many strategies in his book to improve the quality of the electoral system.  Brennan divides the citizens into three broad categories, namely Hobbits, Hooligans, and Vulcans and has shown that majority of people do a poor job in considering political issues. Hobbits have no interest in politics and have very little knowledge. Hooligans do possess political knowledge but they see only through their party lenses. Vulcans are the ones who have great knowledge of political issues and consider each issue on merit. As Hobbits and Hooligans use to be in large numbers as compared to Vulcans and carry equal right to vote, the biasness of democracy tilt in their direction. The epistocracy makes sure that fate of the knowledgeable should not be drowned by the many ignorant [6].
Due to lack of education in Pakistani population, we see that majority of voters in Pakistan fall into the categories of Hobbits and Hooligans. The poor masses of Pakistan fell into the category of hobbits. For them, surviving a day in this expensive world is more important than selecting a good politician for a country. They easily sell their votes to the corrupt politicians and destroy the fate of educated people in Pakistan. Therefore, there is a need to look into our electoral system and improve it.  We should experiment with epistocracy that should be closer to the idea of Johan Stuart Mill. Johan Stuart Mill was the English philosopher in the nineteenth century and was considered as the most influential thinkers in the history of liberalism. He was of the view that extra votes should be given to the people with university degrees. However, in [8], Harisan Nasir has argued that by just giving extra votes does not necessarily overcomes the number of ignorant people. Nasir was of the view that Universal inclusion must be ensured as it enables adequate feedback and not result in marginalization. However, in our Pakistan context, we have seen that Universal inclusion has not brought positive results and have added a dent to the image of democracy in the eyes of people. Instead of giving extra votes to the people with university degrees, the right of votes should be restricted to the people with the university degrees. This will encourage governments to invest in education to increase their voters. I am of the view that educated person can provide better feedback than the uneducated person and can take care of goodwill of uneducated one along with himself. Although, no system can be perfect but epistocracy has signs that can improve the fate of Pakistan as compared to democracy and military rule.  What is your point of view?
[2] M. N. Hayat, K. Fatima, U. Mukhtar, and S. Bano, “Economic Performance of Pakistan Under Democracy and Military Regimes,” Journal of Economics, Business and Management, Vol. 4, No. 12, December 2016


Monday, August 25, 2014

Sentiment Analysis on Tweets of Pakistani Journalists

The edited version of this blog is published on Express Tribune on October 27, 2014

The events taking place around us affect our feeling. Our feelings affect our conversation during normal life.  In the last three weeks, major event of Azadi March is happening in Pakistan. This event is affecting the feeling of average Pakistani on the road. Being related to data mining and text mining field, I carried out a little experiment to check out the feeling/sentiments of Pakistani journalists who are reporting the current event in Pakistan. I took the journalists as test case because people listen to them and are affected by their feelings.

 Twitter data is normally used for understanding the feelings of the people. Researchers in USA have used twitter data to understand the feelings of the people during Presidential election. To understand the feelings of the Pakistani journalists, I used the Sentiment analysis technique on the tweets of the journalists from the last three weeks.  I used twitteR library of R-software to extract the tweets and Datumbox twitter Sentiment analysis API to rate the sentiment of each tweet as positive, negative and neutral depending upon the context. I used the last three week tweets of Cyril Almeida, Fahad Hussain, Fereeha, Hamid Mir, Iftikhar Ahmad, Jasmeen Manzoor, Javed Chaudhry, Kashif Abbasi, Moeed Pirzada, Mushtaq Minhas, Rauf Kalasra, Raza Rumi, Shahzeb Khanzada, and Talat Hussain for my experiment. Due to limitation of time, I wasn’t able to conduct experiment on other journalists.   

The results obtained from the experiment are very interesting. Moeed Pirzada and Fahad Hussain sentiments are obtained as most positive among all of their peers. Mushtaq Minhas appears up as the one who tops in negative sentiment. For neutral sentiments, Hamid Mir tops the group. Not only his neutral sentiments were on the top but positive and negative sentiments were too low that it appears that he can hide his feelings more than among his peers. Similar is the case with Iftikhar Ahmad, Rauf Kalasra, and Shahzeb Khanzada. Amount of positive sentiments remains higher than negative for Fahad Hussain, Hamid Mir, Jasmeen Manzoor, Javed Chaudhry, Moeed Pirzada, and Raza Rumi. Cyril Almeida, Fereeha, Jasmeen Manzoor, and Kashif Abbasi try to balance their sentiments in their tweets as a result their neutral sentiments remains lower than their positive and negative sentiment. Mushtaq Minhaz neutral sentiments were also lower than positive and negative but that is due to the fact that most of his sentiments were judged as negative. Cyril Almeida, Fereeha, Kashif Abbasi, Mushtaq Minhas, Rauf Kalasra, and Talat Husain comes up as the journalist who are spreading negative sentiments using their tweets. The results of the sentiment analysis are shown in Table 1 and Figure 1.

In the future, if I will get time, I will conduct an experiment to read the sentiments of the people replying to these journalists to understand how much affect people are taking from the sentiments of these journalists. How they are replying back on getting the implicit sentiment from journalists in their tweets. Till then kindly reply back to me that do you agree with the Datumbox twitter sentiment analysis  engine results about the sentiments of the journalists or not?

Figure1: Graph of Sentiment Analysis Experiment
Table 1: Results of Sentiment Analysis Experiment
Cyril Almeida (@cyalm)
Fahad Hussain (@Fahdhusain)
Fereeha (@Fereeha)
Hamid Mir (@HamidMirGEO)
Iftikhar Ahmad (@jawabdeyh)
Jasmeen Manzoor (@jasmeenmanzoor)
Javed Chaudhry (@javedchoudhry)
Kashif Abbasi (@Kashifabbasiary)
Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj)
Mushtaq Minhas (@mushtaqminhas)
Rauf Kalasra (@KlasraRauf)
Raza Rumi (@Razarumi)
Shahzeb Khanzada (@shahzebkhanzda)
Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Halalgoogling: the constructive feedback

If I were white, I'd get less criticism: Lenny Kravitz. The same principle applies with the newly launched search engine "Halalgoogling". If it was not "halalafied" or "for muslims", it would have got less negative criticism. Express tribune have recently published a blog criticizing the search engine. The focal point of aforementioned blog was to target the name of the blog by showing that search engine is not able to filter few  so called "haram" words. Is the criticism on "halalgoogling" constructive, I don't think so.

Criticizing the search engine for not being able to filter few not commonly used words, is not justified. The blog published in Express tribune shows that author was more in a hurry to write the blog than to read what the developers have said about the limitations. According to the developers of "halalgoogling" in their blog, if anyone finds objectionable word that is not being filtered, should report or suggest  them. Therefore all the criticism so far on the search engine is already answered by the developers.

If we are really sincere to give feedback, we should give constructive feedback that should help the developers to improve their work. I can summarize the following points regardings the search engine that should be asked from the developers.

  1. Why i should use "halalgoogling" instead of google with safe search? You people have done some really good work technically. However, I don't find any reason to use your search engine. Selling your product by attaching the religion with it, is a recipe to fail. You have numerious examples of such products in a Pakistani market.
  2. The length of the name "halalgoogling" is also an obsticle for me to use it. Have you ever wonder why "Yahoo", "Google", and "Bing" were so quickly adopted by the people all over the world? The length of the name "halalgoogling" will certainly become obstacle in adopting your search engine.
  3. The word Google is not a synonym for the word "search". It is a "aween" word and now a propritey name for a search engine company.  You have used their name in your search engine name. why?
  4. Will I get better search results through your search engine? Do you have developed a new "Search algorithm"? If so, when you are going to  patent it? Might be Google purchase it from you as they also paid 336 million US dollars to Sanford University to use their patent algorithm "PageRank". The Google got more popularity than the other search engines in 1999 and 2000, only due to the strength of PageRank algorithm to produce better results. Does your algorithm is comparable to PageRank?
  5. Why there is no credits to real search engine in the results if you are just using filters over someone else search results? If you are using "Google Api" you must mention it somewhere. On one side, you are attaching religion and on otherside you are not giving credit to the real search engine company. Doesn't it contradict with the islamic values?
  6. The performance of a filtering system goes down with the increase in the filtered word list. How you can convince me that I don't have to wait longer than the renowned search engine? What will be the value of a search engine if i have to wait for longer time for the results?
  7. Menu bar is not stable. The  login link  appeared after i search some words. The link didn't responded at all. It just disappeared when I moved back to the first page. This should not happen in a professional website or a search engine.
  8. Is my privacy safe on your "halalgoogling" search engine? Do your search engine keep history of my search results? What is the purpose of "login" in a search engine if you donot store my personalized searches? If you store the searches, how should I be sure enough of my privacy? Will you target my thoughts using data mining techniques to judge my behaviour and likings?

To summarize all of the above, I would say that "halalgoogling" is a good effort but not convincing enough to force me to use it. The developers should present something other than the religion, to sell their product, otherwise, negative feedback will keep on rolling towards them.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dr Hoodbouy Test for waterkit car is wrong

Dr Hoodbouy is going to be insulted by the self claimed Engineer Agha Waqar and the media very soon. I am claiming this based on the validity test demanded by Dr Hoodbouy in his recent article in Express Tribune. Dr Hoodbouy had asked him to prove the working of his water Kit by fitting it with the electricity Generator.  Agha Waqar had shown this on Television and Dr Hoodbouy might not have seen that program.  Really has Dr Hoodbouy demanded the wrong test?

Agha Waqar claim is not intentional fraud as claimed by Dr Hoodbouy but overall working cost of water kit will soon going to be proved more costly than the cost of oil saved by his method. As a result those who will buy his kit will become victim of unintentional fraud.

Dr Qadeer and many other people from Pakistan Science foundation are also on the wrong foot. Reason, they are only looking at the moving car and not the force which is moving the car. Unfortunately Dr Hoodbouy has demanded only the working of engine and these people will soon start insulting him as this is going to happen.

To clearly understand why Hoodbouy demanded question is wrong, we have to look at the working of engine via CNG. CNG is injected in the air intake pipe of a petrol engine where spark plug ignite the gas similarly as that ignite petrol and that provide the energy to move the engine and so as the car. Here in this case, instead of CNG, hydrogen, which is going to be produced via electrolysis of water, is being used. As hydrogen is also combustible just like CNG, so theoretically it is going to work.

So now question can come that where goes the law of thermodynamics of which Dr Hoodbouy and Dr Atta-ur-Rehman were talking about. Dr Atta-ur-Rehman had clearly mentioned that in Hammid Mir program that everything will be cleared when the car will run for some time (say 1000 miles as mentioned by Talat Hussain in his article as well).

To clearly understand why Agha Waqar claim is against the law of thermodynamics, we have to look at the complete working cycle of his water kit car.

  1.   Energy from battery is being used in the form of electricity to break the water molecule in hydrogen and oxygen. Some energy will be lost in the form of heat and some chemical reactions if water is not pure.
  2. Hydrogen will be injected in the engine just like CNG to move the engine. Energy will be lost here as well due to heat and friction.
  3. Due to the motion of the motor, alternator will be operated as a result electricity will be produced that will be stored in battery. Here as well, much of the energy is usually lost due to the friction and electrical resistance.

According to the law of thermodynamics, energy used from the battery in point 1, should be much larger than what the battery receive in the point 3. If both become same, than this whole cycle is a perfect perpetual machine which is not possible as it is opposite to the law of thermodynamics.

So In my view, Dr Hoodbouy has asked the wrong question that is just to show the working of point 2 in the above mentioned cycle and Agha Waqar will clearly pass this test.

The test for Agha Waqar should be to show theoretically making the calculation that on average how much energy (electricity) is being used to do the electrolysis in point 1(say for one liter of water) and similarly how much energy (electricity) is being stored again in battery in point 3 (by the engine running on the hydrogen generated by same one liter of water). If both are equal than his claim is correct.

All the previous claims of running cars on water, ended in fraud as the cost of charging the battery again and again had proved to be more expensive than the cost of oil saved in those methods.

Summarizing all the above, I will say Dr Hoodbouy should ask the correct test otherwise most of the people will lose money and big scientists like him will be humiliated. Test should be to check the law of thermodynamics rather than testing the movement of car or working of engine.