Month: January 2015

Cat Videos… On Mars!

Elon Musk, arguably Iron Man in real life, wants to spend $10 billion to expand satellite internet into space. These foundations could eventually end up in the expansion of internet to Mars. Now no more lonely martians, for they will have the beauty of the internet, and all the wonders it holds at their fingertips. Not only would this technology allow internet in space, but also fast and uninterrupted global internet that isn’t reliant on ground based wires or impeded by geo-political structures on Earth. One of the leading causes of internet deficiency. These internet satellites would occupy Earths low orbit layer and would be able to provide internet to sparsely populated areas where the infrastructure required for internet hasn’t made it yet. This includes remote amazon areas, as well as various desert populations. The applications for this are limitless, the level of global contentedness will continue to grow. Eventually it could lead to inter-planetary contentedness. That’s insane to think about, isn’t it? Something like this sounds like a 20+ year dedication project, but Musk believes it may take as little as 5 years and a relatively low budget for such a task. This means great things for the future of space travel as well as earthly duties.

It’s exciting to see this kind of groundwork being laid for man kinds future. Essentially we’re providing the infrastructure for a new colonial era. This is analogous to if Britain would have set up roads and bridges to America before even settling the land. Citizens of this day and age are part of something much larger than themselves, and the implications for the technology is surely a welcomed one. Not only does this imply that Martian colonization is possible, but that it’s extremely possible. With leading private companies expanding their reach, it may not be far off until your planet of birth will be indicated on your drivers license.

I find nothing more exciting than discovery, and these programs that promote and promise discovery really get my blood going. It will be exciting to see how this all plays out and what can be achieved through such a revolutionary idea. Really wishing I could fast forward in time to be able to see the implementation of this technology right now.

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What Needs to Change for a Technologically Inclined Future?

Surely, change and adaption dictate the success of individuals and species. From Darwinism to political and economic landscapes, this observation holds firm ground in the realm of progress. Progress is scary however, especially a type we are not accustomed to. While social change happens all the time, social change spurred by technological advances is relatively new. When your grandparents call you unsocial for tweeting all the time they’re simply ignorant to the possible implications of the material and what it means for the future of society. This isn’t to say they’re unable to analyze deep connections, but only the fact they they are unaccustomed to the change and therefore are unable to determine its function. In a similar situation, Supriya Jain argues that in order for humanity to adapt culturally to the rising tide of A.I. technology, we must first change our social and economic landscape. Jain’s argument relies on specific examples of A.I. technology outperforming humans in order to establish a sense of credibility as well as organizing her information in easily understandable lists in order to make her argument well presented to the readers.

“A decade later IBM’s Watson went on to win Jeopardy – a game where players respond with the question to the answer statements – and opened doors to real applications of AI.

For most humans, the concept of intelligent machines is disconcerting to say the least – not surprising, given that they associate the advent of machine intelligence as something that will take away their jobs, or take over the planet. And this is just the beginning.”

Jain’s use of specific example gives readers the reassurance that the writer has researched the topic enough to find specific examples. This implies that Jain is to a certain extent proficient in the material which gives readers more confidence in her opinion. If Jain hadn’t have done this, I’d have been asking the question “Who is this chick? What does she know?”. However Jain clears all these questions by giving the example of Watson and relating it to her argument seen in the second part of the quote.

Additionally, Jain organizes her argument in the order in which things need to change. This makes it easy for a reader to understand where her argument lies at it takes the reader on a step by step “tour” of her argument. Additionally, it provides a potential critic the ability to quickly locate information they may be looking for further enhancing the effectiveness of her argument. By separating the argument into a numbered list and then describing what she means, she is effectively giving a reader a road-map for her argument starting with to most basic to further complex topics. She starts off with “education” and moves on until she gets to “ethics”. The broadening of the topics conveys that the changes required to implement A.I. technology into the future social world will require numerous changes, from specialized to broad. This helps readers compartmentalize the argument and makes it easier to digest.

Effects of Growing Consumer Technology on the Workforce

In an article from Workforce.com, the author, Max Mihelich, argues that consumer technologies such as Google glass could negatively impact the workplace environment through the compromising of security and the potential for physical and legal repercussions. In setting up the argument, Mihelich provides background information that supports the development of consumer technologies in the workplace creating a factual tie in to his argument. Additionally, Mihelich appeals to a readers sense of security and fear when describing the possible ways this technology could be detrimental to the workplace environment.

Mihelich’s sets up his argument in the beginning of the article. He gives factual statistics of technological growth in the workforce. By specifying the reach of technological advances into the workplace, Mihelich informs the audience that technology is in fact growing in the workplace, to make the reader understand the importance of the topic. In a sense he is saying, “Yes, this is happening, and here are the facts to prove it”. He also uses these statistics to highlight the ever growing development of technology. The specifics he used were of the growing numbers of employment in software developers in the workforce.

“Those numbers are expected to increase by 28 percent and 32 percent, respectively, by 2020, which would mean 164,175 app developers and 125,120 systems developer jobs would have to be filled in the next six years. Other jobs based in computer technology that rank highly on the university’s list of fastest-growing jobs include market research analysts, network and computer systems administrators, computer systems analysts and computer programmers.

Clearly computer technologies will continue to play an increasing role in the workplace, whether by creating a job for somebody, like software development, or by changing the way a job is performed, like the way drone aircraft technology has altered the way a military unit conducts a patrol.”

These statistics are used to set up his later argument. In doing so he creates some backdrop to his argument, almost giving himself credibility. These numbers give the reader the impression that Mihelich understands what it is he is writing about to the extent that he can attribute and correlate these changes in employment to workplace changes as a result of these jobs in the future.

After setting up his argument, Mihelich proceeds to dive into it. He claims that these developments of technology, such as Google glass, may have negative impacts on workplace environment that cancel out the positives they bring. In the case of Google Glass, Mihelich claims that glass’s ability to record video and use 3rd party programs to snap pictures unknowingly or run facial recognition software could be detrimental to workplace security. He does so by raising questions about the ethical implications of knowing who a client is or recording a client without their knowledge. He puts the reader in the shoes of a business manager who has to deal with this:

“Another developer designed a facial recognition app for Glass, which could potentially allow a user to learn the identity of a stranger just by looking at them.

Without the proper policies in place, Glass could also make it more difficult for employers to protect their trade secrets.

Glass ‘hasn’t hit us culturally in a big way yet. But it will. If your glasses are a video camera that you control with your eyes and you’re videotaping what’s going on around you, I can see all my clients have a problem with that, whether they’ve got highly proprietary manufacturing information or not,’ Glancy said.”

Mihelic adds the real beef to his argument here. Essentially he’s saying that the ethical concerns raised by the use of glass outweigh the possible positive implications smart technology could have in the work-world. These concerns are raised in a personal way in his argument, by putting the reader in the shoes of someone who has to deal with this technology from an administrative standpoint, he is connecting the reader personally to the subject matter. In this point, he is also quoting a well known business adviser appealing to Mihelic’s sense of credibility.

Evolution of Language

Language evolves and adapts to the societies it’s used in. This is not a new concept. Reading Shakespearean era works is like trying to read Mandarin sometimes, but the fact of the matter is that in that time it was normal. What does this mean for future generations of language. Surely we live in a world no so connected that language will not evolve in the same way it has in the past. No longer is it an isolated case that can be expedited to another location to evolve and adapt. More often than not it is the need for quicker more effective communication that drives the change in language. This need for effective communications drives language forward and may account for the language of the next 100 years.

As language evolves and time passes, some languages die out. Almost a lingual natural selection. So reasoning would tell us eventually there may only be a few languages. More than likely the official languages of the UN will survive, but how many others. Tribal languages, unique regional dialects, unwritten languages. All will probably die out at some point. Will there ever only be one language? At what point does there need to be a singular recognized language? When is it needed?

They may never be a need for one universal language, especially with the growth in technology. Perhaps all the independent diversity in language need not die out at all. More and more often we need an interconnected world. This can be achieved through the unification of language, or the appearance of language unification. Straight out of science fiction comes translators that instantly take what’s being said in a different language and spit it out in your native language. These are already utilized on large scales. For instance press conferences for a variety of reasons use them. However the technology is in a very primitive state.

This technology could become incredibly useful in a global sense. No longer will the need for human translators be necessary, instead a personalized technological translator that could account for regional diction and jargon could do more than a person every could.

This is one more example of how our increasingly connected world is becoming more automated. While this may cut out a lot of middle men, it makes the experience and fluidity of the conversation much easier. And isn’t efficiency in the definition of the human race?

What Does a “Non-Human Person” Look Like?

This.

Yes, it’s an orangutan, and a 29 year old female orangutan, Sandra, was just labeled a “non-human person” in an Argentinian criminal appeals court. The specific orangutan in question was raised in captivity in the Buenos Aires Zoo, but the question on what to do with her now has been raised. Reuters, the organization who represented the orangutan, argued that the great ape had a cognitive function high enough that it should not be treated as an object, but instead as a person. With the labeling of the orangutan as a “person” it instantly gained rights including a universal right to freedom. So, the act of keeping the creature in a zoo would be unlawfully taking away that right.

This decision opens numerous doors for lawsuits against animal “imprisonment” in Zoos. It also opens the doors for the conversation on cognitive ability. What defines an animal as cognitive enough to be declared a “non-human person”. Expanding on this, what if we get it wrong? What if an animal is highly cognitive but we can’t figure it out. At this point, we are barred by scientific advances in brain and cognitive study. This is exciting however, brain research has being growing exponentially and this kind of publicity arguing for the research could be a huge boost to public support.

At the moment, sentience implies cognitive ability. If the animal is self-aware, individual, and able to reason, it is at a cognitive level rivaling humans and therefore should not be imprisoned. However in the near future we could see these parameters expand. Animal rights groups such as PETA argue that any creature able to feel pain is sentient and therefor has a high level of cognitive ability. While I enjoy going to Zoos, I find the whole thing a little off putting. Taking an animal out of it’s natural habitat for the entertainment of people? It becomes more strange the more you think about it. This isn’t to say I’m wholly against putting an animal in a cage. If a species of animal is endangered for instance, wildlife preserves are a viable option. While they are not confined to a small space like they are in zoos, animals on preservers are still caged. It’s just a very large cage. This leads into the question of what to do with Sandra after she is released from the zoo. Releasing her into the wild could be more than likely detrimental to the animal due to its upbringing in captivity. The most likely answer to this is a wildlife preserve. There she will be able to freely do whatever it is that an orangutan do, but still remain under protection.

It will be interesting to see the long-term implications of this decision. It may simply fade away soon enough as research progresses, or we may look back on it as the definitive case in animal rights.

Increasing workplace productivity through technology

Industry and business have grown through technology since antiquity. From the selling of crops to the advent of machinery and industrialization, the global patterns of trade and commerce are shaped by the technology that allows them to flourish. For instance, Apple is now a global powerhouse in terms of shear worth. Walking down the street it is hard to find someone without an IPhone or a similar device. It’s insane to think that 10 years ago these companies were a fraction of what they are now. This growth can of course be contributed to increasing technology and workplace practices. However what does increasing technology mean from an employee standpoint?

When thinking of the use of smart phones in a workplace setting, the picture is often of a bored employee wasting time on their Angry Birds score. While this is an accurate circumstance in some settings, the fact is that if done right, mobile technology could increase workplace development through the relief of stress, access to information, and overall workplace productivity. Through the streamlining of business practices and requirements, employees would spend less time figuring out why their computer isn’t working and more time actually working. This could ultimately lead to shorter work days or less stressful work days due to less being compacted into one day. This benefits the company as well, if their employees are happy and productive the company generally does better off. Imagine walking into your place of work and instead of spending 10 minutes figuring out why you’re unable to clock in, an app on your phone automatically does it using Geo-location. Already you’ve saved yourself precious minutes that you could be using for work. Or picture your doctor using a tablet to instantly send your prescription to the pharmacy. No more waiting on the phone in hopes that they actually get it right. Going further, instead of having someone operate the pharmacy fetching prescriptions when customers come in, a drone like service that Amazon is already utilizing could drop your medicine off at your front door.

This kind of automation scares people though, and rightfully so. By replacing pharmacy technicians with drones you’ve eliminated a few potentially good paying jobs. While it may seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things, realizing how many pharmacy technicians are hired makes it seem like a much larger problem. This debate has slowly been gaining traction in the states and abroad due to the quantum increase in A.I. and similar technologies we are seeing.