On 16th of May 2018, the day the Palestinians refer as “Nakba (Catastrophe) Day” to commemorate their loss in their war against Israel (in 1948), at four minutes past ten o’clock in the morning, the prime minister of Israel’s security cabinet meeting was abruptly interrupted as a secretary barged in and asked for the ministers’ permission to turn on the television. Without waiting for their approval, she grabbed the remote and turned it on. A look of puzzlement spread across all the faces in the room, apart from the secretary that seemed to be in panic more than anything else. “What is the meaning of this?” asked the prime minister. “I don’t know sir, it’s on all the channels” she answered, as she switched between the different Israeli channels, all showed the same broadcast. The prime minister turn to look at the head of Mossad who sat next to him and was already on the phone. “It’s everywhere, sir… we cannot trace the source …. and we knew nothing about this… absolutely nothing”. The prime minister took a deep breath “We’re at war”.

After a couple of hours, that seemed to feel as eternity for everyone in the state of Israel, the broadcasts returned to normal. Special news reports tried to explain what just happened but no one really knew and no one had a clue. What they did know was that for the past couple of hours a presentation showed every Palestinian that died by an Israeli in the past year, in a descending order, most recent at the start. Each person had her (or his) name written in Hebrew and Arabic, her date of birth and date of death, a picture of her as a child and the title “A moment of silence in the memory of – “. Each person was displayed for exactly one minute before moving on to the next person.
But the hijacking didn’t stop at television broadcasts alone – radio stations were also hacked as well as news media websites. Even their twitter account were blocked during that period, twitting off the same information on a minute interval. All attempts to delete the hijacked accounts failed.
At 15:00 a special goverment meeting was summoned to update the prime-minister of any updates regarding this act of terror. “The truth is, prime minister, that we simply don’t know” reported the head of intelligence. The prime minister was outraged “how can this be?!”. “We don’t know, sir, every trace of the attack simply vanished”. “So far no one claimed responsibility nor made demands, sir. The Palestinians themselves are surprised as we are and mostly mumbling about a biblical-miracle” The prime minister took a deep breath and sat back down, talking to everyone in the room. “The ramification of this are horrendous. Clearly this was a warning shot by someone who will not be afraid to use this weapon again. Gentlemen, pay attention as when we’re hacked we have no way to broadcast anything. if someone decided to attack us at that moment, we’ll be blind and mute”. “Sir, the army-radio seemed to be working ok” added the chief of general staff. “This doesn’t help us to inform the public. We have to assume they can use this weapon whenever they want and for as long as they want”. “The only question we must focus on right now is how can we prepare ourselves against the next attack”, he summarized.
And indeed the second attack was soon the follow on the night of the very same day. A broadcast similar to the first was aired. only sharp-eyed were quick to notice is has been prolonged by one minute. A new name was added at the beginning of the list. A 37 years old person from East Jerusalem who failed to uphold the curfew laws that were imposed due to the recent state of war that has been declared in the morning and was shot on his way home. It was later reported by the Israeli news that he was a terrorist heading to attack in Israel but it seemed that the broadcasting didn’t differentiate between innocent Palestinians and terrorists. Once again, no responsibility was claimed nor demands were raised. But something new happened – any Israeli social media source that tried to report about the hack as it occurred was hacked as well, as if the infection was aware of anything viral. But as it became reasonable to assume that the attack will take place for every Palestinian death, the Israeli goverment has reluctantly decided to ease off the curfew laws to a reasonable limit.
After four more additional days of silenced dread, a Palestinian woman has allegedly stabbed a female Israel Defense Force soldier and was “neutralized” as the army phrase the fact she was shot dead. But this time, the Israeli’s army special unit of hackers were ready for the rogue broadcast and after two minutes they managed to scramble the communications and retrieve back the television signal. The prime minister who was updated on the phone sighed with relief, being certain that he had won this war and the Israeli people are safe from the cyber-terror threat that he personally believe originated from Iran (although even he never believed they hold such capabilities and therefore assumed they were aided by China). His victory would play a crucial card in the upcoming election, he was certain. He turned-on the television to see the news reporter gloating over Israel’s triumph in its battle against terror, only to be horrified again when the broadcast came back on a minute later. Only this time it wasn’t just a couple of hours cover the dead Palestinians from the recent year – it was a week long broadcast that covered the past ten years. And sure was it a long week.
The effects were catastrophic – the economy suffered severely as the trust of Israel’s digital capabilities was compromised; attempts to create peer-to-peer broadcasting alternatives failed as they were hacked as soon as their target-audience was too big. And the most disheartening effect was over the morale as more and more Israelis began to question about the pictures of dead children they are being forced to watch on every channel. True not all were actually children, as the right-wing extremists repeatedly pointed out, but many of them were and in the hearts of the Israelis the picture of justifiably dead terrorist was replaced with a child that might have been an innocent victim.
Attempts were made to stabilize the situation but eventually a random right-wing Jewish illegal settler got into an argument with a Palestinian which lead to physical violence and eventually to the death of the Palestinian. After about of month of quiet, the broadcast started again for a week, which forced the Israeli goverment to admit they simply cannot allow themselves any more Palestinian casualties and thus a meaningful peace process was ensued. A Palestinian terror attack on an illegal settlement was soon to follow, which lead to a similar “punishment” to the Palestinians as well, although some (Israelis mostly) might say it has been by far less affective as the Palestinians didn’t have as many broadcasting agencies as Israel have.
On the 4th of July, 2018, a month and a half after the first cyber-terror attacked that puzzled the world, a similar attack was brought down on the American people. Only it was to their horror that they victims displayed were everyone who died in the last year from an American weapon, world-wide – whether it be victims drone-attack, mass-shooting or simply gun misuse accidents. Later, this month was remembered as “The month the hijacked media forced the US to recall its war industry”.
Following suits, other countries’ national media were hijacked as well, crippling the world’s economy and toppling murderous regimes and their people learned about their atrocious ways.
And then I woke up.

My significant other took me to watch the documentary “Embrace“, which essentially talks about women’s indoctrination to despise their own body and encourage them to accept their own imperfectness. Albeit being well-made, I would claim that the movie didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know beforehand but more importantly – it offers a half-baked solution that is bound to fail. I’ll get to that later.

I should state beforehand that my perspective is of a privileged white male so I do think my opinion should be taken with limited warranty, but choosing to shut me out of the discussion will put the reader just where historical privileged people were – refusing to listen to other opinions.
I’m guessing the movie evoked sympathy from girls and helped them think that they are not alone. I don’t know, do really they feel that way? Did we actually manage to brainwash people into this devastating state of thinking that they are so fat or so ugly that no one could ever sympathize with them or feel just like them? that they are utterly alone?
The movie then interviewed a whole bunch of women who learned to embrace their bodies- whether it’s an aging model, a bearded girl, a model with facial paralysis or a girl disfigured by wildfire and so on. they all learned to love their body (with the exception of a woman still fighting anorexia) and they claim to be happy, although I saw the fragility in their confidence as their bodies were still an issue they struggled with, almost on a daily basis.
I did notice that the movie didn’t cover fat people. I mean really fat, obese people. For some reason it seems that girls cannot differentiate the between being “big” and being “fat”. As far as I’m concern (this is my personal definition) fat is person that when standing straight will still have “tires“. The unhealthy kind of fat. Unlike fat people, big people can be extremely fit and healthy. By avoiding this issue, the movie sorta left out the obese teenage girl at a quandary. her size will kill her, should she embrace her body anyhow?
My S.O. noted that it seem that the key to embrace your body, if taking the movie literally, is to have a photoshoot in either your underwear or naked. The girls who did that in the movie seemed quite happy with themselves. To be honest, I doubt the photoshoot is they key, rather then the outcome, but this means, at least for me, that these girls were still looking at the mirror everyday and wondering whether they’re ugly (or trying to convince themselves otherwise).
Women’s magazine be like “page 12: love yourself as you are; page 24: chocolate cake recipe; page 41: diet tips”. Seriously? are you failing to see the hypocrisy here?
Personally I think women are overly obsessed with their body. I don’t take the responsibility off the patriarchy but if women wants to independently snap out of their miserable state, this movie isn’t the right answer for them. Stop talking about your body, nobody cares. Eat real food (and not industrialized sugar-induced food) and do sport. Not because you want to look good, rather than because you want to be fit and healthy. Looking good is more about attitude and smile than keeping your little tummy tucked in. Stop telling young girls that they’re pretty. It doesn’t matter if they are or not. It’s simply not important. tell them that they are smart, kind, brave, whatever. Stop criticizing and judging other girls by the way they look.
I learned that if there’s someone willing to pay for something, there’ll always be someone willing to make money out of it. And woman’s beauty is a huge industry feeding off women’s obsessions with their look (and the worst part of it is that they actually convince men as well to judge women by their appearance). So I know what I’m preaching is incredibly hard but I think the women’s goal is very clear. If you want magazine to stop writing about body-image issues – simply stop buying them. If you don’t approve photoshopped pictures – boycott those products. The women’s purchase power is huge. More than 50% of all people are women (would you believe that!) so stop treating yourself like a bunch of […], poking at your own wounds and lead the world to where you want it to be – a place where people – men and women are equally judged by their personality and professional merits and not by their body. I don’t care if you’re pretty or not. and you shouldn’t care either.
Last week I attended a weekly workshop that was scheduled to be from 21:30 to 22:30 but for whatever reason it shifted to 22:00 until 23:00. As I pride myself to be in time, I found myself waiting 30 minutes and had to excuse myself as soon as it ended as I had to wake up early. Later I messaged  the organiser privately and complained that the unannounced change was “annoying”.
The organiser replied: “I understand that you’re busy, but we’re busy too […] I cannot promise this won’t happen again”.
It was the “we’re busy too” that made me think that my feedback went amiss, because personally I don’t care that they’re busy. I care about the mutual agreement between us to respect each other’s time which I felt has been breached.
So I wrote down my insights on the proper response to a feedback:
Understand what is the problem. Apparently it was important enough for someone to complain about it. Realise the other person think s/he has a reason to complain, whether this reason is real or not. For example, if someone complains about the quality of your product which tend to break, and you know this is the best product in the market, answer that you, too, are annoyed on the rare occasions you find the product faulty and that’s why you’re making the best of efforts to minimises such incidents. Empathy with the other person is the first step in any relationship.
Don’t try to defend yourself. For example – “I may run late but I provide the best workshops in town”. You messed up. Nothing entitles you to  mess up. True, some accidents are unavoidable but don’t understate them and say they are meaningless because this is not how the other person perceives them.
Don’t give excuses. I don’t care that you’re busy. I don’t care that you’re up to your neck with whatever. There’s no reason for me to pay for your incompetence in scheduling your life, or inability to prepare yourself properly or anything of that sort. Our interaction is based on a certain expectation and if you fail to deliver – I’m not suppose to be the one who pays for it. Again, accidents happen. Acknowledge them and move on.
Don’t criticise in retaliation. There’s a problem (regardless whether it’s real or not) we are trying to address. By shifting the focus elsewhere won’t make it disappear and won’t make the other person happy. Especially if you’re now blaming him/her. Seriously, it’s just immature.
Think of solutions. were you late due to traffic? be sure to include potential traffic in your schedule.Venue wasn’t ready? make sure to arrive ahead of time to see that it is. Acknowledge there’s a problem and see how you can prevent it from happening again. Actually, there are two levels of solutions – The immediate solution for the problem at hand (this specific workshop) and the solution for future potential occurrences of the problem. The other person found this problem important enough to share his/her concern with you, you can show him respect by sharing your solutions with him to see if they satisfy her/him.
That said, there are few insights on giving a reasonable feedback as well:
Don’t feedback what you don’t know. Don’t infer that one time being late equals to constantly late. Focus your feedback and your own personal experience and your own impression.
Don’t expect compensation. It’s just disrespectful. Your feedback is in order to have better service. Asking for a compensation will shift the focus from the problem elsewhere.
Prefer face-to-face. I know it’s much harder, but people might read your messages in a different tone that you’d expect and might think you’re joking when you’re not and vice-versa.
Accept that not all people receive feedback well. It’s sad, but that’s the truth. Many people prefer to become defensive and avoid acknowledging their own faults. Not much redemption for this folks, so you can accept them as they are (as they won’t change from your feedback) or you can avoid them.
Good luck
Following are my impressions and thoughts inspired by the “AR in Action” conference at MIT’s media lab to which I was kindly invited to this week by John Werner.
Augmented Reality” is the notion of adding an additional layer of data to our perceived reality. The most popular example for AR, as far as I could tell is Pokemon Go in which the character appear as in our real environment, but as the game was referred to several times during the conference, it is not a real AR since it doesn’t truly interact with the environment, rather than merely use it as a background to present its characters. But this is general idea – have some spectacles or a window (such as tablet) from which one can look at hers or his environment and get more information.
An interesting thought was proposed by Christopher Croteau from Intel that augmentation mustn’t necessarily be visual. It can also be audio – for example a running app that provides you audial coaching is actually augmenting to your running experience. A background music can also be considered as augmentation.
AR’s biggest advantage over VR or the standard way of consuming data is lack of need to disconnect from the presence. Along comes the famous photo of our generation, completely immersed in our mobile devices. completely disconnected from the “now”.
This made me wonder why is it so important to be in the “now”. “now” can be boring (especially now, as I sit in the airport waiting for my flight back home). True, mobile disconnect us for the immediate surrounding people, but then again – what’s wrong with that? Calm down with your “heretic!” calls, I would personally rather talk with someone I care about than someone who just happened to sit next to me, and I’m pretty sure it’s to the preferred choice of all parties involved. If someone prefers his virtual friends over your presence – I guess you’re just not interesting enough. I don’t really think that but I think it’s a thought worth exploring. but how AR can make this better? after all, I will still use technology to talk to my virtual friends and not the present next to me. The only difference will be that I will stare into nothingness like a weirdo instead of a screen.
The conference had plenty of speakers. More than a 100, according to the publications. Some of them preached to the choir about the wonderful potential of AR; others showed their work whether it was related to AR or not (some even without even trying to conceal the fact it’s completely unrelated. I should mention that it doesn’t mean their talks were bad, just unrelated). But from what I gathered, AR has three usages nowadays: (i) Show designs (e.g. architecture‘s work); (ii) provide instructions; and (iii) be cool. Being cool – such as provide 3D Pop-up to QR-code. It’s cool. it’s great advertisement. But being cool is something that has to be unique and it’ll become over-used and boring incredibly fast.
As the AR field is still emerging, the conference was also about VR, which is actually easier to implement, as you don’t need to understand the real environment in which the user is present. But VR has a huge disadvantage – it completely disconnect you from the surrounding. As one of the speaker came to the stage with a holo-sense on, I felt that he’s not really there, and didn’t really see a reason to be “there” as well. I think it has a lot to do with the emotional expression we provide using our eyes and eyebrows and once this is covered – we will just lose our audience.
Robert Scoble spoke about the “beautiful potential” of AR and how it will change our future. He pointed out three scenarios – mall-shopping, hotels and drivings. Personally, by the time AR will actually be useful, automated cars should take over (and every day that passes by and people die in car accidents is a disgrace to humanity). I’m not exactly sure what would he change in his hotel experience but the mall-shopping example bothered me. Especially as I don’t go to malls and I think that “look how much money many can be made of this” is an incredibly bad driver for innovation. It may be efficient but it’s still bad nonetheless.
There were few interesting demos of really useful AR in use for instructions and tutorials. But it reminded me of the story about NASA’s 10m$ investment to invent a pen that can write in zero gravity while the soviets simply used a pencil. It’s ok to experiment with the technology even when it’s not efficient but in order to solve real-world solution, its advantages compared to a low-tech solutions don’t necessarily have enough ROI.
Christopher Grayson suggested using AR to remember names (essentially by providing them digital “name” tags) made me think about the right to stay anonymous. This, should be mentioned one of the important reasons google glass failed. It’s true that I walked in the conference with my name tag on but this is actually an incredibly inefficient technique as it requires the reader to stand in front of me and make sure the tag isn’t flipped over (as it usually does) or covered by my jacket. Most like I’ll know that s/he’s taking interest of me and I would feel less susceptible to scams by a stranger who knows too much about me.
He took pride in having more than 2000 friends on Linkedin, while socially-speaking, we’re able to maintain only up to 1500 friends. I think it requires a redefinition for the word “friend” as it raises the question of the type of relationship one keep with his closest thousand of friends.
A word on technicalities. There were a few talks that were… ill-prepared. Whether it was the technology failing to display the presentation or demo on the big screen, or speaker who clearly didn’t prepare their talk and just rumbled on. Worse were those who weren’t even interested or at least funny. Rightfully said, it was mentioned by the organizers that future conference they’ll “audition” the speakers, so I’m optimistic on that regard.
I didn’t attend any panels but one, which I happened to stumble by as I was waiting for the following talk. This panel was about “Future of AR” and each panelist in his own words said, to my dismay, that the future cannot be predicted. They later continued to rumble but for me the picture was clear that the future is hazy. Personally I think the future of AR lies with an incredible smart AI and image recognition and processing. It will then be able to whisper useful information to help you make conscious decisions. In its evolution AR must and I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is – MUST get rid of the clunky VR goggles, it will never work with them. The alternative should be either the use of normal plain glasses and which the user’s pupils are still visible or at contact lenses that provide this information. Yes, we have a lot way to go, but that’s the future AR should aspire to.
A few honorable mentions: Bob Metclafe (the guy who invented Ethernet) and Dan Bricklin (the guy who invented digital spreadsheets), who didn’t actually talk about AR but are incredibly smart and entertaining; Gordon Bing from EA who showed how AR can be inspired by computer games; And last but not least, the guys from PTC that gave a few demos of AR that actually work efficiently.

The story of the Arab-Israeli conflict, at least as I perceive it is as follows.

In biblical time, there were the Israelites. They believed they’re god’s chosen people and that god gave them the land of then-known as Canaan, later to known as Israel, although modern-day Israel is much smaller than the original kingdom. We’ll get to that. They weren’t very tolerant regarding other religions and massacred everyone there.
But then, at 900BC~ the Israel kingdom was divided (in a civil war due to tax increase) into two much smaller kingdoms – Israel (consisting of 10 tribes) and Judea (with only 2 tribes). The kingdom of Israel was annihilated by the Assyrians. The kingdom of of Judea was also conquered, but their elite was sent to exile, vowing to return and restore the kingdom of the house of King David. Later, these group (Judeans) became Jews. It’s worth mentioning that some Jews remained in Judea but they were under an occupation – First of the Assyrians and later by a few others. The land of Judea eventually became obsolete after a failed revolt against the Roman empire and the province Iudaea became “Syria Palaestina” at 130AD. The jewish temple was also destroyed. Much later this land was conquered the Turkish empire and by 1916 Britain claimed a mandate on it. But as the 1800s was the spring of the nation-states, the scattered jews now saw themselves as a nation and claimed they are entitled for a state as well. For the support of jewish settlement in Palestine region, during WW1, the British empire promised Jews to have the “national-home” in Palestine. This, and WW2 caused a surge of Jewish immigrants to Palestine, creating many conflicts between them, the arabs and the ruling Brits. Eventually the UN has voted that two states will be founded in the region: Jewish Israel and Arab Palestine.
Now, it’s important to point out that there was no Palestinian identity. The arabs actually wished to have a “caliphate” (a theological empire). But the European colonialist trifled that idea but place few Arab princes in power and eventually leaving separated.
So when the Israeli state was founded at 1948, all neighboring counties went to war against it and tried to eliminate the new imposed threat, but they lost and Israel gained more land then originally offered. There was still no Palestine, though – Gaza belonged to Egypt and the West Bank belonged to Jordan. This is not to say, the territory wasn’t filled with arabs (who only later identified themselves as Palestinians). The war, however created a new reality for many of them who fled from the war and now couldn’t return to their home, as Israeli refused their right of return claiming it would disrupt the Jewish nature of Israel. The world however decided that unlike any other refugees in the world that were assimilated at their asylum countries, the arabs refugees will be taken care of by a special UN agency – UNRWA (that’s still active) until their temporary situation will be resolved, leaving them in dire state of refugee camps for the past 70 years. Other Arabs, however, that never fled their homes became fully equal citizens of Israel. That is, at least on paper. As underlying racism exists and heavily felt. The Israeli-arabs are roughly 20% of Israel’s population. As they most often don’t get building permits, they simply build their homes illegally, and with a few exception of sub-cultures (such as Bedouin and Druze), Israeli-arabs normally don’t serve the army.
In 1967, Israel went to war against its neighbors as a counter-strike measurement and ended up conquering Gaza and Sinai, the West bank and Jerusalem and the Golan heights (that were luckily mostly empty). The temple mount was recovered, only to find the dome of the rock (a place sacred for the Muslims) at it’s place. Today, religious jews pray the west wall, which was the outer wall of the temple and today is its only remaining. The now occupied Gaza and the West bank, however, were filled with Arabs, many of them in refugee camps, after fleeing their home 19 years earlier.
These Arabs now formed their own identity. They didn’t see themselves as Egyptians or Jordanians any more, rather an new independent nation – the Palestinians.
In 1978, Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt and gave it the Sinai peninsula back. But the Egyptians didn’t want the now Gaza Strip and it remained under Israeli occupation. Israel left the the gaza strip in 2005, destroying all settlements there and left it in the hands of the Fatah, only to be usurped by the extremist Hamas.
In 1991, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, mainly to get support from USA (now that USSR had vaporized). a peace treaty was to soon follow, but the Israeli prime minister was assassinated by extreme-right man and his successors failed to proceed with the process.
Although the forced transfer of populations is considered a war-crime, Israel has turned a blind eye toward right-wing (mostly religious) Israelis’ initiative to built (illegal) settlements in the occupied territories and cooperated with them by providing infrastructures to once-built settlement and providing army protection. Israel initially believed that these settlements will help when a peace accord will take place but these grew out of control and turn the tore the Palestinian territory to many small non-sequential pieces.
Today, the Palestinian run their own civilian regime but Israeli military is still present and affects their lives greatly. It is somewhat justified as it still affectively prevent Palestinian terror attacks on Israel.
Act of terrors are very common in the middle east since whenever. Either in militias or army raids, bombs in civilians centers or road-blockage and imprisonments. In 1948, the Arabs tried to annihilate the state of Israel completely, but after 1967 and the realization of their defeat, the majority of them changed their hope to live in peace alongside Israel independently. It’s a problematic aspiration as they can “behave” with their oppressors, but Israel would rather keep its vantage point, or they can retaliate, which will only cause Israel to retaliate in return.
So now we face with 4 options for the future
– Two independent states – which is unfortunately unlikely – due the illegal settlements, the hatred and the mistrust among the people.
– One liberal state, which means the end of the jewish state – unacceptable by most Jews.
– One jewish state, which means apartheid and its worldly consequences on Israel
– Leave things as they are, which is incredibly bad for the Palestinians and just as good for the Israeli, and sadly is being widely supported by anyone who think things will resolve on their own.
The middle east conflict is extremely loaded and it’s literally impossible to be objective about it. It’s worth listening to different sides, and notice how the narrative and how explaining what the other side thinks, can completely portray a different picture. Of course, it’s much easier to fight an enemy who reject your right to exists, and that’s the sides keep telling themselves.
I was asked to express my opinion in regards to Gatebox. Essentially it’s a “home robot” that controls your home (turn the lights on and off, basically) and annoyingly texts you ever so often “when are you coming home?” and “I miss you”. I say “annoyingly” because the robot doesn’t really *care* for the owner’s well-being. It’s just programed to ask him X times a day. Would the owner miss an opportunity to go to a date with a real person just because his robot told him to “come home quickly!”?
Long time ago, when I watched “A.I.“, I fell for the Teddy robot. I thought that it’s the perfect companion to a young boy. But then a friend asked me “what’s wrong with having a real-life person as a friend?”. That’s a good question. Well, not all kids can have a real-life person as a friend. Some are in remote places or forced in solitude for whatever reason that keeps them away from other people. But to be frank, that’s a very small minority, and with connectivity to the internet and its anonymity, they should be able to easily find online friends.
And what about the AI-boy in the movie? Is he a legitimate substitute for a real life person?
Without dwelling into the robots’ right for independence and freedom from suffering, the robot-boy in the movie came as a substitute for the real son. In our modern world, other solution to fill the void created by the coma-state of the son (he’s not dead!) would be either to have another baby, or to adopt (people are spending fortunes to have their gene replicated instead of helping an already living child in need), or simply get a shrink to solve one’s psychological issues. As a side note, I know it doesn’t go with the movie’s narrative but what about cloning the son?
Is a real-life friend better than a artificial one? how about a friend for hire? that sure makes life easy – whenever you need a good-looking friend – hire one. Although I do wonder how does it work exactly. Do people hire a good-looking friend just to spend an evening at home with or is it important to have him impress your peers? It’s true there is a big difference between a Geisha and a prostitute, which is the involvement of sex, but sex isn’t everything (some would argue otherwise) that we’re trying to get in a relationship. it’s only a benchmark. So you’ve finally decided to hire a good looking man for your friend’s wedding. What should you say when your peers will be impressed by him being so witty and thoughtful and caring towards you? should you tell them the truth that he is paid by the hour? that kinda takes the sting out of it, isn’t it? So it comes down that the big problem with any hired friend, real or artificial actually boils down to the question “why can’t you have a real friend?”
Ruby Sparks addressed it quite elegantly as the protagonist wasn’t ready for a relationship as he couldn’t accept Ruby as an independent individual and wasn’t ready to change for her sake. A real friend will not only be there for you whenever your need him. A real friend will also get mad at you whenever you mess things up. Because a real friend care about you. He might be forgiving, she might be patient, but if it doesn’t make you better than you are – it’s a very lousy friend. Man’s nature is to be a social animal, but it only means we need friends; not that we are born with social skills. And Social skill are mostly learned by experience, trial and error but also from observation and a great deal of empathy. A hell load of empathy.
Interventions is another thing that friends do, whether it’s useful or not. It’s probably a wrong technique, trying to go like “we’ll stop you from doing something we think is wrong for you by threatening to break away our friendship” but coming off as “your friendship isn’t important enough for us to accept you as are”. but in it’s core it comes from the right place – friend will intervene because they care. And that’s actually the thing that we really crave – someone that will care. Care for our happiness, and health, well-being and also our future. That’s what’s true friendship is all about. Preferably is mutual. Companion – whether they’re mechanic, or hired, or a simple one-night stand simply don’t do that and would only leave you empty.

To be honest, I’m rather annoyed with Venus Project claiming that “Hey, we’re nothing like anything else you’ve seen before. This is going to work!”

Venus Project, in short, is an utopia of Technocracy (The rule of scientists), abundant resources and fully-automated labour. It is claimed there’s no law enforcement but I’m not sure whether it means there’s no need for such or just that it’s beyond the scope of the specifications.

It’s not different then what we’ve seen before
Venus project is the bad combination of elitism type of communism. It’s elitism to think that scientists or any kind of privileged folks knows what’s best for everyone. They don’t. Time and time again, history has proved that. Let’s take the simple story US’s prohibition era when self-righteous politicians and scientist decided it’s bad to drink alcohol. The average joe decided that he’ll do whatever he wants and thus came the upsurge of illegal booze and the rise of organized crime. That’s exactly what you get when you think that smart people should run the show.
It’s communism to think that the community (or society) will take care of your needs. Sure, in Karl Marx’ time our resources were limited and most labour was done manually. so we distributed the products as equal as we can (ignore the elite that are entitled for more) and we’d expect each person to provide his/her share of the burden. It’s incredibly naive to think we’ll ever reach an abundance of resources with no labour, and if you these two – you’re back with communism.
It’s not going to work
Resources are inertly limited. There’s no other way around it. The simple example would be Human Resource. Let’s say I want a sculptor to create a statute for me, but she’s too busy. HER TIME is a limited resource, no escape from that.
Who is going to choose how the sculptor spends her time? She, or the scientist who decides whether she’s a valuable asset to society? who get to elect the scientist whose responsible for allocating people’s time?
The Venus project claims that laws should be eliminated, but let’s say our scientist rapes someone. Where’s the law enforcement to stop him? And rape is still a crime address limited resource issue (“he wanted her body”, which is a limited resource), but some crimes are derived from other reasons – anger, neglect or even pure malice. We must have laws will help us handle these atrocities else we want individual to take justice into their own hands.
And let’s imagine we got it to work and we live in our happy utopia, but then our neighboring country invents this cool thing we want, but they want money for it, or for us to give them something (and we already agreed that some resource are limited, as human beings and time), should we simply disregard copyright issues and steal it from them? or should we conquer them? or should convince our people (in any means possible) they don’t need that thing that we cannot provide ourselves?
Of course the venus project doesn’t call for an uprising, rather than agreement. As we can see from the never-ending war in Syria, mankind will never get into a full agreement on anything, or just as long as the currently- privileged people has a say in it. But if you’d go without their consent, it’s no longer a wide-spectrum agreement, isn’t it?
Venus project falls to the same shortcomings that every utopia ever faced. It’s sounds nice, sure, and it even elaborated into meaningless designs of happy circular cities (apparently without asking city architects why this is an incredibly bad idea as it limits the cities ability for natural growth).
Yes, we should thrive to minimize our human suffering and labour. Yes, we should aspire to reduce Man’s impact on the environment (and reverse the horrible things we’ve already done).
It should be done as a grass-root movement, little by little, community by community and by showing people that happiness can be attained and not by forcing them into a way of life they don’t approve. To be honest, I don’t think the environment has time for Man to sober but any kind of quick-solution is either delusional or extremely painful.