Top reasons why meditation is a must for high-tech professionals.

meditation is a must for high-tech professionals

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” – Buddha

It is believed that mind and body are intricately connected and your mind has a direct impact on the physical health of your body. For thousands of years people have been practicing meditation and there is plethora of research out there which has revealed that meditative practices enhance attention, helps in lowering the blood-pressure, and the stress levels thus reducing the risk of heart-diseases.

However, there are various scientifically proven reasons why one must meditate –

  • Meditation helps in boosting the immunity.
  • Meditation reduces physical and mental pain.
  • Meditation decreases inflammation at the cellular level.
  • Meditation builds positive emotions.
  • Meditation reduces depression and anxiety.
  • Meditation improves your ability to regulate your emotions and introspect.

Some studies have shown that a persistent negative state of mind can lead to stress and this is harmful for health. In today’s fast-paced and competitive life high-tech professionals are burdened with work-pressure which when coupled with an unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits leads to increased number of health issues. These stress levels are likely to interfere with sleep thus making them more prone to making mistakes at work and in personal lives as the brain and body are not well rested.

Workplace stress typically follows the employees to their home affecting their family life which as a resultant comes back to the office space thus making it as a never-ending loop. And this unchecked stress leads to a high number of burnt-out employees at the workplace and may cost the company dearly. Therefore, to keep a check more and more companies are enrolling their employees in various meditative programs to relieve them of stress and boost their work productivity.

boosting the immunity

There are number of meditative practices but broadly speaking there are three major categories –

Attention – This method refers to exploring our capacity to narrow or open our attention to one activity, for example- becoming aware of any sensation in the body.

Intention- Under this practice we consciously cultivate a particular emotional or mental state during exercise, such as gratitude, inner peace or compassion.

Visualization – In this type of meditative practice we concentrate on visualizing situations that will have an effect on our mental state.

Choosing a type of meditation practice is a matter of personal choice and finding something that suits your lifestyle might take time, so the key is to experiment.

It has been observed that nowadays more and more professionals are relying on meditation to become clear on how to manage complex situations. Professionals usually have to do intensive and multi-faceted thinking to take strategic business decisions, and meditation helps them to open their mind to new possibilities and also improves the ability to see the “big-picture.”

It goes without saying that high-tech professionals have a mentally demanding career. So they need to make sure that their mind is as relaxed as it can be – to ensure success. Therefore, learning meditative techniques that can help them stay focused and calm as they work can not only make their jobs a lot easier but can also make their output more creative.

Let’s take a look at the top reasons as to why high-tech professionals should go ahead with meditative practices-

Meditative practices help professionals to become more self-aware, i.e. they can identify when they are getting distracted so that they can redirect their thoughts and actions towards working more productively. Compassion based meditation helps in regulating emotions and supports clarity of mind. This is due to the reason that with meditation, a person becomes more aware of one’s own emotional state which enables him or her to take corrective action quickly.

Meditation energizes without triggering the adrenaline rush thus making you more productive. This is due to the fact that meditation de-excites the nervous system. It naturally triggers the relaxation response of our central nervous system thus reducing the stress levels. Experts reveal that even 20 min of meditation can provide your body two to five times more rest than the regular sleep and makes you more refreshed and awake.

Practicing meditation regularly also helps you to improve your memory or power to concentrate and focus. It also improves the ability to multitask since the mind is relaxed and refreshed. Meditative practice gives you a relaxed state of mind thus improving the sleep quality and when a person is well-rested he will definitely be more efficient at work.

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Regular meditation

Regular meditation slows down the process of brain deterioration and counteracts the age-related loss of brain volume. It boosts your social life as it increases the social connection and emotional intelligence. In order to succeed in any field, professionals need to be creative thinkers and meditation just helps in that it makes your mind in such a relaxed state that your ability to think out of the box is improved considerably.

Last but not the least meditative practices make you wiser. It gives you a perspective; by observing your mind you understand that you don’t need to be a slave to it.

Now that we know what are the benefits of meditating we also need to know the ways to begin-

DIY – There are various meditative techniques available about which you can read and start practicing. Although, this method is suitable to start, off; however, most of the people feel at some point in time that they benefit more when they have a teacher.

Guided Audio – Under this method you use the recorded voice of teacher to guide you through the meditative session.

Group classes – You can attend classes or courses with other people and experienced teachers either in person or online. Many people find this method easier since you can go into a deeper meditative state when surrounded by people attempting to do the same.

benefits of meditating

To sum it up meditation is a simple basic mental hygiene which helps you to clear out the junk from your mind and helps you to get in touch with your inner self. It just needs a bit of practice and a right attitude to experience that relaxed state of mind.

Technology and Evolution

Technology and Evolution

Technology is progressing rapidly, and it is changing the way we live, work and play. New inventions are happening, and new paradigms are born almost every day. Conventional concepts we are used to as a human race for decades or even centuries are being disrupted by cutting edge technology.

Just half a century ago, computers were only surfacing and were used for particular scientific or research work, but today they are found all around us. We see, and experience computing power around us in all shapes, sizes, and types. There are small and portable ones like in smartphones. There are big ones like desktops and mainframes. And lately, with innovative devices like Google Glass or Snap Spectacles – this computing power has also invaded our wearable devices.

Whether we like this technological revolution or not – we can clearly see how it is affecting our daily lives. But an interesting question arises – what are long-term effects of this revolution? I am not talking a decade or a century from now – instead what are the implicit Individuals who win the actions on a human evolutionary timeline – which could span millennia.

Technology is changing the patterns of our life. There was a time when we were very physically active, but now we rely on devices to do most of our work. The changes in our behavioral patterns and adaptations that are caused by these technological advances could prove to be the primary driving forces behind the next stage of evolution for our species.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin proposed that evolution is the change in the characteristics of a species over several generations – which could happen over eons or within few centuries. This process of evolution relies on the process of natural selection. Charles’ theory of evolution is based on the idea that all species gradually change over time. The complex process of evolution relies on there being a genetic variation in a population which affects the physical characteristics of an organism. Some of these characteristics may give the individual an advantage over other members of the same species which they can then pass on to their offspring. This process of continuously adopting advantageous characteristics by subsequent generations is called “natural selection.”

Individuals who win the evolutionary lottery and have the characteristics best suited to their environment are more likely to survive, finding food, avoiding predators and resisting disease. These members of the species are more likely to reproduce and pass their genes on to their children.

But the losers in this race that are poorly adapted to their environment are less likely to survive and reproduce. Therefore their genes are less likely to be passed on to the next generation.

As a result, the individual members of a particular species who are most suited to their environment survive and, given enough time, the species will gradually evolve.

Darwin termed this process “survival of the fittest.”

Even though Darwin’s theory has been able to explain the evolutionary cycles of many species including homo sapiens – it seems like it is proving to be ineffective as of late especially when it comes to humans. And this phenomenon could be directly attributed to the increasing power of technology in the field of healthcare. Multiple deadly diseases have been completely eradicated by the use of sophisticated cures like anti-biotics. As a result, even the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us can live their lives relatively comfortably. In some case, they can also reproduce with advanced techniques like in vitro fertilization (IVF). So the phenomenon of the survival of the fittest is no longer at work here.

Instead, the evolution is occurring in two other ways

1. Efficiency-Based

2. Transhumanism

Efficiency-Based:

Most of the mainstream medical cures, drugs, and surgical procedures are available and accessible to a vast majority of the population (except for an unfortunate segment of the global population who still do not have access to affordable and reliable healthcare). But for the sake of argument – let’s assume every human being is given an environment to survive and live a healthy life.

Even with these universal advantages – we see every individual is slightly different. Some of us can adapt, and trust technology much better and faster while others are slower to embrace these changes. These traits that make one person more efficient in the modern world as compared to others. These adaptability traits could affect the quality of life of the individuals and other factors like their financial status and place in the contemporary world. As a result, even a person with a slight physical disadvantage but with robust mental capabilities can flourish in this world.

On the other hand, a lot of the physically demanding obligations have been taken off our plates. We no longer have to hunt for our food. We no longer have to fight off formidable predators on a daily basis. The physical stresses and demands on our bodies have greatly decreased. Machines have taken the intensive work role in industries, agriculture, and transport.

The mental capabilities are the distinguishing factors in the current world. With the decreased emphasis on physical prowess, the mind is the center of attention. It is the human mind that designs and operates the automatic machines. Our minds are processing information at ever increasing speeds. Through the generations – we can bank upon this knowledge and pass it from generation to generation in the form of written or oral word and text. Thus the human race is progressively building upon its collective experience at an accelerated pace. So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the human mind is slowly evolving to adapt to this world of automation, complexity and know-how.

Evolution itself is a slow natural process. But by observing this phenomenon in several species over extensive periods of time – there are predictions we can make about its likely course.

As we determined above, the human mind is the organ that is being used most extensively in the current world.

From complex computations in the workplace to the rapid decision making we need to execute on a daily basis.

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While the analyzing part of the brain is used for a multitude of reasons, the information retaining a portion of the brain is facing many issues. The amount of information which is thrown at us is growing at an astonishing rate. The various sensors which surround us informing us about our current surroundings; news and social media which are bombarding us with information about current affairs in the world; a plethora of choices we have to make about what to eat, drink and stay healthy. All this information is like drinking from a big fat firehose. This explosion in information is quite detrimental to comprehend, store and analyze all this information.

It is, therefore, probable that our human brain may evolve based on these two factors. Over time human brain may actually start to favor its analyzing power and rely less on its capability to retain information (because this capability is already provided to us by computers). This is analogous to saying that humans will get better CPUs and RAM but relatively smaller hard disk space.

Additionally, there may also be a considerable effect on other organs and limbs. For instance, our hands, legs, and feet may undergo a huge change. Our past generations used hands for physical labor to hunt for food and build a shelter. We used our legs and feet to migrate and follow our food from continent to continent. But now we are using these ambulatory organs for much less tedious chores. So it is highly probable that they may come changes to these organs to make them more efficient in their use.

A great example of this was put forward by Melbourne artist Patricia Piccinini who built “Graham” – an interactive, life-size sculpture of a future human who has adapted well to travel in fast vehicles and have unique abilities to survive crashes.

Transhumanism:

Transhumanism is a futurist concept which is analogous to artificial evolutionary process. It involves the studying of internal software of human body and tinkering with it for better results.

Humans didn’t just appear out of nowhere. They are products of evolution of millions of years. The current human genome is the result of countless mutations that occurred before the appearance of modern humans some 200,000 years and after it. Some of those mutations were really beneficial and lasted for a long time while some were outright bad or only situationally good.

Read: TEACHING COMPUTERS HOW TO SEE LIKE HUMANS WITH CONVOLUTION NEURAL NETWORKS

The tinkering with the genetic setup of a human for removal of any inefficient mutations and insertion of useful and better genes comes under transhumanism. In addition to ineffective mutations, there are also some mutations which are outright harmful and can cause different diseases and conditions. Transhumanism deals with these mutations and increases the lifespan of a person. Transhumanism is an active counter to aging. It makes a person smarter, stronger and energetic.

Genetic engineering is not all that there is to Transhumanism. There are many other technologies that are enhancing the physical and mental capabilities of human beyond what is biologically possible. Google Glass and bionic body parts are good examples of this. Google Glass gave cognitive information to one’s mind that is not humanly possible to gather in such rapid time frame in real time. On the other hand, bionic arms and legs allow a person to tolerate loads that aren’t achievable by normal humans.

In the end, we can say that human evolutionary cycles will definitely be affected by this rapid growth in technological advancements. These technologies have already significantly changed the patterns of life thus making the standard evolution considerably fast. People of all physical strengths and capabilities can live healthy and fruitful lives; making it possible for their mental genes to mutate and create a better result. Additionally, artificial evolution is also not too far off in the future, and soon people might be able to select the different characteristics of their offspring like mental capabilities, physique, and energy levels.

Teaching computers how to see like humans with Convolution Neural Networks

convolution neural networks

Digital Image Processing:

Google’s vast index had more than a trillion images some years ago. This number can’t possibly go down owing to the ever-increasing use of internet and use of pictures in conveying the message. But that was just the amount of images indexed by Google, there is also a significant portion of images found on the internet that aren’t indexed. Similar is the case with videos, with over 1 billion videos on YouTube alone it is a massive amount of data in the form of videos.

Videos and images are not only found on the internet. There are security cameras capturing videos of their area of effect at all times. Pictures and videos are being shot for personal and business use. They also make up for a hefty amount of data.

This vast amount of data is way beyond the scope of usual human intervention. This information needs to be processed through automation. Automation, machine learning, computer vision are some techniques using which we can actually have a chance to decipher this data and make sense of it. Digital image processing is the solution for this issue. It involves the use of computational methods for differentiating between the images and videos.

Digital image processing makes this data of images and videos much more viable for analysis purposes. A widespread use of image processing is employed by law enforcement agencies. They compare the facial features of the culprit with the databases of their own and the video inputs coming from around the country with the help of image processing. Additionally, the fingerprint software used by the police and other agencies also employ the use of image processing in its working.

Neural Networks:

Computers or machines do not have same concepts about vision and interpreting images and videos like humans and animals do. Our mind features an insight learning which allows us to make sense of the visual sensory input in a much faster and accurate manner than a computer. We can infer whether the given object is a cat, a dog or a chair irrespective of the color and type. The machine takes time to produce this result as it first makes a digital interpretation of the image and compares it with the images and objects placed in its database.

A new advanced field of machine learning has given rise to the technique of neural networks, which is a machine learning method, is used in processing the image. This method lends true learning capabilities to the machine which brings it closer to the working of the human brain. Human brain receives information from sensory organs, analyzes it and generates a response. Similarly, in the neural networks, there is an input node, a hidden node, and an output node. Information is received on the input node, the hidden node analyzes it, adds value to it and sends it to an output node which produces the action suggested.

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Convolution Neural Networks:

Convolution neural networks is a modified version of the neural network. The convolution neural network gathers as many inputs as possible which means we should be able to capture most if not all the pixels in an image and process for further analysis. Makes sense, right?

Well not really. Believe it or not even with the large computers and multiple core CPUs and GPUs we have at our disposal these days – this is not practically possible because of constraints of time and processing power.

Convolution neural network decreases the sample size used in the analysis. An image usually contains hundreds of thousands or even millions of pixels. With the current computing capacity we have at our disposal – it is not viable to analyze each and every pixel. It is also a fact that pixels which are close to each other are very similar to each other though vary as the distance increases. So the sample size is decreased by making groups of pixels. One pixel, a representative, is selected from each group and put up with other such pixels. These pixels are then analyzed with ease as they are small in number and can be efficiently computed.

Image:

kdnuggets.com

Source: kdnuggets.com

Steps:

  1. The image is divided into smaller parts in the form of tiles.
  2. These are sent to a neural network which converts them from a network of tiles to arrays.
  3. The arrays represent the area of picture numerically. They are also assigned three axes of color, height, and width of the channel which are the three dimensions. A fourth dimension of time is also assigned if the input is, in fact, a video.
  4. The multidimensional arrays are then exposed to a downsampling function which removes the unnecessary and redundant information from these set of arrays so that only the required amount is analyzed.
  5. This data is then forwarded to the conventional neural network.
  6. The computations are done pretty quickly, and the desired output is generated in the form of labels.

The first three steps are also termed as convolution. And from that name of this neural network comes from. There are many convolution and down sampling layers in a real system. They all are working at the same time to reduce the sample to a manageable size.

Why is it better?

Convolution neural network is better than the conventional image processing method due to variety of reasons. Conventional image processing methods include: Conversion to greyscale of images and then comparing the pixels, comparing the pixels one by one, Scale-Invariant Feature Transform (SIFT), Binary Robust Independent Elementary Features (BRIEF) and Speeded-Up Robust Features (SURF) etc. These processing methods are either totally dying out or are inefficient when compared to convolution neural networks. Convolution neural network is much more efficient as it uses less time and fewer resources. Additionally, SIFT and SURF are somewhat comparable to convolution neural network, but SIFT and SURF offer face problems of inaccuracies. SIFT and SURF use Gaussian differences and differences of scales for detecting the object and often compromise on the data for simplifying the computations which essential for identification of an object. On the other hand, convolution neural networks though employ simplification of the image, but they make sure that no important detail is lost in the process.

Convolution neural systems are now being used around the world. Neural systems are inspired by and are derived from the human brain. When used for image processing, it sorts of gives the computer a human-like vision. It is due to this reason that almost all the face detectors software is using convolution neural networks for accuracy. It also uses so few resources that even your smartphones are using this for face detection.

This technology is relatively new and yet it has endless advantages over the traditional imaging recognition. It is already being used for law enforcement, security, health, and much more. Only time will tell how more can we benefit from it.

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