Category Archives: Ideas

There are always some ideas or questions that I think in my mind, I thought it would be good to record them down

Game Theory in Project Team Formation

Game Theory in Project Team Formation

Recently I wrote a review for CS3216. In that post, I briefly touched on the issue of team formation where sub-optimal teams can be formed due to incomplete information and lack of communication. In this post I will explore further on the topic of Game Theory in Project Team Formation, using concepts of Nash Equilibrium and Pareto Optimal. This also serves as a nice example of game theory application in real life.
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staying neutral on same-sex marriage

Staying neutral on Same-Sex Marriage

The news of Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide in the U.S. has taken over the Internet.

While the two sides supporting and against it are arguing back and forth, what if I have no opinions on this and I just want to stay “neutral”?

Is there a true “neutral” position that one can adopt?

I begin by understanding the issue, marriage. By enumeration (which I will discuss further later), we have two options for marriage:

  1. Marriage between the same sex
  2. Marriage between the opposite sex

As we can see, with two options, there are no middle ground.

So to be neutral, we either allow both options, or allow neither of them:

  1. Allowing both options, we have the exact same stand as a same-sex marriage supporter, that is “the sexuality does not matter in marriage”.
  2. Allowing neither of them, we have no marriage and we lose the continuation of the human species, which is not what we want.

So now it looks like the same-sex marriage supporters’ stand is indeed the neutral stand, so what is the catch here?

We risk “going down the slope”. I have mentioned above that “by enumeration, we have two options for marriage”, but there was a hidden assumption there:

When we talk about marriage, we talk about humans.

What if we broaden the scope of discussion, and talk about same and different species, just like what we did to the same and opposite sex? There we have two options as well:

  1. Marriage between the same species
  2. Marriage between different species

I think at this point, it becomes pretty clear that in order to maintain neutral, we have to allow marriage between both same and different species.

So why not take this stand? The obvious answer is that this is insane. It crosses some (most) people’s limit. And that is exactly the problem here in the same-sex marriage. The idea of same-sex marriage crosses some people’s limit, just like the idea of marriage between different species. The neutral position differs from person to person due to their different limits.

For me, I can have my neutral position as “allowing marriage between both same and different species.” But this may sound crazy to many people so it might not be the best position.

So know your limit, and set the neutral position. Alternatively, you can push (or be pushed) beyond your limit and adopt a new neutral position.

 

 

Paradigm shift from functions to aesthetics, and next?

The idea of paradigm shift was introduced to me in secondary school English lessons. We talked about how a particular sector changed dramatically in a period of time. This pattern is actually observable in the technology industry.

In the IT world, we had a paradigm shift from functions to aesthetics.

Past: From nothing to functions

In the earlier 2000s, when we first experience the power of IT on Windows 98, people were fascinated by the fact that the computers and other devices can do so many things. We replaced writing with typing, mails with emails, and we celebrated the whole range of functions that IT has brought to us. That was the paradigm shift from nothing to functions. Everyone was new to these functions and we were more than happy to have them.

Recent: From functions to aesthetics

Then we experienced time. In late 2000s and early 2010s, people got used to these functions, especially the younger generations who grew up with these functions. They did not experience the change in their lives, because emails and word processing “were already there” for them. Also, the new functions were developed but they were nothing compared to the breakthroughs during the first paradigm shift. All of these meant that there was nothing for younger generations to be excited about.

This prompted them to look for something beyond the functionalities. And surely enough, similar to any other industries, aesthetics became the focus. Therefore, we saw many software focusing on designing nice user interface and improving the user experience. These “aesthetically appealing” software quickly won over the market, despite the fact that they may be lacking in terms of functionalities.

Future: From aesthetics to …?

We come to the reality now, as of 26 March 2015, it has become the default standard to have an “aesthetically appealing” software. Otherwise, no matter how good the functions are, customers will not buy them. However, this also the period of time where customers are “expecting” aesthetics as a norm from the IT industry. If we apply the similar argument above, this could be the time where we have the chance to experience our own paradigm shift, away from aesthetics.

But what could be replacement? Are there any precedents from other industries? Real estates, pharmaceutical, automobile… all the other industries are either improving on the functions and or the aesthetics. Maybe the answer is combing the functions with aesthetics. This seems to be trend now in the watch industries where the traditional “aesthetics-focused” companies are pairing up with smart watch companies. But do we stop here? Are functions and aesthetics the ultimate goals that we want to achieve? We are nearing the time where we can get one without compromising the other, so what happens after?

Artists

Artists should lead productions, not the market researchers

Artists and business

I was shocked when I learnt that in music industry, sometimes it is the market researcher who is leading the production, rather than the artist. (The case I heard was the South Korean companies.)

There seem to be good reasons for this. From a business point of view, good producers have good understanding of the industry and the current trends to make the good decisions. And market research is extremely important for the music to be popular among the correct target audience. So the whole production should be audience-oriented, the company understands the market demand and produce the music that fits the demand.

This is so wrong.

Artists should be the leaders

It is the unique artistic expressions that give the music industry so much real value, not the demand-supply business model. Art, unlike other material products, has its intrinsic values. These values come from artists’ inspirations and hard work, and are expressed in the artworks that are created. Artists are the ones who create and express these values for the audience to enjoy. In order to create, artists should be the ones drawing inspirations and choosing what to express.

However, the reality is the reverse. The market researchers, who are not artists themselves, are trying to produce artworks as business. By analysing the target audience, they try to understand what kind of songs to sing, what kind of singers, what kind of outfits would be successful in attracting the audience. Then the artist “draw inspirations from the market researches” and “express what is demanded”. Essentially the whole flow is dictated by the business people, not artists. This deviates from the idea of artistic expressions being the work of the artists. Market researchers are meant to supplement the artists, not to exploit the artists.

Different goals

I think the underlying issue here is the goal of the music industry. Market researchers are aiming for the monetary gains. For them, the artists or even the whole industry are merely tools. Apparently some artists are buying this idea and willing to follow instructions for either the popularity or the money. But I believe for the audience and the artists, they want to have real artworks that come from the artists themselves, artworks that express the artists’ ideas and feelings. Or at least it used to be the case.