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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Systemic Reflections from the Obama - McCain Race

There is no doubt that Obama not only won the elections, but also smashed his opposition. Looking at the Electoral votes we see a torrent gap 349/163 and a popular vote of 53%/46%... what a surprise... totally unpredictable... I personally thought he might win 51%/49% and maybe an electoral vote ratio of 1.1/1... not 2.14/1..

So this tells us that human systems are totally unpredictable.. engineering a system with a human as part of it might be suicidal in some cases. So lets take the example of engineering a commercial aircraft, is the pilot part of the system or not? Most system engineers will say.. not really ... the system is the plane (structure, mechanical, electrical, etc..) we can model those, but we can't model the pilot, what if the pilot is too slow to land, or fell asleep during take off.. so many soft factors to model, so lets take the pilot out of the picture.. and then we test (verify) out plane with an average pilot... that is a pilot who did not have a bad day, did not lose a loved one the week before, is not tired, has no spousal problems, etc.. So the test passes, aircraft declared ready for production, sold and used for years, without a hitch...

We recall the Egypt Air flight than mysteriously dropped out of the Eastern US skies on Halloween night 1999, until our date we have theories and thoughts of why the sky bus blew up and perished in the air... some say the pilots walked out of the cabin to stretch, when the senior pilot walked in and committed suicide, other theories are cracks in the wing, a third fuel leakage, and a fourth contribute the root cause to a strike 10 yrs ago when that batch of 747s where in Seattle on the assembly line, and that because they were not in a good mood the quality of manufacturing standards was below nominal.. who knows.. it could be all the above, or none of the above.. bottom line is that many of these root causes include a human factor.. totally unpredictable .. just like the American voters.. the time has come to include soft factors into engineering problems -- Point 1... we can't ignore soft factors

Now, wasn't it the McCain campaign that distributed those millions of DVDs in swing states to tell them about how radical Islam is? Covering up truth, and smearing others does not work anymore... the people are more educated nowadays than the 80s, 70s, and 60s.. thanks to the so called Internet, and its myriad of facebook, you tube, google and countless other applications.. --- Point 2... Fooling customers never works, eventually they will know that you are marketing a 747 and selling a prop.

Finally, end users buy and use what they want, not what you tell them they need... Americans don't want their daughters and sons in Iraq, Americans don't want their 401Ks wiped out, they don't want to lose their jobs, telling them that pulling out of Iraq is not only stupid, but irrelevant.. regardless whether it is a good idea or not, its not what they want to hear. End users want to hear solutions to their problems, they don't want solutions to other problems, and they are not smart enough to know where root causes come from, you where there when the plane crashed.. then you must be involved. --- Point 3... It doesn't matter how brilliant or great your idea is, if it does not solve my problem, its worthless in my perspective [1], also I don't care why the system crashed, the point is that you did not do a good job designing it. Don't blame the storm, blame the plane [2]

We can wish as much as we want, model as much as we want, take the means, but at the end whatever Allah ordains will happen...

Now whether Obama will deliver on his promises is a completely different story, history will let us know.

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