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A blog to showcase my creative and technical work. Talk about what I like to talk about.


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Artificial Intelligence & Society

It has been a while since I did one of these posts. But recently due to the influx of news on artificial intelligence (AI), it got me thinking about how it may affect society. Before we start here, let it be known that I’m not a ‘Luddite’, in fact I have quite a bit of educational background in Computer Science and Database Administration. However the point of the concerns I raise here are to get you the readers thinking and share any solutions you may have found or come up with. Let’s start.

What is an AI?

For those who don’t know what an AI really is, here is a very basic run down. AI is essentially a program built on mathematical algorithms that are meant to emulate human thinking and to a lesser degree, creativity. When we say emulate human thinking, we mean that it should be able to absorb the knowledge that is fed to it, in the case of AI, it can be stored in a database ready for quick access by the AI itself. Meaning as long as storage is available, it can absorb limitless information, at least far more than a human could in one second. Creativity is something that is possible with AIs, but not to the extent that the imagination humans possess due to the current limitations of the mathematical algorithms and hardware. So all in all, true AI is meant to be like a human brain without the limitations of one.

Research into this has been conducted for years now, but it was never brought to the attention of the general public as much as it has been now. In recent years, AI research has advanced significantly. While those looking to the future with glee and technological interest will probably love it, there are concerns that are no doubt raised by this. Below I will outline and discuss some of these concerns.

Society and jobs

The state of jobs around the world varies based on country, economic and societal structure. The health of the economy also contributes. Some places are doing great, some not so good. The places not doing so well are some times unfortunately left alone by their own government in the hopes things will improve naturally. Sadly this is never the case, the economy doesn’t naturally “fix” itself. People must help do that by stimulating it through spending, earning, buying goods and drive supply and demand.

For that to happen, jobs must be plentiful. Where does AI come into this? AI has the potential of replacing humans in several roles currently in place. This is something that may not happen for at least another 20, 30 or even 50 years, but the potential is there.

Let’s take present world for example. Remember all those jobs in factories within the automotive industry? Yeah robots have come and taken over things like car assembly. Before we would need people for that, but not anymore. These robots aren’t necessarily true AI as they are programmed to do one specific task, but the idea of automation coupled with AI should give you an idea of how powerful and destructive that can be if scripted robots are already able to do more than an average humans can.

Society is a fragile concept that is already shaking from terrorism, and the various imperfections plaguing it. Jobs are an essential component to keep the economy, and by effect society going. If jobs were to be taken over and automated by AI, imagine the type of effect that would have on the middle and poor class. The rich maybe able to ride the automation out without much worry, but not the middle and poor class.

Concerns with AI Job takeover

The thinking behind AI right now is that, any job that can be automated should be automated. Any job requiring tactical thinking over creative thinking. AI may have some very minor capabilities for creative thinking, they are just no where near the level of humans in that department as of now. So what does that mean?

Most minimum wage jobs are at risk of being replaced by AI. Any job that has repetitive tasks can be, and will most likely be replaced. Jobs like:

  • Retail store clerk (Sales associate, floor associate, cashier, etc.)
  • Waiters
  • Fast Food workers (that are below the managerial level)
  • Customer Service Representatives
  • Financial Advisors and Planners (Investment advisors may also be at risk in the future)
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Any position below a manager’s level and one that doesn’t require much face to face and creativity in customer service
  • and more…

Above I have named just a few jobs. All of them aren’t necessarily minimum wage, but for some of the jobs mentioned, there is already software that can do parts of it. Take accounting for example. Before Accountants had bookkeeping as part of their responsibilities, some places they still do. But now there is software out there like QuickBooks to help you do that. Accountants then can focus on the other aspects of the job while overseeing the software’s results.

Unlike humans, a machine never needs to rest, take breaks to eat, drink water, sleep, go on vacation, ask for a raise or anything of that sort. AI would essentially be the model employee putting humans at a great disadvantage for jobs at a high risk of automation.

Are you in a job you are worried about being automated? Find out here just how much of a risk your job is at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34066941

The link above is presented from 2015, so it’s quite old but still relevant. If anything, some of those values will most likely have increased by now.

We already see the effects of this in retail and fast food outside of the automotive industry. Let’s look at the larger grocery stores, they have both humans and self-checkout right now. But how long will the human element continue, it’s quite clear that the self-checkouts will take over in the future by slowly increasing their quantity over their human counterparts.

Another example would be McDonalds. They have introduced the self-order kiosks for a while now. This eliminates the need for so many cashiers as the kiosk can operate on less money, and would not need to rest. The only time they can be costly is perhaps when installing, and a major maintenance or a patch job is needed.

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There is even an AI robot serving drinks in the Robots Bar and Lounge in Ilmenau, eastern Germany!

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Check out this daily mail article for more information on Carl the Bartender Robot: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2379966/Carl-robot-bartender-pours-drinks-customers-German-bar.html

No, this does not mean that every bartender is going to be replaced. What this should tell you is of the potential in robots, AI and automation for these jobs. AI still has a long way to go however before they can get around to replacing bartenders due to the creativity involved in mixing various drinks all the while adding their own little touches to it.

But lets take a look at another job, teaching assistant. That job has many aspects to it, some are repetitive tasks, while others are more intellectual in nature. Well there is a professor who built an AI teaching assistant to help answer student questions using existing technology such as IBM Watson. You can read about it here: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-professor-built-an-ai-teaching-assistant-for-his-courses-and-it-could-shape-the-future-of-education-2017-3

There have even been tests into robots in an official educational setting. For example, there was one in which an AI powered robot was given the lead to teach a class of university students. We are not talking elementary kids, but adults in a university level education. That should say something about the technology, its abilities and the advances people are looking to make with it.

But the most prominent use of AI that I have come across is how some banks in Japan have already started switching over to as human free as possible. Keep in mind though that this is for roles that don’t require much creative thinking and are based around set tasks such as simple bank transactions, getting news on the latest developments in the financial world and banking product information as well as signing up for them. There has also been news of a Japanese Insurance firm replacing some workers with AI. That can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/05/japanese-company-replaces-office-workers-artificial-intelligence-ai-fukoku-mutual-life-insurance

Now, where do concerns come into this exactly?

Below I have listed out some in point format for easier reading:

  • If AI has the potential to replace humans, even to the level of CEO as Alibaba’s founder puts it, then what use will there be for humans in the job world? Only creative endeavors may remain, unless AIs develop even beyond human limitations.
  • If minimum wage jobs are looking to be completely automated and replaced with robots, what will students looking for part time work to help fuel and control their expenses during studying do? Most decent jobs nowdays require a Bachelor’s even for entry level.
  • The technological aspect of the market will grow with AI, but not everyone is suited to tech jobs. What will happen to those left out of a job?
  • Is society prepared for such a huge change? We are talking about something like another industrial era here.
  • If people are displaced from jobs with little to no sign of being able to once again enter the workforce, what will the government do about them? How will it make sure that there is no growing tensions between the various classes (rich, middle, poor)?
  • If AI has the potential to be as smart as it is said to be, then there may come a day where humans are put out of work completely. People talk about the convenience factor more often than not, but what convenience is there if it can’t be afforded?
  • Will societies and governments react too late to these changes?

Those are some of my concerns. Now I’m not saying I have the answer to all of the questions posed above, but I do have some ideas to get started. Elon Musk has always been a believer of a set universal income, in which you get money from the government to help maintain a certain standard of living. If you earn anything else, that would be extra income then. In a sense it could be like welfare, but it maybe charged at the same tax level as normal income. This, or something similar is necessary if we are to look into a future where AIs do all the work and humans just kick back.

Another alternative is that while keeping and maintaining most career roles we have today, we supplement them with AI aid. So humans no longer have to engage in the repetitive tasks of their jobs, but instead can focus more on the intellectual, creative and innovative aspects of it. Of course if your jobs is all about repetition, then you are pretty much screwed. However there have been initiatives to fight back the automation and keep people employed. So there is that to consider.

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, how much are you willing to work with an AI?

Are you going to be happy consuming food produced by robotic arms all coded to create the same flavors?

Personally I’m not comfortable with the idea of eating the food produced down to specifications by robots. There is something special about eating food produced by human hands as everyone makes it differently. I can work with AI if it is there to supplement the job, but if it is there to do the job, things can become more difficult. I personally find something disturbing about talking to an AI robot day in and day out. Imagine going to the bank and interacting with an AI to get financial advice. Just imagine talking to that monitor that is coded to respond based on logic and facts. The bit about it being very logical and factual may sound great as there is little room for error in judgement that way, but then what about people whose circumstances are special and require a more emotionally understanding individual?

That connection between human social interaction can never be fully replicated by robots or AI.

Let’s wrap this up

Honestly, what I have said here isn’t even scratching the surface of the issues that are posed with the advent of AI and their potential implementation on a mass level. Here is an interesting article concerning Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking and their rather cautious outlook for AI. It maybe a good read for you: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2907069/Don-t-let-AI-jobs-kill-Stephen-Hawking-Elon-Musk-sign-open-letter-warning-robot-uprising.html

Does this mean that we should all fear, and hate AI and robots? No, they can be very beneficial if implemented properly to work alongside humans. But if they are implemented with the intention of improving, and at one point in the future putting most if not all of humans out of a job, then we damn well better be prepared for that day. Because if we aren’t, humans may have another revolution, or a war on their hands within their own societies.

What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence and its potential effects for the future on society?

Thanks for reading!

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A Lucid Bus Journey

Got a little something different for a post today. Hope you enjoy reading! 🙂

Recently I had a lucid dream. In that dream I was at my most peaceful that I have been in days, weeks and perhaps even months. I will start by describing the dream in as much detail as I can.

The dream started with me being at a university, surrounded by my classmates asking questions of our professors, doing our work or chatting to one another. That particular bit of the dream is somewhat cloudy for me as that is not where the lucidness comes into play. This dream you see, it went from being a normal to a lucid dream.

It was when I was on a bus to go home, it was then the dream became a lucid dream. This bus essentially went across the city directly from the university to designated spots throughout the streets. I remember riding the bus with my head resting against the cool glass window. I was looking outside where I was met with a vibrant vermilion colored sky. Occasionally the sun would reveal itself from behind a few clouds to shine a direct glare my way, but it didn’t bother me in the slightest. Instead it made me smile from the warmth my skin felt.

It was during these happy feelings that the dream truly felt lucid. During this whole bus journey, I would look out the window and appreciate the different scenery that would be placed before my eyes. My smile would grow wider just sitting in that seat, relaxing, and enjoying the simplicity of the moment. At the same time I knew this was a dream because a music that I have come to fondly like and somewhat attributed to such moments was playing in the background like it would in a movie.

The musical soundtrack is called: Goodbye by Nurko

Check it out, it is definitely a great song to listen to even if you are not into this type of music necessarily.

With “Goodbye” playing in the back and me sitting there and enjoying the moments, I felt at peace. This peace was something that somehow bled through to my waking reality. The inner peace this one lucid dream provided was profound for me. Lucid dreams never have had this sort of effect on me before to this extent. In my waking reality, I was at peace with my situation even if it is not the best on certain aspects of life right now.

My emotions seemed to be completely calmed and I felt no turbulence inside whatsoever. Although I imagine to others I would look indifferent. This effect has carried over for a few days after that until the effect wore off I suppose.

But at the heart of it all I found myself asking what the lucid dream meant for me as an individual? Is there something specific the dream was trying to tell me?

If the dream was meant to take the bus and symbolize it for something, there would have been no point in making it a lucid dream. The symbolism for the bus would come across just as well. But instead feelings of happiness and peace washed me over. Maybe this was my own sub-conscious telling me to take it easy with life, or it could have been telling me to go on a journey. What type of journey it would be I don’t know.

It could be a physical journey, or a metaphorical one focused on inner change. It could also perhaps be a combination of the two, changing my surroundings to better affect me as an individual. A journey not just in the city, but maybe somewhere rural, just sitting on the bus and watching the land, the sky and taking pleasure in those simple sights.

All I know is that through that dream, I felt more alive than I did ever before without even having the need to show emotions. My insides felt rejuvenated, and no regrets, just peace. The experience in itself was truly enlightening.

Lucid dreams and nightmares have a profound power to affect us, but I have come to learn that these affect us for a good reason perhaps. These dreams are the concoctions of our own mind, our own imagination grinding away to paint these detailed and immersive worlds for us to feel, breathe and transverse through in sort of a “meta-reality”. After all our dreams can show us things we would have never imagined to have seen and help us believe in them at the same time.

I don’t know the exact meaning behind this particular lucid dream, but I am glad to have taken that ride on the bus under the warmth sun rays in a calm cityscape.

~ Mohit


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The Souls Charm

hype-meme-0a79c29f1f3235b7e1d08393bbbe03c2There was once a time where I wondered why there was so much hype and rave about Dark Souls, and the Souls series as a whole. I played it once I got the opportunity to, and then the charm took me over. The Souls charm won me by a landslide in comparison to any other game I have played to date.

The way the game is designed at its core seems to adhere to some of the most basic game design principles. It doesn’t go for any fancy gimmicks, instead the series focuses on solid combat, strategic/critical thinking and exploration. Perhaps due to the level of simplicity it possesses for a new player, but at the same time the complexities needed for veteran players was what won me over.

dxg-dark-soulsI first started with Dark Souls, then got Dark Souls II and finally had the opportunity to get Demon’s Souls recently. Playing a test run of Demon’s Souls to make sure it worked fine on my PS3, I was hit with instant nostalgia for Dark Souls. Keep in mind, I haven’t finished any of the Souls game yet. I’m more than halfway through for Dark Souls, but decided to put it down for a while as I felt I was getting a little burnt out on it. No fun in playing a game that feels like it is wearing you out.

I was in love with the series the moment I picked up the controller in Dark Souls. So many good co-op sessions, and epic boss fights even if they do follow a pattern that with enough attention and patience can become predictable. Not to mention the complexity of the world we transverse through, all of it culminates to a brilliant game and game design.

425-3-1370142006Now the Souls series would be nowhere near as good without it’s death mechanics. Every Souls game has seemed to changed the penalties for death somewhat in the past. But that feeling of dying remains the same in any game. There is a constant fear of loss when you first start out. You know that the more souls you carry, more is at stake. In some games, it limits your health lower than 100% as well. That fear of death can either paralyze you, or create a sense of adventure to keep on pushing forward.

But once you overcome that fear, so many options will open up to you in how you choose to play. You can be a lot more daring, or still play passively.

Let’s also not forget the character evolution in these games. You can start out as one particular class, but evolve the character into something else as you progress through the games. This level of freedom allows room for great experimentation.

darksoul_facebook_miniDark Souls III is going to release only on the current gen hardware (PS4, Xbox One & PC), sadly I won’t get the opportunity to play it. At least not right now, but when I do, I’ll savor every moment like I do with the rest. These games alongside Bloodborne are a necessary existence in the gaming industry, it shows other devs that there are still gamers out there who yearn to be challenged both mentally and skill wise when playing their games.

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Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed that post! Stick around for more! 🙂

~ Mohit


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Are Reaction Channels the Bane of YouTube?

Are reaction channels the bane of YouTube?

Reaction channels are in my opinion quite a weird trend. They were extremely popular last year, some are still this year. But of course the fiasco with the Fine Bros. and how much Reaction channels have been called out, such popularity maybe seeing a decline. But they do seem to amount up a fair size of subscribers.

Now it has always been quite a curious thing to me, why would people want to watch other people reacting videos? But then I got the answer within context to these “YouTubers” specifically. Majority of the people are not watching the reaction, they’re watching the videos those people are reacting to. Basically in place of the original, they watch the content stolen by the reactors. Yes, I know I used the world stolen. Quite a heavy accusation I’m sure some of you may be thinking right now.

Let’s look at the effort that goes into making a reaction video:

  • Get a video to react to, or in most cases, steal it.
  • Record computer screen with a camera recording you live.
  • Play the video and react to it, or not as the case is with some reactors.
  • Put the original video in as a small box inside the reactor’s live recorded video. If they care about fair use at all, they may bother doing some edits to change things up a bit.
  • Post the video and watch them YouTube views and money roll on in.

Let’s look at the effort that goes into making an animated video:

  • Come up with an idea/concept.
  • Script and storyboard it out.
  • Draw out your characters, and any other concept art you need.
  • Start animating (a long and tedious process requiring great patience). Depending on the length and fluidity of the animation, as well as manpower, this can take anywhere from a couple of days to months.
  • Record and or download any sounds required.
  • Edit the animation together. Add in the sounds and do any other editing required.
  • Post up the video and hardly watch those views rise (unless you’re already big, in which case watch the views come in).

Compare the two, you can clearly see a lot more effort goes into making an animated video than a reaction video. Yet reaction videos get more views and more money paid out to the reactors. They get paid money to react to things that are created by other people. In most cases, reaction channels (Fine Bros. excluded) have taken the content of others without their expressed permission. This is downright content plagiarism/stealing.

These YouTubers make money off of someone else’s hard work. Would you like it if I did that to you? Probably not unless you just didn’t care about the potential loss in revenue. And believe me, there will be a loss as the viewer has already watched the video. What point is there in going over to the original content creator’s video? The only time you would want to do that is if you wanted to check out other videos by them.

From a publicity standpoint, it is a 50/50 bet. Some people may go over there, some may just be happy with watching that video one time and moving on. But then there is also that loss in view numbers that could have helped the original content creators. Let’s not forget, as I mentioned before, these channels don’t seem to abide by Fair Use as much as they believe they do.

In my previous post about fair use, one of the conditions was that the content has to be transformative. Reaction videos that don’t contain many verbal reaction aside from just facial changes don’t count under fair use. Again, people are not there to just watch your face, they’re watching the much flashier video playing in the corner.

Next point is, they use the original video in its entirety. So not only is the majority of their content stolen and not transformative, but also unedited. There really is a simple solution to this, edit the video to keep only the best parts in. You’re not showing the whole video, and you’re still able to show off your best reactions for that particular video. This is a far better method that can be covered under fair use.

Also as I said before, majority of the time no permission is acquired. Before I said Fine Bros. are excluded from this because they tend to license the material they want their staff reacting to. Meaning, there is legal work taking place in the background. It isn’t a case of just pick, choose and hope for the best. No permission, taking the content and showing it off in its entirety. Not to mention making money off of it. Not only is that rude to the original content creator but also potentially dangerous to their livelihood.

So are reaction channels the bane of YouTube?

Yes. Plain and simple answer is, yes they are.

They are a trend, and like all trends they will have to die out at some point. But for now, lets just say they’re setting a very low bar for quality entertainment. Why people enjoy these videos who genuinely watch it for the reactions is beyond me. But I suppose if they’re having fun, then more power to them. Me, I’m happy sticking to something more substantial as my choice of entertainment.

Thanks for reading! Hope you stick around for my other posts.

~ Mohit

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Hello world!

Welcome to Dynames Productions!

This is the place where I do share my own creative & technical work which includes the following:

I hope to see you here again soon!

Mohit