The Dipl mat Bigger, Better, Faster
Inside... Generation INternship
Bigger, better, China Holograms- Not Just Sci-fi
Modern Warfare Burnout
The Dipl mat Bigger, Better, Faster At First 02 Preface & Our Team Spotlight 03 The Grand Tour 04 Are you a failure ....? 05 Burnout Focus 07 Bigger, Better, China 09 Modern Warfare 11 Generation Internship 13 Humans vs Robots 15 Holograms Student Life 17 To eat or not to eat organic 18 Random Day of a Business Student At last Future Predictions
Preface Dear readers, In 1984 the world’s first mobile phone was sold to a lucky and probably speechless customer. It was shaped like a bone, weighed about 800 grams and was approximately 25 centimeters long – excluding the black aerial. Its capacity allowed for 30 minutes of speaking in total and once the battery was empty it took ten hours to reload it. The total costs for this magical device amounted to a very futile sum of 3995 $. Let’s face it: it did not seem as if this product would have a big influence on humanity. And yet it revolutionized our communication. Only 30 years later people from all over the world are waiting in line for hours to get the new IPhone 5s. Technology is moving at a very fast pace. While
you are reading this, employees at Apple are probably already making the first plans for the IPhone 7. The progress we are making, not only confined to the technology sector, can be highly fascinating and exciting. As you will read in this issue, some of the problems in the care sector might be solved through caring robots, currently being developed in Japan. And who would say no to a little concert in the own living room, performed by holograms of your favorite interpreters? Yet, as it is the case with almost everything, there are also disadvantages. What happens if you cannot keep up with the new developments anymore? What kind of pressure do we create with this constant strive for perfection?
Everything comes at a price, and sometimes one cannot help but wonder about the consequences of our current obsession to become bigger, better and faster. This is why we have devoted our Winter issue to this topic, hoping that we will be able to inspire you to deeper reflection on these topics as the current year reaches its end. I hope you enjoy the read! Best, Zoë Perry (Editor in Chief)
Starting from upper row, from left to right: Alessio Taranto, Vincent Wüllner, Adam Strobejko, Jana Echterhoff, Rebecca Whitehouse, Leonie Düngefeld, Tamara Moumna, Vicky Steinbeck, Elisa Senger, Lina Pfeifer, Vivien Devenyi, Laura Schmitz, Zoë Perry, Larissa Müller, Kaschayar Javadi Missing on this photo: Dominika Buzarewicz, Karen Poertzgen, Lucia Barbier, Philipp Tarnawski 2
The Grand Tour
Rediscovery of an Old Journey For most of the students, travelling is one of the important things in life. They want to experience and see places their parents and grandparents have not been given chance to see. More than three hundred years ago, people in Europe gave it a name. As Matt Gross pointed out in the New Yorker: “No one knows who came up with it, but their adventures soon had a perfectly appropriate name: the Grand Tour.”
“Jacobean” direction. A Baconian student was more interested in meeting influential people than visiting the old cities. They acted as ambassadors for the region they came from. Especially countries like England, the Netherlands or Spain often used those travellers to get useful political informati-
People like Francis Basset, who was an English nobleman and politician, started their journey when they were around twenty years old. It took more than three years until he returned to England. Until then, he visited more than 20 cities and nearly all of Italy. Traveling was seen as a part of growing up and as part of education. An opportunity to escape the hierarchical structures of those times and their often-prescribed life style appeared for the first time in history. Although the Grand Tour was a European phenomenon, people from America also visited the old world. As McLaughlin said: “A young American crossed the ocean by chance. Learned his morals in London, his manners in France. Met a student in Germany and an artist in Rome.” Although there were different kind of philosophical movements at that time, two dominated among the youth, the “Baconian” and the
on on other countries or colonies. On the other hand, there was the Jacobean student. He was particularly concerned with parties in Venice or fashion and art. Although you might think that the 17th century was very prude and boring, they had more fun than we might think of. One of the most famous student who did a Grand Tour was Giacomo Casanova. His journey took him to Germany, Poland, France, the NetherThe Diplomat
lands, Switzerland, England, Spain and even to Russia. In France, he became co-founder of the National Lottery in 1757, being only 27 years old. Although his trip started as a Grand Tour it eventually turned into a never-ending story. People at the age of twenty have always wanted to be successful and have aimed for a great career in their later life. For more than 350 years, until the mid of the 19th century, the Grand Tour was seen as the most important journey in a student‘s lifetime. The idea of going abroad to find oneself and to know what one really wants in life, outside of the sphere of the social pressure and promotions, ended with Thomas Cook. He started the era of tourism, as we know it today. During the last century, the name “Grand Tour” disappeared. The youth in the US was no longer interested in the old world and the people in Europe had other problems than planning a crazy trip. They had to rebuild the whole continent. However, since the beginning of the 21st century the Grand Tour is becoming more popular again although under a different name, being called backpacking. According to Google the number of people searching the word “backpacking” grew 250 percent over the last decade. Let the journey begin, then.
Bigger, Better, Faster
By Philipp Tarnawski
Are you a failure ....
The world has become an ever-faster place with increasing demands on human beings. Job characteristics reflect multifaceted personal skills and almost all of them have to do with being increasingly better and faster. To perform on the highest level, we need to be healthy. We need to reach for the optimal health state to be the best we can. At the same time, scientific evidence shows us that people live longer as they did thirty years ago. But why and what has influenced our daily lives to the extent that we are now living longer than ever before? Do we even want this influence and what do we give in on when external health mechanisms take over control? Prevention of multiple diseases and various medical interventions enforced through policies, regulations and guidelines on a national or international level can have a significant impact on individual lifestyles. The environment we live in is thereby aiming to incentivize us to pursue a healthy lifestyle through taxes on harmful goods such as alcohol or tobacco. These more obvious examples are added by other approaches like health campaigns, disease screening, accident prevention, compulsory vaccinations, water sewage plants, educational guidelines and so forth. It appears as if endeavours to achieve a change in health behaviour on a population level do not have limits. On the one hand, health professionals have the competency to decide on best practices to increase the quality and duration of individual lives. Their findings are scientifically based and can, for instance, serve as a foundation for disea-
...if you do not practice the “perfect” lifestyle?
se reduction and elimination. In times of rising individual stress levels one advantage of decisions by higher institutions on best health practices could be the reduction of individual obligations. Thereby risk factors for good health can be eliminated on a collective basis. Moreover, environmental hazards which cannot be influenced by single persons can be diminished by the action of higher institutions. Overall, national guidelines can harmonize health standards between countries and regions and country comparisons provide a foundation to benefit from advanced knowledge and practices in other countries. On the other hand, there are several infringements by individuals often made unwillingly as expense for the collective nature of intervention approaches. Firstly, the freedom of individuals to define their way of living, what they want to consume, in which environment they want to live and whether they want to achieve a life not focusing on health limiting factors can be constricted. “Just enjoy the moment” or “I don´t care if I die younger I just want to live now” are statements often heThe Diplomat
ard from smokers to defend their smoking habit. These statements underline the pitfalls of the national or international attempts to modify health behaviour: Individuals are labelled as unhealthy and suddenly need to justify their “deviant” behaviour. Liberals argue that freedom, in their opinion the highest good, gets infringed through external involvement and that “every man is the artisan of his own fortune”. Health care campaigns or laws, for instance, forbidding indoor smoking not only set rules upon individual behaviour but can lead to a stigmatization of those who do not conform to the “perfect” health behaviour. Frequently it is not possible to generalize needs and recommendations from healthcare organisations might be best for the majority but not always for each individual. Solidarity the prevailing principle in EU healthcare systems includes lifestyle solidarity, which refers to the solidarity between, for instance, smokers and non-smokers or fast-food lovers and vegetarians. It includes the awareness that many medical needs are foreseeable and can be avoidable consequences of individual actions. Since this has
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Continued from p. 4 not been an issue when healthcare systems have been designed, the growing knowledge about the relationship between health and lifestyle and the increasing pressure on the health care budget lead to a debate on whether to diminish lifestyle solidarity in healthcare systems. This is especially the case because some causal relations are perceived as common knowledge in western countries. Health is an asset indispensable for societies and we can do a lot for improved health by choosing a lifestyle contributing to it. Nevertheless, reaching perfection is often impossible and the attempt
towards it might destroy more than it can improve regarding the creation of a fulfilling life. An adequate understanding of how to live healthy is of course important and has shown to be effective in harm reduction. However, exaggeration might lead to a prevailing perception about a failing image of those practicing a non-healthy-lifestyle. Moderate prevention and intervention might help in creating a healthy environment in which individuals can still decide freely how to react on recommendations without being disadvantaged. External controls should thereby be balanced with individual freedoms, together
creating a basis for lifestyle improvements. Additionally, they should provide assistance for making healthy decisions while limiting the moralization of health related behaviours. Destroying lifestyle solidarity is a recent issue, but ask yourself whether we really want a society of solidarity limited to those practicing the “perfect” lifestyle. By Vicky Steinbeck
When the candle slowly burns down “Do you feel run down and drained of physical or emotional energy? Do you feel that you are achieving less than you should? Do you feel that you are not getting what you want our of your job?” These questions can be answered on a scale of one to ten. If the person choses ten for all three answers, this could be a sign that this individual suffers from the fashionable complaint burnout. Although, many people think it is just an exaggeration of being exhausted and feeling drained, burnout is a serious disease. It starts with small signals, for example inability to stop thinking about work while meeting friends and developing abnormal habits such as nervously twitching eyes or having sleeping problems. In today’s widely globalized world in
which everything has to be bigger, better, and faster the pressure to perform is continuously growing and often does not leave room for creativity and actual work satisfaction. Focusing only on getting the best results at the fastest pace will eventually lead to the opposite – people will break down and not further contribute to a company’s success. There must be a reason why 30% of human resource directors in the UK indicate that employee burnout is a serious issue. Everybody could be affected In general, burnout occurs when people who once felt very committed and passionate about their career start to become dissatisfied or even desperate with their job. The symptoms of burnout are categorized into emotional, social, intellectual and physical symptoms. The Diplomat
Some examples for these are the constant feeling of dejection, social inactivity, lack of concentration and increasing muscle tenseness. Basically, everyone at any time can get it. Still, there is an increased risk for very ambitious, perfectionist people. In the past, especially people working in the social sector such as teachers, medicines or therapists were affected by burnout. Managers in leading positions or self-employed people are also increasingly affected due to the extreme pressure and the high expectations of their working environment. A study of Robert Half Finance & Accounting, a large finance recruitment agency, shows that the major reason for burnout is the perceived workload, followed by long working hours. Unachievable expectations and work life balance only
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account for a smaller proportion. Burnout can hinder people to attend work, at least for a certain amount of time. This leads to an economic damage since the individual cannot contribute to the success and revenues of the firm. Thus, many companies invest in burnout preventions and have internal seminars to counteract this disease. For example, Volkswagen Group, the third largest automaker in the world, has a relatively low burnout rate in contrast to other big companies. It constantly tries to eliminate potential problems by doing regular surveys, developing the individual competences of their employees and offering voluntary health checks. A matter of overstepping the personal borders Nowadays, pressure is not only high on workforce but already on students. Therefore, these young people often ignore their own limits because they continuously strive for higher achievements. In some cases this can lead to a dramatic outcome as a recent article of ‘The Guardian’ shows. In summer 2013, Moritz Erhard, a 21-year-old boy, was found dead in his apartment after working for three nights in a row. Moritz was
an ambitious student studying at the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany. During the summer break he was doing an internship with the Bank of America. Moritz was working in a highly competitive environment: To get the internship he had prevailed against 1500 other candidates, his working hours at the Bank of America were immense. Before his internship in London he already did an internship with KPMG, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank. Even though Moritz was a self-motivated student and a perfectionist from early age on, external factors like the increased competition for jobs after the financial crisis put even more pressure on him. In today’s highly competitive world the focus often shifts exclusively to working achievements and many people start to define themselves only through the success in their careers. They ignore warThe Diplomat
ning signals of their body because doing so would imply weakness and demand rest. While success at work does give satisfaction in the short run, it might lead to an undesirable outcome, if one’s life is only reduced to that: Burnout. As Michael Myers, a clinical psychiatry professor in New York, puts it:” There‘s got to be a balance between dedication and hard work, as well as taking care of yourself and others.” After all, we’re still humans and not machines. by Elisa Senger
Bigger, Better, Faster
Bigger, better, China too big and too fast?
China. Monday morning, 7:15 a.m.: 2000 high school students in Tongxiang, China are singing their national anthem. This ceremony takes place each Monday. However, it does not last too long: lessons start at 7:30 a.m. . Losing time would be fatal – Chinese schedules are narrow. School ends at 6 p.m., and the five hours of homework that are still waiting for the students do not allow for any delay – especially because the free-time activities and hobbies still have to fit in, too. Chinese students without hobbies? Impossible. Chinese students without friends and family? Even worse. How that is supposed to work out? Nobody knows. Welcome to China, welcome to bigger, better, faster. On bad days, smog can be everywhere, and the leaves turn grey and dirty No doubt, China is one of the biggest countries in the world – to compare China and Europe, 20 per cent of the world’s population are Chinese, and only 10 per cent are European. Especially towns reflect on these standards: “Tongxiang is actually rather small”, says Zhang (name changed), a former student from one of Tongxiang’s high schools, “there are just about 700.000 people here”. To become Chinese Metropolises, the cities need a number of inhabitants amounting to the double-digit millions. Shanghai with its 20 million population may be called a really huge city. But what are the consequences if “small” Chinese towns are bigger than whole countries in other parts of the world? Despite China’s large territory and wide areas belonging to Shanghai, smog and huge apartment blocks are normal components of Chine-
se life. “That is the reason why I like Europe so much, it is so green there”, explains Zhang. Trees in the Far East do, of course, exist. They are not green, though. On bad days, smog can be everywhere, and the leaves turn grey and dirty. However, apart from natural and geographical differences between Europe and China, for Zhang there is another, crucial factor that makes her like Europe: “It is amazing that you are able to organise yourself in such an unbound way”, so the student, “you can choose some of your subjects at school, you have enough time to do whatever you want to in your leisure. The Diplomat
We cannot”. Chinese students often dream of having as much self-organised time as Western students, the amount of time they spend at school on one day is sometimes even more than those of Maastricht students during their whole week. To really be able to cope with all of this work, the first year at Chinese Senior High Schools is often even bound to living at school – and not only at boarding schools. However, Zhang and her friends do not really mind: more time at school means more time to study, and more time to get prepared for the final and A-level examination, in the end the only result that is really important for your final grade.
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Bigger, better, China too big and too fast?
not want to practise their hobby. They just do so to satisfy their parents”. Family, friends and culture – these elements often shift to the background while writing about China. However, for many Chinese people, these things are essential parts of their lives. If parents are allowed to have just one child, they want this child to have the best future. They support it whenever possible and the child usually gives everything he or she can. Not only because these children want to be outstanding, but also because they do not want to disappoint their parents. “Mine have been doing so much for me, it is simply my duty to give them at least pieces of these things back”, explains Zhang.
Chinese students have to give everything in order to have a chance in their future – the best students get the best places at university, the worst ones do not have much of a prospect for their future. In order to force students to be ambitious, exam-results are published in lists, accessible for everyone. Of course no one wants to see his or her name at the bottom – everyone wants to be “better”. Or let us say, everyone needs to be better to survive in the vast “shark tank” that is called future. Chinese students usually do not become mean because they want to defeat their classmates. It is just an individual fight for becoming better and faster. They have
to, if they want to have at least any chance to get the job they like. A hobby is often not a matter of choice In addition to excellent results in school, parents often want their students to broaden their profile. Their children have to be outstanding. As a consequence, they are supposed to learn an instrument or become professionals in sports. Zhang, for instance, learned how to play the piano, but not because she had to: “I really like to play it, even if I am not that good”, says the student while showing some sheets of Beethoven and Mozart, “However, I know friends who do The Diplomat
This viewpoint is deeply rooted in the old and rich Chinese culture, humanity and responsibility for the family is essential. It becomes obvious that reasons for China’s achieving society are much more complex. China is not Europe, Chinese attempts to become better and faster are, among other things, a result of their culture as well as politics and the large population. Bigger, better, faster – in China, one could rather say too big and too fast. That counts at least for Zhang and some of her friends: “Some former classmates of mine and I decided to go abroad. We want to do something we are really interested in and experience something else than China”, states the student. Her house of cards is still stable, so far she has found her way. However, the final question still remains: for how long is this principle supposed to work?
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by Jana Echterhoff
Modern Warfare same **** different day
Promise of Salvation These days there has been a lot of talk about something new, something to revolutionary change this image. Something that seems to open up an entirely new world. A world in which wars can be fought without risks to civilians or oneâ€˜s own soldiers. Its an image of a clean war. No wonder that drones are the dream of every head of state: all of this sounds very positive, but what are drones exactly and what impact could the increased use of drones have on international politics, on soldiers and civilians, and on our definition of war?
Collateral Damage When we think of war we imagine huge armies marching into the field. Many of us will have a picture in our heads of the Allied Forces landing on the coast of Normandy on D-Day. We think of tanks, bombs, strategic plans and basis camps. We hear guns firing, see bombs dropping, trenches, planes, and cities in ruins. We see lots of blood, suffering, trauma and death. In any case, we know there are humans â€“ humans on both sides.
Â A drone can be a wide variety of
air vehicles with a number of different functions. What all drones have in common is that they fly unmanned. Some have to be controlled by pilots from ground control stations via satellites; some can fly autopilot and even follow objects independently. Drones can fulfil functions ranging from information gathering to enemy distraction and fighting in combat. The arms industry produces and sells drones in a price range from a few thousand to ten million dollars. Nevertheless, even the
most expensive drone is cheap compared to tanks, which cost at least some millions or other fighting systems, which might even cost billions of dollars. To make the system even more attractive, using drones does not require on-the-ground presence. They can be employed thousands of kilometres away from the next ground control station. Thus, a war fought with drones does not put the soldier controlling it at risk. How appealing this is to politicians shortly before election-time is undeniable. However, the best argument of the arms industry is still to come. They claim that drones are very precise when used in combat and that this leads to a substantive reduction of civilian casualties. Which head of state would not want to have this weapon up his sleeve? An Illusion Regardless of this, critical voices remain. Experts state that drones might sound good in theory, but in practice only create new risks and dangers. Michael Bothe, specialist
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Continued from p. 9 in international law, says that drones create an illusion: “the illusion of a clean, precise weapon, which only hits the really important aim.” Some others are concerned about the “video-game optic” of the control-screens when they discuss drones. Indeed, if one sees pictures of them, one might just as well be looking at a first-person shooter. Critics warn that this might lead to detachment of pilots and increased willingness to attack. Other critics warn that even though one might not expect it under the circumstances, quite a few drone pilots suffer from PTSD. The most cited argument employed by advocates of the new wonder-weapon is that it reduces the number of civilian casualties. However, a report by NYU School of Law and Stanford University Law School found out the exact opposite. There have been 3000-3500 deaths by US drone strikes in Pakistan. Only two percent of those victims where evidently members of terrorist organizations and, therefore, not civilian casualties. The Fall Drones have a very interesting effect on international politics. They seem to trick heads of state into believing that they can follow their objectives wherever and whenever they want. This impression imposes itself with regards to collecting information as well as eliminating terrorists or other undesirable aliens. The US, for instance, is assassinating terrorists, which were put on its infamous kill-list, in Pakistan since 2004. This happens without the US being at war with Pakistan; this behaviour is clearly a contradiction to international law.
Killing people intentionally “outside (of) armed conflict . . . is lawful only when strictly unavoidable to protect against an imminent threat to life.” (Amnesty International). A kill-list is in no way compatible with international law. Moreover, presumptive terrorists do no per se pose an imminent threat to life. They might do at some point in the future, but they do not do so when they are at home, having dinner with friends and family. Even though this might be inconvenient, they have to be arrested and brought in front of a court. Assassinating someone is illegal – always.
Humans on One Side It might become common practice for heads of states to conduct attacks wherever and whenever, without declaring war. For some countries this allows a head of state to go around the parliament. For other countries this might lead to a uniformed public. We should be very aware of this. Drones change warfare substantively, and maybe it is time to rethink our idea of what war is. Maybe it is war when drones are flying over your head and you are afraid of an attack twenty-four hours of the day. Maybe it is war when you cringe at the sound of a door slamming, because you think it was a bomb dropping. Maybe it is war when you wonder, “will I be next?”.
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by Karen Poertzgen
Generation Internship After the apprehensive incident in London where a 21-year old German intern died because of an overload of work and absolving the so called â€˜All-Nighterâ€™ shifts, attention was drawn upon the topic of fanatic interns and the unquenchable greed of companies for cheap but useful labour. The topic was all over the news and it became apparent that the Bank of America intern was not the only one doing overtime hours.
more qualified than their competitors or to stick out of the ordinary crowd. It is thanks to job descriptions which require some previous practical experience in the respective fields from freshly graduated and slightly naive adults that makes it hard to find a top job without an outstanding CV. The question is; how should students cope with the pressure of being outstanding at university, doing some kind of voluntary or social work beneath university and on top having a healthy social environment? Many of the ambitious students of today try to answer the same question. They consider a great job as a treat for all the hard work. Consequently, students deliberately
rent culture, learn another language or spend a great Erasmus time. They opt for an internship, which might or might not increase their chances for a good job after graduating, but is also linked with a high workload, a lot of stress and missed out chances for travelling and friendships all over the world. A survey of The Career Centre shows that 63 per cent of the students that graduated in 2012 had completed at least one internship. Generation Internship is a phenOnly 1/3 of the internships were omenon which developed in the paid which fits with the overall imrecent years. It describes students pression of the 72 per cent of stuwho try to increase their chances dents who consider compensation to find a well paid and highly ranto be the least important factor ked job after graduating from uniwhen applying for an internship. versity by doing However, thean internship at re are two siany possible spades of the coin. re time. Young As soon as a people belonstudent is in ging to Generathe company tion Internship and has perfeel the urge to formed satisgain practical factory during working expethe internsrience during hip, chances their studies. are higher to Well known and receive a popopular compasitive answer nies support this to job applihttp://www.ingenieur.de/Arbeit-Beruf/Gruenderlounge/Start-up-Portraets/Start-up-nimmt-Stress-Visier and hire interns cations or full for their own benefits, as nearly 85 sign up for summer internships time offers. Other positive aspects per cent of companies state hiring without thinking of taking some of internships are networking and an intern has been a positive expe- time off during summer and spend building up good connections, rience and is usually cheaper than some of the well-earned free time practically applying the theoretihiring an additional full trained for leisure activities or travelling. cal framework learnt during stuworker. Naturally, companies wel- Even Maastricht University hypes dying and gaining some firsthand come the phenomenon and are internships because study co-or- experiences. Interns feel better sometimes accused to exploit the dinators often post open vacancies prepared when released to the lasituation of inters, and either leave on official Facebook pages or dis- bour market after graduation and them with too much responsibi- play them in the weekly UM News. also get to know themselves and lities or with none at all. Students When students have the choice of their interests better, so a choice nevertheless feel forced and under going abroad during their 5th or of their future field of expertise is pressure to gain additional expe- 6th semester, some do not even easily done. As already mentioned rience through internships to be consider getting to know a diffe- before, Maastricht University itsThe Diplomat
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Generation Internship elf maintains stable connections and offers students a network for possible internships. They have partners such as the Altium Capital AG, the Deutsche Bank and several research internships offered by the respective faculties. They advertise open vacancies and internship positions during the summer break, for example several internships in Washington DC, where they offer all kinds of professional directions, ranging from International Affairs and Economics to Philanthropy and Voluntary Service. The programs combine the internship with the opportunity to get to know a different
culture, work in an international atmosphere and spend leisure time in a new culture during a hopefully warm and inspiring summer. In the end, it is up to the students themselves whether to do an internship or not. It largely depends on the personality, the aims and future plans. If students feel like doing an internship will be a great benefit for them and contribute to their personal and especially professional development, they should take advantage of the numerous opportunities. On the contrary, if they feel like travelling, spending time with friends and
family and enjoying their student life to the fullest, this might be as healthy and helpful for their personal development as well. In any case, no one should feel pressured to do something they do not want do because it rather results in unhappiness and dissatisfaction than a memorable experience.
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Humans vs. Robots
The World is Getting Older The World Health Organisation has estimated that, globally, by 2017 there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 5 years old and that by 2050 they will outnumber all those under 14 years old. By 2050 it is expected that 1.5 billion people in the world will be 65 years old or over. This is 16% of the global population. All these people need care, support and assistance but their increasing number is causing problems for care-systems worldwide. Japan is home to the oldest of the world’s population, with 22% of its population being 65 years old or over, and is becoming incapable of providing care to this vast number of people that need it. The question that has therefore arisen is how can all these people receive the care that they need? Japan’s answer is robots. Robot-carers for the elderly. Committing to the Research In 2013 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe allocated ¥2.39 billion (€290 million) to the creation of robots that would assist the elderly population in place of their human counterparts. There are two approaches that the Japanese have taken; the assistance-related robot and the companionship robot. The first is currently being developed by companies such as Toyota and would have the role of completing mundane but essential tasks such as
fetching medicine, mobility support and the washing of hair. These robots will enable the human care-providers to spend more personal time with the residents of the care homes, whilst the robots complete the daily chores the staff would otherwise have to do. Similarly, the ‘Spatio-Temporal Representations and Activities for Cognitive Control in Long-term Scenarios’ (Strands) Project at the University of Birmingham in England has received €8million from the European Commission to create these assistance-related robots in Europe. The second type of robot has already been created, and displayed relative success, in Japan. Paro is a robotic seal. It is not strictly a care-robot, but more of a companion for those who have difficulty finding personal companionship elsewhere. This robot has proved to be the most therapeutic robot in the world despite the hefty price tag of US$ 4,518 (€3,334) that the online ‘Japan Trend Shop’ has valued it at and the criticism that it doesn’t provide any tangible health benefits. Howe ve r, technological development does not stop. Within Europe a number of universities and care-providing companies have initiated the Mobiserv project. This project aims The Diplomat
to bring both the assistance-related robot and the companionship robot together into one. The attraction of this that is exposed to the public is that these robots would reduce the cost to the elderly individual and their family of having to pay for residential care. They would also therefore, increase the independence of the people that would currently have to leave their homes and relocate to care-homes. However, there are other, less publicised reasons for the development of these all-encompassing robot-carers. Government Costs In 2016 England are introducing a cap of £72,000 (€86,112) for residential care for the elderly, meaning that until their care costs reach this figure the elderly will receive no financial aid from the government. This may initially seem like a respectable initiative, however there are a number of complications. Firstly, elderly people, on average, only live for two years after they have moved to a care-home whe-
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Technology is always developing. It is becoming better, faster and even more intelligent. The scenes in sci-fi movies of robots living alongside humans may seem to many like an entirely futuristic concept, however, it is much closer to becoming a reality than many people would ever dare to believe.
Humans vs. Robots http://www.technocrazed.com/kompai-a-wonderful-robot-doctor-for-monitoring-health-of-older-people-photo-gallery
reas it has been estimated that it would take an individual five years to reach the cap. This would result in six out of seven people dying before they hit the £72,000 (€86,112) necessary to qualify for free social care. The reason for this extended period of time to reach the cap is that it does not cover many substantial costs, such as accommodation. Only the difference between what the individual pays for their accommodation and what the council pays contributes to the cap, meaning individuals will pay an average of £610 (€730) a week for their care home accommodation, of which only £292 (€349) will count towards the cap. This has raised many discussions of the ethics of the creation of these robot-carers in Europe. Is England merely trying to minimise government spending even further by investing in technological development rather than residential care for the elderly? Are they just being created as a way to ‘sort out’ the problem and once they have been installed in these people’s homes, they will be forgotten?
The Next Step The Mobiserv Project has spent the last three years developing their robot. Its features include informing their ‘patient’ when they haven’t taken exercise recently, when they need to take medication, and providing suggestions for what and when the elderly individual should eat. It monitors movement and will suggest exercise if no movement has been detected for a while. It will suggest people to call if it detects a lack of human communication. It will also play games with the individual. This is not just an assistance-related robot or a companionship robot but a combination of the two. Is this taking technology too far? It is arguably beneficial for elderly people in that it would take care of them and monitor them, but do the elderly really want a robot telling them what to do? Will having a robot of this calibre actually generate dependency rather than independency?
Human or Robot? In 2010 Professor Heinz Wolff, a highly respected German-British scientist, shared his opinion on the creation of these robot-carers that would engage in both assistance and companionship roles; “You might wonder how nice it would be to have someone who had warm hands and someone who cares and gives you a peck on the cheek. Mind you, a robot could kiss you I suppose - imagine being kissed by a robot”. Age UK, a charity for the elderly in the United Kingdom, agreed that substituting human interaction with that of a robot may be problematic as it could result in society feeling no obligation towards helping or interacting with the elderly, thereby effectively isolating them from society. Creating robots to care for the elderly has benefits; not only could it save the government money, but it could reduce the number of accidents elderly people have and may increase their independence. On the other hand, can robots really substitute human interaction? Technology is always developing but are we taking it too far?
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not just Science Fiction anymore It has been almost half a century since our parents watched what they considered as ‘marvelous’ special effects in the famous movie Star Wars in 1977. Even though we still cannot take part in space battles or fight aliens with light sabers, technology has made huge improvements since back then. Everybody remembers the message delivered by Princess Leia through R2D2, but back then nobody imagined that this could once happen in reality. It was seen as just another of those made-up science fiction technologies. Today, holograms have become real and the industries strive to make a profit through them. But are they really of use in everyday life? One possible way of using holograms is in the show business and in the entertainment industry. Did you ever feel as if you couldn‘t get enough of your favorite artist during a concert and would like to experience even more of him? As every football fan already knows, it was made possible during Super Bowl 2013, where Beyoncé literally danced with herself. Or, strictly speaking, she danced with four projected copies of herself. Another way of profiting from this technology is to revive celebrities from the past. Sometimes it means exploiting their images by simply taking samples of their voice, which was already done in the case of deceased 2Pac. The rap-legend could once again perform on stage and interact with other rappers, such as Snoop Dog. The question of the morality of this move remains open. But who would not be excited to jam with their idols once again? Imagine being able to hear the strong and scathing voice of Janis Joplin,
Star Wars – A New Hope (1977) Aretha Franklin or Frank Sinatra performing new songs. And this all could be done while you are sitting comfortably in your living room. If you already think that this sounds slightly spectacular and a bit crazy then have a look at Japan. Hatsune Miku (Japanese for “Sound” and “Future”) is a pop star which started her career a few years ago at the Japanese media company Crypton Future Media. Since then, she has made tons of fans in the land of the rising sun. Yet, she does not have any of the problems that modern pop stars pester their agents with. She has never been caught by paparazzi when coming wasted out of a nightclub, neither has she ever been late for a concert or missed a high-pitched note. Why? Well, maybe because she is not real at all. Hatsune Miku is, in fact, nothing more than an avatar, relying on the sampled voice The Diplomat
of the Japanese actress Saki Fujita, synthesizing technology and the good will of a composer. Everyone could compose a song to be interpreted by Hatsune, and that is probably why there are already more than 3000 songs from her on iTunes. “Perhaps the day will soon come when artists won‘t need to travel at all... This could reduce the environmental impact of touring and give audiences a much more dazzling experience for less money”, reports PSFK. Of course holograms can also be used in fields outside of the entertainment industry. They may even save lives and the only reason the technology is not used so commonly is that it is really expensive (at least for now). It is already possible to create 3D organs from individual patients, even in life size. They are interactive and their structure
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not just Science Fiction anymore CEO of Cisco Systems, a worldwide leader in networking, introduced a way of communicating that is best described as a Star Wars-like procedure. He spoke to holographic images on a stage in Bangalore with executives who were in California. However, the holograms of the executives where not flickering as in the movie. Instead they created the impression that real-life human bodies were interacting on stage.
can be changed, so they can be used for simulations of medical operations. This could also help patients to understand what is going to happen during their operation. The military is already using this new technology. For instance, the United States Defense Department sends information about enemy territories to specialized firms, which then develop 3-D holographic maps of the battlegrounds. Holograms are also used when analysts try to understand the construction of unknown explosive devices. Here 3-D shapes are far more helpful then the conventional 2-D images. Holograms could also be used for educational purposes, for example to make people remember about historical events by encouraging interaction. It is an idea that museums dealing with the highly import-
ant topic of the Holocaust came up with. The plan is to create three-dimensional holograms of Holocaust survivors. This way, even after they died, their holograms will be able to tell future generations about their experiences so as to ensure their stories will never be forgotten.
As the costs for holograms will probably decrease as times proceeds, they may appear more often in our everyday lives. As of now, they seem to be an improvement to society rather than another lifetime wasting gadget. But as it is with every cutting-edge technology, you can never fully estimate its full effects until before it becomes affordable for a broader range of people. So as the old saying goes: Look and see.
And, as you might have guessed, it is a useful tool in the fields of business. FMC Technologies, a company producing heavy 50,000-pound equipment, is already using holograms to demonstrate their gear to people at trade shows without having to transport it to the actual location. “The holograms are a lot lighter,” a manager of FMC said, “and they create a striking effect as they rise in shimmering volume in the air.” And, as the New York Times reported, “they are so realistic that every time we show them, people try to grab them.” Lately, the The Diplomat
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by Alessio Taranto and Vincent Wüllner
To eat or not to eat organic that is the question
I spent the biggest part of my life in Leipzig, East Germany. This, my dear friends, is a place where people give you judgmental looks if you buy conventional meat in a supermarket; where every second conversation you will have ends in discussing fair trade and organic products; and where the question “what is your organic menu today” is not only socially accepted, but expected. So trust me when I say: I somehow sympathize with every cynic on that topic. On the other hand however, they have a point. The organics: creatures craving for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. You usually recognise them easily in the store: they are the ones that scrutinize the ingredients list with worried faces. Their religion is food, their nemesis Genetically Modified Food (GMO), cruelty to animals and/ or environmental pollution. What might have started as a trend causes a real financial industry boom: The World of Organic Agriculture study estimates an annual growth for organic products of between 10-15%, and according to the European Commission’s website
consumer demand constantly increases. So why do people convert? The difference between conventional and organic products is that the latter are mostly grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms. Organic farming methods encourage soil and water conservation and reduce the contamination of air and water, as well as human and animal bodies by avoiding antibiotics and hormones. Genetic engineering, under increased scrutiny by health experts, is also prohibited for organic goods. There is a whole range of food labels in the stores, although it traditionally leads to confusion. When the Member states agreed on a label in 2004, they aimed for a consumer-friendly use of labels on European level, which would guarantee consumers that 95 percent of the ingredients of the products are to be derived from organic farming (see logo). Most of the label-controlling organs in the European Union are private. There is no other way to get an organic stamp for a producer other then to undergo several assessments concerning the
production process. In the ads, organic goods promise healthiness, a fair trade on a human level and happy cows. They try to sell the image of a sheltered, safer lifestyle, pure nature and a sustainable use of natural resources. A rather questionable promise. And after researching in scientific papers, calling Brussels and consulting the Commission’s website I can not help but wonder why there is no clear statement on that issue, especially when the advertisements seemingly mislead the consumer. As a result of shocking videos on how hens are treated, organic egg wrapping advertisements visualize ‘organic’ free range poultry, whereas in grocery stores a great deal of their actual origin is nearly the same as the ones you watched suffering in dirty slaughterhouses. Another striking point in my opinion is that a big part of organic ingredients are imported. A very great amount of organic products on the European market are imported from China, leading to environmental pollution. Organic is good, organic and local is better. It does not only support your community, it also actively diminishes environmental pollution. Another dilemma, especially for students, is the fact that organic products are often a lot more expensive compared to conventional
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Continued from p. 17 food. That is also what a group of people in Maastricht was concerned about. They asked themselves: How can we eat organic and still have money left for some beers? “Voko” aims to make organic food more accessible and affordable to students through a direct order at a local farmer and wholesaler,
which makes the process cheaper. In the end, the reasons why people chose to go organic vary. „Dismoi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es“, (Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are) said Brillat-Savarin in 1825. In times of immense progress
in health science this phrase is something to consider, isn’t it? by Lina Pfeifer
Random Day of a Business Student 6 a.m. My IPhone alarm rings. I turn it off. I always set the alarm on 6 am so I wake up then, but in the end I stay asleep until 7 a.m. .Being awake and then falling asleep again gives me a feeling of a lie-in. In reality it makes me even more tired, because I didn’t have a constant sleep. 7 a.m. I force myself to get into the shower. I would pay a million dollars to get just one more hour of sleep. And then this stupid picture comes to my mind. The little devil on my shoulder telling me that I don’t even need a million dollars to get more sleep. I could just easily go back into my bed. But of course the unimaginative play in my overstrained head is a duet, consisting of the interplay between the devil and the angel. And the angel is telling me that I should shower. It is telling me that I should work hard to play hard, that there is no gain without pain. And ambitious as I am I finally turn up the cold water. Each drop hits my skin like a stab from a knife. I deserve it. I should not have stayed up so long watching random videos on the
Internet. When I think of all those hours I lost to useless, non-educational and just totally unnecessary videos, I would sometimes like to punch Steve Chen in the face for inventing this time-stealing website called Youtube. 8 a.m. My brain starts to move, although very slowly. I go through my stuff. What is the Nash equilibrium again? I reread the whole chapter and come to the conclusion that the Nash equilibrium does not tell us anything. It is useless. The theory makes sense. But it is useless. And I ask myself why John Nash received a Nobel Prize for it. Maybe I should release an academic paper where I confute the utility of his theory. Then I will be nominated for the Nobel Prize, too. 9 a.m. I am getting tired again. I know that it is just 9 o’clock. Probably I just need my second coffee. 9:30 a.m. The library is crowded. I expected to be one of the first students in here. But people change. They become more and more disciplined. I sometimes forget that. It is not even The Diplomat
ten and I can’t find a free study cell. And there he comes, the most annoying person in Maastricht. “Hey man. How you doing buddy? You got one minute for your bro?” I don’t even have time to go to the toilet, I think to myself. I have tutorial in 6 hours and still have to read what feels like 300000 pages. But for some reason I just don’t have the ability to say no to this conversation. So he tells me his stupid story of how awesome the party last weekend was and how he almost got the number of that hot chick. And of course I don’t listen. I just stand there and nap. I watch out for when he laughs, so I know that he made a joke and then I laugh, too. At some point I don’t even really hear him anymore. I keep smiling, but in my head I think of all the stuff I still have to finish. 10 a.m. I finally find a study cell. For the next three hours this muggy centiare is going to be my matrix. The nirvana of concentration, I don’t think of anything but one question: Why does the response function of Py include Px and where do the graphs of those functions intersect? I hesitate. Before I start with my studies I could check out Facebook
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Continued from p. 18 for a minute. It would not harm me and I have to stay updated. It will really just be for one minute. 10:30 a.m. Something went wrong. Mark Zuckerberg is going to be the next on my punching list! I obviously can’t concentrate. Maybe a third coffee could help. I go downstairs to the cafeteria, just to realise that I do not have enough credit on my UM-card. No problem! I just have to go to the machine. But of course there are already ten people waiting in line and it feels like it takes each one of them ten minutes to reload their cards. Loosing time hurts. 11 a.m. I’m finally reading. I cannot claim that I know what I am reading, but I am reading. That is at least something. I think I found my flow, and I tell myself “just keep going.” 12 a.m. My concentration starts to abate. Time for my favourite lunch combination: a chicken sandwich and Redbull. 3:30 p.m. The SBE is full of people, and everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. Sometimes the SBE feels like an international airport, crammed with people searching the right gate - especially in the beginning of a new period, when everyone is loo-
king for their new tutorial rooms. 4 p.m. My tutorial begins. To my own surprise I realise that I am actually well prepared, and I answer two hard learning goals, my personal record for this period. Is it possible that I really understood the stuff?
And suddenly I feel this power. Economics actually makes sense! I feel invincible and get the feeling that I am going to ace this exam. 6 p.m. Time for a late lunch. 7 p.m. My late-night session for studying officially begins. The to-do list is long. I only have time until 10. Why does the library close so early anyways? It should be opened 24/7. I begin with revising today’s session. I reread the economics tasks, which I managed to solve so professional during the session. But now I don’t understand anything. It feels like I’ve never attended the session. As if all the information just got deleted from my hard driThe Diplomat
ve. The text could also be Chinese. It would not make a difference, since I don’t understand it at all. 8 p.m. I feel the concentration abandoning me. I start thinking of taking Ritalin. There are some risks of course. But how do you say? No risk, no fun. In this case no risk, no gain! But I am an educated, intelligent young man. I don’t need drugs to dope me. I stay with Redbull. 8.30 p.m. On my way back from the vending machine a beautiful girl greets me. I greet her back and admit to myself that I have absolutely no clue who this person is. Neither do I know her name, nor does her face look familiar. I probably know her from the Inkom. I think I greet about 20 persons per week of whom I have no idea who they really are. 11 p.m. Time to go to bed. I really have to sleep early to night. I cannot be in a lassitude like this tomorrow. Maybe I could watch a few funny videos on my laptop, so I can at least fall asleep with a smile on my face. But really just 5 minutes. 2 p.m. Still awake. Fuck my life.
Bigger, Better, Faster
by Kashayar Javadi
Bigger, Better, Faster
Future Predictions “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” - Albert Einstein
"There's more to life than increasing its speed" - Mahatma Gandhi
"it is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.” • - Cicero
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Future Predictions • "Progress is not an illusion; it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing." • - George Orwell
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
'Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput,' – Sir Alan Sugar The Diplomat
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