The Conundrum of World Improvement

Written by Martin Winer

The Conundrum of World Improvement Suppose today, your deity spoke to you and said:

“From this day forward, your job shall be to contemplaterepparttar problems ofrepparttar 125943 world. I will give you immortality for as long as you need to think and come up with a solution. During this time, you will live comfortably and be able to dedicate yourself to this quest. Atrepparttar 125944 end of your planning, you will return to exactly this day with infinite powers for a finite period to implement your solution. After this period, your solution will be ‘turned off’ andrepparttar 125945 world will only haverepparttar 125946 memory of that experience.”

Attempt 1 -- Turn All Weapons into Bananas This solution will turn all weapons into bananas. That’s right all of them. You’ll have Magnum banana’s right down to nuclear bananistic submarines. After all, how much can you hurt someone with a banana? If you try to use appendages (hands, feet, etc), they too will temporarily be turned into a banana (small mushy ones, not big firm ones). No weapon will be left on this earth that isn’t turned into a banana. After a certain period, people will learn to resolve their differences other ways.

Comedic Connundrum This will immediately lead to an oversupply of bananas, leading to a life imitating art situation whererepparttar 125947 “Planet ofrepparttar 125948 Apes” ensues, with your mission failed.

The Real Connundrum – What is a weapon? The real problem is: What is a weapon? Sure a gun is clearly a weapon and so too is a bow and arrow, but what about a knife? What about your common garden stone? Remember that historically, stones were used as a form of execution. So what is a weapon after all? A weapon is a technology or object married torepparttar 125949 intention ofrepparttar 125950 user.

From one ofrepparttar 125951 first parables ofrepparttar 125952 use of technology, we learn that technology is neverrepparttar 125953 problem; it’s our use of technology. The stone that was used to slay Abel could easily have also been a stone used to build a house for his brother.

Attempt 2 -- Turn All devices used as a weapon into a Banana Great well, now we’ve solved it. If someone picks up a stone and uses it to try and attack another person, artificially intelligent software that monitors all objects in real time will detectrepparttar 125954 imminent attack and turnrepparttar 125955 device into a banana moments beforerepparttar 125956 attack occurs. This way we can still have rock gardens without having to worry about being stoned anymore, unless we smoke herbs fromrepparttar 125957 rock garden.

Possible enhancement: Change objects into random food items If we changerepparttar 125958 objects used in a violent attack into random food items, we solve two world problems with one stroke: violence and hunger. It is said, “man will not rebel on a full stomach”. Now, should man grow hungry, angry and rebellious and take objects into hand with which to rebel,repparttar 125959 objects will be turned into food items in that second and quellrepparttar 125960 rebellion instantaneously.

Problem: Are all weapons physical items? With our revised banana scheme, we can eliminate physical violence in this world; That is, at least, open direct combat. However, this presupposes that all violence is physical.

Stalking Inrepparttar 125961 hands of a stalker, a telephone can be a weapon. What algorithm shall we now use? If one person calls another more than 3 times with that person hanging up on them,repparttar 125962 phone shall then turn into a banana? This algorithm becomes increasingly complex very quickly.

Demographic War What about a demographic war? When people realize that they can’t defeat their enemies with weapons, they may realize that they can outbreed them. By out breeding them, they may maintain a majority onrepparttar 125963 planet whereby they can wield political, and numerical supremacy. What do we propose to turn into bananas here? I shudder, as a man, to answer.

Political Battles What about political battles whereby one party seeks to destroyrepparttar 125964 life or career of another person? What of slander? We can’t turnrepparttar 125965 press nor words into bananas.

The real problem – It’s not justrepparttar 125966 use of technology, it’srepparttar 125967 intention The real problem with allrepparttar 125968 proposed solutions is that they look at material solutions torepparttar 125969 problem. The problem isn’t with objectsrepparttar 125970 problem is to do with intention. Objects are just one of many methods we use to actualize our intentions. Ifrepparttar 125971 fault lies in our intentions, then we must research ways in which our intentions can be prevented from gettingrepparttar 125972 best of us.

Attempt 3 -- The Intention Buster Recall that we are given an unlimited amount of time to solve this problem. Thus we can devise very sophisticated systems to use in our solutions. What if we research and develop a device which interfaces withrepparttar 125973 human mind and detects negative intentions?

Take for example a child who plays with a magnifying glass, and discovers thatrepparttar 125974 sun focused on a banana peel (there are a mysteriously large number of them about, for some unknown reason), causesrepparttar 125975 peel to burn. The child has been burnt before and realizes this is an unpleasant sensation. Suddenly an ant passes by andrepparttar 125976 child is curious to see what would happen torepparttar 125977 ant, realizing that it might be unpleasant forrepparttar 125978 ant, but not completely sure of exactly what will happen. Suddenly, his/her hand will be prevented from moving just asrepparttar 125979 sun is about to be focused fatally onrepparttar 125980 ant. The ant will crawl away safely, but will our future?

How do we learn about intentions andrepparttar 125981 effects of our intentions? The problem with this solution is that when we turn off our solution,repparttar 125982 child who was unable to fryrepparttar 125983 ant, hasn’t gained any insight as to why this is a wrong action. The child never got to seerepparttar 125984 ant turn into smoke and imagine what that may feel like. S/He never hadrepparttar 125985 opportunity to complete this action and possibly feel remorse. The child never hadrepparttar 125986 experience to develop empathy and only knew that s/he was prevented from taking this action. Thus when this solution is turned off,repparttar 125987 child, perhaps an adult by now, never had a chance to learn aboutrepparttar 125988 consequences of intentions because those intentions were prevented externally. So when this solution is turned off, we return to a world inrepparttar 125989 state it was at best, however, likely much worse than it was.

A Guide to Election Night for the Non-Political Junkie

Written by Terry Mitchell

Even if you are not a political junkie like I am, you will still probably find yourself glued to your TV set on election night. Obviously, you'll be waiting to find out whether President George W. Bush will be elected or if Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts will become our 44th President. Will everything you see and hear that night be interesting? Will it even make sense to you? Well, if all you are interested in is finding out who wins, you may be in for a long and boring night. Volumes of information will be presented that night before a final winner is declared. However, if you know a few things to look for, all of that stuff might make a lot more sense and actually be interesting as well.

For one thing, you need to be aware that there's only going to be a passive emphasis onrepparttar national popular vote, i.e.,repparttar 125942 total amount of votes cast nationally for each candidate. That's because it doesn't determine who wins -repparttar 125943 electoral votes do. In every state except Maine, Nebraska, and perhaps Colorado (more on that later),repparttar 125944 winner of that state receives all of its electoral votes. Maine awards them by congressional district, withrepparttar 125945 other two going to that state's overall winner. Nebraska awards its electoral votes proportionally, based onrepparttar 125946 percentage ofrepparttar 125947 popular vote each candidate receives in that state.

The number of electoral votes each state has is calculated by addingrepparttar 125948 number of its congressional districts torepparttar 125949 number of its senators. The number of congressional districts each state has is based on its population. The more populous states like California and Texas have a lot more congressional districts than more sparsely populated states like Wyoming or Vermont. However, every state has at least one congressional district, no matter how small its population. Every state has exactly two senators. Therefore, every state has at least three electoral votes. In addition to allrepparttar 125950 states,repparttar 125951 District of Columbia is allotted three electoral votes, even though it has no voting members in Congress.

Many people believerepparttar 125952 electoral college,repparttar 125953 system of casting electoral votes to determinerepparttar 125954 outcome ofrepparttar 125955 presidential election, is inherently unfair and should be abolished in favor of a system in whichrepparttar 125956 winner is determined purely byrepparttar 125957 national popular vote. Of course, it would take a Constitutional amendment for that to happen. Therefore,repparttar 125958 electoral college is here to stay. Even if such amendment could getrepparttar 125959 required two-thirds margin inrepparttar 125960 House and Senate, it would never be able to getrepparttar 125961 required three-quarters ofrepparttar 125962 state legislatures. There are too many small states that would be staunchly opposed to it, as they feel thatrepparttar 125963 electoral college allows them to be "players" inrepparttar 125964 presidential election campaign that they would not be in a purely popular vote system. These small states fear that they would be completely ignored by presidential candidates, withoutrepparttar 125965 electoral college. I fear that they are right.

Many states will be "called", i.e., a projected winner of that state will be announced, by news organizations as soon asrepparttar 125966 polls close in those states. This can be done fairly accurately withrepparttar 125967 use of exit polls, a process by which voters are asked about their decision as they are exiting their polling places. Ifrepparttar 125968 exit polling sample alone from a given state shows a clear victory for one candidate, they will call that state as soon as its polls close. Ifrepparttar 125969 exit polls show that a given state is too close to call, they will wait until enough ofrepparttar 125970 actual vote count comes in before calling that state. Exit polls are sometimes wrong, though. The most infamous example was Florida in 2000, when it was called for Gore based on exit polling data and some ofrepparttar 125971 actual results. After more ofrepparttar 125972 actual results started coming in, however,repparttar 125973 news organizations soon started to realize things might not go in Floridarepparttar 125974 way they had projected, so they soon retracted their call andrepparttar 125975 state ultimately went to Bush.

Byrepparttar 125976 way, people who say they never believe exit polls (or political polls in general) will offer two main criticisms of them. The first is: "They've never asked me." In actuality, very few voters are ever contacted by pollsters. Only a very small sample of voters is needed to get a reasonably accurate result, provided it is random enough and varied enough among all demographic groups, geographic areas, etc. To use an analogy that I've often heard, you don't need to drinkrepparttar 125977 whole glass of tea to find out whether or not it's sweet. Just a taste will due, assumingrepparttar 125978 glass has been stirred properly. The other criticism is: "They ask intentionally misleading and confusing questions." This is quite true of many political polls. However,repparttar 125979 main question asked during exit poling is: "For whom did you vote?". I wonder which part of that question people wouldn't understand.

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