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Are drones the beginning or the end?

Annually, millions of drones are sold worldwide for purposes commercial and military-related. Whilst being one of the most innovative and useful inventions of the 21st Century, drones also pose a serious threat to our Earth as we know it. Opinion is extremely divided regarding this hot topic, with police forces already devising methods to stop rogue drones from roaming the skies. However, many companies, such as Google, are using drones to their advantage. So, without further ado, let’s begin . . .

Like most things, I shall proceed by giving the negatives before I even give positivity and hope a look-in. Militarily, drones are an army’s greatest weapon, the highly precise nuclear bomb of our age. There are US soldiers who fly drones during the day in the Middle East from their computer HQ in a US army base, kill their targets, then return home for dinner with their families. For the drone pilots, all they need to do is fly a plane from the comfort of a swivelling chair and execute without putting themselves in any danger whatsoever. The only thing stopping humans from wanting to engage in war is the possibility of being killed – something which goes against our survival instinct. Take away the need to physically put yourself in danger and suddenly we have chaos. Drones are only going to encourage warfare rather than put an end to it.

Drones can be very small, unlike planes, and they can also be very quiet. They can silently hover into homes through an open window or into our backyards. Drones can see us, hear us and record us at any given time. Some drones are even so advanced that they have the ability to monitor the WiFi signal and manipulate our phones and devices. In the not too far off future they will also be capable of controlling cars simply by surveying them from above.

Despite these dangerous possibilities it is important to also acknowledge the incredible usages for drones. Amazon has come public with a plan to use drones as a means of delivering packages and Google is currently embarking on the secretive Project Skybender – one which includes solar-powered drones beaming high-speed internet back to Earth using high-frequency millimetre wave transmitters. This would, in theory, transmit data forty times faster than 4G.

Moreover, drones could be used to transport medicine to remote villages and towns in suffering countries fast enough to save a vast amount of lives. Often the problem is that a charity manages to compile the medicine necessary but has no means efficient enough to get the goods there in time. Matternet, an altruistic company, is building up a network at the moment in order to tackle this issue. In addition, plans to use drones to deliver hospital equipment to victims when an ambulance won’t make it fast enough are currently under way.

Drones are also being used for good in that scientists are using them to monitor the environment. Drones can be sent up into the air to test air quality, and NASA uses them to test the makeup of the ozone layer.

In my opinion it seems clear that drones are revolutionary. In the next decade drones will have taken over the world (perhaps slightly dramatic of me). Despite the threats drones pose they undeniably also act as a means to bring about a lot of good in the world. They are a double-edged sword. Only time will tell which edge of the sword will be more prevalent in our world.

What do you think on the matter? Post your replies below!

What does Snapchat’s trashy news feature say about our generation?

With the creation of Snapchat stories, it seemed only a matter of time before Snapchat introduced a news feature, so as to compete with news apps and Facebook. However, I think Snapchat’s news feature has many pitfalls.

Snapchat assumes that the only news people want to read these days is gossip columns about celebrities and their latest skimpy outfit they wore on vacation before getting back together with their on-off boyfriend. And to an extent they are right – nearly all of us are guilty of having a bizarrely high level of knowledge on the Kardashian klan. But I do find it rather depressing that day-in, day-out the Snapchat news melts into one big celeb fest with no real substance behind any of the articles posted (the news today on Snapchat includes the headlines: Bieber’s been caught RED handed! and 10 Completely Confusing Jelena Moments). Snapchat’s aim was probably to give everyone a break from the horrors of everyday news and to simply showcase lighthearted stories, or, and this is a version I prefer, it’s their way of attempting to make us forget the outside world and be sucked into Snapchat world where everything is always informal and happy so that we don’t quit their app until we have all turned into yellow ghosts (though, I admit, this option does seem perhaps less viable).

Although at the end of the day I can’t blame Snapchat for simply giving everyone what they want to read and see. They may be perpetuating the trashy celeb culture that has taken over our generation and brainwashed most of us, but who can blame them when it’s really just a smart business move? They’ve taken the news most younger people read nowadays on websites such as Buzzfeed and incorporated it into their app so that people no longer need to go elsewhere to read the latest gossip – a clever thing to do.

So, it seems to me that Snapchat’s decision to share almost exclusively celebrity news is not so much a bad reflection on them, but more on us. Generation Z is the first generation that can name all the celebrities who have gained or lost weight this year, but can’t name their own country’s government policies (obviously this is a complete generalisation, but is true in many cases). In the EU Referendum, only 36% of 18-24 year olds casted a vote, compared with 72% of 35-44 year olds casting theirs. So it seems rather ironic that the most vocal people to complain about Brexit on social media were the young who hadn’t even bothered to cast their vote.

The question still remains: how can we get young people interested and involved in politics and the current goings on of the world? Well for a start, I think Snapchat could begin by introducing some more serious news to its home feed. Subtle integration of more relevant news and facts on Snapchat would normalise politics a bit more and make it less of a foreign, unapproachable area that many think they are incapable of understanding. Other apps could and should also do the same, but I think much of the onus lies with Snapchat due to its sheer popularity. Politics doesn’t even need to be the main focus – just current news of any kind would be preferable to the drivel they are bombarding us with now.

Evan Spiegel over at Snapchat HQ won’t read this article and neither will the team in charge of posting the news to Snapchat, but I hope that telepathically they will come to their senses and realise the mindless culture they are perpetuating.

Imagine the possibilities: best advert of all time?

I know this is dated and not so hot off the press anymore, but oh my lord if you still haven’t seen the Barbie advert from Autumn 2015 (for those of you living under a rock), then please please please do me a favour and watch it now. It’s not only funny, but also one of the most uplifting adverts I have ever seen, and quite possibly one of the best (and with going to the cinema at least once a week, I see a lot of adverts).

Mattel has received a lot of stick since its creating the Barbie doll, particularly for its lack of diversity in the Barbie range with the only doll on sale for the first thirty years being a white female with wholly unrealistic body measurements (my favourite issue of controversy was when in 1963 Mattel released an outfit called “Barbie Baby-Sits” coupled with a book on how to lose weight; this book’s advice read: “Don’t Eat!” … that way you’ll pass out before you realise you’re hungry! Score!).

Eventually in the 1980s, a new range of Barbie was launched including Hispanic dolls, later to be followed by dolls from all across the globe. However, controversy rumbled on when Barbie dolls were programmed to say stock phrases in the 1990s. These phrases included things like:

“Will we ever have enough clothes?”

“Math class is tough!”

and “I love shopping!”

Obviously these stereotypically ‘dumb girl’ phrases annoyed parents and the general public, and, quite frankly, me.

Things mainly went downhill from there for Barbie. In 1997 the company introduced a Barbie in a wheelchair, but failed to check that the doll would be able to fit inside the stairs and elevator of Barbie’s $100 dream house – a rookie mistake that was embarrassingly pointed out to the company by a 17 year-old girl from Washington.

And in 2009, Mattel released a range of dolls with tattoos on their lower backs – not the best idea to sell to children at a young age. I don’t think I need to spell out how this one was received amongst protective parents and Barbie-hating people in general.

Despite these controversies, and trust me there were many more, Mattel’s latest advert for Barbie was really heartwarming (cheesy, I know) and I think marks the beginning of a new era for Barbie. Gone are the days of sexist slogans and stereotypical occupations, and in comes the new 21st Century girl power that all young girls (and boys) should aspire to acquire and harness. I just hope it stays that way.

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