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The Search for Alien Life: Why We Can’t Stop Despite the Risks

People have been wondering if there was life beyond Earth for a long time. Now, the METI group is gearing up to send new messages into space. But should we?

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More than 40 years ago, NASA launched interstellar messages into deep space to potential alien beings who may come across them. It did this via the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft programs in the 1970s. We sent out messages that included gold discs with various audio greetings, sounds and music to demonstate our human culture. METI, the Messaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence organization, is at it again.

This time, they want to beam out a message, referred to as “Beacon to the Galaxy,” with detailed directions inviting aliens to earth. METI’s president Dr. Douglas Vakoch believes that it is worth the risk of harm in order to find out more about alien life. He says that even if we only get one response from an alien civilization, it would be well worth the effort.

What drives man to search for alien life, despite the risks?

Well-worn story drives our imagination

Our culture is replete with stories of aliens visiting earth to bestow amazing technologies upon us. From religion to philosophy to legend, these stories have been with us for millennia. There are those that believe aliens visited early Egyptians, or that earth was originally seeded by extraterristerals. The Roswell incident of 1947, which is deeply embedded in our collective psyches, only adds to the growing legend.

Movies have also explored what has become a staple of science fiction. Intellectual movies like Arrival point to enlightened beings coming to share their knowledge. Then, there’s the popcorn-fare Independence Day, with a plotline that highlights the danger of alien visitors with much more sinister goals.

Friendly explorers or destroyers?

Although these types of stories are a fun diversion, scientists have warned of the real dangers of sending out a roadmap to earth into the far reaches of space. METI’s project has been met with criticism from some of the world’s most famous scientists.

Among them is Stephen Hawkins, who was adamant that sending out invitations from earth was dangerous. “Encounters between civilizations with advanced versus primitive technologies have gone badly for the less advanced,” he said. As for Christopher Columbus meeting Native Americans in our history as an example of this, he noted “That didn’t turn out so well.”

For land, resources, or subjugation, men have conquered others through the ages. We’ve done it, so why couldn’t others do the same to us? Why take the risk?

Knowledge drives human progress

Steady human progress is largely driven by leveraging new ways of thinking and technology to master its surroundings. From the wheel to the supercomputer to spaceflight, we continually strive to advance our knowledge through the possibilities we discover or create.

Consider the Kardeshev scale. It posits that the advancement of a society depends on two things: technology and energy. The more energy you can produce, the more technologically advanced you are. However, we have yet to reach a Type I civilization on the point scale (we’re about a 0.7 now).

Kardashev scale civilization categories

Courtesy of: https://kardashev.fandom.com/wiki/Kardashev_Scale_Wiki

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Damned if we do, damned if we don’t?

Our paltry rating on the Kardeshev scale makes you think we have a long way to go before we are secure enough to invite random guests to our planet. On the other hand, maybe we’ll never substantially progress before we destroy ourselves through mismanagement of our environment and resources without benevolent extraterrestrial help.

The search for alien life is a quandary that continues to drive our imagination. Are we so arrogant to believe that we are the only ones out here? Or are we just hopeful that someone else is out there and can show us the way?

METI’s project may be controversial, but it embodies the boundless human spirit of exploration and discovery. Whether or not we should be looking for aliens is a question that will continue to be debated. But as long as there are people like Dr. Vakoch, the search will continue.

Business

Will Work-From-Home Become the Dominant Work Model in the U.S.?

The pandemic has had a significant impact on how we work. Work-from-home models are becoming more popular, and businesses need to start embracing them if they want to stay competitive.

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Work from Home becoming the norm

Work-from-home options are quickly becoming the most in-demand work models in America. Many blame the pandemic as the major driver in the shift to workers demanding more flexibility and work-life balance. However, it was already well in motion. According to a study by FlexJobs, the number of people working from home at least part-time has increased by 115% since 2005.

And this trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

New demographics; new attitudes

There are many reasons for this shift, but one of the biggest drivers is changing workforce demographics. As Millennials increasingly enter the workforce, they are starting to demand a better work-life balance than their predecessors.

They watched their parents spend their days stuck in traffic or crammed into a small office cubicle. When they entered the workforce themselves, Millenials were also met with the same anemic wage growth, job insecurity and long work demands. But now they also had ballooning student loan debt, exploding housing costs, and lived through multiple economic crashes in their young lives.

And they thought, to what end?

Massive productivity gains have done little for workers

Over the last few decades, there has been a remarkable increase in productivity across many sectors in America. Workers have become increasingly efficient and productive, leading to major gains for companies and shareholders. However, they have not benefited workers proportionally.

Thanks to stagnant real wage growth, workers have actually seen little benefit from their increased productivity. Most businesses are focused on maximizing their profits and meeting the demands of shareholders at almost all cost, rather than on increasing pay for their workers.

Millennials look at this and wonder why businesses get to hold all the power. They are now turning away from seemingly endless work for inusffient pay that sacrifices home and social lives. The pandemic only brought these worker inequalities into sharper focus.

Remote Work Statistics 2022

Courtesy of NorthOne

Worker flexibility–or else

Employees are demanding more give-and-take in the employer-employee relationship. They want the flexibility to work from home when they need to take care of their kids or run errands. They want to be able to take a mental health day or leave early for a doctor’s appointment without having to call out sick.

A big part of this is retaining the work flexibility they had during the pandamic–or they walk. And they have in record numbers. In November and December of 2021 alone, 8.8 million people quit their jobs in the U.S.; more than 47 million over the entire year.

The confluence of once-in-a-century economic turmoil, changing demographics and pandemic shutdowns that accelerated Boomers leaving the workforce has, for the moment, given workers more leverage. In a tight labor market, smart companies are embracing this social wave by instituting more flexible work models that provide employees with the work-life balance they crave.

Clash of ideologies leaning toward workers

As more companies adopt these policies, it will become increasingly difficult for those who don’t to attract and retain top talent. Some, like Goldman Sachs is holding its line of demanding all workers return to the office. But on the day they reopened, half of its workers didn’t show in defiance of the order.

So while the fully remote or hybrid work models may not be perfect, they’re quickly becoming the expected, new normal for a growing portion of American workers. If your company is one of the holdouts, you might want to reconsider. The talent war for the best and brightest workers is only going to heat up and those that can offer what workers want will be the big winners.

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Cyber Security

Can CyberWarfare Actually Cripple a Nation’s Infrastructure?

As cyber attacks become more sophisticated, we face the very real possibility of crippling cyberwarfare. Are we ready for it?

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Socialmyndz Cyber warfare Infrastructure

There’s an old 80’s Mathew Broderick movie that caught the public’s imagination. The movie is WarGames, in which Broderick’s character hacks into a military computer and starts playing a game of global thermonuclear war.

He soon realizes that he can’t control the supercomputer as it begins reacting to various nuclear combat scenarios as if they were real. The US military is alerted to the hack, but is powerless to stop it. So it’s forced to escalate the nation’s DefCon nuclear defense system as if a world war is imminent.

Scary stuff. Bit it’s just a movie. Right?

Why cyberwarfare?

Cyberwarfare is the use of computer technology to attack another country. In a cyberwar, a country can launch attacks against another country’s government, military, financial institutions, or critical infrastructure. They can be launched from anywhere in the world, disabling computers and networks, stealing data, or destroying information needed to keep key infrastructure running.

In the past, military size, hardware and the ability to project it to areas of conflict were the classic yardsticks that measured military might and effectiveness. But maintaining it is very expensive.

Today, military superpowers can be seriously undermined by a small group of hackers employed by a tiny country across the world bent on everything from idealogical or religious differences to simple economic revenge.

The rise of cyber attacks

In recent years, cyberwarfare has become increasingly common because it levels the playing field. Big or small, countries and hacker groups are probing and attacking each other’s networks, companies are being hacked, and personal information is being stolen.

So, can cyberwarfare actually cripple a nation’s infrastructure? The answer is yes –and several isolated examples of this have occurred in recent history. For example, the Stuxnet virus was reportedly used to attack Iran’s nuclear program by infiltrating their computer systems and sabotaging key components of their nuclear centrifuges.

In this case, the results could have been much more serious.

Taking down a nation

What about an attack on our nation’s power grid? Without electricity, water treatment plants can’t run, medical devices are rendered non-operational and hospitals are forced to close their doors.

Or imagine waking up one morning and the entire banking system is inoperable. No debit or credit card transactions are possible. Since many of us carry little to no cash in our pockets anymore, then what? Now think if that’s still the case a week later.

These types of attacks could seriously cripple a country. And when they occur, how long before panic and full economic, and for that matter, societal collapse occurs?

Countries are going on the offense

As you’ve likely figured out by now, using hackers is much cheaper to achieve military gains than a full invasion of a country. While these scenarios may sound like something from a spy movie, they’re not all that far-fetched.

Governments and militaries around the world are investing in offensive cyberwarfare programs to launch attacks against other countries’ infrastructure and governments. While most people would hope that an attack of significant magnitude would never happen, the fact is, it’s only a matter of time until it does.

Cyberattacks are becoming more common and more sophisticated. And it’s not just hackers looking to steal your credit card information anymore. These attacks are well-planned and carried out by skilled individuals supported by host governments.

And they’re only going to get better at it. Are we ready?

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AI

5 Major Healthcare Advances to Expect Over the Next Decade

Discover 5 healthcare advances you can expect in the next 10 years. These technologies will revolutionize how we care for our health.

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Top 5 Healthcare Advancements

It’s hard to believe, but healthcare is about to experience another huge shift. In the next 10 years, there will be massive advances in technology and biotech that will change how we access and receive care. Here are five healthcare advances you can expect to become commonplace:

Technology Advances Driving Health Outcomes

1. The dramatic increase in the use of AI

Artificial Intelligence is advancing at a rapid pace, so it’s no surprise that it’s finding its way into healthcare. On the macro scale, AI’s deep learning algorithms are scanning millions of health records to uncover disease trends and the most effective treatments. These will inform hospital and government programs on the best investments they can make to improve public health.

On the personal side, AI will surpass doctors’ ability to detect many diseases. Everything from reading patient x-rays to diagnosing mental health conditions will be done more accurately by machines.

This doesn’t mean we’ll all be replaced by robots, but AI will help free up doctors’ time so they can focus on more complex cases and provide better care.

2. The rise of virtual reality

Virtual reality is already being used for everything from training new surgeons to providing therapy for patients with PTSD, phobias and chronic pain. As the technology improves, it will become a more common approach to care.

One big advance will be using virtual reality as a tool for remote surgery. This will enable surgeons to operate on patients in other parts of the country or even the world. The first successful remote surgery was performed in 2001, but the technology has come a long way since then.

3. Telemedicine will become the norm

Telemedicine is already becoming more popular. In the next decade, it will become commonplace. This is because it’s more convenient and often more affordable than traditional in-person care.

We saw its benefits during the Covid pandemic lockdowns when hospitals were overloaded and in-person visits became risky. Health systems learned basic care could easily be handled remotely via a video call. AI also will begin monitoring these calls to help the doctor gather information like respiration rate, eye dilation, skin conditions and more to help diagnosis.

With advances in technology, you also will be able to consult with specialists from anywhere in the world and receive a broader spectrum of care. All without ever leaving your home.

Biotech Advances will Bring Care to the Genetic Level

4. Genetic sequencing of patients

The use of cutting-edge technology such as genetic sequencing and machine-learning algorithms allows researchers to gain new insights into diseases and create innovative treatments that were not previously possible. For example, through advanced sequencing techniques, doctors can now better understand how and why certain individuals are more prone to certain diseases.

5. Personalized medicines

Armed with with this knowledge, doctors will tailor treatments to a patient’s unique genetic profile, resulting in improved outcomes and reduced side effects. The potential benefits of these targeted therapies are wide-ranging, from new treatment options for rare diseases to more effective cancer prevention strategies.

Additionally, there has been much progress made in developing new diagnostic tools that can help clinicians better identify risk factors and disease markers, allowing them to provide a more targeted approach to care.

Overall, it is clear that technology and biotech advancements will continue to drive dramatic improvements in the healthcare landscape in the years ahead. These advances will not only make healthcare more effective and efficient, but also more accessible and affordable for everyone.

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