No size fits all: Ghayal Sentiments, Smart Cars and the No-Free-Lunch Theorem


My dear sweet Deepika Padukone is under fire for a rather livid monologue on her right to choice.

The poor thing had already been having a tough couple of weeks, that with her nearly being arrested for attending the torrid comedy event and the ensuing spectacle that followed.

I came across several opinion pieces on the ‘short-film’ (the word used rather loosely), some expressing concern and criticism, others disapproval and complete dismay. Exceptions taken at the use of the words, or the tone, perhaps the sentiments they arose and so forth. Even the otherwise stately The Hindu chimed in with several articles, with click-bait titles to the envy of traffic hungry bloggers, such as myself. The contents of the video were certainly not agreeable to all. Clearly, the video hurt some sentiments.

Getting offended has become a whim in recent times, (certain) people taking things remarkably seriously. Romila Thapar wrote an eloquent editorial on our inability as a society to protect our fundamental right to expression.  By cratering to the objections of fridge groups, she argues, that our society is losing the ability to function by itself. In other words, the ability to introspect, or to self-correct by allowing ourselves to have different/conflicting viewpoints. Having diverse training samples is essential for any learning algorithm, is it not?

Well, so much for click-bait opinions! Now that I have your attention, let’s move on the more enthralling topics, how about magical chariots!?

Yes, the time has come! Yet again the human race will produce the goods when necessity mothers some amazing technological inventions. It is now, as Elon Musk had foreseen, intractable for us as human beings to continue to travel in 2 ton death traps operated by levers and gears. The age of the self-driving, modern vehicles of wonder will soon dawn!

I have written before about Musk’s Tesla spearheading the efforts towards electric cars, his focus on building sporty high end electric cars recalibrated us to think of them as a formidable force. Innovation in battery and charging technologies saw light and powerful cars. Take a moment to see the Model S auto driving demo here.

Impressive! The new Tesla Model S now comes in a standard 60kWh and the 85kWh with a ridiculous acceleration of 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds and autopilot mode to boost. The car is equipped with radar, visual camera to recognize road signs and sonar to check proximity.  This video of people’s reactions when experiencing the insane mode went viral few months ago. Musk also showed off the duel motor all-wheel drive in fine style. He recently tweeted about another big product line to be announced end of April. There is also an April fool’s joke going around that it could be Model W, a new watch!

That gag is especially funny, given that some industry watchers believe Apple is joining Tesla, Google, Volvo and Uber in the race to build a production self-driving car.  Enter, the man who has the knack to spin burgeoning industries on their heads, Sir Jonathan Ive.

Being a purist in design and novelty is one thing, and sitting on an excess cash reserve of $178 billion is another. Buoyed by the recording breaking profits of $18 billion and increasing pressure on Time Cook to let shareholders see that excess cash, if anyone can roll out a car by 2020, it’s this duo.

One thing is for sure, manufacturing companies that have for years supplied high school jocks and the Jeremy Clarksons with their “hot wheels” have to make way for the neo-age geeks to take over the last frontier of high school social eliteness in the race to the production of cool cars.

The low cost high volume production car manufactures of old may still have important lessons to disseminate as far as productions and operations are concerned. However, when an industry sees such massive disruption many existing notions must be revisited and new ideas given an opportunity to flourish.

There is an interesting mathematical folklore, dubbed the No Free Lunch theorem, which states that no algorithm (learning and recently also extended to optimization) is necessarily better than another when their performance is averaged over all possible problems (situations). The theorem is taken very seriously, some even suggesting it as proof of intelligent design. If I can be so bold as to abstract, different human ideas or opinions when applied over enough circumstances become immaterial! .. Right??.. bit much??

No peace yet for my lovely Deepika P., as she struggles to hopelessly induce meaning to her commercially thriving acting career; by alternating every hollow crowd-puller Bollywood Masala appearance with a sobered performance in an even more pointless drama.

Just like her movies are take-it-or-leave-its, so too are most films, books, cars, technologies, algorithms, thoughts, or opinions. For surely, no one size fits all!


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