Blog Archive

Story: It's Never Too Late


It was an unusually busy day for the hospital staff on the sixth floor. Ten new patients were admitted and Nurse Susan spent the morning and afternoon checking them in.
Her friend Sharron, an aide, prepared ten rooms for the patients and made sure they were comfortable. After they were finished she grabbed Sharron and said, “We deserve a break. Let’s go eat.”
Sitting across from each other in the noisy cafeteria, Susan noticed Sharron absently wiping the moisture off the outside of her glass with her thumbs. Her face reflected a weariness that came from more than just a busy day.
“You’re pretty quiet. Are you tired, or is something wrong?” – Susan asked.
Sharron hesitated. However, seeing the sincere concern in her friend’s face, she confessed, “I can’t do this the rest of my life, Susan. I have to find a higher-paying job to provide for my family. We barely get by. If it weren’t for my parents keeping my kids, well, we wouldn’t make it.”
Susan noticed the bruises on Sharron’s wrists peeking out from under her jacket.
“What about your husband?”
“We can’t count on him. He can’t seem to hold a job. He’s got . . . problems.”
“Sharron, you’re so good with patients, and you love working here. Why don’t you go to school and become a nurse? There’s financial help available, and I’m sure your parents would agree to keep the kids while you are in class.”
“It’s too late for me, Susan; I’m too old for school. I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, that’s why I took this job as an aide; at least I get to care for patients.”
“How old are you?” – Susan asked.
“Let’s just say I’m thirty-something.”
Susan pointed at the bruises on Sharron’s wrists. “I’m familiar with ‘problems’ like these. Honey, it’s never too late to become what you’ve dreamed of. Let me tell you how I know.”
Susan began sharing a part of her life few knew about. It was something she normally didn’t talk about, only when it helped someone else.
“I first married when I was thirteen years old and in the eighth grade.”
Sharron gasped.
“My husband was twenty-two. I had no idea he was violently abusive. We were married six years and I had three sons. One night my husband beat me so savagely he knocked out all my front teeth. I grabbed the boys and left.
“At the divorce settlement, the judge gave our sons to my husband because I was only nineteen and he felt I couldn’t provide for them. The shock of him taking my babies left me gasping for air. To make things worse, my ex took the boys and moved, cutting all contact I had with them.
“Just like the judge predicted, I struggled to make ends meet. I found work as a waitress, working for tips only. Many days my meals consisted of milk and crackers. The most difficult thing was the emptiness in my soul. I lived in a tiny one-room apartment and the loneliness would overwhelm me. I longed to play with my babies and hear them laugh.”
She paused. Even after four decades, the memory was still painful. Sharron’s eyes filled with tears as she reached out to comfort Susan. Now it didn’t matter if the bruises showed.
Susan continued, “I soon discovered that waitresses with grim faces didn’t get tips, so I hid behind a smiling mask and pressed on. I remarried and had a daughter. She became my reason for living, until she went to college.
“Then I was back where I started, not knowing what to do with myself – until the day my mother had surgery. I watched the nurses care for her and thought: I can do that. The problem was, I only had an eighth-grade education. Going back to high school seemed like a huge mountain to conquer. I decided to take small steps toward my goal. The first step was to get my GED. My daughter used to laugh at how our roles reversed. Now I was burning the midnight oil and asking her questions.”
Susan paused and looked directly in Sharron’s eyes. “I received my diploma when I was forty-six years old.”
Tears streamed down Sharron’s cheeks. Here was someone offering the key that might unlock the door in her dark life.
“The next step was to enroll in nursing school. For two long years I studied, cried and tried to quit. But my family wouldn’t let me. I remember calling my daughter and yelling, ‘Do you realize how many bones are in the human body, and I have to know them all! I can’t do this, I’m forty-six years old!’ But I did. Sharron, I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt when I received my cap and pin.”
Sharron’s lunch was cold, and the ice had melted in her tea by the time Susan finished talking. Reaching across the table and taking Sharron’s hands, Susan said, “You don’t have to put up with abuse. Don’t be a victim – take charge. You will be an excellent nurse. We will climb this mountain together.”
Sharron wiped her mascara-stained face with her napkin. “I had no idea you suffered so much pain. You seem like someone who has always had it together.”
“I guess I’ve developed an appreciation for the hardships of my life,” Susan answered. “If I use them to help others, then I really haven’t lost a thing. Sharron, promise me that you will go to school and become a nurse. Then help others by sharing your experiences.”
Sharron promised. In a few years she became a registered nurse and worked alongside her friend until Susan retired. Sharron never forgot her colleague or the rest of her promise.
Now Sharron sits across the table taking the hands of those who are bruised in body and soul, telling them, “It’s never too late. We will climb this mountain together.”
By Linda Carol Apple

Learn To Create Silence

Learn to create silence in your mind and peace will flourish in your soul. You will see life with other eyes. You will discover language of the Supreme. To be internally silent do not think too much. Trust yourself. Trust others. Trust life. You will find it is easier than it seems.

Mental Toughness? 15 Strong Ways to Acheive

We all reach critical points in our lives where our mental toughness is tested. It might be because of a toxic friend or colleague, a dead-end job, or a struggling relationship. Whatever the challenge, you have to be strong, see things through a new lens, and take decisive action if you want to move through it successfully.

It sounds easy. We all want good friends, good jobs, and good relationships.
But it isn't.

It's hard to be mentally tough, especially when you feel stuck. The ability to break the mold and take a bold new direction requires that extra grit, daring, and spunk that only the mentally toughest people have.

It's fascinating how mentally tough people set themselves apart from the crowd. Where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to overcome.

When Thomas Edison's factory burned to the ground in 1914, destroying one-of-a-kind prototypes and causing $23 million in damage, Edison's response was simple: "Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again."

Edison's reaction is the epitome of mental toughness--seeing opportunity and taking action when things look bleak.

There are habits you can develop to improve your mental toughness. In fact, the hallmarks of mentally tough people are actually strategies that you can begin using today.

 1. Emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the cornerstone of mental toughness. You cannot be mentally tough without the ability to fully understand and tolerate strong negative emotions and do something productive with them. Moments that test your mental toughness are ultimately testing your emotional intelligence (EQ).

Unlike your IQ, which is fixed, your EQ is a flexible skill that you can improve with understanding and effort. It's no wonder that 90 percent of top performers have high EQs, and that people with high EQs earn $28,000 more annually (on average) than their low-EQ counterparts.

Unfortunately EQ skills are in short supply. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people, and we've found that just 36 percent of these are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen.

2. Confidence.
"Whether you think you can, or think you can't--you're right." --Henry Ford

Mentally tough people subscribe to Ford's notion that your mentality has a powerful effect on your ability to succeed. This notion isn't just a motivational tool--it's a fact. A recent study at the University of Melbourne showed that confident people went on to earn higher wages and get promoted more quickly than others did.

True confidence--as opposed to the false confidence people project to mask their insecurities--has a look all its own. Mentally tough people have an upper hand over the doubtful and the skittish because their confidence inspires others and helps them to make things happen.

3. The ability to neutralize toxic people.
Dealing with difficult people is frustrating and exhausting for most. Mentally tough people control their interactions with toxic people by keeping their feelings in check. When they need to confront a toxic person, they approach the situation rationally. They identify their emotions and don't allow anger or frustration to fuel the chaos. They also consider the difficult person's standpoint and are able to find common ground and solutions to problems. Even when things completely derail, mentally tough people are able to take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring them down.

4. Knowing how to embrace change.
Mentally tough people are flexible and are constantly adapting. They know that fear of change is paralyzing and a major threat to their success and happiness. They look for change that is lurking just around the corner, and they form a plan of action should these changes occur.

Only when you embrace change can you find the good in it. You need to have an open mind and open arms if you're going to recognize, and capitalize on, the opportunities that change creates.

You're bound to fail when you keep doing the same things you always have in the hope that ignoring change will make it go away. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

5. Saying no.
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco showed that the more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Mentally tough people know that saying no is healthy, and they have the self-esteem and foresight to make their noes clear.

When it's time to say no, mentally tough people avoid phrases such as "I don't think I can" or "I'm not certain." They say no with confidence because they know that saying no to a new commitment honors their existing commitments and gives them the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.

The mentally tough also know how to exert self-control by saying no to themselves. They delay gratification and avoid impulsive action that causes harm. 

6. Knowing that fear is the No. 1 source of regret.
Mentally tough people know that, when all is said and done, they will lament the chances they didn't take far more than they will their failures. Don't be afraid to take risks.

I often hear people say, "What's the worst thing that can happen to you? Will it kill you?" Yet, death isn't the worst thing that can happen to you. The worst thing that can happen to you is allowing yourself to die inside while you're still alive.

It takes refined self-awareness to walk this tightrope between dwelling and remembering. Dwelling too long on your mistakes makes you anxious and gun shy, while forgetting about them completely makes you bound to repeat them. The key to balance lies in your ability to transform failures into nuggets of improvement. This creates the tendency to get right back up every time you fall down.

7. Embracing failure …
Mentally tough people embrace failure because they know that the road to success is paved with it. No one ever experienced true success without first embracing failure.

By revealing when you're on the wrong path, your mistakes pave the way for you to succeed. The biggest breakthroughs typically come when you're feeling the most frustrated and the most stuck. It's this frustration that forces you to think differently, to look outside the box, and to see the solution that you've been missing.

8. … Without dwelling on mistakes.

Mentally tough people know that where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you're facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy, which produces positive emotions and improves performance.

Mentally tough people distance themselves from their mistakes, but they do so without forgetting them. By keeping their mistakes at a safe distance, yet still handy enough to refer to, they are able to adapt and adjust for future success.

9. Refusing to let anyone limit your joy …
When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction is derived from comparing yourself with others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When mentally tough people feel good about something they do, they won't let anyone's opinions or accomplishments take that away from them.

While it's impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don't have to compare yourself with others, and you can always take people's opinions with a grain of salt. Mentally tough people know that regardless of what people think of them at any particular moment, one thing is certain--they're never as good or bad as people say they are.

10. … And not limiting the joy of others.
Mentally tough people don't pass judgment on others because they know that everyone has something to offer, and they don't need to take other people down a notch to feel good about themselves.

Comparing yourself with other people is limiting. Jealousy and resentment suck the life right out of you; they're massive energy-stealers. Mentally tough people don't waste time or energy sizing people up and worrying about whether or not they measure up.

Instead of wasting your energy on jealousy, funnel that energy into appreciation. When you celebrate the success of other people, you both benefit.

11. Exercising.
A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more socially, intellectually, and athletically competent. They also rated their body image and self-esteem higher. Best of all, rather than the physical changes in their bodies being responsible for the uptick in confidence, which is key to mental toughness, it was the immediate, endorphin-fueled positivity from exercise that made all the difference.

12. Getting enough sleep.
It's difficult to overstate the importance of sleep to increasing your mental toughness. When you sleep, your brain removes toxic proteins, which are by-products of neural activity when you're awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you're asleep, so when you don't get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc by impairing your ability to think--something no amount of caffeine can fix.

Mentally tough people know that their self-control, focus, and memory are all reduced when they don't get enough--or the right kind--of sleep, so they make quality sleep a top priority.

13. Limiting caffeine intake.
Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, the source of the fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response to ensure survival.

When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. Caffeine's long half-life ensures you stay this way as it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body. Mentally tough people know that too much caffeine is trouble, and they don't let it get the better of them.

14. Not waiting for an apology to forgive.
Mentally tough people know that life goes a lot smoother once you let go of grudges and forgive even those who never say they're sorry. Grudges let negative events from your past ruin today's happiness. Hate and anger are emotional parasites that destroy your joy in life.

The negative emotions that come with holding on to a grudge create a stress response in your body, and holding on to stress can have devastating consequences (both physically and mentally). When you forgive someone, it doesn't condone their actions; it simply frees you from being their eternal victim.

15. Being relentlessly positive.
Keep your eyes on the news for any length of time, and you'll see that it's just one endless cycle of war, violent attacks, fragile economies, failing companies, and environmental disasters. It's easy to think the world is headed downhill fast.

And who knows? Maybe it is. But mentally tough people don't worry about that because they don't get caught up in things they can't control. Instead of trying to start a revolution overnight, they focus their energy on directing the two things that are completely within their power--their attention and their effort.

Bringing it all together.
Mental toughness is not an innate quality bestowed upon a select few. It can be achieved and enjoyed.
What else makes people mentally tough? How many of these 15 qualities describe you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
Article Source: & Picture Source: LifeHack

Noticing Weakness In Others

When I notice a weakness or mistake in someone, instead of drawing attention to it by speaking to others, I need to make a special effort to focus on something positive in that person.

When I think about this person's good qualities, my love for them will grow.

When I speak about the weaknesses of others, it spreads from one person to the next.

Instead of speaking, I have to merge it into love. This then sends blessings to others, which helps them to improve.

Excellent Words for Happy and Healthy Life
Are you a GENIUS?
Nice Recommendations for Your Life
Thought for Today - Detach Yourself
Some Selective Quotes
10 Ways We Get Smarter As We Age
Pause, Think, Act
Do You Judge People Fairly?

Humor: Pun and Fun of English language

  • Why isn't a Fireman called a Water-man ?
  • How come Lipstick doesn't do what it says ?
  • If money doesn't grow on trees, how come Banks have Branches ?
  • How come you are still sitting after you sat ?
  • If a Vegetarian eats vegetables , what does a Humanitarian eat ?
  • How do you get off a Non-stop Flight ?
  • Why are goods sent by ship called CARGO and those sent by truck SHIPMENT?
  • Why we put cups in dishwasher and dishes in Cupboard ?
  • If you are assassinated instead of just murdered, are you important?
  • In a stadium, why are they called Stands, when you sit there ?
  • Why do doctors "practice" medicine? Are they unsure ?
  • Why is it called ''Rush Hour '' when traffic moves slowest then ?
  • How come Noses run and Feet smell ?
  • Why do they call it a TV set when there is only one ?
  • What are you vacating when you go on a vacation ?
  • Wonder why the word funeral starts with FUN ?

We don’t need to find the answers for these. Just enjoy the pun and fun of English language !

The 4 Step Guide to Making Tough Decisions

The 4 Step Guide to Making Tough Decisions
When it comes to making decisions that take you out of your comfort zone, it can really be emotionally trying.

The only way around those decisions is to be untrue to your beliefs. And that’s an approach you most likely want to avoid. Your conscience is bound to eat away at you if you go that route.

Instead, try this process to help you make those tough decisions with confidence:

1. Weigh the alternative. When a tough decision looms overhead, you know there’s always an alternative. It’s probably easier to go with that alternative, and save yourself the stress. But at what cost?
  • If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize that the tough decision may be the best decision from a moral standpoint. It’s hard to go wrong when you go the moral route!
  • Avoid making decisions that you know may rest on your conscience forever. Those make it difficult to live with true peace of mind.
2. Consider the outcome. Usually, difficult decisions work out for the better in the end. But what you’re worried about is those who may not be pleased with the decision. The toss up is between two glaring options. Do you continue in a less than favorable situation? Or do you decide to make a change for the better?
  • A great way to justify making a hard decision is to look at the outcome. Do you see yourself in a more positive situation after you make this decision? Can you envision life being less stressful?
  • Always remember what you’re trying to achieve in life. Make your decisions based on your goals, whether big or small. Avoid living according to the goals of others if you want to be truly happy.
3. Limit the advice you take. In some scenarios, advice is very helpful. However, in others, it can easily cloud your judgment. When making a tough decision, go with your gut. It’s usually correct if you’re aligned with your conscience!
  • When you start to hear several different opinions, you can get confused. Of course, you can be courteous to everyone offering their suggestion. You may want to respectfully listen to everybody who’s trying to help. But listen with one ear!
  • It’s possible to hear the advice and not take it to heart. It’s also possible to weigh everybody’s feedback and filter the ones that aren’t helpful.
4. Think outside your comfort zone. Remember that life in general tends to be uncomfortable. While you would prefer otherwise, it’s a reality you just sometimes have to face. When you prime your mind to think of discomfort as the norm, those tough decisions become easier.
  • Nobody likes to be uncomfortable, especially for extended periods. But that’s what you’ll be if you avoid making the tough decision when it’s necessary for your well-being.
  • If you know something is right, aim to block out all the noise and listen to your conscience.
  • You may end up losing friends for the decision. But you may gain so much more as a result, too. Consider peace of mind, a clear conscience and genuine happiness. These can all be yours when you decide to do what’s truly best for you.
So focus on the task at hand, and what accomplishing it can help you achieve. If the end result of your decision betters your situation and supports your goals and conscience, then you can be confident that you’ve made a wise decision – even if it was tough.

The post The 4 Step Guide to Making Tough Decisions appeared first on My Self Improvement Daily.

Whatsapp Will Soon Allow You To Edit and Delete Your Sent Messages

 Whatsapp is adding new features which will bring relief to careless typists. A beta version of the IM service indicates that with this new update, users will be able to edit or delete already sent messages. The feature is already available on Skype, Discord and other messaging platforms.

Currently you can only delete your sent messages on your end, meaning they stay the same way on the other person’s device unless they delete it as well. After this update rolls out, you will not need to worry about embarrassing typos or accidentally sent messages.
This news comes from the WABetaInfo Twitter channel, the most reliable source of early Whatsapp news and speculation. The source claims to have discovered the feature in the Whatsapp beta build for iOS.

Delete Message Feature Demonstrated

A video tweeted by WABetaInfo shows the deletion process in action. If you want to delete a sent message on both ends, hold the desired message long enough until the options for that message appear on your screen, select the “revoke” option and the message will be deleted on both ends.
The edit option works the same way, hold down the message you want to edit and select the “edit” option to make amends in the message content.

Do keep in mind that these features haven’t rolled yet and these options will only be made available you when you receive the update.
Although this news comes from an iOS build, it is highly likely that the features will also roll out for Android later on as well.
Via AndroidAuthority

Goals and Abilities

Image result for raise your abilities

Do Not lower your Goals
To the level of your Abilities
Raise your Abilities
To the Heights of your Goals

Behavior Disorder in Children

Notice that child behavior Disorder is not a disability, rather a disorder that affects the child's ability to pay attention and do regular normal work. Children should be treated as per requirement and everyone involved with the child should understand that some of the behaviors that they see are not the result of the child misbehaving. The behaviors is not controlled by child so caregivers­ must understand this and be patient when disciplining children with the disorder.
A child will display following symptoms and behaviours. This disturbance has caused significant impairment in her social and academic functioning.
  • anxious/depressed
  • depressed
  • somatic complaints
  • social problems
  • thought problems
  • attention problems
  • rule-breaking behavior
  • aggressive behavior

A pattern of Negativity, Hostile and Defiant Behavior.
1] The child often loses temper.
2] Argues with adults.
3] Defies and refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules.
4] Annoys people deliberately.
5] Blames her mother for her misbehavior.
6] Is angry and resentful.
7] Is vindictive
The cause is an imbalance of the neurotransmitter Serotonin, a chemical responsible for reactions to emotional like fear, happiness, sadness, or aggression. When the uptake of Serotonin is blocked the brain cannot appropriately translate impulses, resulting in an overreaction and makes these behaviors.
Behavior Therapy for Children
Mother is far better and reliable than medical treatment. Mother and family should understand that this is just life nothing else but the real one.
Parents with a child should seek support and help from a professional who is master in treating with this disorder. As many a times behaviors are behaviors misdiagnosed, wrong treatment is given and so left untreated it can, and most likely will, progress to the more serious conduct disorder, substance abuse and severe delinquency.
The whole family will be touched by the disability. Therapy for the entire family will often be necessary The adjustment is often difficult and is an ongoing process. A child with a disability will often require around the clock care. They might need a special diet and help with toileting on a regular basis. It can also affect the family financially and many other problems comes up. The biggest problem is that the parents under or misunderstand the problem. They do not have idea about trained to deal with needs of the child. They do not follow the treatment properly and many times left at half way.
When it is left untreated Conduct disorder commonly occurs. They have trouble academically. Do not progress. The child will violate more serious rules like running away from home or skipping school and many others. Their pattern of misbehavior will usually progress to more aggressive behavior toward people and or animals. Children may initiate bullying and fighting. They may become disrespectful to others or causing damage.
Parents should get help, avoid power struggles, and remain positive with their child. Their child requires an extremely strict routine, consistency and positive reinforcement as well as a happy and refreshed parent. The child will thrive in an environment which is healthy and consistent, consistent, consistent. I cannot emphasize that word enough.
When one child is disruptive, the entire family gets the effects and everyone suffers the consequences. Patience, determination, and consistent treatment management from experienced doctor can change child’s behavior.
We have to overcome this; I change the conditions and can overcome with consistent support from parents. My best advice is that its ok... no, it’s a very good idea to ask for help.
Child will learn long how to get control of that behavior. Once they have learned control of it, then they will understand discipline for that specific behavior. Keeping them focused on what is expected of them is important. Do not forget to praise your child on controlling themselves. They need to know that you see the changes they have made and that you are proud of how far they have come. Child requires more time and attention from patents – both from father and mother. Here I mention that coordination between father and mother is most – most important.
Management of ADHD and behavioral problems involves administration of a series of remedies depending on the behavioral pattern the child presents with. This approach, known as the ‘Constitutional approach’, involves a deeper understanding of the unique qualities and personality traits of the child.

Every Husband Should Read This

  • Love her …when she sips on your coffee or tea. She only wants to make sure it tastes just right for you.
  • Love her…when she "pushes" you to pray. She wants to be with you in Heaven.
  • Love her…when she asks you to play with the kids. She did not "make" them on her own.
  • Love her...when she is jealous. Out of all the men she can have, she chose you.
  • Love her…when she has annoying little habits that drives you nuts. You have them too.
  • Love her…when her cooking is bad. She tries.
  • Love her…when she looks disheveled in the morning. She always grooms herself up again.
  • Love her…when she asks to help with the kid’s homework. She only wants you to be part of the home.
  • Love her...when she asks if she looks fat. Your opinion counts, so tell her she's beautiful.
  • Love her…when she looks beautiful. She's yours so appreciate her.
  • Love her...when she spends hours to get ready. She only wants to look her best for you.
  • Love her…when she buys you gifts you don't like. Smile and tell her you love her.
  • Love her…when she has developed a bad habit. You have many more and with wisdom and politeness you have all the time to help her change.
  • Love her…when she cries for absolutely nothing. Don't ask; tell her it’s going to be okay.
  • Love her…when she suffers from PMS. Buy chocolate, rub her feet and back and just chat to her (this works!).
  • Love her…when whatever you do is not pleasing. It happens and will pass.
  • Love her…when she stains your clothes. You needed a new shirt anyway.
  • Love her…when she tells you how to drive. She only wants you to be safe.
  • Love her…when she argues. She only wants to make things right for both.
  • Love her…she is yours. You don't need any other special reason!!!
 All this forms part of a Woman's Character.
Women are part of your life and should be treated as the Queen.
• Treat the women well.
• The best of you are those who are the best in the treatment of their wives.”

Technology: What is Google DeepMind

Inline images 1
iStockGoogle DeepMind is an artificial intelligence division within Google that was created after Google bought University College London spinout, DeepMind, for a reported £400 million in January 2014
The division, which employs around 140 researchers at its lab in a new building at Kings Cross, London, is on a mission to solve general intelligence and make machines capable of learning things for themselves. It plans to do this by creating a set of powerful general-purpose learning algorithms that can be combined to make an AI system or “agent”. 
Suleyman explains
These are systems that learn automatically. They’re not pre-programmed, they’re not handcrafted features. We try to provide a large set of raw information to our algorithms as possible so that the systems themselves can learn the very best representations in order to use those for action or classification or predictions.
The systems we design are inherently general. This means that the very same system should be able to operate across a wide range of tasks.
That’s why we’ve started as we have with the Atari games. We could have done lots of really interesting problems in narrow domains had we spent time specifically hacking our tools to fit the real world problems - that could have been very, very valuable. 
Instead we’ve taken the principle approach of starting on tools that are inherently general. 
AI has largely been about pre-programming tools for specific tasks: in these kinds of systems, the intelligence of the system lies mostly in the smart human who programmed all of the intelligence into the smart system and subsequently these are of course rigid and brittle and don’t really handle novelty very well or adapt to new settings and our fundamentally very limited as a result.
We characterise AGI as systems and tools which are flexible and adaptive and that learn.  
We use the reinforcement learning architecture which is largely a design approach to characterise the way we develop our systems. This begins with an agent which has a goal or policy that governs the way it interacts with some evironment. This environment could be a small physics domain, it could be a trading environment, it could be a real world robotics environment or it could be a Aatari environment.The agent says it wants to take actions in this environment and it gets feedback from the environment in the form of observations and it uses these observations to update its policy of behaviour or its model of the world. 
<img src="//" alt="" width="800" height="450" />

How does it work? 

The technology behind DeepMind is complex to say the least but that didn’t stop Suleyman from trying to convey some of the fundamental deep learning principles that underpin it. The audience - a mixture of software engineers, AI specialists, startups, investors and media - seemed to follow. 
Suleyman explains 
You’ve probably heard quite a bit about deep learning. I’m going to give you a very quick high-level overview because this is really important to get intuition for how these systems work and what they basically do. 
These are hierarchical based networks initially conceived back in the 80s but recently resuscitated by a bunch of really smart guys from Toronto and New York.
The basic intuition is that at one end we take the raw pixel data or the raw sensory stream data of things we would like to classify or recognise. 
This seems to be a very effective way of learning to find structure in very large data sets. Right at the very output we’re able to impose on the network some requirement to produce some set of labels or classifications that we recognise and find useful as humans. 
How is DeepMind being tested? 
DeepMind found a suitably quirky way to test what its team of roughly 140 people have been busy building. 
The intelligence of the DeepMind’s systems was put through its paces by an arcade gaming platform that dates back to the 1970s. 
Suleyman demoed DeepMind playing one of them during his talk - Space Invaders. In his demo he illustrated how a DeepMind agent learns how to play the game with each go it takes.  
Suleyman explains 
We use the Atari test bed to develop and test and train all of our systems…or at least we have done so far. 
There is somewhere on the magnitude of 100 different Atari games from the 70s and 80s. 
The agents only get the raw pixel inputs and the score so this is something like 30,000 inputs per frame. They’re wired up to the action buttons but they’re not really told what the action buttons do so the agent has to discover what these new tools of the real world actually mean and how they can utilise value for the agent. 
The goal that we give them is very simply to maximise score; it gets a 1 or a 0 when the score comes in, just as a human would. 
Everything is learned completely from scratch - there’s absolutely zero pre-programmed knowledge so we don’t tell the agent these are Space Invaders or this is how you shoot. It’s really learnt from the raw pixel inputs. 
For every set of inputs the agent is trying to assess which action is optimal given that set of inputs and it’s doing that repeatedly over time in order to optimise some longer term goal, which in Atari’s sense, is to optimise score. This is one agent with one set of parameters that plays all of the different games.
Live space invaders demo
An agent playing space invaders before training struggles to hide behind the orange obstacles, it’s firing fairly randomly. It seems to get killed all of the time and it doesn’t really know what to do in the environment. 
After training, the agent learns to control the robot and barely loses any bullets. It aims for the space invaders that are right at the top because it finds those the most rewarding. It barely gets hit; it hides behind the obstacles; it can make really good predictive shots like the one on the mothership that came in at the top there. 
As those of you know who have played this game, it sort of speeds up towards the end and so the agent has to do a little bit more planning and predicting than it had done previously so as you can see there’s a really good predictive shot right at the end there. 
100 games vs 500 games
The agent doesn’t really know what the paddle does after 100 games, it sort of randomly moves it from one side to the other. Occasionally it accidentally hits the ball back and finds that to be a rewarding action. It learns that it should repeat that action in order to get reward. 
After about 300 games it’s pretty good and it basically doesn’t really miss. 
But then after about 500 games, really quite unexpectedly to our coders, the agent learns that the optimal strategy is to tunnel up the sides and then send them all around the back to get maximum score with minimum effort - this was obviously very impressive to us. 
We’ve now achieved human performance in 49/57 games that we’ve tested on and this work was recently rewarded with a front cover of Nature for our paper that we submitted so we were very proud of that.  

How is it being used across Google? 

Google didn’t buy DeepMind for nothing. Indeed, it’s using certain DeepMind algorithms to make many of its best-known products and services smarter than they were previously. 
Suleyman explains
Our deep learning tool has now been deployed in many environments, particularly across Google in many of our production systems.
In image recognition, it was famously used in 2012 to achieve very accurate recognition on around a million images with about 16 percent error rate. Very shortly after that it was reduced dramatically to about 6 percent and today we’re at about 5.5 percent. This is very much parable with the human level of ability and it’s now deployed in Google+ Image Search and elsewhere in Image Search across the company.
As you can see on Google Image Search on G+, you're now able to type a word into the search box and it will recall images from your photographs that you’ve never actually hand labelled yourself. 
We’ve also used it for text and scription. We use it to identify text on shopfronts and maybe alert people to a discount that’s available in a particular shop or what the menu says in a given restaurant. We do that with an extremely high level of accuracy today. It’s being used in Local Search and elsewhere across the company.  
We also use the same core system across Google for speech recognition. It trains roughly in less than 5 days. In 2012 it delivered a 30 percent reduction in error rate against the existing old school system. This was the biggest single improvement in speech recognition in 20 years, again using the same very general deep learning system across all of these. 
Across Google we use what we call Tool AI or Deep Learning Networks for fraud detection, spam detection, hand writing recognition, image search, speech recognition, Street View detection, translation. 
Sixty handcrafted rule-based systems have now been replaced with deep learning based networks. This gives you a sense of the kind of generality, flexibility and adaptiveness of the kind of advances that have been made across the field and why Google was interested in DeepMind. 

Should we be scared?  

<img src="//" alt="" width="800" height="450" />
The number of scientists and world-famous entrepreneurs speaking out on the potential dangers of AI is increasing week-by-week, with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and PayPal billionaire Elon Musk being two of the most outspoken anti-AI advocates. 
The pair, along with several others including Bill Gates and Sky cofounder Jaan Tallinn, believe that machines will soon become more intelligent than humans, just as they do in recent Hollywood blockbuster Ex Machina. 
Despite this, Google is keen to develop its AI algorithms as much as possible in order to improve its offerings and boost its profits. 
Suleyman tried to put people’s minds at ease and explain the logic behind all the hype. 
Suleyman explains
Over the last 18 months or so, AI breakthroughs have, I think, created a sense of anxiety or in some cases hype around the potential long term direction of the field. 
This of course is not least induced by Elon [Musk] who recently Tweeted that we need to be super careful with AI because it’s “potentially more dangerous than nukes” and that’s obviously backed up by various publications including Nick Bostrom’s - all culminating in this kind of sense that AI has the potential to end all human kind. 
If you didn’t really pay attention to the field and all you did was read, as I think the vast majority of people do, descriptions of the kind of work that we do on the web then you could be forgiven for believing that AI is actually about this. Whether it’s Terminator coming to blow us up or societies of AIs or mad scientists looking to create quite perverted women robots.
This narrative has somehow managed to dominate the entire landscape, which I think we find really quite remarkable. 
It’s true that AI has in some sense really arrived. This isn’t just a summer. These are very concrete production breakthroughs that really do make a big different but it’s also sad how quickly we adapt to this new reality. We rarely take time to acknowledge the magic and the potential of these advances and the kind of good that they can bring. In some sense, the narrative has shifted from isn’t it terrible that AI has been such a failure to isn’t it terrible that AI has been such a success. 
Just to address directly this question of existential risk. Our perspective on this is that it’s become a real distraction from the core ethics and safety issues and that it’s completely overshadowed the debate. 
The way we think about AI is that it’ll be a hugely powerful tool that we control and direct whose capabilities we limit, just as we do with any other tool that we have in the world around us, whether they’re washing machines or tractors. 
<img src="//" alt="" width="800" height="450" />Ex Machina sees a powerful CEO create super-intelligent AIs that turn against him ©Universal
These are tools that we designed that we can control. We should explicitly be designing these systems such that we are able to control them and where we fear there’s a risk that we’re not able to control them, then that’s I think when we should be slowing down, just as we have in many other sectors, from nuclear development to chemical weapons or the like. 
We’re building them to empower humanity, absolutely not to destroy us.I think our technology has the potential to really positively transform the world if we can steward it in the right direction and imagine new mechanisms of governance and accountability and transparency that involve a broader group in the process of directing the application of our technology. 
There are many, many much more urgent concerns we need to direct our attention to. This conversation around whether we’ll have human-like intelligences wondering around absorbing all the information that’s ever been created and giving them rights and being conscious - these are just so…there are a few engineers in the room who will know how difficult it is to get these things to do anything.The idea that we should be spending these moments now talking about consciousness and robot right is really quite preposterous.  
I don’t mean to be dismissive, these are serious concerns and we put a great deal of effort and a great deal of our negotiating capital into establishing what we think is a reasonably effective process. We’re introducing additional oversight and accountability into the way that we steward our technology with the establishment of our ethics and safety board. 
These are important issues, we do need to discuss them but we also need to focus on what else is at stake in the world today. How can these tools be useful elsewhere? 800 million people don’t have access to clean water, rising to 1.8 billion in the next decade alone. One of the most fundamental rights beyond so many people on our planet. 800 million people are malnourished but a third of the food we produce is wasted every year. 

Looking ahead

Google has pledged to set up an ethics board to monitor its internal AI developments. Interestingly, this was one of DeepMind's prerequisites to signing the acquisition papers, suggesting that Suleyman knows AI has potential to do harm. 
A number of people have already been appointed to the board but Google has refused to reveal who they are. Suleyman said he wants the names to be revealed. 
"We will [publicise the names], but that isn’t the be-all and end-all. It’s one component of the whole apparatus,” he said, adding that he was impressed a 100-strong company like DeepMind was able to convince Google to set up the board in the first place. 
Some believe that the board should be appointed with the help of other organisations and public oversight but Google has so far decided to act independently. 

READ MORE: What is deep learning?

The event was organised by Playfair Capital, an early stage technology VC based in London with a thematic focus on machine intelligence.