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1984

In George Orwell‘s 1984Winston Smith wrestles with oppression in Oceania, a place where the Party scrutinizes human actions with ever-watchful Big Brother. Defying a ban on individuality, Winston dares to express his thoughts in a diary and pursues a relationship with Julia. These criminal deeds bring Winston into the eye of the opposition, who then must reform the nonconformist. George Orwell’s 1984introduced the watchwords for life without freedom: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.

Background

In 1984, Orwell creates a technologically advanced world in which fear is used as a tool for manipulating and controlling individuals who do not conform to the prevailing political orthodoxy. In his attempt to educate the reader about the consequences of certain political philosophies and the defects of human nature, Orwell creates a dystopia, a fictional setting in which life is extremely bad from deprivation, oppression, or terror. Orwell’s dystopia is a place where humans have no control over their own lives, where nearly every positive feeling is squelched, and where people live in misery, fear, and repression.

Orwell wrote 1984 just after World War II ended, wanting it to serve as a warning to his readers. He wanted to be certain that the kind of future presented in the novel should never come to pass, even though the practices that contribute to the development of such a state were abundantly present in Orwell’s time. He lived during a time in which tyranny was a reality in Spain, Germany, the Soviet Union, and other countries, where the government kept an iron fist (or curtain) around its citizens, where there was little, if any freedom, and where hunger, forced labour, and mass execution were common.

Orwell espoused democratic socialism, a political belief that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. Orwell used his writing to express his powerful political feelings, and that fact is readily apparent in the society he creates in 1984. Although fictional, the society created mirrors the political weather of the societies that existed all around him. Orwell’s Oceania is a terrifying society reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union — complete repression of the human spirit, absolute governmental control of daily life, constant hunger, and the systematic “vaporization” of individuals who do not, or will not, comply with the government’s values.

Orwell despised the politics of the leaders he saw a rise to power in the countries around him, and he despised what the politicians did to the people of those countries. Big Brother is certainly a fusing of both Stalin and Hitler, both real and terrifying leaders, though both on opposite sides of the philosophical spectrum. By combining traits from both the Soviet Union’s and Germany’s totalitarian states, Orwell created Big Brother that was so easily recognizable, having heavy black moustaches and charismatic speaking styles synonymous to both Hitler and Stalin. He makes sure that the reader of 1984 does not mistake his intention — to show clearly how totalitarianism negatively affects the human spirit and how it is impossible to remain freethinking under such circumstances.

During his time in Spain, the group with which Orwell was associated was accused of being a pro-Fascist organization, a falsehood that was readily believed by many, including the left-wing press in England. As a reflection on this experience, in 1984, Orwell creates a media service that is nothing more than a propaganda machine, mirroring what Orwell, as a writer, experienced during his time in Spain.

Similarly while working with the BBC during World War II when certain kinds of restrictions limiting what news could be disseminated were common, Orwell became disturbed by what he perceived to be the falseness of his work. It is noteworthy that Winston Smith, the main character in 1984, works in the media and is responsible for creating what is, essentially, deceptive propaganda. In fact, it is Winston’s position in the media that gives the reader the most insight into the duplicity of the society in which he lives and therefore, the society that Orwell most condemns.


George Orwell’s Animal Farm
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Adapted from

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/n/1984/1984-at-a-glance

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/n/1984/about-1984

https://www.dsausa.org/about-us/what-is-democratic-socialism/

10 Reasons Why the Book 1984 Still Matters

George Orwell

tableCAST


By Kevin Michael August 5, 2016
http://www.starpulse.com/20-weird-food-etiquette-rules-from-around-the-world-1960431656.html


Consider the Lobster is a brilliant essay by David Foster WallaceDownload

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Food etiquette can range from good to bad to downright ugly! Your dining habits depend on which part of the world you live in and the way you eat among others is determined by your culture and traditions.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint any one truly “weird” food habit – as what is good for one may be bad for others — it takes a bit of studying and open-mindedness to understand the world and the different rules of etiquette in various locales.

As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do – whatever part of the planet you are on, it is important to blend into other cultures’ habits and ways, not only to avoid looking like a tourist, but to benefit from the overall experience!

Sometimes you need to accept that people have what you would consider weird food etiquette and habits because it’s all normal to them! Rather than criticizing or making faces — eat the way they eat and appreciate their culture and traditions.

Here are 20 things that you might find weird about the way others dine…

#1 Forget the coffee in Italy


If you have the habit of having a cappuccino after your meal, then forget it in Italy. Italians love to enjoy their food with wine. Continue Reading…

phoneaddiction


Quit social media | Dr. Cal Newport | TEDxTysons


Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/teenage-technology-addiction-smartphone-rehab-seattle-clinic-children-aged-13-mobile-devices-a7684356.html


The average age for UK children to own their own phone is seven, surveys suggest Katie Forster @katieforster Friday 14 April 2017 17:57

Children in the UK own their own phone by age seven on average, research suggests ( Getty Images )

Children refusing to put down their phones is a common flashpoint in many homes, with a third of British children aged 12 to 15 admitting they do not have a good balance between screen time and other activities.

But in the US, the problem has become so severe for some families that children as young as 13 are being treated for digital technology addiction.

One ‘smartphone rehab’ centre near Seattle has started offering residential “intensive recovery programs” for teenagers who have trouble controlling their use of electronic devices.

The Restart Life Centre says parents have been asking it to offer courses of treatment to their children for more than eight years.

Hilarie Cash, the Centre’s founder, told Sky News smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices can be so stimulating and entertaining that they “override all those natural instincts that children actually have for movement and exploration and social interaction”.

It is important for families to “talk about tech and how much is good, how much is ok and when does it start to interfere with family relationships, with responsibilities, with sleep, and many other things,“ she added.

A recent survey of 1,500 parents found that, on average, UK children own their first mobile phone by the age of seven, followed by a tablet aged eight and a smartphone aged 10.

And a report published last year by Ofcom found that 64 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 and 65 per cent of parents of children in that age group said the teenagers’ “screen time” was under control.

‘Toilet paper for smartphones’ installed in airport lavatories

Richard Graham is a consultant psychiatrist at the private London mental health hospital the Nightingale Hospital, where he runs a specialist technology addiction clinic.

He told Metro what parents should look out for to know if their child is at risk of smartphone addiction: “Is their device use disturbing activities?” he said.

“Is it stopping them from going to school, or engaging in other activities such as having dinner with the family? When someone seems absolutely not able to stop, they’re losing control”.

Teenagers are ‘replacing drugs with smartphones’, researchers suggest

Dr Graham said parents should lead by example and limit their own use of mobile devices and plan designated tech-free family time.

Outdoor activities can be particularly beneficial to children who struggle to disconnect, he added.

“There’s something about those outdoor, immersive experiences that really help tech-addicted children. Even just going swimming, going to a football match, or going to the cinema can have a positive effect.”

Child psychotherapist Julie Lynn Evans, who has worked with hospitals, schools and families for 25 years, said her workload has significantly increased since the use of smartphones became widespread among young people.

“It’s a simplistic view, but I think it is the ubiquity of broadband and smartphones that has changed the pace and the power and the drama of mental illness in young people,” she told The Telegraph.

A ComRes poll of more than 1,000 parents of children aged under 18, published in September 2015, found 47 per cent of parents said they thought their children spent too much time in front of screens, with 43 per cent saying this amounts to emotional dependency.

AI

AlphaGo – The Movie | Full Documentary

 


By Lilly Dancyger

Source: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/mica-ai-assistant-lifelike-magic-leap-744244/


Some people already talk to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa like she’s a real person, setting her up for jokes, and having conversations that go way beyond the basic commands like “Alexa, play ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails.” And that’s how people are treating a disembodied voice. But what if you could see her — and what if she looked disturbingly human?

Magic Leap, an augmented-reality startup, introduced the next evolution of the virtual assistant at their conference earlier this month. Mica performs many of the same functions as Alexa or Apple’s Siri, but when users wear Magic Leap’s augmented reality glasses, they can also see her incredibly life-like avatar. Mica smiles, makes eye contact and even yawns, making the interactions even more convincing.

“Our focus was to see how far we could push systems to create digital human representations,” John Monos, Magic Leap’s vice president of human-centred AI, said at the conference. “Above all else, her facial movements are what connect you to her.”

“The technical hurdles are to get the interactions and intelligence to the high level that people expect,” he said. Mica is a prototype, and Magic Leap hasn’t said when they expect a commercial version to be available, or what further subtle characteristic will be added before then to make her even more convincing.

Magic Leap’s vault toward the other side of the uncanny valley — the term used to describe the unsettled feeling people have when faced with something that seems almost human, but isn’t convincing enough — raises ethical and existential questions about the future of humanity and how we interact with machines, as well as security risks.

Earlier this year, leading experts in artificial intelligence research issued a 100-page report outlining the risks of malicious use of AI. The report warned that the technology could be used to make phishing scams — tricking people into revealing sensitive information like credit card numbers — more advanced and prevalent. “The costs of attacks may be lowered by the scalable use of AI systems to complete tasks that would ordinarily require human labour, intelligence and expertise,” the report said.

AI could also be used for malicious political purposes, including increasing the spread of fake news and making surveillance easier.

“We also expect novel attacks that take advantage of an improved capacity to analyze human behaviours, moods and beliefs on the basis of available data,” the report said. “These concerns are most significant in the context of authoritarian states, but may also undermine the ability of democracies to sustain truthful public debates.”

In addition to predictions of all the ways AI could be misused, the researchers made recommendations for how to mitigate the risks. One key recommendation was:

“Researchers and engineers in artificial intelligence should take the dual-use nature of their work seriously, allowing misuse-related considerations to influence research priorities and norms, and proactively reaching out to relevant actors when harmful applications are foreseeable.” Let’s hope the designers at Magic Leap head these warnings before Mica-like entities end up in everyone’s home, collecting credit card information, spreading fake news and ratting us all out to the government.

So, would you have one of these AI Assistants at home?

AroundtheWorldin80Days


Free Ebooks: Around the World in 80 Days

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Around the World in 80 Days is an adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne published in 1873. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a 20,000 pound wager (about 2million pound in 2017) set by his friends at the Reform Club.

The technological innovations of the 19th century had opened the possibility of rapid circumnavigation, and such prospect fascinated Verne and his readership.  Three technological breakthroughs, in particular, occurred in 1869–70 that made a tourist-like around-the-world journey possible for the first time:

Consequently, it notably marked the end of an age of exploration and the start of an age of fully global tourism which could be enjoyed in relative comfort and safety. It sparked the imagination that anyone could sit down, draw up a schedule, buy tickets and travel around the world, a feat previously reserved for only the most heroic and hardy of adventurers.

Even up to the 20th and 21st century, this story still inspire a deep sense of exploration, adventure and imagination. Around The World In 80 Days has been adapted into television series, cartoons, films, theatre and even games.

About the author, Jules Vernes

Jules Verne (1828 – 1905) is widely regarded as the father of science fiction today. Verne wrote books about a variety of innovations and technological advancements years before they were practical realities. Although he died in 1905, his works continued to be published well after his death, and he became the second most translated author in the world.

Apart from the novel Around the World in 80 Days, he has written several other well-loved science fiction literatures such as Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and From Earth to Moon. Verne imagined many things that would become realities in the future: Video conferencing and lunar modules, among many others. Verne himself didn’t live long enough to see these inventions, but his writing certainly did. In 1989, his great-grandson discovered an unpublished manuscript. Its title? Paris in the Twentieth Century. As you would expect of Verne, the novel was full of futuristic technologies that had actually been invented by the time it was discovered in the real twentieth century: skyscrapers, worldwide communications networks and many others.

Jules Verne Predictions and Prophecies Newsreel PublicDomainFootage.com

Jules Verne – ONE minute Biography


Source:

https://www.unboundworlds.com/2013/10/five-facts-about-futurist-father-of-science-fiction-jules-verne/

http://www.ancientpages.com/2018/07/13/jules-verne-a-man-ahead-of-his-time-who-predicted-the-future/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Around_the_World_in_Eighty_Day