Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Science & Observation

This is how science works:
1) do experiment  & observe the results
2) develop a hypothesis which explains the results
3) done...until someone observes something that cannot be explained

What if we cannot do the experiment? Like switching from democracy to something else? Or making drugs legal? etc. What if the duration of impact of the experiment spans lifetime of an individual and makes it impossible to observe. Any experience whose patterns "size" is bigger than the amount of time we spend in that experience would remain a mystery for us. While stuck in a traffic jam we can wonder what is causing it, but we cannot really know what happened because we will only be able to see anything when the jam is over.  Does a software rewrite makes sense for a startup? If the startup runs out of funds before completing the rewrite or never does a rewrite because of fear that it will run out of funds, the experiment remains incomplete.

The only way to understand such patterns is via communication.  I am using the word communication in the extreme sense. Not restricted to just people talking, but newspaper, history, journals, blogs, tweets, etc. Don't know how theory of relativity looks when we add the extra element of communication between observers into it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Agriculture is a high risk business. It is probably also low returns business. And most of rural India does agriculture for living.

  1. Loan from Government (Private Banks don't give loans to small farmers)
  2. Weather predictions, untimely rains
  3. Lock in, can only grow one thing at one time
  4. Access to electricity, water, quality seeds,  fertilizers, etc
  5. No access to global demand/supply patterns. No collaboration.
  6. Intermediaries involved in final sale. 
  7. Transportation costs, storage costs.
So many things can go wrong in a single cultivation cycle and even if that doesn't happens other conditions  can cause losses. Every (few) years, government ends up waving off the loans to support farmers. Diesel prices are kept artificially low to help farmers. No income tax on income from agriculture. In Punjab government gives free electricity to farmers. It is magical at in spite of all these measures, farmers continue to live miserable lives. Agriculture is an important and big business and yet the farmers who takes all the risk and government pays all the loans from tax payers money and it is the intermediaries who make all the money.

I believe we can do this better. Agriculture Micro VC - AMVC

  1. Like any high risk business, agriculture should be driven by investment and not loan. AMVC invests in farmers every season. The funding depends upon final share of the output. If the final produce is less, AMVC bears the loss. If produce is good, both farmer and AMVC makes money. 
  2. To make it high return business, we need AMVC who could operate at a large scale to cut out the intermediaries. The difference between price to farmer and price to final consumer is anywhere between 3X to 6X. AMVC should represent its member farmers to operate as a BIG farmer who could have much more negotiating power than individual farmers. Moreover the time of harvesting could be decided subjected to deals/sales to cut out the storage requirements and unnecessary transportation. 
  3. AMVC should have access to what the local/global requirements are can control what is cultivated and in how much quantity. Every body cultivating the same thing, only brings prices down and losses for farmers. By helping farmers decide on what to cultivate based on what others are cultivating, farmers can cut down their losses because of high supply/low demand problems.
  4. Since it is AMVC whose money is at stake all the time, it becomes its responsibility to do everything necessary to make sure that farmers are successful, because that is the only way for AMVC to be successful.
I don't know the specifics of the agriculture industry, but I feel AMVC model can help in uplifting farmers and reducing the risk burden they carry all the time. 

Probabilistic Voting

Voting based on majority has one problem. Majority wins, always.

This is not a good thing as the whole idea of voting is representation. Majority based voting will always cut out the minority. Instead, consider probabilistic voting. Instead of making the decision based on majority, if the votes only decide the probability of decision, then the final outcome can be anything except that majority decision will be chosen with high probability. This ensures representation of all classes and over a reasonable number of decisions each class gets probabilistic representation.