A LA RUEDA DE LA MEMORIA

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A.I. and Robots

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Cut from Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2014)

Imagine a world where everyone owns a robotic butler, an automatic car or an intelligent house. This future scenario here depicted seems to get closer every day, a life defined by the omnipresence of mechanization and autonomous intelligent machines. However, it has become necessary to evaluate this phenomenon closely.

To begin with, an ideal situation is depicted: making all the workforce artificial will liberate plenty of time for humans. This is the world where leisure is what people are occupied in, finally able to entirely dedicate ourselves to personal, familiar and social welfare -all of this progress thanks to the dramatic increase of productivity and production and the derived growth of general wealth.

However, this view is optimistic and superficial. Humans having that amount of free time can only be explained by the absence of work, which means one thing: massive unemployment. The fact that robots work more efficiently than anyone means that we are no longer necessary while at the same time completely dependent on the owner of the machines. What is more, if AI develops enough, it will make the owner dispensable. In this case, our entire existence will be determined by an extremely advanced computer.

In light of the above, it is not hard to think about a future where humans are enslaved by machines (a very common topic in Sci-Fi novels) and it is therefore crucial to design any autonomous device as carefully as possible.

Alberto A.

 

Outer space exploration and colonization

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“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, “I, Robot”, “The Foundation Trilogy”, “The Martian”, “2001: A Space Odyssey” -these are just some of the many novels in which humans have conquered space and colonized other planets. For sci-fi writers it seems obvious that sooner or later, in one way or another, humans will start a space colonization mission and, as time passes by, they seem to be right. But what could the consequences of these missions be?

At first glance the positive aspects seem obvious: new materials and minerals would be at our reach. This means cheaper ways of production and new items available to purchase, which could start to shape a change in our lives. As a consequence, many companies would be interested in exploiting new planets, and they would start developing new space programs and, most importantly, jobs. Migration would as well solve our overpopulation problem. With a new, better life in the horizon who would reject moving to Mars?

However it could turn out in a way which could degenerate our lives. The opportunity of acquiring new materials could be interpreted by companies as a way to increment their income, being tempted to offer jobs on conditions similar to those of a slave and dividing society once again into the upper and lower classes, as happened during the industrial revolution.

Something else to take into account is the military consequences of space colonization. Driven by economic and political benefits any nation could start adapting its army to a space war, the limits of the Outer Space Treaty would become arguable and we would no longer be safe from a missile attack sent from outer space.

In the end it all comes down to one point: will we be able to cooperate to get the largest benefit or will we let our differences divide us? We, as humans, have a lot to win with these programs if they are applied correctly, so it’s our responsibility and in our best interests to demand the respect we deserve to those in power.

Javier S.

Let’s save humankind

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The Earth is dying. Year after year, the human population increases and our resources decrease just as fast. On top of that, CO2 emissions add to global warming. Currently, some people are trying to stop this, but it may already be too late. The solution? Outer space exploration and colonization.

Many with traditional ideologies might oppose this idea due to the difficulty of maintaining habits from their respective cultures. At the same time, it is also possible that we might experience the dangers of outer space, which can happen with the collision of debris into spacecrafts, or a miscalculation of the orbits. Another negative consequence of leaving Earth could be the necessity of creating a new set of political arrangements, which might be ambiguous and cause conflicts between multiple countries.

On the other hand, the positive effects of outer space exploration completely eclipse the mentioned downsides. These includes the potential of solving the issue of overpopulation as well as the possibility of exploiting  new resources. These options could also be assisted by the amount of research, which can at the same time accelerate the pace of evolution. And also, who knows whether or not we´ll find extraterrestrial beings?

Therefore, the most logical solution is to leave Earth in order to assure our wellbeing, because in the end, it´s all about the survival of the fittest. Why shouldn´t we use the resources we have left?

Jordi L.

The advantages of multilingual programs

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English is pretty much the default language nowadays, everywhere we go. It is taught in almost every school in the world, and a requirement in most job application processes. It should be taken for granted that everyone has a proficient level, and yet this isn’t the case, especially in Spain. Our educational system is heavily focused on college admissions, instead of the many opportunities students will miss in the future due to the fact that they didn’t learn proper English in the past.

Research shows that people who are enrolled in multilingual programs, or that are fluent in more than one language, are three times more efficient in problem-solving and dealing with complex tasks. This, combined with the many benefits of speaking multiple languages, such as communication, is big enough a reason to prioritize bilingual programs.

But one thing should be kept in mind: this kind of educational programs should be efficient. It’s not enough to have two or three one-hour-long sessions a week -the modern language and the new one should be at the same level and the same amount of time should be dedicated to each.

In summary, the key to prepare students with high language levels is to develop modern, innovative programs that enhance students’ abilities not only at a classroom level, but in all aspects of life.

Elena A.

Colloquium on Utopia and Dystopia

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Scene from 1984 (Michael Anderson, 1956), based on George Orwell’s homonymous novel

Novels that portray dystopian realities are some of the most popular works of fiction, with newcomers such as “The Hunger Games” or the “Divergent” series, and even timeless legends such as George Orwell’s “1984” or Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. However, how much longer will it be until these novels cease being fiction and turn into reality?

Obviously, Orwell’s predictions of the world in “1984” thankfully didn’t happen. That said, very much like in his magnum opus, we in the 21st century are in a constant state of war, be it for its commercial value or to keep citizens brainwashed. We wage war for its benefits.

The second point I would like to make is how desensitized our society has become towards violence. It isn’t strange to see gruesome images of violence in newspapers, on the lunchtime news reports or on the internet.

Thirdly, speaking of news, it has basically become gossip. We are distanced from real, important events and issues with foolish, mindless entertainment, such as in “Fahrenheit 451” or “Brave New World”, where the saying “ignorance is bliss”, really come to life.

Yes, we still have our freedoms and our constitutions in most developed countries. But, for how long? How long until we are run like mindless slaves? I think these dystopian fantasies are closer to being our reality than we’d like to think.

Francisco S.

Where do you live? No, I wasn’t asking the exact place, I pretended to make you think of the kind of society in which you are living. Is it perfect? Of course not. Utopia is just a hypothetical term used to describe a place where everything goes as well as it could, but that is just an idealized world, an impossible objective.

The reality is that humans are dissatisfied by nature. We always try to get our objectives, and when we get them we establish new, harder ones. This means we act according to our instinct in some way. In a utopian world, everyone would be happy, and no one would have more power than others, because that’d mean inequality. However, humans as we are, everyone would have new objectives to reach, and their effort to grow would provoke an unequal society again.

Besides, if everyone was equal, some people would take advantage of their strength to get the power, creating a kind of tyrannical or totalitarian government, very far from utopia.

We could say, as a summary, that utopia is impossible to get not only because we are far from that perfect objective, but also because of human nature.

Pepe G.

2048, the near future

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Cut from Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017). Overview of the city

It’s 2048. You get out of your fully electric Honda Ion and plug it into a charging station at the edge of the sidewalk. Walking into your apartment complex, your automated clerk/receptionist gives you a package and, from the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of a holographic screen with the news: crime is down by 70% since the last four years. It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?  Well, if we play our cards right, in 30 years we may have much, much more than this.

With the current advances we are making, completely green cities are already in existence. It means it is only a matter of time, maybe a decade or two, before everything is powered by new, renewable and green energy. On top of that, electric cars will probably dominate the roads and maybe even the skies. Mixed with the amount of research, development and innovation going into technology, robotic assistants, limbs and other technologies will also be ready in a not-so-distant future.

But technology isn’t the only thing that matters. Yes, we will probably cure cancer in thirty years, but what about the tumors that plague our society and politics? I feel that in a few decades, a new generation will be in power. A generation that only believes in going forward in any possible way. In thirty years, with luck and hard work, we could solve issues such as poverty, world hunger, racism, sexism and corruption, ensuring a clean, diverse and safe society. We could develop a fair voting system, ensure fair legislations and maybe politicians will learn to compromise so as to keep everything moving.

This sounds like a fantasy, too good to be true. The fact is it’s not. It’s perfectly plausible. However, if we don’t play our cards right, if we let corruption, hatred and war gnaw on our system, we might be in a completely opposite scenario: one where the human race has been decimated by its own kind and where the few survivors won’t survive the nuclear fallout.

Francisco S.