December 7, 2022


How Has Humor Evolved Over Time?

Humor is theorized to have started out as an early signal between primitive humans that there was no danger present and could therefore relax and interact with each other socially, making it an evolutionary strength that certain humans possessed and others didn’t.

Our ancestors had different vocalizations that signaled a wide range of things, but the main two that are important here were “danger” and “play”. Individuals who could determine that they were safe and make the noises that signaled “play” were thought of to be ‘funny’ in a way. In the same vein, these noises were an early form of laughter, which is most likely the reason why most people today laugh when presented with something humorous.

The early humans who couldn’t pick up on the cues of safety would lash out or react in strange ways, which wouldn’t help them find mates and pass on that gene. Vice versa, those who thought a “danger” signal was the opposite easily became casualties from their inability to be serious in a serious situation, which also led to that gene not being passed on either.

Humans who could differentiate between danger and safety passed on their genes, eventually leading to us taking pleasure in jokes today. Instead of humor being thought of as a form of safety now, it’s more used for bonding and fun and we’re able to understand more complex jokes than millions of years before.

For instance, we could use a joke about a fly walking into a bar. First of all, we know that flies don’t walk into bars, providing us with a small puzzle that our brains want to make sense of. It creates a small underlying sense of anxiety because we want the situation to be resolved in a logical way.

That’s where the punchline of the joke comes in, which is that the fly goes up to a man at the bar and says, “I like the stool you’re sitting on.” The word “stool” can have two meanings: the object we sit on, and poop. Our brains were able to make an understanding of the initial part of the joke (but not directly because of the double meaning of “stool”), which eases the sense of anxiety from the set up and amuses us.

As a whole, humor is associated with positive emotions and making social connections with others, making it a huge part of human nature and a key part of life.


Certainly, if you ask me if there I believe in alien life beyond Earth, I would respond with yes.  The possibility of extraterrestrial life is very likely considering the vastness of our Galaxy.  The announcement that there is life somewhere other than Earth would be very exciting to me and I would react in a very positive way.  Obviously, I would have some apprehensions about alien invasion, but the positive effects of finding life would out weigh the bad.

On I survey I took on February 28, 2018, I randomly selected 30 of my classmates and asked them if they believed if there was life beyond Earth.  The results were surprising.  26% of the students did not believe that there is life somewhere other than Earth.  This was higher than I expected because I expected more optimism.  Although a higher a number of people said “no” than expected, 74% of student believe that there is a life form somewhere in the Galaxy.  Those who did believe in life beyond Earth also expressed how they thought there was a possibility of aliens or other humans. These results show how optimistic and hopeful our generation is about extraterrestrial life.

Knowing the results of my study, I think its important to look at the effects finding alien life would have on our society.  Looking for extraterrestrials benefits society with new intellectual, societal and political opportunities.  The search for life beyond Earth with astrobiology is a powerful educational opportunity.  It would provide an important understanding to the timeline of life in the vastness of time where space exploration complements the cosmic perspective.  Prussian naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt said, “the most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world”.  By broadening the mind with cosmic and evolutionary perspectives with astrobiology it may make the world less fragmented and dangerous.  Important political implication of exploring life beyond earth is that humans are intelligent technological species that dominate the only know inhabited plant in the universe. We then have the responsibility to develop and manage the world we find ourselves in.

The benefits seem mostly all good but how would humanity react to this discovery?  Psychologists collaborating with The Washington Post studied how media covers extraterrestrial discoveries. Analyzing fifteen articles, they found that the written content use words with a positive effect more frequently than negative ones. Even though these words do not reveal anything monumental, they made predictions on how humans will react to alien life.  It is reported that Americans would react positively is NASA announced the discovery of alien life tomorrow.  It is cautioned that the rest of the world might not reflect the same reactions as Americans. Past research on extraterrestrial civilizations suggest the Americans view aliens more in black and white, the discovery would be all good or all bad, not both. The residents of China, where they are able to see the risks and the benefits.

This research opened my eyes to effects alien life would have on humanity.  It started to make me think of how this would affect my life.  Would society accept this discovery?  Research says yes, but there would be few that do not take it positively and those people could possibly be my loved ones.  Everyone’s life would change to this news.  Would this polarize our already polarized country?  There are many scenarios that are plausible when extraterrestrial life is found but my hope is that it benefits and makes society stronger.

Genetic Engineering

The definition of human genetic modification is, “the direct manipulation of the genome using molecular engineering techniques.” There are several technologies that have advanced the science of genetic engineering to the point that this is now possible and occurring in human trials. Science is on the verge of solving some of the most vexing diseases that can occur in human beings. The possibility to eliminate diseases like cystic fibrosis, and disabilities like blindness are now closer to reality. The problem is that eliminating undesirable qualities like baldness or big ears are also possible with genetic engineering. Bruno Bodwen an investor thinks it’s time to start talking about how these decisions will be made, he says, “there’s always the fear that science will enable us to go too far, creating a race of tall, homogenized beauties—but there’s also the possibility we won’t go far enough. If we don’t understand the technology, we could panic and cut off the potential to save the lives of millions and improve the lives of billions.” While genetic modification has the potential to be abused, the societal benefit to cure genetic diseases makes this technology something that should be pursued by scientists.

The biggest fear about human genetic engineering is the possibility that modifying an embryo changes not only the person that it will become, but also it’s future offspring. This modification of the human germline is a concern to many people. This modification is said to cause risk to future generations, and because these future generations cannot provide consent, people suggest this is a reason in itself that we should not use gene editing. Some organizations go as far as saying that no modification of the genome should ever be introduced.  In Article 13 from the Oviedo Convention,  “An intervention seeking to modify the human genome may only be undertaken for preventive, diagnostic or therapeutic purposes and only if its aim is not to introduce any modification in the genome of any descendants.” This statement from NCBI, does not seem to make sense, but even if gene editing could not be done without affecting future generations, so is the case with natural reproduction, as 6% of all births in the world are born with serious genetically associated side effects. In reality, if the science community was so concerned about affecting future generations, perhaps they would have outlawed typical sexual reproduction.

The technology that now exists to modify human embryos is something that should be celebrated and exploited to improve the lives of people. While people have brought up valid concerns for using this technology, the benefits far outway the risks. Gene editing can be used to be cure disease that to date, have been incurable. A paper about the effects of Children with Cancer explained “Chronic illnesses can be devastating to a person at any age. During childhood, it can be especially destructive for the child’s psychological growth and development.” An influential group of scientists from the national academy of sciences have recently endorsed human gene editing. This advisory group has stated that alterations that are designed to prevent “serious diseases and disability” that have no “reasonable alternative” for treatment should be allowed. Because the technology is now available to make gene editing possible, an endorsement like this is allowing people to move this science forward. This opens the door for research that may provide cures for previous incurable diseases. The issue now will be to decide precisely how this technology should be used as the line between curing disease and enhancing human characteristics may still be a bit blurry.    

A Computer Wins by Learning Like Humans

The most compelling article I came across relating to my research paper for artificial intelligence was an article produced by TheNewYorkTimes. The article talked about how a robot built by Google, has just defeated the human champion, Lee Se-dol, four games to one in the tournament of the strategy game of Go.” What makes this article compelling was that it talked about how human players of the game called Go,  “The top players, it turns out, can’t fully access their own knowledge about how they’re able to perform so well. This self-ignorance is common to many human abilities, from driving a car in traffic to recognizing a face.” Next, the article went into depth about how with computers, today with our understanding, they are tasked with managing flights, processing payrolls, and routing telephone numbers. These complex systems that help computers function and sort these types of data accordingly “requires painstaking precision to explain exactly what the computer is supposed to do.” What’s most frightening is that the people who created the system that had beat the guy in the game can now “learn winning strategies almost entirely on their own, by seeing examples of successes and failures.” and most striking “AlphaGo does use simulations and traditional search algorithms to help it decide on some moves, but its real breakthrough is its ability to overcome Polanyi’s Paradox. It did this by figuring out winning strategies for itself, both by example and from experience.”

From my findings on the article “A Computer Wins by Learning Like Humans” I can come to the understanding that AI is in fact progressing. Therefore, without a doubt, they are learning how to solve and beat humans in the game. The next question that I am pondering is, to what extent are the scientist trying to fix with AI? Like what problems do we need AI for?


Works Cited

Mcafee, Andrew, and Erik Brynjolfsson. “A Computer Wins by Learning Like Humans.” New York Times, 16 Mar. 2016, p. A23(L). Science in Context, Accessed 15 Feb. 2018.

Article Used:

Has technology helped or harmed the development of the world?

Has technology helped or harmed the development of the world?

I believe that technology has helped AND harmed the development of the world. I think that the world has made great advances in medical technology because without it, many people would not have the resources that they need for their medical history. However, I also think that technology such as cell phones and laptops have created a divide in face to face communications. If we did not have cell phones, or used them like many due today, people would be forced to interact and have authentic conversations.

An article about the technological effects on humanity said, “Technology has helped in saving many innocent lives. Human medicine and health sciences have improved…extensive research has resulted into the development of new drugs, and treatments which have helped in curing most challenging human diseases and this has helped in saving so many lives and it has also prolonged the human lifespan.” Without the new technology and advances, the human race would not be where we are today. People would not live as long, or have the quality of life that we do.

However, another article listen major ways technology has harmed, not helped, humans. The first issue is that technology has brought on is the loss of jobs. Factory jobs are being taken over computers that can accomplish the job in half the time a person can. Second, technology takes away from face to face human reactions. Finally, our display of opinion online has limited our capacity to think because we are only allowed 140 characters to express our beliefs on current events.

So how can we fix this the negative aspects? First, if you feel the need to share your opinions online, make sure that it adds to the reader’s day in a positive way. Second, do not do things online that you can do in person.

Earth after Humans

I always wondered what the Earth would look like if humans suddenly stopped existing. This thought has always intrigued me. As I sat looking out my window at the valley I live in, I wonder what would it look like if we all disappeared? Would there be a lot more trees? Would the Great Salt Lake and other lakes become bigger? These and other questions I think about. For now, this topic cannot be researched. Scientists now can only use logic from what they know about how objects/living organisms, interact with other objects/living organisms (oxygen and metal, plants and houses) and how long things will take to decompose and/or be destroyed.

From this article by the Discover Magazine, they predict that bridges in New York will last for at least 100 years before the bolts are broken down. And animals like bears and coyotes will go down to the city. And they also made a timeline what will happen in New York over the years. The article is a pretty interesting read.

WANTED: Humans

If humans disappeared, our footprints would slowly diminish.  Buildings would slowly crumble, nature would take over and become fruitful.  Animals would take our place as keepers of the land and would fight over the territory.  Pollution would not be nearly as harmful to the environment as it is now because there would be less of it.  Without us, many species would still be alive and new species would have formed.  The world would literally be, “the mighty jungle.”

According to an article by Sploid, the first things to go out if we disappeared would be: lights around the world would shut off within hours, ten days without human interaction animals would switch to survival mode and survival of the fittest.  Mammals would slowly inhabit the world again.  The world would look like current day sub- saharan Africa; the majority of larger mammals would still exist.  There is a group of people called Antinatalist who think the world would be better off if humans didn’t exist at all, because humans have a negative impact on the planet.

Where will we be in 50 years?

When thinking about the future, I can’t know anything for sure; I can only make assumptions. What I can do, however, is look back in history to 50 years ago and compare the world today to the world in 1967. The amount of technologies and differences that we have today, compared to 50 years ago, are beyond belief. I can only think that we will have as many differences, if not more, in the future.

I’m very much interested in technology, so I would very much like to know what scientists have to say about the goals for the technology that they are currently developing. Furthermore, although I don’t think it would be possible to know, I would like to know some of the defining moments and people in the research that takes place. Who will make the discoveries? What discoveries are going to be made?

As I read in the Scientific American, one question asked was “Does humanity have a future beyond Earth?” The cosmologist/astrophysicist responded by saying yes, people will definitely have gotten off of Earth and will be living somewhere else, but the degree to how many people, where, and how is still up in the air. After doing further research on the topic, said the likelihood of humans landing on mars is a very good, as there are 5 different entities (3 public, 2 private) that would be able to get there in the near future. They said that “Elon Musk burns with a passion to colonize Mars”, and he is only one of the entities