Sunday, July 19, 2020

My bio -- life story (very long)

Personal Blog:

I was born to a family that had started as peasants working for daily wages on rice farms in the southern Indian state of Kerala, then known as the Kingdom of Travancore. Travancore was never conquered by the British and remained independent throughout British Indian colonial rule. This was not due to a mightily military or superior technology, but because it was a peaceful kingdom of peasant ruled by a "Maharaja" or King and his family who were extraordinary artists, musicians, and ruled by giving grants of unutilized land to daily wage laborers so that they could own a small farm themselves and educate themselves in British-influenced schools run by local non profit institutions, including Christian Missionary Schools. All religions were allowed to practice their faiths in whatever ways they wanted, and traders were provided access to a global completely free market economy. Every individual and community had complete liberty, but in the ancient philosophical tradition of India, no individual or community was permitted to coerce any other individual or community.

My great-grandfather, Mr. KC Mammen Mappillai, grew up at a time when the family had evolved to be owner first of a rice paddy field that was below sea level, which they dammed and drained to grow rice. They evolved further into relatively prosperous traders who exchanged local commercial produce such as rubber, tea, coffee and coconuts, to Arab traders who arrived regularly at the port of Cochin, which was the local center of Judaism, and with their connections to the Middle East had become the largest port of trade in the Eastern part of the world at that time.

Mr. KC Mammen Mappillai was from a small local community of what are now called Eastern Orthodox Christians. It had been started by one of the prophets of a man they were told was named Yeshua, who was a great spiritual master from the Middle East. Mr. KC Mammen Mappillai married a woman who was directly descended from one of the four fishermen who had given refuge to the Apostle named St. Thomas (aka The Doubting Thomas).

He started a local bank with the knowledge gained from these traders from Arabia, named the Travancore National Bank. It soon became the largest bank in the local region, and then whole of Southern India, while Northern India had been invaded by tribal leaders who called themselves Mughal Emperors and followers of the Prophet Muhammed, even though none of these "Emperors" were even literate enough to have read what Mohammed had written. The northern Indian local people were soon defeated militarily by these tribals, and made a living being servants to the slaves of these Emperors, who had gained the higher social status of being a Slave to the Emperor by converting to what these Afghan tribal lords called Islam. They had no idea of the concept of banking that had been developed by the real followers of Mohammed from Persia and Arabia using the words of their prophet. 

Mr. KC Mammen Mappillai learned from the Arab traders that money, the prophet's followers decreed, could could be manufactured. Just like weapons and tools. The creation of money was done by a bank who gave it as a loan, which was nothing more than an entry in a large book now know as the double-entry book keeping Ledger.  But such loans created by private banks were for a particular project to be specified clearly by the borrower, and monitored daily by the lenders. If the project succeeded, both the borrower and the lender gained wealth and property. If it failed, they both had to share the loss.

This banking system was then stolen during during the Crusades led by zealots from Italy who called themselves Christians, but excommunicated all other Christians from churches formed all over the world by the other Apostles, and named the Roman Catholic Church as the only supreme power that represented the man was ws named Yeshua, and spelt the name as "Jesus." That the other Orthodox Churches were taught that Yeshua said there can be no Emperor or Church that can stand in between any individual and the Creator of the whole of the natural universe, the Roman Catholics simply omitted these writings at a conference that was known as the Council of Nicea, which deleted writings that made this fact known about Yeshua's words and deeds.

Mr. KC Mammen Mappillai also inherited a newspaper company from his uncle, whose son suffered from some endemic disease of he day and was not expected to live long. That newspaper, the Malayala Manorama, is today's widest read newspaper in India, larger than the New York Times.,It also has publications in several Indian languages, as well as in English with the largest circulated (as per the Audit Bureau of Circulation) weekly magazine, and is quite aptly named The Week.

Anyway, my grandfather. Mr. KM Philip, was the third youngest of the eights sons and one daughter of Mr. KC Mammen Mappillai. He moved from Kerala to Bombay to create a bank branch there, since it had become the financial capital of the region, and the concept of publicly traded joint stock companies had been incorporated into British Indian law, which the Kingdom of Travancore had promptly adopted, since their trading relationship with the British Empire was the key to their prosperity.

But the Royals of Travancore were obsessed with the ideas of Art, Justice for All, and Prosperity of All. This led them to outsource the daily administration of their Kingdom to a Governor they imported from the neighboring state of Madras. This Governor's name was Sir CP Ramaswamy Iyer, a very educated and erudite man with very good reference from the British.

When Travancore National Bank became the largest bank in non-Mughal India (northern India had become a part of the Afghan Empire, and had lost all their traditional men of wisdom of yore), Sir CP decided it wa time to bring these "uppity Christians" down a notch. he pulled out the government deposits from the bank and declared that the bank had stolen all the depositors money and loaned it surreptitiously to themselves, and then forgiven the loans. The Chairman and Board of Travancore National Bank, which had then merged with another large local bank named Quilon Bank, were thrown in jail to await a trial that took years to come to any court of any kind.

So my grandfather Mr. KM Philip and his seven brothers had to start again from nothing but their education and moral compass. He chose to remain in Bombay and import rubber and sell it to manufacturers. He also imported tea and coffee from Travancore and nearby areas to Bombay, where he had them blended into what is still some of the finest coffee in the world, sold under the name Philip's Coffee and Tea. He also started a rubber manufacturing company in the state of Madras, named Madras Rubber Factory, now known as MRF Ltd, which is the largest manufacturer of automotive tires for cars, trucks, and now even jet fighters. It's stock price on the National Stock Exchange in India is the highest nominal stock price in history, and to the current day.

When my father finished his MS in Economics from Cambridge University in the UK, he returned and asked his father whether he should help him in any of the various endeavors he had started for each of his brothers with capital raised from public investors who trusted the family, and Bombay bankers who trusted KM Philip, who was a fine businessman, a very ethical man who wanted everyone in a business deal to profit rather than just himself.

My grandfather told my father of Mr. KC Mamen Mapillai's informal business philosophy, where he said that while each of the eight brother should own every company he started equally, he must appoint only one brother to be Chief Executive of each company. He said brothers should share any and profits or losses equally, but decisions can only be made if there is only a single Boss. He had already handed over the Chief Executive role of MRF Ltd to his youngest brother, who wanted to be an artist painting scenery in the Himalayas, but came back after MRF became a viable business and my grandfather made him Chief Executive to lure him back.

So my father was sent to Madras, where he started a company making top quality 100% natural foam rubber products like mattresses, pillows, cushions, and so on unde the brand name MM Foam. This brand is still known as the finest in its industry, but 100% natural foam rubber has been all but replaced with cheaper polyurethane or coir or combination coir-foam products for the rapidly increasing Indian population, who were finding that they were becoming poorer and poorer under British Rule.

So when I was born, in March 1966, I was given the finest education, schooled on orthodox Christian moral values, and had the finest healthcare when I needed it, and was driven in a car with but the most restricted home life that anyone can imagine, where I was not given any luxury items whatsoever, and I had to live in the same way as the children of the domestic staff lived. 

At the age of 17, I finished high school and it turned out that I was in the Top 25 ranks in a nation of 1.4 billion. I applied and got into a college known as BITS Pilani, the #3 engineering college in the country.

Upon reaching this college which was in the middle of a desert in the uncivilized north of India, I suddenly realized that I was now free from the restrictions imposed on me as I was growing up!

Instead of going to classes, I spent 100% of my time building a rock and roll band and touring other top colleges around India (where rock has a very small following, and most audiences only want to hear Bollywood covers). I created an annual rock music festival named Rocktaves, where bands could come now just from one college, but any group of friends who had a band and got permission from the Students Union to offer a cash prize to the top 3 bands, as decided by a judging committee of the Union's choice, and raised sponsorships from corporate entities all over India to fund it. I raised so much money for the Students Union, that it has since been used as the primary source of cash for the annual cultural festival named Oasis at BITS Pilani which includes Bollywood music, plays, debates, and so on. I am told that winners if the competition now get prized such as a music video from MTV India and the like, and some have become famous bands, releasing albums and having sell our live concerts all over India and even outside India.

After 2.5 years of doing only music rather than studying Electrical and Electronics Engineering, I decided to get my act together and started attending classes regularly. Previously, I had only read the textbooks myself for half an hour before each test, so that I could at least maintain a B- average. 

But that was insufficient to get into Stanford, which had been my parents' plan, but my sister was at the University of Iowa, so I went there, and within 5 days I interviewed for one Research Assistant job that was posted on the board, which I was offered the next day. My parents were not permitted to send me money from India by the then laws of India, so I lived on my $800 a month, paid taxes, paid tuition, paid rent, cooked my own food, and saved a few dollars to go out for a drink with friends every Friday. Friends who were from the Heartland of America, and not at all the Americans I had seen in movies and on TV and in rock music videos and magazines. Again, I learnt a lot more than Engineering but managed to great straight A's and A+'s with just attending every class and not bothering to waste half an hour studying before each test.

I was then called back to India by my father to join the family businesses, rather than stay in the US, which was my personal preference. When I got back I asked my father whether I could make a round of the Indian software companies so that I might think about getting a couple of years work experience outside the family owned companies. He agreed, and I was offered various jobs n the largest and most high tech companies, but Mr. FC Kohli, CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, which was and remains the largest software company in India, would not let me say no. He said I could start my own division and work in any of the cities he had offices in worldwide, and address any business issue that any of his clients had, with an unlimited budget, and first choice of selecting any of his programmers for my team. I could not resist, and my grandfather was close personal friends with Mr. FC Kohli, so nobody in the family could object.

My PhD had been using Artificial Intelligence techniques to analyze multi-slice CT images of live human patients so that I could build a 3D Finite Element Model that could put each sprcific patients "virtual heart" through simlated stress tests, rather than requiring them to take strenuous cardiac stress tests, which could be dangerous in and of themselves. So for Mr. Kohli and TCS, I chose to build a neural network solution for managing the document flow in India's largest mutual fund, the Unit Trust of India, a major Indian client of his. I faced resistance from the young lady who was in charge of an elaborate but very effective solution of using the IBM double key punch operator system, where eery field of every paper form is keyed separaately by two independent data entry operators, and if there is a mismatch, that batch goes back through the process until a match occurs, or it must be marked as an exception to be taken up by more senior domain experts. I told her that I also believed that Artificial Intelligence is just a Hype-Loop technology that does not really work, and that they only way I got my cardiac wall recognition to work was to make the output of the AI go to a domain expert who manually corrected the automatically detected contours of each cardiac image layer before it was sent to be converted to a FEM model that was actually used in practice. I told her her system was conceptually the only way to get 100% accuracy, but instead of moving paper batches around, we can scan the images and use neural networks to do the first pass, but the data entry operators would remain so that they could correct the errors that I guaranteed would be present in the output of any AI technolgy -- past, present or future, for all time. SHe then warmed up to me and we agreed that the neural network was only needed for the Hype-Loop for sales anad marketing, whereas we would work on the real solution behind the scenes.

In the 2 years I spent on the project we reached 98.5% accuracy for the neural network character recognition engine on handwritten English language forms of known formats. It was better than anything academically published, but still not good enough to be put to use for India's largest mutual fund, where a single error may end up charging a customer 24,787.50 rupees instead of 2,478.75 rupees. But my colleagues at TCS's research division in Pune, India, turned out to be the best friends I have ever had and remain so. One of them was my CTO when I left TCS and started my own division of my father's market research company MM Research Corporation P Limited, and named my division Imagine Technologies. 

I just did that part time, doing the programming myself, as a sort of hobby. I tried helping my father's company modernize and automate processes and measure each employees performance according to KPI metrics that they were aware they would be reviewed about. But my father wanted things to remain the same. 

So when Citibank UK heard about what I had done at TCS, the person they met at TCS referred them to me. They came and saw my demo, where the old IBM punch card double entry system had been updated to an image based system, and I had removed AI completely since it is useless when labor costs are as low as they were in India at the time, they flew me to London First Class the next day and flew me back with a signed contract and a wire transfer confirmation of an advance to hire me to modify it for their particular need is scanning documents across their global offices, and set up a back office at one of their Indian facilities to processall loan servicing, trade receivables finance servicing, and credit card debt servicing. I gave them a fixed-time fixed cost quote and insisted on retaining the Intellectual Property rights, without which I would be just using up my time rather than investing it.

The product I built ImageCADE, used a different form of AI than neural networks. Each loan document, from origination to every payment on a schduled payment plan, with principal and interest, penalties and pre-payment charges could be either paper, or in electronic format of any kind. A "job setup" involved defining the particular processes for any organization, in Citi's case a bank, there were a very large number of very disparate processes. So I built a rule based expert system to control the dual entry process. While entering the data manually, or while importing the data electronically, the rules defined in the Job Setup would be checked instantly every time a key was punched, or one more character or numeral was imported into ImageCADE. Once inputted, another set of "bots" could be confgureded to take certain actions based on the values of the input data. Once the bots did their job in a few seconds, the result of the bots would go to the particular customer support domain expert in charge of the relationship with that customer. The domain expert would check and correct any mistakes that the bots rule-base had done incorrectly, or for cases where there was no bot rule to handle any particular case. ImageCADE would them update the bot rule-base with a custom additional rule-base applicable only to that Customer Support executive and that Client.

The result was a dynamic AI-Domain Expert loop, where both the AI and the Domain Expert were continuously learning, and continuously improving the producitivity and accuracy of each process. Training Manuals would be generated to train new Entry Level employees who were destined to grow into full-fledged Domain Expert in some set of processes defined by the Key Processes metrics of those processes. Training Manuals would be used by the Level 4 Domain Expert, who was qualified to train new Entry Level employees in to Level 2 Domain Experts, defined as thse who could manage a set of processes, but with the help of a Level 3 Domain Expert. Level 3 Domain Experts could operate autonomously, and help to improve the process rule-base further. Finally, a Level 3 Domain Expert would reach a point where they themselves, who were Entry Level employees at some time in the past, would be authorized to train new Entry Level employees. Training is the ultimate level of any employee, and would typically have the title of Vice President, or President or, Senior Cosultant, or something similar, depending on the norms of the particular industry in which the organization was doing business. 

After Citi, I got UPS for global package tracking automation. With both automation and real people involved in the process, always. No automation of any kind, including AI, can eliminate the Domain Expert. Ever. I then started using ImageCADE to get projects in the US, where I had many contacts both because my fellow BITS Pilani students had gone there because a lack of opportunities for their very high level of talent, and through my US contacts that I developed after going there initially as a student and then every quarter for business conferences and so on. In th eprocess, I got McKesson Corp, a pharmacy wholesaler, as a client. They wanted to finance retail pharmacies to buy prescription drugs from them, which other wholesalers did not offer to do.

That led to Costco Pharmacy, who remained my client from 2000, moving from just 12 pharmacies in 12 of their giant stores, to pharmacies in every one of their stores, which are now in excess of 600, and pharmacy sales accounting for over $1 billion a year. Prescription pharmacy sales are typically what is known as a "loss leader" for a corner grocery store or giant retailer. They are not there to make a profit. They are there to create "foot-fall"." Most people who have any medical condition that requires prescription drugs need to pick up supplies every week, or every month, at the least. When they go into the retail store of their choice to pick up their prescription drugs, they usually end up buying other things available at the retail store. But when I started managing Costcp Pharmacy Third Party Insurance reconciliation to enable their internal department to collect every unpad penny, they became what was probably the first "loss leader" division to make a higher profit margin than any other division of the giant corporation. So much so that the CFO finally called the Head of Pharmacy, who was my contact at the client, and told him that if everyone else is asked to make 2% contribution to corporate profit, then why is he contributing 300% of the target? My client, the Head o Costco Pharmacy was order to cut drug prices even below what the Health Insurance company would reimburse, so that their contribution to corporate profits came down to the corporate standard of 2%.

But Retail Pharmacy is dominated by giant pharmacy chains, and apart from Costco Pharmacy, I was not able to get traction with the other big players who all had in-house systems for reconciliation and would not admit that they were losing 7.49% of what they could collect. 

So I started with Physician Practices. I started with just RCM, but now offer free software-as-a-service to Physician Practices including:

- teleClinics, for Virtual Private Practices for groups of indpendent doctors who may or may not also work for large hospitals.
- PracticeTracker, for Drummond-certified EHR and Practice Management, including many add-ons such as:
  - Consulting Services.
  - AR Finance to get padi instantly  rather than waiting months ofor patients or Health Insurance companies to pay what is due for healthcare that was delivered without demanding immediate cash payment.
  - Pharmaceutical analytics to ensure that drugs that interact badly are not given to a patient, depending on their medicla history

Today, with COVID-19, teleClinic is the service that is in demand that far exceeds the supply. And ours is the only one that is free, and complete with features down to collecting or financing payments.

COVID-19 is not very different from other pandemics we have faced in the past. But there is a panic, and people are staing at home, wearing masks and gloves, and economies are generally coming to a slow halt. teleClinics can solve that today. There are already experimental prevenition strategies, such as bathing with anti-fungal soap, taking anti-malarial tablets. The only treatment for those who get it seems to be a drug known as Azihromycin, which is actually incapable of killing a virus, but is effective 100% in killing a fungus or bacterial infection. Anyway, such eperimentation may take years for governments to approve and deploy. All of us need to get back to working every day from home. teleClinics are not targeted at detecting or curing COVID-19 fungal infections that are erroneously being called a virus. It is to receive ordinary care from family physicians, or specialized care for critical conditions, all while working from home.

We believe we have been 20 years ahead of the market for 20 years, so our time perhaps has come to start a real Sales and Marketing division, which we have never really needed before.

Hence we are starting with things like Social Media Interest Groups, spending on digital advertising, and hiring training agents allover the US who teach doctors how to set up the teleClinics, and help families scan their old medical records and let us convert tham to the standardized electronic health record format that all software systems off all doctors use.

The economic danger is one that is very much more serious than the medical pandemic we are facing unless we get our act together and get back to work no matter where we are physically holed up! 


My bio - short

1995 - 2020: Chairman & CEO, Tranquilmoney, Inc. 
                      Home Page:
                      teleClinic Online Shop:
                      teleClinic Home Page:
                      teleClinic Physician Practice Management:

1995 - 2020: Chairman & CEO, MM Imagine Technologies P Liimted (a 100% subsudiary of Tranquilmoney, Inc.)

1993-1995: Director, MM Rubber Company Limited

1991-1993: Sr. Consultant, Tata Consultancy Services, AI division for practical applications of Artificial Neural Networks. Developed the Product CRANEUM (Character Recognition via Augmented Neural Methods)

1987-1991: Research Assistant, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA. AI pattern recognition via The Fuzzy Hough Transform to recognize myocardial walls in multi-slice, real-time cine-CT thorax images to generate a 4D Finite Element Model of each patient's heart in motion. This resulted in a non-invasive, technique for analyzing cardiac health with no dangerous cardiac stress physical workout machines.
MS: Electrical and Computer Engineering, PhD: Biomedical Engineering.

1983-1987: BITS Pilani, Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Joint Secretary Music Club. Founder of Annual Rock & Roll Music Festival ROCKTAVES, which is today India's most important rock competition, where winners get global music video deals and cash prizes. This has become the revenue generating machine for the BITS Pilani annual cultural festival, OASIS.

1974-1983: Junior, Middle and High School at Sishya School, Madras, India, and Asan Memorial School, Madras, India

Born: March 1966

Review by MD Tech magazine

Interview with Dr. Karun Philip It will be great if you could give me a brief background about your company as to what you do and you know, ...