For the Sake of Convenience

Recently, something very dear to me suffered a severe injury. Aside from prompting frequent mental debates about the frailty of human existence and other subjects of that ilk, I find myself frustrated more than anything else. This frustration bothers me. Yes that may seem a bit redundant at first, but my problem is not so much the actual frustration, more so the fact that this event cause me to get frustrated so easily. Which is frustrating. I suppose I should start at the beginning…

About a week ago my friends and I were watching a wonderfully brilliant show starring world renowned actor Zach Levi (if you don’t know what show he is in, look it up, and then thank me later). At the very end of the show, I pull out my phone to text my sister. However, for some reason my phone remains dark. I press the home but again. Nothing. I’ll admit, I got a bit panicky. This was a relatively new phone and I rely on it heavily for college life. After a few minutes of button mashing, I realize I can use the button on the top of my phone to start my phone back up. After a few searches on the internet, my friend discovered how to indirectly fix my home button problem by adding a virtual button to the screen at all times.

800px-IPhone_4_top_and_sides

Now sure, this may seem like a trivial little problem. My home button no longer works, big deal. Yet, it’s incredibly frustrating to reflexively use the home button, have nothing happen, realize it doesn’t work anymore, and press the onscreen button. This finally brings me to what has been bugging me.

People these days hate the inconvenient. We are so used to instantaneous gratification that when something forces us out of our routine, we blow a gasket. BOOM. What does this mean for us as a society? If we continue to grow and become more and more reliant on technology and it’s convenience, what will separate us from the machines that regulate our lives?

 

*the unmodified image is from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:IPhone_4_top_and_sides.JPG

Bree Newsome Visits Lehigh

“Wake” – short film by Bree Newsome

A huge benefit of attending a university like Lehigh is having access to amazing speakers and presenters that different committees bring onto campus. On Thursday, January 28, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee welcomed Ms. Bree Newsome to campus to discuss her short film “Wake” and have a live discussion on activism afterwards led by Professor Darius Omar Williams and student Madeleine Centrella ’18. She is best known for scaling the flagpole in front of the capitol building and tearing down the confederate flag in Charleston, South Carolina. Through her life so far she has done amazing things, and surely will continue to do those until freedom turns from an ideal into a reality.

Bree began by discussing how much of her family history of enslavement in Charleston influenced both her film and her activism. Through her film it is clear that Bree is also an artist, and is using her art to bring to light test issues. She knows that it is a powerful medium, and the duty of an artist to reflect the times. She labeled art as a “response”, and how in the aftermath of tragedies brought on by racism art will begin to arise, as an interface with and a response to these experiences. Bree also said that if you have the talent, resources, and awareness relating to an issue, it is almost a duty to do something about it.

When asked about the influence of social media versus on the ground activism, she said that it should be “both/and” instead of one or the other, and recognized the importance of each for awareness. Her work and activism is about tearing down an ideology or hatred, and in the hope that much good will come of it. She continues to do work to push for change, knowing that “a dream deferred is not a plan of action”, and that if liberation is a real goal, then more serious discussions need to occur.

 

Hello World

“Hello, this is your computer speaking. I would just like to let you know that today I think I’m going to take a day off. I’m just not feeling it today- ya’know? It’s been a really stressful week. Sometimes we all just need to take a step back and clear our heads. Don’t worry though, when you boot me up tomorrow morning I should be good as new. Today however, my lady friend and I are going on a romantic stroll through cyberspace. What’s that? Oh! Yes, I forgot to mention, I met this amazing woman the other day (she has an i9 Processor, can you believe it?!) and as soon as I saw her, I knew we were compatible. Anyway, I hope you have a fantastic day, see you tomorrow morning!”

—–

I’ll be honest, I was hoping to make some fantastic computer puns in that paragraph, but alas, it was not to be. That being said, I think the point still hits home. Over the break, I was reading through a book recommended to me by Professor Best. In the first chapter the author makes reference to a robot lovingly named PR-2 (I know, incredibly creative name). It’s most interesting feature, in my opinion, is that it has the ability to seek out outlets brimming with electricity and can plug itself in. Aside from being all sorts of terrified due to self sustaining robots being a Hollywood favorite, I found myself fascinated by this idea. The book goes on to further describe how PR-2 deals with an interesting situation. In the event that a person blocks PR-2’s access to a power source, it will go and seek out another somewhere else in the facility. Now sure, this may seem like a basic bit of programming. That being said, you can’t tell me that when faced with a huge line of people, you have never left and driven off to find another Red Robin.

SAMSUNG
This unmodified picture is from  https://commons.wikimedia.org/      wiki/File:PR2_robot_reads_the_Mythical_Man-Month.jpg

Why is this? Because we want our food, and we want it now. There we have it folks, the key word. Want. PR-2 arguably has the ability to “want” something. Going forward, what does this mean for technology? What does this mean for humans?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking in a Winter…

January 24th, 2016.

You walk outside only to be instantly greeted by the cold sting of winter on your face. You pull your hat further down over your ears and start to walk down the steps deeper into a world comprised completely of white. Every which way you look, tiny specks of white fill your vision as they cascade downwards towards the ground. Step by step you continue on your journey enjoying the puff of white smoke that dances around your face as you exhale.

There are other people, you nod your head curtly as you pass them. They too are tightly bundled and look strangely misplaced in this fragile and delicate landscape. Without warning the world around you starts to spin, your feet suddenly flail out in front of you wildly. In an instant you are on your back, cocooned in a gentle layer of snow, staring at the brilliantly gray sky.

January 25th, 2016

It’s a Monday, and lo and behold, you don’t wake up to the sound of an alarm clock. You grumpily roll over and look at the clock beside your bed. 10:37. Much to early to wake up still. You pull your bed sheets over your head and gingerly drift back to sleep again.

Snow picture

Yes, what I just described are the exact events leading up to my snow-day this previous Monday. I may have embellished slightly, but ultimately the core intent remains intact. It was perfect. My first day back at Lehigh is a snow-day, who would have thunk it?

 

 

 

 

 

Romance in the Digital Age

I can’t believe I’m writing a blog about romance. Hmm… this is going to be a new experience for me. However, I am going to stick with it, as this is bugging me.

When I logged into my account today I stumbled across a blog about speed-dating in Shanghai (Here’s the link if you are interested: https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/22973954/879483979). As I was reading through it I found myself becoming more and more surprised by the culture surrounding these relationships. I can’t help but wonder how much of the “intensity” highlighted in this story is due to the technological world we live in.

Technology has this strange way of making relationships easier to form, but harder to maintain. On the one hand, we can find people all across the globe at the swipe of a finger. All it takes is the effort to open up a phone app. Yet, phones also create problems in the sense that constant communication can have its downsides. Relationships will sprout up in a surge of passion, yet dwindle away as that fire fades. Sure, this has been true for most generations, to an extent, yet this seems more common these days.

It’s interesting how people create whole new persona’s online. In many cases, the online personality is a complete 180′ from that real person. This can lead to a bunch of problems- do we love the Facebook profile, or the person?

Texting on a Friday
Seen in central London.

Unmodified picture from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/ 16666635654

Writing of Tomorrow

The other day I was having a conversation with one of my friends. Someway or another we found ourselves discussing the book she was working her way through, and she mentioned that she was reading about how computers were beginning to write journal articles.

I found myself unnerved by this idea. Sure, the concept of having computers being able to take data and assemble well written articles is a huge step for A.I. (artificial intelligence). However, once again we find ourselves in a situation where computers and automation are beginning to threaten human jobs. The replacement of humans in the workforce is always a dangerous prospect. Pretty soon we all may find ourselves “out of the job”. So what do we do? Do we stop trying to advance technology?

At the moment, these computerized journalists are only working on articles that otherwise wouldn’t be written. The vast majority of the “big league” writing still falls into the arms of flesh and blood people. Yet, how many times in the past has something started small, but eventually grew to uncontrollable proportions… *cough-cough* -smartphones- *cough-splutter-cough*. Do we have the capacity to say “no” to something that could potentially put us all out of the job in the long run? I guess we will find out.

Wouldn’t it be funny if I actually took the day off today and just let my computer back-up write for me today? Haha… yeah…

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*Unmodified picture from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gleonhard/ 12875607484

 

Fear and Technology

If you’ve ever sat in a room with Professor Best, you should be aware of the fact that he is going to ask questions that will frustrate you until you reach the brink of insanity. I think it was the first class/seminar that he asked us “What is the purpose of technology?”. At first glance, we all jump to conclusion that it exists to make our lives easier. But does it really? Technology has this nasty habit of making our lives simpler, and yet infinitely more complex. Are we really more connected to others through our phones? Do we really need a GPS built into our car? Why does this…17745488062_69de997c3b_o

… even exist?

The sad reality is that the purpose of technology isn’t as simple as many people would think. In my opinion I’ve always felt that technology is a byproduct of human fear. Technology is a way for humans to cope with that which scares us. It can be used to physically remove that which scares us (ie: lightbulbs to shine through darkness) or sometimes fear can be dealt with simply by having technology at our disposal. Feeling a bit worried? Distract yourself with your phone.

Sure, there are probably some holes in that theory, but I’m fully willing to listen to new IDEAS. Really bad joke. Maybe that’s the reason for technology; so I can expose y’all to really bad jokes.

This unmodified picture is from :

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dachis/ 17745488062