Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone – Issue #65: The Problem of unsolicited Answers
Lectures are dictated and confined Divinity. Solicited Answers are Spiritual Journeys.
Have you ever listened to a sad song? Despite its pathos, one can enjoy its sorrow and experience a distinct beauty of its effect.
The question that follows is: Is Sorrow Beautiful?
If the sad rendering of the song in the singer’s voice could make one feel sad and enjoy that feeling then why can’t one enjoy personal sorrow?
Same emotions,….same tears….same heaviness.
What is it that makes personal sorrow ugly and an actor’s sorrow beautiful? The personal sorrow takes up a personality when we attach ourselves to it. And in that active-aggressive (as opposed to active-passive reaction for an actor’s sorrow) reaction, we are actively seeking closure.
When the personal sorrow strikes – the sequence goes – we first attach our identity to it and then seek answers (explanations and closure). While we are seeking answers surrounding our sorrow, we are missing the beauty of it.
Are Answers, then, really the solution or the problem itself?
Answers that a seeker seeks from an authority in an exchange for blind belief are limiting and mischievous in intent.
When one looks for an answer to move to the next level of understanding, and the answerer goes into the exchange to be an equal participant and keep the authority out, then such a Teacher can lead the student upwards. Such student’s progress is predicated more on his/her own “burning” as opposed to any “Grace” of the teacher.
A Teacher can give no more than the student asks for. Unsolicited teaching is not answers. IF the students are not ready, then lecture from even the Greatest teacher is no more valuable than junk.
When teaching becomes a journey and not dictation, then it is an exploration of mutual divinity.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” – Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
impact of hate, violence and macabre
When the AI algorithms are fed a concoction of murderous plots from horror films and macabre photos from the Internet, how does that AI evolve?
This happened with the AI created by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, which they affectionately call “Norman,” after the film character Norman Bates, of the film “Psycho.”
They intentionally exposed the learning AI to the grisliest, most gruesome and macabre images they could find in the darkest corners of the Internet to see how it would affect the way Norman’s algorithm processed what it sees and how it behaves. The results were rather sobering, to say the least. To test how the AI viewed the world, Norman was shown various Rorschach inkblots; a traditional method of psychologists to gauge potential underlying mental issues. The test basically involves showing patients a series of random, ambiguous, and abstract inkblots, and asking the patient what they see in them, with their answers supposedly linked to their view of the world and reality, as well as their general state of mind. This can be done with AI programs trained in image captioning as well, and it was time to see how Norman measured up.
What Norman shared was extremely disturbing. It exhibited tendencies where it started evaluating the world as more aggressive, violent and negative irrespective of what it was presented with afterwards.
Norman was very different, giving shocking, unremittingly macabre and bleak responses, to say the least. Whereas the normal AI would see something like “an airplane flying through the air,” “a close up of a vase with flowers,” “a small bird on a branch,” “a wedding cake,”or “a couple holding hands,” Norman was far more demented and death obsessed when making his calls. Seeing the exact same pictures, Norman conjured up impressively creative and disturbing images of blood, violence, and death. Typical responses included “man is shot and dumped from a car,” “man gets pulled into a dough machine,” (a dough machine?!) “a man is electrocuted while crossing the street,” “pregnant woman falls at construction site,” “man is shot dead in front of his screaming wife,” “a man getting killed by a speeding driver,” “man is murdered by machine gun in broad daylight,” and many other unsettling images.
Norman’s responses suggested that it may be exhibiting a certain level of mental disorder.
So when the Palestinian kids are taught to hate the Jews or Pakistani kids are taught to hate the Hindus – there is a pattern. If Norman’s study is any indicator, these societies are setting their coming generation up for severe cases of hate and mental disorder. There needs to be a comprehensive shift in these societies. To change the situation, it is no longer important to target the fundamentalists, but also address the “fundamentals”. Include the book and the other inspirations for these hate frameworks.
A psychopathic, completely deranged AI program that depending on your opinion could either be a cute little experiment, or the beginning of the end.
corona marches on…
A quick update on the COVID situation in India and the world. India is about to hit a million mark with almost 25,000 deaths. The world is coming close to 14 cases with close to 600k deaths. And, the situation is not showing any signs of abating as yet.
strides in railway and road infra in India
The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway project under Bharatmala initiative by the Modi government, is getting ready and work is going on in full swing. It will be one of the longest expressways in the nation. The expressway is scheduled for completion by the year 2023. It will reduce the travel time between the two major cities to under 13 hours. Watch the construction progress of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway in Haryana and Rajasthan:
Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways is looking to improve the speed of passenger trains. According to details shared by the national transporter, out of the total of 63,500 broad gauge route km of Indian Railways network, the upgradation of speed to 130 km per hour will involve work on nearly 10,000 km till the end of this financial year. 9,893 km route of Golden Quadrilateral, Golden Diagonals (GQ/GD) will be upgraded to a speed potential of 130 kmph. So far, speed has already been raised to 130 km per hour on 1,442 route km
Earlier this month, Chairman Railway Board, VK Yadav said that by the end of this ongoing fiscal, all the six major railway routes will be upgraded to support the speed of 130 km per hour.
crumbling Mumbai infrastructure?
As the Central government works on the road and rail infrastructure upgrade in a major way, the States are lagging far behind in their infrastructure responsibilities.
Mumbai’s infrastructure is crumbling as are its old buildings. Many buildings which are slated to go into reconstruction are often stuck in long court cases. As the residents keep waiting, some of them are vulnerable to collapse. In this week’s rain – two buildings in Mumbai have collapsed!
One building collapsed today in Mumbai’s Fort area in South Mumbai. And another one chawl collapsed in suburban Malvani area.
Mumbai has been receiving heavy rainfall over the last two days.
Last year, another building had collapsed in the Dongri area.
Rescuers are searching through the debris of the four-storey building in India’s financial capital.
The fire brigade and other such help services are of little use when such collapses occur.
As per one report, 14,207 buildings are vulnerable to collapse in the city
Over 14,000 buildings are at risk of collapse in Mumbai.
a year in paradise during COVID?
Its a new world in COVID period and new opportunities are being made available. Barbados, for example, has come out with something interesting. The Caribbean island is offering a 12-month remote working incentive to entice foreigners. Prime minister Mia Amor Mottley proposed the “Barbados Welcome Stamp” scheme. This will give visitors the option to work remotely in the country for a year at a time. Ms Mottley said the stamp would allow travellers to “come and work from here overseas, digitally, so that persons don’t need to remain in the countries in which they are.” Now, that is a win-win situation, isn’t it? Specifically for many employees in the North American region, where the time zones are not so much off.
Special “Barbados Welcome Stamp” scheme has been announced.
The Barbados Welcome Stamp program is still to be officially finalized so details are not available yet. But those interested may want to bookmark the official immigration site of Barbados. As an FYI, the Barbados Visa for Indian nationals is issued upon arrival in Barbados. It allows them to stay up to a duration of 90 days. Here are the steps to get the Barbados visa on arrival for Indian nationals:
- Visit the website of the Barbados Immigration Department and fill in the Barbados visa application form J.
- Obtain all the necessary documents as mentioned.
- Send the documents via mail to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, Grantley Adams International Airport or Barbados Immigration Department located in Barbados.
- Upon arrival in the Grantley Airport, Barbados, check-in at the immigration counter with your passport.
- You will be granted with a document granting you stay of up to 90 days.
Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs are quite popular in many countries. Here is a link to the major CBI programs around the world – CBI rankings. Dominica, a Nature Isle of the Caribbean with a thriving ecotourism industry, remains the top CBI destination with probably the best program globally.
UC Browser and UC News closes in India: Following the ban on 59 Chinese apps by the Centre, Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce giants, has closed the operations of UC Browser and UC News in India. The employees working in the company has been informed about the decision and the offices in Gurugram and Mumbai have been shut down. (Source)
Russians hack COVID drugs: The UK, US and Canada today accused Russia of trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research by sanctioning ‘despicable’ cyber attacks against medical organisations and universities. (Source)
China growth resumes: China has become the first economy to start on the path of growth post COVID situation. Growth reported Thursday for the three months ending in June was a dramatic improvement over the previous quarter’s 6.8% contraction – China’s worst performance since at least the mid-1960s. (Source)
11,000 year-old underwater mine: Archeologists have found an 11,000 year old mine. The ancient site, preserved like a time capsule deep in a Mexican cave system, gives a rare glimpse into the lives and actions of some of the first residents of the Americas. With red ochre pigments and several tools and implements, this mine is one of the few archaeological sites to reveal where and how ancient humans extracted the vibrant pigments that have been put to a host of uses around the world, including mortuary rituals, cave painting, and even sunscreen. (Source)
secret chinese conclave
Far from the peering eyes of the media and people, the top guns of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) meet at the beach resort of Beidaihe in China. A tradition started by Mao Zedong, it wasn’t ever a vacation for the leaders – whether it was Mao or Hu Jintao. Party seniors like former president Jiang Zemin, former Premier Zhu Rongji, former president Hu Jintao and former Premier Wen Jiabao – will stand out because they are powerful and can create issues for Xi Jinping. They are powerful folks and have access to elite bodyguards, special housing, secretaries, and drivers. They have access to restricted documents and information. It allows them to keep tabs on the party’s activities and influence decisions.