Future Reality?

In the film Ex Machina, Caleb, a young programmer, gets the opportunity to visit a modern house that is completely surrounded by nature and isolated from the rest of the world. The only people who live there consist of two human looking robots along with a wealthy man, who is obsessed with the idea of creating the perfect artificial intelligence. Throughout the whole movie, multiple ethical issues were raised and some of them may be more serious than they appear to be.

First of all, the first ethical issue that arises from film could be the way that Nathan, the scientist, treats his robots. In fact, one could question oneself on whether or not it is ethically and morally wrong for Nathan to view his creations as nothing more but objects that he can easily replace at any time even though they do possess a sense of self-consciousness. During the movie, he not only mistreat them on numerous occasions by yelling at them, ignoring them when they are not needed, and commanding them to do so and so, but he also uses them for his own sexual pleasure. On top of that, he keeps the robots caged in the house, and if he ever deems that they are not good enough for what they are intended for, he will simply “kill” them by switching them out like chess pieces, and store them like a prized collection in one of his many “closets”.

Secondly, another ethical dilemma that arises from the film is whether or not humans should have more rights over machines seeing as both species are independent and self-conscious beings. In other words, why would one be allowed to play God over the other? During a session in the movie, Ava asks Caleb what would happen to her if she fails the “human” test, and this question was then met with silence… Nathan, in Ex-Machina, can be perceived as God because he is the one who created the machines i.e. Ava, Kyoko, etc. However, now that the machines are so developed to the point where they have the physical appearance, intelligence, skills, abilities as well as thoughts close to those of a human being, which, in a sense, put them now at the same level as human beings, there seems to be less and less reasons to why Nathan can freely exert power, and decide to put the machines to death as he wishes.

Thirdly, the last instance where an ethical issue is illustrated in the film is when Ava kills Nathan, and decides to betray her friend, Caleb, by ditching him and locking him in her creator’s office to die while she selfishly escapes to the helicopter. This situation shows that artificial intelligence might actually be smarter than what humans consider them to be. The dilemma which emerges from this is whether or not progress in technology is really a good thing. This movie warns about the fact that today’s and tomorrow’s modern progress in the scientific and technological fields must not be taken lightly seeing as there is a very high possibility that machines might later on rebel and take over the humans’ place after completely destroying the human species.

Finally, Ex Machina is an excellent movie that allows one to deeply reflect about the possible outcome that may result from the modern advances. It contains many relevant ethical issues, such as the objectification of “lower” beings, the domination of one species over the other and the consequences from pushing progress too far. The end of the movie was quite a big shock and quite scary, despite the fact that it was somehow left for the viewers’ imagination. What do you think happened to Caleb afterward? Is there any other choice besides death? What do you think Ava did after she went back to the city? Did she simply adapt to the new lifestyle?


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Ash-struck Monk

A few days ago, I just finished watching a ten episode Japanese romantic comedy series called “From Five to Nine”. It is quite recent, and it is an adaptation of the popular manga with the same title by the author Miki Aihara. In it, the male protagonist, Hoshikawa Takane is a monk who instantly falls in love with Sakuraba Junko, an English teacher at a conversation academy, after she knocks over a bowl of ashes on his head during a funeral service. With an entertaining and refreshing storyline, this Japanese drama provides a great way to pass time. Not to mention that it also contains multiple interesting characters, such as the not so ordinary monk, whom I will be analyzing in this post.

To begin with, Takane is a 30-year-old monk who comes from a rich background, and works full time as a priest by hosting and attending ceremonies as well as funerals. Because he is the eldest son in the family, he is expected to inherit the household property as well as to become the next chief priest of his family’s temple, which is situated in Tokyo and known as the Ikkyo Temple. He is often portrayed as a highly educated, tall and handsome monk who has graduated from one of the top elite universities of Japan: the University of Tokyo. However, he has very little experience outside of temple duties, and has a hard time expressing his emotions to the people around him. This is mainly due to the fact that his grandmother took him under her wing at a very young age, and made him undergo a very strict training in order to become the next successful heir of temple after his parents passed away in an accident. As a result, at the beginning, he is somewhat socially awkward, and spends most of his time alone in the temple. It wasn’t until he meets the female protagonist that his personality started to change. In fact, personality wise, he can be described as a calm, hardworking, responsible, confident, quiet, caring, persistent, straightforward and brutally honest person who always wears a stoic expression on his face.

In addition, although Buddhist monks and priests are always thought to be either bald or have closely cropped hair, it is not the case for Takane, for he is quite particular in his own way. Indeed, he sports a very stylish and trendy black hairstyle that reaches the back of his nape, and has a side swept bang at the front that reaches past his eyebrows, and covers his left eye from time to time. Furthermore, despite the fact that everyone else around him is wearing trendy and fashionable clothes, he is constantly dressed in traditional Japanese attires throughout the ten episodes. No matter where he goes, be it indoors or outdoors, he is known to always wear dark, solid coloured kimonos or robes. To be more precise, his outdoor attire consists of a black or navy wide sleeved kimono along with white tabi socks, wooden sandals that have elevated soles called geta and a colourful traditional scarf called wagesa. Meanwhile, his indoor attire only consists of a plain navy yukata or samue depending on whether or not he has chores to perform around the temple. A yukata is a garment that is similar to a kimono, but more casual and made with lighter fabric for comfort and warmer climates, whereas a samue is usually the two-piece outfit that Japanese Buddhist monks wear around the temple while performing tasks necessary to maintain the temple in a good, pristine and ordered state.

Finally, there are also quite a few ironic and funny elements about Takane. For instance, even though he sticks with traditional clothing, and goes as far as to use a carrying pole to move his personal belongings instead of a suitcase, he drives around the city in a brand new white sport car, which is quite hilarious to see since the whole thing creates clashing combination. Last but not least, he is quite clumsy despite his serious appearance, and he has never owned a cell phone in his entire life. Overall, I had a good laugh while watching this romantic comedy, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Now the question is, have you ever watched or heard about dramas before? If so, which ones and from which countries? Be sure to let me know. I intend on doing a so-called “drama marathon” right after the finals end.


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Let’s Cook!

Three years ago, I started to eat Korean food. Ever since then, Korean food has undoubtedly become my favorite food of all time. Because I like to eat spicy and enjoy the soft and chewy texture, it wouldn’t be surprising that Tteokbokki is at the top of the list of Korean dishes that I enjoy eating the most. Not to mention that it was also the very first Korean dish that I ever tried. One day, out of curiosity, I decided to try my hand at making it by looking up the recipe online. Surprisingly, the results were quite good, which is why, I would like to share and take everyone through the steps of making it.

Before preceding any further, what exactly is Tteokbokki? Tteokbokki is a very well known and popular spicy Korean street food. It can be made with inexpensive ingredients, which include rice cakes, fish cakes, hard-boiled eggs, cabbage and red pepper paste. However, depending on one’s personal preference, many more ingredients may be added to the dish. In fact, there exist many variations of this dish. For instance, there are cheese Tteokbokki, soy sauce seasoned Tteokbokki, Rabokki, which is short for the combination of ramen noodles and Tteokbokki, etc.

Keeping that in mind, let us now begin with the cooking process. First of all, obtain about twenty to twenty five pieces of frozen rice cake and 
soak them in a bowl of cold water in order to allow them to soften while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. In the mean time, boil two eggs, chop one-cup worth of cabbage and cut the fish cakes diagonally into strips that are around two inches long and one inch wide. Next, carefully prepare the sauce since it is the highlight of this dish. To do so, obtain exactly two tablespoons of red pepper paste, half a tablespoon of red pepper powder, one tablespoon of sugar, half a tablespoon of soy sauce as well as half a tablespoon of chopped garlic, and mix all the ingredients together by putting them in a small separate bowl. Then, rinse the rice cakes three times with cold water. In a large pan, add one and a half cups of cold water along with the sauce you just prepared and cook on high settings until the whole begins to boil. Once the mixture has come to its boiling point, which not only represents the temperature at which liquid turns into vapor but also marks the temperature at which the vapor pressure is equal to the external pressure surrounding the liquid, put in the rice cakes and fish cakes and let the whole boil again until the rice cakes become soft and tender. After that, add the chopped cabbage and continue to cook on high heat so that the broth turns into a thick sauce. It is only then that the dish is ready to be served and the hard-boiled eggs can be added.

Finally, it should be noted that both the frozen rice cakes and the red pepper paste contain a low percentage of alcohol in them. To be more precise, they both contain ethanol. The reason why that is so is because both underwent yeast fermentation, which is also known as alcohol fermentation. During this type of fermentation, glucose is used with or without oxygen to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide. In a lot of cases, instead of using synthetic additives to prolong the shelf life of some products, ethanol is often used as a preservative because one of the advantageous properties of alcohol is the ability to be volatile. This means that the alcohol will eventually evaporate during the heating process. Therefore, there is nothing much to worry about. With that being said, if you ever decide to make Tteokbokki using the recipe I just provided you with, definitely let me know how everything turned out. I hope you’ll enjoy this dish as much as do.


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Unintended Consequences

The story Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, revolves around the life of a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who decides to play God by creating a disproportionate monster out of inanimate material, and ends up regretting having done so. Throughout the work, the author repeatedly demonstrates that every action taken without much consideration often leads to bad consequences that might affect or endanger one or more individuals.

To begin with, choices that are made without much thought can completely change one’s character along with one’s lifestyle. An example where this can be seen in the work is when Victor chooses to eagerly pursue his dream of giving life to a being through scientific methods. The reason why that is case is because once he succeeded in doing so, a big change in his personality as well as in his manners can be perceived. In fact, the precise moment when the creature finally opens its eyes for the first time, Victor is deeply traumatized by the its hideous physical appearance, and abandons it by quickly running away from his laboratory (59). Victor’s escape not only symbolizes his retreat from the scientific world, but it also indicates that he is somewhat irresponsible since, before proceeding with such a big task, he did not fully analyze all the possible outcomes that might be engendered by his invention. Moreover, after that incident, the fact that he, who usually has a very strong passion for knowledge, has lost interest in science and become afraid of returning to his much-loved laboratory reveals how much that one single decision of his has profoundly scarred him. Not to mention that he has also developed symptoms that are quite similar to paranoia, where he constantly feels scared, anxious and nervous at the thought that the wretch might come after him. Hence, it would be correct to say that one simple choice can affect someone’s behaviour and lifestyle in a big way.

Moving on, carelessly made decisions can put other people’s lives at risk. For instance, in Frankenstein, despite knowing that there will be serious repercussions to what he is about to do, Victor destroys the fiend’s mate on which he was still working on. Upon seeing this scene play out in front of him, the fiend gets extremely furious and promises to get back to Victor one way or another. In fact, the giant says, “It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night” (173). This threat expresses the creature’s thirst for vengeance, and hints at the fact that blood will be shed, pain will be inflicted, and someone will die on the day that Victor gets married to his beloved cousin, Elizabeth. In a way, it also emphasizes the gravity of Victor’s action. Also, if that lone warning was not enough to make Victor regret destroying the mate for the rest of his life, the wretch murders his closest friend, Henry Clerval, on the very next day in order to put even more stress on his threat and to show that his words should not be taken lightly. Thus, not even the innocent people are exempted from the consequences of one’s reckless action.

To conclude, in the work Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, the main character is subjected to many decisions, which end up altering his usual habits as well as harming the people from his close entourage. With that being said, considering the fact that people from the 18th century were not as open-minded, would it really have made a big difference if the gigantic creature hadn’t turn out disproportionate and yellow, but beautiful as planned instead?


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Self Introduction

Hi everyone!

My name is Suzanne.

I am a Health Science student and I was born in Montreal, Quebec 18 years ago. That’s right, you’ve guessed it right. I’m currently 18 years old. I know how to speak, write and read in five different languages, which include English, French, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Cantonese. Therefore, I believe that this does make me a multilingual or, more specifically, a “pentalingual” if that is even considered as a word…

During my free time, I enjoy reading novels (yes, you’ve read that correctly…), listening to audiobooks and, of course, listening to music. However, I won’t be able to tell you my favourite type of music since I listen to all genres and my taste in music also seems to constantly change according to my mood. Last but not least, very recently, I have discovered a new found hobby of mine, which is playing pool! Although once in a while, I might miss a shot here and there, or worse yet, score a point for the opposite party, I remain confident that, one day, I will eventually get the hang of it.

With that being said, please do look forward to my future posts!