Note to recruiters

Note to recruiters: We are quite aware that recruiters, interviewers, VCs and other professionals generally perform a Google Search before they interview someone, take a pitch from someone, et cetera. Please keep in mind that not everything put on the Internet must align directly to one's future career and/or one's future product portfolio. Sometimes, people do put things on the Internet just because. Just because. It may be out of their personal interests, which may have nothing to do with their professional interests. Or it may be for some other reason. Recruiters seem to have this wrong-headed notion that if somebody is not signalling their interests in a certain area online, then that means that they are not interested in that area at all. It is worth pointing out that economics pretty much underlies the areas of marketing, strategy, operations and finance. And this blog is about economics. With metta, let us. by all means, be reflective about this whole business of business. Also, see our post on "The Multi-faceted Identity Problem".

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

INNOVATION: Never forget a face

From MIT:
Do you have a forgettable face? Many of us go to great lengths to make our faces more memorable, using makeup and hairstyles to give ourselves a more distinctive look. 
Now your face could be instantly transformed into a more memorable one without the need for an expensive makeover, thanks to an algorithm developed by researchers in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). 
The algorithm, which makes subtle changes to various points on the face to make it more memorable without changing a person’s overall appearance, was unveiled earlier this month at the International Conference on Computer Vision in Sydney.

Friday, December 20, 2013

TECHNOLOGY: Research shows how MacBook Webcams can spy on their users without warning

Via the Washington Post:
The woman was shocked when she received two nude photos of herself by e-mail. The photos had been taken over a period of several months — without her knowledge — by the built-in camera on her laptop. 
Fortunately, the FBI was able to identify a suspect: her high school classmate, a man named Jared Abrahams. The FBI says it found software on Abrahams’s computer that allowed him to spy remotely on her and numerous other women.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

ECONOMICS: What does one make of the Aam Aadmi Party? - "Do well but don't do too well" : extract from a Facebook discussion

So I was discussing on Mayank Bawa's   Facebook page the one year old Aam Aadmi Party. Here is an extract from that discussion.
One of the main successes of the Aam Aadmi Party is to highlight corruption in Indian government. That is why my concluding thoughts in the above post were to wish the AAP well. At the same time, my wish for AAP is - "do well but don't do too well." Doing too well => capturing a majority in any state => a completely confused economic system for that state.
Below is an extract of my comments in that discussion on the issue of foreign direct investment (abbreviated FDI) in the retail sector in India:
The idea of FDI in retail should be delinked from the aspect of Western policy norms. 
Re: FDI in retail: I think the idea of allowing FDI in retail is inherently a good one. The question of whether it is a blind application of Western ideas is also a reasonable one. But one mustn't discount good ideas (say, the idea of wearing spectacles or eating Bulgogi) merely because of the source of these ideas. Whether it is a Western idea or not is not as important as whether it is a sound one. The fact is that with better retail infrastructure (kirana stores are not exactly selling the best quality stuff), you will get better quality products at lower prices which translates to better purchasing power. One could regulate the heck out of them (e.g. tax them a lot, force them to have their locations be far away from major urban centers, et cetera), but there is no reason to not have more investment in retail. If you care about the poor, which is most people in India , then it is good for country for the most part. The very poor segments of Indian society are precisely the people for whom marginal increases in purchasing power will make a big difference.

Update: updated the post a bit, fixed typos. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

ECONOMICS: What does one make of the Aam Aadmi Party?

What does one make of the Aam Aadmi Party?

The Aam Aadmi Party seems to be an oddball mixture of ideas. Their "How are we different" page may be visited for an idea of their "vision":
  • There is no central high command in Aam Aadmi party. The party structure follows a bottom to top approach where the council members elect the Executive Body and also holds the power to recall it.
  • No MLA or MP of this party will use red lights or any other beacons on his or her vehicles.
  • No MLA or MP of this party will use any special security. We believe that elected people's representatives need the same security as a common man.
  • No MLA or MP of our party will live in opulent and luxurious government housing.
  • No one would need to buy an election ticket in our party. Candidates contesting elections from an area will be selected by the people of that area.
What should one make of this party? On the one hand, their idealistic zeal is to be commended. It is good for India to have lower levels of corruption. On the other hand, their lack of an economic philosophy is a problem. And this is a point of view I have debated before - I believe that the Party lacks a coherent economic philosophy.

Concluding thoughts? Well, here is something I have to say to the AAP.
Dear people of the Aam Aadmi Party - dear friends, Indians, countrymen, 
Lend me your ears. Do well but don't do too well in the elections.
          Thank you for your time. I have already captured in about three lines all that I have to say to you. See you around.    

One wishes the Aam Aadmi Party some success so that they continue to do some of the good stuff that they are doing such as monitoring electrol poll booths, et cetera. But one wouldn't want them to actually come to power. The prospect of a party without an economic ideology coming to power is a scary one. So, hope you get a seat or two or three. But not too many. One wouldn't want to wish any country to end up with George W. Bush-like inconsistency at the top.

Update: What AAP has is a lot of ideas but there seems to be little reason to believe that there is anything at the core. There is good reason, based on the economics literature, to believe, for instance, that barring FDI in retail is not a very good idea. Costs will reduce for the consumer. Kirana stores are few in number. Consumers are many. It ought to result in lower costs for the many. Any time a Wikipedia entry for a party goes like: "Party X believe that the promise of equality and justice that forms a part of the constitution of Country X and its preamble has not been fulfilled and that the independence of India has replaced enslavement to an oppressive foreign power with that to a political elite.", you have reason to be concerned. Very concerned.

Monday, December 2, 2013

TECHNOLOGY: Using computers, scientists simulate movement of largest-known dinosaur

Via the Washington Post:
Using laser scanning and sophisticated computer modeling, scientists in England and Argentina have simulated the likely lumbering gait of the largest known dinosaur, according to a new study. 
“It’s really spectacular,” said Bill Sellers, a University of Manchester professor and lead researcher of the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, which examines how and whether the enormous Argentinosaurus could have roamed the South American landscape more than 90 million years ago.