More on Science
4 months ago
Dehumanization Against Anthropomorphization
We've fought for humanity's sake. We need equilibrium.
We live in a world of opposites (black/white, up/down, love/hate), thus life is a game of achieving equilibrium. We have a universe of paradoxes within ourselves, not just in physics.
Individually, you balance your intellect and heart, but as a species, we're full of polarities. They might be gentle and compassionate, then ruthless and unsympathetic.
We desire for connection so much that we personify non-human beings and objects while turning to violence and hatred toward others. These contrasts baffle me. Will we find balance?
Assigning human-like features or bonding with objects is common throughout childhood. Cartoons often give non-humans human traits. Adults still anthropomorphize this trait. Researchers agree we start doing it as infants and continue throughout life.
Humans of all ages are good at humanizing stuff. We build emotional attachments to weather events, inanimate objects, animals, plants, and locales. Gods, goddesses, and fictitious figures are anthropomorphized.
Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks, features anthropization. Hanks is left on an island, where he builds an emotional bond with a volleyball he calls Wilson.
We became emotionally invested in Wilson, including myself.
Why do we do it, though?
Our instincts and traits helped us survive and thrive. Our brain is alert to other people's thoughts, feelings, and intentions to assist us to determine who is safe or hazardous. We can think about others and our own mental states, or about thinking. This is the Theory of Mind.
Neurologically, specialists believe the Theory of Mind has to do with our mirror neurons, which exhibit the same activity while executing or witnessing an action.
Mirror neurons may contribute to anthropization, but they're not the only ones. In 2021, Harvard Medical School researchers at MGH and MIT colleagues published a study on the brain's notion of mind.
“Our study provides evidence to support theory of mind by individual neurons. Until now, it wasn’t clear whether or how neurons were able to perform these social cognitive computations.”
Neurons have particular functions, researchers found. Others encode information that differentiates one person's beliefs from another's. Some neurons reflect tale pieces, whereas others aren't directly involved in social reasoning but may multitask contributing factors.
Combining neuronal data gives a precise portrait of another's beliefs and comprehension. The theory of mind describes how we judge and understand each other in our species, and it likely led to anthropomorphism. Neuroscience indicates identical brain regions react to human or non-human behavior, like mirror neurons.
Some academics believe we're wired for connection, which explains why we anthropomorphize. When we're alone, we may anthropomorphize non-humans.
Humanizing non-human entities may make them deserving of moral care, according to another theory. Animamorphizing something makes it responsible for its actions and deserves punishments or rewards. This mental shift is typically apparent in our connections with pets and leads to deanthropomorphization.
Dehumanizing involves denying someone or anything ethical regard, the opposite of anthropomorphizing.
Dehumanization occurs throughout history. We do it to everything in nature, including ourselves. We experiment on and torture animals. We enslave, hate, and harm other groups of people.
Race, immigrant status, dress choices, sexual orientation, social class, religion, gender, politics, need I go on? Our degrading behavior is promoting fascism and division everywhere.
Dehumanizing someone or anything reduces their agency and value. Many assume they're immune to this feature, but tests disagree.
It's inevitable. Humans are wired to have knee-jerk reactions to differences. We are programmed to dehumanize others, and it's easier than we'd like to admit.
Why do we do it, though?
Dehumanizing others is simpler than humanizing things for several reasons. First, we consider everything unusual as harmful, which has helped our species survive for hundreds of millions of years. Our propensity to be distrustful of others, like our fear of the unknown, promotes an us-vs.-them mentality.
Since WWII, various studies have been done to explain how or why the holocaust happened. How did so many individuals become radicalized to commit such awful actions and feel morally justified? Researchers quickly showed how easily the mind can turn gloomy.
The us-versus-them attitude is natural and even young toddlers act on it. Without a relationship, empathy is more difficult.
It's terrifying how quickly dehumanizing behavior becomes commonplace. The current pandemic is an example. Most countries no longer count deaths. Long Covid is a major issue, with predictions of a handicapped tsunami in the future years. Mostly, we shrug.
In 2020, we panicked. Remember everyone's caution? Now Long Covid is ruining more lives, threatening to disable an insane amount of our population for months or their entire lives.
There's little research. Experts can't even classify or cure it. The people should be outraged, but most have ceased caring. They're over covid.
We're encouraged to find a method to live with a terrible pandemic that will cause years of damage. People aren't worried about infection anymore. They shrug and say, "We'll all get it eventually," then hope they're not one of the 30% who develops Long Covid.
We can correct course before further damage. Because we can recognize our urges and biases, we're not captives to them. We can think critically about our thoughts and behaviors, then attempt to improve. We can recognize our deficiencies and work to attain balance.
We're currently attempting to find equilibrium between opposites. It's superficial to defend extremes by stating we're only human or wired this way because both imply we have no control.
Being human involves having self-awareness, and by being careful of our thoughts and acts, we can find balance and recognize opposites' purpose.
Extreme anthropomorphizing and dehumanizing isolate and imperil us. We anthropomorphize because we desire connection and dehumanize because we're terrified, frequently of the connection we crave. Will we find balance?
7 months ago
The InSight lander from NASA has recorded the greatest tremor ever felt on Mars.
The magnitude 5 earthquake was responsible for the discharge of energy that was 10 times greater than the previous record holder.
Any Martians who happen to be reading this should quickly learn how to duck and cover.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reported that on May 4, the planet Mars was shaken by an earthquake of around magnitude 5, making it the greatest Marsquake ever detected to this point. The shaking persisted for more than six hours and unleashed more than ten times as much energy as the earthquake that had previously held the record for strongest.
The event was captured on record by the InSight lander, which is operated by the United States Space Agency and has been researching the innards of Mars ever since it touched down on the planet in 2018 (SN: 11/26/18). The epicenter of the earthquake was probably located in the vicinity of Cerberus Fossae, which is located more than 1,000 kilometers away from the lander.
The surface of Cerberus Fossae is notorious for being broken up and experiencing periodic rockfalls. According to geophysicist Philippe Lognonné, who is the lead investigator of the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, the seismometer that is onboard the InSight lander, it is reasonable to assume that the ground is moving in that area. "This is an old crater from a volcanic eruption."
Marsquakes, which are similar to earthquakes in that they give information about the interior structure of our planet, can be utilized to investigate what lies beneath the surface of Mars (SN: 7/22/21). And according to Lognonné, who works at the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris, there is a great deal that can be gleaned from analyzing this massive earthquake. Because the quality of the signal is so high, we will be able to focus on the specifics.
2 months ago
Can space-based solar power solve Earth's energy problems?
Better technology and lower launch costs revive science-fiction tech.
Airbus engineers showed off sustainable energy's future in Munich last month. They captured sunlight with solar panels, turned it into microwaves, and beamed it into an airplane hangar, where it lighted a city model. The test delivered 2 kW across 36 meters, but it posed a serious question: Should we send enormous satellites to capture solar energy in space? In orbit, free of clouds and nighttime, they could create power 24/7 and send it to Earth.
Airbus engineer Jean-Dominique Coste calls it an engineering problem. “But it’s never been done at [large] scale.”
Proponents of space solar power say the demand for green energy, cheaper space access, and improved technology might change that. Once someone invests commercially, it will grow. Former NASA researcher John Mankins says it might be a trillion-dollar industry.
Myriad uncertainties remain, including whether beaming gigawatts of power to Earth can be done efficiently and without burning birds or people. Concept papers are being replaced with ground and space testing. The European Space Agency (ESA), which supported the Munich demo, will propose ground tests to member nations next month. The U.K. government offered £6 million to evaluate innovations this year. Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, and U.S. agencies are working. NASA policy analyst Nikolai Joseph, author of an upcoming assessment, thinks the conversation's tone has altered. What formerly appeared unattainable may now be a matter of "bringing it all together"
NASA studied space solar power during the mid-1970s fuel crunch. A projected space demonstration trip using 1970s technology would have cost $1 trillion. According to Mankins, the idea is taboo in the agency.
Space and solar power technology have evolved. Photovoltaic (PV) solar cell efficiency has increased 25% over the past decade, Jones claims. Telecoms use microwave transmitters and receivers. Robots designed to repair and refuel spacecraft might create solar panels.
Falling launch costs have boosted the idea. A solar power satellite large enough to replace a nuclear or coal plant would require hundreds of launches. ESA scientist Sanjay Vijendran: "It would require a massive construction complex in orbit."
SpaceX has made the idea more plausible. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket costs $2600 per kilogram, less than 5% of what the Space Shuttle did, and the company promised $10 per kilogram for its giant Starship, slated to launch this year. Jones: "It changes the equation." "Economics rules"
Mass production reduces space hardware costs. Satellites are one-offs made with pricey space-rated parts. Mars rover Perseverance cost $2 million per kilogram. SpaceX's Starlink satellites cost less than $1000 per kilogram. This strategy may work for massive space buildings consisting of many identical low-cost components, Mankins has long contended. Low-cost launches and "hypermodularity" make space solar power economical, he claims.
Better engineering can improve economics. Coste says Airbus's Munich trial was 5% efficient, comparing solar input to electricity production. When the Sun shines, ground-based solar arrays perform better. Studies show space solar might compete with existing energy sources on price if it reaches 20% efficiency.
Lighter parts reduce costs. "Sandwich panels" with PV cells on one side, electronics in the middle, and a microwave transmitter on the other could help. Thousands of them build a solar satellite without heavy wiring to move power. In 2020, a team from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) flew on the Air Force's X-37B space plane.
NRL project head Paul Jaffe said the satellite is still providing data. The panel converts solar power into microwaves at 8% efficiency, but not to Earth. The Air Force expects to test a beaming sandwich panel next year. MIT will launch its prototype panel with SpaceX in December.
As a satellite orbits, the PV side of sandwich panels sometimes faces away from the Sun since the microwave side must always face Earth. To maintain 24-hour power, a satellite needs mirrors to keep that side illuminated and focus light on the PV. In a 2012 NASA study by Mankins, a bowl-shaped device with thousands of thin-film mirrors focuses light onto the PV array.
International Electric Company's Ian Cash has a new strategy. His proposed satellite uses enormous, fixed mirrors to redirect light onto a PV and microwave array while the structure spins (see graphic, above). 1 billion minuscule perpendicular antennas act as a "phased array" to electronically guide the beam toward Earth, regardless of the satellite's orientation. This design, argues Cash, is "the most competitive economically"
If a space-based power plant ever flies, its power must be delivered securely and efficiently. Jaffe's team at NRL just beamed 1.6 kW over 1 km, and teams in Japan, China, and South Korea have comparable attempts. Transmitters and receivers lose half their input power. Vijendran says space solar beaming needs 75% efficiency, "preferably 90%."
Beaming gigawatts through the atmosphere demands testing. Most designs aim to produce a beam kilometers wide so every ship, plane, human, or bird that strays into it only receives a tiny—hopefully harmless—portion of the 2-gigawatt transmission. Receiving antennas are cheap to build but require a lot of land, adds Jones. You could grow crops under them or place them offshore.
Europe's public agencies currently prioritize space solar power. Jones: "There's a devotion you don't see in the U.S." ESA commissioned two solar cost/benefit studies last year. Vijendran claims it might match ground-based renewables' cost. Even at a higher price, equivalent to nuclear, its 24/7 availability would make it competitive.
ESA will urge member states in November to fund a technical assessment. If the news is good, the agency will plan for 2025. With €15 billion to €20 billion, ESA may launch a megawatt-scale demonstration facility by 2030 and a gigawatt-scale facility by 2040. "Moonshot"
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1 month ago
A Comparison of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google's Compensation
Learn or earn
In 2020, I started software engineering. My base wage has progressed as follows:
Amazon (2020): $112,000
Microsoft (2021): $123,000
Google (2022): $169,000
I didn't major in math, but those jumps appear more than a 7% wage increase. Here's a deeper look at the three.
The Three Categories of Compensation
Most software engineering compensation packages at IT organizations follow this format.
Base salary is pre-tax income. Most organizations give a base pay. This is paid biweekly, twice monthly, or monthly.
Sign-On incentives are one-time rewards to new hires. Companies need an incentive to switch. If you leave early, you must pay back the whole cost or a pro-rated amount.
Equity is complex and requires its own post. A company will promise to give you a certain amount of company stock but when you get it depends on your offer. 25% per year for 4 years, then it's gone.
If a company gives you $100,000 and distributes 25% every year for 4 years, expect $25,000 worth of company stock in your stock brokerage on your 1 year work anniversary.
Tech offers may include yearly performance bonuses. Depends on performance and funding. I've only seen 0-20%.
Engineers' overall compensation usually includes:
Base Salary + Sign-On + (Total Equity)/4 + Average Performance Bonus
Amazon: (TC: 150k)
Base Pay System
Amazon pays Seattle employees monthly on the first work day. I'd rather have my money sooner than later, even if it saves processing and pay statements.
The company upped its base pay cap from $160,000 to $350,000 to compete with other tech companies.
Amazon has no performance bonus, so you can work as little or as much as you like and get paid the same. Amazon is savvy to avoid promising benefits it can't deliver.
Amazon gives two two-year sign-up bonuses. First-year workers could receive $20,000 and second-year workers $15,000. It's probably to make up for the company's strange equity structure.
If you leave during the first year, you'll owe the entire money and a prorated amount for the second year bonus.
Most organizations prefer a 25%, 25%, 25%, 25% equity structure. Amazon takes a different approach with end-heavy equity:
the first year, 5%
15% after one year.
20% then every six months
We thought it was constructed this way to keep staff longer.
Microsoft (TC: 185k)
Base Pay System
Microsoft paid biweekly.
My offer letter suggested a 0%-20% performance bonus. Everyone will be satisfied with a 10% raise at year's end.
But misleading press where the budget for the bonus is doubled can upset some employees because they won't earn double their expected bonus. Still barely 10% for 2022 average.
Microsoft's sign-on bonus is a one-time payout. The contract can require 2-year employment. You must negotiate 1 year. It's pro-rated, so that's fair.
Microsoft is one of those companies that has standard 25% equity structure. Except if you’re a new graduate.
In that case it’ll be
25% six months later
25% each year following that
New grads will acquire equity in 3.5 years, not 4. I'm guessing it's to keep new grads around longer.
Google (TC: 300k)
Base Pay Structure
Google pays biweekly.
Google's offer letter specifies a 15% bonus. It's wonderful there's no cap, but I might still get 0%. A little more than Microsoft’s 10% and a lot more than Amazon’s 0%.
Google gave a 1-year sign-up incentive. If the contract is only 1 year, I can move without any extra obligations.
Not as fantastic as Amazon's sign-up bonuses, but the remainder of the package might compensate.
We covered Amazon's tail-heavy compensation structure, so Google's front-heavy equity structure may surprise you.
Annual structure breakdown
33% Year 1
33% Year 2
22% Year 3
12% Year 4
The goal is to get them to Google and keep them there.
This post hopefully helped you understand the 3 firms' compensation arrangements.
There's always more to discuss, such as refreshers, 401k benefits, and business discounts, but I hope this shows a distinction between these 3 firms.
6 months ago
$100M in NFT TV shows from Fox
Fox executives will invest $100 million in NFT-based TV shows. Fox brought in "Rick and Morty" co-creator Dan Harmon to create "Krapopolis"
Fox's Blockchain Creative Labs (BCL) will develop these NFT TV shows with Bento Box Entertainment. BCL markets Fox's WWE "Moonsault" NFT.
Fox said it would use the $100 million to build a "creative community" and "brand ecosystem." The media giant mentioned using these funds for NFT "benefits."
"Krapopolis" will be a Greek-themed animated comedy, per Rarity Sniper. Initial reports said NFT buyers could collaborate on "character development" and get exclusive perks.
Fox Entertainment may drop "Krapopolis" NFTs on Ethereum, according to new reports. Fox says it will soon release more details on its NFT plans for "Krapopolis."
Media Giants Favor "NFT Storytelling"
"Krapopolis" is one of the largest "NFT storytelling" experiments due to Dan Harmon's popularity and Fox Entertainment's reach. Many celebrities have begun exploring Web3 for TV shows.
Mila Kunis' animated sitcom "The Gimmicks" lets fans direct the show. Any "Gimmick" NFT holder could contribute to episode plots.
"The Gimmicks" lets NFT holders write fan fiction about their avatars. If show producers like what they read, their NFT may appear in an episode.
Rob McElhenney recently launched "Adimverse," a Web3 writers' community. Anyone with a "Adimverse" NFT can collaborate on creative projects and share royalties.
Many blue-chip NFTs are appearing in movies and TV shows. Coinbase will release Bored Ape Yacht Club shorts at NFT. NYC. Reese Witherspoon is working on a World of Women NFT series.
PFP NFT collections have Hollywood media partners. Guy Oseary manages Madonna's World of Women and Bored Ape Yacht Club collections. The Doodles signed with Billboard's Julian Holguin and the Cool Cats with CAA.
Web3 and NFTs are changing how many filmmakers tell stories.
11 months ago
This is a YouTube video: