27 October 2013

I wanted to think about what the things that I value. The first thought that came into my mind was “learning”. I really like learning new things, whether it would be facts or techniques, or how to use a certain tool. But why do I value learning these things. Well, because it feels to be empowered to do things like edit code faster by knowing and practicing emacs shortcuts or eat healthier by knowing a.little bit aboht how different components of the food get processed by my body. So what I really value is empowering.

But why do I value empowering? For once because it correlates with freedom, as in having the right to do something. The more freedom you have the more empowered you are… kind of. What is the difference between freedom and empowering. It is hard to say right up front but an example is empowering could enable you to achieve something you were allowed to do but couldn’t, like speaking up to a TSA officer without getting harrased or delayed. So empowering can work in situations where freedom is given to do something but the means of how to do that thing were not available, or not affordable.

This is empowering within freedom, but there is also empowering ouside of freedom. Suppose that you are in a country where certain things are forbidden by law, but you believe they are very desirable. Then you could use technology to conspire agains the rulers and organize citizen movement to oppose these laws.

Empowering could also be much more personal. There are many cases of home violence where for example a man would beat his wife or act in an irresponsible way, drinking away all the money and destroying hopes for better life. These make me incredibly sad to hear every time, and it is not because of the pain and violence, even though they are terrible, but because of the helplessness of the victim. They may not have anyone to turn to for help or even if help exist it may be beyond the reach. Empowering in this situation would be to make it easier for the victim to escape.

There is yet another face to empowering and that is empowering into the unknown. there could be some things that dont have freedem defined for them but suddenly become within reach. Robotics research had a great jump in 2011 because of the Microsoft Kinect. The Kinect opened a lot of new 3D sensing possible, affordable and easy. A lot researchers mixed in 3D sensing to enable a whole lot of new twists to their projects.

So, yes, empowering is a value for me. For me it is a way of thinking and judging actions. Would I like to do a certain thing? Is it fun, or empowering in any aspect. For example, I have signed up for an Improv class after few weeks. I am hoping it will empower me to communicate more clearly in an instant, as opposed to waiting for my thoughts to clear up. Watching TV? This usually doesn’t empower me. If I am watching an interesting movie, such as “Inception” or “Gataca” then I might be empowered to think about a parallel universe where certain gray aspects of the current life are presented in black and white - you could say it enables me to project my observations of the surrounding world into a different context where it is easier to judge them.