Headmistress (Middle School)

Dear Students,

Artificial Intelligence

When a computer autocorrects your spelling, or auto-completes your sentences, it is using Artificial Intelligence, AI. The exponential growth in the number of "apps" and algorithms that control different aspects of our lives has made life a lot more comfortable. As time goes on, who knows where we will end up? What will we no longer need to do in the near future where AI has been taught to do all the things humans used to?

Already robots are flipping burgers at McDonalds. There are shops that you simply walk into, pick up what you need and walk out. You are automatically charged for what you have carried out. There is no human intervention whatsoever! And speaking of shopping, when we do this online, the computer knows us better than we know ourselves. It pulls up for us ads that it knows we need to see because it knows better than us, what we are looking for! The AI Tool developed at Stanford University highlights areas of the brain that are likely to contain an aneurysm and helps to save the lives of stroke patients with 100% more accuracy.

If AI can mow our lawns, plant, harvest and cook our food, and clean, heat and cool our homes, what are we to do with all the free time we will have? We could relax and enjoy life more – but what work will we do? Can we just be on a perpetual holiday and live in a world that runs on its own – taking energy from the sun and doing all the things we need done without us lifting a finger to help? We will be confronted with an existential crisis. What do we do with our time and our lives? Perhaps science fiction like Star Trek might provide some clues.

Another problem is that as AI gets more sophisticated, it will reach the point when it can reproduce itself and do so in ever more intelligent ways. In fact, if it reaches the point where it controls us, we will become its slaves! Even though AI might be able to diagnose our diseases and operate on us better than we can, it is missing the “human” touch. Life is not just an existence that is lived according to a set of rules, rights and wrongs. Life is a relationship and an adventure, and no amount of AI can replace the ability we have to respond “from the heart” as we can and do!

So even though AI can be very beneficial to our present and future lives, we have to beware the very real possibility that it might take over... and then we are sunk!

Water Harvesting

I start with a quote from Samuel Taylor Coleridge (STC): "Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink."

Well STC the poet when penning his famous poem The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner had not heard of desalination. A crisis of water was predicted for the entire planet.

No one took heed. Logging went on indiscriminately and the rain forests lost their layers of foliage to nation's greed and water mafia's venality.

Yet the solution seems obvious. More desalination plants.

Yes, the downside would be highly saline soil. The solution is so obvious. Plant thousands of coconut trees which thrive on saline rich soil. You have a cash crop and desalinated water coming to tanks and reservoirs.

Spillage sinks into the soil and filters down into aquifers and wells.

Rainwater harvesting. The purest water comes from the clouds. However, it pours through a filthy atmosphere. So, all catchments should be super clean and protected from insects and all creatures. Not every fruit bat is carrying a virus. They, like the birds, bees, butterflies do a wonderful job.

Water harvesting is not just rainwater which also requires boiling and filtering but wastewater that can keep grass green and sink into the soil becoming filtered naturally on its way to aquifers. Coastal and tropical countries use this when rains are delayed, and crops are suffering.

A single glass of water can water a small plant... Clean your teeth... Quench your thirst. One glass can do all that.

Tap dripping? Put a pan under the drip and send for your plumber. If you have a heavy-duty wrench at home, then all you require is a washer. They are cheap and come in all sizes. Think of water-saving solutions. The entire world is facing a water crisis. Stop being mean and selfish.

Have quick showers. The poor stand their kids back to back and two mugs of water are poured very slowly from the top of three heads. No soap. Just vigorous scrubbing and the second mug poured slowly and then the children are as fresh and clean as the mother can make them.

Listen to what this writer has to say

"We scientists don't know how to do that"
"I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change.
I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems.
But I was wrong.
The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy...
...and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation
- and we scientists don't know how to do that."
Gus Speth

God Bless us all,,

Mrs. Sangeeta Sheel
Headmistress, Middle School