Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Google and Lok Sabha

Google and Lok Sabha -- do we have something in common?

Alrite both are Giants in there own right but is there anything else that we do have in common.

I think we do.

A few days ago i read that maharashtra had a voting percentage of just 40% ,the thing that shocked me with this was that maharashtra was a state recently attacked.I had a feeling that people would come out in large numbers to decide the fate of the state and that of the country.I was wrong and 60 people out of every 100 didn't care to vote.

I sat there reading my newspaper and thinking ,why didn't we vote ?
Why is it that youth of our country is disillusioned with the whole process of democracy ?
All those candle marches and protests appeared to be pseudo ,as when the time came to enforce a change we pulled ourselves out of the process .

Ok all these questions wanted an answer and i started discussing it with my room mates.After a long discussion the unanimous answer was "Mere ek ke vote se kya fark pad jaega???"(How much difference will one vote of mine make?).Ok fair enough.In a country of more then a billion, do i really matter?? That answer set me thinking for a solution.

Being a techie i looked for some technological solution to this and guess what?? i found it in GOOGLE.:) (it really searches everything).Although this time i had to read the technical design of Google's architecture to find a solution but still it was Google that gave me the answer.

Ok I'll start with Google's relation with democracy.
In the 90s search engines used to search solely on the basis of meta tags(these are the tags that tell about the keywords in the page).Suppose i have a page that deals with cricket so my meta tags will be like "ball","six","boundary","wicket" ,"bold" ,"tendulkar" etc.Now a search engine used to look for maximum matches in the meta tags and ranked the page accordingly.But web pages started misusing it.
Suppose a cricket world cup is approaching so the web page will put the keywords related to cricket in its meta tags (content will have nothing to do with cricket --it might be a shaadi.com page).So the developers exploited this loophole and search engines came up with all sort of weird results(shaadi,cookery ,pottery and what not) instead of cricket pages.

Thats where Google cashed in,They came up with an analogy that a person can lie about his credentials but other people in his locality won't lie about his credentials which is similar to a scenario where a web page can lie about its content(by giving misleading meta tags) but the other pages on the net won't lie about it.So if a page is REALLY good there will be other pages on the web that will be voting for its good content.

For example suppose we open yahoo.com and on the homepage we find an advertisement for naukri.com,so the fact that yahoo lets naukri.com stay on its homepage means that yahoo is voting for naukri.com.and the fact that yahoo is itself voted by millions of other web pages makes yahoo's vote that much more important.So the fact is ,million of pages voted for yahoo and yahoo voted for naukri.com.Now that makes naukri.com a really good web page.

Another real life analogy will be -suppose a company has to make a decision,now there are 1000 freshers(just joined the company) and one CEO thats going to take part in the decision.now the 1000 freshers say that we should choose option A,but CEO says we should chose option B.In Google's version of democracy it will be ceo's option that will be chosen because he has the vote of thousands of other employees who say that we trust your decision making abilities.

So its more of a weighted democracy kind of thing,which depends on the credentials of a person and these credentials will decide his voting power.In this kind of democracy a person like APJ Kalam might have a vote that has thousand points and a person who is into any sort of anti social activity will have a single vote or he might not have a say at all.

It is basically down to the individual weight age of a person's vote.This phenomenon can be visualized as follows

There is a village with 100 people ,99 are goons and 1 is an intellect and a visionary(named Mr Brilliant).Lok sabha elections are nearing and Mr Yadav is standing in the elections.Voting power of 99 goons is 1 point each and voting power of Mr Brilliant is 100 points .Now Mr yadav has to convince this village.If he tries the conventional way(bribes,gifts,liquor ) to get the village votes,he will at most get 99 votes of 1 point each.but our Mr Brilliant will not give in to these tactics of Mr Yadav.So a single vote of Mr Brilliant can decide the fate of our village.The other case is if Mr Yadav has to convince Mr Brilliant he has to do real development,he has to fight on real economic issues ,he simply has to perform in order to get Mr Brilliants vote.
So applying this algorithm we can give a message to our youths that you have a say in the elections and when a young man will feel that his vote can make difference.I think he'll come out to make that difference.

Google implemented democracy on the web after tweaking a little with the concept of democracy,now i think we should be taking a clue from Google's implementation of democracy.May be we don't do it at the national level .Let's start with the panchayat level elections and see for the implementation of this new version of democracy.

I think it should work.... it works magic for Google :)

1)Google uses a page rank algorithm to rank its pages voting power,what algorithm will we use to rank our voters.(thinking over it ---suggestions please)
2)I am making edits to a concept(democracy) that has been working for last hundreds of years,Please correct me if i am overlooking any strengths of democracy.(which i am sure i am).


kdutta said...

Dear Gaurav,
A nice analogy between two stalwarts (Indian democracy and Google) of 21st century.
This is a good continuation of your expression (We used to enjoy your work for Computer Society -FORCE). I wish your juniors take leaf from your blog and once again revive the FORCE society

SANKET said...

Its a great comparison between the two giants.I dont want to go to techical part but on most important that is "Chal hai yaar" attitute

We all want to see the change but the problem is that each one of us does want to be part of change and we also think that we cannot bring the change.

Whenever we go any place for instance any public place we want it to be clean but if its not clean we blame others,we feel that its not our responsibility.
One of worst thing we most human beings do is doing comparison with others rather than seeing where we are today and where were yesterday.
Problem with most us in our country that we are not sensitized we just say that "Bas yar chalata hai" we try to ignore the important part and pay more attention to less important part which is greed for material things. If most of stop blaming each other there will change which give real peace of mind.

maneesh said...

A very novel thought .. but its an utterly Utopian scenario nonetheless.
The analogy is near perfect but its just like the theorems we read in science in high school "keeping external conditions of temp. n pressure constant" :P While its a pretty daunting task to rank the web pages as google does but the social dynamics make it near impossible to generalize this in a democracy! Too many people .. too many criteria . Moreover our democracy is a highlighted mobocracy !! all the power lies with the mob .. and the mob doesn't need to be 1bilion in strength !!Thats what happened when only 40% polling was registered in maharashtra !

the solution still is not in giving one's vote the power of 100 but to put one's thought into one vote ! Coz eventually all the decision making will be done by the people who are chosen in turn by the MP's we choose !! there comes up your idea of a weighted vote again !! If we choose qualified leaders at local level .. they would in turn choose wisely at higher levels. Our vote does count and its like a gold attract gold thing. . you vote .. make your friend vote.. he'll in turn make his relatives et al vote .. eventually everyone votes .. may be we even get severely fractured mandates in the process ( thats a totally different scenario) .. . still we could make our votes count in that way. . awakened public leading to awakening india !! there comes the google approach in the recconing once again.. . the famous "Word of mouth Approach " . . . guess they are like Siamese twins .. google n opur democracy !!

Brilliant Article !!


Gaurav Vashist said...

@Dutta mam
thanks a lot mam :)

i wish to revibe the FORCE,if you could cherry pick a few students for me i would surely like to coordinate with them.

Gaurav Vashist said...


Hi bhai,

thanks for your thoughtful comment.yes i know it s not easy.Implementing it on a search engine was so diificult,so we can not even imagine the difficulty when we do it at a social level.

but still idea hai sir ji,thats why i said the man ranking algorithm will be the toughest job to come up with.suggest something if you can keeping external conditions(social dynamics and all ) in mind :P

I am working on a possible checklist to weigh each persons credentials.will put it up once its done.

take care

Gaurav Vashist said...

@ maneesh

One more thing yar
Read it in a book somedays ago

"A plausible impossibility is better than a convincing possibility"

Narayan murthy built infosys on this adage.

maneesh said...

That's not just an adage its a philosophy which we have inherited from the greatest visionaries , the giants who roamed this earth !

But i think ranking human vote is detrimental to the philosophy of Right to vote or the basic civil rights of an Indian citizen. Every1 has an equal right to choose, we should try to make aware more and more people rather than dishearten them.

Dheeraj said...

Hello Sir..... a very nice idea indeed. But would it not be better if instead of ranking the general public, the rank algorithm is applied to our netas in lok sabha. I mean people with low academic qualification(those who are not even 10th pass) or those from criminal background shud have less value of their vote. So even if a party claims to have support of 272 members(with the help from goons or murderers who have somehow managed to enter LS), the vote value may not be 272 and hence that party wud not form the govt. Similarly we have seen detrimental pieces of legislation being passed or essential legislations being blocked because of vested intrests of our representatives. Giving lesser power to those who do not know how to use it will surely help indian democracy. It will also goad the political parties to give tickets to people with clean image and with the brains to run the indian government.
A very well written piece by the way :)

Gaurav Vashist said...

hi Dheeraj,

Really a nice suggestion.....should try it out.I just wish we come up with such an algorithm......may be we start with a smaller set of test cases(in my case panchayat level, in your case mps).but once if have that algo.we should be able to scale up.it should evolve....