Aequitas

I create the official state judiciary newsletter for the State of Utah.  This newsletter is sent out to over 100 judges.  I used Microsoft Publisher to compile various articles that are sent to me from judges on the judicial board of education.

Winter2014 Spring2013

Telepathic Technology May Change How We Communicate

In Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card’s popular novel turned blockbuster hit, the people of Earth are waging war against the extraplanetary Buggers.  This insect-like race has one major technical advantage over the humans: Telepathy.  As if they were a giant computer, the Buggers fight and move as one through instantaneous communication.  EndersGameFormic Countless other tales in fantasy and science fiction herald telepathic powers, the ability to communicate directly from one mind to another, as one of the greatest and most sought over gifts.  Though it seems far-fetched, direct mind-to-mind communication might not be so implausible after all.

Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina have shown that telepathic communication could be possible with the advances in technology.  In the experiment, two rats’ brains were connected by microelectrodes (For more detail on the experiment and the technology used, watch the video below).

Rat 1 would receive a stimulus and Rat 2 would receive and act on that message.  If the rats worked together they would receive a reward.  Rat 2 was able to correctly act on the message provided by Rat 1 around 60% of the time.  What is even more incredible is that once the experiment was completed at Duke, they teamed up with another University in Brazil, and completed the experiment across continents.  The results were astounding.  Rat 2 in Brazil acted on the stimulus it received from Rat 1 halfway across the globe!

In the basic communication model, the sender encodes an idea into a message that is transmitted through a channel (language, e-mail, body language) to a receiver who decodes the message to understand the idea of the sender (see image below).   I had a professor who explained that it is better to think of an idea as meaning.  Have you ever had a thought or feeling and did not have the words to describe it?  That is because meaning does not always translate directly into language.  Often meaning is lost because the sender decodes a message into different meaning than the sender intended.

talking

What does this have to do with telepathic rats?  This technology replaces the normal channels of communication with electronic signals that go directly from one brain to another.   This makes it so meaning is being communicated directly from one brain to another, and the brain signals are what encode and decode the idea.  Most people imagine telepathy as a voice in their head talking directly to them.  I imagine something different, instantaneously understanding an idea or meaning from another person.  There is less room for a message or idea to get jumbled or misinterpreted when meaning is passed directly to another person, thus enhancing efficacy as communicators.

Another way that telepathic communication may change the way we communicate is across language barriers.  Currently when someone speaks to me in a different language (other than Spanish), the message is not received because I do not speak his or her language.  This has become apparent to me in my work as an interpreter coordinator.  It is extremely difficult to communicate with someone who you have no idea what they are saying.  Direct brain-to-brain communication could solve this problem because meaning, or ideas, does not begin as language.  Language is merely the channel we use to communicate.  If we could communicate directly, meaning-to-meaning, brain-to-brain, we would be able to understand the thoughts of others without it being lost in translation.  This would enhance cultural understanding locally and hopefully better international relations.

Though it will be years before this technology is experimented on with human subjects, it provokes an interesting discussion about how technology effects the way we communicate.  In this post, I did not delve into the ethical discussion that surrounds this topic, as it will require another post in its entirety.   Maybe someday in the near future we, like the Bugger’s in Orson Scott Card’s novel, will be able to communicate meaning directly from one person to another; and the stuff of science fiction will become reality.

Sources:

http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/03/04/brain-net-telepathic-mice-first-step-in-creation-of-biological-computer/#.Up9czWRDsYo

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23221-first-mindreading-implant-gives-rats-telepathic-power.html#.Up9fv2RDsYp

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=24293169

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/two-rats-thousands-miles-apart-cooperate-telepathically-brain-implant-1C8608274

http://blog.acton.org/archives/62153-enders-game-formic-say.html

http://www.comprofessor.com/2009/10/i.html

Social Media Case

Mistakes happen.  Sure you can proofread and edit (and we should), but we are only mortal.  So what do you do when you make a mistake?  And not just any mistake, an epic publicly humiliating mistake over the Internet.  Not only accessible to anyone, but sent purposely to all followers.  Welcome to Twitter.

Nearly every day it seems there is another story about a company’s social media blunder. From Kenneth Cole capitalizing on the riots in Syria to the hijacking of the #McDstories, disasters on Twitter are all around.  What is a true show of character and integrity individually and in business is how we react to these mistakes.

One of the social media managers from the Red Cross accidentally tweeted from the organization’s account instead of their personal account.

Tweet

Disastrous.  What was remarkable was the response to the tweet.  The mistake was caught early and Gloria Huang tweeted an explanation and an apology.

Tweet2

The Red Cross even joked about the tweet in later tweets.

Tweet3

By owning up to their mistake and handling it in a professional way, the Red Cross’ character is shown.

What I found even more impressive was that the Red Cross commented on a blog correcting the information that had been published.

Cleo,
I lead the PR effort for the Red Cross. Thanks for the mention in the post. We’ve certainly learned alot from the rogue tweet and hope others have been able to learn from our mistake as well.

Just as a small point of clarification, the indivudal who accidentially posted the rogue tweet-Gloria Huang-is a full time employee on our social media team. We don’t make a practice of giving interns access to our corporate social accounts.

Thanks for letting me clear that up!

The Red Cross was aware of the situation, and handled the problem with poise and honor, an excellent reflection on their own organization which handles national disasters on a daily basis.

So be careful when you are publishing anything online, especially when you are doing it under an organizations name.  Make sure that you are on the right account whenever you tweet!  It’s easier to fix a mistake before it is tweeted to all of your followers, than to clean up the disaster after!

 

Letter to Cousin

Dear Cousin,

Today I helped you revise and edit your cover letter and application for the University you are applying for.  After discussing and arguing the proper placement of commas, caps, and font and size of the text you posed me the question, “Why is this so important?  Is all of this necessary?”  I explained enough to settle our disagreement, but I have been thinking about it all night.  I hope that this letter helps you understand why these nit-picky details are vital to your success as a professional.

We live in a world of casual conversation.  It is completely appropriate (though unintelligent, in my humble-but-correct opinion) to send a text message, e-mail, or post online in incomplete sentences, emoticons, and complete lack of grammatical structure.     While, “TTYL :)” might be an effective way to say goodbye to your potential lover, it is not the way to end an e-mail to a potential business partner.  According to the Handbook for Effective Communication, Communication needs to be both Professional and Effective.  I think that emoticons are a perfect example of this.  Adding a “ 🙂 ” to the end of a text can send various messages, most of which revolve around the fact that you are pleased to be in contact with the person you are talking too.  This is effective at passing that message.  However, it would be viewed negatively in a professional environment; you could be seen as immature or not respecting your coworkers.  Learning to correspond with others in a clear and professional manner will enable you to accomplish your goals and have the support of others.

Your professors will appreciate it too!  You will be writing a lot in college. (Believe me, I know!)  The quality of papers, reports, presentations, and research will be enhanced through appropriate and professional language, sentence structure, and correct grammar and punctuation.  Nothing can distract more from a good idea, than bad grammar or errant punctuation You will find that your papers receive grades equivalent to the language you use.  Your instructors will respect the effort that you put into your projects, and will reward you accordingly.

I hope that this helps you understand the importance of learning to communicate professionally, even in our casual world.  Your future will be built on the connections that you are able to forge with other people, and learning to express your ideas professionally and effectively will allow you to build bridges to an abundant life.  Good luck! Know that I am always cheering you on!

Love,

Toph