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Tomorrow Comes Today

Samuel,Raining,Lerra 2016-07-27 15:53

Artifitial Intelligence: Threat Or Saviour 


Current tech and limitations 


Many people see AI as a far-off technology confined to sci-fi. In that, they would be wrong, as AI is already a part of the daily lives of many people across the world, we just don’t realise it yet. Much of the current AI technology is based off the Cloud, examples of this are Siri (for your iPhones) and Cortana (for Windows) which listen to your requests and questions and process them almost immediately, giving you the information you asked for or carrying out a simple task. There is also the lesser-known Watson, which also relies on the Cloud to gain insights from a large amount of data through machine learning and natural language processing. However it is not just the cloud where you can experience AI in action, probably the most well-known use of AI has been in winning the game of Go, where Google’s AlphaGo beat world champion Lee Se-dol in a 4-1 series. Furthermore the testing on the roads of self-driving cars is underway, which will remind some of you of iRobot’s great portrayal of them. 


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However there are still many challenges and limitation to the state of current AI. Among these is their lack of the common sense that humans accrue and apply to everyday life. Then there is their ability to discern images and the world around them; they have a hard time identifying the correct verb from a picture for example. Then there is their processing of languages; natural language processing in an accurate way where they can sufficiently understand complex concepts and express themselves is still very flawed. Finally and most obviously, they are unable to simulate the human brain, since this is still a part of our bodies we don’t completely understand ourselves. 


Possible future tech 


Many of the things you’ve seen in the movies will be possible with advances in AI, it is a fast expanding field currently receiving a huge amount of investment, but what are we going to be able to see in our lifetime? One thing we will surely see is space exploration; probes will be able to drive themselves through space and collect information automatically that will help further our understanding of the great unknown. Another benefit that is within our reach is in the realm of medical science, where AI coupled with big data on everyone’s medical history and genomes will be able to tailor specialised treatment for every individual patient coming through the hospital door, improving the standard of medical care significantly. Even the little things in life will be affected, with plans for autonomous lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners in the house, freeing up more leisure time. 


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Despite these benefits, there are downsides to AI progress too. As AI progress more and more, jobs will be taken over by robots. This does not only apply to industry, but also medicine and law for example, where thousands of law and medical cases can be skimmed through by an AI, picking out the best information and drastically reducing the amount of manpower needed. Humans will need to adapt. Michael Littman, a computer scientist at Brown University, says we will need to figure out how we value people themselves to deal with the unemployment that is inevitable with progress in AI and robotics. 


Danger of AItakeover 


Much of contemporary media from blockbuster films to books have dealt with the threat of an AI takeover of human society, however as technology becomes more advance, many experts are starting to fear of one day there being a true AI takeover, that we will create an intelligent robotic race that will destroy us all. Dr. Stuart Armstrong of Oxford University fears that advance in AI will lead to us becoming dependant on them, the future will be AI run, and that one day they will find us redundant. That maybe one day AI will all be linked together through AGI (artificial general intelligence) and will be able to simultaneously take over every facet of our lives, from running our economy to mundane tasks such driving us to work. Indeed many of the world’s brightest minds in the public eye such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking have expressed their concern of an AI takeover and have suggested initiatives to be taken right now to prevent that from happening. These men along with multiple AI researchers have signed the Future of Life Institute’s open letter outlining the possibilities of AI both good and bad, including a takeover. 


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Despite the concerns, it still seems a far off possibility; after all, as Andrew Ng, Chief Scientist at Baidu Research in Silicon Valley, said, "Worrying about AI turning evil is like worrying about overpopulation on Mars". The real threat is from the shorter-term effects on the economy and people’s livelihoods. Mass unemployment is a definite possibility as people from all walks of life are slowly replaced with more efficient and cheaper AI, especially if governmental policy does not keep up with the realities of such a change. Some countries are toying with the idea of rolling out Universal Basic Income for all their citizens, effectively eliminating the need to work should jobs become increasingly scarce 


Virtual Reality: Building Up The Vision 


Major corporations such as Sony, Google, Samsung, Panasonic, and Apple all launched VR-related wearable devices, and 2017 looks to be the tipping point when VR goes from something you read about in the news to something you use at home. 


Head display devices are the VR industry's most common and well-known product. There are a number of VR products on the market, most of the displays products are head display devices such as Oculus, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR occupies half of the market. 


At the same time, the VR industry begins to develop in different ways such as: projection, AR, body tracking equipments and so on. 


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Its technical limitations are common to most new technologies; data computing power and data transfer speed. These two problems are a major obstacle to developing more advanced VR technology.


Augmented reality (AR) is often also mentioned in the same breath as the VR industry. The relationship between the two can be described as iPhone and APP Store. When VR offers you the possibility to touch the virtual reality, then you enter this virtual world; you must use AR to operate in a virtual state.


VR technology can be widely applied in many fields like urban planning, industrial simulation, and geological disasters. VR achieves a cross-platform virtual display and greatly revolutionized the technology exists now particularly in the manufacturing, healthcare, and the television and film industry. 


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On April 14th this year, Royal London Hospital in the UK teamed up with a VR and 360° video production technology company Mativision to live-stream an operation on a patient with colon cancer. This was the first ever event of such a nature, and the scene was so real that viewers could feel like they were inside the operating room. With advances in technology, it’s believed that VR technology can play better in other specialized areas in addition to medicine.


VR integrates into daily life


With so many implications, what can we expect from a VR-integrated lifestyle?


Film producers are seeking to take the viewing experience to a new level by VR technology. Viewers can easily enter another space and experience the latest virtual reality narratives through a head-mounted device. With the popularity of VR equipment in the future, you can be fully immersed in a movie or event by wearing a VR headset at home.


Gaming is a natural fit for VR. Realism is the key factor that many gamers pay most attention to, so to give players that totally immersive reality is a dream come true. Players only need to wear VR equipment to experience realistic gaming in real space: specialized configuring vests and helmets can be combined with the virtual device to motion capture visual images and get instant feedback on your every move. 


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Virtual world based on the real situation, which, if you go straight through the device discovery will hit the wall, it is really hit the wall. 4D effects can enhance the immersive experience, for example, when you open a cooling tube and discharged steam tunnel long spider silk, strong winds and heavy rain, as well as fighter aircraft and racing simulation sense of dizziness seats. Rather than the sit-down activity of today, gaming with VR can become an active pursuit.


VR can be used to create learning situations and simulation training. On the one hand, it enriches the teaching content and teaching methods, while on the other hand it also increases the image and interest of learning content. It significantly reduces the cost and risk of training courses, potentially lowering the barrier of entry for many careers.


Crisis in the VRera


Many functions needed in our lives can be achieved by VR. However, the impact has both advantages and disadvantages.


These days there are a lot of exaggerated promotions about VR and people are saying that it would be like the rise of smartphones; everyone will have a VR headset in the near future. But like the concerns raised about the immersive and addictive worlds of online gaming, what are the consequences of such widespread VR? Will users lose touch, or interest, in the real world after they’ve experienced the intoxicating allure of a virtual one that have removed the limits of our mundane reality? 


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Pundits worry that users will lose the will to extricate themselves from their VR worlds, or that the prevalence of VR technology will change our traditional industries beyond recognition. While both sides of the aisle have raised valid points, only time will tell how VR will change the way we live in the future.


Future of Food 


Molecular Gastronomy: APrecise Delicacy 


If you dine out a lot, you’ll find it that eating is about more than just filling your belly or satisfying the palate. Though the dazzling diversity of cuisines has already offered us masses of choices, we still crave for something novel. How about wasabi air on top of seared tuna, edible river stone that is actually potatoes, or ‘caviar’ with balsamic vinegar in side the membrane? Sound bizarre? Welcome to the world of molecular gastronomy. 


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In order to present food in a new and imaginative ways, the modern professional kitchen have an arsenal of tools. Chefs strictly control the temperature and pressure by sous vide cooking (cooking in heat-stable, vacuumized pouches at precise temperatures) so that meat can be evenly cooked to the perfect tenderness. If the -196℃ liquid nitrogen is poured onto pomegranate kernels, you’ll get flash-frozen iced fruit granules. Or, some natural extracts would be mixed with the distilled water so a membrane almost imperceptible would be formed on the outside bathing the dressings or puree. All molecular techniques originated from the theories of physics, chemistry, and biology. It is this amalgamation with culinary that brought molecular gastronomy up and into our sight. 


Adventure of An ‘Egg’ Into the Molecular Gastronomic World 


The soft boiled egg

Once you’ve watched Master Chef, you’d be impressed by the soft boiled egg challenge. The inner temperature of the egg is said to be precisely no more than 65℃ to present a perfect running egg since from 65℃ the yolk starts to harden. 


Egg yolk Cooked Inside Out with Truffle

Lay the soaked yolk on the utensil, drain a little more than half of the yolk out of the yolk’s membrane using a syringe and replace it with Xanthan Gum thickened hot truffle broth. The whole dish looks like a flawless glossy agate. 


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Fried egg on toast dessert

Looks like a real ordinary egg eh? However, the egg white is actually meringue and the yolk, fine and smooth mango puree coated with a thin membrane with the use of sodium alginate. All laid on a toasted brioche, and served with custard, cream and fresh fruit. 


Poached egg

Poached eggs are frequently seen in the most popular brunch sets these days, cooked in the simmering swirling water to let inertia do the work. The egg white will coagulate around the yolk perfectly. A chef would suggest you adding a splash of white wine vinegar to help the egg white reach the stability status. 


GMO


It’s not just the cooking process that’s changing every year, but also the very DNA of the food itself. 

If the subject of killing pests and weeds were raised years ago, it would be commonly agreed that using pesticide or weed killer was once the most direct and efficient way to deal with it. But in this decade, genetic engineering plays its role in the agricultural operations. What is GMO? GMO is defined as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally, through mating or natural recombination. For instance, a gene from a naturally occurring bacteria is inserted into the DNA of corn, the modified corn then produces a toxin killing pests. The result of this genetical modification could raise production, slow down soil erosion, or even make organisms drought or waterlogging resisting and more fast-growing. 


Though the first genetically engineered crop was developed last century in Britain, the United States has led their food industry into the GMO age prior to any others. 


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In America, highest of all, over 90% of corn, soy, and sugar beets are GMO. USDA and FDA has also approved the commercial production of other GMO products like potatoes, canola, apples, squash, papayas, etc. Recent news came out that salmon and pigs can also be and has been genetically engineered. All these rapid changes started to get people concerned; could eating GMOs possibly harm our health in the long run? Could it give rise to tumors? Will cross-pollination lead to genetic drift? Will the mass production of GMOs affect the eco-balance? Sadly, none of these can be definitively answered by any authoritative research so far. 


What is fortunate, is that people from different countries have demanded to know what they’re eating, and there’s been great progress. Laws came out to demand entrepreneurs to label GMOs products on the packages. In the USA, consumers can recognize non- GMO products by checking the ‘NON-GMO project verified’ seals. 


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In China, only cotton and papaya has been allowed to be cultivated on a large scale. In addition, products processed with any imported GE materials should also be labeled as required. Though you may still feel concerned by the future impact, at least we have the choice to opt-out. 


Organic Food


When it comes to food safety, people prefer to be safe than sorry. Such an attitude has led to the rise of organic foods. But the truth is, many of us know little about ‘organic’ besides the impression that it is somehow safer.


Chinese consumers generally see food without pesticide residues as organic food. However, a certified organic food production and process monitoring is far more complicated than we might have thought. According to national regulations, only those that are raised under uncontaminated environment (soil, air, water) without using any sewage sludge-based fertilizers, petroleum-based fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, or bio-engineered genes could be officially approved organic. To take the toxic chemicals out of yielding, farmers kill the pests via bio-control or physical methods like releasing pest predators or installing insect-nets and they control weeds by manual weeding or grazing. 


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The consensus is, as long as less pesticides are taken, the greater chances there are for our kids and us to stay healthy for a longer time. 


Still, standards of the organic food production are varied in different countries and authorities. In some countries, an organic seal not only stands for safer food, but also means a great deal to people who care about environmental problems, since organic farming adopts eco-friendly practices and support sustainable development of all. Growing organic crops reduces pollution, conserves water, reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility, and uses less energy. The organic fields functioning will go into a virtuous circle or may even form a small ecosystem, reducing pressure commercial production exerts on the environment. 


Despite the advantages that have been listed for organic farming, critics also wish to remind people that never have there been any real perfection in one method or solution. No matter whether GMO or organic, the future of food is close enough for us to look into. 



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