We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Monday, June 8, 2015

kids, zoos, moms, Internet

Yes, the title is a bit weird.

I visited Melbourne Zoo today. I have not visited any zoo since I was a kid, so while deciding what to see in Melbourne City, I decided to pay a quick visit to its zoo.

I spent like 3 hours in zoo. The most common thing around me during this time was kids. They were every where with mostly accompanied by their moms. Moms were trying to teach kids what each animal was, where it was located in its enclosure (since mostly these animals try to hide in some remote corner away from public eye). It was fun to watch them.

Was I excited. Not really. Why? Well, I think because as adults we tend to watch a lot of Discovery, National Geography, where animals are show cased in plenty, so their attraction does not stay that strong. You see them in enclosure and you think..... whatever.

But, yes, for kids its a best experience as they are yet learning and their cognitive abilities get better by being in physical presence of these animals than just seeing them on TVs. So Zoos still have their place in the modern society. The question is, will their place be ever replaced totally by the advent of the information age, where every thing is available on the finger tips using Internet and related technologies for e.g. such as virtual reality? Zoos have to keep on re-inventing themselves to draw bigger crowds, they have to keep on making themselves attractive so that parents want to bring their kids.

Or was I being too nerd? Have I lost my ability to enjoy simple things, because I try to reason behind why this thing is happening the way it is happening? I think yes. 

Human driven and self driving carI s

I am in Melbourne, Australia to present my research paper. This is the top-most conference in data management. The paper presentation went very well. After the conference usually I spend couple of days doing local sight-seeing.

I drove from Melbourne to Sydney after the conference was over. Its a distance of around 900 km. I was seeking an adventure and decided to drive down than flying as that would give a perspective of Australian landscape, culture, driving habits, roads etc. Road trips teach a lot of about the country,
as that forces you to interact with locals and gives an impression about the overall culture.

Driving itself was a lot stressful in the beginning as I was not in my best shape due to lack of proper sleep, and on top of that constant rains that made road visibility very poor. Also I was not much confident of driving alone in a new country, in new conditions. So the initial 2 hours were a lot stressful. But as the rains vanished and I got used to the driving it started getting better. But the initial feeling was quite stressful. Suddenly you realize that you are responsible for extreme precaution as a slight mistake can cost you a severe accident and your life. Having that kind of responsibility while surrounded by zooming cars, and pouring rain could be immensely stressful.

While driving I was constantly appreciating the advent and prospect of self driving cars. A lot of daily stress in human life arrives from driving. Since the person has to take care to not to make any mistake. What if this exercise is made enjoyable and relaxing where a machine is able to take care of all the necessary precautions etc to make sure you are being driven safely. I think when the self driving cars, or cars that have abilities to correct or warn driver of possible accidents becomes common place, quality of human life will change for ever. These kind of technologies are already present in expensive cars, but yet to appear in cheaper ones.

I constantly felt how great it would have been had my car had all the safety mechanisms to warn me in case there was a possibility of accident. My stress would be much less. Also I realized, I take decisions during driving such as which routes to take, which exit to follow, how much speed-limit to follow by watching the road signs. If sensors could replace me, they should be also be able to do the same. The only problem that remains is the exceptional conditions when human intelligence can take judgement.

My journey went on fine after I got used to the driving and after some power naps by resting by road side stops. But, the thought of having a self driven car taking me from point A to point B was much pleasurable considering the amount of stress driving could involve some times. The time could be better spend in more constructive things, to make some things more better.