Thursday, August 11, 2005

Quantifying Quality!!!

Errr… hmmm… Where do I start? … errr… ok… the title itself is an “oxymoron” (an oxymoron is something that is given by an ox who is a moron), isn’t it? But then a lot of thinking brought me to this post. (That in effect means torture for you guys)… but in any case, given the kind of sadistic person that I am, I will go ahead and do my duties i.e. torture you ;-)

Last night, 4 bloggers met at bloggers park (CT) for tullee sessions. Let me keep all of them under wraps, so that no one takes credit (or possibly debit) for this post… Anyhow, the sessions were going on fine till we stumbled upon a topic where the discussion was so heated and vociferous that everyone at CT kept staring at our tables. What was the topic of the discussion is outside the scope of this post. One of the 4 bloggers had the gift of the gab, the other had conviction in his thoughts and principles, the third had the patience to listen and to understand and I was being a complete sleepy head (I am still feeling sleepy coz I went home at 3 in the morning and am back here at work at 9). In any case, in the state of sleepiness (Deepak Chopra would like to call it “Cosmic Sub-Consciousness”); yours truly was thinking about the title of this post i.e. “Can We Quantify Our Qualities?

I had almost forgotten about that; that’s when two ryzers (friends of 2 of the 4 tullee gang) joined us and the existing conversation ended and started upon a new one. This conversation went on till 2 in the morning (or night, whatever you like to call it), where the guys were discussing characteristics of various people: someone being “little tharki” and at the same time being good professionally… someone being “completely tharki”… someone being logical and rational… someone being aggressive… someone being helpless and so on and so forth… that conversation strengthened my thoughts on this post… (so if you find this post boring, you know whom to blame)…

We have come to a stage in the world today where all decisions are made on a quantitative basis, with buffer provided for human discretion and provision for something called “gut feeling”… but otherwise, by and large all decisions are made by crunching numbers. We have quantitative sciences for almost any subject… I even know of certain HR functions being done quantitatively, which was considered to be a by and large psychological subject…

Could it be possible that at a future date, we would be quantifying our qualities as well… Currently, we depict ourselves as honest or dishonest… wise or fool… ethical or unethical… moral or immoral… religious or atheist… calm or short-tempered… good or evil and innumerable other characteristics that we can think of… But, why do we have to always talk about two ends of the spectrum? Why do we have to be either completely honest or completely dishonest? Why can’t we have scale where we can rate ourselves? (Ok… enough)

This is where quantifying qualities comes into play. If something like this exists (or would be in place), it would be easier to understand human beings and try and justify their actions. Can’t human psychology be another quantitative science rather than being a social science? I don’t know how possible or impossible it is but I am sure of the fact that once this thing comes to existence (if it ever does); life will be much easier that what it currently is. We wont have to go through processes of lengthy explanations to justify what we just did or what we are about to do, thus wasting a lot of quality time that could have been otherwise used for something creative and constructive. I think so… what do you guys think?

From Theory to Applications

Due to something like this in existence, our bio-data’s would get lengthier… Employees would like to know the “rated characteristics” of the employee in his bio-data (on a scale of 1 to 10)…

Matrimonial ads will have “rated qualities” as a necessity, helps the newspapers make more money by giving out more space, and the prospective will be sure of the qualities matching with what they need

Unwanted convictions in court can be reduced once we know the characteristics composition of the human being. Providing the right judgment, based on facts + the mindset of person under question

(The examples stated above are not comprehensive, but only reflects that the author hasn’t thought too much about applicability of the above. The above examples are subject to the risk of pathological liars… but I am sure if science would be so advanced, we would definitely find a way out of that too)

But seriously, think about it... would it be a boon or a bane ?

adios…

4 comments:

garfy said...

:O you are a sadist! And nice definition! hehehe!

I hate the idea... really do! Primarily cos seeing myself as the person whose qualities are quantified isnt all that flattering a picture! :| So on behalf of all the lazy laid-back slobs in the world.. I must express my resentment towards this idea. Besides not everything can be explained away through a quantifying system! That just undercuts the carefully nurtured notions of individuality and how humans are unique and such humanist ideas. It is very much reductive in that perspective!

But hey we could have the same system applied for matrimonials .. that would so be fun...

iyer education said...

garfy: do you feel the need for explanations for your actions that are so very redundant... do you think humans need to be so very unpredictable (unless of course they are finding ways to surprise to you or to propose to you)... why does it all have to be about psychology that is least understood even by psychologists... why does in today's world where cloning is the talk of the day, do you want humans to be mysterious... i dont find that idea too good... and thats y this post :)

IdeaSmith said...

The question of whether its a boon or a bane would arise IF we found a way to actually quantify these qualitative aspects. As far as I can see we've been trying for years and are nowhere close to doing that accurately.

Still...I guess if colours can be broken down into precise number combinations, human behaviour is not far away. Lets see what the software people make of this....

garfy said...

Sweets, you spoke about personality not biology! Quantifying biology has never been a problem, but quantifying behaviour/qualities is! Everyone can label people as aggressive or meek, vile or virtuous but quantifying it is a problem. I am not trying to portray humans as some unique mysterious cloaked and hooded creatures but how do you rate some one's honesty or integrity? Do you view it in terms of ordinary daily situations or how a person behaves while facing an ordeal? How can I possibly rate myself as an ethical person ... in fact how do i define these qualities in the very first place? Does fool imply someone not worldly wise or someone stupid or someone who just doesnt work towards his benefit?

That is my problem and even if you did figure a way around it all, think about the combinations that all these traits combined amount to... That in itself would imply that you cannot quantify human qualities and do away with psychology. Not everything is mechanistic. Someone can create a biological clone of mine but they cant do away with social conditioning and ideological leanings! I just dont think that can be done and thats entirely my belief!

I do not seek explanations for my actions nor strive to be unpredictable. I just desire to be me and not quantified.. again at the expense of repetition I think it is a terribly reductive thing.
Me being defined as trait X=5 on ten, Z= 4 on ten and so on... all I end up is as a sequence of numbers.