The Written

/The Written

When a Computer is to Blame

The first death associated with a fully autonomous vehicle occurred Saturday night in Tempe, Arizona, as reported by the Associated Press. While it is not yet determined what happened, and if a human controlled vehicle might have resulted in the same unfolding, this raises a number of questions about how we should now and will over time learn to deal with the death of a human due to computer error.

For me, it feels different than when a human kills a human due to drunk driving or not paying attention while behind the wheel. It feels wrong. And yet, the theory is that if all vehicles were self-driving, the 40,000 vehicular deaths per year would be reduced to almost none. To tabulate lives this way is to reduce humans to a body count, even if it the portrayal of saved lives is accurate.

For our society to accept that a computer mistake, not a human one will be acceptable is going to take a while. How will autonomous vehicle companies deal with law suits? Will the car company as a whole, the supplier of the cameras, sensors, or software designer be responsible? When a person is killed due to an intoxicated driver or distraction we blame that individual and perhaps society for allowing substance abuse or texting to continue. But when a computer is at fault, a system designed to be faster and safer than a human, will we still seek to blame or simply justify the error by running the numbers?

By |2018-03-25T16:47:46-04:00March 19th, 2018|The Written|Comments Off on When a Computer is to Blame

A Fear of Silence

It seems we have grown afraid of silence.

Despite the increasing isolation, we no longer know how to be alone.

We now talk to our computers, to our cars, to the machines that provide our music and to our phones. Talking, talking, always talking. Yet, we no longer longer just talk to each other.

It seems we have grown afraid of silence.

It seems we don’t want to be alone.

By |2018-02-19T02:45:19-04:00February 19th, 2018|The Written|Comments Off on A Fear of Silence

Counting Raindrops in Germany

Again I have promised myself to find sleep before 1 am. Again, I am awake, working to catch-up with my life after the intense experience of the International Space University, Space Studies Program in Cork, Ireland.

A moth flutters between the lamp shade and bulb. A distant jet passes overhead, by the sound neither arriving to nor departing from Frankfurt International Airport which is just a few kilometres distance from where I sit. This enclosed space provides the deeply nourishing aroma of untreated pine, floor, walls, and ceiling. An enclosed half gazebo is my resting spot each night, in the back yard of a family friend in Rüsselsheim, Germany.

Small spaces. Safe spaces. A room just big enough for a bed and table lamp, both resting on the floor; an area rug and place to place wet shoes. This is what feels right to me. Not the opposite of wrong, but right as in comfortable, natural, and satisfying.

We are so much driven to embrace thick walls, insulated ceilings, and windows that reflect heat and block sound that we forget what it means to fall to sleep to the wondrous sound of raindrops, falling, one by one.

By |2017-08-30T18:52:15-04:00August 30th, 2017|From the Road, The Written|Comments Off on Counting Raindrops in Germany

The Seasons of our Emotions

There are as many faces as there are emotions, each powerful for what it conveys. Yet we wear them as though for the first time, unaware of their power to affect those we love.

If our smiles are the heat of summer and tears the rain of spring. If our naked bodies wrapped in blankets are autumn preparing for winter, then we can embrace each season as an integral part of the cycle, and look forward to what each brings.

By |2017-08-05T06:16:48-04:00August 5th, 2017|The Written|Comments Off on The Seasons of our Emotions

Over the Edge

When we live in fear, we see only failure.
When we fail, we protect ourselves.
When we are protected, we feel afraid.

And we spiral down,
  down,
    down,
      until we have pushed the one thing we hold dear

        o
       v
      e
      r

      t
      h
      e

      e
      d
     g
     e

By |2017-05-09T01:27:19-04:00May 9th, 2017|The Written|Comments Off on Over the Edge

Stirring the pot

Women's March on NY

As with so many of us who feel a kind of deep pain when injustice is served, I have struggled to make sense of what unfolded this past two months. What I witnessed often felt too far removed from my own experience to present anything more than a repeat of what had been said by experts in history, psychology, and politics.

Now, it seems, the pot is about to boil. Perhaps it is time to release the pressure and address the pain. It is time to acknowledge that a latent, mostly silent, large minority of individuals desire to speak their mind. And what their mind has to say is “I no longer feel in control,” or perhaps, “I no longer feel important.”

In a world where the generational demographics are changing, where the borders are no longer clear, there resides a growing sense of “What about me?” When a leader focused entirely on himself says “Make American great again” he implies “I want to be in control” where we seldom feel empowered to do anything.

It became implicitly clear on election night that I live in a bubble, surrounded by those born with the empathy gene switched on. A blessing or a curse, it is difficult to determine at times. My friends, colleagues, and peers all in disbelief at such an overt expression of anger, bigotry, and fear. Not since Woodrow Wilson and the segregation of the White House staff have we seen this rise to the office of the president.

Should we be surprised? Dare we expect a consciousness rising to have established a new equilibrium since 1969? We remain a product of our DNA and evolution does not work with such haste. We are not yet arrived to a social paradigm in which those born without the expression of xenophobia carry the upper-hand.

Until that day, we must live with the potential of radical, even bipolar change.

But when more than one million people stand in peaceful protest against one man, calling for equal rights for all humankind, that is a kind of stirring the pot that might just make this president worth his crimes.

By |2017-04-10T11:17:31-04:00January 22nd, 2017|The Written|Comments Off on Stirring the pot

A mantra for the New Year

Seek intellectual stimulation.
Express creativity in multiple forms.
Promote science education as the best hope for the next generation.
Never stop learning or challenging the norms.

By |2017-01-22T14:00:27-04:00January 1st, 2017|The Written|Comments Off on A mantra for the New Year

version 2.0

The Internet has failed to deliver what was promised over two decades ago. Or perhaps, we have failed to fully embrace that which it delivers.

We have at our finger tips facts, figures, and data. At any given moment, 24 hours a day we can validate and substantiate the tidbits of information which bombard us. We can negate rumours, stories, and marketing campaigns that tease our sense of logic or appeal to our emotional pleasures and fears.

Yet, we do not.

The Internet also delivers a kind of drug, an addictive substance which calls upon the very foundation of our DNA. We are drawn into conspiracies, twisted logics, and backward ways of thinking that support our innermost fears, the stuff that predates one or two generations as we give into eons of xenophobic behaviour.

While the spiritually minded speak hopeful of consciousness rising, I see instead the rise of the human species for who we are when the spiritually minded retreat to their havens of like-minded and similarly kind.

Perhaps some day the Internet will deliver an upgrade to humanity, a version 2.0 in which we care about the other as much as we do our own self. But for now, the beta release a few million years in the making will have to do.

By |2016-11-21T03:45:21-04:00November 21st, 2016|The Written|Comments Off on version 2.0

the gift

I have a gift for you.

Something thin, transparent, yet powerful and strong.

It is able to block the most painful, invisible projectiles and
in the same moment, allow what is desired to enter.

It is neither supernatural nor entirely physical, … or perhaps it is both.

I have something for you, a gift that cannot be given, a source of tremendous power that is always within reach yet difficult to receive.

The gift is you.

By |2018-11-24T01:24:51-04:00November 18th, 2016|The Written|Comments Off on the gift

I believe

Every time we accept a rule or a guideline without asking Why?, we give into someone else’s power. Every time one group of people is told they don’t belong because of their beliefs, we have used religion as a means of controlling how people think and behave, isolating rather than uniting.

A belief is a powerful motivator, a means to drive one forward through challenging times, to unite individuals in a common goal, for multiple generations. Yet, a belief is nothing more than a thought process, nothing more than an electrochemical pattern in one’s head. It cannot be proven nor denied, therefore it should never, ever be used to conquer and divide.

By |2016-09-10T21:20:47-04:00September 9th, 2016|The Written|Comments Off on I believe