Tag Archives: human beings

Thought #42. Crocodile tears.

Crying emotional tears is a strange quirk of humankind. Sometime during the early development of the species, our ancestors had to contrive ways to express emotions in response to new forms of social interaction. However, social traits have been widely and deeply observed among other animal species and yet shedding emotional tears is considered uniquely human, making it so far impossible to reveal the mystery over why others animals do not show emotions using their lacrimal gland.

Apparently, this unique feature could be one of the answers to my dearest question: what makes us human. We are used to witnessing impressive emotional displays involving the act of crying. Despite being generally attached to sadness or sorrow, our ability to weep tears goes beyond these bounds. Angry tears can fill someone’s eyes when an upsetting situation is confronted. Similarly, bitter tears are suitable for disappointments. We even have invented the glamorous happy tears, especially reserved for great moments. The crocodile tears are aimed to make the viewer misleadingly react, which could be tantamount to the popular insincere smile.

Streams of tears have flooded our planet since time immemorial. Genuinely or not, we cannot deny that crying is a powerful tool to convey outward messages. Luckily, modern societies have positively evolved into a social system in which this communicative tool can be used not only by children and women but also by boys and men. But we must be able to turn away and hide tears because crying is also part of our intimacy and sometimes, the mere presence of a single tear rolling slowly down your cheek can make people willing to stop you by making the well-known and telltale “please, don’t cry” statement. I would go so far as to say that sometimes I love tears in my eyes, I need them all around but, I prefer to shed them in private. I cannot stand being told to stop crying. Emotions make us human.

Though #35. For my own amusement.

I enjoy the solitude of life. There is only so much one can learn by itself. Do not get me wrong, sometimes I can be a good human companion too (ask my dog if you cannot believe me). Do not ask my wife though, she should be tagged as a limited edition human being because she is the only person that really understands my idiosyncrasy. I deeply adore Marta.

I often ask myself big questions. At any moment, you could find me wandering about, listening to my preferred classical “hit”, feeding my brains with some food for thought, aloof. I would like to say that I probably have nothing against you. My rudeness is involuntary, totally unintentional.

What makes us humans? I recently discovered a BBC Radio podcast in which the presenter, Jeremy Vine, and a guest, share half an hour trying to figure out the answer. At the very beginning of each programme, Jeremy asks the guest the question, which is answered as merely foreplay in the form of an essay. After that, Jeremy plays 30 seconds of the guest’s favourite song and they start a conversation, sometimes a monologue, in which Jeremy dissects the ideas presented in the essay and developed during the programme.

Questions like “what makes us humans” are the kind of gambit that I use for my own amusement. Boring, you may think. Ok, I understand it may sound ridiculously boring but I love it. After having been thinking about those big questions, life is simply less harsh, cosier, better.

For example, imagine that I have received unfair treatment by someone that really means a lot to me. Instead of playing the blame game, I do prefer to think that to err is human. Forgive and forget or a way better, just forget. That simple? Do I really need 500 words to say that? Let me give you another example. Instead of blaming someone for not paying enough attention to your needs, why you do not just enjoy the solitude of life and do whatever you like, for your own amusement. It seems quite fair, doesn’t it?

Boredom is healthy. Being slack is often a source of inspiration, an opportunity to grow, to improve. Stress, on the other hand is harmful, at least for me. When stressed, I cannot think clearly and in my opinion, thinking is what makes us human and I do not want to be another kind of animal.

Thought #13. AI bias.

Once upon a time, people knew the difference between rightness and badness. As if it was an Opera, the history of AI (acronym of Artificial Intelligence) began promisingly, but then things started to go wrong.

The opening of AI goes back to ancestry when the Greek mythology created Pandora, the first “artificial” woman. Each Olympus god was commissioned to make a contribution to Pandora’s process of creation with the sole aim of taking beauty into account.

During the interlude, step by step, new features and unique gifts were conscientiously added by the band of male creators. They went to great lengths to make Pandora in their own image (a mental image of a sexually arousing creature).

Pandora received a jar as a wedding present and was told not to open it. Thinking that it was a mere misdemeanour, she could not help opening the jar, triggering unexpected consequences.

To the astonishment of the ancient Greek gods (and goddesses) of the epoch, the sad coda was that Pandora ended up in a poetry epoch column (probably from a tabloid) depicted as an archetype and role model of future women generations:

“From her is the race of women and female kind: of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmates in hateful poverty, but only in wealth.” ― Hesiod, Theogony

Fear for inventions and machinery has been thenceforth present. The Industrial Revolution seemed too profound a change to overcome, but eventually all the criticism levelled at technology advances started to wear off.

AI is a force to be reckoned with but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it will eventually surpass human capacities. Think about a relatively recent groundbreaking invention: the digital camera sensor. If George Orwell had known about such an invention, Nineteen Eighty-Four would probably never have been written.

Those who try to undermine science (or engineering) by spreading false alarms concerning the so-called perils of AI should be treated with the contempt that they deserve. They seldom use nothing but devious tactics to succeed in turning utter nonsense into a burning issue. Should nonsense be regarded as tantamount to blatant ignorance? Apparently, according to Prof Stephen Hawking and others of his ilk, it should not.

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” ―   Stephen Hawking

“Artificial intelligence is our biggest existential threat.” ―  Elon Musk

Nevertheless, as far as some basic safety rules are not wilfully ignored, AI is harmless, secure and risk-free. Just as women are the most perfectly created sculpture ever chiseled, driverless cars (aka autonomous car) are also something that will become ubiquitous in the forthcoming years.

Do not blame me! My complete disregard for the underminers is based on their own arguments, which should fly in the face of common sense. The inability to comprehend how technology works still rankled with them.

Not being in the mood to reproduce in my own blog more quotes from them, I rather like the idea of presenting you with a biased view of the issue, based on as yet unproven facts:

“Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” ― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

“The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.” ― Edsger W. Dijkstra

The rest is history (to be written).

Thought #6. A dog’s life.

I’d always had mixed feelings about dogs, keeping them away for fear of being bitten while aching for having one of them as a pet. Sucre is a birthday present I gave to my wife on 2010, the year before we got married. I’m lost for words when it comes to describing the strong bonds that emerged out of the blue between we and him.

Human beings have been domesticating dogs since ancient times. And their unique and special way of communicating with humans has become one of the most successful when compared to any other domestic animal.

Maybe there is no clear evidence but based on my intuition I think many of us are hardwired to love dogs. At least, I am. No matter how hard my family had been discouraging me, I finally got away with it.

Sucre was still a puppy when he joined our family. At the beginning we struggled to get him poo and wee on the street. By using positive reinforcement we managed to change some of his wayward conducts into good deeds.

His nature is true and pure, unique and special. Being a mongrel, Sucre could easily have ended up as a stray dog. Luckily, he forms an integral part of our inseparable family and we are proud of it. More than living a dog’s life, since that summer of 2010 we are in seventh heaven.