Indulgent Asian food

It’s not often that I get to cook with my mum, it’s always an opportunity to experiment with new recipes.
This particular weekend we decided to make some homemade vegetable samosa’s with homemade pastry followed by some instant homemade jalebi. It was a completely indulgent weekend because both the samosa’s and the jalebi are fried so copious amounts of tea were drunk to help the delicious food to go down but then it’s the best way to eat this type of food.

The samosa’s were more my mum’s idea I simply assisted. She had already boiled the potatoes 20170604_132135before I arrived I simply had to make the filling. I had no recipe to hand so in my usual style I winged it, making it up as I went along tasting to see if there were enough spicies, salt etc.

For the pastry my mum found this YouTube video, (please note it doesn’t have any sound) my mum watched it mostly for the technique the lady in the video used to make the samosa pastry. She rolled out the round discs and cooked them slightly on a flat pan! It sounds odd but the technique worked, you have to watch the video because the way I would describe the technique wouldn’t do it justice.
This is a time consuming method and much easier when there are two of you making them or if you make them in bulk then freeze them but the end result is work it. The pastry when fried was light and crispy just how a samosa should be. My youngest sister is extremely fussy and even these won her seal of approval.

Jalebi is one of my favourite Asian sweets, it’s sticky and very sweet. Using a piping bag or squeezy bottle a batter is piped/squeezed into hot oil in a swirly round pattern until a nice golden colour then soaked in a sugar syrup to give it’s sweet sticky taste and texture. It is because of it’s sweetness that I can only eat one of two at a time so thought a homemade version to suit my taste would be ideal. A normal jalebi batter is expected to sit overnight to allow so the jalebi once fried is light in the middle and crispy on the outside. I didn’t have the time or the patience to wait almost 24 hours for a jalebi batter to be ready, luckily I found this instant jalebi batter recipe from Tarla Dalal, you can add colouring to the batter if you want but I left mine au naturel. This was my first time making them so my piping technique needs some work but I did make some interesting shapes and patterns with the batter.

This is how they are meant to look. 220px-Awadhi_jalebi

This is how mine looked.

20170604_170253

The texture of the finished jalebi’s is slightly different to the overnight batter mixture but they taste just as good and quite addictive. They were sticky, crispy and the right amount of sweetness for my taste. I personally found they weren’t as crispy the following day but still nice to have with a cup of tea.

This type of food it a treat, I couldn’t eat like this every weekend but it doesn’t hurt to be a bit indulgent now and then.

Delivery Robot coming to a doorstep near you

Us humans are an impatient bunch, we want things to be quicker, more efficient and slot in around our busy lives. If you order something online we want it delivered yesterday, unless it’s food then we want it immediately and hot, not lukewarm, not stone cold but scald the roof of your mouth piping hot.

The latest on the streets is the delivery robot, this isn’t exactly new but is being trialled by large company’s. Don’t be alarmed if a robot turns up on your doorstep delivering your online shopping or takeaway. How else will companies be able to keep up with the demands of their consumers without costing them extra money in man power?

Just Eat teamed up with Starship Technologies to trial these robots in London using them in place of takeaway delivery drivers. These little bots can travel at 4 mph for 10 miles, uses GPS and cameras to get around so in theory they won’t get lost or need to ask for directions.

More recently, also working with Starship Technologies was Tesco who trialled this very robot which can hold up to 3 shopping bags and will still work in 20cm of snow. Considering how our public transport grinds to a halt at the hint of a snowflake that is impressive.

Don’t worry about potential thief’s.. ‘Earlier tests found people who tried to break in by jumping on it ended up with it trapped on their leg’, that’s one way to stop a chancer. Customers can access their shopping by typing in a pin and voila access to your shopping.

Future of delivery jobs

This can be a cause for concern for some delivery driver if these mini bundles of circuitry takes off. There will be companies who will find monetary value in using robots for small deliveries, they can only carry up 10 kg or three shopping bags and cheaper to employ.

‘…is cheaper than the average human delivery, costing £1 to transport within a 3 mile radius, compared with the £3 to £6 it costs for a human courier’

There is also the lack of human contact. We do like to complain especially if we can get ventingsomething out of it, that won’t happen with a delivery bot. These robots will remove that human element of being able to complain to the delivery driver when your delivery is late, items are missing or your food is cold! Where is the satisfaction in that?
Off to customer service you go to vent, until to you discover the person on the other end of the phone has been replaced with a chatbot!

Lets look at the pros and cons before we decide to vilify the deliver bot ;

Pros

  •  They are efficient, the aim of Start Technologies is to have about 100 robots that would need one person to step in and take over if they needed to
  • Can make short distance deliveries
  • They are secure
  • Won’t get stuck in traffic

Cons

  •  No more friendly delivery driver until you yell at them then they are no longer your friend
  • Loss of jobs
  • What happens if they break down on route, malfunction or get lost?

 

So, what do think, fancy a relative of R2D2 turning up on your doorstep?

Body shaming

The action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size

I don’t follow celebrities on social media, I don’t watch reality TV shows like the Kardashians, and Big Brother but recently it was in the news about the singer Rihanna being body shamed in an article published by sports blog Barstool blogs titled “Is Rihanna Going To Make Being Fat the Hot New Trend?”, this article received a lot of criticism and has since been deleted from their website. What right has anyone to comment on someone’s weight in a negative way?  It hasn’t gone noticed that Rihanna appears to have put on weight but is it right for the public to comment on it in such a negative way?

The short answer is no but the reality is we have all done, maybe not in such a public way but we have made comments about peoples weight be a gain or loss, I know I have. That’s all without knowing that person’s story, have the changes in a persons weight illness or medication related or maybe they are just happy and comfortable with themselves and it is the rest of us that have the problem.

Rihanna isn’t the only celebrity to have been a victim of this body shaming trend, performing at the Super Bowl Lady Gaga wore a top that showed her midriff which according to some critics was not toned enough to have been put on display. Looking at the pictures I wouldn’t say she was fat at all but by celebrity standards you could be considered obese.

Both stars in these examples have hit back, in an Instagram post Lady Gaga is captioned  promoting the need to be happy with your body by saying;

‘…I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too,” 

Lady Gaga is no stranger to promoting a positive body image, in 2012 she posted pictures of herself in her underwear without the glamour of makeup after being body shamed about putting on 25 pounds.

We are always seeing stars bringing out exercise videos and showing how they went from looking like an unhealthy version of themselves to a svelte figures with toned abs and arms and how they are now so much happier. Yes be healthy but being skinny doesn’t necessarily mean you are happy. Tess Holliday an American plus sized model promotes her shape and size, though plus sized in terms of her cholesterol etc she is healthy. Yet her image doesn’t conform to the rules so she has received some criticism.

body positivity

People like Lady Gaga and Tess Holliday are focusing more on the need for people to happy with themselves but also highlighting the dangers of body shaming people and how trying to conform to what society deems to be an ideal body shape. Not all of us have the same body shape, I am just about a size 8 occasionally flirting with a size 10 but have been told that I am finally looking like I have some curves and look better for it.

Snow white PosterYou would think that by now society would have learnt that there is no ideal body shape, publications have been criticised for their heavy handed use of Photoshop. Lets not forget how the marketing team messed up with the advertising for the animated Snow White film, Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarfs with the line ‘“What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the 7 Dwarfs not so short?”  As you can imagine this didn’t go down to well. The advertisers have since apologised but come on in the world we now live in why would you want to give the impression to kids that being short and overweight is unattractive?

You don’t even have to be a celebrity to be body shamed, you could be going about your business unbeknown to you that someone is surreptitiously taking your picture to plaster all over social media. This is what Dani Mathers did, her post didn’t receive the reaction she was expecting resulting her in going to court. She had the choice of a prison sentence or community service, she opted for the community service. The victim has chosen to remain anonymous whilst Dani Mathers has been on TV to cry and apologise for her actions, I personally don’t have any sympathy for her she knew what she was doing she’s is just upset that others didn’t agree with her post and got dragged over the coals for it.

Eating disorders

According to the eating disorder website BEAT based on a study they commissioned PwC in February 2015 to carry out they estimated that 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder.

“725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder

11% of those affected by an eating disorder are male”

You hear the horror stories and the lengths models will go to, to maintain or lose weight such as eating tissue but France have now put their foot down banning the use of excessively thin models. It doesn’t promote a healthy image nor a realistic one. “Models will need to provide a doctor’s certificate attesting to their overall physical health, with special regard to their body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight in relation to height”

Employers who choose to ignore this ruling could face fines of up to 75,000 euros and up to 6 months in jail

I spoken a lot of the whole body shaming from a female perspective but no one is safe from this abuse, male celebrities have been ridiculed from once having the body that their female followers dream off to now having what is considered a ‘dad body’, the expanding waist and belly. Though usually associated with females, eating disorders affect both male and females

I would rather be happy and healthy than be concerned about what someone irrelevant person thinks about how I look, for some this is easier said than done and there are a lot of other issues that can relate to a persons weight gain / loss.

I’m content for now just pass me the plate of samosa’s, and leave me to it.

Thou shall not bake with eggs

My experience with eggless cake hasn’t been a rip roaring success, something always goes wrong;

  • The cake doesn’t rise
  • There is the bitter aftertaste of the bicarbonate that some of the recipes use
  • Just tastes awful, no accompaniment of icing, ice cream can save it

I’ve tried this eggless vanilla cake recipe from Sharmis Passions with some success, I remember it wasn’t very tall but looked like a sponge cake, needed a bit more sugar if you didn’t add any icing.

I’ve have tried this teen tiny eggless chocolate cake recipe from Cake Merchant before and the first time I made it the cake turned out perfect, it used to be my go to recipe.

Lately I’ve not been having much success with it.

It either comes out with the bicarbonate aftertaste or the cake is stodgy that it glues itself to your mouth. Am I using too much liquid, not mixing enough? Answers on a post card.

Why you are asking am I going to all this trouble to find a successful eggless cake recipe when I can knock up a decent cake with eggs? These days not everyone eats eggs due to allergies, religion become a vegan. Some of you know I have a regular biscuit stall at Kingswood Primary school fete, to be on the safe side I avoid baking anything that contains nuts and have a mixture of biscuits that both contain egg and are eggless. No parents have ever asked my if the biscuits contain egg but I just like to have a mixture just in case.

Back to my perfect eggless cake recipe quest

Eggless CakeI had some ripe banana’s and no eggs, found this vegan banana cake recipe from the Viveka Gardens which was adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe, I was pleasantly surprised.  Even people who don’t usually like banana cake liked this one.
This recipe gave me hope that I could produce something that not only is eggless but also edible!

 

Eggless Chocolate CakeFollowing my success with this the banana cake I had renewed faith that I was getting closer to finding a go to recipe. I have discovered this chocolate cake recipe from BBC Good Food. I forgot to add the 3 tablespoon of water to the glaze and it was a disaster. I then made a normal thin chocolate icing and that worked out fine. I made some holes in the cake so the icing drizzled through. This recipe was more like a brownie cake, and tasted nice with ice cream. My only criticism would be that it needed more sugar. With some tweaking this could become my go to eggless chocolate recipe.

Below is the recipe if you want to have a go, let me know what you thought of it.

Ingredients

  • 85g Butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 300g Self Raising Flour
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 25g Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Chocolate glaze

  • 100g Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 3 tbsp Golden Syrup

Method

  1. Heat oven to 160C/ fan 140C/ gas 3 and grease a 20cm round cake tin
  2. Tip the butter, syrup and vanilla into a heatproof jug, add 300 ml boiling water and briefly whisk with a fork to combine
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, then in tip in the butter mixture. Stir until you have a smooth batter, then scrape into prepared tin. bake for 50 – 55 mins until the cake is well risen and springy to touch. Cool in tin for around 15 mins before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
  4. To make glaze, put chocolate and syrup into a small glass bowl with 3 tbsp of water, and microwave for 30secs on high until melted and smooth. leave to cool, then pour over the cake before serving.

Social branding: building my online personality

Not so long ago I wrote a blog called ‘ Social branding; who am I? Since then I have been working on creating and developing my online personality by sharing information, images that interest me and may possibly interest others. Along the way I’m making a few discoveries about myself, realising I know a bit more about digital marketing than I thought which is a boost for my self confidence. I’ve been working on my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles with a mixed bag of success, I’ll go into more detail below.

Twitter

I’m not embarrassed to say that in the past I wasn’t a Twitter person, since using it for work and attending some communication conferences I have got an insight to how I could effectively use this social network without sharing every aspect of life, nothing wrong in being selective.

  • Less is definitely more
  • Don’t go nuts with the hashtags
  • Be genuine and not so self centered.
  • Put some thought into the content I’m sharing, is it something my followers would be interested in.
  •  Don’t forget to have fun with it.
All sounds simple enough when you think about it
  • Put some effort into building your online persona,
  • Look for articles on your topic of interest
  • Like and share other people’s posts
  • Write and share your own words of wisdom, this part I sometimes struggle with, but something I am slowly but surely getting to grips with.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t

I’ll admit that I don’t always know what I’m doing, there is a lot of information online some of it can be conflicting and down right confusing. Eventually I will have a much more structured approach  but at the moment the mixture of structure and ‘winging it’ is paying off.

My number followers are increasing which is good though the numbers do tend to fluctuate.

Followers April-May

I noticed in one day my number of followers had fallen by 10, but by the end of the day I had regained the number of followers originally lost. As you can see I have been posting a lot of message related to technology. It’s linked to my new found interest of artificial intelligence, it’s something that both worries and fascinates me at the same time.

LinkedIn

I use this social network differently to Twitter. With Twitter I feel I have more freedom to post a mixture of posts that show my different interests from a digital communications point of view to baking and about the exercise classes I attend. LinkedIn has a more professional air and not really a place to post how I profusely glowed during a weekly Zumba class.

LinkedIn is a work in progress

I have updated my profile, even went as far as filling in the summary section about myself. If I keep going in the direction that I am it is only a matter of time that I too will be confidently sharing my own words of wisdom. No I just need to be a bit more active and get involved, comment on posts and join some of the groups.

The one things I have learnt and I would say is one of the most important pieces of advice given on this journey is that no matter what your topic of interest is, it is important to find your own voice, be yourself. Just because you can’t be seen doesn’t mean your followers won’t be able to see through the fakeness.

Things happen in three’s

Last week was an eventful one. You’ve heard the phrase ‘things happen in threes’ I didn’t know this was meant to happen every few months! I’ll start at the beginning of this downward spiral.

Tuesday; Light bulb shenanigans

  • The day was going well;
  • Work had been uneventful
  • Had a nice dinner
  • Housemate had shown me her engagement ring, yes there were a few of the obligatory high pitched girlie giggles that only dogs could hear.

So far so good right?

bulbI’m all settled in bed getting ready to jot down a few blog ideas until I get a text message from the housemate to see if I was still awake as she could smell something burning. Naturally I got worried with visions of the house burning down.
Checked all the electrics, the cooker etc and can’t find anything but there is a strong smell of burnt plastic. Turns out it was this light bulb in the uplighter in the living room that had burnt out. It took about three days for the small to completely fade.

Wednesday; Car, vroom, vroom, cough

My car. What happened in a way was my own fault and for being a bit tight on the purse strings but I thought I had a bit more time. The car exhaust had been growling a bit, ok a lot but I was hoping she would hang in there until pay day at least, of course that didn’t happen. Had a reasonably calm drive to work until I reached the company car park and the engine decided to intermittently cut out. Upon recommendation I took the car to a garage close to work who were excellent. Though busy they hooked the car up to a computer and fortunately no error codes flashed up so I could breath a small sigh of relief. Though it did mean the mechanics had to investigate a bit, here they discovered the growling exhaust. Not only was part of the exhaust rattling around but in another part there was a blockage co0ntributing to the engine cutting out. My car did spend a night at the garage but was back on the road the following day.

There is more yet to come.

Wednesday PM; QWERUIOP

Up until this point my laptop had been working had been working fine, installed some video editing software; a new skill I’m trying to learn. Windows runs and update as it does every so often. Hadn’t needed to use my laptop until Wednesday evening I discover that apart from the letters TY the rest of the keys in that row no longer work. At first I thought it was linked to the updates, maybe a software issue. Downloaded the correct keyboard driver and still no improvement. Final conclusion is there is a connectivity issue with the keyboard. I could pay to have it repaired but for now am using a USB keyboard. It does the job with no problems.

To complete the week the NHS network was hit by a Cyber Attack!

Not part of my three but still worth a mention. Everything went down Friday afternoon as our excellent IT team worked to get things back to normal as more reports about other NHS trusts IT networks had been attacked. Fortunately come Monday things are mostly up and running again, things could have been a lot worse.

Fingers crossed this week is a quite one.

New trainers; the bouncy feeling

Last month I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a new pair of trainers. This may not sound like a big deal but I have a habit of wear things until they can’t be worn anymore plus I like my old trainers and still use them (they are still wearable, just tired looking) But I had begun to notice the old trainers didn’t have that bouncy feeling you get with new trainers any more.

If you do any kind of exercise it is generally a good idea to invest in a good pair of trainers, not just because of the bouncy feeling but also the support a decent pair of trainers can provide for your feet and ankles. If your ankles are anything like mine they need all the support they can get!

20170505_202350One of the things that puts me off buying new trainers is the cost of them, they are always so expensive or maybe I’m just tight fisted with money that to me they’re expensive.  Nevertheless off I went to Sports Direct and bought these bad boys, they ticked all the boxes; my size, look nice and in my price range.

Going back to the bouncy feeling, for me personally these new trainers led me into a false sense of security them made me feeling invincible. At the gym I prefer not to focus on how many calories lost but like to set myself goals and see how much distance I can cover in a certain amount of time. Whilst on the treadmill the new trainers made me feel so light that I thought to myself  ‘this is feeling a bit easier than usual’. So of course I thought I’d go a bit faster, I did manage to run a bit further than normal but my heart and lungs didn’t feel like thanking me for it. Then there are my knees, they that suffered the most, dodgy ankles, dodgy knees what’s next? Could it just be a factor I’m getting older? Hmm I don’t think so at least I hope not, am hoping that over time and gradually increasing how much exercise at a steady pace will strengthen my knees or at least not feel like I’ve been crippled.

So when buying new trainers beware of the bouncy feeling. It could give you the feeling that you are an Olympic runner when you’re not quite there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

What I’ve learnt about creating online content so far

I’m not a social butterfly, I don’t thrive in a room full of strangers with ease. I am an introvert until I feel comfortable enough to allow my extrovert side to make an appearance. People who know me well enough may find this all hard to believe as they tend to worry when I am quiet! So you can imagine my own surprise that of all the jobs and potential career paths I could have fallen into and have a genuine eagerness to learn more about and some degree of success in is digital communications.

My current employment is in external communications; maintaining the company’s website and social media pages. I have been fortunate enough to have been allowed to explore the world of video, at the moment I have only dabbled in stop motion animation but will be using YouTube editing facilities in the near future. I have been to conferences to increase my understanding and learn from experts who were once in the same position as me; wondering where to start with a social media campaign, what content to share with the world, how to engage with people to create a strong following. Then there is the topic of branding, both for business and personal, that’s right people branding is not reserved just for businesses. Just by how I present myself online through the content I share, posts I comment on even this blog are all part of my brand.

Personal Brand

For the first time I took part (a little bit) on a Twitter chat hosted by Hootsuite called #HootChat. I was a bit apprehensive at first as many of the people also taking part sounded experienced and knew what they were talking about and knew each other, but we all have to start somewhere so in I jumped with my digital arm bands.

The questions put forward for discussion revolved around branding;

  • Do you have a brand?
  • How would you describe your brand?
  • How do you maintain your brand?

This got me thinking about myself and how would I answer these questions, in short the answer is I don’t know, I’m still figuring this out. What I have learnt so far is that I need to think about what is my online persona, is there something in particular I want to be known for?

Original tweet posted my Sarah Picard

Persona Tweet

I am sharing a lot of things around social media, mental health, blogging and artificial intelligence; this is a topic that has caught my eye lately. I want to try and remain a personable by sharing my interests and generally things that happen in my world.

MyTweet

Content is king

Whilst at the Engaging Digital Conference piece of advice given was when generating content think of it as storytelling. Engage, depending on the topic and your personality even entertain your followers through the power of your words. You want your content to encourage people to comment, share and like your posts.

Be selective, just because you have a lot to say doesn’t mean it needs to be said all at once, one of the pieces of advice given at the #DigCommsConf by speaker Oli Lewington was to avoid ‘blasting people with your hose of content’, you want people to come back!

Hashtags are handy but you don’t want them to distract from your message. At the conference during her talk speaker Joanna Goodwin noted that from her experience less hashtags used is more.

Twitter_Hashtag

Try not to be a complete narcissist and think just because you wrote an excellent article that people will just gravitate towards you. Get involved, share other people’s posts, comment, like etc. I manage to share and like other people’s posts but haven’t been very vocal when it comes to commenting. This is something I will work on but the fact I’m thinking about my personal brand and being more active on Twitter and LinkedIn is a step in the right direction.

Video

‘Video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019, up from 64% in 2014, says technology giant Cisco. ‘

I still want to try my hand at creating and using more video in my posts. Video is a great way to tell a story and visually engages followers. I’m still a newbie and have been somewhat lazy in developing those skills myself, until then I will happily share other peoples videos.

How my views on #mentalhealth changed.

Not having suffered from a mental illness I can’t fully understand what someone who battles with such an illnesses goes through on a daily basis and the range of emotions they feel. However since working for a health trust provides both community and mental health services I have been fortunate enough to have met a range of people who live with their illnesses and have won the small battles to be able to live a normal life. I developed a better understanding of what mental health is, it isn’t just about the illnesses that you hear about on the television like schizophrenia, bi polar, depression etc it covers so much more; anxiety, postnatal depression can affect both parents not just the mum, eating disorders, autism also comes under mental health. We need to move away from defining people by their illness, not every person with the same illness will behave the same way. They are people with feeling and emotions first, their illness is secondary.

I have written about mental health from an employment point of view in the past since then mobile phones have evolved to mini personal computers, social media has expanded to the point that the people behind the social sites need to consider how to safe guard their users against bullying trolls, and gradually so have attitudes towards mental health.

I not saying that the entire world is now more open minded and educated but charities such as Time to Change, Mind and Heads Together that have been working endlessly to educate and encourage society to change the way it thinks and behaves towards those with a mental health illness.

Cultural boundaries

In my opinion mental health still has yet to cross over cultural boundaries with some cultures still not understanding or even accepting that mental health illness is real instead believing it can be treated by becoming more religious or is a form of possession. Thinking a person cannot ever lead a normal life but with the right treatment it can be possible. I’m not discounting that religion in some cases has helped bring calmness but it’s not to be used as a way to guilt trip the sufferer into thinking they are being punished by god.

A lot of work is still to be done the Asian community in the UK as it’s about breaking down age old barriers and changing the way older generations in particular think. Saying this credit has to be given as cracks are slowly starting to appear in those barriers, communities are learning and understanding that sometimes things in our heads get a bit jumbled up and that we need a bit of help to make things a bit less blurred.

Treatment

When I mentioned treatment your mind may have automatically gone straight to medication but this isn’t always the case. Treatment could be a series of counselling sessions in a group or one to one bases in the way of Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Exercise not only to helps to improve both mental and physical health but encourage socialisation. Fitness in Mind in Brentwood run an series of inclusive exercise classes ‘…designed to promote, encourage and provide physical activity as an aid to mental wellbeing.’ The Mind website has a list of alternative options if counselling or exercise doesn’t interest you.

Despite all these efforts it is still difficult for many people to share the demons they are battling with others for fear of being labelled by their illness. Time to Change recently led the campaign #inyourcorner this campaign focused on being there for your friend when they need you the most and also touching on men’s mental health encouraging to let go of the idea that sharing with you have a mental illness is not a sign of weakness.

Mental health awareness week

Mental health awareness week is 8-14 May #MHAW17, there will be events taking place across the country to get people talking and breaking down those walls. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn more about mental health and how you could support someone whilst they go through a dark patch and to share your own experiences.

Whatever you think mental health illness is may not be true. Don’t be fooled into thinking it couldn’t happen to you, mental health illnesses can affect any one of us at any time. You don’t have to understand mental health sometimes all you need to do is listen, keep an open mind and be supportive because one day it could be you that needs the same in return.

Linked articles

Are employers missing out by not employing people with autism?

Mental Health and Employment

 

 

Artificial Intelligence in a human world

Since joining Netflix I watched a range of films and television series even sometimes binge watching a particular television series that has me hooked one of them being a series called Scorpion. It’s about a team of geniuses who have the intelligence to create a functioning computer out of your toaster and your mobile phone but lack the social skills to interact in what is considered normal society.  This series though repetitive got me thinking about all the hype surrounding artificial intelligence. Like it or not AI is steadily infiltrating the world as we know it. We already heavily rely on techinology to communicate, work and play.

AI didn’t just happen overnight and appear on our doorstep one morning, Kismet, a robot head created in the 1990’s at Massachusetts Institute of Technology  was able to recognise and imitate human emotions. Fast forward to today and we have Google working on a self-driving car and a sex bot in the making courtesy of Realbotix, something for everyone.

How does AI work? Very much like a computer that is programmed with a number of possible scenarios that could be encountered followed up with the number of possibly human reactions. From watching the series Scorpion I learnt that with a skill for coding and an ability to hack into almost anything a computer programme can be overridden and left in control of the hacker. How can an AI machine be programed with every possible outcome of a situation, humans adapt we learn from experiences and evolve so how can we expect an AI robot to behave in the same way? MIT may have solution with a robot that works off the brain signals from a human; ‘The robot/human interaction with EEG signals allows for direct and fast communication—communication that could remove barriers for operating a robot.’

For now AI technology behaves the way it is told to but how long before it advances to think for itself and behave accordingly? Machines are designed to think in black and white most of the time there is no grey area, a machine can learn to assess a situation, weigh up the pros and cons of various reactions but will it consider the emotional element that separates the human race from a machine? I’ve seen I Robot where one robot goes ‘rogue’ and believes it dreams for itself, those dreams had been implanted by its creator, was able to feel emotions, evolve and create an uprising of forgotten good machines against the evil one.

Worries aside AI does have its uses. Heard of the robot Zeno helping autistic children to communicate and interact with others? If you know anything about autism depending where on the spectrum the child is emotional interaction whether it is verbal (sarcasm, jokes) or physical (actions, hugging) is not easily understood. Zeno in a fun way to interact with a verbal and non-verbal child through conversation, facial expressions and actions making them feel comfortable so they don’t realise they are learning important social skills.

We’re not at the stage where we can worry about a rise of the machines but the focus on wanting to create a lifelike as possible robotic humanoid is a bit worrying. A machine maybe more efficient, can work longer hours possibly be considered safer and more effective but it’s still a machine.