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Thursday, April 22, 2010

To play or not to play...

I once read something in the editorial of a gaming magazine. It was something many of us would like our mothers to say to us.
"Beta, game khelo, (Son, play games) we need money for a new car."

I began dreaming that day of a life where all you needed to do was play games. In fact, my juvenile self had even planned on making gaming a lucrative career. Ah, the naivety of an ignorant mind. Even though it's been ages since that day, I still cannot completely abandon my dream. Hence, in opposition to all those articles titled "Gaming is bad for your kid", I am going to enumerate some reasons why gaming is good. 

The physiological benefits:
1. It is a known fact that games improve your reflexes and multitasking skills.
2. They also get your adrenaline pumping and your blood flowing. (Just like sex does, and we all know sex rocks.)
3. A gaming addiction can help you to gain weight. (As long as you order pizza 3 times a day.)
4. Gaming is an amazing cardiovascular workout, especially for your index finger. 

The social benefits:
1. Most games today have a multi-player component. This encourages social interaction with like-minded people.
2. Games like 'World of Warcraft' have players from all over the world. Playing them makes you broad-minded and civil.
3. Many people have even met their soul-mates in game worlds. Some even multiple times.

The psychological benefits:
1. The media says gaming fuels anger and violence in kids. That's why games have a rating on them If you let your six year old play brutal games, what kind of parent are you?
2. If used properly, games can be an amazing and harmless sink to channel negative energy. Got shouted at by your boss? Come home and shoot some zombies.
3. Feeling sexually frustrated? Come home and ...err... yes, there are games for that too.

In fact, I see no reason why one should stay away from games other than the nonsensical statement old people make, "too much awesome is not good."

So play games. It's always good to escape reality once in a while. At least until we find a way to escape it once and for all.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

On Human Evolution...

Warning: This post is not for those who believe in the ridiculous theory of biblical genesis. Earth and the diversity on it was not created in 7 days by the holy wave of a divine hand, regardless of what the best-selling fictional book says. Those who do not agree can leave, now. Thank you.

"We know that," that's how one of our professors always begins a boring lecture. So I won't begin that way. Instead, I will begin as follows:

Chemicals ---> biochemicals ---> single-cellular life ---> multicellular life ---> fish ---> mammals ---> monkeys ---> man.

The above may not be exactly right, but let's say I took artistic liberties with it. Now the question arises, is man the end of this chain? Are we the absolute pinnacle of evolution? A body that lives for a maximum of 120 years (only if you don't have sex), and a mind that can only imagine 3 dimensions. Just because we have opposable thumbs and the ability to ask "why" does not mean we cannot be improved. In fact, there is a huge scope for physical, mental and cultural evolution.

If we leave it to nature to evolve us at it's own pace, our species will not last. What with nuclear weapons and the universal disregard for human life, we just might wipe ourselves out within the next decade. Instead of accepting it as the retribution for our sins, we must look at it as a hostile environment to which we must adapt. Let us examine these hostile conditions in further detail.

1. High risk of exposure to nuclear radiation.
2. Biological epidemics on the rise.
3. Declining resources such as food and water.

Clearly, our delicate bodies are not built to survive in such conditions. It is time we took evolution into our own hands. How do we do this? There are a couple of paths I can think of right now.

1. Genetic Engineering and Cloning.
This path is fraught with moral and ethical concerns and will not make much progress in the near future. Thank you, religious fanatics that enjoy shackling science. We have not forgotten what you did to Galileo.   

2. Robotics and Cybernetics.
This is the path that looks promising to me.

It might be easier to accept Cybernetics as a form of evolution. We replace critical body parts with machines, augment our brains and senses with synthetic interfaces and thereby increase our lifespan and resilience. This will do as a temporary measure.

Robotics on the other hand sounds more like creation than evolution, but according to me, it is evolution. If we do manage to create true Artificial Intelligence(AI), will it not be based on our own logical rules and thought processes? Imagine a synthetic body that never dies, does not contract diseases, is immune to nuclear radiation, does not require food or water, just solar energy, and can repair itself. Now imagine putting a self-aware artificial intelligence in it. For kicks, maybe we can even make it look human. Now that is truly an improvement on the human race. Hence, evolution.

Now these sentient machines might start a war and wipe us out and rule the earth for all eternity, but that's evolution isn't it? Survival of the fittest. 

One last thing, I call dibs on the personality imprint that will be given to the first self-aware computer.