The Robot Uprising Is Here!
Each Wednesday the HumpDay newsletter shares headlines, stories, and trivia to break up the work week and introduce our readers to something new. Every section has a blurb about the topic as well as links to related topics to keep the fun going for the rest of the week.
Last week, the funeral for the 41st president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush was held in Washington D.C. drawing tons of media attention and tweets of condolences and gratitude. Overall it was a fairly big spectacle in honor of the former commander and chief, but it wasn’t nearly as big as the mourning arrangements for our 1st president, George (no middle name) Washington. (Fun fact: 15 out of the first 17 US presidents did not have middle names)
Upon George Washington’s death on December 14th, 1799, political leaders called for a 69-day period of mourning ranging from his day of death to his birthday on February 22nd. Washington’s death was used as an opportunity to promote national unity by bringing together the still disjointed states to recognize the life and achievements of one of their nation’s founding fathers. The Senate adjourned, and the house agreed to wear all black for the remainder of their session. In fact, a presidential proclamation was released stating that all people should wear black arm bands for 30 days to signify their grief. The country held a funeral procession through the streets of Philadelphia in which soldiers fired rifles every minute for one hour.
Picture this… you sit down to lunch with a friend and she takes a bite out of her sandwich. After she takes a bite, you hear a wet smacking noise repeating over and over. You realize that the noise is the sound of her chewing and you can’t get the sound out of your head. You are laser focused on the sound of her loud chewing repeat over and over like a telltale heart and your chest fills with anger and disgust.
If this scenario seems familiar to you, you may suffer from a condition called Misophonia or experiencing negative feelings triggered by specific sounds. The triggers can include anything but are most likely repetitive and related to the mouth (i.e. eating, chewing gum and slurping). 15% of adults are affected by Misophonia and unfortunately there is no way to treat the condition besides coping methods. The best options for people experiencing Misophonia is to avoid the trigger sounds and prevent the sounds from affecting your mood.
The Terminator, Westworld, and Wall-E. All stories of sentient robots that are capable of much more than we designed them to do. But are these scenarios realistic? Are we one technological leap away from a full-on robot uprising? Well no, but we are making progress. We are still many, many years away from having robots that can outsmart humans. The neural pathways in the human brain are just too complicated for scientists to replicate. But, scientists have reached their first milestone in their quest to digitize consciousness.
Neuroscientists participating in an open source science project called OpenWorm, have successfully recreated the consciousness of a small worm by mapping the electrical impulses of 302 neurons and 92 muscles. Participants from all over the world have worked together to translate a worm’s brain into software and upload it to a robot to create the worlds first simulated consciousness.
Although this is an interesting scientific achievement, scientists are still a long way away from mapping the estimated 100 billion neurons of the human brain to create a fully sentient robot.
This Week in History
On December 11th in the year 1688, King James II of England abdicated his throne before his nephew, William III of Orange, could overthrow him. On the same exact day 248 years later, another British monarch abdicated the throne. In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated his throne in order to marry an American woman named Wallis Simpson. Simpson had been recently divorced but, remarrying after divorce was forbidden by the Church of England (which Edward VIII was the head of). Knowing his subjects would not respect his future bride, Edward decided to relinquish the throne to marry his love. The couple moved to France after WWII and lived happily ever after.
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