Future of Education

MOOC(Massively Open Online Courses) are being played as the great innovation of education and it’s downfall. So which one is it? I believe it is both, its going to change the landscape, but I can guarantee that the old model everyone is use to is going to die. Teachers and administrators should be afraid because it marks an end to the easy money and laziness that has plagued higher education. Knowledge will be freely accessible and open to all(now I mean truly open, not like some of the scams that are going behind the scenes). Big top rich schools are leading the charge but they too forgot that the goal of education is to be free and open. Such things as selling licenses for courses and at outrageous rates tells me that the “old guard” hasn’t yet seen the big picture yet. They still think they can make big and fill the school coffers. They believe that by having the brand and the power of a “diploma” is going to see them through. They are gravely mistaken for the education system is going to see the greatest liberation it has ever seen. The idea of “credentialism” as we know it must end, if we are truly aiming for a better global education on a grand scale. For a piece of paper does not determine knowledge but merely that you have sat in a classroom, taken tests, finished homework, and completed projects.

Our education system is like a factory that wants to produce good little citizens that do what they are told and fit in the societal structure. Universities like Harvard, and MIT are not seeing where the long term goal of this will be. Eventually everyone, professionals, hobbyist, and others will be producing in one form or another their own original content where they may not offer “credits” or “diplomas” but like in the ancient times were merely reading made one more intelligent it will be the same with open online education. A person will be able to choose not from just “institutionalized” colleges but also from people from all walks of earth. It is a similar theme of “internet anarchy” which has revolutionized the music, film, and the publishing industry. The Copyright industry is still fighting piracy, alas the government still want to “withhold” dangerous information, and now education wants it to be 1985. Jokes on them. Internet and the philosophy it has unleashed is here to stay unless we all get unplugged. Change is constant and occurring and it has no mercy on anyone. These dead institutions act as if they can survive and maybe they have a chance to evolve and evolve themselves yet there will be casualties there always is. It is often not pretty but it is necessary for progress to evolve and develop.

In truth the education system has for too long gotten fat with money and laziness. It abused the economically poor students and wage laborers. It is a system designed only for the truly wealthy as it was originally intended when the university system was put in place in Europe. It is a new era and a new time where this no longer has to be true. A person no longer needs to mortgage away their future for the promise of a better tomorrow. It will be a future where people around the world can contribute to world of knowledge as Wikipedia, Piratebay, and Youtube have shown what global creators and collaborators can make possible. To deny our desire for knowledge right, wrong, complete, or incomplete is criminal. The truth is as the old barriers break down it can only benefit our own personal liberty of knowledge and if we as a species are so afraid of what that can bring than what does that say about ourselves?

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Death of Privacy(A New Era with a New War)

A new era and a new war. The world right now in the early 21st century is enduring a time of revolution and change. In a free flowing era of information technology, where everything seems open has smacked society with the truth: the rules of the game have changed. Governments want to seize information, monitor it, control it, because of the perceived threats it fears. Entire nations have refined the rules of what espionage is not only is it just targeting diplomats and government officials, but also the common citizen especially since accessing the normal lives of everyday citizens is even easier than it has been before in human history. Many people already knew or had a strong inkling but when it is slapped in your face as it was with the NSA and Snowden(if you haven’t been checking the news you should be). It becomes very apparent of what I have said before that privacy as we know it is dead. When we wish to interact with people through the cell phone, email, or video within that moment privacy is dead, but it was also dead when we wrote letters and telegrams. Spies and others often would intercept these messages, but it was not as invasive as it is now. Privacy ends when you are listening without permission on a private conversation, or when you are secretly watching someone in their own privacy either in person or by the use of technologies such as hidden cameras. Privacy is an illusion unless you are truly isolated. I sometimes wonder if people truly understand how limited freedom actually is. For instance you can take your own life at any moment, but you can also you get sick and die I am pretty sure not many people living today desire such a fate. An earthquake can destroy an entire city, at the moment we can’t control those types of events so there is no choice on our part. We often place choice with freedom. We can choose to buy certain products, we can choose which street to turn on, we can choose what mate we can to reproduce with, and various others examples of “choice.” As I mentioned before choice is not as “free” as we like to make it. Yes we can pick what novel to read, or what movie to watch, but we didn’t pick our parents, genetic code, or country of birth. All huge factors of our experience and quality of life. If you are born poor in India you will live a very different life, and perhaps an even shorter one compared to a rich person living in France. Yet a healthy African child can live longer than a cancer ridden baby in the United Kingdom. It is chance? Luck? or Destiny? This often goes into deep philosophical debates on the matter and also the human yearning to make the world a more equal place so that where you are born should not determine major aspects of your life.

Let’s go back to privacy and how information technology has changed the landscape. People who have access to information technology have access to massive information and create millions of different online communities where common interest and not geographical location plays more of a factor. People can build friendships across entire continents with only the language barrier stopping them. Yet it is this double edge sword that people are finally realizing. Society relies on common infrastructure and corporations to provide these services but they also have access to this information. Information that can statistically predict what products you will buy what websites you visit and what communities you are a part of. From the massive data society is outputting every single probable future that can be determined. A scary thought indeed thus the question remains how can a person be free and have choices when algorithms can determine what choices and places we will search next. It becomes apparent that we are not as truly free as we would like to believe. What I am trying to get across is that by merely saying “stop NSA” and “stop corporations” will not stop the changes that are occurring today. Someone will naturally yearn for power and today information is power. The illusion of freedom is so profound for if everyone is truly free would they not marry whoever they wished, be rich, good-looking, and powerful? I think many would but for those of us who understand such dangers we would reject such notions no matter how tempting it would be. Freedom is an ideal, and much of it is a human construct. We can choose to encrypt all personal data, or unplug ourselves from our technology, but now an entire generation especially those age 35 and under don’t think this is such an option. What this piece is attempting to do is to challenge what you think of freedom and liberty. Ask yourself what is freedom to you and how truly free are you? Going through this journey is important and I think one realizes that freedom is not as absolute as we would like to believe. There is choice but if choice is limited than how can that be freedom? The paradox continues.

Side Note: I recommend if you haven’t watched it to see it. PirateBay documentary

When We Eat The Gods

Humanity is entering an interesting point in human history where information technology is expanding at a rate in which has never been seen before. The power of the computer has yet to be fully realized, and the transformative power of it has yet to reach its peak. Never before in human history have we seen these kinds of developments. All of the great thinkers before us could not fathom the world we live in today and many of us who are live today could not envision the world as it is. If you asked people in the 1970’s that something like the internet would exist in almost every home and every electronic device only few would share your vision. For the future is unpredictable in its timing and behavior for us who try to understand it can only look at our past and present knowledge. We can only see what is before us and based on our intellect can deduce the trends that exists and the realistic events than can occur. Humanity has had a long history of development, prosperity, and decline. For some reason on this planet a species like ours was allowed to flourish and exist as if the evolution was meant to be. Often religious people take this and run with it, for “we are the chosen people” and “we are God’s image” messages that often are preached in religious circles.

This article is not to debate if these are right or wrong but only to state that even if one believes this is correct or incorrect one cannot debate that it there is something special/peculiar about our species. What is interesting to note is that it is a strong possibility that we may be entering an entirely new era or transition point where eventually humanity as we know it will not be the “king  of the pyramid” but instead something else entirely will be put its place. Now I cannot tell you exactly what will take place and there are many other writers/futurists who will have just as many theories based on logic and luck. To foretell this far in the future often one is lead into failure, but nevertheless I will make the attempt. I make this attempt because unlike other thinkers I actually do not believe I will see this reality but merely the beginning of it. So I will be able to realize if I was correct or incorrect, but I will say this that many of the issues of the past that have plagues humanity will be brought to the surface and depending on how it turns out the actions and reactions of those events will forever change the history of our said universe. Let’s begin with the fundamental aspects of our species. Humanity has made progress it has developed but now we are seeing the limits of what humanity can bring. Humanity is contradicting, corruptible, and irrational far too often for its own good. For all the good aspects humanity can bring such as community and creativity it is clearly evident we are still very immature as a species.

Let’s look at the paradox of our own species living circumstances, we all know deep down(yes even the global-climate deniers) that if we over populate and over consume that living life on this planet as it is will be disrupted. Perhaps we can survive such disruption but why would we take just a gigantic risk with our own survival? This goes beyond any form of discrimination/division,  but the very survival of our entire species. The logic is simple if we place a rat in a large room, and give it resources to live on and let it multiply exponentially eventually the isolated system(like the earth is) the species will have to decrease its population in order to survive(reach an equilibrium with its ecosystem) and if the resources are still available maintain its survival if not it will merely die out because it had over extended its living capacity and thus became an irreversible decision. I do think technology and science can help build solutions and create a more sustainable human future, yet I think it is the human aspect of excess and need that is lead us down this dangerous road. It is my firm belief that if this is not openly addressed in open discussions it can very well lead us to our eventual downfall. It is not only the environment where the issues lies but also within our own societies and cultures which has become so destructive to each other. We have created a society that is very shallow and lonely.

A society where many are disillusioned, exploited, and depressed  a culture where instead of recognizing common ancestry and that all life is interconnect and our diversity as a species and the biodiversity we live is something beautiful and to be cherished instead we hate upon each other we pay no attention and often discriminate not only each other but also ourselves. If you truly reflect on it is truly sad but it should also drive us to move beyond this to evolve and bring forth our species best qualities. All too often it is merely wasted and human potential is only used to live in a sort of fantasy world which has no true value nor purpose where it should be used into shaping our future to create a better tomorrow. A hard and difficult task, one with many pitfalls yet a mission that was trusted upon us.

Voltaire

Humanity has been facing similar questions over a long period of time. I think that even early civilizations had the same initial questions about life and existence which was stratified with religion. From Zeus to the Holy trinity. Let us get back to Voltaire the French philosopher who recently taught me something very interesting in that even the greatest thinkers in human history struggled with the same questions every human faces(for they are human also if you think about it). Why is there suffering? Is there a plan? Or is it random and meaningless? Why are the institutions which we create to serve and protect us and provide order can be so corrupted. In his time it was the Catholic Church, Kings, and other forms of politics. Ironically it is similar to the very questions we have today about financial bankers, government, lobbyists, and corporations which all lead to corruption in some form or another. Should we be skeptical? Or just live our lives in peace and be ignorant? Is there a balance one can achieve between the two? All questions with no easy answers. Perhaps it is too much to handle and it can easily overwhelm and stretch the mind to capacities beyond our control. For even the greatest mathematical geniuses of any era could not the answer the questions we are striving to answer. One must consider the possibility that there is no answer or just one we have no discovered yet. For we know that gravity exists but we do not know why. Could you image a world where the opposite were true know why but not know how works? Is that even possible?

One must know that the answers we seek today are very similar if not the same as other thinkers before us which one again relates to my belief that we are both Aristotle and Mao. Our species has been trying to grasp the answers of our mind for a long time now. There has been progress but not enough for we have not tapped into the potential of every living creature and being. We are a species of frustration.  It seems sometimes we merely represent the world around us. Universe at a basic level is just comprised of energy, matter, and most importantly collisions. Collisions, conflict and no I am not just talking about war which still exists, but inner conflict of self-image and morality. Most importantly the conflicts of our dreams for one man can dream of world peace but his brother at the same time is dreaming of world power. Taking morality aside, if one of them reaches their dream the other will feel sad, lonely, and rejected. This was a dramatic example but it could be simple as something two guys liking a girl or the thousands of people who apply to college some get rejection while others get accepted. Sometimes it seems survival of the fittest is the only true law of the of human construct.

Yet we as a species have fought against our inner evil dreaming of a utopia where the world would be closer to our ideals than it current exists today. Time and time again thinkers, scientists, and engineers have dreamed and thought of ways to create a better world and yet humanity seems as if it has a long way to go before a better world can be achieved.

Star Trek

So recently I have been watching Star Trek the original series. I usually have a hard time watching anything that is beyond the 70’s since I wasn’t even born during the time period. I expected the lack of special effects and the dialogue hasn’t been bad as bad as a I thought. The hairstyles of both the men and women were pretty unusual if you compare it to the present day. Women hairstyles were actually not that bad it’s the men that seems a bit old school for my taste.

I give the show a lot of credit when I was young my family watch a lot of the series that came after the original Star Trek Series. The Next Generation is a big favorite in my family which by the way I will have to watch myself  at some point in the future to give it my opinion. Now I am a big sci-fi guy, Star Wars films are movies I watched a lot as a kid the original trilogy and the new prequels. My family would watch Star Trek but I wasn’t able to get into it as a kid but only as an adult I can give it some appreciation. Stargate is the show I watched as a kid/teen and a show I do have a personal preference for.

Now for a 60’s show I give it a lot of credit since it had a very diverse casting, and parables. I did a little research on my own about the show (wikipedia) and found my initial suspicious correct. The show at least the original series has lots of contemporary messages for that time period. I also give it credit for taking bold steps with its diverse cast given its time period. I bet not many shows or even people who even had the courage to do so at the time. 1960’s were an unusual time period for the country(USA if I have foreign readers)

I do have to say though lots of freaking gorgeous women on the show, I mean it seems every actress on the freaking show is attractive I mean I’ve seen modern British and US shows with a lot less eye candy. Tons of Captain Kirk make out sessions I mean at one point I think every female “friend” of his in the show he kisses. Granted I wasn’t fully expecting that type of character archetype but I found it pretty humorous  since I have seen a lot of anime with the same type of male character who also have lots of girls chasing the main protagonist. It seems that even 50 years ago it was cool to be a womanizer but if a women does the same she is a whore(which I find very sexist).

Double standards I do not necessarily approve of. I am only starting the second season and I will one day write about my final thoughts of the show once I am done with it. Some of the cheesy lines so far do make me laugh though.  I guess people in 20 years will say the same of my own favorite shows.

The plight of man

I can only see things in my perspective. For I have to consider the fact that I may be wrong and that it is entirely possible that my perspective is just a twisted view of the reality around me. Let us get back to the topic at hand the one I wish to discuss about. Idea that gender is perhaps a social construct of human imagination. A man is suppose to be tall, white and handsome with a large penis. I know this is pretty general but to look for specifics just look at television ads, movies, shows, and modern magazines. It is what you see, perhaps it is rooted in our biology and our desire to get a new mate for our offspring. There may be some truth in such an argument but to have these types of value systems distorted is beyond what I can possibly fathom. To systematically change our physiology and psychology for the desire to belong and be happy is what I consider to be the false path. I take this perspective as a man but it can also be seen as a women also. Sublime figure, perfect body, breasts, and pleasing personality that would fit in the world of men. It is this unrealistic desire of people to fit in the mold of the dominant society that leads to unhappiness for some along with additional social anxieties that can easily get out of their control. For how many of us chose our genetic makeup and upbringing? Yet we as a species will undermine and harm those who have no control over such a matter. We should feel injustice and empathy for each other as we do for the sick and poor and but society acts as if a man having a small penis is his fault and to be ridiculed, bullied, and make ashamed of something out of his control. Or the girl who does not have the perky breasts and undergoes surgery because of a need to feel loved and wanted. We should strive to master our biology and primitive instincts and become more than what we are. Humanity is still attempting to transcend prejudice and fear to embrace the unknown and strive for the truth. Embrace uncertainty and failure instead of running away from it. Accept pain and cry. Laugh and love. Ditch customs and social norms don’t do things because your told to or you feel are socially pressured to do but do it because you feel it is right thing to do. It is vague I know but that is the point, science has taught us so much yet the deeper truths of life and our world are all still vague. We should not fear it but as I stated before strive to understand it in the best way possible. Let your mind be free and let go. Give up what is not truly relevant to your life and get rid of the distractions and only care for what truly matters. It is something that is easily written but not so easily achieved.

Let me share my personal story in all of this. I believe that the reason I went down this path of rejection of society and isolation to some degree is because of the scars and pain I carry. Searching for meaning in a world that can be very cruel. Before I even focused on culture and society which would later only compounded my problem. I had to face the realities of my classmates, my peers, and my family. I do not fit the model of what western society considers ideal for a male. It is something that many do not even admit to themselves because they still hold on to the fact they can belong and still fit in somehow. I gave up on that. As someone who is not white, but actually a minority of colored skin I realized that I had become the victim of racist jokes and humor. As someone who is below average in height I got use to the jokes and embarrassment on the basketball court and lack of speed and power. Having people call me “buddy” and “kid” people patting me on the head as if I was a dog. Having a below average dick that is not very big and is often the joke of women circles. Where people snicker and demean you. I even sweat a lot more than others and in high school I become the humor of many nicknames such as “waterpark” and “raging waters.” Seeing others in the same pain also and not being able to do anything. If you are reading this and have felt similar pain than you know what I am writing about. Yet to internalize this pain, anger, and sadness I become the very thing I despised a darker person a crueler person who lacked respect for others. Where one day I looked at myself in the mirror and saw not the shy boy I was once as child but as someone who has hurt people with my words and hands. Where the bitterness and hatred filled my heart. Where the light becomes a bit dimmer each day. Ironically suicide never truly was an option for me, I do not know why but I never could allow myself to give up voluntarily. Perhaps it was always my natural curiosity and thirst for understanding. For perhaps I am more obsessed of understanding why is there cruelty, pain and angry to begin with than the mere fact I experienced so much of it.

I do not consider myself a poor speaker but I do have trouble expressing my emotions with people face to face it is part of my personality. I never show face unless I have completely broken down which is usually in my room late at night by myself. So when I write this now I just feel so much more in peace. The power of language and writing is something which I believe is understated(because even I underestimated it once myself). The computer is the greatest gift I have ever received. Now this piece of writing is very depressing and dark because it is truthful but now let me tell the rest of my story. It is easy to give into the pain, to let it consume you and drive your actions. To get that surgery you don’t need or to act a certain way around others or put down others to feel superior. To always say things and act in ways that is socially acceptable. To accept the truths given but not discovered. What saved me in the end was going down that “rabbit hole” and taking the blue pill (Matrix movie reference if you have not seen it I highly recommend it). I learned that I may be imperfect in the eyes of society and of myself but that is okay for the journey of life is a quest to better yourself in realistic tangible ways and not by measurements of socio-economic status or other forms of physical wealth. I learned to accept myself and to take the harder path to walk alone to stand alone and to search for my own path and not blindly follow others but seek things out for myself. A much harder path and even cruel one at times and I may not even be happy but I know for certain if I let myself be lied to by the world around me I would be much unhappier. I do not believe I am alone either I believe that we all deep down have the same questions of life and self-doubt and sense of awe of the world around us. We are just very good at drugging ourselves to be blinded and be safe from the what we cannot comprehend and understand. Transcend and transform and eventually ascend. Is my message for fall. Topics for another time but my message is often one found in religion and it is amazing how a book which we suppose we cherish instead we twist the words to fit anything we want to or take literal meaning where it makes no sense. As much I disagree with religions books there are some good philosophical knowledge there. The one I wish to impart from this article is that you should learn to appreciate and love your image. To respect those around you and even though you may fail and harm others do not be afraid to be wrong and apologize for such a simple act of kindness can go along way and to not ask for forgiveness for the sake of your own but to do so because we wish to undone a wrong and such an emotion can go a long way in life.

It’s a cliché but I believe in my opinion small acts of good can go a long way in repairing our fragile minds.

We Are The Universe

We tend to forget to we are all one. At a certain point in time we came from one piece of matter. Even if you are heavily religious you must believe that we all came from a common place. We are compromised of the atoms of the universe all those who have ever lived and not lived. All species past, present, and future. We are a part of this universe we cannot completely comprehend. The stars are us and we are the stars. We are both Ghandi and Hitler. Light and dark. As a species we are cowardly obsessed with our pride and ego. We are the chosen species that we are the ones that bring meaning to everything to the world for our needs. Yet it seems quite the opposite we are more interconnected with this world than we tend to believe. Humans tend to forget the very idols they worship, athletes, celebrities, historical figures, and role models we are them as they are us. A simple thought yet a powerful one for it means that we are both saint and devil. Charity worker and rapist. Murderer and lover. Yet it is the unwillingness to discuss and accept this which does not allow us to make progress on moving beyond our faults. The only true progress so far as been a result of our fear of punishment, and death. For now we have the technology capability to destroy all and societies laws teach us how to behave based on previous societies and doctrine. I believe that to truly transform ourselves we need a different kind of motivation if we are to take the next step one based not of fear but of courage. Sometimes we need courage to do what is needed.