Worldwide Suicide

Last week my FB page was hit with RIP messages about Anthony Bourdain, a man that I’ve never met (and unfortunately never will now), but who I have been following on his travels around the world in the quest of great food. On the surface, Mr. Bourdain had everything going for him with a stable job, doing the thing that he must have loved the most, envious to some people. However, it is what lurks under the surface that can drive you to what drove this man at age sixty-one to commit suicide.

What drives a person to Suicide, I asked myself? Is it a lack of money, friends, despair at losing a loved one or just being negative about the general outlook towards life? The answer, however, cannot be a standard one. Circumstances change from each person, the wants from life alter and the signs are often ignored by those even around the person. Helplines do what they are supposed to, and while I have never been through such a phase in my life fortunately, the thinker in me would attribute that support groups can do their job only if the victim themselves felt the need to ask for help.

But do they ask for help? The stark answer is no. They feel that they have no other option but to end life. And hence, begins the great debate of ‘if’s, when’s maybe’s and but’s’. However, the argument is the same – the victim felt  that there was no other way out and this is brought about by the pressures of society, the pressures to get educated, find a “good” job, find a good life partner, get married by a certain age, have children at a certain age, the number of children, getting children settled, judging people by how much they earn, spend, save, how they dress, walk, look, what they eat, the amount they eat, their weight, height, personality and the list goes on. Yes, society truly is demanding.

But who comprises society?

People like you and me. That’s right – YOU and ME.

Someone, sometime in life (including me) have all been guilty of passing judgment upon someone who just couldn’t help being or acting the way they were. Hopefully for us, that person was not driven to suicide because of our actions. But before we pass judgement upon others, let’s take some time and think about what the other person may be going through and if we cannot be there for that person (because let’s face it, all of us, including I, are self-centered at least to a certain extent), let’s not make life worse for them.

And if you can help, listen to what they want to say. Do not judge them or preach advice that you would want them to follow. Say your piece, but let them decide.

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Is technology killing our creativity?

Chances are that by the time you finish reading this article, Alexia would have replaced the local D.J at your Saturday hangout space. Such is the speed at which technology is moving. I correct myself, it is not moving, it is streaking across our time line at the speed of light. And with this development of technology comes the issue of taking over one of the few human attributes that we previously though could not be replicated – Creativity.

The past generations so far have been getting smarter. Rewind eighty odd years back to the time when the first computer was invented. Although as large as a room and capable of severely limited functions, the first operational computer was still alien technology to what the people in those days had seen. This was evolution brought about by the human brain. The current computer or the computer chip, the brain of the super computer can be as small as a grain of salt. Artificial intelligence can today do everything, from booking your holiday to read this article on your handheld reader. This again is the human brain at its creative best. But as we go further, what is in store for us?

Picture this. While reading a book, we had to envision the locales the author spent untold hours of time setting the story in. However, in current times, all we need to do is ask Google and the image of that place is projected on your screen along with temperatures, hotels and even an option to book a trip there. Out goes the creative part of the brain, the way you envisioned the place, the location of the structure that the author envisioned. In fact, Google 360, gives you a ground level view of the immediate surrounding or a birds eye view if needed. All this done at the click of a button.

So while a part of our community is getting smarter and even more creative the majority of human being are beginning to rely on visual aids to transport them to what is being projected by the written word.

Moving forward, we could one day reach this scenario – and this is where it gets scary!

Imagine an Artificial Intelligence so powerful and evolved that can do all the things a human being can, that too without the intervention of any human. The A.I, (let’s call it Al), will scan social media and OTT platforms like Netflix and HULU to figure out the viewership trends and stories that viewers are looking out for. Next, Al would write the entire script, sharing it with production houses, which are also run by Al type entities. Al would then draw up a list of potential actors and cast then into the roles, all without the use of a casting couch (this would draw a huge applause from most people) based on their past roles, award nominations, fitment with the story line and available dates. Negotiation would be done with the actor’s personal A.I assistants and contracts drawn up and virtually signed. The movie shoot would be the only human involvement, hopefully, for the lack of creative skill on the part of the Al. However, if some gung-ho programmer took on the challenge of creating a creatively inclined Al to shoot the film then the creative skill of human kind would be killed.

Editing and post production are anyways predominately being done by machines, so this would not be much of a task for Al to spearhead. Al would create digital distribution and media hype, using the social media sites, news feeds and reserve tickets for the preview show. All this either with no human intervention or minimal support.

Imagine this across creative playing fields such as music and art; we humans would be the ones headed towards extinction. Music albums cut by faceless bands or better still, Al bands morphing images of people across the globe to come up with the unique look, that would not fit with any actual living person!

And with the built in human capability of learning from failures, Al would develop into a force that cannot be stopped (maybe the Avengers defeating Thanos looks a brighter possibility than defeating Al). What would this spell for future human beings? For starters we would be a society of button pushers or screen swipers, which we have alarmingly already begun to head towards.

So while a small percentage of ultra-intelligent humans would still exist, refining Al to take over the world, majority of humans would remain slaves to technology, ultimately forgetting that creativity is something that should come naturally to us.

Hope that better sense prevails and there is a line (this one can be virtual, hopefully) drawn between artificial involvement and human domination.