Chetan Bhagat- A Life of Stories

I came out of the talk with Chetan Bhagat with a lot of thoughts whirling in my head. What struck me was that he said that he wasn’t the best writer and that he had merely changed the game. Often, when someone is seen as successful people automatically assume that they are the best in their field. For Chetan Bhagat however that does not seem to be the case. He showed how he managed to become a successful writer simply by changing the target audience so that his writing appealed to ordinary Indians. That seems to be a good lesson to learn in life. If you can’t become better at doing something the way someone else is doing it then do it another way.  I can’t help but draw a parallel with Genghis Khan. Perhaps, he actually was the best military commander of his time, perhaps not, the point remains though that it is undoubtable that much of his success can be attributed to the fact that he did things in a way that was unique for his time mainly by promoting people based on merit and by bringing the lower classes of conquered people into his clan (John Green, Crash Course History). The point here is that many of the world’s most successful people succeeded by doing things in a new way. As was said by the 18th century Samurai Issai Chozanshi, “Man is a moving being. If he does not move to what is good, he will surely move to that what is not”. Those who do not adapt and change stagnate. They become as Dinosaurs as Chetan put it. Once strong and mighty but extinct now.

Transpiration in Plants- Speed Drawing Video

While making this video one of the major challenges I faced was that my partner was absent for the second day and all the material got lost so I had to start again with a new partner. Learning from the process of making this video has meant that I had to be able to explain a concept and not just solve questions about it. Honestly, I didn’t like making this video all that much and would rather have stuck to worksheets.

The Art of the Interview- Steve Dawson

In his talk today Steve Dawson gave several tips on how to do a good interview:

  1. Ask Open-Ended Questions
  2. Set the Answer Free (ask questions in a way that doesn’t restrict the possible answers)
  3. Don’t Interrupt
  4. Don’t ask double-barreled questions
  5. Listen to the answer (and follow up)

The most interesting thing for me was how some of the things he said was good journalism was not what is necessarily done by many actual journalists. For example, he says that interviewing isn’t about you looking good but about allowing the person interviewed to express themselves. Obviously, looking at many shows on TV where famous people are interviewed that is not what many interviewers actually do. Another thing he said was that hard news should be about simply presenting all the facts without bias. Again, in a lot of cases, even with credible newspapers, even hard news has a heavy degree of bias. What Steve Dawson has presented seems to me to be an ideal of what he believes journalism should be. What journalists actually do in a world where the goal isn’t “good journalism” but viewers, fame, furthering political agendas, and cash may very well be quite different.

YouTube Playlist: B1 – Characteristics of Cells

This video goes over the difference between plants and animal cells as well as the anatomy of plant cells.

 

This video explains animal cells and their structure. There is a lot more to do with the anatomy of animal cells than has been covered in the unit. Makes nice use of analogy.

Explains semipermeable membranes, and diffusion which is an important idea in this unit. This video also discusses osmosis.

 

Explains in greater detail the functions of a cell membrane how they work,  how they filter out what the cell needs and what they don’t.

Thoughts on the Nature of Life and Conciousness

Quite frankly life confuses me. Saying that life is just a biological machine seems lacking somehow. What is consciousness then? A complex set of chemical reactions can explain how stimuli can lead to a certain action or output, but it doesn’t explain in any satisfactory way why there is something aware of this stimuli and acting on it. Sure, you could make a super complex machine, but there is no reason to believe that such a machine would be any more than something generating outputs through complex mathematical equations. There is no reason to believe that such a machine would be aware of the process going on inside it.
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It’s impossible to detect or measure, but any living person will know that there is something more than can be explained by mere circuitry. René Descartes once said, “I think therefore I am”, but it’s more than that. It’s the fact that we are aware of the fact that we are thinking that allows us to know we exist. The very fact that I am aware that I am thinking these questions proves that some sort of consciousness exists. The problem with the argument that AI could eventually be the same as a thinking human is that given that there is no proven biological basis for this consciousness there is no reason to think that any amount of endlessly complicated circuitry could create a conscious being. There simply isn’t a clear logical link between complicated neuron circuitry and consciousness.
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At the end of the day, I simply don’t think that the evidence for the claim that humans are simple machines made out of proteins is strong enough. There are just too many unanswered questions. Too many holes in the logic. It’s a theory with too many missing parts to make a solid claim. Given the current evidence, it’s not something I can just easily accept.
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