Artificial Intelligence

There are so many different technologies that have come to the forefront in the past few years. Whether it is new advances in medicine, advanced weaponry being used by militaries around the world, or incredible innovations being made in the entertainment industry, it seems as if there are news stories about amazing new technologies popping up everyday. One technology that has received a substantial amount of news coverage in the past few years, though has been around for decades, is artificial technology. Various forms of artificial technology have been around for decades; however, there have been many new innovations in the past few years that have caused many people in the scientific community to be very excited. This paper will focus on artificial intelligence’s role in the world today, having a focus on the representation of artificial intelligence in popular culture, and what new innovations in artificial intelligence mean for the future.

Artificial intelligence is defined as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” Now when people see this definition, and think about the term “artificial intelligence” in general, they tend to think of very advanced forms of this type of technology. These people hear the words “artificial intelligence,” and immediately think of humanoid robots or super-computers that can solve complex equations in less than a second. While these are perfectly valid examples of artificial intelligence, and will be discussed later, they have only been developed within the past few years and have little value in the everyday life of most people. There are far many more examples of artificial intelligence that people seem to forget about and actually have a practical use in everyday life. Many things that you use in your everyday life are forms of artificial intelligence without you even realizing it. For example, anytime you use a calculator to solve a math equation, you are using a form of artificial intelligence. It is considered artificial intelligence because it solves equations by simply inputting data, something that would normally require human intelligence to accomplish.

A second example of artificial intelligence that one uses in everyday life is a smartphone. It seems that wherever one goes, he/she sees someone using a smartphone. Now, it is more surprising when someone doesn’t have a smartphone than when someone does have one, something that was reversed only five years ago. Although a smartphone in itself is a form of artificial intelligence, its various apps, or applications, are forms of artificial intelligence themselves. Various diet apps can keep track of calories and determine a daily food plan. Cameras can take photographs and automatically post them to various social media sites such as Twitter or Instagram. Workout apps can automatically keep track of the amount of weights lifted in various exercises and even suggest alternative exercises based on one’s type of workout. Smartphones will even be able to track emotions and daily activities in the near future. In a report by the MIT Technology Review, researchers at Microsoft Research Asia have developed a software that mimics brain functions called “deep learning” (Metz, 2015). This software will be able to recognize facial expressions to decipher one’s emotions and even, through an accelerometer placed on one’s wrist, determine if someone is performing such activities as eating a bowl of soup or brushing teeth. These forms of artificial intelligence in the product of a smartphone are incredibly exciting as we move forward; however, the most popular and thought of artificial intelligence when it comes to smartphones has to be Siri. Siri, or Cortana in Androids, is a form of artificial intelligence that can answer almost any question asked to it. It does this by sorting through answers on the Internet or providing answers by searching the vast memory available to smartphones. Although this type of technology seems ordinary today, five years ago this type of technology was absolutely revolutionary. Being able to ask a machine a specific, personal question and receive a specific answer in return was something only seen in movies; however, now it is a reality.

I have always been interested in the idea of artificial intelligence, and what it could mean for us now and in the future. One medium in which artificial intelligence has been very prevalent, and a medium that I have enjoyed immensely throughout my life, is movies. I have always had a fondness for movies, especially sci-fi/action ones. One thing many of my favorite movies, including Star Wars, Terminator, and Avengers, all have in common is they heavily feature artificial intelligence. In Star Wars, the audience is introduced to C-3PO, a humanoid robot that assists the rebels.  The cyborgs in Terminator are sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor and her son.  Avengers has Iron Man’s artificial intelligence, named Jarvis, assist him with tech development, and the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron will see the team square off against a form of artificial intelligence in the maniacal robot Ultron, who is attempting to eliminate the human race.  What has always intrigued me about these movies is that humans either have to rely upon something that is clearly not human, as such is the case with Star Wars, or destroy a technology that man originally made to help the human race.

In my own life, I have experienced and used a multitude of examples of artificial intelligence. One of the first experiences I can vividly remember of using a form of artificial intelligence is when my parents bought their first GPS. A GPS, or global positioning system, is a form of artificial intelligence that can accurately determine the location of a person and calculate the most efficient route to the destination that person is trying to reach. It is considered artificial intelligence because, basically, it is a computer system or series of systems that does a task (give directions) that would normally require human intelligence to do. I remember being in awe of how the GPS knew where we were, not understanding the concept of satellite tracking. I was in further awe of how the GPS could search for a multitude of different businesses and places, including restaurants and gas stations. Nowadays, it is fascinating the level at which people depend on a GPS for navigation. Whether it is on their phone or a traditional setup, most people would be unable to navigate a few miles from their homes. Many people do not even know how to read a map anymore. A second form of artificial intelligence that I have a lot of experience with is video games. Video games are an example of artificial intelligence when instead of playing against another human opponent, one plays against the A.I., or commonly referred to as the “computer” by gamers. When playing against the “computer”, it makes decisions in the game that a human opponent would normally make; additionally, one can set the A.I.’s difficulty to easy, medium, or hard, depending on how difficult of an opponent one is willing to face.

There have been many positive outcomes that have come from the use of artificial intelligence in our world today. One field in which innovations in artificial intelligence have significantly helped those in the field is the field of medicine. For example, there are now devices that can be implanted into a person’s body that release the correct daily amount of medicine that person needs. Additionally, there are machines, such as life support machines, that are able to keep a person alive and keep track of vitals such as heartbeat and brain function. A second field in which innovations in artificial intelligence have been made is transportation. For example, pilots can now turn on the auto-pilot feature of an aircraft that will fly the plane by itself. This significantly reduces the stress pilots face. A third field in which innovations in artificial intelligence have been made is the military field. For example, there are now drone technologies that can locate potential terrorists and predict where they will be and the potential threat they can be. Not even ten years ago, this type of technology was only seen in science fiction.

Artificial intelligence is one of the primary scientific issues that has received many ethical and cautionary questions in the past few years. There are still a large portion of people who fear what artificial intelligence may do in the future.  In regards to AI in industry, these people fear that this technology will “eventually…think faster than us and…get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently” (Holley, 2015). An example of this already being done has to do with the various automobile factories around the country, and even the world. Many automobile plant workers have been laid off because companies are deciding to use robots to build the vehicles instead. They are doing this because it costs less money and is more efficient. Famous scientists/technologists such as Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and recently Steve Wozniak have all expressed their concerns with the emerging dependence on artificial intelligence. Extremists among this group fear these devices of artificial intelligence, in time, will become so powerful that they can be used by those in power to cause harm to others. In Langdon Winner’s article “Do Artifacts Have Politics?”, he states that a form of technology can be democratic or totalitarian. It simply depends on those who use the technology, and the same can be said for those who use new innovations in artificial intelligence.

In conclusion, artificial intelligence, in short, is a technology that uses a computer system to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence to do. Although there are forms of artificial intelligence that are very advanced, there are also examples of artificial intelligence, such as calculators, that although are simple, yet very useful in the lives of everyday people. Artificial intelligence has been portrayed in various movies over the years, both in a positive and negative light. Although there have been many positive outcomes from the development of various forms of artificial intelligence, including innovations in transportation and medicine, there are still many people who are cautious of continuing to developer newer and newer forms of artificial intelligence. The verdict is still out whether or not these new innovations will end up harming or helping the human race.

Works Cited

Holley, Peter. “Apple Co-founder on Artificial Intelligence: ‘The Future Is Scary and Very Bad for People’.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

Metz, Rachel. “Deep Learning Squeezed Onto a Phone.” MIT Technology Review. MIT Technology Review, 9 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

Winner, Langdon. The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1986. Print.

Extra Blog Post: Human Genetic Engineering

One topic we discussed in class that I thought was one of the most interesting was the topic of human genetic engineering. There are several advantages and disadvantages to this science, along with the debate of whether or not it is ethical to partake in human genetic engineering. For the most part I feel that I am against the whole idea of it, even though it is very fascinating and such an accomplishment in science.

I do not agree with parents choosing whether or not their child will have blonde or brunette hair, or whether they will be short or tall. I do not think that is fair to the child and I think parents should be thrilled with however their child was supposed to turn out without the genetic engineering. I think as humans we all want the best for ourselves and our families, at least most people do, and I do not agree that this is the way to get the best for them. There is also that possibility that something could go wrong with the whole process of the genetic engineering, and then the result is a child who has an extra chromosome or some other problem that they previously would not have had if the parents had just left the genes the way they were meant to be.

The only time I feel that I would be for human genetic engineering is if it could prevent a birth defect or terminal illness in the child. Birth defects can often be life threatening to the child and hard on the families, so I feel that if you have the chance to terminate that gene, you should. I am not saying there is anything wrong with children who have certain birth defects, but I have seen firsthand how hard it can be on a family and it will break your heart. This is the only time I feel that it makes sense to want to change your child’s genes because it would be enhancing their lives.

I also think that gene therapy is a great idea, again because it enhances the patient’s life.  Scientists have been studying gene therapy for a long time now, and hope that someday it can really cure terrible diseases. The whole idea of gene therapy is to replace a gene or chromosome in a person’s DNA to make them healthier and to get rid of the unhealthy gene present in their bodies. There are certain chronic illnesses that gene therapy is supposed to be able to cure and scientists also hope that it will be able to cure certain types of cancers. I think it is very fascinating to see how far science has come in today’s age, but with some of it, like changing the genes in your child to give them a certain hair or eye color, I do not see what the point is other than an advance in technology. Other than some of the ethical issues that go along with human genetic engineering, I think it is a great discovery, and hopefully it can do a lot of good, such as changing the lives of those who are unhealthy.

Human Reliance on Bees

Humans have been using bees as a resource for ages. Bees are mainly used for honey collection and pollination purposes. Through bees, human society has gained not only honey, which is a valuable source of calories, but also they have gained the ability to grow various fruits and vegetables for human consumption. With these things in mind, it is easy to see how important bees are for human life. Despite this, people have failed to keep bee populations from declining. Ever since World War 2, bee populations in the US and around the world have been constantly and consistently diminishing. There are several reasons for this, most of which revolve around changes in agriculture practices. Another issue currently being explored is the effect of specific pesticides on bees. Bees are an essential part of human life, yet humans are the biggest threat to bees as a whole.

While there is no precise estimate on when humans started utilizing bees as a resource, cave paintings showing things such as honey collection, honeycombs, and bees have been found around the world and can be dated as far back as 40,000 years ago (Wayman). These days, bees that are kept by commercial beekeepers produce honey and then that honey is sold for human use. In some places, like the Dakotas or California, honey production is a large source of income. In addition to this, there are businesses that rent large quantities of bees for pollination purposes. Farmers with a large plot of land filled with crops that are required to be pollinated by bees, such as almonds or grapes, are able to rent colonies of bees. The colonies are stored in boxes, which are transported by truck to the farm. The bees are then released to pollinate the plants, and when this is finished, the bees are loaded back onto the truck and taken back. Each year in the US, over half a billion dollars in pollination fees are collected, and as bee populations continue to drop, these pollination fees are rising (Bond, Plattner, and Hunt PAGE). With this in mind, it makes sense that human society would want the bee population to increase. An increase in the bee population would allow pollination and honey prices to drop, which in turn would allow the prices of certain foods to drop as well. With more food at a lower price, human society as a whole would benefit.

Although renting bees for pollination is profitable, society as a whole benefits more from the act of pollination itself. Without bees, crops such as carrots, cucumbers, apples, onions, broccoli, and cotton would no longer be available. “[Bees] are critical pollinators: they pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world” (“What Would Happen If Bees Went Extinct?”). Bees supply an enormous amount of produce, so without them it may not be possible to sustain the current human population. Without bees, produce would become scarce, and in turn, expensive. In addition, although cotton is not something comes to mind when people think of plants that must be pollinated, it is an exceptionally important crop and it is pollinated by bees. Many of the fabrics that make up clothing are made from cotton, and cottonseed is also fed to cattle. The extinction of bees would result in not only a drop in available clothing, but it could also affect the number of cattle available, further affecting the food supply. With fewer cattle, there would be a decrease in dairy products as well as meat, making the task of feeding the human population even more difficult. With fewer fruits and vegetables, less meat, and fewer dairy products available, it is difficult to imagine that the current human population could be sustained.

It is clear that human life relies heavily on bees, yet each change in agriculture seems to have a negative impact on bees. The bee population started declining around the same time that World War II ended, and during that same time, the first big changes in agriculture was taking place. The first was the switch to synthetic fertilizers. Before World War II, farmers would plant clover and alfalfa as what were called ground cover plants because those plants are natural fertilizers. This was good for the bees because bees are able to feed off of those plants (Spivak). When farmers switched to synthetic fertilizers and stopped planting cover plants, bees could no longer live in farmlands. With only a few crops to choose from, and those suitable food crops only blooming at a specific time of year, it became very difficult for bees to survive in or near farms.

Another change that came with World War II was the use of herbicides. These herbicides kill weeds growing around crops. “Many of these weeds are flowering plants that bees require for their survival” (Spivak). Weeds that could grow alongside crops would provide nutrition for the bees as they passed through parts of a farm that did not have crops that they could feed on. Unfortunately, those weeds are undesirable for farmers because they competed with the crops that the farmers were trying to grow. However, without those weeds, a large area of land that used to be a great place for bees to feed became a food desert.

This problem became even worse as farmers began using more land for only one crop, a practice called monoculture. As farmers started adopting the monoculture practice, they created large plots of land where bees had no plants to feed on unless that one crop that the farmer had planted was in bloom. Even if the farmer planted a crop that bees feed on, it is only in bloom during a specific time of year, leaving the bees without food for the majority of each year. Because of this, bees were no longer able to inhabit farms. For bees, this was a form of habitat loss, which had a serious impact on the bee population as a whole. Now that bees are incapable of living in harmony with farms, farmers are forced to rent bee colonies from commercial beekeepers. Truckloads of bees must be transported in boxes, which is not only stressful for the bees, but also expensive for the farm owner.

These problems became even worse with the introduction of stronger and more versatile pesticides. Pesticides differ from herbicides and insecticides in that they are able to kill not only weeds and insects, but also bacteria, fungi, or other organisms. Pesticides allow farmers to increase crop production by reducing competition with weeds or keeping pests from feeding on the plants, but some pesticides can be harmful to bees. When bees take pollen to their colony as food, at least six different pesticides can be found in each load of pollen that the bee brings back to its hive (Spivak). This means that all of the bees in the colony are being exposed to pesticides. If any ingredient included in the pesticides is particularly harmful to bees, it could potentially harm a large portion of the colony if not the entire colony.

In addition, there is a relatively new class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are different from other pesticides in that they move through the plant. Typically, the seeds are coated in the pesticide and as the plant grows, the pesticide continues to move through the plant. Lately there has been a lot of controversy over these pesticides and their potential relation to something called Colony Collapse Disorder. Colony Collapse Disorder is a strange phenomenon in which bees disappear from their hives during the winter. “…although other studies have suggested that CCD-related mortality in honey bee colonies may come from bees’ reduced resistance to mites or parasites as a result of exposure to pesticides, the new study found that bees in the hives exhibiting CCD had almost identical levels of pathogen infestation as a group of control hives, most of which survived the winter. This finding suggests that the neonicotinoids are causing some other kind of biological mechanism in bees that in turn leads to CCD” (“Study Strengthens Link…”). While it is not yet clear exactly why these pesticides are affecting bees the way they do, it is generally accepted that they are harmful to bees. Despite this, these pesticides continue to be used throughout the US. In the EU, however, neonicotinoids have been partially banned as a result of concern for bee populations. Unfortunately, several member states have been granting derogations to farmers who wish to use the banned products, which has mitigated the effects of the ban. This ban was only set to last for a short time until how neonicotinoids affect bees is better known.

While it is clear that something needs to be done to protect the bee population, actually fixing the problem will be complicated since it involves not only banning certain pesticides, but also changing current agricultural methods. It was because of bee activists that the EU was able to ban certain pesticides, but derogations for farm owners have allowed the problem to continue. In the US, business is also indirectly involved in politics, and so harmful pesticides will continue to be used. As Ann Cvetkovich said, “…trauma forges overt connections between politics and emotion” (pg 3). As the bee population continues to decline, food prices will rise, and the issue of hunger will cause current agricultural methods to be forced to be reconsidered. Once people are fully aware of how seriously the decline in the bee population will affect them, they will surely fight for a change.

In the past 70 years, the bee population has significantly declined, mostly due to changes in agricultural practice. Fortunately there is still hope for them. As research on pesticides continues, certain classes of pesticides will be banned, allowing the bee population to once again increase. If a time ever comes that the bee population becomes dangerously small, it will not take long to see the effects that a world without bees would have. Such an event would quickly result in changes to human farming methods, and a new appreciation for all that bees do. On a personal level, everyone can help sustain the bee population by planting bee friendly flowers and refraining from the use of pesticides in personal gardens. For everything bees do for humans, they should at least be allowed to remain unharmed as they pollinate peoples’ gardens.



Works Cited

Bond, Jennifer, Kristy Plattner, and Kevin Hunt. “Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: Economic Insight.” U.S. Pollination-Services Market (2014): n. pag. USDA. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

Spivak, Marla. “Why Bees Are Disappearing.” TED. June 2013. Lecture.

“Study Strengthens Link between Neonicotinoids and Collapse of Honey Bee Colonies.” Harvard School of Public Health. Harvard University, 19 May 2014. Web. 01 May 2015.

Wayman, Erin. “Humans, the Honey Hunters.” Smithsonian, 19 Dec. 2011. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

“What Would Happen If Bees Went Extinct?” BBC Future. BBC, 03 May 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Final Paper: Healthcare as an Archive of Feelings

Matt Kasson

Final Paper


Medicine in the modern era has been defined by incredible discoveries and miraculous cures. Vaccinations, antibiotics, as well as new diagnostic technologies now allow physicians and other medical professionals to eradicate disease more easily than any other time in human history. We have new understandings of how diseases and viruses operate, from the common cold through complex cancers. However, as with many other aspects of our modern culture, medicine is not perfect. In the United States especially, costs have skyrocketed while results lag behind. In 2013, we spent $2.9 trillion on healthcare alone, and these costs increase every year. (1) Before long, it is quite possible that our economy will be literally bankrupted as a result of this wild spending, and arguments abound as to what the best solution to this problem may be. While the issues at hand may seem complex, and many people may claim to  have the correct answer, the truth of the matter is that there is no clear cut solution to our problem at hand. Medicine and healthcare are extremely personal, intimate topics. When political decisions literally affect people’s lives it is no wonder that tensions and emotions alike flare up at every debate. Undeniably a complex issue, I believe we have a duty to at the very least understand this archive and out relationship with it whether one agrees with it or not. In this paper, I will try to examine both the specific causes of our healthcare crisis, as well as the current state of healthcare itself. Finally, I will evaluate our culture’s relationship with this issue, and how the technologies it represents shape the world around us.

One major source of cost for healthcare is that of prescription drugs. Many people are shocked at the idea of spending thousands of dollars on a single pill, however this a very real aspect of modern healthcare. As a result, many are often quick to point to large pharmaceutical companies as major drivers for these ridiculous costs. This may be true to an extent, but not so much as people might assume. One of the major reasons that medicines often have such high costs is not their actual manufacturing, the the research and development (R and D) that must go into each medicine before it can be sold. This process often takes years, and after a drug has been successfully created it must still pass the regulations and testing of the FDA, which again can take years. Add all this time together and it is not unreasonable to expect a single drug to cost a company billions of dollars to create, while taking up to a decade to even go to market. Hospitals are another often blamed culprit for the skyrocketing costs of healthcare. We have all heard the stories of people going to the emergency room for a look at an annoying cough, only to be slapped with a bill in the thousands of dollars. this aspect comes down mostly to an administrative issue, as well as a centralization problem in all hospitals. On top of this, the emergency room has in itself become known as an almost “ground zero” for the issues plaguing American healthcare. The ER is supposed to be used, clearly, as a place to go when you are faced with a true medical emergency. They are required and regulated to maintain enough professional personnel, diagnostic equipment, and supplies to handle any and every health problem which it may encounter. As a result, in my example of the thousand dollar bill for an annoying cough, the reason was not the visit itself but the resources needed to make that visit possible. Truly, however, all parts of the American hospital cost exponential amounts of money simply because are system lacks the organization to manage it as efficiently as we need it to.

As a system in this country, many would argue that the healthcare system itself is inherently flawed. One of the main arguments behind this reasoning is that private insurance companies, which in the past dominated the healthcare market, have the ability to determine which hospitals and which physicians they are willing to pay. In addition to this, often times they will simply refuse to pay for certain procedures. For many people who never purchased health insurance, the situation was even worse for both the patient as well as the system as a whole. This relationship held between the individual and this system can be illustrated in the following example: if a pregnant woman in labor was to walk into a hospital uninsured, what would the hospital do? Of course, they would have to care for the woman. It is in fact a law that they MUST care for this woman. (2) However, because this woman has no insurance it is very likely as well that she doesn’t have nearly enough money to even come close to paying the thousands of dollars needed by the hospital and its staff to carry out the procedure, in which case Medicare covers the cost. However, Medicare will likely not come close to covering the full amount needed. So then, who is responsible? In this case and in most cases, it is the hospital which must “foot the bill” so to speak. The hospital must pay for everything involved with the procedure, and cover the cost elsewhere. But where else can money come from? In truth, it comes from those people who DO have insurance. In order to cover the costs of those people without quality insurance, or any insurance at all, they must hike up all prices across the board. This reasoning is one of the main driving forces behind the Affordable Care Act. There is a paradox in this country that people without insurance are driving up insurance prices, which in turn forces less people to be able to afford and purchase health insurance. By forcing people to purchase cheaper and more flexible insurance from the government, many hoped that this cycle could be broken. In some ways it has. For instance, as of mid-2015, 11 million Americans gained health insurance coverage under the ACA, and the percentage of uninsured Americans dropped from 18% in 2013 to 11.9%. (3,4) While this helps, people fear that it will not be enough. By tackling all of healthcare, the government risks the possibility of bankrupting itself. Unless enough people take advantage of the program it is likely to collapse, the results for the national economy being devastating.

Now that I have given a background for the issue at hand, I’ll now attempt to evaluate the role of healthcare as both an archive of feelings in modern culture and a technology with which we as people have an ongoing and developing relationship. In “An Archive of Feelings,” Ann Cvetkovich related experiences of trauma to her own personal development. She writes that some of our most important personal and interpersonal growth comes as a result not of happiness but instead moments of intense stress or worry. She goes on to write that, “As a name for experiences of socially situated political violence, trauma forges overt connections between politics and emotions.” (5) For Cvetkovich, this trauma stemmed from the politics of lesbian and gay rights, and the toxic political discourse these things promoted. However, I believe and clear connection can be drawn between this topic and the topic of healthcare in America. For instance, both items detail the relationship of the government with our personal lives. In the case of Cvetkovich, the government attempted to strangle in many cases the feminist and gay rights movements, and in others it was often just the culture of the United States itself which attacked her. On the issue of healthcare the government and our culture alike also attempt to control what people can and cannot do; how we can and cannot live. We archive in hospitals, doctors, and nurses many emotions that we are unable to talk even to our own family’s about. Some of the most personal and emotional facets of our lives will take place in whitewashed rooms filled with men and women wearing lab coats. I think that for this reason, the healthcare system is one of the most unique in our current world. Few other places are concurrently so modern and open to the world while remaining secretive and silent for the people it serves. In “Alone Together” Turkle writes that, “We have to love our technology enough to describe it accurately. And we have to love ourselves enough to confront technology’s true effects on us.” (6) I feel that one of the greatest barriers most patients have in the world of medicine and healthcare is the inability to confront not only its abilities, but also its limits. We love the machines and pills that save us, but we hate the financial and emotional costs that they have.

Turkle wrote on technology as if it was a being separate from mankind, but one which we grow closer to each day. It was seen as a tool for our use, something apart yet integral to our daily lives. Medicine is very much similar to this, however I feel that in the near future this line of separation will grow thin. Healthcare as a whole is a monster in our modern world. It is a service which people need for their very survival, however it is something which can bankrupt entire families in the blink of an eye. Medical technology each year grows more and more advanced. Soon, much of modern medicine will become less a tool and more an extension of our own bodies. The consequences of these developments are some which humanity has never faced before, however there are facts on the table which cannot be denied: Our nation needs healthcare. We need it, and we need to change it before it is too late. It is something which impacts each and every person in our country and the world, and before we can reap its benefits we must come to learn how to control its consequences. Truly it is a problem which needs solving today, despite its true consequences not being felt until tomorrow.




2) 42 U.S. Code § 1395dd – Examination and treatment for emergency medical conditions and women in labor

3) Jenna Levy. “In U.S., Uninsured Rate Dips to 11.9% in First Quarter”. Gallup Polling.PMID 041815

4) Alonso-Zaldivar, Ricardo. “Number of Uninsured Fell by More Than 11 Million Since Passage of Obamacare, CDC Reports.” Huffington Post. 

5) Cvetkovich, Ann. “An Archive of Feelings.” 2003.

6) Turkle, Sherry, “Alone Together.” Basic Books 2011.




The Technological Changes of Music Production

As the world becomes more technologically advanced, we see can observe many changes that have taken place. Music production is an area where this is just as apparent. If we look back just 100 years, more technologically advanced countries are almost unrecognizable from their dated counterpart. Music has almost fundamentally changed over the years. But, how has ever-advancing technology changed the core of music production? This paper sets out to observe the recording process to collaboration and the changes that have taken place as technology has advanced, beginning with the recording process.

One of the first and most fundamental changes that has taken place in music production is the recording process. When music was first being recorded and produced, the musicians all had to get together in one room and record their song until they all played their parts perfectly and with minimal error. The song structure was strictly limited to what the band had decided on, before any recording took place. The sound of the instruments and vocals were also pre-determined. A lot of thought and effort went into writing and practicing this so that their song would sound exactly as they had planned. The effort was all in the pre-recording phase. Today, most of the effort goes into editing in the post-recording process.

Unlike music that was recorded in the past, song structure and overall sound is developed after the recording has taken place. The pre-recording process still requires a certain amount of preparation and planning. However, the majority of the work takes place after the recording is finished. The artist is no longer limited by what the instrument or vocals sound like as they are being recorded. Any recording can be tweaked and altered to fit whatever sound they desire. If the artist or producer prefers a higher octave or a different note in the recorded vocals, they can simply edit it without needing the vocalist to come back in and re-record it. This opens up incredible possibilities of song structure and sound that can have an intense effect of the mood of the listener.

When thinking about how the song is to be structured and what mood the listener should feel, the artist is open to a wide variety of possibilities. In electronic dance music (EDM), the song’s structure plays a huge roll in the effect the song has on the listeners. There are many different techniques that are used in EDM specifically used to hype the crowd up. The techniques are used to give the listener to feeling of being lifted off of the ground, filled with anticipation, and then dropped back down to the ground. These techniques are analyzed and explained in an article called “Waiting for the bass to drop” by Ragnhild Torvanger Solberg. Solberg used commonly used terms such as “build up”, “drop”, and “uplifters” to describe the production techniques that are used. He also introduces a new term, which he calls the “drum roll effect(Solberg). The “Build up” refers to the part of the song that gives the listener an increased feeling of being lifted. “Uplifters” refer to the kinds of effects the artist will use to enhance a “build up” section. The “drop” is the part of the song, at the end of a “build up”, where the listener gets the sensation of being dropped back down to the ground after the feeling of being lifted. He describes the “drum roll effect” as “a frequently used technique in newer EDM where the prominent rhythmical pattern, often the snare drum, becomes increasingly divided until the return of the core, starting out with quarter notes and culminating in a drum roll right before the bass drops and the bass drum returns.”(Solberg) Solberg’s article goes onto explain the effects by using a spectrogram of a song’s (“Icarus” by ‘Madeon’) wavelengths to provide a visual of the production that takes place.


You can see from the image that the song’s frequencies show a clearly visual increase as it approaches the drop and into the core section of the song. These production techniques create an unmatchable mood shift that can only be achieved through modern, post-recorded editing techniques. This fundamental change in technology opens the artist up to be able to alter the sound bytes to intensify the emotion desired. This technology allows artists to move away from the idea of writing a song and recording the “one perfect take” to more compositional piece in which the artist has total control. This opens the floor up for an even greater element of creativity: collaboration.

With each artist’s album release, each album gets better, or more complex. This complexity can be viewed as the artist growing and mastering his or her craft. This is without a doubt a factor in the evolution of all artists during their careers. However, one big reason that the music becomes more complex and involved is the new people and technology that they are introduced to through the technology of music production and producers.

The average person does not give much thought into the amount of production and collaboration that goes into making this new album what it is, which is mostly done by relatively anonymous producers. In some cases, the original artist has little to do with the overall sound of the album. The record company will generally hire experienced producers and engineers to master and re-master the song ideas. The artist may have originally written the song on an acoustic guitar to plan out what chords, timing, and vocal melody he or she wants the song to incorporate. Then, the artist will sit down with a producer and begin to record. The producer, depending on the artist’s contract with the record company, has the final say in what chords to actually use and what lyrics to sing whether the artist wants this or not. Typically, it’s, economically, for the better, because the producer has a better feel for what demographic the particular artist is appealing to. Max Martin is a famed record producer with over 17 #1 hits that he either co-wrote and/or produced. Including: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, “E.T.” 2011, Maroon 5, “One More Night,” 2012, and Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” 2012(Billboard). “He ranks behind only Paul McCartney, with 32, and John Lennon with 26(Billboard). This is an amazing feat in the field of music writing. That being said, it’s astounding to think that he is still relatively unknown to the average person. These top artists owe a huge debt to Martin for his expertise in writing and mastering their songs. His skill in appealing to the masses and, particularly, to the artist’s target demographic. In an interview, Martin said this, “I think the ‘target market’ and ‘audience’ tends to come with the artist. If I’m doing something with a young pop artist I may not choose to have a brass section in a song, for example. Sometimes you have to think about what the artist already is”(Ask Billboard). Although these producers work behind the scenes, popular music today would not be the same or, arguably, as good without their expertise and the technology they use to master the tracks. Technological changes and the exploitation of collaboration have no doubt changed the direction, style and execution of music. But, there is some controversy surrounding one element of collaboration. Often times, a less consensual form of execution. This is called sampling.

As one listens to popular music, whether it is on the radio or in one’s own personal collection, one cannot help but to hear a piece of another artist’s music embedded within. This can be subtle to the point that it goes unnoticed by the average person. It could be in the vocals, a guitar lick, or something as small as the drum kick that only comes in once every 3 bars of music. But it is, in essence, a rip off of the original artist. This technique is called sampling. The perspective of the original artist varies case by case. Some are ok with the idea of hearing their voice or drum beat incorporated into other songs. Others are furious that their work has been copied and pasted into someone else’s work for their own benefit.

There is a lot of gray area to this issue. There are laws in place to help rectify the matter. But, is this enough to keep all parties happy? Even in the event that strict permission is given, there have been parties that have felt wronged. An article by Molly Mcgraw helps shed some light onto this issue. She tells the story of David Johnson and Jan Hammer. “David Earl Johnson who allowed computer-keyboardist Jan Hammer to sample his drum sounds on rare, eighty-year-old Nigerian conga drums. Later, after Johnson recognized his drum sounds running through the entire Miami Vice soundtrack, he sought payment for what he perceived to be his contribution to the composition. He was told by Hammer’s manager that he wanted ‘money for doing nothing’ and the American Federation of Musicians refused to take his case.”( In this case, there was arguably nothing done wrong by Hammer. He asked for permission to use Johnson’s drums sample and Johnson gave it. Johnson could have been more specific about the limit of usage of these. But even the legal system has no test case that a court can use in a copyright case. Each lawsuit must be individually decided on a case-by-case basis based on whether the sample used is original to the plaintiff. The law states that “Originality denotes only enough definite expression so that one may distinguish authorship, i.e., there must be an identifiable element of personality.” ( So, with these safeguards in place, it makes it easier for artists to win in a lawsuit against copyright infringement. However, the problem lies in whether or not the original artist’s music can be discernable on the track. Frank Zappa was the first to fully protect a full album from copyright infringement from sampling down to the wave pattern level. It requires more effort and money to get this type of protection than what is provided at default from simply recording and distributing an album. Should the law be changed to protect the artist further by default? This issue definitely deserves some more legal attention to decide what the limits should be in regards to sampling. However, this advance in technology has the ability to enhance the effectiveness that music has on mood the listener.

As music becomes more digital and become stored into massive databases online, it creates an incredible archive in which one can pick just the right elements to create a composition of emotion and intensity. In a book by Ann Cvetkovich called An Archive of Feelings she talks about an “archive in which my own feelings are deposited”(Cvetkovich) that the artist Le Tigre created with the songs they played at a live concert. This same concept can be applied to the archive of recorded music available online. Through the advances in technology, an artist can select and modify any one sample of another artist’s work and, with permission, can create an emotional masterpiece for the world to become engulfed by. This level of depth could not be achieved without the more recent advances in technology. And it is exciting to see what the future holds for musical technology and production.

Works Cited

“Ask Billboard: Max Martin Notches Another No. 1.” Billboard. N.p., n.d. Web.<;.

Cvetkovich, Ann. Archive of Feelings. N.p., n.d. Print.

“Max Martin Interview – Popjustice.” Popjustice RSS. N.p., 27 Apr. 2009. Web.<;.


TORVANGER SOLBERG, RAGNHILD. “Waiting For The Bass To Drop”: Correlations Between Intense Emotional Experiences And Production Techniques In Build-Up And Drop Sections Of Electronic Dance Music.” Dancecult: Journal Of Electronic Dance Music Culture 6.1 (2014): 61-82. Academic Search Complete. Web.

The Future of Music With Technology

  imgres Music has been enhanced with every new technological invention and is a marker of the technological capabilities of that time.  With this realization I would like to explore, by researching, the newest innovations in music technology today and analyze their potential impact on the future of music.  New innovations in music equipment allow artists to have expanded possibilities of creation musically, sonically and production.  The innovations in music technology has had impacts on two aspects of society, the professional artist and the average person who plays and produces their own music.  The effects on the artists are expanded capabilities in aspects of production and sound possibilities, while the effects of the mass consumption of music are the ease of recording and producing to allow the average person to create decent music, affordably.  It is my goal to research the effect of current music technology is on both of these routes and seeks to answer the question, what will the impact on music in the future of the newest technological innovations in the music production field be? The mass consumption of music is primarily through midi controllers due to their ease of use, portability and convenience.  The emerging music technology that will be geared toward the consumer market is the Artiphon.  1)Artiphon is a newly kickstarter funded midi controller that promises anyone will be able to make music with their device.  A midi device is a controller of some sort but, doesn’t contain any actual sounds programmed to play but, can connect to another device that has sounds such as a laptop music program and play those sounds.  This device hooks up to a laptop or computer through USB connection to play sounds from a music software program.  It holds 5 customizable banks of sounds that can be switched with a knob for ease to transition from playing one sound bank, like an instrument, to the next.  The touch pads, what you hit to trigger a sound to be played, on the surface of the remote shaped object are grooved with guitar frets and string lines, for a more precise playing experience of those instruments, in addition to the middle, smooth flat pads for playing piano and percussion instruments.  A quite sophisticated USB remote, with an all in one functionality promises users to be able to play and learn how to play instruments on their device.  This has the potential to be a game changer by promoting people to play music using their device as a hobby and spreading the love for playing music.  The idea is tested and proven by the (2)1.4 million dollar they raised on a kickstarter campaign and now a developed brand with demands exceeding their supply on their website on back order.  Although the Artiphon will spread interest in playing and creating music that can only be good for music in the education it provides in a convenient shape and size, but this is really not an innovation in anyway.  I will be a consumer of the Artiphone but, it is simply a midi technology controller with a different shape. The technology that has the potential to affect music production for artists in the future is Soundtrap.  This website/software is making a breakthrough in the area of connectivity and collaboration for artists at two different places simultaneously.  Collaborations between artists are at an all time high, especially in the EDM and rap/hip-hop genres where so many DJ’s are remixing other DJ’s songs and collaborations between rappers on tracks has been happening for decades.  The site (3)Soundtrap, with their software, is trying to change music collaborations by allowing artists to simultaneously collaborate with each other remotely.  Currently the process for collaborations is one artist creating a part or something then if they wanted to collaborate with another artist they would send this work in progress to the artist to have him add their take on it then send it back when done with his additions and revisions.  Real, in person collaborations, rarely happen anymore due to the hectic schedules of artists that work on the go or that live in different cities.  This current model leaves a lag and disconnect between the artists because it’s just one artist sending music with their view and then the other person takes it and puts his view on it and it’s not a real collaboration effort.  What Soundtrap is trying to do is allow artists a platform to create together simultaneously from different places.  I believe it adds something being able to collaborate in real time between two artists so they can bounce ideas off each other or make changes together.  While this technology is not currently perfect, it has a great idea and the potential to add another dimension of collaborating with artists and shows what technology brings to music production technological advancements.  The idea of collaboration between artists through technological mediums isn’t new, for example electronic artist/producer, deadmau5(4), live streams his studio sessions with his fans, looking for input and sending out ideas on platforms such as soundcloud, a free music uploading community.  This transparency and insight from everyone is a great idea for a next step into music by allowing small, unknown artists like Chris James a platform to be one the top singal’s on deadmau5’s record The Veldt.  The collaboration is discontinuous though in uploading and downloading files in the sense of not really collaborating but revising.  While the idea of collaborating through technological mediums isn’t new the way Soundtrap is developing the technology to push a new advancement. The impact I believe these technologies will have on the future of music is to continue the move toward solo artists/DJ’s who will create and produce their own music and collaborate with other solo artists.  Jim Morrison, the now deceased lead singer of The Doors, in a 1970 interview shared his prediction for the future of music stating, “I can see a future where a single artist will use tapes and sounds to create music”(5), which turned out to be a very accurate forecast of what has become the current model of music.  These solo efforts came with the progression and innovations in technology at that time that had music implications.  This thought of collaboration through technological mediums reminds me of Always On(6), a chapter from the sherry turkle selection we read for class.  One of the ideas of the chapter is that machines are inventing social life by creating groups online where these groups can collaborate to play games and communicate with each other.  It relates in that these artists are collaborating with the technology to produce the sounds they need, in some senses a cyborg.  The trends with new innovations in technology has led to a disconnect in the world of human to human interaction and human to technology device/app and an isolation of society behind tv’s and computer screens.  This is resulting in artists being enhanced by mechanical or technological devices to create(7), a cyborg.  The advancement and affordability in recording and production technology along with the commercialization of these technologies is promoting this sense of cyborgism to be what we call artists.  But as great as these new technologies may be is this too much of a good thing, turning artists to be dependent on technology for creation?  Or is it that technology is creating a sophisticated and intelligent musician by taking their knowledge of technology and applying that to music making.  This movement toward isolation draws a direct parallel from The Machine Stops.  In that society people lived by themselves connected to the world from their intelligent “home” machine.  They became so dependent on the machine that when the machine started malfunctioning, the residents were helpless on their own(8).  This would translate into an extreme case in the music world if all technology just ceased to be but raises the point that the future musician may be more of a programmer or someone with knowledge of electronics and how to make sounds rather than a musician who is trained to compose music and learn how to use the accompanying technology.  This relates to past trends in music innovation where developments came from people like Bob Moog, a electrical engineer who invented the synthesizer, people outside of the music field but in the technology and engineering fields. After further analysis however, I’ve actually learned that i’m disappointed in the current music technology selection and capabilities.  There are a lot more startups like the artiphone, that function more for convenience and are geared toward hobbying musicians. and a lack of innovative technologies that harbor usefulness and ingenuity.  Maybe this is the shift of music, more musicians are gearing toward convenient playing than the next advancement in technology.  However, I still wanted to continue with an analysis of Soundtrap because I believe it is paving the way a future way of collaborating.  If i had to predict the result of a lack of innovations in the market today it would spark ingenuity in artists to create more with what they had and refine it even more.  Either that or music would start to sound stagnant and you wouldn’t hear progressions of artists and music. I believe that there will be an emerging technology that will have an impact on the future of music production but it will be a technological or software developed with applications to music.  That is where society is at this digital time and it will be interesting to see the influence these advancements will have on music production.  Though the Artiphon won’t have much of an impact on changing the future of production methods, it’s design and application will have an impact on the spread of knowledge of music as a hobby.  Through analysis of the emerging technologies and drawing parallels with past music innovation trends and themes, the technology Soundtrap aligns itself with these trends and themes and I will predict that it will have an effect on the future of how music production happens.    

  6. Sherry Turkle. Alone Together. page 153.
  8. Forster. The Machine Stops.  1909

Final Paper: Renewable Energy Saving the Earth

Technology has come a long way in the past century, and scientists all over the world are discovering and inventing new technologies and more convenient ways to go about our everyday lives as humans. Although most of us see this as one of the most fascinating parts of life and are always very intrigued to see what will come next, there are some negative aspects of new technologies, such as what they do, or what they will do, to the environment. Most people do not consider how their new technology will affect the environment when they purchase the new product; instead they are more concerned with how the new product will improve their lives. Technologies such as cars, electricity, home appliances, and other technologies that people use regularly contributed to nearly eighty-two percent of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere in 2013 (EPA 2015). Today, that number is probably much higher because as the number of electronics increases, usually the amount of energy needed to power technologies also rises. One of the best solutions that scientists have come up with to help solve the pollution problem is through the use of renewable energy, such as the sun and wind.

Renewable energy has been around long before electricity powered by fossil fuels came about. People of ancient civilizations used wind mills and eventually energy from the sun to power their civilizations. It was not until the eighteen hundreds around the Industrial Revolution time period that people started to use fossil fuels to power their electricity. At the time, people used natural resources such as coal and natural gas to power their machines and means of transportation because it was so abundant and they had not yet realized the harm it was doing to the environment. Today, as most people know, there are several problems with using fossil fuels. One problem is that they are very limited because humans used up so much of them back in the Industrial Revolution days when there was an abundance of them, and because almost everything runs off of electricity powered by fossil fuels in this day in age. The other main downside of using fossil fuels is the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that is causing the atmosphere to thicken.

The increasing amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has caused the layer outside of the earth to become thinner, producing greenhouse gases which are causing an increase in global warming. Global warming is a topic that has been broadcasted all over the world for decades now. Environmentalists have realized that the earth is becoming hotter each year, which has caused several problems all over the world. One major problem is the melting of glaciers, which has made the sea level rise, and continue to rise over the past several years. The reason the earth temperatures are getting warmer is because more and more carbon dioxide is getting trapped in the earth’s atmosphere. Heat is supposed to be able to escape into outer space through the atmosphere, which has kept earth much cooler in the past centuries. This problem worsens every year as people do not care to change their ways or because investing in other sources of energy is too expensive. In order to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere, people need to use less energy fueled by fossil fuels. One type of energy that is a solution to this problem is solar energy.

Solar energy had its first major breakthrough back in the later 1800s and has come a long way since then. People are now able to install solar panels on the roofs of their houses and this is supposed to give them about seventy-five percent of the electricity they desire, and it is also supposed to be much better for the earth and its atmosphere (Vaughters 2014). Solar energy is not only better for the environment, but it is also more efficient in terms of cost. In recent years the price of oil, coal, and other natural resources has sky rocketed because of scarcity. With this increase in prices of natural resources, energy companies had to increase their prices as well, which then caused the price of electricity used in homes and buildings to increase. By installing solar panels, people are able to use the amount of electricity they desire without having to pay a fortune every month in their electricity bills. However, the initial installation of solar panels can be very expensive. Typically the cost of installing solar panels to a residential home is around $20,000, but in some states the government will actually pay for half the cost of installing the solar panels, which makes installing them much more affordable. Research has also proven that within three to five years of installing the solar panels, they will pay for themselves because the electricity bills will be cut down to less than half of what they were before the installation of solar panels. Solar energy is not only powering electricity in homes, scientists are also working on solar powered automobiles.

In the past year, Ford has come up with a concept model of the solar powered car. Ford is currently trying to create an everyday car for families to depend on, that also does not emit harmful gases into the air. According to the article “Ford Develops Solar Powered Car for Everyday Use,” this car should be able to constantly gather energy from the sun through a special concentrator that acts as a magnifying glass and from the solar panels on the roof of the car (LeBeau 2014). It is the automakers’ hope that this car will be able to run primarily on solar energy instead of the usual gasoline, or fossil fuels. The solar powered car is still a work in progress, but in the future the automakers hope the car will run without any gasoline or without having to plug into an electrical outlet. At this point the car should be able to run primarily on energy from the sun, but they are also unsure of how many miles the car is able to travel without needing to charge up again. Automobiles are one of the primary sources of pollution, and if automakers are able to create a car that does not need to run on gasoline, the global warming effect should be able to slow down.

Another renewable source of energy that has been around for centuries is wind energy. Wind energy was used in early civilizations, but took a turn in the 1800s to become one of the most widely used renewable energy sources around the world. In the 1800s wind turbines, which are the windmill looking machines attached to a tower that are used to gather the energy from the wind, were used mainly by farmers to pump water to irrigate their crops and to power electricity in homes. Today wind turbines are typically used by electricity companies to provide power to their customers and for pumping water (Renewable Energy World 2015). The turbines that are placed closely together are the ones that are usually used to power electricity in homes because they are more efficient when placed closer to each other than they are when they’re spaced out. Sometimes people will have just one wind turbine, and when this is the case, they are usually only used to pump water. Like solar energy, people use wind energy in order to cut down the costs of electricity; however, the cost of installing a wind turbine is much more than installing solar panels. The average cost for a ten kilowatt wind turbine, which is the size most people need to power their homes, can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000. There are other incentives to installing these wind turbines, such as lower electricity bills and there are also tax incentives depending on where the person lives. Although the cost of installing solar and wind energy is expensive, it is often worth it for the lower electrical bills and for the safety of the environment.

As technology and innovations have increased throughout time, the environment and nature have been severely affected. The readings from Concrete Jungle that were analyzed in class discuss how humans now view “nature” and how nature has been culturally and socially constructed. Nature is no longer just the naturally living plants and animals, nature is now the environment around what humans have built and conquered over the centuries. Over time humans have destroyed much of the beautiful nature and environment that used to be pure and healthy. In today’s age humans have invented different technologies that have not been ideal for the environment in many ways. One of the biggest problems is the pollution problem that the world now has and how it is affecting living organisms, whether they are plants or animals. The big problem with this is that humans are selfish individuals, and as long as humans are not affected in an extremely negative way, they will keep their same habits until they are actually forced to stop or until they are negatively affected. Plants and animals have taken the brunt of the pollution problems and other environmental issues, but people continue their lives as usual. In the book Concrete Jungle the authors mention that people worship the little natural wildlife left in the world, but take it for granted when they realize that they can make a profit off of it, which is another reason why humans are selfish and care less about the environment than they should.

It is safe to say that humans in this day in age are more concerned with themselves than they are about the environment. Most people complain that they simply do not have the time to recycle or take care of the earth in other ways. However, through scientists’ new inventions, people are better able to care for the environment by installing solar panels or wind turbines into their homes. By installing these devices, people do not have to worry about not having enough time to help the environment; instead they can just continue their lives as normal, but positively impact the environment by polluting the air less. Technology has come a long way, especially in recent years, and hopefully in the next few years to come the solar powered automobile and other new technologies will be around and safer alternatives for the environment.

LeBeau, Phil. “Ford Develops Solar Powered Car for Everyday Use.” CNBC. 2 Jan 2014. Web. 26 Apr 2015.

“Overview of Greenhouse Gases.” EPA. 14 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015.

“Wind Energy.” Renewable Energy World. 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015.

Vaughters, Al. “Are solar panels on your roof worth the expense?” WIVB. 24 September 2014. Web. 26 Apr 2015.

Final Paper: Nuclear Weapons Leading to Apocalypse

After gaining insight from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, and hearing recent class discussions, I was intrigued to research more about Nuclear weapons and their potential to leading to human apocalypse. I have come up with the thesis that nuclear weapons are a technology of high power and have a strong potential in today’s society and have a likely potential to lead to the downfall of human civilization. Through analysis of the history of the making of nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons in today’s society, the impact of such weaponry, and the relation to class sources, I will explore how nuclear weapons could lead to an apocalyptic event in the future.

According to Oxford Dictionary, a nuclear weapon is defined as a bomb or missile that uses nuclear energy to cause an explosion. Nuclear weapons made their impact on society starting in the early 1940s. The United States turned a page in technology in 1942 with the beginnings of the invention of Nuclear Weaponry. August of 1942 was the start of the Manhattan Project in the US employed 130,000 individuals and spent billions of dollars creating the first nuclear weapon. This development would soon be used in July and August of 1945 when the US tested and implemented their Atomic Bomb. Equivalent to over 20,000 tons of TNT, the United States shook the world physically and mentally with their bold move of dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

When considering the technology behind nuclear weapons, it’s important to explore the science behind it. According to Arms Control Association, “The first design of a nuclear weapon in the United States was a gun-barrel assembly, in which two sub-critical masses of very highly enriched uranium (HEU), were brought together by normal artillery propellant in a short gun barrel into a single over-critical configuration.” The world had to start somewhere in the creation of such a powerful weapon that it makes sense that they used a set up similar to weapons popular at the time, guns. The advancements in the technology moved rapidly and according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Most nuclear weapons today are two-stage thermonuclear weapons that derive their explosive energy from the combined power of nuclear fission and fusion. An initial fission reaction generates the high temperatures needed to trigger a secondary—and much more powerful—fusion reaction.” This starts to show how advanced the technology has become and all of the small details that goes in to such a large piece of machinery. Since the start of construction of nuclear weapons, there have been over 67,500 nuclear missiles built and over 4,680 nuclear bombers built all over the world. Nuclear weapons not only pose a threat of immediate explosion and wide-spread radiation, but there are also many secondary effects such as the contamination of all food and water supply, the pollution of air, and the destruction of power grids. This is not to mention the threat of a nuclear winter, a period of abnormal cold and darkness predicted to follow a nuclear war, caused by a layer of smoke and dust in the atmosphere blocking the sun’s rays. An article from Mother Nature Network states, “In 2007, scientists Brian Toon and Alan Robock concluded that if India and Pakistan were to launch 50 nuclear weapons at each other, the entire planet could experience 10 years of smoke clouds and a three-year temperature drop” (11 ways).
The reactions to this bold and hazardous weapon were dependent on the nation. In 1946, the UN attempted to create an anti-nuclear weapon act banning the use of such weapons. Their plan failed as the Soviet Union became the second nation to successfully create and test a nuclear device in August of 1949. As of 2014, a total of 9 countries are armed with nuclear weapons that can be launched within a minutes notice. Since the creation of the first atomic bomb, nuclear warfare has only been used as a form of attack twice in our world history. This was the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Although not used in harm, there have been over 2,000 nuclear tests conducted as more and more countries began to create their own weapons. . If we base numbers off of the amount of deaths caused from the bombing on Hiroshima, the United States alone has built enough nuclear warheads to kill 25,000,000,000 people between initial, immediate deaths and the effects of radiation. This makes nuclear weapons the most powerful and detrimental technology there is.

Nuclear weapons were viewed as a large threat in 1962 during the Cubin Missile Crisis. In October of 1963, it was brought to President John F. Kennedy’s attention that the US had obtained aerial footage of what seemed to b e a nuclear plant in Cuba. This lead to nuclear weapons being the largest threat of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Professor Ernest May writes an atrial about John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis and states, “Dwight Eisenhower (Kennedy’s successor), had calculated in 1960 that, if a crisis led either side to fire nuclear weapons, all humans in the northern hemisphere could perish. ‘Gravest issues’ indeed.”

Such rapid production of mass killing devices is a topic easily related to recent discussions and readings of Crisis and Apocalyptic events we’ve experienced in class.

Nuclear weaponry can relate to our reading of Oreskes’ “Collapse of Western Civilization” when stated, “In the prehistory of “civilization,” many societies rose and fell…” Although differing in the main topic, this reading can strongly relate to the effect nuclear weapons had on civilizations and society as a whole. This reading goes on to refer to actions being predictable and accurate which was very untrue of the consequences of nuclear weaponry in its beginning stages. When first brought about, nuclear weapons were seemingly unpredictable and risky. At the turn of the century, society is able to much more accurately predict what the consequences of nuclear weapons would be based on past experience. The world can assume the destruction brought about by such intense weaponry and can envision the world at its collapse with such technology, but no man can fully foresee what the world would look like amidst such chaos. After our discussion in class, it was brought to my mind about apocalyptic events and how the production and use of nuclear weapons could, in fact, lead to a self-induced apocalypse. The world has become a dangerous place with power put into the hands of people who are thought to be trusted. No matter what level of trust we have in those superior to us, there is always room for conflict. Today’s world is a dangerous place and seems to never have peace. I truly believe that World War III will happen within the next 100 years and that very little will survive of it. I also believe that World War IV will be fought the way original battles were hundreds of years ago and our world will begin anew. I truly do believe that the real ending to the world as we know it will be when Jesus comes to rescue all that is left of the world but I plan on further exploring how nuclear weapons could bring about an apocalypse of their own.

Early in the semester we read An Archive of Feelings by Ann Cvetkovich. This book describes the struggles and trauma of women as an archive. Oxford Dictionary defines an archive as a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people. If we analyze nuclear weapons as an archive, we can see more about their history and the effect they have on society. Nuclear weapons were created practically incidentally when splitting the smallest of subatomic particles and developed into a world-wide phenomenon of both safety and danger. In further analysis of this archive, we can see the potential ending, that being, an apocalypse. This potential for destruction is similar to the trauma being experience in Cvetkovich’s, “An Archive of Feelings.”

Apocalypse Never is a book written by Tad Daley that describes the reasoning behind why nuclear weapons should be abolished or our world will perish. Valerie Plame Wilson of states, “Apocalypse Never is a frightening book to read but impossible to put down. In clear, accessible prose, Tad Daley unblinkingly lays out the case, point by point, for why we must ultimately rid the world of nuclear weapons or else suffer the inevitable consequences of the end of civilization as we know it. Daley then takes on the task of showing how this seemingly Herculean task can be accomplished, even within our lifetimes. It is compelling and accurate in its assessments and one of the absolute best out there on why we simply cannot continue along the way it has been.”

The topic of nuclear weapons is one that seems very “hush hush” and is not confronted head on as it should be. Many people know the possibility of their use exits but are too naïve to believe it will ever happen. Since there are not bombs being launched left and right, it seems as though it will never actually happen in our lifetime. On March 15, 2015, it was released in articles from The Independent (UK News) that Vladimir Putin of Russia was prepared to release nuclear missiles on the United States of America saying, “They (USA) helped training the nationalists, their armed groups, in Western Ukraine, in Poland and to some extent in Lithuania. They facilitated the armed coup” when speaking on the annexation of the Black Sea and Ukraine Crisis (Vladimir Putin).

Our world has become a very advanced and powerful place to live and it is not crazy to believe that one small instance could put civilization up in flames, literally and figuratively.

Works Cited

“Apocalypse Never – Rutgers University Press.” Apocalypse Never – Rutgers University Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

“Arms Control Today.” The Technology of Nuclear Weapons. N.p., 1 Nov. 1997. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

May, Ernest R. “John F Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” BBC News. BBC, 18 Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

“Nuclear Weapons: How They Work (2010).” Union of Concerned Scientists. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

“Nuclear Weapons Timeline.” ICAN. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

“Vladimir Putin Says Russia Was Preparing to Use Nuclear Weapons ‘if Necessary’ and Blames US for Ukraine Crisis.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 15 Mar. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

“11 Ways the World Could End: Nuclear War.” MNN. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

Apocalyptic Fears

There has always been a fascination with the idea of the apocalypse and what that would look like. Today, there is a significant focus on a zombie apocalypse, which is where a disease infects a human that kills the host but the disease lives on feeding off human flesh; however, when a human is bitten, this infects that human, and thus leading to a worldwide viral outbreak where everyone are zombies. This seems completely irrational; but yet, this idea has attracted a large audience. What makes people attract to this idea? It could be that it is very close to real factors. For example, the idea of “zombies” sounds too sci-fi, but the idea of a disease wiping out a large population is not so unrealistic. So, it could be a matter of how fear can effect how one views the apocalypse. Therefore, one can narrow their thinking in a way to relate to why people are attracted to these apocalyptic ideals; fear fuels the reality of an apocalypse in two ways: Through what is heard and through what is seen.

An example of how fear can fuel the reality of an apocalypse through what is heard is the radio broadcast of 1938. During the eve of Halloween October 30, 1938, Orson Welles, famous theatre director and radio actor, broadcasted a drama of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, in what seemed like a serious news broadcast. During this time, people would eat dinner and then sit down to an evening of listening to the radio. Turning the dial, listeners were scanning the stations to find something to listen to; however, most missed the introduction that included the disclaimer that the following broadcast was only a dramatization, where Martians invade earth and begin killing everyone in sight. Within a half hour of the broadcast, panic filled the streets and Orson Welles was being forced to take a ten minute break to reassure listeners that this was only a fake broadcast, but most listeners had already packed their bags and were trying to leave the city. It was a major moment in history because the fear and panic of what could be a real Martian invasion caused thousands to tremble and some to end their own life (War of the Worlds). People were enraged by this fake news broadcast. Later, listeners on that fateful night were interviewed to explain what was going through their heads at that moment. This is a real life example of how fear can impact the irrationality of emotion. The mind is able to play a role in manipulation of what is real or not. This example shows how one can take a simple act of trickery and impact the lives of many into believing something that is clearly fiction. One listener admitted that as he was in his car leaving the city, and because he heard this broadcast and it was late at night that he could literally see what looked to be Martians over the trees. Of course, it was a fiction of his imagination, but due to the realness of the broadcast, it caused his mind to see what was not there.

One view of the apocalypse that was popular during the mid-to-late 1900s was that a nuclear warfare would take place, resulting in the destruction of the earth. People were terribly frightened that the world was going to end because of the creation of Atomic Bombs. Cities were destroyed and many lives were devastated because of these acts of horror, and because it was so real, fear took hold of the minds of many. Thus, books and films were made to capitalize on this fear, to create an imaginary world after a chemical warfare. An example is the film, Book of Eli, in which the earth was scorched and in desolation because of a world war. The characters live in what looks to be a desert ruin, scarce food and minimal water cause many to resort to robbery and murder (The Book of Eli). This film shows the imaginative world in a post-war setting. While some might not think this is a valid outcome, this work of fiction can trigger fear in the lives of many just by the mere thought of it. This is an example of how fear can fuel the reality of an apocalypse. In the fact, during that time; people saw countries making these bombs and saw the test sites where bombs were tested. Less than a decade later after the Orson Welles broadcast, Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the first cities in the world to witness the power of nuclear weapons. Therefore, what one sees can dramatically effect how people react to these apocalyptic ideals.

Now that there is a baseline for this topic, it is important to know the application of fear. Fear can be a broad area to focus on because so many fears are associated with many different things for different individuals. However, it is important to know what fear is or is not. Fear is a cognitive perception of one thing or another. In an anatomy class, one can learn about “the flight or fight response,” which is induced by fear and danger to either run away or fight. The initial response is in the amygdala, located in the brain, that signals to the adrenal medulla, which is located just above the kidneys, responsible for hormonal secretion, including adrenaline. Furthermore, these organs result the natural response of fear in a given situation. Although, as mentioned previously, it is a perception issue, so a fear to one person may not be a fear to another.

Depending on how one is raised can determine how one perceives the application of fear what is important to be afraid of or restrain from. Religion is one building block of how this can be viewed. According to Richard Eckersley in his essay about apocalyptic fears, he illustrates that “fundamentalism refers to the retreat to the certainty of dogmatic beliefs, whether secular or religious. In an extreme form, this is ‘end time’ thinking” (Eckersley 37). Here, Eckersley shows a view from a Christian standpoint that this belief is to illustrate the fear of the Rapture taking place. So, depending on family belief systems, it can influence how one perceives the apocalypse to take place.

Fear is always a response to a situation or in anticipation of that situation and has many responses including freezing, chills, sweating, and screaming. When presented with a frightening situation, the body’s response could include, but not be exclusive to, what is listed above. Fear is closely associated with anxiety too. One can physically feel the response of anxiety: heart rate increase, overwhelming feelings, depression of what might happen. So, with fear being so closely associated with anxiety, it can effect how one handles a situation, whether they dwell on it or let it go. A lot of depression issues are due to anxiety, which can be a response to how one handles fear. Depression is a big issue in the U.S. along with many other countries, but one could argue that it is due to the fear of the unknown. Fear tactics have been placed on every person in one way or another. In Christianity, the fear of the Rapture is always in the forefront of people’s minds. When Year 2,000 came, many people believed that the Rapture would take place, but it didn’t. People actually committed suicide or caused violence in response to what they believed to be an apocalyptic time. It’s interesting and scary to see how far people will go if they think it is the end of days.

In Naomi Oreskes’ essay, “The Collapse of Western Civilization: a View from the Future,” Oreskes says, “dislocation contributed to the Second Black Death, as a new strain of the bacterium Yersinia pestis emerged in Europe and spread to Asia and North America…disease also spread among stressed nonhuman populations” (Oreskes 9). Here, Oreskes is discussing events from the future but looking in the past and is referring to a widespread disease that affected not only humans but animals too. This essay is interesting because it ties in factors that lead to other problems. For example, Global Warming was an issue that was mainly discussed in this essay, but here Oreskes illustrates that other factors are at play. The point is that when examining one apocalyptic ideal, one can easily jump to a different world epidemic that is still related in terms of apocalypse. Thus, increasing one’s anxiety about how an apocalypse could take place.

Throughout history, one can see how people can plant the seed of manipulation and let the mind come up with its own agenda through fear. Is a Zombie apocalypse possible? No. However, it links closely with real life issues. For example, diseases have always been a threat to populations. The Black Death was a disease in the 1300s that killed nearly one-third of Europe’s population (Black Death). Disease is nature’s way of reducing the population, and while a Zombie apocalypse is fictional, the idea of diseases is not.

It is scary to think how far people’s minds will go into believing certain things, but one must keep their thoughts at bay as to what is true and false. It is hard to say what kind of apocalypse is more possible than others, if any is possible, but fear is the major tool in capturing attention to these ideas. If someone has the power of manipulation and forces fear on others, then it is hard to say what kind of world epidemic could come of such power. One reason why people are attracted to these fictional apocalyptic ideas, is not only because it is based off of something slightly true (like disease is to Zombie), but also because some people want to feel the fear and excitement of a need for survival, to prove that they have what it takes to survive.

Therefore, it is important to keep in mind what fear can do, and how it can manipulate one’s thoughts and actions. Knowing that fear can fuel the reality of an apocalypse through what is heard and seen can help people recognize when they are being manipulated. When listening, not letting those words influence an action. When seeing, making sure what you see is real and not letting what you see entirely influence actions. Use both tools, seeing and hearing, to come up with the hypothesis that what is seen and heard, together, is real. When separated, these tools can lead to a factor of manipulation, which is not the best way to take action.

Works Cited

“Black Death.” A+E Networks, Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Eckersley, Richard. “Nihilism, Fundamentalism, Or Activism: Three Responses To Fears Of The Apocalypse.” Futurist 42.1 (2008): 35-39. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future.” Daedalus 142.1 (2013): 40-58. Web.

The Book of Eli. Dir. Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes. Prod. Joel Silver and Denzel Washington. By Gary Whitta. Perf. Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis. Warner Bros., 2010. DVD.

War of the Worlds. Orson Welles. American Experience. PBS, Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Midterm Paper Revision: Social Media: The Future of Communication

The world is much different than it used to be. Social media has changed many aspects of our lives. Communication possibilities have changed drastically. Take a look at the biggest social media websites. What do they do for you? How do they connect people? It’s obvious that social media has changed the way people communicate, but how exactly has it done this?

Facebook is the largest social media website, and thus, it will be the main point of focus. Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, who was a student at Harvard University at the time. He went through many struggles in his creation of Facebook. These struggles included lawsuits, the loss of friends, and many hours of hard work. Mark Zuckerberg is a very intelligent man and he created a legacy for himself through his passion and strive to create something great. These were the components in which Facebook was built upon. Facebook is based in Menlo Park, California and today employs almost 10,000 individuals. It is, without doubt, the largest social media website in the world. Every single day, over 890 million people log on to Facebook, and there are about 1.4 billion people that use the site monthly. 1.2 billion of these users access Facebook through their phones. (1) In addition, there are 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook everyday. Think about these numbers. About 7 billion people share this earth, and many of these people lack basic access to such a site. China, the most populated country in the world, has banned Facebook for the majority of its citizens. A company with this type of power has endless opportunities to change communication, and the world as a whole.

Facebook’s mission states the desire “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” At the core, the idea is very simple. People want more ways to connect. Facebook fulfills these desires. Facebook, however, is much more than just a simple communication method.

Facebook allows people to accomplish a large variety of tasks. At a basic level, people can communicate instantly. Through status updates and posts, people can see what their friends are doing at all times. Photos and videos also allow people to show others what they’ve been up to. Other things people can do include sharing their interests and other information on their profile page, playing games, and even connecting with celebrities or businesses. One of my favorite features of Facebook is the ease of planning events. People no longer have to call, text and email all their friends for events. With a few clicks, you can invite all of your friends to an event. This is great for things such as weddings, graduations and other parties/events. Look at Facebook in its entirety and you will find endless opportunities for entertainment. Facebook does much more than you may think.

Ann Cvektovich’s An Archive of Feelings was an interesting read, for a variety of reasons. The book is about the story of women and their accounts of trauma; seen as an archive. The book is very powerful and resonates with many audiences, not just women that faced the same struggles and conflicts seen in the book. While looking at this “archive of feelings”, one may also look at how different technologies may be seen as an archive. I decided to look at others example of archives, including modern technology along with social media.

It seems that a large number of technologies may be considered an archive in this day and age. Many technologies, in their nature, record activity over short and long periods of time, which may be considered an archive to some extent. In definition, an archive could be described as a history of information. Think about all the things or technologies that may fit this definition. Think about the things you use everyday. Look at simple things such as your computer. This is an accumulation of many of the works you have done throughout yours and its life. Going off of this, a phone works in the same way. Your phone has messages, pictures and conversations that have been created over its history, and a portion of your life. An archive I’m interested in speaking about is social media, and Facebook in specific.

It’s not hard to see why Facebook is an archive. It is a collection of life events through media. Think about the day that you first got a Facebook, and how much of your life you can review since then. You can hop on Facebook and you have access to years of pictures and conversations. It’s crazy to think about this stuff. Look back and see how much you’ve changed. Some people put photos from their everyday lives on Facebook to be able to access it later in life. Years of people’s lives are captured on Facebook, and they will continue to be captured until Facebook is no longer functioning. In many ways, this is a great thing but it can also be sad to think about. Some people may get on Facebook and look back at pictures just be reminded of tragedies that occurred earlier in life. For example, it may bring memories of deaths in the family, or other moments you wish had gone uncaptured. On the other hand, some people may have had Facebook for half of their lives, and be able to look at pictures from when they were a child and recall how fast they grew up. Facebook is an archive, and as an archive it will evoke many thoughts and emotions.

In addition to being an archive, Facebook can be looked at in other ways as well. Alone Together by Sherry Turkle takes an interesting viewpoint that allows us to see social media differently. The book explores the idea that as technology expands, there are more ways to be connected, networked, and stay together. However, while social media may connect us in more ways, we are often physically alone now more than ever.

With Facebook, it’s almost as if people don’t even need to leave their home to talk to others, as all of their communication needs are already met. This is true power in technology, and this is where the idea of “alone together” plays in. We no longer need to communicate in person to be satisfied. In many cases, communication has changed to status updates, pictures, and likes. We can now communicate online in various ways for unlimited amounts of time. This is how communication has changed. Social media is highly addictive to a large number of users. Everybody feels the need to be seen, and everybody wants to fit in. Through Facebook, even people that aren’t the most outgoing can have hundreds of friends, and with one post all of these people can be connected to this individual. In some ways, this encourages them to stay at their computer and be sociable online, yet barely talk in real life. This is a tragedy. Another thing that is occurring is people are becoming obsessed with likes. Instagram is a perfect example of this. Many people spend time planning and taking perfect photos just so people online can like it, and therefore they fulfill a need for self-presentation. They want to show the best versions of themselves. This can be good in some ways. However, many of the effects are bad. For example, some of these likes may be from people that they have barely talked to in real life, and this is where a problem plays in. People are gaining positive reactions from others online, which just reinforces people to stay online and in-person interaction is, therefore, often limited. This is exactly how social media has changed people. There is no reason in the foreseeable future why social media would stop growing. Now that these possibilities are out, they will only expand. People will only get more connected online. For this reason, we must think about the fact that the world is changing. People are changing. This means that social media must change with them in order to remain successful. There are many ways that social media has changed, and it will continue to change with the times.

Facebook is not just a website people will get on for a few minutes and leave. It’s not just a website that people get on to say hello to their friends. It’s a website where people spend hours straight simply looking at other people’s lives. Privacy is almost non-existent online. The time wasted on social media is one of the greatest outrages in our technological age. Social media will destroy us. It’s an innovational masterpiece, but it is also a social disaster in many ways. People are starting to care more about how they are seen online than they are in real life. We are in a world where people may care more about how many friends they have on Facebook rather than how many people they can truly confide in, have fun with, and with whom they can share meaningful conversations. The expanding of communication can be good, but it starts to get bad when it prevents people from real life experiences. This could be the way of the future, and that is not a future I want to be a part of. We have social media, but ask yourself, do we have a social world?

Works Cited

  1. “Facebook Passes 1.23 Billion Monthly Active Users.” TNW Network All Stories RSS.

N.p., 29 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <;.

2. “Company Info | Facebook Newsroom.” Facebook Newsroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb.<;

3.) Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less