28 July 2009

On 401Ks and A.I.

So, I stumbled upon this article last week while I was sitting at my desk at my work. The gist, if you're too lazy to read it, is that this group, the Blue Brain Project based in Switzerland is working on creating a fully functional replica of the human brain, starting with the neocortex. This part of the mammal's brain is involved in sensory perception, generating motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and language (in humans) (and sometimes cats, I think). They believe that in 10 years, they'll have managed to create a real live/ fake robot human brain. A whole brain, fully functional, and not human.

My desk is conveniently situated right next to the conference room at work, and so, as I read this article, I was also listening in on the meeting happening next door. A 401K meeting. The general understanding of 401Ks that I got from overhearing this meeting was this: "Sure, you could lose a lot of money! But really, just don't think about it as your money. Just pretend it doesn't exist, and it won't bother you if you lose it!" Of course, I did miss the powerpoint slideshow, which I'm sure made it sound like a better idea. A better idea than creating an artificial brain, anyway!

I mean, obviously, these people weren't paying attention to the message of Terminator. Or pretty much any sci-fi story ever. It's sad, because I think they might be trying to help. They say they're doing it for people who have brain damage, and that's a really nice idea, but ,seriously? You really think you can create artificial brains and they'll just sit there and be brains, and attach to other people's heads and make them functional again, and everything will be peachy? Wake up. This is the beginning of the apocalypse, right here. You think a brain, one capable of conscious thought, and understanding linguistic nuances, and probably the concept of fear, and self preservation, is going to be happy being sent into burning houses to rescue humans for long? I don't. I really don't. Just look at Krang! Obviously, he's evil.

Anyway, the conclusion I came to about my 401k, after reading this news is this: I don't have a 401K, and I don't feel guilty about it. I'm 24, and I already feel like I'm too responsible for my age. The last thing I need is to be prepared for my retirement. Besides, bearing in mind this new knowledge of creepy artificial brain makers, Dr. Robot, robots fighting fires, and vaccuming rooms, it's pretty clear to me that the apocalyptic war between man and machine is going to break out before I collect on my 401k.

Looking for new plans...

Julia




21 July 2009

oops...

So, apparently I haven't had anything worth saying for just over 2 months. I'm sure you all (all 2 of you) held your breath and waited for me to return to my blogspot. But, I've been busy with work, and going to Vietnam. So, please excuse the hiatus. I'm back now, you can exhale.

And, I have things to say! Important things! Vital things. Things you NEED to know.

I suppose the best way to get through this is to make a list.

1) I just returned from Vietnam last Thursday. I've spent the past 6 days trying not to wake up at 4 in the morning, and trying to convince myself that that actually just happened. The two weeks I spent in South East Asia were so surreal and often absurd, it's hard to believe that I was really there, and not just in an awesome coma. But, I realized something:

Comas aren't awesome. I went Vietnam (and Cambodia).

2) The flight to Vietnam took approximately 18 hours. We flew 11 hours from San Francisco to Tokyo, transferred after an hour in the airport, and then flew 6 hours from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh City. All total including customs, we spent pretty much a whole day in the air/airports. The only redeeming factor about that whole day was this:

All of the toilets (for women anyway) at the Tokyo airport had bidets. And on those bidets (I unfortunately missed this in the photo) was a special button for unpleasant odor removal. Bidets and air fresheners. Japanese people know whats up.

3) There are roughly 18,000 Vietnamese Dong in 1 American Dollar. It took us a little bit to understand how the money translated. At first, we only knew that it was called Dong, and somehow, we'd have to find a way to not laugh when we put our dong in other people's hands, or put a little dong in our pockets. Turns out, a million dong will take you pretty far.

So, in sum:

1) comas aren't awesome
2) Japanese people know what's up
3) it takes a lot of dong to make a dollar.

I have more to say about this. Much more. But currently, I'm in high demand so you'll just have to wait.