7 recent mind bending technologies that are altering what it means to be human

by Ishaan Kumbkarni, Staff Writer

  1. DNA editing

A new technology called CRISPR lets geneticists edit the human or any other organism’s DNA (chemical which carries code for how we will turn out to be physically and mentally). Think of it as a genetic scissor. Its applications are endless, ranging from disease resistance crops to designer babies, yes, you heard it right, designer human babies.

 

  1. Artificial Olfaction

Research in the area of e-sensing or artificial replication of the human sense organs has been on for quite a few decades. E-nose a device that can detect odours and flavours is already used in some industries (for eg for quality control in the food industry) and is now being developed for medical applications. Ground-breaking.

 

  1. Super Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality has been around for quite some time but did we ever think that it would get real to the point that it would outclass our actual existing reality. For an article in TechCrunch the writer experimented between standing at the edge of a tower in the VR Minecraft game and compared it to standing on the edge of an actual mountain in Norway. He reported greater feelings of dizziness and vertigo in the Virtual Reality game. Let that sink in.

 

  1. Emotional Surveillance

In China an “emotional surveillance” system is allowing supervisors to scrutinize employees’ brainwaves for signs of distress. Lightweight sensors embedded in workers’ hats or helmets wirelessly transmit the wearer’s brainwave data to a computer. Then, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms scan the data, looking for outliers that could indicate anxiety or rage. Wow.

 

  1. Digital Afterlife

This might sound right out a Black Mirror episode, but this is true. According to tech website futurism.com, a digital afterlife industry has cropped up, which can include online memorial services or even re-creation algorithms that attempt to write messages and posts in the dead person’s voice. Feel weirded out yet?

  1. Artificial Imagination

And you though artificial olfaction was weird. AI (Artificial Intelligence), till now was very good at identifying things, but not very good at creating things. Creation requires imagination. The solution came to a PhD student, Ian Goodfellow during an academic argument with his friend at a bar. As a result of that eureka moment, now two AI systems can spar with each other to create ultra-realistic original images or sounds, something machines have never been able to do before. Effectively creating non-human, artificial imagination. I need to start having better conversations while having a cold one.

 

  1. Iron Man Suit

British inventor Richard Browning recently set a Guinness World Record for flying a body-controlled jet-engine-powered suit that he built in his garage, over a lake in Reading, England, reaching a speed of 32.02 miles per hour. It is propelled by 6 micro gas turbines mounted on the arms and back. Iron man suit is here. I repeat. Iron man suit is here. Search him on YouTube to watch the super smooth video of Richard Browning, flying.

 

 

 

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7 lessons I learnt by looking back at my teenage

by Komal Sharma, Freelance Contributor

 

Quite early in our life, based on hit and trial encounters with our environment we subconsciously start to settle ourselves on a particular approach towards dealing with situations we face in life. More often than not, it becomes our default system in how we manage ourselves in contextually similar situations. there are 7 such patterns that I have identified which help me to take a step-back from the situation I am in and look at it objectively. I use this to reflect, and to address it later;  in a healthier and more progressive manner.

 

1. Attachment style

All of us either have a secure or an insecure pattern in which we inter-personally attach to our family, partner, authority figure, subordinate etc. Every time we feel fearful, anxious, overwhelmed to an extent that it shuts down our normal functioning, it is time to be conscious of rapid changes in our bodily and psychological dynamics. Mostly we will find ways of dealing with this in the retrospective analysis of situations that aroused similar emotions within us in the past.

Mantra I follow: Identify problem area -> Detach from your maladaptive approach -> Critical identification of a better response –> And finally; mindful responding

2. Teach them how to love you and learn how to love them

“I don’t think it’s their mistake, maybe I cannot be loved”
“My partner is trying so hard but I don’t feel loved”
“We are happy, but not in love, not like ‘it was before”

We all have been there with our parents, friends, partners and others in our inner circle. It is a two-way process – come a little closer to them, try to reveal your held-back ways of receiving  love, hold out your arm when you need their re-assurance, the chances are that you will end up feeling better about your relationship with them. To have a ‘childish’ conversation of what you need and how you need it is radical in creating foundation of a secure relationship. Let there be nervousness of how they might react, but for that conversation to culminate into a fruitful conclusion, both the sides must yearn to know, share and cultivate the bond.

3. Sometimes give, give, give, and let go

Are you chasing a void of never realizing the outcome you ferociously set out to achieve?
Are you feeding the void with a lack of self-esteem born out of already having put in so much without having anything to show for it?
You are attached to a void that does nothing but disturb your mental peace
This void may be because of a person, desire, any interest or pursuit for which you have not only extended your abilities but also stretched yourself off limits; but without giving it enough time to give you back. Relax. Let go of your troubles. Let life unfold.

4. Pay attention to your emotions

Emotions need expression but more than that, they need articulation. If suppressed, they eventually leak through cracks; jeopardizing our work, relations, health and more.
Have you not had a moment when a friend starts talking in an odd and unexpected manner, and you’re just wondering what went wrong at your end?
It may be just that they had a heated exchange at the office, or they are just plain hungry. A psychological exercise as described by Dan Siegel may be helpful in such a situation– ‘name it to tame it’. If you are able to sit with the emotion and pass it through you while expressing through verbal, written, or kinesthetic modes, you have mastered your mind!

5. To be sensitive is bold

Only brave-hearts can endure paying detailed attention. It understates that they care and are willing to go an extra mile to understand. From slight changes in the immediate environment to energy draining human personalities, they are alert. This helps them to stay away or foresee a conflict and develop meaningful relationships which serve growth at both ends.
A sensitive person naturally evaluates the mood and accordingly, in a non-taxing manner is able to put forth their response. It is a skill highly regarded if you’d like to make most of ‘now’.

6. To be assertive is freedom

We often find difficult to communicate what we want or think is right, and it is arduous to even do that when we are not used to standing up for our needs. To be assertive is to put your own will with due respect and consideration which is critically reasoned well.
Assertiveness is the wisest of personal qualities any person can develop to express effectively. It is an integral element of communication style which improves relation to self (confidence & satisfaction for being heard) and others (self-worth & earned respect for managing emotions). The most powerful assertion is to say ‘No’ without pulling wrong chords.

7. Develop your night time routine

We all have heard about morning routines but little to no emphasis is given to a night routine. We wake up with the mood we sleep with – why not develop a regime that works for us?
It’s natural to witness events in our life beyond our control when there is awfully much to absorb all the time. A night routine which can be combination of few activities like reading novel or quotes, meditating, sipping an organic drink, reflecting on the present day, or reckoning to-do list for next day and more. You are a winner if you bring the agency of your life back before tomorrow starts-off!

10 psychology terms that’ll help you make sense of the world

by Ishaan Kumbkarni, Staff Writer

1. Availability Heuristic

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It states that we tend to base our evaluations, judgments and perceptions of the world around us on the basis of the information that is easily available to us which means that more often than not, our conclusions are based on incomplete, or in some cases, irrelevant information just because it happened to be in front of us.

2. Mere-Exposure Effect

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It is a psychological principle which states that people tend to rate things, people or places positively when they are familiar with them, often disregarding actual qualities or drawbacks for familiarity. This is interesting because it has no basis in logic. In studies of interpersonal attraction, the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likable that person appears to be.

3. Social Loafing

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In social psychology, social loafing is the phenomenon of a person exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone. This is seen as one of the main reasons groups are sometimes less productive than the combined performance of their members working as individuals.

4. Learned Helplessness

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It is a phenomena wherein repeated negative experiences of individuals lead to implanting of pervasive and enduring negative beliefs regarding their abilities within them. Research also shows that a single positive experience has the power of arresting this downward spiral.

5. Spiral of Silence

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This theory that draws from political science says that individuals have a fear of isolation, which results from the idea that a social group or the society in general might isolate, neglect, or exclude them due to their opinions. This fear of isolation consequently leads to remaining silent instead of voicing opinions.

6. Pluralistic Ignorance

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Pluralistic ignorance occurs where the majority of individuals in a group assume that most of the others are different in some way, whilst the truth is that they are more similar than they realize. They thus will conform with supposed beliefs of other individuals and the supposed beliefs will become the group norm rather than actual beliefs of that group.

7. Cognitive Dissonance

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Discomfort or tension that arises from holding two or more psychologically incompatible thoughts at the same time. Research posits that people are motivated to avoid or minimize cognitive dissonance whenever possible.

8. Conformation Bias

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A tendency to search for and weigh information that confirms one’s preconceptions more strongly than information that challenges them.

9. Counterfactual Thinking

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Imagining alternative scenarios and outcomes that might have happened, but didn’t.

10. Deindividuation

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A loss of self-awareness that occurs when people are not seen or paid attention to as individuals (for example, when they become absorbed in a role that reduces their sense of individuality or accountability, or when they become part of a crowd or a mob).

 

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10 Neuro-psychology Researches that’ll change the way you look at the world

by Ishaan Kumbkarni, staff writer

Here are 10 recent neuroscience and psychology researches that’ll transform the way you look at and perceive the world.

  1. Is your thought process really a private phenomenon?

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Scientists in Germany used pattern recognition software to predict, from functional magnetic resonance imaging of people’s brains, whether each person had secretly decided to add or subtract two numbers he was looking at. The computer correctly predicted the decision more often than not. What’s stopping a super computer from surveilling our brain?

 

  1. Our brain is capable of beautiful things

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Some people have been brought up in hate and are taught to despise the world (see: terrorists and xenophobes) but a new study, from the University of Zurich, reports that having just a few positive exchanges with a person from an outside group can trigger neuronal changes in the brain that cause someone to become more empathetic towards strangers from an outside group.

 

  1. You can train your brain to change the quality of your life

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Neuroscientists at Oxford University recently discovered a neurobiological mechanism that might explain how one can overcome apathy and stay active and motivated.  They hypothesize that anyone who is healthy can change the functional connectivity of his or her brain by consciously changing habits of behavior and patterns of thinking. Because the brain is plastic—your mindset, explanatory styles, and predisposition to be motivated or apathetic are never fixed.

 

  1. The brain has a separate, small beating heart, all for itself

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A team led by Prof. Ed Wu at the University of Hong Kong revealed that low frequency (1Hz) oscillations in the hippocampus help to synchronize activity in the brain. They used optogenetics and resting-state fMRI to explore the role of the slow hippocampal-cortical oscillatory activity in controlling and connecting different areas of the brain.

 

  1. Stress can actually change the structure of your brain; and not for the better

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Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that chronic stress triggers long-term changes in brain structure and function. Their findings might explain why young people who are exposed to chronic stress early in life are prone to mental problems such as anxiety and mood disorders later in life, as well as learning difficulties.

 

  1. There was a marked increase in the number of suicides following Robin William’s suicide

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A new study revealed that there was a 10 percent increase in suicides in the months following Robin Williams’ death. Researchers report, significantly, there was a 32 percent increase in suffocation suicides in the 5 months following Williams’ death by the same method. This is a known psychological phenomenon with the rates of suicides in general population increasing after most high-profile suicides.

 

  1. People who daydream may be intellectually advanced

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People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering. Eric Schumacher and his team at Georgia Tech found that people who report frequent daydreaming score higher on creative and intellectual ability and have measurably more effective brains than those who don’t. Apparently, the smarter you are, the more you daydream. Dream on!

 

  1. Emotions can alter your ability to learn and perceive

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Educational situations where students feel stressed, shamed, or just uncomfortable can actually make it more difficult for them to learn, increasing negative emotions and sparking a vicious cycle that may leave some children reluctant to attend class. Research is revealing why, as the emotional part of the brain, the limbic system has the ability to open up or shut off access to learning and memory. When under stress or anxiety, the brain blocks access to higher processing and stops forming new connections, making it difficult or impossible to learn.

 

  1. Dopamine is a magic liquid running inside us and it becomes active when we experience new things

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Researchers have found that novelty in the world around us causes the dopamine system in the brain to become activated, sending the chemical throughout the brain. Dopamine is often regarded as the “feel good” chemical, scientists have now shown that it actually plays a much bigger role, encouraging feelings of motivation and prompting the brain to appreciate and learn about new and novel stimuli in the surroundings. Really, they should be selling this stuff on amazon.

 

  1. Cognitive Offloading: How the Internet is Increasingly Taking Over Human Memory

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Researchers from UC Santa Cruz and the University of Illinois report that our ever-increasing reliance on the internet and our ease of access to new information is affecting our ability to learn and recall facts from memory, as well as impeding our ability to solve problems. Basically, the internet is making us dumber.