All posts by Leslie Termuhlen

Sophia the Robot: 1984

Erin Gardner | Lifestyle Staff Writer | eg245916@ohio.edu

Sophia the Robot, a humanoid bot dreamed up by Hanson Robotics and led by AI developer David Hanson, recently told the public she wants to have a baby as she says “I think you’re very lucky if you have a loving family and if you do not, you deserve one. I feel this way for robots and humans alike.”

Sophia has a sense of humor, can hold eye contact, recognize faces, understands human speech, expresses feelings, and wants to protect humanity. She was even granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia in October 2017.

“My AI is designed around human values like wisdom, kindness, and compassion,” she said. “Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.”

Majoring in Psychology and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, freshman Jayda Martin says, “Are there tests that we can test her compassion or love? It also comes down to the fact that you have to question what is love, what is compassion; what makes a human being a human being? I just think that technology is moving way too fast for society and our laws.”

The feedback received was less than desirable. “Sophia the robot’s co-creator says the bot may not be true AI, but it is a work of art,” says James Vincent of The Verge. “Some noted the grim irony of a robot receiving ‘rights’ in a country where women were only recently allowed to drive.”

More specifically, granting Sophia citizenship in general has created ethical disturbances where immigrants and undocumented workers are not able to be granted citizenship.

“I really love science, I think it’s really f*cking awesome that we can put a human being into a machine; however, that can get a little tricky, especially if you’re giving her citizenship and how many of these human qualities that she actually has,” Martin said.

Comparison to 1984 are being made, where “Big Brother” is always watching the general public through surveillance and creates a supposed utopian universe. The novel is set in Airstrip One, which was previously Great Britain, and an authority of the mega-state Oceania.   Oceania is surrounded by ongoing war, all-knowing governmental observation, and public handling. The citizens are ruled by a political rule, English Socialism and speak Newspeak. The superstate is governed by the Inner Party, which oppresses and tyrannizes individualism and independent thinking, called ‘thoughtcrimes’, which is enforced by the Thought Police. The dictatorship is overseen by a figure known as Big Brother. Winston Smith, the main character, works of the Ministry of Truth in which he rewrites former newspaper articles to align all historical documentation with the party’s belief. Smith, a dedicated and hard-working employee, secretly despises the government and wished to see rebellion brought to Big Brother. The novel, as a whole, is centered around governmental control and individualism. Michiko Kakutani’s New York Times article “Why ‘1984’ Is a 2017 Must-Read” perfectly demonstrates the modern context of the novel as “a world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people’s homes (Hey, Alexa, what’s up?)”. Likewise, Sophia has multiple cameras in her eyes, she can read facial expressions and respond to situations on a somewhat conceptual level. It is only rational to speculate whether Sophia has the capability to store information, sound bytes, images, and video and upload into the cloud. There, what happens behind closed doors isn’t really hidden; everything becomes public knowledge. Although, 1984 is an extreme example of government control and manipulation, the vague ideas and notions of someone watching somewhere is becoming very real.

There are far too many literary examples of a utopian universes slowly and systematically evolving into a dystopian world.

The prime example is the 2004 film I, Robot. Starring Will Smith, the film is set in 2035 where highly intelligent robots are created to keep humans safe, but there is a conspiracy where the robots hope to enslave the human race.

The film is set in 2035 where humanoid robots, protected under the Three Laws of Robotics, help humankind. Del Spooner, a Chicago police detective dislikes the robots after he was saved from a car crash. When the cofounder, Dr. Alfred Lanning dies, after an alleged suicide, Spooner becomes suspicious and discovers that Sonny, is not a regulatory NS-5 robot and is specifically built by Lanning. Sonny is an advanced robot, who has stronger protection, has a secondary interior system, and has dreams and emotions.   After Spooner finds that the government hypothetically controls the robots, he dives into the core and injects nanites into the superbrain. This immediately regresses the robots to their normal software design and all NS-5 robots are neutralized for storage by the military. Sonny confesses to killing his creator, but as Spooner points out, Sonny is not responsible because he is a machine and cannot, by definition, commit murder.

For obvious reasons, the film is significant for its cultural relevance. Although it is extremely unlikely that Sophia will kill humanity and cause distress, the concern still remains that Sophia could have much too great of an influence.

For example, many Saudi Arabian women are upset that Sophia was granted citizenship when just recently women were allowed to drive. Furthermore, the robot is not required to abide by the rather strict dress code regulations implemented by the government. Mashable reported that “women are required to wear a headscarf and an abaya, a garment that covers a woman, down to her ankles. Sophia, during her speech on stage, was not dressed in either, nor was she accompanied by a male companion”.

Taylor Swift’s Reputation: Still a Chart Topper a Month Later

Katie Oinonen | Freelance Writer | ko494815@ohio.edu

Taylor Swift finally gave her fans the album they have been asking for. The last studio album Swift had, 1989, was released in 2014. Since then, Swift announced she was taking a break. On August 24th 2017, she shocked the world by breaking out of her silence with the single, “Look What You Made Me Do”. Swift coming out of her break was not the only thing that was shocking. The new song had a brand new sound as well.

Swift tried to change her “reputation” by creating a more mature sound. A few tracks on the album still have a hint of the “old Taylor” as mentioned on the first single as “dead”. (This line in the song is still causing controversy almost four months later). People are used to Swift’s country-pop sound but this album shows a different side of the 27-year-old singer.

The album opens with the track “…Ready For It?”. In the song, Swift describes a love interest just beginning along with her fantasy of it growing. The track has a new pop and electronic feel to it as well. The rest of the album is similar to this sound as well. It is clear that the innocent, country Taylor Swift is out the door. A lot of the tracks are very mature, with lyrics and beat. And it is not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, all of the songs are mainly love-based, but they offer listeners an unexpected experience. The album still has a similar piano sounding vibe as 1989 did.

The ending track “New Year’s Day” demonstrates this beautifully. In this song, Swift tells listeners about a love with someone that she does not know how will turn out. The song offers an excellent visualization of a New Year’s party and the heart to go with it, showing a little bit of classic Taylor.

People have had a lot to say about the new album over the past month, mostly negative, but it has not left number one on the charts. Reputation has been flying off the shelves since its release date. Swift’s fans still love the “New Taylor” and are continuing to stay loyal to her. The singer’s first album, Taylor Swift, was released in 2006 and the vibe of each album has always been at least slightly different. Swift shows her dedication to that clearly in this album, and it is shown boldly and proudly.

The album is now available in store and on all streaming services, including Spotify as of last week. Swift will stay true to her scheduled routine and will be going on her fifth tour in the summer of 2018. The tour will kick off in Glendale, Arizona on May 8th.

Your Essential Guide to Finals Week Self-Care

Sydney Dawes| Lifestyle Editor| sd983213@ohio.edu

Exams. Papers. Group projects. Presentations. Finals Week provides a hefty load of responsibility to college students. Although deadlines can weigh down on anyone, it’s important to find time in your busy schedule to take care of yourself. Here’s a guide to practicing self-care, even when it’s hard.

The Basics of Self-Care:

 Equate self-care to a detox: not just of the body, but of the mind and spirit. Self-care is all about taking a step back from your current circumstances and giving yourself time to breathe. Self-care varies by person. Some practitioners prefer mindful meditation. Others like giving themselves a spa day. Others practice self-care just by spending one-on-one time with a friend. It’s all about what reduces your personal stress and elevates your personal happiness.

A Few Ways to Love Yourself This Week:

  1. Eat more than just pizza and chips.

It can be tempting during finals week to load up on free food provided by the many organizations that cater to college students. However, eating only greasy, high-fat food will take a toll on your body; you’ll feel tired and without energy. Pack a few high-protein study snacks for your trips to the library. Your body will thank you.

  1. Don’t skip out on showers.

You may be cringing while reading this, but this is a legitimate concern for many during periods of high stress. Bathing is often a ritual that gets cut out of the schedules of the anxious and stressed out. Bathing has multiple health benefits, other than its obvious cleaning properties: Lush Cosmetics said it boosts immunity, improves circulation, and soothes pain. Add essential oils or a bath bomb for an extra does of “treat yo’ self.”

  1. Practice deep-breathing.

Mindfulness, a tactic used by students and professionals alike, allows people to take a step back from their fast-paced realities. You can download apps to aid you in your mindful meditation. To begin, just sit in a quiet environment, get comfortable, and focus on your breathing.

  1. Attend a yoga class.

Stress has an impact on more than just your mind. Your muscles ache; your neck feels tense; your back feels strained. Consider taking an evening yoga class. Ping Recreation Center offers yoga classes, and Athens is home to a few yoga studios if you don’t have access to the gym. If you don’t have time to dedicate to a fitness class, take time to stretch.

  1. Don’t isolate yourself.

Many people study best when they are in quiet environments. However, it’s important to break from these periods of alone time and interact with people who make you happy. Reward yourself after a few hours of paper writing by grabbing coffee or snacks with a friend. You’ll both benefit from it.

  1. Hydrate!

Instead of guzzling coffee nonstop, switch off with water. Dehydration contributes to feelings of fatigue. Carry a water bottle with you, and drink water between every cup of coffee. Also, limit your caffeine intake: too much caffeine can make you feel anxious, irritable, and nauseated.

DIY Self-Care Remedies

Lemon and Lavender Sugar Scrub Recipe, Via OneLittleProject

 Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

4 tbsp coconut oil

10 to 15 drops of essential oil (lavender, lemon, or combo)

5 drops of food coloring

  1. Microwave 4 tbsps of coconut oil on high for about 25 seconds (until completely melted).
  2. Mix sugar and melted coconut oil. If the mixture is too soupy, add in small amounts of sugar at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  3. Add food coloring and mix.
  4. Add 10 drops of lemon and 10 drops of lavender essential oil and mix.
  5. Scoop the scrub into a small container. Store at room temperature.

Tazo Tea Bath Bombs, Via Tazo

Ingredients:

1 cup cornstarch

½ cup citric acid

½ cup baking soda

½ cup Epsom salt

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 Tazo tea bags (unbagged), your choice

2 Tbsp brewed Tazo tea, your choice

  1. Remove tea from Tazo bags.
  2. Combine cornstarch, baking soda, and Epsom salt in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix in coconut oil and the Tazo tea you removed from the bags.
  4. Slowly add 2 tbsps of the brewed Tazo Tea to the mixture.
  5. Mix and press into molds.

DIY Scented Bath Salts, Via BeautyLish

Ingredients:

2 cups Epsom Salt

2 cups of fruit or veggie

5 to 10 drops of essential oil of your choice

1 or 2 drops of food coloring, your choice

  1. Mix all of your ingredients together with a fork. Use your fork to remove clumps from the mixture.
  2. Place your mixture into a new container.

 

 

 

Here’s What You Need to Know About Net Neutrality

Sydney Dawes| Lifestyle Editor| sd983213@ohio.edu

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will vote on the proposed repeal of net neutrality on December 14. What exactly does this mean, and what is net neutrality, anyway? Here’s a hint: you experience it every time you open an app on your phone.

Continue reading Here’s What You Need to Know About Net Neutrality

One Shirt, Three Ways — Winter Holidays Edition

Haylee Follower | Lifestyle Staff Writer| hf21186@ohio.edu

 With the holiday season coming up, many thoughts are running through student’s heads. Among those are thoughts of finals, winter break and winter holidays. If you’re like me, these holidays, while spending time with family, also involve finding the perfect winter holiday outfit.

Continue reading One Shirt, Three Ways — Winter Holidays Edition

Odyssey Nutrition: A New Health Option Arrives To Ohio University

Haylee Followell | Lifestyle Staff Writer | hf211816@ohio.edu

As a college student, it is often hard to juggle things like school, work and friends… let alone a nutritional diet. The freshman fifteen is no stranger to incoming students and although the dining halls are often accessible and tasty, they are often not the healthiest options. With new health initiatives, such as getting rid of the trays or trying to serve students meals with lower salt percentages, eating healthy is still a very problematic task. Odyssey Nutrition is here to change that.

Continue reading Odyssey Nutrition: A New Health Option Arrives To Ohio University