The Future of Artificial Intelligence

We’ve all pondered the future — a utopia filled with autonomy and convenience at our finger tips — with impunity. Many contemporary pessimists believe that implementing artificial intelligence, which, in this case, may self-replicate itself into “artificial super-intelligence” might just leave humanity vulnerable. Such qualms present themselves in irrational, yet understandable ways. For example, eminent thinkers Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk believe, aside from climate change, that the future of AI is grim because robots may end up reconfiguring themselves at an ever-increasing rate; far superior to what any human mind could process in a short period of time. Much akin to the movies I Robot and 2001: A Space odyssey, these thoughts have been infused into our minds and now rattle our brains. Could AI really pose such a dire threat to humanity or are we being unrealistic about it?

As sentient beings who are constrained by emotion, it’s hard to fathom how an autonomous system may be able to supersede us, consciously. I mean, it took evolution millions of years to construct this faulty anatomy we are endowed with; and unfortunately, we are fraught with biological problems throughout life. Thus, building a super-computer machine who doesn’t have to be bounded by withering cells and a fickle brain could easily out-think and out-perform us in no time.

We already have cars that drive themselves and IBM’s Watson that can compile millions of pages of information and piece together a normal answer through hints and clues as it once did against Jeopardy’s most brilliant contestants. That said, super-AI is essentially right around the corner.

The effect of AI on the economy will be substantial. Many menial jobs may be supplanted by robots who will do the job more efficiently and effectively. This could put a giant chasm in our financial distribution; where the divide between the poor and the rich grows alarmingly more distant. But, economists and mathematicians speculate that these problems can be solved by adjusting taxes and being monetarily cautious. The good thing about technology and humanity is that we find a way to coexist without stepping on each other’s toes. We’ve feared many things during our progress as humans, but we always seem to push the envelope without tearing the paper.

Consciousness is a sticky subject because it is highly subjective and brain-based. So, if in time these robots do experience life as we do, they will be highly susceptible to rotten emotions such as envy, hatred, deceit, and jealousy. When these emotions go unnoticed in AI, we could be in for a world of trouble. But who says we have to let these robots get to the same level as us, sentimentally? We could easily put boundaries on their expansiveness and override such self-multiplying type of advancement. Even if they somehow do figure out a way to become nearly all-powerful that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll become villainous or malicious. Since humans think like humans, we get a false view that distorts our reality by thinking every organism has to be exactly like us. That’s astoundingly untrue, we are what we are because we are made by building blocks that allow us to be what we are. Robots don’t have to operate on the same bandwidth as us.

Ultimately, I think AI will facilitate humanity in the work area and thus catapult our technology to even greater heights. I’m an optimist: scientists and engineers are wise enough to modify and predict any shortcomings in AI before they transpire. AI won’t destroy us because we won’t let them. There will be ample codes and algorithmic functions that could destruct such a hostile group of robots if need be. Super-AI I’m a bit more weary about because depending on the technological ramifications, this typer of hyper-robot could completely predict how we would look to control it which could open a can of worms. But for now, and in the near future, be jubilant and embrace artificial intelligence! We’ll be completely safe from any unfeeling machines that want to impose their will on the human civilization.


The Future of Selfies

In a distant, alternate universe, Tami has just snapped and shared her 10,000th selfie. She becomes the first person to do so in a mere 5 years. Tami is lauded by the entire planet; as fans fantasize about being able to achieve such a feat, they begin to try to mimic her perfection. Tami, a 25-year-old self-employed model, feels highly empowered by giving people a chance to witness her unprecedented beauty. Tabloids swoon over catching her in the act of posing for a selfie. She’s a role model. A saint. A woman of valor with a smug attitude that everyone ought to aspire to have. She has told people that her narcissism and self-righteousness can be further extended and she therefore plans on upping her selfie capturing to uncharted heights. Her fans abound, and people can’t wait to see more of her. The future looks bright…

Suppose such a universe did exist; hey, it might be imperceptible and right in our backyard! I doubt it, but selfies have transformed the way you and I perceive each other. The images reflect a “me-first” connotation in an increasingly “me-first” society. We all witness people who post endless photos of themselves in a mild-mannered way. These people are harmless; they’re just presenting the fruits of their labor. It’s good to have confidence and a bit of egotism, which can fuel you to do bigger and better things, but when these habits become visceral compulsions—the need to post pictures of yourself—you need to lighten the load.

Selfies have become commonplace in society. We see them being snapped everywhere from funerals to doctor offices. Think of how rare it was to get a picture of someone back in the AOL instant-messaging days; you would have salivated just to see one selfie taken by the woman or man with whom you were in conversation. But now that technology continues to increase at an alarming rate, we have the resources to present ourselves in a plethora of different ways, and at the most unceremonious times.

Apps like Instagram and Snapchat encourage you to post as much as you can of whatever you want, and the most important “whatever” is yourself. So we are left with people posting the same selfies unendingly, because “it’s not nice to criticize people” and the apps essentially provoke you to share instantaneously. Just remember: anything done in moderation is fine, but, usually, familiarity breeds contempt. Too much of anything gets old really quickly. People who have that mysterious mystique about them tend to keep the audience on their toes.

Let me drop a term I learned in economics some years back that has stuck with me: the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. This basically states that the more you have of a good, the less you desire it the next time. It applies to many things in life: food, music, SELFIES, etc. That said, the more often you post selfies, the less your audience is enraptured by each successive picture, given the short lapse of time in between them. This is not only directed at women; men tend to turn the camera on themselves a lot nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, I think most selfies that people take are appealing and worth viewing, but they can quickly become redundant.

When your relationship is seemingly flawless and your partner starts taking selfies, consider that a massive red flag. Selfies are toxic for dating; they can tear down a good relationship faster than a wrecking ball against a Lego set. That is because a selfie is inherently attention-seeking, and creates a chasm of uncertainty and insecurity from your partner who values you the most. You show me a relationship that has a lot of selfie-posting from either ends, and I’ll show you a relationship that has a short lifespan.

Sometimes the prettiest females are the ones who don’t know they’re pretty; the under-the-radar, coy individuals who rarely dive into their egos. Studies have claimed that frequent selfie sharers have a dark underlying factor linked to narcissism and traits of psychopathy. These studies are still in their nascent stages, but evidence is being corroborated by many different outlets. Kim Kardashian is releasing a book titled selfish, which is a compilation of selfies throughout her “hardscrabble” life. This highfalutin tale will probably have a great effect on young, impressionable minds; and, maybe for the worse. I do commend Kim’s ability to promote her brand from a business standpoint, but maybe not in such a gaudy and dishonorable way.

Now, what will happen to future generations who embark in the realm of “selfiedom”? Will there be a backlash against selfies for fear that too much pretention might make one un-relatable to more modest people? It all remains to be seen. Moreover, these apps that unveil our privacy and give constant viewership to our friends and family will not dominate our life forever. There will always be something new and innovative waiting around the corner. Hopefully the avant-garde of that “something” will unshackle us from the depths of conceit in which we’ve been buried. Vanity can be inherent, but that doesn’t mean we should look away from things of great value in life.

In my estimation, extreme selfie shooting will eventually become a diagnosed disorder—a compulsion to exhibit oneself for the approval of others—that will inevitably wane through digital detox. All phones are equipped with cameras, but once we decide to spend less time on the phone because we’re literally wasting our lives away, we’ll naturally see a decline in selfies. Until that time, embrace the countless selfies that people share without any qualms. My advice is to post selfies that are original but to post them infrequently, so your onlookers will eagerly anticipate the next one. The visual aesthetics of a female are one of the greatest sights we can glance at, but we don’t need Tami’s reality to become our own.


Exercise Your Way to a Better Brain

Motion is self-expanding. We can easily succumb to the nonchalance of sitting on a couch and watching endless hours of Netflix. However, a sedentary approach to life is a shortcut to an accelerated death. To grow and live long, we must stay in motion. Physical activity endeavors from Pilates to sports to yoga all contribute handsomely to enhancing your body not just physically, but mentally. All the small things add up in the end, but we can temporarily obviate our inevitable demise by expending more kinetic energy, daily. The benefits of the impacts that exercise places on your brain are enough to convince any sane person to get moving post-haste. The brain can atrophy (cerebral atrophy) just like muscles can with underuse.

Throughout life we are battered by pangs of distress, emotional despondency, injuries, illnesses, diseases, hapless happenings, brain cell deterioration, etc. Moreover, most of these maladies come at the expense of our own ignorance. We’re taught early in life how important physical activity is in gym class. Some of us adhere, some throw the information in the back of our cerebellum only to be retrieved when it’s too late; or when we’ve been perturbed by unsettling news that an impending problem with our body will soon be taking place.

One of my favorite platitudes that I can’t say enough, “The time is now,” really hits the nail on the head on why we shouldn’t delay the advancement of our mind & bodies because tomorrow is truly not guaranteed. I understand how easy it is to be lazy; the willingness to not unleash any energy seems like a quality that an obese society cherishes. There’s too many avenues of contentment and complacency that, and much to our own chagrin, end up withering us away — even unknowingly.

Neurobiologically, exercise releases cortisol — the stress hormone that increases fat and stifles memory consolidation — which is a major benefit to adapting to stressors that may offset your system’s homeostasis. Along with strengthening your immune system, exercise can increase euphoria and feelings of bliss by the production of endorphins. Hence the term “Runner’s high” that befalls you once you reach a plateau of running and the feeling of comfortability and oneness with the specific activity. Long walks stimulate creativity and de-stress you from whatever may be burdening you at the moment.

Alzheimer’s, the terrible neurodegenerative disease that affects millions of people,  can be slowly prevented by increasing your movement. Scientists and psychologists have proven that a reduction of cognitive decline can be the result of implementing small, 20-30 minute routines into your daily regimen. Obesity is a big risk factor for Alzheimer’s, so continuing to shed body weight can stave off the eventual disease and lower the incidence rate.

Cognitive functioning and brain plasticity will be expanded 10-fold by instituting any form of aerobic exercise into your lifestyle. The brain will become sharper, motor skills will improve, brain fogginess will subside, the ability to learn new things will increase, and your memory will strengthen. These are advantageous points enough to keep you from ever wanting to take the escalator again.

As time progresses, we slowly lose more and more brain cells. We just aren’t made to last forever. Our bodies fade just as ink does on a sopping wet canvas. Death is inescapable, but we can decelerate the process by becoming more active. A civilization in motion is one that is highly prosperous and productive. Showing our kids the importance of ‘go-getter-ness’ and relaying the undeniable benefits of movement can take our planet to greater heights. As the battle with obesity and decline in brain functioning continues, understand that you choose whether or not you want to make yourself better. Be wise, get moving.


Why We Need to Take ISIS Seriously

With all the recent hoopla and fear-mongering that’s been surfacing on social media networks and news channels concerning ISIS, we undeniably need to be proactive rather than reactive. Looking back, the atrocities that transpired in New York City 13 years ago still leave a nasty taste in our mouths no matter how much solace we receive. ISIS, the neo-Al Qaeda militant group, is without a doubt, morally reprehensible. From decapitating innocent people to raping young women, allowing this unjust behavior to persist would be naively perverse of us. Backed by religious certainty, members of ISIS claim they are doing “Allah’s” work. But how can we reprimand these maniacal individuals if what they’re doing seems right in their eyes?

Even if Islam is, by and large, opposed to these actions of ISIS, the religion itself needs to be castigated. In sports, when one person acts out (however much he or she may belie the true integrity of the team), the whole squad is penalized and scrutinized. Thus, because Islam claims to be a religion of “peace,” we immediately need to take a step back and look at the macro aspects of the religion. One thing should be wildly apparent: when your doctrines leapfrog over what’s innately right, it establishes a breach in moral responsibility. That said, your “God” could command you to annihilate anyone, thereby making the action inherently okay in your mind. And that, my friend, is where religion becomes remarkably dangerous and irrational.

The new video that has gone viral via Vice news makes it clear that ISIS is acquiring people from all different nations. In the video, the embattled member is asked, “How were you recruited?” He happily replies, “No one recruited me…I opened the newspaper, I read the Koran.” Seemingly green with envy, the ISIS spokesman’s interview was laden with ridiculous comments and jabs thrown at America behind the guise of Allah’s suggestions. As uncomfortable as it is to hear such obscenities, this faith-based initiative to placate Allah is totally absurd. To say they’re not motivated by faith—and a resolute faith at that—pulls the veil right over our eyes and makes us that much more vulnerable.

Going forward, we have to take this man’s motives at face value. We must pull no punches and take every precaution necessary, even if it’s bombing and detaining innocent people of that sect. We cannot allow ourselves to fall victim to another gigantic tragedy. The handwriting is on the wall; acting proactively will ensure our safety. The truth is that to vanquish depraved behavior, sometimes you have to eradicate those who are unruly. Terrorism is the final draft of delusion, and we should not tolerate it or anything associated with it. People who make their immoral decisions through the purview of a messiah complex have an agenda that will ultimately ruin us as a civilization. Let’s be wise and let the powers that be lead us to a full-blown attack.


Curiosity Does Not Kill the Cat

        The most essential tool in life is learning. Whether we learn through experience or observance, we tend to gradually progress in ways that are conducive to our own independence. Inquisitiveness provides us with a greater understanding of the world and betterment of ourselves as individuals. Setting goals and assimilating as much as you can from this life before your expiration date arrives seems, to me, imperative. Life without curiosity is analogous to a hollow glass for which it is impossible to discern whether it’s half-empty or half-full. The greatest thinkers in our history have had multiple “Eureka” moments as a result of the simple process of being unrelenting in discovering what they wanted to know. Whether you’re a bookish bibliophile or a multifaceted polymath, curiosity is the impetus for your cerebral advancement. This insatiable passion for information doesn’t kill you; it merely uplifts you and expands all the vacant areas within your brain.

        The origins of the phrase “Curiosity killed the cat” stem from ambiguous sources in the early 1900s. It essentially means that, the more you inquire about something, the higher the chance you will place yourself into a dangerous situation. Of course, that may be true for snooping feral cats and fainthearted people in horror movies; but, in an objective sense, curiosity delivers a multitude of learning opportunities that ultimately engender success and self-gratification. Thoughtfulness develops in children at a young age, which is why they are so meddlesome. In order to encourage their curiosity, we must let children explore the unknown in a healthy, investigative manner. Choosing to be rigid in your thinking will not develop your intellectual abilities; eagerly questioning the world is the panacea for a benighted mind. Constantly embracing new things and practicing new crafts can be beneficial for not only the brain, but also for the all-around health and well-being of your body.

        Becoming an ignorant Scrooge who is so dogmatic about what you believe or stand for leads you to a mental impasse. In today’s society, ignorance is not bliss, mainly because all of the available information we’ve ever gleaned is readily accessible for anyone to delve into. The Internet has provided many avenues of exploration that are free to examine. You literally have to choose to be unintelligent, nowadays. Not learning is a choice rather than the unattainable luxury that it once was a mere 50 years ago. The advent of the technology age has put everyone on an even playing field.

        The best analogy I can provide for the argument in favor of curiosity I have just presented is this: Imagine two athletes who are similar in talent. One is naturally more gifted than the other just from hitting the genetic Lotto, but the other, who is devoid of such natural attributes, has a stronger knack for training and improvement. The latter person, who augments his skill via desire to become greater, is no different from the person who is intellectually handicapped, compared to his peers, who wants to gain a stronger understanding of what’s going on in his or her world. That said, being immersed in curiosity gives you a head start over your peers because you won’t settle, in your ambitious, overzealous hunger for higher learning, for mediocrity. Going the extra mile can be stimulating—it motivates people to stretch their potential thinking ability and to exhibit innovation in the way that Steve Jobs or Isaac Newton would have.

       In every area of life, we can see that the most prominent people never take a day off and never lose sight of how short our lives really are. This realization elicits an appetite for wonder and awe; to find interest in things that are valuable and pertinent to your life will lead you to absolutely enjoy your existence. Relishing all that life has to offer and ascertaining how things work, why things grow, why we get stressed, why we feel pain, and how we evolved can all induce a sudden feeling of satisfaction. Just look at the stars: you’ll suddenly be overwhelmed with questions; and that, my friend, is the beginning of your journey to enlightenment.


The Male-Female Dichotomy

People have theorized endlessly during the last century in an effort to figure out the ever-expanding interaction between men and women. This enigma, which seems to be an extreme complexity, isn’t as inconspicuous as psychologists claim it to be. Every year, relationships founder on the rocks, with more divorces and newfangled disputes arising from contempt, jealousy, stupidity, envy, malice, and plain old obstinacy. Moreover, in contemporary society, social media has been the fierce victor in this division and separation of ancient traditions. Granted, religion being a key player in marriage—has almost gone by the wayside, mainly because most of our religious values seem not to permeate through our civilization as staunchly as they once used to. Our current zeitgeist isn’t measuring up to religious doctrines anymore as society exponentially advances cerebrally and technologically. Males and females ultimately have disparate goals from their adolescence and young adulthood; thus, behavioral troubles that were previously hidden from reality may come to fruition.

Men: Are full of brawn and whimsicality; pretty much wear their intentions on their sleeves. From gazing at women in the gym to relentlessly trying to preen themselves to beguiling the nearest comely female, males are usually easy to figure out. All you have to do is look at the history of our species; what happened then usually illuminates in today’s civilization. From a biological standpoint, many male traits are innately exhibited from years of hard-pressed evolution and natural selection. Whatever appealed to women most effectively stuck around with us; that which did not slowly sloughed off into the abyss. However, men don’t have the burden of childbearing, so they can concentrate on hunting and gathering, whereas women have to painstakingly care for their soon-to-be offspring. It isn’t hard to recognize—watch people at any bar, restaurant, or college campus and you’ll see that males act, for the most part, astoundingly less mature and more unbecomingly than any neighboring women. Of course, most males mature physically faster than females, but conversely, women mature mentally quicker, plainly due to the fact that they face more responsibilities, whether cosmetically or internally: it’s incumbent upon them to be independent in order to elevate their rank in society.

The dominance hierarchy, which is ever-present in both matriarchal and patriarchal societies, acts as the backbone for sexual reproduction and success. But, unbeknownst to most Americans, we seem to turn a blind eye to our evolutionary upbringing. As we, as humans, dutifully take heed of the obvious dissension between the genes and characteristics that we possess, we will automatically lessen the quarrels and raise our awareness of our proclivities. Women always bear the brunt of the emotional avalanche because they’re inclined to envision a deeper, long-lasting relationship. Not only does culture instill this emotional pressure, women are prone, hormonally, to express their “femininity.” Males, on the other hand, usually repress these feelings because of the cultural stigma of being looked upon as soft, rather than as a masculine Hercules. This absence of emotion that men seemingly exude can be a hindrance, though. Showing compassion, empathy, courtship, and consideration is apropos to childrearing. In the long run, we all want to procreate children by being perfect exemplars of right-mindedness.

The general consensus, by and large, is that researchers can’t seem to grasp the conundrum of how men and women operate on dissimilar cognitive bandwidths. However, studies indicate that women and men are merely hard-wired differently. Using brain-imaging techniques, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently discovered that certain tasks are differently well suited for each sex. The brain’s architectural structure is tremendously intricate and various faculties work better with males than females and vice versa. According to researchers, “Men are more likely better at learning and performing a single task at hand, like cycling or navigating directions, whereas women have superior memory and social cognition skills, making them more equipped for multitasking and creating solutions that work for a group.” This completely substantiates the precarious thought processes that make us more apt to argue. Nevertheless, many of those who are mentally labile find themselves adapting to each other’s foibles. In my estimation, adjusting to your partner is the most pragmatic solution for maintaining a healthy and love-filled rapport.

As time goes on, humans will continue to bicker about trivial shortcomings without being mindful of most of the unfortunate predispositions we all inherit. By simply becoming cognizant of how all us are genetically developed and psychologically molded (nature vs. nurture), all of the arguments and problems will—lo and behold—disappear. With the emergence of neuroscience, I’m sanguine that most people will have to adhere to most of the precepts that apply to our sex. It’s time we unfetter ourselves from our insular attitudes and look towards science as the most informative tool for humanity. Also, marriage, these days, seems wildly counterproductive and forced with all of the consequent divorces. We can eliminate these break-ups with an increase in consciousness. We inhabit this planet for merely a couple of seconds in the eyes of the universe’s perspective. Therefore, take time to learn about yourself and the one you love—you may truly need it in the long run.