Monday, 14 August 2017

First National Anthem of Pakistan

 Image Credit Raheel Shakeel

اے سرزمینِ پاک
ذرے تیرے ہیں آج ستاروں سے تابناک
روشن ہے کہکشاں سے کہیں آج تیری خاک
تندیِ حاسداں پہ ہے غالب تیرا سواک
دامن وہ سل گیا ہے جو تھا مدتوں سے چاک

اے سرزمینِ پاک
اب اپنے عزم کو ہے نیا راستہ پسند
اپنا وطن ہے آج زمانے میں سربلند
پہنچا سکے گا اسکو نہ کوئی بھی اب گزند
اپنا عَلم ہے چاند ستاروں سے بھی بلند
اب ہم کو دیکھتے ہیں عطارد ہو یا سماک

اے سرزمینِ پاک
اترا ہے امتحاں میں وطن آج کامیاب
اب حریت کی زلف نہیں محو پیچ و تاب
دولت ہے اپنے ملک کی بے حد و بے حساب
ہوں گے ہم اپنے ملک کی دولت سے فیضیاب
مغرب سے ہم کو خوف نہ مشرق سے ہم کو باک

اے سرزمینِ پاک
اپنے وطن کا آج بدلنے لگا نظام
اپنے وطن میں آج نہیں ہے کوئی غلام
اپنا وطن ہے راہ ترقی پہ تیزگام
آزاد، بامراد، جواں بخت شادکام
اب عطر بیز ہیں جو ہوائیں تھیں زہرناک

اے سرزمینِ پاک
ذرے تیرے ہیں آج ستاروں سے تابناک
روشن ہے کہکشاں سے کہیں آج تیری خاک
اے سرزمینِ پاک

(جگن ناتھ آزاد)

Image Credit tayyab3425

O, Land of the Pure!
The grains of your soil are glowing today
Brighter than the stars and the galaxy
Awestruck is the enemy by your willpower
Open wounds are sewn, we’ve found a cure

O, Land of the Pure!
New paths of progress, we resolve to tread
Proudly, our nation stands with a high head
Our flag is aflutter above the moon and the stars
As planets look up to us be it, Mercury or Mars
No harm will now come from anywhere, for sure

O, Land of the Pure!
The nation has tasted success at last
Now freedom struggle is a thing of the past
The wealth of our country knows no bounds
For us are its benefits and bounty all around
Of East and West, we have no fear

O, Land of the Pure!
Change has become the order of the day
No-one is a slave in the nation today
On the road to progress, we’re swiftly going along
Independent and fortunate, happy as a song
Gloomy winds are gone, sweet freedom’s in the air

O, Land of the Pure!
The grains of your soil are glowing today
Brighter than the stars and the Milky Way
O, Land of the Pure!

(Jagan Nath Azad)

Friday, 4 August 2017

"The machine, we learned, had a soul"


"In the second match Sedol displayed his newfound respect for AlphaGo by playing careful, flawless Go. It wasn’t designed to wow the 280 million people who would eventually watch the series, but from someone of Sedol’s rank, it constituted nearly unbeatable play, and Sedol exuded a quiet but unmistakable confidence. Then, as the game began to enter its middle phase, AlphaGo did something unusual: it instructed its human attendant to place a black stone in a largely unoccupied area to the right of the board. This might have made sense in another context, but on that board at that moment AlphaGo seemed to be abandoning the developing play in the lower half of the board. This historic move was something that no human would have feasibly played - AlphaGo calculated the probability that a human would play that move at 1 in 10,000. It produced instant shock and confusion among the spectators. Lee Sedol paled, excused himself, and left the room for a full fifteen minutes before returning.

The English-language commentators went silent before one said, with great understatement: “That’s a very surprising move.” At first Fan Hui, who was watching the game with Cade Metz, a writer for Wired magazine, was as befuddled as anyone else. “It’s not a human move,” he told Metz. “I’ve never seen a human play this move.” As Metz would later note, nothing in the 2,500 years of collected Go knowledge and understanding prepared anyone for move 37 of the second game in the series. Except Hui. Since losing to AlphaGo the previous fall Hui had spent hours helping the Google DeepMind team train the software for the match with Sedol, an experience that allowed him to understand how the move connected the black stones at the bottom of the board with the strategy AlphaGo was about to pursue. “Beautiful,” he said, then repeated the word several more times. This was not mere “tesuji”* - a clever play that can put an opponent off guard. This was a work of aesthetic as well as strategic brilliance, possibly even a "myoshu"*. Sedol continued to play nearly flawless Go, but it wasn’t enough to counter the striking creativity the DeepMind software displayed, even after move 37. By the end of the day the big news wasn’t that AlphaGo had won a second game, but that it had displayed such deeply human qualities - improvisation, creativity, even a kind of grace - in doing so. The machine, we learned, had a soul."

* A tesuji (手筋) is a clever play, the best play in a local position, a skillful move.
* Myoushu 妙手) is an "inspired move", a move which turns a game around or otherwise exceeds expectations.

(An excerpt from the book "Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future" by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe - Page 239 - Description of the 2nd Go match between Lee Sedol (18-time world champion) and AlphaGo, an AI computer program developed by Google. It was played in Seoul, Korea in March 2016. AlphaGo won the series 4-1)
Image Credit : Wikipedia

Saturday, 23 April 2016

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream


"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? It would be a blank canvas. No color. No inspiration. I dream of painting and then I paint my dream."

 (Vincent van Gogh)

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Tomorrowland


"In every moment, there is a possibility of a better future. But you people won't believe it and because you won't believe it, you won't do what is necessary to make it a reality."
(Tomorrowland -2015)


Image by Alizee

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Transhumans, Homo Digitas and Rise of the Hybrids


It was probably 6,000 years ago in the present day Iraq when humans first started to store knowledge outside their brains in any meaningful way. Sumerian cuneiform was written on wet clay tablets and then baked with fire. Before that all human wisdom, experiences, stories and myths were mainly transferred by the word of mouth, person to person. This new invention made it possible for us to speak beyond the bounds of time and space. Other writing systems of the day like Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Chinese Pictographs also used materials at hand. These were either etched on stone or written on animal hides and tree barks (papyrus, bamboo). Then in the 2nd century A.D. paper was invented in China. Transmission of knowledge became much simpler with that as paper was quite easier to produce and transport. Next breakthrough came in 1440 AD Germany. The foundations of our modern era rest upon the mass production of books through Gutenberg’s printing press.

The creation of World Wide Web in 1990 is considered fourth such great leap forward in human history. Availability of knowledge at the touch of a button is hallmark of this era. This transformation is barely 25 years old and the next revolution is already on the horizon.  Some experts believe that the coming convergence of our mobile and social data with AI and big data technologies will evolve us into Homo digitas. Humans, who will heavily rely upon digital networks and augmented intelligence through wearable and implanted devices. Others envision a future in which human intellectual and physical capacities will be greatly enhanced using novel technologies. They prefer the term of Transhumans for that. After all, we are already using Cochlear implants to restore hearing to the deaf, retinal implants to restore sight, heart pacemakers; technology laced functional limbs and artificial joints. Gamers are using tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation) to score higher. Students are using memory enhancing drugs to concentrate better. Experiments to decode brainwaves into recognizable visual fields have already been done.

Fast forward to the future and neural interfaces, targeted gene editing and brain implants are not unthinkable. Most of us would feel anxiety and alarm towards such outlandish visions and would prefer to remain natural and unaltered. But the temptations of perfect memory recall, seamless access to the internet and instant mastery of skills would be too hard to ignore for some. Newer generations would be much more comfortable with tomorrow’s technologies. Most of our education is about memorizing basic facts. Actual learning and creativity comes much later. Imagine what can be achieved if we can skip that first part and jump straight into ingenuity and originality.

Artificial Intelligence programs are also becoming smarter with each passing year. Today’s personal digital assistants like Cortana, Siri and Echo are going to evolve into Iron man's JARVIS like partners. Ordinary human beings would be having hard time functioning in that kind of world. Perhaps future belongs to the super smart machines and hybrids human or post humans. Perhaps such developments would be deemed too dangerous for the fear of hostile AI and dystopian future. Complete ban on such technologies is also possible. We clearly don’t know about these things at this point in time. Future is in the flux and it will take a course that our collective wisdom would decide for us.