Machine learning, Blockchain, Interplanetary Travel
Updated: Mar 25
What are Machine and Deep Learning?
Machine learning is an essential concept in understanding AI. It is the process of using data within algorithms to teach a machine whilst imitating the way humans learn. Machine learning is part of data science and thus uses statistical methods and algorithms that train machines to make predictions and point out insights within data sets. Deep learning is actually a branch of machine learning, and the difference is within the algorithms. Deep learning requires less human intervention because of its ability to feature learning. Feature learning is what allows a system to automatically discover depictions needed to detect and classify features in raw data. Feature learning opens up the door for data science with real-world data such as images and videos. Essentially, deep learning allows machines to learn from examples and enables them to recognize patterns in data.
Deep learning works using neural networks. Neural networks are a sub-field of machine learning. The use of the word neural refers to the human brain in that it mimics the way neurons signal to each other. Neural networks are comprised of layers of nodes that are connected to one another to deliver information. Deep learning is different from traditional neural networks in that it can have over a hundred layers, while neural networks will contain any from two to three. With this, deep learning can have extremely high accuracy in tasks like object classification, voice recognition, and making decisions, because of its ability of automated feature extraction with big data. This makes deep learning special because it can work with unstructured and unsupervised data. Vast data sets can take decades for humans to comprehend and point out valuable information. With deep learning, the machine actually improves the larger the data set becomes.
Deep learning is important to the future of technology. It has already been used in many industries. In automated cars, deep learning is used to detect objects and pedestrians, decreasing the risk of accidents. In the medical field, deep learning is used to pave the way for cancer research and detect cancer cells. Deep learning has also been used in hearing and speech translation. For example, Amazon’s Alexa, or Siri. Deep learning will continue to be an important part of machine learning and making new discoveries.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a type of database that allows for data and information to be stored in a decentralized manner. Data is stored in blocks that are then chained together in chronological order. When a block fills with data it is chained to the previous block/node and a new one is created. The current most common and infamous use for blockchain technology is with digital transactions. With blockchain, there is not one individual or central bank that controls transactions, multiple people retain control. Blockchain enables transparency with transactions while still keeping a permanent ledger.
With blockchain, cryptocurrencies can store all of the transactions that are made. Because each ‘block’ in a blockchain has a full record of all of the data on the blockchain before itself, the history of transactions is irreversible. This means if someone tampered with a cryptocurrency’s records, the other blocks would be able to point out the misinformation immediately. One reason blockchain and cryptocurrency are great is because of the security and transparency they provide. Not only would it be difficult for a hacker to go in and alter the contents of blocks, but when they did this the other copies within the blockchain would not add up with the new information and the hacker would be revealed. It would be extremely expensive and difficult for a hacker to alter and control enough nodes to steal currency from a blockchain database.
Blockchain is also useful for storing more than just monetary transactions. Blockchain can be used for storing medical records, property records, keeping notes of supply chains, and much more. Interestingly, blockchain might be used in the democratic process in the future. Blockchain can offer a great way for people to vote and would help prevent voter fraud or interference. Cleary blockchain is a useful tool in many aspects, however, there are also drawbacks. Because of the confidentiality of blockchain, security is great and people are protected from hackers, but this also opens gateways for illegal activity. For example, with the dark web, blockchain allows for the illegal trading of drugs, guns, and more. Transactions made under U.S regulation track all of the information from the customers. This gives less privacy but is in many ways a necessary protocol. Blockchain also has an environmental factor. It requires vast amounts of computational power in order to validate transactions. This is the ‘Proof of Work” system, and even then, blockchain still has speed inefficiency.
My key takeaway about blockchain technology is that it is certainly a very interesting and in many ways useful tool. There’s accuracy, security, and transparency, but with every pro, there are also cons.
The exploration of travel between stars, planets, and other celestial bodies is referred to as interplanetary travel. This is a controversial and also exciting topic. There are many reasons interplanetary travel would be beneficial. Having humans traveling to other planets would allow for multiple new discoveries that probes have failed or malfunctioned with in the past. However, the cost is considerable and there are many reasons that we should be focusing on the current problems we are facing on Earth, such as climate change. Science fiction has proposed the idea of interplanetary travel opening up to new energy and resources, and there is this idea that this kind of travel is the only way to keep the human species from going extinct.
Interplanetary and interstellar travel would also come with many dangers. There is the psychological factor of isolation, and then the physical challenges of being exposed to ionizing radiation, as well as the effect of weightlessness on the human body. Traveling from the Earth to Mars is something famous visionaries and technology advocates, such as Elon Musk, are prospecting and excitedly anticipating. Technically with enough money and time, human travel from the Earth to Mars is more than possible. However, many people ignore or don’t take into consideration the cosmic radiation surrounding everything in space. On Earth, the magnetosphere protects us from these dangers, but in space, and crew who would travel on a long mission would experience the hazards of this. If space flight becomes commercial, people would need to be made aware of these concerns.
This leads to my concerns with the ethics of commercial space flight. Any missions for space exploration come with amazing discoveries and inspire future generations. However, any time you profit off of people or turn something into a business, there are major things to consider. I believe that humanity has a responsibility to conserve the health of the Earth. Space exploration requires resources and a lot of them would have to be put forth into creating accessible space travel. The role of billionaires in today’s society is already controversial and surely these current business magnates with incredible assets would be the first to take charge of the space business. This will lead to monopolies and having single companies dominating all of space tourism and resource mining. Philanthropy is the most admirable thing a person with excessive money can do, using so much money on space exploration for already rich people isn’t going to help poverty, climate change, or the poorest countries. As I mentioned earlier, the hazards of commercial space exploration are potentially extremely high-risk. Companies will be entirely responsible for the safeties of customers and making sure that they are clearly informed.
I think I look at this from a very utilitarian perspective of higher morals. Clearly, whether commercial space flight will be beneficial or not is a complex and controversial topic. I hope to see it continue to be debated so that we can look toward the future of space travel.
Written by Mariah