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Gill Eapen
Works at Decision Options, LLC
Attended University of Chicago
Lives in Groton, CT
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Gill Eapen

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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/06/wasting-resources.html#axzz3eDKJlO3t

A recent article in Child Development shows what has been obvious to many – stressful home environments have significant deleterious effects on a child’s development. Since such low level stress is generally negatively correlated with income and wealth, children from the lower economic strata are at a much higher risk of this phenomenon. As the technologists and politicians strive to build a “better society,” they are completely ignorant of the most important resources, being wasted – children.

As more than one third of the world’s children, impacted by lack of food, shelter and education, struggle to make sense of a system that seems to be moving backwards with lack of empathy and knowledge, we are fast approaching a stalemate. The intelligentsia, appear to understand the mechanics of Net Present Value (NPV) for their pet projects, but often miss applications of finance and economics for policy that may positively impact society. Even the Nobel Laureates from the “Chicago School,” famous for seeing beyond the mountains, seem to have lost the desire to make a fundamental change. Tacticians galore and in the process, we are losing.

Any policy, that does not have a positive impact on malnourished, undereducated and stressed children, occupants of this planet tomorrow, is not worth pursuing.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/06/inelegant-science.html#axzz3dSa2c485

Science, perhaps the only accomplishment of modern humans, is affected by the collective myopia of scientists – the tendency to spend too much time on details and little on larger questions. For example, recent revelations that indicate that the universe is so finely tuned to be flat that even an addition of a single gram of mass into the system could substantially change its future, seem to have gotten little attention. Attempted descriptions of dark matter, energy, flow and tilt – with heavy and incomprehensible mathematics is the status-quo. Some at space agencies world-wide get too excited about sending a craft to Mars or designing a sojourn with Titan. If one cannot answer the larger questions, it does not matter if the atmosphere of Europa could be finely measured. Answering, larger questions, however is more difficult.

Details, often the noise that destroys elegant solutions, have been dominant in every field. One could argue that an elegant, simple solution to the larger question, even if it is incorrect, is much more valuable than adding yet another particle to the zoo to explain phenomenon that will remain inexplicable with existing theories. Humans seem to be evolving downward, adding skills that aid detailed analyses – but losing the ability to see the bigger picture. Part of the blame has to go to educational systems worldwide – masters of creating cogs in the wheel, adept at taking standardized tests and soaking up text-books from the past, most of which have become irrelevant. Further, hiring managers in the dying behemoths, trained at conventional techniques prefer those who can deliver next quarter’s earnings at the expense of a valuable enterprise. 

We could be tending toward a world of engineers, doctors and scientists – who have no interest in answering why we are really here.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3bR3uJOrM

A recent study from the University of Washington at St.Louis, speculates that accents may have a high negative correlation to comprehension and recall to a population, that is native. If true, this is a significant loss of efficiency for 8 billion people, worldwide. Humans, already reeling from a plethora of disconnected languages and incomprehensible accents, seem to have painted themselves into a corner. Language, the foundation of communication that propelled humans away from their close cousins, chimps, may be their Achilles’ heel – as they struggle to understand each other.

And, most humans do not understand each other. Their natural inclination, driven by evolutionary forces, has been to distrust anything that is foreign – structure and accent. The segmentation schemes they have been able to invent – countries, religions and now, accents – have kept them bottled up from progressing any further for nearly hundred thousand years. As they take pride in their understanding of the universe, computers that run faster than ever, aluminum tubes that propel them across continents and into space, medicines that keep them alive and in pain for an incremental five years and ego that keep them stressed for ever, they are worried primarily about color, language and accents.

As the space agencies search for dominant extra-terrestrials across space-time, as the intellectuals seek a meaning for life, as physicists seek the next particle from heavy bombarding, as economists seek to define how money flow from one to the other, as chemists and biologists seek to keep the dying human on life extending machines, one has to wonder if a world with a singular language and indistinguishable accents could have made a difference.

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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/05/downward-sloping-cognition.html#axzz3aRGoRePD

Humans, apparently on top of the mammals’ evolutionary chain, appear to lack some basic cognitive capabilities, as exhibited by their distant cousins- rats. A recent article in Animal Cognition describes advanced cognitive capabilities in rats that unilaterally lend a helping paw to another who may be sinking in water. This instinctual reaction appears to supersede food based reward, a dominant aspect of mammal life.

Evolution, held sacred by scientists as a sure way to higher intelligence and cognition, has to be rethought. It appears that tactical advantages gained by random mutations are more likely to create freak systems – such as humans. If there is a physical reason for life – such as accelerated entropy, it does make sense at the macro level. Systems that are able to think many different permutations and combinations to enhance entropy, will be selected and humans certainly fit the bill. The organ they carry on their shoulders, certainly helped them to invent fire and they have been burning everything they could find for over 100 thousand years. And burning, certainly, is a sure way to increase entropy.

Somewhere along this evolutionary cycle, humans, seem to have picked up some bad habits – such as observations, societal formation and learning. These traits are certainly against the prescribed objectives and will be deselected if the objective function is indeed very clean and includes only positively sloped entropy. Since rats appear to be significantly less efficient than humans to accelerate entropy, it is clear that the forward momentum of evolution will likely correct for any random noise that was introduced such as empathy, knowledge and the desire for better societies.

Humans, a dominant evolutionary construct, have been efficient in optimizing a simple objective function – accelerate entropy at any cost. And the laws of physics indicate that they will get more efficient at it over time.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/05/the-cost-of-thinking.html#axzz3ZgVIa9V1

A recent article from MIT (1) argues that consumers’ decision processes in the retail arena, replete with confusing choices and an overabundance of brands, are dominated by an “indexing strategy.” To reach a decision, consumers may be indexing (or utilizing a bundle of proxies to compare) rather than conducting an exhaustive search as such an optimization process could have high cognitive costs. If true, this finding has implications for companies in the retail arena for product design, promotions, delivery and pricing.

First, it opens up a dimension in the psyche of the consumer, that makes analyzing decisions more complex for the observer (retailer) even though it simplifies the process for the consumer. In a world of a large number of close substitutes for any product or service, a consumer with a preference for minimizing cognitive cost, will only consider a subset of products, that is not necessarily obvious to the retailer. As the consumer “indexes” against an unknown subset of substitutes, she will likely consider all aspects of comparability – as the simplified process allows her to do so, in the comfort of an already reduced cognitive cost. Ironically, these attributes may include both physical and virtual aspects – with differing weights, making it very difficult for the retailer to define “competition,” in a world of interacting product definitions.

Second, status-quo strategies that may include price discounting, bundling and couponing, may have a longer lasting effect on the “indexing strategy,” followed by the consumer. Such tactics by the retailer could move the brand away or closer to the indexing bundle, used by the consumer. Although the impact of such strategies on the near term decisions of the consumer is ambiguous, it does increase the complexity of optimizing such strategies. And, finally, retailers who have a rigid view as to “who their competition is,” may find themselves drifting – as the consumer preferences and retailing tactics may enroll or remove them from the proxy bundles considered by the consumer.

Retailers may have to move away from long held views on the competitive landscape and tactics that may have brought customers to their doorstep in the past. Flexible and dynamic strategies in design, delivery and pricing may be needed to win the consumer indexing game.

(1) The brain in the supermarket, Published: Friday, March 27, 2015 - 11:33 in Mathematics & Economics, Science News

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2015/03/27/the.brain.supermarket



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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3YdqSG0sg

Research from LMU in Munich attempts to test if quantum particles, such as bosons, follow prescriptions of game theory, a well established concept in economics. This is in a favorable direction as it may simplify quantum behavior by using constructs from macro systems. The incentives for bosons to be on the same wavelength as their neighbors is akin to incentives present in human interactions. And, if a simple objective function, such as profits or wealth maximization can be found for quantum particles, then, their behavior could well be predicted by economic theory. It has been noted that, at the extreme, the Bose-Einstein condensate behaves like a single super particle. It is conceivable that if such behavior is universal, it has implications for design for truly advanced societies. 

The divergence of the behavior of quantum systems from human scale systems has been problematic not only for physicists but also for amateurs who seek simplification. Intuition seems to point to missing attributes or perhaps a completely wrong theory. If quantum behavior could be explained by those seen in bigger systems, then the chance of survival increases for the theory itself. However, this implicitly assumes that bigger systems are a natural progression of quantum ones and most available information seems to refute such a notion. Engineering bias force scientists and technologists to a unified theory – from parts to the whole - and it is quite possible that multiple universes with differing laws exist within the observable one in human scale.

Whatever the reality, the notion of explaining quantum behavior using larger systems is intriguing. If this is possible, such behavior could provide direction for better designs of human systems as well.

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Gill Eapen

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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/06/societal-memory.html#axzz3df2aXs7f

Recent finding that amnestic mouse brains are able to recall lost memories is encouraging for those with Traumatic Brain Injury and Alzheimer’s disease related memory loss. Lost memories, perhaps, the most costly aspect of human societies, have not been studied in sufficient detail. For most of the history of homo-sapiens, downloading memories was central to their development – with the village elder willingly transmitting knowledge to the chosen few of the next generation for perpetual propagation. Modern humans, virtual slaves to technology, seem to have lost the art of memory storage and propagation, yielding to the least effective mechanism for the same, computers.

Memories, that encapsulate experience and knowledge, are misunderstood by humans on a treadmill to nowhere. The rat race keep them occupied for most of their lives, unable to make memories or to appreciate those who create them. A society that is unable to store and propagate memories is not sustainable, for its content will be left undefined and its tactical accomplishments, fleeting. A human, the combined total of chemicals worth less than $25, is nearly worthless without memories – her own, or those of her society. In spite of all their technical accomplishments, humans will drift endlessly if they could not figure out how to create, nourish, store and utilize societal memories.

Memories – most valuable but least understood resource of a society – may ultimately define the path humans could take.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/06/light-chip.html#axzz3c8WVtTXv

Recent research from the University of Utah seems to get closer to silicon photonics and faster light based processors, many orders better than conventional products. Splitting light has always been easy but Utah engineers have accomplished it with beam splitters of a mere 2.4 microns of size. This may propel us out of the ongoing rat race of packing silicon ever closer on conventional chips for less interesting performance improvements.

Moore’s law, held sacred by technologists and used by exponential curve plotting, singularity seeking intellectuals, for stupid predictions, may have done significant damage to the psyche of innovation in electronics. Humans, grand optimizers of their limited life horizons, always fall into the trap of incrementally improving what is available. They appear to be satisfied with metrics that double over long horizons – such as years and this is in stark contrast to their keen awareness of limited time. With less than a thousand months of life span, a metric that doubles every 18 months appears so much less interesting than one that explodes by a few orders of magnitude in the same horizon. More importantly, doubling computing power in 18 months with no perceptible impact on existing applications is a waste of time.

It is time to throw out processes that grow within the same orders of magnitude every year – they will certainly employ people, but they will not make any difference to humanity.



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Accent inefficiency
A recent study from the University of Washington at St.Louis, speculates that accents may have a high negative correlation to comprehension and recall to a population, that is native. If true, this is a significant loss of efficiency for 8 billion people, w...
A recent study from the University of Washington at St.Louis, speculates that accents may have a high negative correlation to comprehension and recall to a population, that is native. If true, this is a significant loss of efficiency for 8 billion people, worldwide. Humans, already reeling from ...
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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/05/seeing-is-not-believing.html#axzz3aA5FbYcO

Experimentalism and empiricism, corner stones of modern scientific exploration, have substantially dampened step-function changes in knowledge addition in almost every field. In economics, availability of metrics and statistics in abundance have kept academics, spending most of their careers proving the established theories. In Physics, the ability to generate data at will with heavy machines has kept any innate creativity bottled up. In life sciences, manufacturers, staffed with conventional statisticians and a regulatory regime with little understanding of risk management have assured that breakthrough drugs are yesterday’s story.

It is a perfect storm. As a vanishing generation, steeped in qualitative and non-scientific processes of information gathering is bombarded by another, trained to see and analyze data, we are left with little hope to advance knowledge. For the former, data do not matter and for the latter, it appears, only data matter. Neither can be further from the truth. From a societal perspective, one has to worry less about the former as they are checking out from the ecosystem. But, it is problematic to see educational systems, world-over are catering to processes that start from data and not knowledge. The implicit assumption of modern science, that experimentalism and associated empiricism are necessary conditions for the creation and establishment of theories, is fundamentally incorrect.

If we create a society, enslaved to data and thus prone to considering experimentalism and empiricism as the primary tools to generate and advance knowledge, we are doomed.



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For an even more literal meaning to that, watch Pay Attention! on Netflix or even YouTube.
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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3Z7CqrWBs

Statistical significance has let many industries down and built fortunes for many, riding their luck. A recent paper from Duke University explains what most non-statisticians and non-financiers always knew. Models that do not make practical sense are unlikely to work. Industries on top of the modern economy, those who attract the best and the brightest – physics, medicine and finance – have been playing with statistical fire, discovering and proving everything there is – some for money and others for fame. As the Duke paper points out, almost any hypothesis could be proven by a sufficiently large number of trials. And proving hypotheses is front and center for any “scientific profession.”

In this context, it may be interesting to make the following predictions:

1. LHC : If 6 trillion trillion collisions are made and the data analyzed, LHC could prove God exists. Just 6 trillion was enough to find the “God particle” within 5 sigma. This is a good experiment. Proving God exists may solve many of the vexing problems faced by humanity.

2. SETI : If an antenna is provided to every roof top in the world and the “search” accelerated by a billion times, SETI could prove ET with pointy ears, a cone head and red white and blue stripes across the body exists in some distant galaxy.

3. Wall Street : If the number of idiots trading securities back and forth every day is increased by an order of magnitude, Wall street could create somebody who wins on every trade for 10 years running.

Statistics, the “science” that is foundational for “accelerating knowledge” of humanity, may singlehandedly bring knowledge-seekers to a standstill in the presence of “big data.”



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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3YQgyQBh1

A recent commentary in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, highlights most academics and those less academic, already knew – the need and desire to publish is a disease, aided by “plagiarism, fraud and predatory publishing.” Academics – held sacred by a vanishing few – now means brutal business and what comes out is mostly noise, stolen materials and joint incompetence. The acceleration seen in “academic publishing,” is a clear indication that the quality has declined and more importantly the authors mostly rely on a patchwork of stolen materials and ideas.

This is unfortunate. Knowledge creation, still the only attribute that marginally differentiates humans and animals, has been on the decline for decades. Information and noise, mistakenly attributed to knowledge by technologists, have been creating havoc. The “data explosion,” and the ever eluding “singularity,” have kept the precious little brain cells away from advancing knowledge. To top it all off, the ambassadors of knowledge creation have been busy plagiarizing and creating irrelevant publications.

Misaligned incentives, aided by limited time horizons of knowledge seekers, are likely to assure that humans will continue the rat race in a maze with no exits.



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Work
Occupation
Managing Principal
Skills
Strategic planning, valuation, economics
Employment
  • Decision Options, LLC
    Chairman, 2000 - present
  • Charles River Associates
    Vice President, 2010 - 2011
  • Pfizer
    Group Director, 1997 - 2000
  • Deloitte
    Senior Manager, 1994 - 1997
  • Hewlett-Packard
    Strategy Intern, 1993 - 1993
  • ABB
    Senior Consultant, 1986 - 1992
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Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Groton, CT
Previously
Chicago, IL - Dallas, TX - Atlanta, GA - Chennai, India - Kochi, India
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Decision Options
Introduction

Gill Eapen has two decades of experience in strategy, finance, risk and general management. Mr. Eapen’s past experience includes senior positions at fortune 100 companies, consulting and private equity firms. He has consulted for over five dozen companies worldwide in diverse industries, including life sciences, energy, aerospace, high technology and consumer goods. In 2000, he founded Decision Options, a pioneer in economic value based decision making, risk, and portfolio management. Decision Options also managed a Long/Short US Equity fund that used proprietary analytics and risk management principles to generate significant alpha.

Currently, he is the chairman of Decision Options. Previously he was an executive at Charles River Associates, a Boston based advisory services firm. Before that, he was a member of the R&D leadership team at Pfizer, responsible for the planning of the entire R&D portfolio including internal allocation of capital and external assessments of business development deals. Before that he was engagement manager at Deloitte Consulting. Mr. Eapen is a CFA charter holder, a member of the Boston Society of Security Analysts, author of two management text-books (Decision Options & Flexibility) and a frequent speaker in conferences worldwide. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree from Indian Institute of Technology.

Bragging rights
Author, Decision Options, Flexibility & Scientific Sense
Education
  • University of Chicago
    Economics, 1992 - 1992
  • Northwestern Unvesrity
    Engineering, 1985 - 1986
  • Indian Institute of Technology
    Engineering, 1980 - 1985
  • Christ College
    Science, 1978 - 1980
  • RM High School
    Science, 1972 - 1978
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Male