Altaf Hussain and Titanic

Cover of "Titanic (Three-Disc Special Col...

Quaid-e-Tatheer Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai has been known to have absurd outbursts all the time that become butt of jokes amongst his opponents (collected here). However, these statements later force his lieutenants to come up with equally, if not more, absurd arguments trying to justify them.

Most recent example is Quaid-e-Tatheer’s statement that “Titanic of Muslim Ummah is sinking.” It left people scratching their heads to understand the explicit or implicit meaning underlying the statement. In comes Mustafa Azizabadi, Member of Central Coordination Committee (Rabita Committee) of MQM and Incharge of MQM International Secretariat London, and tries to give meaning to it in his tweet:

I don’t know what Quaid-e-Tatheer Altaf Hussain Bhai had in mind when it comes to Titanic but personally only thing I am reminded of is that famous (or infamous) scene where Leonardo Di Caprio does a portrait of Kate Winslet.

Close-up shot of Cameron's nude Rose sketch wi...

On a serious note, I think Mustafa Azizabadi is either the speech writer of Altaf Hussain or may be he has invested in Titanic franchise in Pakistan.

UPDATE

Later MQM Member Rabita Committee and Incharge Central Information Committee MQM Wasay Jalil also tried to come to rescue of Altaf Hussain

 

Why Artificial Intelligence cannot compete with Human Intelligence

Cover of "Predictably Irrational: The Hid...

It’s become a bit in vogue to pick on the human brain. We’re “predictably irrational,” in the words of behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s bestselling book. Stumbling on Happiness author Dan Gilbert presents volumes of data to demonstrate that we’re terrible at figuring out what makes us happy. Like audience members at a magic show, we’re easily conned, manipulated, and misdirected.

All of this is true. But as Being Wrong author Kathryn Schulz points out, it’s only one part of the story. Human beings may be a walking bundle of miscalculations, contradictions, and irrationalities, but we’re built that way for a reason: The same cognitive processes that lead us down the road to error and tragedy are the root of our intelligence and our ability to cope with and survive in a changing world. We pay attention to our mental processes when they fail, but that distracts us from the fact that most of the time, our brains do amazingly well.

The mechanism for this is a cognitive balancing act. Without our ever thinking about it, our brains tread a tightrope between learning too much from the past and incorporating too much new information from the present. The ability to walk this line—to adjust to the demands of different environments and modalities—is one of human cognition’s most astonishing traits. Artificial intelligence has yet to come anywhere close.

Excerpt From: Eli, Pariser. “The Filter Bubble.”

Internet and mass education

Khan Academy

With internet reaching every house and such freely available resources as Khan Academy, EdX, Coursera, Udacity etc we believe that this is the first time in history a paradigm shift has occurred in education sector. Almost a 100 years ago, this is what was said about film (moving pictures)

The invention of film, wrote D. W. Griffith in the 1920s, meant that “children in the public schools will be taught practically everything by moving pictures. Certainly they will never be obliged to read history again.”

Excerpt From: Wu, Tim. “The Master Switch.”

Experts are wrong more often

“Philip Tetlock, a political scientist, found similar results when he invited a variety of academics and pundits into his office and asked them to make predictions about the future in their areas of expertise. Would the Soviet Union fall in the next ten years? In what year would the U.S. economy start growing again? For ten years, Tetlock kept asking these questions. He asked them not only of experts, but also of folks he’d brought in off the street—plumbers and schoolteachers with no special expertise in politics or history. When he finally compiled the results, even he was surprised. It wasn’t just that the normal folks’ predictions beat the experts’. The experts’ predictions weren’t even close.

Why? Experts have a lot invested in the theories they’ve developed to explain the world. And after a few years of working on them, they tend to see them everywhere. For example, bullish stock analysts banking on rosy financial scenarios were unable to identify the housing bubble that nearly bankrupted the economy—even though the trends that drove it were pretty clear to anyone looking. It’s not just that experts are vulnerable to confirmation bias—it’s that they’re especially vulnerable to it.”

Excerpt From: Eli, Pariser. “The Filter Bubble.”

Internet makes educated mis-educated

English: Cropped version of File:Official port...

What’s perplexing is that since the election, the percentage of Americans who hold that belief (Obama is a Muslim) has nearly doubled, and the increase, according to data collected by the Pew Charitable Trusts, has been greatest among people who are college educated. People with some college education were more likely in some cases to believe the story than people with none—a strange state of affairs.

Why? According to the New Republic’s Jon Chait, the answer lies with the media: “Partisans are more likely to consume news sources that confirm their ideological beliefs. People with more education are more likely to follow political news. Therefore, people with more education can actually become mis-educated.”

Excerpt From: Eli, Pariser. “The Filter Bubble.”

Corporate Social Responsibility is height of Collective Civic Irresponsibility

Whole Foods Market

As the state has retreated from responsibility to protect common resources, ensure access to opportunities, enforce worker and environmental protection, and provide for the health and general welfare of citizens, private actors have rushed in to claim the moral high ground in the marketplace. So, for instance, instead of insisting that farms grow safe food under environmentally sound conditions, we satisfy our guilt and concerns by patronizing stores like Whole Foods and celebrating the wide availability of organic products. Thus food that keeps people healthy and the earth livable remains available only to the well informed and affluent.

Because market fundamentalism declares that consumers have “choice” in the market, doing little or no harm becomes just another tactic by which vendors exploit a niche market. Consumers have become depoliticized, unable to see that personal choices to buy Timberland shoes (not made in sweatshops by children) and Body Shop cosmetics (not tested on animals) make no difference at all to the children and animals that suffer supplying the bulk of similar, less sensitively manufactured products to the vast majority of the world’s consumers. Feeling good about our own choices is enough. And instead of organizing, lobbying, and campaigning for better rules and regulations to ensure safe toys and cars for people everywhere, we rely on expressions of disgruntlement as a weak proxy for real political action. Starting or joining a Facebook protest group suffices for many as political action.

Since the 1980s, firms in the United States and Western Europe have found it useful to represent themselves as socially responsible. As states have retreated from their roles as protectors of the commons and mitigators of market failures, firms have found that trumpeting certain policies and positions puts them at an advantage in competitive markets, especially for consumer goods and services.

The problem, however, is that corporate responsibility is toothless. Corporations do—and should do—what is in the interests of their shareholders, and nothing more. We become aware of the voluntary benevolence of certain firms only when it is in their interest to make that benevolence known.

The principal reason why the idea of corporate responsibility appeals to us is that for thirty years, we have retreated from any sense of public responsibility—any willingness to talk about, identify, and pursue the public good. In the absence of the political will to employ state power to push all firms toward responsible behavior, the purported responsibility of one firm is quickly neutralized by the irresponsibility of the rest. Because we have failed at politics, we now rely on marketing to make our world better. That reliance is the height of collective civic irresponsibility. It’s a meaningless pose.

“The Googlization of Everything”, Siva Vaidhyanathan

Qarz Utaro Mulk Sanwaro : A scam or a fraud?

In Pakistani political discourse, it was continuously mentioned by pro-Musharraf and anti-PML(Nawaz) groups that National Debt Retirement Program (NDRP) infamously known as Qarz Utaro Mulk Sanwaro launched by Nawaz Sharif in his second term to mobilize national (domestic as well as from diaspora) funds to pay off expensive local and/or international debt was a scam as their wasn’t any noticeable reduction in national debt.

Below I present excerpt from State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Annual Report 2001 (when Nawaz Sharif was in exile and General Pervez Musharraf was ruling as president) so that reader cannot claim that we are talking fudged numbers here.

The National Debt Retirement Program (NDRP) was launched on February 27, 1997 to solicit funds from non-resident Pakistanis (NRPs) towards retiring the country’s external debt. Resident Pakistanis were also allowed to participate in the scheme using their foreign currency accounts, FEBCs, FCBCs, traveler cheques, remittance from abroad or by surrendering hard currency. Deposits in three currencies (US Dollar, Pound Sterling, and the German Deutsche Mark) could be placed in the following:
  • An outright donation with no payback (referred to as NDRP I).
  • Qarz-e-Hasna deposits for a minimum period of two years; no interest payments but principalrepayments could be taken in Rupees or hard currency (NDRP II).
  • A profit bearing deposit for a minimum period of two years (NDRP III).

20130612-162413.jpg

Table 8.9 shows the total stock from NDRP I, II, & III as of end June 2001. The majority of these donations, Qarz-e-Hasna, and profit bearing deposits were made in the first year of the scheme. Subsequent years have seen minor inflows. As can be seen from the table, the largest inflows havebeen in the profit bearing deposits.

As far as the usage of NDRP funds is concerned, the equivalent Rupees generated under NDRP I & II are credited to the government account with SBP. The foreign exchange component, against which these Rupees are generated, form part of the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves. The federal government has used these Rupees to retire domestic debt of about Rs1.7 billion, which carried a 17.3 percent rate of interest per annum. Inflows from NDRP III form part of SBP’s foreign reserves, while the generated Rupees are credited to the mobilizing institution. For collections in Rupees, the amount collected by commercial banks is surrendered to the relevant SBP local office, which credits the government account on receipt.

Below is a table extracted from SBP Annual Report 2008

20130612-162424.jpg

National Debt Retirement Program row shows that SBP paid off the funds to the creditors.

Just to put things in perspective, Pakistan’s external debt was in excess of US$ 30 billion and Qarz Utaro Mulk Sanwaro raised around $178million in foreign currency which is equivalent to less than 0.6% of our external liabilities.

When people say that Nawaz Sharif expropriated funds of Qarz Utaro Mulk Sanwaro scheme, they have no idea what they are talking about. That is why, you will see that politicians or journalists do not make such claims on media_electronic or print. Its only their supporters in the general population.