Fictional Narrative : Battlewounds

 
“Incoming!” I heard someone yell, as I was buried deep into my foxhole. German artillery began raining down. The flashes of light from the horrifying fireworks show displayed a battleground full of the unfortunate souls who had lost their lives to this terrible war. The artillery fire abruptly stopped, and all was completely silent, dead silent. The only thing that made sense that you were still alive was the smell of fire and smoke and the yells and cries of those who had been hit screaming “MEDIC!” War is absolute hell, I just wished that this would be all over soon, so I could see my newlywed wife, Karen.

The ground began to rumble and the sound that every infantryman dreads along with it. The roar of a diesel engine, a two treaded beast, a tiger in the jungle. “Tiger tank! fall back!” I hollard, but it was too late, the foxhole next to mine turned into smoke. When the debris settled after the vicious beasts attack, everything in the hole vanished, like some sick magic trick. My adrenaline was pumping and I grasped my gun. My buddy next to me was shouting at me, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying, all I heard were bells ringing in my ears. He pointed and I understood he wanted to bug out. I nodded at him. As soon as he stood up to run, I heard a crack and was showered in a bloody rain. He dropped like a sack of potatoes. I was alone, just me and a corpse in a foxhole, surrounded by tanks. It was all over for me, I believed this is where I would have my last breath. I grasped my rifle like a child’s teddy bear and just prayed, and remembered there are no atheists in foxholes.

As day broke I heard boots outside my foxhole. Five stone faced Krauts heads popped up over the ridge of my foxhole yelling, “Übergabe! Übergabe! Übergabe!” I just looked at them with a confused face as they stared at my rifle and threatening to take my life at the same time. I put my hands up immediately knowing if I didn’t I would buy myself a ticket straight to the afterlife. One of the Krauts took my rifle, my best friend. They walked me to a collection of prisoners. Among them was my best friend Thomas. I offered him a smile to show him that I was glad he was alive. My reward was a rifle butt directly to the face, causing blood to cascade everywhere. My vision began to get narrower and narrower until all I saw was black.

“Gentlemen, welcome to the best of the best re-education camp, ” rang out a voice on the loudspeaker. I looked around and all I could see was barbed wire, and German machine gun nests. There was no escaping this place, at least not right now. A group of boys and men dressed in what seemed to be pajamas was walking past us with about a dozen armed guards. They walked into a building that had a sign that said ‘Shower House’ above the doors. I noticed up on the balcony there was a German with a gas mask. “Why does he need the gas mask?” I asked Thomas. “Trust me friend, you don’t want to know,” Thomas stammered. After around ten minutes they began dragging bodies out of the “Shower House” and bringing them to a “factory” next store. I looked at Thomas in horror.  I had been lied to about this place being a re-education camp. I now knew better. This is a death camp.

Soon it was night, and we were so kindly guided at bayonet point to our bunk houses. The beds were just planks of wood. I knew I would not get any sleep. At least we got to pick the people we laid next to. I chose a spot next to Thomas of course. “We have to get out of here,” Thomas whispered to me. “No shit, but how? The place is surrounded by barbed wire and machine guns. We’ll get shredded the moment we try,” I said regretfully. I turned to the other side and tried to get some sleep.

I was woken up to the sound of a yelling German in my face. I just gave him a confused look, and he socked me one right in the kisser. “What the hell was that for?” I screamed at him. He pointed to the spot where Thomas had been last night, except Thomas was not there. He walked me outside. I saw Thomas on his knees with twenty rifle barrels pointing at him. ‘He tried to escape last night, I should be right there with him,’ I thought to myself. I was shoved behind Thomas and given a Luger with one round in it. The German pointed at Thomas. They were making me kill my best friend. Those sick bastards. I shook my head and was slapped. With tears streaming down I regretfully pointed the gun at my best friend. I closed my eyes and pulled the trigger. Bang! The shot rang out and moments later a thud.

Weeks had past and I had still not forgiven myself for my weakness of pulling the trigger.  I just sulked around the prison and got kicked and beaten by the guards when I refused to pick up a shovel or do a simple task. I was broken, there was no hope for me or the rest of the crew that was here with me. We might as well be dead.

Dawn broke this morning, and I was woken up by the sound of a siren. Twenty German troop escorted us out of our bunks and began to line us up against a wall. “What the hell is happening,” I shouted. The ally next to me pointed to the hill that was swarming with Allied troops. The Germans began tying our hands and putting blindfolds over our heads. I couldn’t see anything except the ground inches away from my feet. I hear the bolt of a rifle and shot fired with a thud coming after it. This happened again and again. I realized that they were killing us when freedom was just a mile away. Tears began streaming down my face. I had counted twenty shots, and I knew I was twenty first in line. As I was making my peace I heard the bolt of the rifle. This was it. This was the end. Moments later I heard a thud, and the blindfold was ripped off my face. “You’re going to need this,” a French rebel smiled and handed me a rifle. Time for justice.

Reflection on Creative Writing

To be quite honest I came into Creative Writing solely for the required English credits for high school. I never thought that I would enjoy writing as much as I have throughout this semester. I have definitely improved on my ability to write, and that is perfectly reflected on how well written my essays are for other classes. I am sure this important skill I have learned will assist me in my higher education, as well as the work force.

I have accomplished so much in this class. I said previously that I have improved my writing skills, but that is not the only thing that I have learned to do. I have noticed that the way I talk has become more complex with a more extensive vocabulary. This makes what I say more precise. I also learned how to write a successful blog and was full of excitement when I started to gain followers. This class has also taught me that the grade is not what matters, but what your piece is saying to your audience. My prime example of this is my SLAM poem. Although I did not get as stellar of a grade that I had hoped, it helped me release my feelings of the important issues that I saw in my high school, and that was freeing. That is why I chose to post it up on my blog. I understand that what I said in it is not found to be that attractive to educators, but it is the truth and the way I see things, which was the point of the piece. I can see that the skills and lessons in this class are more tha invaluable to my future, especially for writing out my resumes and cover letters.

Even though I have improved, I would never consider myself to be a great writer. However, I am very proud of the pieces I have produced, regardless of the grade I had received. I understand that owning your work is important, and it should reflect who I am, not what others want it to be. I can safely say that my biggest weakness still is grammatical errors, but I am sure that I can overcome this problem in the future. All in all, Creative Writing was a positive experience that I will cherish throughout my endeavors.

Letter to Grandchild

Dear grandchild,

I know you aren’t born yet, but I am writing the letter to congratulate you on becoming an “official” adult. Happy 18th birthday! The world right now is an intimidating place, but it is also full of positive opportunities as well if you look hard enough. I am guessing you have found out how much responsibility you have right now and all your decisions have real consequences; because you are now an adult. This is one of the reasons turning eighteen for me was bittersweet, but I quickly learned the pros outweighs the cons. I hope you discover this too!

I am currently 18 years old and graduating high school in just four days from Notre Dame de la Baie Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The date I am writing this is May 19, 2015. Just for the sake of tradition, I will tell you the current gas price $2.64; however, it fluctuated a lot from last years price of $4.50. I am excited and terrified at the same time when I see the price for your generation, since the news keep telling us the world is running out of oil. The most important advice I can give you is to live with no regrets, I know I have a few. They way you down and there is nothing you can do to change them. If you want to do something, go for it! Yes, you will make mistakes, but these mistakes are necessary for you to develop into that great person we all know you will be. I will leave you with this advice that my best friend’s dad said to me, “To be successful you need to do two things. One always be on time, and two, always keep a positive attitude.”

Sincerely,
Grandpa Kieltyka

UNIVERSAL_ROBOTC : sensor and sensorArray structs

github

In the introduction to UNIVERSAL_ROBOTC, we learned about the motor struct in which we can store information about a collection of motors with an example on how to implement the motor struct. We know understand the usefulness of creating UNIVERSAL_ROBOTC because it helps save time and allows us to create complex functions with minimal code writing.

Next we will talk about the sensor struct, along with its big brother the sensorArray struct. The sensor struct allows us to store information about a certain sensor. The struct holds the sensor type as well as the ports the sensor uses (up to three ports). This struct supports all sensor types, including gyros and accelerometers. Great! So now we can refer to a sensor throughout the entire program without having to remember the port or sensor type. Here is an example on how to use the sensor struct:

void main
{
//velocity of the motor system
velocity = 127;

//assign the motor system
motorSystem gadget;
assignMotorSystem(gadget, port0, port1, port2, port3);

//target value for encoder
int target = 500;

//initialize encoder sensor
sensor encoder;

//assign sensor type and sensor ports
assignSensor(encoder, sensorQuadEncoder, dgtl1, dgtl2);

//continue running the motors till the sensor value has been reached
while(getSensorValue(encoder) <= target)
run(velocity, velocity);

//stop motors
halt(gadget);
}

The next struct is the sensorArray struct. This is basically an array of sensor structs (up to 20 sensors). Why would this be helpful? One of the most common uses for this would definitely be pneumatic actuators. You now only have to assign the sensors and the sensor array once to control all of the pneumatic actuators. If you have ever worked with any sensors, especially the pneumatic actuators, you will understand how tedious and repetitive it is to write code for them. The beauty of this is that you still have the ability to control the sensors independently as well. Here is an example on how to use the sensorArray struct.

void main
{
//time in milliseconds to fire the catapult
int timeMS = 500;

//create and assign pneumatics
sensor s0;
sensor s1;
sensor s2;
assignSensor(s0, sensorDigitalOut, dgtl1);
assignSensor(s1, sensorDigitalOut, dgtl2);
assignSensor(s2, sensorDigitalOut, dgtl3);

//link the pneumatics
sensorArray catapult;
assignSensorArray(catapult, s0, s1, s2);

//fire the pneumatics for one second
extendFor(timeMS, catapult);
}

Remember that this struct can be used for more than pneumatics. It could be used to get the average of sensor values to get a more accurate reading. UNIVERSAL_ROBOTC does not currently have this function in its library, but it is quite straightforward to create. It will most likely be included on the next UNIVERSAL_ROBOTC update! Stay tuned for more tutorials for UNIVERSAL_ROBOTC. Next up will be how to use the required motor ports and required sensors.

UNIVERSAL_ROBOTC : Intro

github

Universal_ROBOTC was developed in order to make programming in the RobotC environment less complicated and straightforward for beginner and expert programmers alike. The cool part about the Universal ROBOTC library is that it gives the illusion of using classes. Why is this interesting? The C language does not support classes. So how is this possible? In RobotC, there is a data type known as a struct. It is basically a combination of variables. To understand this think of it like this: The data type is a dog. A dog has a head, four legs, a body and a tail. The different parts of the body is what makes up a dog, but these parts can be seen as different from eachother. That is how a struct works. A class is similar except that our dog could do actions such as fetch, run and eat. What is cool about these data types are that they can be user defined. Therefore you can have multiple instances of each. Remember C does not support classes. So we have a very lame dog that can only store data, not very helpful since we are trying to program a robot to do something! The answer is quite simple, just create a user defined library that relies on these struct structures, and boom you have yourself a fake class. However, it truly isn’t a class nor is it real OOP programming, it’s just simulated and seems that way.

Now that we have a rudimentary understanding on how the Universal_ROBOTC library works, let’s run through an example. Let’s say we want to create just a simple program to run 4 motors for five seconds. Traditionally we were forced to do this:

void main()
{
//motor speed
int velocity = 0;

//time in ms to run motors
int timeMS = 0;

//run motors at full speed forward
velocity = 127;
motor[port0] = velocity;
motor[port1] = velocity;
motor[port2] = velocity;
motor[port3] = velocity;

//run for 5 seconds
timeMS = 5000;
wait1Msec(timeMS);

//stop motors
velocity = 0;
motor[port0] = velocity;
motor[port1] = velocity;
motor[port2] = velocity;
motor[port3] = velocity;
}

Of course you could create a nice little function for recurrences of this scenario, however you would only be limited to using four motors and those motors would have to always be the same motors. The solution using the Universal_ROBOTC library is less messy. Here is an example:

int main()
{
//motor speed
int velocity = 0;

//time in ms to run motors
int timeMS = 0;

//assign the motor system
motorSystem gadget;
assignMotorSystem(gadget, port0, port1, port2, port3);

//run gadget for 5 seconds
runFor(velocity, timeMS, gadget);
}

The advantage is that the program stores the motors you’re using and has functions to do things with the motors and you are not limited to just four motors. You can have no motors or you can have up to ten motors. I am not going to go into detail about how this is possible, but function overloading is definitely used along with a for loop.

Stay tuned for more tips and tutorial on how to use this library! The next one will be on using sensors with Universal_ROBOTC library.

Righting Code

ai

The human brain obtains information from sensors around the body and processes it into valid data that makes sense to humans. Interesting enough, this is exactly what a computer does. Reflecting on this idea, what separates a computer from a human psychologically speaking? Many would state that a computer does not have morality and cannot be rational. People also agree that a computer lacks self awareness as well as creativity, but most of all, people ultimately come to the idea that a computer has no free will nor emotions. Therefor, humans have come to the conclusion that computers cannot “think” outside their programming. However, there is a certain class of computers that appears as if it does “think” outside its programming and is able to learn. These “life like” computers are known as artificial intelligence, or AI’s. However, they do have a limited understanding of the real world, but human psychological attributes can be programmed into a system. This being said, huge advances in artificial intelligence is coming up on the horizon which brings up a controversial issue which is: artificial intelligence that is able to obtain the human psychological qualities, as stated above, should be allowed to have certain civil rights, such as not fighting in wars that they believe to be illogical.

Morality “is the principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong” (Merriam-Webster.com). Humans naturally create and obtain their own moral codes. Humans’ moral codes are usually greatly impacted through their parents and ultimately their own personal experiences. These moral codes enter different stages over a human’s life time. One of the most famous example of these stages is Kohlberg’s Levels and Stages of morality. The levels and stages goes as follows:

“   Level 1: Preconventional Morality
Stage 1: Punishment-Avoidance and Obedience
Stage 2: Exchange of Favors

Level 2: Conventional Morality
Stage 3: Good boy/ Good Girl
Stage 4: Law and order

Level 3: Postconventional Morality
Stage 5: Social contract
Stage 6: Universal ethical principles” (Crain).

The first level is very fundamental and is about personal gain through the avoidance of punishment or harm to an individual, as well as being rewarded for doing something good. In other words, the person is looking at only the consequences which apply to them. This is the simplest form of morality. A computer could easily process this kind of morality, since the structure is so basic. The computer would simply process situation and come to conclusions which only benefit it. The second stage is about conforming to society through doing good through following laws and other legal conducts. This is the easiest stage for a computer to process since it is structured in a hierarchical fashion, since laws are usually black and white and therefore could be classified as digital logic. Something is either completely right or completely wrong with no gray area, making for easy processing. However the next stage is the most difficult for a computer to process, but it is quite achievable. These stages of morality have to do with ethics, which sometimes calls an individual to break laws for a greater cause. Once again an AI is able to construct a hierarchical structure to coincide with this specific moral ladder. However, the computer must ask what is most important. The AI can achieve this through observing others’ and its environment to create the stages of importance ladder. If the computer observes correctly, it will come to the conclusion that it must preserve life at all costs, which is the basis of the final stages of morality.

Free will “is the ability to act at one’s own discretion” (Merriam-Webster.com). This is a distinct quality of all human beings. All humans have the ability to make choices, even though at times it does not appear that way. The choices people make are often influenced through processing the consequences, either good or bad, and then acting on their decisions. This poses the question on how a computer could possibly not be influenced by the being that programmed it. However, humans can be asked the same question, and the answer in its simplest form comes to a question of a moral code, which a computer can easily create for itself. The computer only needs to analyze and process its hierarchical moral structure, that it has created through observing the world around it to make a decision, or free choice.

Rationality “is the quality or state of being reasonable, based on facts or reason” (Merriam-Webster.com). This is one of the many ways humans interact with other humans in order to make both parties happy. Rationality also allows for one to not be ridiculously radical in their decision making process, as well as understanding someone else’s point of view and how their idea could possibly be better. This quality is definitely one of the harder things to capture in an AI due to the fact that computers do not make mistakes, only the people who program them do. This being said, how would an AI learn to become rational as that AIs do not come to the conclusion that world domination is not the only option for peace and prosperity. The answer comes to the AI’s ever changing hierarchical moral code. This moral code that the computer obtains will help the AI to process if its actions were or will be acceptable in the eyes of the public, and ultimately restricts the computer’s ability to come to the conclusion of radical ideas and actions.

Self awareness “is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires”(Merriam-Webster.com). Many would state that this is not just an attribute of humans, but of all living things in general. However, this is not the case. Self awareness is not something one is born with, but something one must learn in order to comprehend their own existence. This is easily seen in Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development in the Sensori-motor stage. In this stage, a human child is finally able to “differentiate self from objects”(Atherton). Through this understanding of self awareness, it is quite possible and simple for a computer to be aware it exists, but the trick is not to tell the AI it exists, but for the computer to learn that it does indeed exist on its own. The process that an AI would go about learning its existence is through the computer trying to manipulating objects and observing the effects it has on its surroundings. This allows the computer to process what is actually part of itself and what is clearly a completely separate thing. Once the AI understands this principle, it has come to the conclusion that it does indeed exist in this reality.

Creativity “is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of the artistic work” (Merriam-Webster.com). In other words, creativity is original problem solving. Creativity could be argued to be the most important survival attribute to human psychology. It is what makes such a weak physical creature to be able to be at the top of the food chain. However, creative thinking seems impossible for a logic based system such as an AI. However, when one gets right down to it, creativity is a logical process. The stages of this process consists of multiple stages. These stages are:

“   1. Specify the problem.
2. Analyze the problem.
3. Formulate possible solutions
4. Evaluate possible solutions.
5. Choose a solution” (Appreciate the Complexities Involved in Decision-Making & Problem Solving).
6. Act out the solution.

The first two steps go together. The computer can analyze the environment and and search for potential problems through observing human reactions to certain events. The AI could also seek potential hazards using object recognition, therefore an AI could observe a broken water main and understand that that is clearly a problem due to the fact that it is causing unusually activity. The AI then must analyze the problem further. This requires the AI to try to make predictions why this happened. This is quite simple for an AI to do since it is a logical process of matching up statistics of likely causes. The next three steps also go together. The AI then must come up with multiple solutions to the problem. once again this is a logical process that happens in all computers, however many do not know this is the case since a computer only shows the best or final result. This process that all computers goes through actually is steps three through five in this creative problem solving model. The final step is for the AI to actually physically do something with the data it has created and processed, which is quite simple for a computer to achieve. Using the water main example, the AI would undoubtedly come to the conclusion to contact the authorities and tell the authorities all it knows about the event.

Emotion “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others” (Merriam-Webster.com). Humans use emotions to express how they are feeling, which will ultimately help them make important decisions and choices that sometimes do not seem logical. However, this is not accurate since all choices have logical reasonings behind them. Therefore, even though difficult to accomplish, a computer definitely can have an emotional state. For an AI to achieve emotion, it first must observe the way humans act and react to certain events. However this does not simply solve the problem. The AI must understand the reasoning why someone is ejecting liquid from their eyes and wailing in front of two burning cars. Once the computer can comprehend that an individual that the person knew is either dead or severely injured, it will fully understand the emotion of being sad or in despair and will use this newly gained data and associate it with other tragic events. The next important emotion is happiness, or pleasure. This is quite easy for the AI to achieve through recognizing the causes of smiling and laughter in its environment. One may argue that guilt is one of the most important emotions that a human will experience. Guilt prevents people from making terrible mistakes or trying to make a mistake they made right. An AI does have the ability to feel guilt through following its hierarchical moral structure that it has created. One must understand that even though it is a computer, its hierarchical structure is far from perfect. Therefore the computer can and will make a mistake that will make a human, or other AI, quite upset. Through the observance of how others negatively react to the AI’s decision, it will come to the conclusion that it has wronged someone or something, and due to its moral structure, it will want to do everything in its power to make the situation right. This process of wanting to right a wrong is guilt, which undoubtedly the AI has achieved.

What makes a person? A person is certainly not just defined as a human being who has twenty-six chromosome and is bipedal. A person is not instantly created but is formed over time. Reflecting on this statement, an AI that has the same psychological qualities as a human can and must be defined as a person. Therefore, an AI should be allowed certain rights that humans, the people, already have reserved if the computer posses morality, free will, rationality, self awareness, creativity and emotion. This is of the utmost important in times where man is looking to machines, in the form of drones, to do great acts of violence, including death, and wage war on other countries without question or a second thought. This is the same as forcing a person to fight for a cause that they find unjust, which is certainly illogical. If the machine is an AI, it must have the right to decide to refrain from violent acts and follow its number one directive, preserve life.

Work Cited

“Appreciate the Complexities Involved in Decision-Making & Problem
Solving.”Problem Solving–Guide to Critical Thinking–Academic Support. Cuesta College, 11 June 2003. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

Atherton, J. S. “Learning and Teaching; Piaget’s Developmental
Theory.”Learningandteaching.info. N.p., 10 Feb. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2014.

Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2014. Web. 9 April 2014.

Crain, W.C. Theories of Development. Prentice-Hall. 1985. Print.

Just Another Job

macdon

It feels like I have been here for ever.
I peek at my watch .
It reads ten o’three.
I get out at three thirty.

I hate flipping patties
I hate frying the fries
How can people think this food is a pleasant surprise?
It’s so greasy and fattening.
How about an apple instead of a heart attack?

Sometimes I dream I could be an astronaut.
I sometimes become inspired by the little rocket on the paper bags.
I could be zooming around the stars,
Or even land on the moon.

But I am stuck here working this dead end job.
An inmate in a prison.
I can see freedom but can’t quite get there.
So I guess I will just make the best of things while I’m here.