South Korea and Robots

Android Robot standing with flag of South Korea

We’re always seeing articles about robots taking over the world, but which country really is having a robot revolution? The simple response: South Korea has the highest concentration of industrial robots of any country (with second place going to Singapore, then third place being Japan—the US came in eighth).

So why is South Korea so robotically driven as a nation? One reason could be finance. The South Korean government is spending more than $450 million developing the field over the next five years. It is a new technology frontier and it is clear South Korea wants to be first in developing this new industry. By 2019 it is speculated by the International Data Corporation that the robotics industry will be work $135 billion, which is near doubling its worth since 2015.

Being a player on the big stage before something happens is always a good step financially, but will it play out to be a good step for the people of the country? Only time will tell.

The Border Wall and Endangered Species

Bald Eagle

Building a wall between the US and Mexican border has been not only a loud talking point during the past 2016 election, but now with Trump as our president it has become a near daily talking point. From the 24 hour news cycle to your neighbors across the street, everyone continues to talk about it. No doubt it has major human rights issues, and would mark itself a truly isolationist move our country hasn’t seen in decades—but has anyone considered the impact it may have on our planet? On our animal species?

Many important and endangered species live both in the US and in Mexico. Borders mean nothing to them, but a wall could decimate the improvements we’ve seen in these cross border numbers. Jaguars, bears, wolves, ocelots, bison, and even the symbol of our nation the bald eagle need access to both sides of the border (as do their prey). A study from the Center for Biological Diversity says that 111 endangered species will be detrimentally affected by the wall.

So, will this wall help the people? Studies seem doubtful. And well we know for a fact it will not help our wildlife. Walls do not encourage freedom, they do not encourage the health of our planet.

Cleaning up the Ocean

Cleaning up the Ocean

The ocean is filled with debris. This has been well documented for decades and a problem we can all agree upon. Sea turtles and other marine animals consume the trash mistaking it for food and die slow, painful deaths. The plastic just doesn’t degrade and it causes endless problems for our oceans, but one group is taking up the fight to rid our waters of garbage.

A Dutch group, called “The Ocean Cleanup”, intending to free the world’s seas of plastic waste says it will begin tidying up the enormous zone of gliding garbage known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . The project is to begin earlier than expected, within the next 12 months.

The Ocean Cleanup plans to utilize long-distance gliding booms that work like coastlines to assemble plastic as it floats on or close to the surface of the water while enabling ocean life to go underneath.

The arrangement initially was to grapple the obstructions to the ocean bed with a framework utilized by oil rigs, however the association said Thursday it now will utilize stays that buoy underneath the water’s surface, making it a great deal more effective.

With people like this the world has a much brighter future, science could be the answer to a lot of problems our world faces.

Space Debris

blog_entry_0924784001479135493Trash isn’t only a problem on planet earth, we have a serious debris problem in space as well. This may seem distant and a bit “out of sight out of mind”, however this could pose a big problem for space travel.

In less than 25 years, the size of space garbage has become sufficiently huge enough to decimate a shuttle has dramatically increased. The enormous concern is that gathering space garbage may prompt something many refer to as the Kessler syndrome, a chain response of crashes that exponentially expands the measure of garbage. An impact between two satellites may make a large number of smaller items. Those a huge number of trash items could crash into millions more objects, et cetera. The final product is an invulnerable billow of flotsam and jetsam that would make space travel so much harder.

Scientists have a problem on their hands to solve to make sure that we can safely continue to navigate space.

Leave Baby Animals Alone in the Spring  

BabyBirdsIt is Spring and during this time of year we may run into small adolescent animals without visible parents around. Our instinct is to help them, pick up that baby bird, capture that small deer and take them to get help. However, this is completely unneeded. Chances are these animals are fine, being taken care of by their parents and in no need of help. In fact dealing with, moving, or catching apparently deserted untamed life can hurt or eventually execute the creature and can put your safety at risk.

More often than not a baby animal that seems, by all accounts, to be abandoned are essentially sitting tight for their mom to return. For example baby deer are normally covered and have little fragrance, which helps them stay undetected by predators. Many other species, including rabbits, have a comparative procedure with their young, concealing them amid the day while the grown-ups are searching for nourishment and different assets.

Remember in most places removing animals from the wild is illegal, as is feeding them. Touching wild animals can also expose you to thinks like rabies, roundworm, ticks, and other diseases and parasites that can be transmitted across species.

So leave that baby bird, its mom is likely nearby, parenting in nature is hands off sometimes and you should be too.

Health and Plants

lavender-399273_960_720Naturally a healthy diet includes a lot of plant based foods: fruits, vegetables, greens, and herbs. Eating meat after all can increase your risk of certain cancers. The World Health Organization in 2015, for instance, found that eating processed meats like hot dogs, ham and bacon can increase cancer risk, especially colon risk. Diets that are high in fatty, red meats also can raise cholesterol, increasing heart disease risks. Meanwhile, plant-based foods have potential to do the opposite, with antioxidants lowering everything from cancer risk to blood pressure. Not only is it good for our bodies, but a more plant based diet is often good for the planet, reducing carbon emissions from animals and the trucks that drive them and their meat around our world.

Did you know plants are also good for each other? A healthy garden is a mixed garden because a lot of plants like and thrive when grown next to each other. Lavender repels slugs for example and Marigolds keep those pesky aphids away. No chemicals needed, just a handy guide to what helps what and what keeps away those little critters that want to eat away at your garden.

Robot Caretakers

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Caretaking of the elderly has always fallen on two different group: the family or an outside source like a nurse or living facility. As scores of people reach their golden years the question about who will care for them as life start to get a bit more difficult for them to live independently comes to the minds of those around them and of course themselves. Living without the aid of others is often seen as a key level of independence and many senior citizens fear losing that independence. So, what if robots hold the key to not only keeping a level of care, but also this much desired sense of autonomy? This may very well be the case in the future.

We already have robots doing lots of tasks: building machines, vacuuming our floors, and creating all sorts of forms of entertainment for us. So in the future we can expect them to surely be good caretakers. Able to open fridges, give medicine, and open doors they will be nurses and friends who do not need to go home or sleep. They will always be there for those who need them.

But will we accept them? A EU survey published last year said 51 percent would feel “uncomfortable” about “a robot provide services and companionship to elderly or infirm people.” The public overall still seems cold to the idea of robots taking care of us or being in our lives to a bigger degree. Only time will tell if we will warm up and take advantage of the benefits robot caretakers could give.

Investing in the Future

stock-arctic-sea-ice-2Stocks, houses, cars: these are the normal things that come to mind when we talk about “investing”. Money and the future are always intertwined. However, no amount of money in the world will do anything is we do not invest in the future of the health of our planet.

Ice levels in the artic continue to decline. In a paper from Nature Climate Change it has been reported that CO2 and human activities are responsible for near 2/3rds of this Artic sea ice loss.

If we don’t curb emissions we’ll lose this sea ice as well as many species that rely on it like Polar Bears. The rising tide that will happen when we lose this ice will impact all coastal cities that are at or below sea level.

Investing in our planet’s future is important if we not only care about nature but the safety of our own coastal cities.

Hawaiian Biodiversity

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands are a unique place. Strange birds, tropical fish, migrating whales. However in recent centuries many non-indigenous animals have started to take over the islands. These animals have a big impact on the biodiversity in the area, but recent analysis says that Hawaii’s unique animals and plant life have been declining for long before the introduction of non-native species—in fact the University of California, Berkley says that the native life has been declining for millions of years.

Shrinking land areas of the older islands puts stress on the life there. The only island growing is the big island after all, so the rest are giving less and less space to the various birds, insects, spiders, and plants there (there are no native mammals on the islands). At a certain point this means extinction.

 

Plant Intelligence

plantsWe are well experienced in knowing that many other forms of life have conscious intelligence. ravens use tools, elephants form complex emotional relationships with their counterparts, chimps and other apes have been seen using plant matter as umbrellas in the rain. There is no doubt that animals hold levels of complex intelligence, but have you ever wondered if plants do? If not you should.

Children have long asked their parents if plants can feel being eaten. We often rebuke them and deny that—but the truth is plants are more aware than we realize. IFLScience says “A small, flowering plant called Arabidopsis thaliana can hear the vibrations that caterpillars trigger when they chew on its leaves. According to a new study, the plants can hear danger loud and clear, and they respond by launching a chemical defense.” And this is just one example among many others.

To apply the idea of “intelligence” it is often said that you need a brain to truly qualify, but is that true if plants can sound the alarm of danger? That is an awareness. So where is the line drawn then? Because plants cannot really move in the way animals or humans can it is fair to say that to survive they must be very aware. They understand what is going on around them from the soil conditions to moisture, threats to pollution. That’s sensory processing. Roots grow towards nutrition and know to avoid other roots, but are fine with hitting up against intimate objects. There is evidence that fungi communicate to their tree hosts to help the chances of that trees survival. Could we see this as a form of corporation? A clear form of some level of intelligence?

Plants are more complicated than what we give them credit for, and it is time to consider them a bit more.