Tag Archives: Technology

Are Selfies Worth the Risk?

What would you do for the perfect selfie?

The emergence of the front-facing camera has revolutionized the way we make memories and document our lives. We can’t go anywhere without documenting our latest vacation or trip to the most artsy place in town. If we don’t take a selfie, where we even there at all?

It turns out there have been a number of accidental deaths linked to this seemingly innocent activity. In 2016 alone there were more selfie related deaths than shark attacks.

  1. In 2015 a man reportedly died from a lightning strike that hit his selfie stick, electrocuting him and killing him.
  2. A 66 year old tourist fell backwards down the steps of the Taj Mahal in 2015. He sustained head trauma that led to his death. Witnesses stated that they saw him trying to execute a selfie before the man lost his balance.
  3. In the past few years there was a series of incidents in which young people trying to show off guns on live video accidentally shot themselves and died.

In our society there is the pressure to get the perfect selfie. This causes people to become less aware in their surroundings, opening the door for accidents to happen. Apps like Snapchat have instituted warnings to not take selfies while moving/driving in order to limit the amount of car crashes due to distracted driving. It seems that anything, even the most innocent of actions, when taken to the extreme or done in an unsafe environment can cause harm. The deaths of each of these individuals is tragic. The adage, with more power comes more responsibility, should hold true in our use of technology. As we are able to do more and more things due to technology, we must remember that are actions have consequences. It is wonderful that we can text and call people while we are on the go, but killing ourselves our someone else in a car accident because we were busy texting is not the way to embrace the strides we have made.

The #SelfieOlympics, a viral selfie phenomena a few years ago, shows how the art of the selfie has evolved. The goal was to take the craziest most elaborate photos, all while in the comfort of one’s bathroom. The use of props was encouraged, and the more one could defy gravity the better.  Eventhough social media crazes such as the #SelfieOlympics are super fun and relatively harmless, we should be mindful that actually living our lives is more important than capturing every second of them.

https://twitter.com/tyler1995ojeda/status/476224980120637440

The reality is that while trying to capture every moment of our lives, we are actually letting a lot of it slip past. We must ask ourselves is having the wildest selfie worth it? Maybe not if it means we are risking our lives or the lives of others.

Here’s a video of selfie fails that resulted in accidents, but nobody died. Enjoy.

**WARNING: LANGUAGE**

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNswL3iQp-I

Sources:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/death-by-selfie/

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/pictures/death-by-selfie-10-disturbing-stories-of-social-media-pics-gone-wrong-20160714/ultimate-selfie-gone-wrong-20160714

What Would You Do?

Equality.

A term flaunted in many public circles, political campaigns, and social justice movements. In these instances, “equality” refers to fairness and justice in life; the act of viewing all people without bias or discrimination. Our society is obsessed with rallying behind crusades that foster impartiality in every aspect of life…but what about death? Is there equality in dying?

With current advancements in artificial intelligence, it is no surprise that self driving cars are on the horizon.  In an effort to gather information about how humans make decisions, researchers at MIT created the “Moral Machine.” This database contains a variety of what-would-you-do scenarios involving car crashes and vehicular manslaughter in attempt to create an algorithm for decision making based on how humans act in life-and-death situations.  For example:

This scenario incites intense debate over what the car should or should not do. If the car continues in a straight path, one woman and her unborn child will die. However, if the car is programmed to swerve, five people will die. If only provided with the number of deaths, many people would choose to have the car continue straight, saving the most lives. But what happens when we place value on those lives? When the victims are women and children, versus criminals, how do we decide which lives to value more and which deaths to value less?  That is the heart of what the Moral Machine aims to uncover.  By categorizing people into different groups based on their social value, we assign significance to individual deaths. After perceiving the criminals’ role in society, many people may change their minds and program the car to swerve, taking a greater number of lives but saving (arguably) more important or worthy ones.

The dilemma in the various circumstances boils down to the modern perception of death and the processes to follow. Our society has cultivated an environment that fights against death. People do not want to die “before their time” and thus are bred to accept death only when they feel that their life is complete or that they have nothing more to give. These personal sentiments are subconsciously broadcast into situations like the self-driving car, where knowing the demographics of a person ranks them on a scale ranging between “worth-saving-at-any-cost” to “not-a-huge-loss.”  It sounds gruesome but it’s true. 

Additionally, our determination of what the car should do originates in the process after a death. We can justify the decision to kill the five criminals if we consider that the pregnant woman and baby would be heavily mourned and grieved whereas the convicts probably would not.

Inadvertently, we place values on life and death based on our culture’s view of death and the proceedings to follow. Death and life seem to have an linear relationship; the more we value someone’s life the more we value their death. Is this a true embodiment of equality though? Can equality be extended to the grave? And lastly, what would you do?

 

To see other related scenarios, click here.

References

http://moralmachine.mit.edu/

Frozen in Time

Kim Suozzi died in January of 2013, but she may have a second chance at life—in 100 years or so. According to a recent New York Times article, Suozzi, who died at age 23 of an aggressive form of cancer, chose to have her brain cryogenically frozen in the hopes of one day being revived (possibly with her memories and personality still intact).

Suozzi and long-term boyfriend Josh Schisler were about as realistic as possible regarding the idea of cryogenics: they hoped that Kim would eventually be able to come back to life in an artificial body, using a computer to feel and sense things. Despite the decidedly unappealing prospect of living without a body (immediately after her death, Kim’s head was detached from her body in order to expedite the freezing process), Suozzi and Schisler were enthusiastic and hopeful. Said Schisler, “I just think it’s worth trying to preserve Kim.”

As is the case in many situations involving death, Kim’s loved ones were at odds with each other. Her father, who ultimately was not given power of attorney, reportedly told Kim, “Dying is a part of life…we don’t life forever.” But Kim and Josh persevered, eventually securing the money for the procedure, mostly through anonymous donations.

Currently, Kim’s brain remains frozen

at a private facility in Arizona.

Aside from the science fiction-y overtones in the article, I think the story raises some very real questions about the role of medical technology in overcoming death. Is freezing the human brain really a triumph over death? By all accounts, Kim Suozzi most definitely died on that January day. But if the possibility of coming back to life—in whatever form that may be—is real, then can we really write her off as dead? And how close is science actually to being able to achieve what Kim and Josh had hoped? I was simultaneously disturbed and intrigued by this article; I found myself wondering if in the future death will even exist at all.

 

A Never Beating Heart: A Glimpse into Never Ending Life

Early in the spring of last year Craig Lewis, a 55-year-old Texas native, found himself confronted with a life-or-death situation. After battling with a complicated heart condition leading to the build up of abnormal proteins in his heart, Lewis was told by doctors that he had just 12 to 24 hours to live before his heart would give way entirely. Where all other heart-supporting technologies proved to be insufficient, Lewis’ only chance of survival lied in removing the heart completely—and putting machinery in its place.

The device, called a “continuous flow” pump, works by using blades to supply a continuous flow of blood to the entire body. As a result, the patient has no heartbeat, and as Lewis’ doctors state, “by all criteria that we conventionally use to analyze patients,” he would be considered dead. Although able to walk, read, and otherwise completely functional, Lewis’ EKG is flat-line, and a stethoscope would reveal no heartbeat. Although tested extensively in cows, Lewis was the first human subject. While the device worked flawlessly, Lewis ultimately died 5 weeks after it was installed as his condition led to the corrosion of his kidneys and liver. A short video highlighting Lewis’ experience can be found below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzTXaUltXUA

While Lewis’ doctors claim the device is the “waive of the future” his story left me with more concern than excitement. Lewis’ story represents the natural degradation of the body that occurs with aging, and science’s extreme intrusion into that process. While Lewis’ body was ready to give up, Lewis was ready to fight back, and with technology on his side, he won the battle. With the invention of this new device will individuals always have the option of “choosing” to live? When our organs, one by one start to erode, will technology advance to the point to which we can just replace them with shiny metal versions? It’s already been proven that modern advances in technology have significantly improved human life spans. It seems as though heart-replacement technology seeks to made life endless.

Craig Lewis’ story can furthermore be seen as indicative of America’s overall view of death as not a natural and inescapable ending, but a fearsome process that must be stopped at all costs. Americans seems to think that death is an injustice, a force to battle against. While it’s true that the death of an infant or child seems premature, at what point must we admit that individuals are ready to die? Millions of our ancestors have come and gone. The idea that future generations can control their life spans, and enhance them to an unnatural extent, seems not only frightening, but quite frankly a little absurd. Death is inevitable, and I believe it is the time to embrace it—not run from it though technological advances.

Six Great Tech Tools for Planning Your Own Death

As time goes on, it is clear that the world is becoming more technologically dependent. But have you ever thought about how nonmedical technology affects one’s death rather than one’s life? Recently, there have been several applications and tools available through both Facebook and the Apple AppStore that can offer assistance in planning one’s death. These programs range from allowing one to write their will to storing private family information that is later used in legal matters.

The will is one of the most important documents one can provide post mortem; it lists who inherits what property. Now, one can begin writing or edit their will as many times as they want with the “MyWill” application, a free program that can be downloaded through the Apple AppStore. The user is able to assign certain pieces of property to certain heirs. It also allows the user to assign a new legal guardian for their minor children!

A living will is different than a normal will in that a living will outlines critical healthcare decisions in advance. Thus, if the user is unable to communicate and is in a critical medical condition, this application can be used to access the patient’s wishes regarding medical treatment. “iLivingWill” is a $0.99 iPad application that allows one to do just that.

“If I Die”is a program available on Facebook that allows users to record a message to loved ones and friends if they were to die unexpectedly. The user can choose up to three people to send this recording to via Facebook message.

Another free app that is available is called “Funeral Advice”. It provides video tutorials that allow one to essentially and interactively plan their own funeral. This application guides one in the right direction by suggesting funeral homes, casket choices and steps to take after losing a loved one.

“Death Meter” has been criticized by many people for its lack of credible information. This program gives one an approximate idea of when they will die based oninformation inputted by the user. This program takes into account hygiene, diet, family history and daily activity. There are multiple other websites that serve the same purpose.

Personally, I would probably never purchase or download any of these programs but of all these applications, the one that I would find the most useful is “AssetLock”. With this application, one is able to store important records in reference to financial records, insurance policies and funeral arrangements. Members of the family can then access this information after the user has deceased. “AssetLock” acts as somewhat of a “virtual safety deposit box.”

After reading this article I felt a little “creeped out”. It’s one thing to talk to someone about your death personally with a lawyer and/or funeral director and plan out how you want the ceremonies and legal aspects to be carried out. But the fact that someone can whip out their iPhone on a subway on their commute to work and write a will or allocate their assets is a little too close for comfort. Although some may be skeptical of these tools, programs like these make people more aware of death because its implications and guidelines are accessible at any moment.

I later visited www.findyourfate.com/deathmeter/deathmtr.html and plugged in my information. The Death Meter claims that I will die on June 5, 2079, now we just have to wait and see how accurate that truly is…

Jared Siegel

This article can be found here: (http://www.wisebread.com/six-great-tech-tools-for-planning-your-own-death-0)

 

Frozen Space

 

A few weeks ago during a discussion seminar we were talking about technology in the modern era that has prolonged life. Of the many technologies talked about, like respirators, artificial hearts, and stem-cell research, cryogenics came up. Along with the very cool/science fiction notion of cryogenics, there is a very real possibility of using this technology for space travel. However there is always an important question that comes up when discussing cryogenics. Is the individual truly alive? And, how does cryogenics change the concept of death in the modern era?

The concept behind cryogenics in space travel is what you see in science fiction movies. The idea is to provide humans an alternative to traveling millions of light years without the threat of aging or dying. Placing humans in a frozen state can accomplish this. This field is also very attractive in disease research because humans can be frozen in the hope to be reawaken in a time where that disease may be cured. Cryogenics is also an alternative to customary death rituals. Many individuals, instead of being buried or cremated, prefer to be in a constant frozen state.

Believe it or not, cryogenics is currently being used aboard modern space ships and space stations, but not in the way you see in movies. The cryogenics technology requires the use of H2 and O2 molecules to provide a freezing mechanism. This is very useful for rocket thrusters, engines, and to preserve food for long distance space travel. The same application can be used for humans too. But the problem lies in how to restore humans back to active status after arriving at a certain destination, or even if the freezing can be reversed and the humans are able to recuperate from such a long stretch of time in a frozen state.

Cryogenic technology is a viable option for long distance space traveling by allowing humans to be in a frozen state in which they cannot age or die. However cryogenics pushes the envelope of the modern concept of death and dying. This technology is already being used to freeze human remains for the purposes of medical research. Now it can be used to cheat death, in a sense, which will alter how we see death and dying in the future to come.

For more information on cryogenics in space please visit here.

For a look into history of cryogenics and application visit here and here.

 

Technologically Prolonging Life and Tuck Everlasting

Many of our recent readings have dealt with the advancement of medicine and technology and how it has affected the length of life.  In America, we see this triumph over death as a great accomplishment and therefore strive to keep increasing the length of life.  However, are we raising quality of life as well, or just delaying the inevitable processes of nature? As we age and become more feeble and sickly, technology that preserves our lives becomes more increasingly present.  It is used to keep our heart pumping when the heart has stopped doing so on its own, to keep us breathing, and to replace body parts that can no longer perform correctly.  These actions can prolong life, but they also commonly leave patients in a state of non-life, non-death; comas, forms of social death after living longer than family and peers, and failed organ transplants.  For these reasons we can wonder not only how beneficial these actions are, but also when should we plan to stop technology advancements.  After a point, extended life is no longer a beneficial thing if all other important aspects of life are absent.

Movie poster for Tuck Everlasting (2002)

Movie poster for Tuck Everlasting (2002)

This argument is presented in the book/movie Tuck Everlasting. The Tucks have lived for over a hundred years after drinking from a stream that gave them eternal life.  Winnie Foster falls in love with one of the Tuck sons and eventually learns their secret of immortality; he tries to convince her to drink from the stream and wait for him so that they can share the rest of time together.  The father, Angus Tuck has a conversation with Winnie in which he tries to convince her otherwise (see video link).  It is here that the concept of longevity versus quality of life is incorporated into this fantasy film.  Angus establishes the idea that living forever is not such a great gift; they become a being in a world in which everything around them passes by throughout time.  They no longer have an importance as an individual since they exist outside the boundaries of normal functioning life.  He believes that Winnie, as a mortal, is able to live a true life of meaning and social connections with the world she lives in.  Taking  Tuck’s advice, Winnie decides not to drink from the spring and we see that she dies after a long and fulfilling life; the film shows us that if given the choice, opting for a natural life is more meaningful and rewarding than “living forever”.  Maybe this should be considered as we continue along our path of forever advancing science and technology.

Winnie Foster at the immortal spring

Winnie Foster at the immortal spring

-Victoria Grumbles