public class APLANG { public Blog 12

Wow my Java is bad, for anyone who better understands the syntax please feel free to rip me on my now semi-forgotten coding ability.

Anyway, onto the blog.

I really, really hated this presentation. And by hate, I mean I really loved the depth of the presentation and the topic itself, but really hated rediscovering the potentially horrifying topic of AI’s and the moral implications that would come from such an action. The first day was somewhat positive in nature, learning about our progression in the development of intelligence, before leaving us with a foreboding idea of the next two days to come. The progression of a general intelligence to that of a super intelligence is one progression that many would hope to avoid entirely, and if it were to be approached, one that I believe should be managed and guarded with more safety precautions and overall implications than those of nuclear weapons. In other words, kinda serious stuff when compared to the last couple uber units.

But wait, there’s more!

Not to mention the possibility that developing a sentient AI could lead to the creation of an entity so powerful that it could be considered a theoretical god, but there are also the moral implications of what rights an AI with a conscience deserves, and how we are to interact with and control (for as long as we can) such a being. And as our final day revealed, the theoretical creation of a sentient being is one with great ethical weight, forcing us to draw a line at where an AI can be considered a human or a being of equal intellectual and mental capacity, and eventually, we have to question what makes us human in the first place. This is utterly fascinating, and also completely infuriating in terms of being able to think of a plausible boundary or definition to place.

As for the readings, well, first I somewhat have to send out my feelings to the tech group at the realization that half the class didn’t even look at the readings. When I sheepishly raised my hand to say that I had read, what I meant was that I did the readings last Thursday, without knowing what we were supposed to read, so I just read the conversations and about two thirds of the chapter instead, and as a result, I had no idea which author talked about what points and I was terrified that this disconnect in knowledge would embarrass me in the discussions. But that’s not the point of this paragraph, so I digress. I think this was one of my favorite chapters, if not my favorite chapter overall in all the readings. I found the Eiseley and Aldiss (I know we didn’t have to read other authors but I couldn’t resist) readings the greatest out of all of them for their focus on the emotional and internal mental aspects of humanity, and generally just living organisms (birds in Eiseley’s case) overall. The rest of the readings were also solid to enjoyable in my experience, so all round a good chapter.

The synthesis prompt however… What happened? I thought I opened another group’s folder on this one. I’m glad that they shifted the focus the way they did, but self driving cars? It’s certainly an important topic, but arguably it just seems more limited in every way than AI (and it’s still not a bad topic.) I’m not sure what to say here otherwise.

The only connection that I could possibly make would be that of one of the benefits of a globally interactive society, which are massive developments in technology and the sciences (see China, US, parts of Europe, etc). However, in terms of the focus itself on AI, I couldn’t draw any realistic connections whatsoever. Maybe there could be something to be said for analyzing an AI programmed like a human and how it might interact politically with other AIs under the same programming? I feel like I’m really stretching here.

Eleven Elegant Entries Upon the Complexities of Human Language:

So, how about the first day of that presentation huh? I’ve never had my ears graced by such beautiful and kind words, and never in the frequency or depth that we delved into said words with. I’m confident in saying that I could bring my grandparents into the room and they would love such a classy discussion. Nothing of vulgar meaning was discussed… In all seriousness, I found that first day uncomfortable but also very enlightening, or as enlightened as one can feel while also feeling like scum for writing and thinking the way I did for thirty minutes. The second day felt like it had potential, but it was inconsistent in relying on specific topics to trigger a response from the audience. As for the final discussion, I’m still a bit irked about it to now. The whole time we were discussing speakers of other languages and how we still communicate through family, I was sitting there and I felt like my experience was so close yet so far from qualifying as a contribution to the discussion. To briefly clarify, the grandparents on my mom’s side of the family have lived with us for the past 4 years, and have visited us frequently for years before that. Their primary language is Spanish, and they would spent hours on the phone talking to friends in Colombia. But, just as fluent as they are in Spanish, they are also in English, and thus, with only a few words being exchanged in Spanish between us over time, I’ve never really had the language barrier divide that some other people have had (most notably, Alex and Tara), which is a bit saddening to me. In reality, I really did find this discussion fascinating and I was disappointed to not contribute anything, but I felt like the experience I did have wouldn’t have really counted for much considering the much more meaningful experiences that everyone else was listing.

*breathes out* That was an ugly wall o’ text right there, I’ll try to make things a little more concise.

I found the readings from this chapter much more interesting than those from the Enviro chapter, specifically Mother Tongue and Bilingualism in America. They provide a great contrast in both style and argument,  and immensely help the reader to understand the span of issues and benefits to the presence and understanding of the many different languages in America. Hayakawa’s piece, Bilingualism in America, was particularly interesting to me due to how my initial opinion and that of the argument of the writing’s (which basically states that encouraging native tongues and cultures in school systems is leading to a larger educational deficiency that is a disservice to foreign or immigrant students) contrasted heavily. I come from a family that is almost completely bilingual on one side and monolingual on the other, and I have always (maybe not personally) put a priority on learning at least one alternative language due to the mental developments that it can lead to as well as the benefits that will arise from being better able to communicate internationally. But after reading this piece, I can better understand the perspective of some who might oppose such heavy encouragement of other languages. I didn’t really find the conversations that interesting, and while they all made relatively valid arguments on the nuisances of language (outside of the Starbucks piece, which was worthless in my opinion.)

As for the synthesis prompt, I feel like it corresponds well to the overall subject of language as well as most of the presentation. Except for one thing. If the whole purpose of the language project was to analyze the importance of language in our international society (and focus it on America), then why even bother performing the first day’s activities? Trust me, they were entertaining and definitely did a great job at getting people’s attention, and they fit for a language based project overall, but the activity just seemed like it was out of place after the fact, and more time could have been spent focusing on the synthesis prompt instead.

I had a bit of a harder time connecting the Language group to our own, but I do believe that the second day mentioned something to bridge the gap. When the second day moved towards discussing social media and how this platform for massive communication was influencing our language, I believe there was a brief point made about politics and how Trump was able to amass such support from Twitter and social media through a simplified form of language designed to empower and engage a very specific base of voters. I’d already observed this several months ago, but it was good to see that this point, this topic of social media and the associated language that comes with it being mentioned within the presentation.

10 Blogs towards feeling helpless at the inevitable future of our planet…

So on a more serious note, this presentation brought me to a level of helplessness and dread unlike anything the other groups have brought me to yet (although politics and gender aren’t very dreadful subjects in the present, at least in my opinion.) It’s a ticking time bomb, and when I try to look for the truth on how bad everything really is, I can’t find a definitive answer. Everywhere I look, I see optimists who say we can change things and save our future, and others who say we already passed the point of no return, and our planet is on a track towards more and more hostile conditions. One of the things that really struck me came from Abby, in how she repeatedly talked about ways how not only the government can do things to try and improve our future, but also ourselves. And I look at some of these suggestions, like dropping meat from my diet, and cutting back on energy and water consumption, and it puts me at a major moral dilemma, where I consider the weight of my own actions to the world, vs the comfort and benefits that I derive from these actions on a daily basis. It’s definitely a conflicting debate to say the least.

Regardless of my ramblings, I felt that the Enviro group’s presentation was very effective in nature (I swear that wasn’t on purpose). I loved (hated) the second day especially, as for once in my life, I had to legitimately defend fracking. I thought that this exercise, of defending the viewpoint you opposed most helped greatly in my understanding of the issue as a whole, even if it didn’t change my opinion completely. The discussion was nice, although I wished we heard more people participate (felt like all that the discussion revolved around was Abby’s points, which were good points, but still.) I felt like the power point part of the presentation could have been a little better in terms of expansion outwards from the slides, but I’m probably just nitpicking.

As for the readings, I didn’t really feel much outside of reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. While I found the other passages effective in conveying their point (which usually just revolved around analyzing the numerical and observable effects of our failure to preserve the environment, or just new ways to achieve such preservation), they still seemed to lact impact and emotion, regardless of how important the information and perspectives they contained. Silent Spring on the other hand held more of my attention, for its narrative structure and hypothetical structure, alongside the strong factual arguments made to directly counter opposing viewpoints.

There isn’t a direct overlap with our group considering the way how we interpreted politics, but, in political terms, the Environmental group has many talking points, the biggest of those points being the presence of the EPA and how much the government should dictate how we influence the environmental aspects of the world over the economic interests of our country. Which is literally their synthesis prompt. I thought that their synthesis prompt made sense from the viewpoint of being able to focus their project, but I would have rather seen an expansion towards, or at least a mention of other countries and what they could do over just the US, even if we are one of the biggest influences on the planet considering our material and energy consumption. So while their prompt works, and is a solid prompt in its own right, I would have preferred a little bit more expansion. But yet again, this is just my nit-picking.

Nine More Blogs to add to Donald’s Wall…

Even though our presentation didn’t actually have to do with this form of politics much at all.

Hey that rhymed!

So, to say the least, I’m conflicted on our presentation. On one hand, it was (at least in my opinion) a solid to great presentation on information and appearance alone, as well as the discussion that followed. Our group was relatively coordinated, our PowerPoint looked pretty, our audio and visual sources were unique and not completely boring, and we had more than enough content to fill our time (in fact we could have ran over the time for all three days with the video, the additional scenarios, and the discussion, which could have (and should have) gone on for at least an hour longer. Plus, you seemed to like it, so that’s gotta mean something right?

On the other hand, I felt terrible about my participation in the presentation. The presentation is probably better off for it (which I’ll talk about in a sec), but it isn’t the way it was supposed to be planned. Compared to Liam and Grace, my speaking time was about 10-15% overall, which is basically like I’m being carried. Originally I was supposed to do about 6 slides in the presentation, but that changed last minute to shift more slides to Grace. Considering how good of a presenter that Grace is, it was most likely for the best of the presentation as a whole, but it left me with the feeling that I really didn’t contribute much to our project. It didn’t help that I only contributed once to the group discussion and that the scenario that I proposed on the second day of presentation was a scenario lacking full explanation, which led to a lot of repetitive and simple answers. The feedback we are getting as a group suggests that we did our jobs really well and that most people enjoyed our work, so I should probably just get over this, but it still doesn’t feel right feeling like the weak link of the group for the final three days.


No not really.

So, now that we are two out of three days into the gender group’s presentation, I thought now would be a good time to start the blog. This will probably be a two day blog, as we haven’t gotten to arguably the best part of the presentation, which is the upcoming discussion. So fingers crossed that we get a good discussion going and not just everyone leaning awkwardly in one direction or another.

As for the first two days of the presentation, well, all I can say is that before I saw what this unit contained, I thought it would be a topic focused around the various gender associations that people are starting to reveal, and thus would be more of a modern unit with references to mistreatment or misunderstandings from the past, rather than a unit focused specifically around women and those same experiences. In hindsight, this focus makes complete sense, but I found it a little surprising at the time, most likely due to my lack of knowledge in this subject overall.

But I must say that I am enjoying this unit so far. By enjoy, I mean that I’m enjoying the fact that we are being forced to recognize some of the major discrepancies within our society today, while also trying to come to a better understanding of other genders, whose lives have been shaped very differently for logically, very little to no reason at all. I’ve been raised with the idea to always treat everybody with respect, regardless of race, gender, religion, or any other classification that someone may fall under. Seeing how much the rest of the world doesn’t seem to hold these same ideas by reflection of their activities or representatives is always a bit of a disappointing shock to me, but at least by highlighting these issues, we stand a chance of making things better for the future.

Now, for the part of the blog that comes after our group is done our whole presentation. Looking back, I really wish that the Gender Discussion went on longer. Really, I would say the exact same thing for our group as well considering we seemed to be really getting on a roll, but I truly felt after the final day of the Gender unit like it should have went on a little bit longer. Unfortunately, I felt like I didn’t contribute that much to the discussion, but I do remember wanting to add a bit of a devil’s advocate opinion at one point near the end of the discussion. And that’s all I can really remember up to this point, because after that presentation finished, we had to finish up the details on our group’s presentation. So please don’t kill me on the late work, you told us in the hallway meeting that we could have extra time over the weekend to wrap up Group One’s work.