Should We Colonize Mars?

Should We Colonize Mars?

Elon Musk says we should colonize Mars to keep humanity alive.

According to the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, as the population continues to grow exponentially, humanity is slowly but surely running out of resources. They predict that by 2050, human beings may have exhausted Earth's natural resources. To put that in perspective, I will be 51-years-old then.

Judging from the ongoing rate of consumption, experts at Oxford believe that by 2050, the population will reach nine billion people whereas the agricultural yield will almost be halved.

Not only that, humans are faced with increasing water scarcity, growing competition over land, manmade pollution, and as always, climate change.

This beckons the question of what are we going to do to survive?

Two years ago Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, proposed his plan to colonize Mars. His goal is to create Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) spaceships that will transport 1 million people to Mars within the next 50 to 100 years. The Verge reports this could cost about $200,000 per traveler.

If you think Mars is inhabitable, you might want to think again. Musk unveiled his other idea which is to warm up the planet by dropping nuclear bombs in the sky over the Martian poles. This would create tiny "suns" over the regions and turn any frozen carbon dioxide into gas. If you didn't know, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, meaning it absorbs and traps heat. The more of the gas that is in the atmosphere, the warmer the surface of Mars will become and potentially the more conducive it is to life form.

The question now becomes, "Based on the current rate humans are depleting Earth's resources, do you think we should colonize Mars and if so, would you consider moving to Mars?"

My answer is no, we should not colonize Mars. This is setting a bad example that people can create a problem, then hide from the repercussions of it. Instead, we should focus on fixing Earth and finding sustainable ways of living. In the long run, say we do successful manage to colonize Mars. Give it X years or so and the same thing happens where humans deplete all of Mar's resources.

Where are we going to run to then? Jupiter?

Cover Image Credit: The Daily Dot

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Social Media Popped My Privileged Suburban Bubble And Widened My Political Perspective

Apps like Instagram helped me truly understand the world around me.

These days, everyone seems to bring up how detrimental social media is to society and the adolescents within it. Quite honestly, I can't blame them. There are plenty of reasons as to why social media can be harmful. That being said, the positive effects of social media are always overlooked.

When I registered for Instagram in sixth grade, it was solely because of the bandwagon riding around my school to keep up with my friends' middle school predicaments. This was the time when most of my peers and I lived in our advantageous, middle-class enclosures that steered us clear from any issues happening around the world. It wasn't until my freshman year of high school when I really started to keep up with the news and current events. I would be aware of what is going on, but my standpoints on the events happening were never truly solidified. I myself am quite privileged and haven't really experienced any sort of persecution or oppression in my life, so it was difficult to recognize and understand many of the issues going on. That is, until I found the political side of Instagram.

Growing up, everyone has only one source for learning about what is going on in the news — their parents/guardians. Every kid discovers world through their parents, so naturally, there will be bias and underlying opinions. These parents' perspectives can have a large impacts on what their children think. Kids almost always agree with their parents because, well, no one wants to disappoint them. Children walk through life with information supplied by their parents, and many times, situations are butchered to comply with their taught beliefs.

When I started to check out these accounts dedicated to the social, economic and other issues going on around the world, I was overwhelmed by the amount of opinions there were. What surprised me the most was seeing the perspective of the people who are directly affected by certain topics, such as the immigration regulations and gay rights. It was fascinating for me to be able to receive firsthand exposure and evidence of how the world's occurrences affect real people, and ultimately this has helped me shape my own personal beliefs today.

With social media, I am able to leave my privileged-suburban bubble and see the real reasons why some topics in the world are so controversial and argued about. People have accounts on all sides of the political spectrum, and although I do not agree with every one of them, I am able to see the way that my nation and the rest of the globe thinks. Social media gave me a way to independently form my positions on how I want the world and its politics to run.

Because social media is such a large and influential part of the modern age, why not use it productively? Using social media to educate yourself will not only benefit you but also the future of our society and other generations to come. I believe that everyone has a responsibility as a citizen to be aware of the issues transpiring our world today, and learning through multiple points-of-view is a perfect start.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Robots And Ethical Philosophy

Opening the doors to the future. Quite literally.

Boston Dynamics is a robotics company driven to innovate robots using "sensor-based controls and computation," according to their website. On February 12, 2018, Boston Dynamics posted a video of their latest progress with their SpotMini robot opening a door for another.

When I saw this video, I was in awe and felt a great surge of hope for the future. However, when I got on Twitter, many people were afraid.

Though for most, the robot reminded them of an episode of Black Mirror, where dog-like robots hunt and exterminate humans. Heres the trailer for that episode:

I hope this attitude towards robots is more of a meme and less stirring suspicion over new, beautiful tech. I found this public opinion quite ill-informed, though I do not believe those that expressed fear are in the wrong.

Boston Dynamics is funded in part by the US Military. While these robots can be used for warfare, their practical use is far more commercialized.

Applying Ethics to Robotics

There is a lot to be said about how robots should be treated and even if we should restrict them from complete intelligence. The philosophy of robotics is not something the likes of Aristotle or Descartes would have ever had thought of. They simply did not believe such a thing possible. They believed intelligence was something given by God, not replicable.

However, perennial philosophy is flawed in that it does not portray an accurate model of the human. Humans do not have ethereal parts. We do not have souls. We have organic circuitry and neural networks that do all of the cognition and thinking.

Our "mind" is simply a metaphor for our brain. As we learn more about the brain and how it creates thought, we can apply this to AI. Perhaps all of cognition is just a complex algorithm. All we need is the code hidden within.

So if we create robots, where is the line drawn before we need to secure civil liberties for their kind? This is not so convoluted as it may seem. There are two things of importance when we talk about robots: intelligence and sentience.

Not many know that sentience is completely different from intelligence. Sentience is simply the ability to feel. Intelligence is the ability to think. We have been able to achieve rudimentary intelligence in AI, but we have never been able to actually replicate the ability to feel. Sensors are not enough to give robots sentience. They need authentic emotions.

If a robot is built for a specific purpose, say for an assembly line, they may be given sensors, but they are following specific algorithms. They are not sentient nor intelligent, thus they do not get rights. They are as humanoid as a lever or pulley. A lever or pulley isn't restricted to 40-hour work weeks.

. . .

The upbringing of sophisticated robots should not be something that scares people, but of course, it does. The thought of a superior species to us humans is something we aren't used to being such a reality. Programming is one of the most secure jobs because no programmer wants to write code that will replace their job. So I do not see our kind stooping to such lows as to create such beautiful machines and allowing them the full range of intelligence and sentience.

Cover Image Credit: @Tomasz_Mikolajczyk

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