Man AND Machine?

Going off of my last post I wanted to pose a question: At what point is a human no longer considered a human? I don’t exactly seek to delve deep into the answers, but rather as some questions and share my opinions. For the sake of argument, let us assume that technology has progressed to the point we can practically replace the entire human body with robotics. Forgive me while I get a little of the rails…

If we are to remove a man’s arm and replace it with an artificial one certainly he is still human. He maintains his humanity, as he still possesses the rest of his body. He is largely organic and biological. But what if this process is taken further? What if the process of artificially “augmenting” to a human continues? Is it when science can replace greater than 50% of a person? These are interesting questions, especially with the rapid advancement of technology it may have to be a question many may ask.

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What would be the point of losing our humanity? Progress of course! If we could eliminate horrible diseases like cancer, we could run faster, think smarter, live longer, isn’t it worth it? The future of human body augmentation is the next step in our evolution, one that we can make for ourselves. If the tech is there in the future, we will be able to play God. there would be no limit but our own creativity and imagination.

What will the future hold?

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Get “Back to the Future”

I’m going to switch things up from my usual musical ramblings today for a post that’s more… philosophical.

I think we as humans are obsessed with the future. We are obsessed with our tomorrows, both individually, and as a society at large. It’s easy to wonder about our future, and one of my favorite daydreams involves what technology will be like in the future. In the last 100 years alone humanity has developed tech that has changed how we live, and I would arguably say that computer technology has made the largest impact on mankind.

This video by YouTuber CGP Grey really kickstarted my imagination on the topic. It’s 15 minutes long and is definitely worth a look. The video talks about how our lives will become increasingly automated, and it’s all happening soon. Like, in our lifetimes soon.

Scary isn’t it?! So what is next? Where is technology going to push us going forward? I think the next logical step for us is to begin to allow ourselves to be changed by technology physically. The tech isn’t as advanced as it could be yet, but I think looking forward we will begin to see increasingly advanced artificial limbs and even organs.

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100 years ago artificial limbs like this weren’t even realistically conceivable.

I believe that this is going to revolutionize our world as we know it. Maybe this all sounds like the ramblings of a madman, but if we continue on the pathway of human body augmentation our society will be forever changed. It’s hard – for me at least – to think of something that is more simultaneously scary and exciting. Imagine a world free of disease, no more disabilities, and potentially longer lifespans!

But this potential advancement comes at a potentially huge social diversion. These body modifications could one day give birth to another class of person, someone who is increasingly more machine than man. The advantages that this person would have over the more “basic” human would be practically limitless. And of course, why would it be affordable? It would be a luxury that only the wealthy could afford. I think that’s a scary reality, and we need to consider the social ramifications such body augmentation can have.

Just a thought.

 

 

Vinyl Value

Last year I had one thing on my 2014 Christmas list, and that was a record player. I can’t remember why exactly I wanted one, but I guess it was just to me at the time a cool thing to have. Maybe it helped bolster my music geek credibility to those who had no idea of what vinyl really was, or maybe I just really wanted to listen to some of my Dad’s old records collecting dust in my childhood home.

Regardless of the reason I wanted a record player, I sure am glad that I got one a year later. What started off as a vintage collection has a year later blossomed into a full-on obsession… maybe even an addiction. I’ve managed to fill an entire milk crate of vinyl records both old and new, of all sorts of genres, and from many different artists. If you looked through my collections you would say that my musical taste is, if anything, eclectic. Ranging from alternative, classic rock, experimental jazz, hip-hop, to electronic. I’m pretty certain my year one collection has something that would impress any fellow music aficionado.

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The best place in Hamilton to pick up new and old records. Cheapies Records and Tapes!

So, why do I love vinyl? A lot of people say that vinyl sounds better than more digital mediums, and sometimes it does. But the real reason I love picking up a fresh new record from the store is the excitement of picking up a piece of art from my local record store and having that physical piece of art to keep for myself. I love the artwork of my favourite albums, the little bonuses most records have with them (posters, stickers, etc.). If I had to explain it simply, it’s like having a physical copy of a book. Even though there are plenty of digital ways to read books there is something special about having a good old-fashioned physical book to touch, feel, and display on your bookshelf. That’s how I would compare vinyl and mp3’s.

With a record you are stuck with your purchase. You better love every single song on the album, or at the very least be willing to open your ears up to the possibility of loving the odd tracks that sit between the singles released to mainstream music listeners. The vinyl record is an experience; and one at that I’m glad I’ve had.

 

The Importance of Social Responsibility in Music

Let’s get something straight, I used to hate rap. I hated how ignorant rappers seemed, I hated the lyrics, and I hated the lifestyle it portrayed. But, luckily enough for me I was reintroduced to the genre through a different lens during my second year at McMaster University.

My housemates that year almost exclusively listened to hip-hop and I was essentially forced to listen to what they were listening to (thanks to the exceptionally thin walls of our student house). Over time, I really began to appreciate the genre as an under-appreciated art form. The first album that really opened up my ignorant ears was definitely ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ by Kendrick Lamar. It tells the story of a young black man growing up in Compton who is struggling to escape a life full of peer pressure, drugs, and gang violence. And while I must admit I can’t relate on a first person basis with the content of the album it certainly provides an interesting perspective into a lifestyle that I never lived. The album told a story, a tragic story told through the use of urban poetry and music.

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I began quickly to fall in love with the catchy beats and hooks of rap / hip-hop. I began listening to different artists and further refining my musical tastes, delving deeper into the genre as a whole. I did, however, keep selective artists on my favorite list; naturally Kendrick remained on that list. So when I heard that he was soon releasing a new album following up ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ I was far beyond excited. Eventually said album came out and it was titled ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’. It was different in every way from his previous work, and at first it seemed like a strange change of direction to take. But just as before I began to understand the album, and it quickly became one of my favorite albums of all time. Featuring great lyrics and great jazz influenced music it was hard to not fall in love with ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’.

The album is more or less about the struggle that come along of being a successful artist. Kendrick speaks of his rise to stardom, and how his success has affected his life. He feels like he needs to be doing something more for the black community; he needs to have something to say. The album again takes a story format which I will not get into detail about here, but the content of this tale is extremely thought provoking, even from an outsider perspective. I made me think, “Isn’t this what music is all about”?

Good music to me should tell a story, or make you feel a certain emotion. One of the most important things music can do is teach you. ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ taught me about social responsibility in all aspects of life, for all aspects of life. Of course, there have been other forms of “socially conscious” music before, but this is one of the first times that I really appreciated it. There is, of course, a time and place for fun songs, but when you reach a certain point in your artistic career I think it is important to take time to really have something to say, and Kendrick really did that with ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’, he had a message for society and took the opportunity to speak to the public. This is something that’s important, and music is a great medium to convey important ideas. I hope everyone can appreciate that.

 

Multitudes of Music

From a young age I’ve been obsessed with music, it’s had a huge impact on practically every aspect of my life – in particular how I perceive a multitude of realities.

I fondly look back to my younger days, to times spent in the car with my Dad listening to CD’s and Cassettes. My Dad was always obsessed with music, and even though he never played an instrument he has always been a music man. I distinctly remember being obsessed with George Thorogood’s ‘Bad to the Bone’ and its distinctly distorted guitar riff. From a young age I knew there was something about music, I loved every note from the beginning. But over time I started to separate myself from my Dad’s musical taste and started to develop my own. I remember the first real album that I bought was Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’, which, of course, my entire elementary friend group (appropriately deemed the rock group) obsessed over. By high school, I had my own musical taste, and like any angsty teenager I wouldn’t let anyone tell me what to think.

I got into harder rock and became particularly obsessed with Nirvana and its front-man Kurt Cobain. I wanted to know everything about the band, and I even (quite embarrassingly) grew my hair out and dyed it blonde. But eventually, I grew up. As I grew up I started to further appreciate what music had to offer, I started to play guitar and write my own music, I even tried my hand a starting some bands in my hometown.

It all changed when I went to university. I had to make new friends and had the opportunity to further expand my musical horizons. Slowly I came out of my pretentious musical shell and began to appreciate hip-hop, jazz, blues, and others. I really began to appreciate the diversity that existed in music and no longer said that I was a fan of only X or Y. Instead, I adopted the idea that good music isn’t just what I liked. There is something to appreciate in almost all music and how it can bring us together, teach us lessons, or simply make us feel. In the end I’ve grown to appreciate variety in life itself, music taught me to appreciate the unknowns in the world.