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Sunday, December 26th, 2010, 10:25 am

2011 Resolutions – Professional Focus, Research, and Ethics

EVERY once in a while we all get a break from everyday life and potentially introspect. As the year 2011 is almost upon us, it’s time to explain — on a more personal note for a change — what needs improving. First of all, from a professional point of view, it would be important to ensure effectiveness and to spend less time responding to Internet trolls and other such distractions. It’s just too easy to descend to gossip sometimes, however it gets nobody anywhere. There are some people who revel in harassment of progressive individuals and the worst those latter individuals can do is lose sight of their goals, then engage with the harassers. It’s tempting to do so (one’s own defense), but it’s counter productive as it leads to more of the same. When one expresses strong opinions on any matter, detractors will exist; the polite ones are worth debating with.

On the subject of research, my plan is to ensure that I maintain contact with my roots in computer science with emphasis on computer vision. I may soon have a start-up on the side, but there is no final decision on that yet. Research can produce a skills-based service that helps individuals. This can be an ethical service which even advances software freedom.

Last but not least (quite the opposite in fact), living an ethical life is not the priority of those to whom keeping score means accumulating wealth, even when it comes at the expense of someone else’s (even one’s own) health. We only live once and we must take advantage of this opportunity to do something positive for our neighbours to enhance solidarity. The Earth’s resources are finite and wealth is relative, where one person’s well-being often depends on someone else’s labour (typically dissociated geographically). For harmonious co-existence on this planet people need to increasingly work together and this sometimes means sharing of knowledge, commodities, food, water, and shelter. It’s too easy for people in the West to pretend that the world is just the West when in fact it accounts for less than 20% of the world’s population. Legislators must begin to take into account that inequality is not necessarily the result of imbalanced motivation and determination among minds; many people are born with little or no opportunities and particular conditions imposed by international laws keep it that way. Institutions like WIPO, WTO, WB, and IMF are just part of it and with gradual reform a safer world for everyone to live in is not a distant fantasy. The only real wars are class wars and dimensions like religion/race/nationality are often just instruments that act as surrogates for those in power, not a replacement for identical, scientific, and social doctrines.

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