March 31, 2013

Suspended Coffee : Do something for someone who can never repay you.

"We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter:
‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended’ They pay for their order, take the two and leave.

I ask my friend: “What are those ‘suspended’ coffees?”
My friend: “Wait for it and you will see.”

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers - three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks
‘Do you have a suspended coffee ?’

It’s simple - people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support ? If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it.

Reposted via Quora

March 27, 2013

Cummingtonite - Awesomest Geek T-shirt ever

Awesomest Geek t-shirt ever
Magnesium Ferrous Silicate Hydroxide is also the chemical formula for Cummintonite

Even a robot can become possessive!

Home » Robotics, Science & Tech » Robot Programmed to Fall in Love with a Girl Goes too Far

Robot Programmed to Fall in Love with a Girl Goes too Far

  • 51.5K
Researchers at Toshiba’s Akimu Robotic Research Institute were thrilled ten months ago when they successfully programmed Kenji, a third generation humanoid robot, to convincingly emulate certain human emotions. At the time, they even claimed that Kenji was capable of the robot equivalent of love. Now, however, they fear that his programming has taken an extreme turn for the worst.
“Initially, we were thrilled to see a bit of our soul come alive in this so called ‘machine,’” said Dr. Akito Takahashi, the principal investigator on the project. “This was really the final step for us in one of the fundamentals of the singularity.”

Kenji was part of an experiment involving several robots loaded with custom software designed to let them react emotionally to external stimuli. After some limited environmental conditioning, Kenji first demonstrated love by bonding with a a stuffed doll in his enclosure, which he would embrace for hours at a time. He would then make simple, but insistent, inquiries about the doll if it were out of sight. Researchers attributed this behavior to his programmed qualities of devotion and empathy and called the experiment a success.
What they didn’t count on were the effects of several months of self-iteration within the complex machine-learning code which gave Kenji his initial tenderness. As of last week, Kenji’s love for the doll, and indeed anybody he sets his ‘eyes’ on, is so intense that Dr. Takahashi and his team now fear to show him to outsiders.
The trouble all started when a young female intern began to spend several hours each day with Kenji, testing his systems and loading new software routines. When it came time to leave one evening, however, Kenji refused to let her out of his lab enclosure and used his bulky mechanical body to block her exit and hug her repeatedly. The intern was only able to escape after she had frantically phoned two senior staff members to come and temporarily de-activate Kenji.
“Despite our initial enthusiasm, it has become clear that Kenji’s impulses and behavior are not entirely rational or genuine,” conceded Dr. Takahashi.
Ever since that incident, each time Kenji is re-activated, he instantaneously bonds with the first technician to meet his gaze and rushes to embrace them with his two 100kg hydraulic arms. It doesn’t help that Kenji uses only pre-recorded dog and cat noises to communicate and is able to vocalize his love through a 20 watt speaker in his chest.
Dr. Takahashi admits that they will more than likely have to decommission Kenji permanently, but he’s optimistic about one day succeeding where Kenji failed.
“This is only a minor setback. I have full faith that we will one day live side by side with, and eventually love and be loved by, robots,” he said.

Reblogged via : RealityPod

March 13, 2013

Stop Child Labor - What you can do?

The article was originally written by Hemali Sangani, co-founder, Sambhav.

Child labour in housing societies is not unusual. In fact, as per the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, more than 40% of domestic help in Mumbai (more popularly known as City of Dreams) are under-15 girls.
As a co-founder and committee member of Sambhav – We Can Make a Difference, I decided to take up this issue and raise a voice against employment of children in homes. Later, Sambhavites unanimously decided to organize “Say No to Child Labour” Campaign on June 12, which also happens to be World Anti-Child Labour Day. As we were discussing our action plan for June 12, our family, friends and neighbours asked us a range of questions on the existing rules, penalties, reporting procedures, after-effects of removing a child labourer from work, etc. It is at this point, that we decided to draft a section on general FAQs related to child labour, which can be circulated through electronic mediums.
The FAQs are as follows:-
1. Why fighting against child labour is important?
  • India has the highest number of child labourers in the world.
  • Of the child labour force, 86% do not receive any education. (Source: CRY website).
  • When children are employed they are exploited and abused. It affects their heath as well as overall development since they are deprived of their education and recreation.
2. Why is Sambhav targeting child labour in housing societies?
  • Child labor in housing societies is rampant. In fact, more than 40% of domestic help in Mumbai are under-15 girls [Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report].
  • In October, 2006, government announced penalties for the employers of child labourers in houses, shops, restaurants, etc.
  • Housing Society Bye Laws, (governed by the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960), were recently amended to ban child labor in the housing society’s. It provides that a society should ensure that children below the age of 14 are not working on the society’s premises, including in any flat.
  • Penalties: The guilty (individual hirer) would be punished with a maximum fine of 1 year prison and/or Rs 20,000 in fine [Bye Laws 49(b) & 153 (c)].
  • Please note that there are ‘NO’ exceptions to the above rule i.e. a child laborer cannot work in a housing society for any type of work.
It is because of these reasons, Sambhavites decided to target child labor in housing societies.
3. In most cases parents send their children to work. If we do not employ a child laborer in our house, the parents may employ the child somewhere else.
  • There are two broad categories of parents –
  • First, ones who are unaware of the advantages of education and the various government schemes, which provide for the free education to poor children.
    Second, those who do not want to send their children to schools as it will deprive them of the extra income what their children are earning.
  • In the first case, we individuals, can go extra mile and make the parents aware of the advantages of education in a child’s future. We can also educate them about free education as well as Midday Meal schemes in government-aided school.
  • In the second case, once again we individuals can act responsible citizens and report such cases to government or local NGOs. 1098 is a 24-hour childcare helpline no. The authorities at 1098 would then take it forward – depending on the nature of each case, the authorities would counsel the parents, provide some financial help or take some rehabilitation measure. Please note, that by reporting on 1098, the authorities would not take harsh measures against the children or their parents. Rather, they would help in every way possible.
4. Children are the major source of income for poor families. What would these families do in order to survive?
  • If you ask. “Is it not true that if a family is extremely poor and is in desperate straits then the parents would need to send their child to work?” Then the answer of course is ‘YES’.
  • But reframe the question as “Are all families sending their children to work so poor that they need their child’s income in order to survive?” The answer is firm ‘NO’.
  • In fact, the rural areas are full of examples of children belonging to very poor families who are in school while their relatively better-off counterparts are working (SOURCE: MVF India).
  • A large number of factors that have nothing to do with the economics of the situation, such as tradition, ignorance of parents on account of illiteracy, lack of access to alternatives, and so on govern the decision of the family to send a child to work or to school.
  • We must remember that education is a fundamental right of every child in India. In fact, education is a direction in breaking the vicious circle of poverty.
5. What if the child is studying as well as working?
  • Firstly, the law clearly provides that child labour (in any form) is strictly banned. There are no exceptions to the above rule.
  • Even if a child is going to school, he/she is still not allowed to work in the after-school hours.
  • After-school hours are meant for child’s recreation, which would promote a child’s overall development and not for working in homes, restaurants, shops, etc.
6. I tried convincing a child labourer in my society to go to schools and study. But he’s least interested in education. What more can I do?
  • Let us rewind our life and go back to our primary school days (in the age group 6- 10 years). How many of us, were enthusiastic about waking up for the school? How many of us, (without our parents interfering) finished our homework first and then head for playing with our friends? How many of us understood the importance of education in first place? I’m afraid the answer is not many of us.
  • It was because of our parents/guardians/tuition teachers that we studied during our primary school days, completed our homework, indulged in extra-curricular activities like drawing, cycling, dancing, etc.
  • It is important for all of us to understand, that like us, there are many child labourers who do not like studying. But as our parents mentored our lives and made you and me an educated person, we should be taking care of the rights of such poor children.
  • I want to raise a voice against child labour in my society, but am afraid that it would affect the relationship between my family and my neighbors.
  • This is for every individual to decide what they want to do – accept things as they are or raise voice against wrong, maintain relationship with your neighbor ad turn a blind eye or take a step in shaping a child’s future.
  • Do what appeals to your self-conscience as you are answerable only to yourself.
8. How can I contribute?
  • ‘BE’ a responsible citizen and ensure you do not employ child labour.
  • ‘ACT’ as a responsible citizen and ensure that your society does not employ child labour.
  • ‘EDUCATE’ and create awareness amongst people employing child labourers and the parents sending their children to work.
  • Further, ‘REPORT’ cases of child labour.
  • Take the initiative and create a difference, it is ‘SAMBHAV’.
We later approached the committee members of 11 housing societies (24 buildings) located in Borivali West/Kandivali West areas of Mumbai and requested them to allow us to put up the “stop child labour” posters on the notice boards of each building. After having discussions with the committee members on the above FAQs, they promised us to take up the child labour issue in their upcoming annual general meetings.
Please note that Sambhav- We Can Make a difference is a group of working professionals who have come together to make a difference in our society and our neighbourhoods. You can find us on facebook – our facebook page name is “Sambhav-We Can Make a Difference”.

The writer is the Co-Founder and Committee Member of Sambhav.

Reblogged via