All posts by ltflake

Smart robots, driverless cars work – but they bring ethical issues too

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/oct/20/artificial-intelligence-impact-lives

Who knew that robotics had grown this much?  I must be out of the loop here because I knew that AI was advancing tremendously but I had no idea there were people talking about the possibility of us becoming “bio-hybrid.”  I can’t imagine adding a brain chip to download email or replacing my organs with prosthetic ones.  I do however find it fascinating that if and when we are able to develop prosthetic organs that fully function in a human body that there will no longer be the need for donor lists and the lifespan of some will be extended without the fear of not getting a kidney transplant, or something similar.

It is scary to think that if we would become this bio-hybrid type of human that someone could hack into our bodies from anywhere in the world.

I do enjoy the idea of driverless cars and how they can help us in so many ways.  I like how this article mentions that it can make the elderly more independent.  My grandmother refused to ever drive.  My grandfather tried to teach her once many years ago and she ended up in a ditch.  From that point on she never drove again.  Well my grandfather passed away in 1986, so from then until she passed away in 2010 she had to rely on family and friends to take her to the grocery store, to doctor’s appointments, etc…  I cannot help but wonder what her life would have been like if her lifespan was shifted forward and she could have experienced a car like this.

Having a driverless car for me would reduce my stress levels.  Last night alone on my way home from work I had two people try to pull out in front of me.  If we end up in a world full of driverless cars who are smart enough to know their surroundings, these types of situations will be eliminated.  It does concern me though of what could malfunction and then like the issue this article poses, who is responsible?  It can’t be the driver, because there is no driver.  So then who?  The manufacturer?  I would say so, but who knows where this concept will end up…  Maybe insurance will change and they will cover it.  It will be interesting to watch this field grow and and how it will transform our lives.

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Because who is perfect?

This video is amazing in that it shows that the mannequins on display at all of these stores we frequent are not what defines perfection.  Who is truly perfect?  I don’t know anyone that is the true meaning of perfection.  It warms my heart to watch this video and brought tears to my eyes so I had to share.  The smile that you see on the girl’s face as she looks at her mannequin in the store window says it all.

Wasted Energy: The Environmental Consequences of Holiday Lighting

To continue with my concern for how wasteful we are through the holiday another frustrating issue to me is how many people leave so many Christmas lights on continuously.  There is no reason for them to stay on all night and there’s definitely no reason for outdoor lights to stay on all day long either!

This article explains that although Christmas lights are nice to look at they consume “more than six terawatt-hours per year” which is “the equivalent of the total electricity consumption of 500,000 homes in one month.”  This energy consumption is detrimental to our planet’s resources and this issue must be addressed.  “The energy used in seasonal lighting results in the wasteful burning of coal, oil, and natural gas.  The unwanted byproducts of this can include smoke, acid rain, and carbon dioxide emissions.”

So many people ignore the signs of global warming but the typical incandescent Christmas bulbs, along with all of this energy we are wasting by leaving holiday lights on for hundreds of hours throughout the season, are increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.  “15,500 hot air balloons could be filled with the carbon dioxide produced by our holiday lighting.”

In this article we learn that you can send your old, inefficient lights to HolidayLEDs.com and they will recycle the individual components and provide you with a 25% coupon off of any LED lights they sell!!  If you do put up holiday lights, LED Christmas lights only use 10% of the energy needed for the old fashioned incandescent bulbs.  This is what is on my tree – and very minimally – and I love them.  You can also buy timers for your outdoor lights so if you go to bed and forget to unplug them, you don’t have to worry about how much energy you have just wasted!

Wasted Energy: The Environmental Consequences of Holiday Lighting
http://www.cereplast.com/wasted-energy-the-environmental-consequences-of-holiday-lighting/

My LED-lit Christmas Tree 2013
My LED-lit Christmas Tree 2013

Christmas Waste and the Holiday Tree Killer

In an article by EcoFriendly Planet the subject of how wasteful we are during the holiday season is addressed.  They tell us that “More household waste is produced between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time of the year – about 6 million tons of added waste nationwide.”  This is something that I don’t believe many people pay attention to and it saddens me that even though we all get into the spirit of giving, we also end up in the spirit of throwing “tons” away as well.  

They go on to give some facts about this waste.  The first one is approximately fifty million trees are purchased for decoration and around thirty million of those end up in landfills.  One acre of these Christmas trees produces enough daily oxygen for eighteen people.  I looked into how many trees can be grown in one acre of land and according to Strathmeyer Forests, Inc., it can range from 1200-1700 depending on the type and size of the tree.  This means that we are cutting down like FOURTY THOUSAND acres of trees EACH YEAR just to decorate them and throw them away.

Then there’s the issue of how many trees we cut down to make holiday greeting cards, wrapping paper, gift bags, and the list keeps going…  Two-Hundred THOUSAND more trees are cut down for holiday cards alone and according to Treehugger.com‘s article there’s around Thirty MILLION more for just wrapping paper.

So to sum up only this one part of the article in question, we are producing tons of waste and killing millions of trees each year in the spirit of giving.

The article continues with telling us how much food is wasted and of all the hazardous waste that is also produced from Christmas gifts.

With all of this in mind this holiday season, I hope that some of you pay attention to how much we are destroying our planet and put the tips they provide in this article on how to reduce some of this waste as well as reduce the amount of trees that are destroyed each year.

Facts about Christmas waste & how to reduce it
http://1st-ecofriendlyplanet.com/12/christmas-waste/