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Past of the Future : Sci-fi (5)

20 Oct

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

“Why are you so quiet today?” Hruman had put Ram in his bed. Keki was already at the dinner table.

“I am leaving SETI” Keki responded with immense sadness in her voice.

Hruman knew how much Keki loved it at SETI. She was immensely curios- using engineering marvels of humans to learn tiny bit more about the universe. She would often come at night with story of a rock from a planet billion miles away. Geology did not interest Hruman, but at times, he was surprised to see links between the events of universe.

“Why? Where are you going?” Hruman asked.

“I am joining PPC.”

PPC was not exactly a pleasant place to work. But then what was? At least this was not as unproductive as SETI. Hruman hesitated and failed to decide whether to congratulate Keki or express grief- even though it was quite obvious from her state that the latter was correct choice.

Keki did not seem to notice the indecisiveness of Hruman. “Planet-with-intelligent-life” Keki exhaled.

“Zorg 276?” It was Hruman who always referred to Zorg-276 as the “Planet-with-intelligent-life”, but today he could not mock Keki.

Keki nodded.

Earth had been able to establish contacts with the Zorg and had sent them a space craft with some earth object. But something went wrong somewhere. Either the considered the craft as an attack on their privacy, or they needed a new planet—translators were still trying to interpret their language. Only thing communicated in English meant they were attacking earth. While teams had been deployed to get in touch with Zorgs to talk them out, but Earth had started preparations for the first inter-galactic war.

SETI was at the receiving end of all this. Once the most celebrated institution on planet was now getting blames for this entire episode. “How quickly people change sides?” Hruman often humored himself. But this could not be the reason for Keki to leave. She was strong enough to take tons of garbage out of idiot’s mouths.

“But why PPC?” Hruman inquired.

Keki did not answer immediately. She was trying to put her thoughts into words. “I can’t deny my share of blame. Now it’s my responsibility to protect earth the best I can.”

Hruman tried to save Keki from self-loathing, “Listen! Whatever you did was your job-responsibility. No one can blame you for doing the best possible job! Don’t blame yourself. These media would say anything for Popularity Index.”

“You know me Hruman.” Keki looked Hruman in eyes, “I am not an idiot to throw myself at whims of media. But I know better. The earth needs protection. We can’t go in denial. I can’t go in denial.”

Chapter 6

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Past of the Future : Sci-fi (4,6)

19 Oct

Chapter 3

(Short Story | Fiction)

Chapter 4

(Short Story | Fiction)

Hruman looked at his watch. 8 PM. 17th November 0000 hours, the test would begin. He had to convince his son at any cost. The operation will take a couple of hours, so he had a couple of hours at best.

“Can he do it? How? How can one convince other to do something so terrible?”

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

“Seedless mangoes, boy you must really want something.” Ramvan chuckled as he opened his pack to get his frozen seedless mango.

Hruman was not a fan of artificial frozen seedless mangoes. He loved natural mango and he thought these seedless mangoes were an insult to the masterwork of the nature. Ramvan, on the other hand no problems with seedless mangoes. After all, they artificially added the lost flavors just before the purchase. As long as it tastes same, what is the point in knowing and judging the source?

“Aren’t you going to eat yours?” Ram asked excitedly as he was finishing his mango.

Hruman was watching Ram eating very intently. He just smiled and swayed his head to imply no.

“Boy! What have you done!” Ram chuckled as he helped himself with the second mango.

Hruman could have gone on watching. But time was less, and Ram was in one of hid pleasant moods- “I am leaving”.

Ram continued eating- “OK, for how long?”

“Forever.”

Ram did not think he was serious, but his jaws paused and he looked at Hruman. He was not smiling or blinking. “My God! Was he serious?”

“What do you mean”, Ram was no longer eating.

“It means I am never going to see you again.” Hruman himself had not considered this gravity. But there was no other option. He tried his best to hide cracks in his voice.

“Where are you going? Are you converting to Homobots? Are you joining PPC?”

“No, no… I am not converting. I will remain at Human’s side.”

“So why you won’t see me?”

“Because, you are going to forget me”. Hruman’s eyes were wet now. But he was still calm and composed.

“What do yo….” Suddenly it struck Ram. The dots were connected. “You… you mean…” Ram did not want to complete the sentence.

“Yes.” Hruman paused. “Yes, your memory is going to be erased.”

Past of the Future : Sci-fi

15 Oct

Chapter 2

(Short Story | Fiction)

Chapter 3

(Short Story | Fiction)

“We have identified a planet with “intelligent life” 27.6 light years away.” Keki informed at the dinner table casually.

SETI had numerous false positives in past. That is why they have been keeping this news secret unless they were absolutely certain. Hruman was never a fan of SETI.

“Really!”, Hruman said in an almost-sarcastic tone without lifting his head from the bowl of soup. Hruman had promised in the beginning of the relationship that he will not make fun of SETI in front of Keki. But instincts never die.

Why to bother if there is someone else in this universe or this dimension? Our happiness and sadness are solely determined by our attitude and behavior. Where does an Extra Terrestrial life fit into this? Haven’t we got enough problems of our own?

Science has done wonders, now human could travel at almost 70% of the speed of light; communicate 10 times faster than that. With super-efficient solar cells, fuel and electricity was no longer an issue. With independence in electricity and lighting sources- new forms of decorations and arts have developed. But hunger and basic health facilities were still biggest problem of humanity. No innovation could handle that.

“You still don’t believe us”. Keki put her napkin on table and smiled. She had made peace with Hruman’s opinions. “How you cannot be least bit curious about finding what else is out there? What is the purpose of this… this “life, universe and everything”“.

Hruman and Keki had met 4 years ago- at party of a mutual geologist friend. They were so different- in their views about science about art. Interestingly, Hruman worked closer to science and ashamed of its limitation, while Keki was further from science, yet very hopeful and proud of it. And they would argue, for hours. Their idea of fun too was not same. Hruman’s favorite was one at Singapore- silent show- just lights of different frequencies powered by power sources of different frequencies- creating a mystic environment. Keki preferred sound over light. She would close her eyes, reduce noise to zero and create a silence for her. But these tastes were never an issue between the couple. They enjoyed the differences, they celebrated the opposition.

“The answer scares me.” Hruman put the spoon and joined the conversation. “I am not a very optimistic person; not about answer to this question.”

“Why?”

Hruman went back to soup, “because no system can produce something more intelligent than itself; something intelligent enough to understand the system.”

Keki too went back to her poha, “that’s not even an argument”.

Hruman did not want to ruin the night. He wanted to close the discussion. “Listen it’s ok to be curios. I happen to be curios… a lot actually! My only point is, we have so many problems to deal with; problems which should take priority. And why we are discussing this again.” His voice sounded like surrendered to boredom, “we have discussed this sooo many times.”

Keki smiled without looking up. Hruman was safe.

Chapter 4

Past of the Future : Sci-fi

13 Oct

Chapter 2

(Short Story | Fiction)

Hruman walked out of Zaffer’s office. He was obviously tensed. Though he had almost seen it coming, but is that anytime a source to solace? It all started last week. He blurted something at an 8 PM party with colleagues last Wednesday. He was called for a test by Planet Protection and Control team the very next morning. Normally these tests are scheduled twice a year. Knowing the schedule gives people to prepare well for the test. In fact, he is the in-charge of one of such secret society which helps people to train for the tests. Hruman had taken this test couple of months ago- absolutely flawlessly. But this time he was caught unprepared. Though the test result was not in critical zone, but he knew he had left room for suspicion. This is not good, this is never good.

This was year 2063A- 7 Earth years since the Homobots won majority at the PPC. Homobots, as he would say, were humanoid robots, but Homobots preferred to see themselves as Zen masters who had controlled all their emotions and who were able to focus entirely on one area- something essential- anybody would agree in a war time.

“How could you let this happen, Hruman? You of all people- you know how much is at stake here? You are a pro at this thing, in fact you designed some of its clauses. Do you know how much risk you have put us at?” Zaffer was too upset to stop. Hruman has been an asset to the organization, though he avoids showing any emotions, but he won’t mind admitting that folks like Hruman are the last hope of humanity in this all lost game. Though professionally he kept distance of Hruman’s affairs, but personally he was very fond of the man.

Zaffer finally paused to brief. He was expecting an answer from Hruman. But Hruman made no effort to move his tongue. He kept staring blankly under the table. Zaffer realized he could never make Hruman feel any more guilty. Hruman of course was not a child; he knew what was at stake here, probably better than Zaffer could ever think of. He sighed and offered a magneto-chemic cigarette to Zaffer. He knew Hruman had quit smoking long ago before this magneto-chemic cigarette was invented. This cigarette instead of sending pollutants into the air, it absorbed them- something which Hruman was never convinced of.

Even in tension, Hruman showed no interest in the offer. Zaffer went on smoking on his own. Time was pretty short, but he did not want to spoil the intensity of the moment. He waited to let Hruman take all in.

Finally Hruman mumbled- “Are they doing anything to Ramvan?” Hruman was well aware that his charges could mean a cryogenic sleep of over 35 years. But he was least bothered about that now.

“That is the problem, though I managed to convince them. He is son of Keki. You had him only for last 6 years.” Zaffer wanted to stop. He dreaded to even imagine Hruman’s reaction on what he was going to say next. “… That he is just a kid, his memories… could be erased.”

Zaffer closed his eye and waited for storm. “Thank you” that’s all Hruman could manage. Keki and Hruman had broken up when Ramvan was 3 years old. Keki had chosen to part ways and go to PPC- an idea which Hruman was always opposed to.

Hruman sounded to be somewhere very far. Zaffer was not sure if Hruman was thanking him or Keki.

“I will make sure that he passes the tests.” Zaffer could feel the pain on the face of Hruman. “How far would we have to go?” Hruman asked.

“Past 7 years, when Ram came to live with you. And…” Zaffer paused “and any other reference of you. The test is on Saturday morning.”

Hruman rose. “I will take leave. I need to talk to Ram.” He moved to open the gate without waiting for permission.

“And Hruman,” Zaffer raised his voice to stop Hruman, “we may have to dismiss you.”

Hruman did not even turn to react. He just nodded and left the room.

Chapter 3

…..

Disruptive innovation and Life

20 Aug

So, this thought came from the strategy lessons on Disruptive Innovation.

There are wow-examples of this happening in industry. There is a wow-er example of human resources (which in fact is the other side of story). How best colleges prepare students who are smarter than the need of mainstream companies! Those companies can’t afford them. Worse still, if they pay them enough, still they can’t be challenging enough to satisfy the fire of these students! Result- these companies head  towards smaller colleges. And the places these student will be headed to will be smaller, non-traditional- probably disrupting innovators.

There is a third aspect, an individual’s story.

We start pushing from the young age. To stay ahead of crowd, to do better and better.- to meet our need. We push, push and push. The hard work pays. We “succeed”. But at times we overshoot our needs. We end up having more than we initially desired and thus leaving room for disruptive needs/desire- Lesser, more basic desire. It starts hollowing us. We grow dissatisfied. restless.. unhappy…

So, how much to push? Or we too are bound to be doomed? I guess, it’s internal so we can monitor and control better. First of all, do not get pushed by peer pressure and society’s idea of success. Define it for yourself. Do not seek the best. Seek the correct.

But if this is done from beginning perhaps we won’t achieve anything! Well, it’s only logical that I attempt to answer this question- but this will be very shallow attempt as I don’t have much knowledge of society and psychology.

Anyway- I remember one of Chanakya couplet of advice-

“Madly love a child younger than 6. Be strict with the child between 6 and 16. Respect the child over 16- he is an adult now.

So, perhaps we can break the development in 3 phases. Leave the child till age 6. Let the natural abilities and interest emerge. Push him/her hard from 6-16 to develop reasonable “skill” in the area. Then stop pushing; let him/her decide. Of course the advice is over 2000 years old- society has changed so much since, we must shift barriers, but this can be one pattern of solution.

of course as I said- this part I am writing only based on my reasoning and power of inferences…

Disruptive Technology

19 Aug

This comes from my Strategy classroom. We were talking about how industries leave scope for disruptive innovations.

I will try and explain the phenomenon. Terribly simple-

You start with an idea, or an innovation. You get customers or fans who pay. Your business takes off. You grow bigger and bigger. More and more people join you. They are paying you, so it is only logical to give them their worth. You put your efforts and keep improving for them. But at the same time remaining “backward compatible”, i.e. not changing something fundamental. Pretty logical- don’t fix something which is not broken and here forget broken, this is an awesome piece!

So far, so good.

Now what happens, someone else appears on horizon. Someone doing same thing, maybe bit or totally differently, but very small. And people shift! The trouble is that people do not know what they like unless they are told! People are not geniuses, they are not so smart to know everything inside out and give rational suggestions. But the moment they have a choice, they jump!

-Simple so far. Here is the wow part. The companies CAN NOT avoid it.

Why? Look again. you are in a business, you are the leader. Reaping the best possible profits. Everything so well organized and tested. Why would you change? How can you change? New idea would mostly have a terrible profit margin to start with, the new idea implementation would seek fortunes of capital investment. You don’t know how your customers will react! You don’t know if the new idea is so scalable! And most of the times the newer tech is not better to start with! I mean who would want a machine which can let you type only 5 pages!

But there are people, who do not need awesome tech. There are people who need to type only 5 pages- and the company has overshot their expectations. Overtime this number grows. My smartphone can do a 100 things, but I need only 10! It’s really counter-intuitive to think that someone doesn’t want this awesome technology.

Plus, there is always someone who loves something new. Beyond its usage and capabilities, there is someone who just appreciates the technology-

You won’t shut your typewriters business for this! Slowly the tech innovates and you are too late to join the party. So, it is bound to happen. You can rarely convince people to keep burning money in hope to get something so ground-breaking that your own product gets packed! So it’s like life, you may have life- longer, healthier- but in the end, death gets us all.

Of course I am barely touching the tip of the iceberg- Here is a more detailed video- though only live examples can really teach.

The Biological Clock

24 May

Biological clock is one of the things that has helped us to survive over millennia. Before we learnt time, it helped us sync with the nature for our daily survival. Sun was the one responsible for regulating this. But since the civilization, since we moved away from the sun inside our huts and forts, since we discovered fire and manual lighting, this clock has kept getting altered.

However, the damage had never been this disappointingly significant. The growing populations coupled with the invention of electricity, has done the most damage.  The earlier necessitated us to move in skyscrapers and the latter eased this. We started making the rules of light. Inside houses, on the roads, at the work… Body responded to the change. The clock change more than ever. One of the evils of the light pollution.

Still, the choice of the “clock” remained voluntary. And the damages were not widespread. Especially since most of the fun, work and interactions still happened during day. But the TV and internet have been the last nails in the coffin. Now, the world is at our fingertips; the fun is here, the work is here, the “interaction” or whatever is left of it, is here. Now our lives need not to be in any sync with the sun whatsoever. The day is of 24 hours. We can use it the way we ever wanted. Polyphasic sleep, power naps, 24 hours with our smartphones and laptops. The ultimate flexibility.

Or is it? An ancient saying says, the rules are the thing which shape our lives. Without this we are nothing- like a river without boundaries brings only curse! This “damage” in biological clocks has created more sleep-disorders than any other time in history of our civilization. A poor sleep has impacted on many other aspects of our health. The stress level, BP, sugar, shorter attention spans and what-nots.

But then the sleep disorders are blamed to a zillion  other things- our food habits, our work pattern, lifestyle of course, the artificial lighting etc. So, without this evil is the damaged or vanished biological clock a good thing? Well maybe…

As I see, night is the more appropriate time for working. World is calmer, temperature is favorable (more if you live on my side of globe), thoughts are  more linear, the disturbing elements, bosses, professors and parents, are quieter. As one of my friend had said, “My work intensity is inversely proportional to sunlight”.  At least our generation can enjoy this benefit, for the later ones this may become other way. 🙂

So where do I stand? Not very conclusive. The damage has hurt me, but I am enjoying it. 😛

What other impact does the vanishing biological clock will have on our lives, maybe we will find out over next few decades.

Meanwhile, here is one with the ultimate Wally, of course with a hampered biological clock.

And, here is an article I wrote couple of years back on how to sleep for longer hours.

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