To strike a balance

To Strike a Balance

Volume 3 Issue 3 News & Resources | March 2010

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad


Editor
School of Electrical & Electronic Eng
Universiti Sains Malaysia
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Nothing is insignificant in the bigger scheme of things. One may be forgiven in assuming that only the obvious factors are of any importance. Events or incidents are only considered newsworthy when real people are directly affected i.e. getting killed or maimed or made less fortunate. In this scenario, a particular factor became dominant, even though in the final analysis it only turns out to be another glorified outlier. Events and the contributing causes must be analysed in a right, proper and balanced way. Balance is the key term. This means taking into consideration the obvious and not so obvious. The ability to make alternative interpretations of the mundane is certainly a clear demarcation, i.e. in digressing from the obvious explanations. Contributing factors can come from various circumstances and also in various magnitudes.

In order to determine the tipping factor among the many, we need a totally new set of skill. In this we can learn a lot from chaos theory, in which we are taught; a complex system may be governed by simple rules, whereas a simple system may alternatively be governed by very complex rules. This means an apparent chaotic event may possibly be triggered by a seemingly small incident (or small factor). Bearing in mind that the catastrophic scenario we are witnessing is just the final manifestation of a long chain of delayed reactions or responses. In understanding and trying to conceptualise the events unfolding in the realm of life, more often that not, we tend to simplify things. Simple logic, more often than not, rules the day. Balance in the natural world exemplifies the ultimate model for any man-made system. In any human being, a balanced individual is so-called due to the balance outcome of the mind, physique and also the spirit, of course as a whole, not in parts.

The lack of any of them will only translate into unwanted mishap or unfolding disaster. The same logic applies to the system we are developing. The problems arisen are indicative of the existence of some unbalanced element in the processes or system. The severity may vary, but the performance is far from the desired. It is certainly better to be able to anticipate problems, rather than doing “fire-fighting”. Bearing in mind, anticipating skill is easier said than done. Balance relates to stability. Stability leads to harmony. Harmony brings out the benefits to all. But, chaos and instability are, nevertheless, also inherent in the cycle of life. They are the necessary evils. Without which, no progress is attainable. As much as change will open new crevasses of opportunities, the same goes to instability. It will trigger possible advancement and new efforts for improvement. But, absolute balance in life in an utopian goal. The absolute rule is that we must keep striving, in the midst of deficiencies and shortcomings, in order to be on the path of progress and fulfilment. The same reasoning applies to the system that we are developing. We will keep bumping into hindrances and problems the higher our goals are.

Fact of life, no doubt. Life exists in the sustainable intra and inters relationship between multi-balance systems. When we are developing new devices or system, we are adding to the existing plethora of stable and unstable life units. Hence, when we are adding, extra cautions are pertinent. Things do get a bit crowded. Available resources are certainly scarce and robustness to external factors is crucial.

Developing tools for underwater applications imply the introduction of alien components to an existing balanced ecosystem. The possible introduction of interference to the normal cycle of events must be pondered upon. For example, the use of acoustic-based communication and sensing are important, but the collateral impact to the environment must be considered. The ‘artificial and un-balanced’ system must, ideally, fit seamlessly into the environment. For sure, the system that we are developing comes with its inherent weaknesses and unwanted accompanying glitches. And, it is our responsibility to mitigate the problems. How do we strike a balance in fulfilling our needs while not affecting the balance of nature? Yes, this is the question, in which no one seems to have the right answers.

"Allah does not look at your appearance or your possessions; but He looks at your heart and your deeds." (Abu Huraira: Muslim)

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