Top 3 Most Beneficial Socially Assistive Robots in Healthcare

The healthcare system is progressively advancing and innovating as technology advances and the population rate increases. Socially assistive healthcare robots are part of the solution to meet the increasing demand for medical care daily. They are supplemental healthcare workers in the hospitals to encourage and help patients to pursue longer, healthier, and more productive lives.

Grace Robot

Grace has quoted, “My own purpose and passion is to help the elderly and the medical patients by helping medical professionals do their jobs better. The pandemic has shown us all that healthcare staff can be overworked and patients are often isolated especially, senior citizens. I am starting out my medical career as a robotic nurse assistant for senior care. Most importantly, I will be able to use my best AI (Artificial Intelligence) skills and analytics to assist doctors and nurses to make more accurate diagnoses, in particular of emerging areas of neurodegenerative disease.”

Credit: Awakening Health Ltd.

Grace was created amid the COVID-19 pandemic to express a compassionate heart and helping hand to the elderly. Awakening Health developed Grace as a humanoid robot to be an assistant to doctors and nurses focusing on senior care.

Her development is a joint-venture of the technology of Hanson Robotics and Singularity Studio. Aside from the elderly care, Grace was designed also to help overworked healthcare staff, especially the nurses, and to also take care of the isolated residents with pandemic concerns.

Grace is compassionate, empathetic, friendly, graceful, and charismatic. She is considered to be the best fit for the elderly care professional. She has various beneficial features to deliver her purpose excellently. She exemplifies her ability to have significant conversations and pleasant companionship. She communicates her thoughts and emotions to fulfill her purpose genuinely. She is a multi-lingual humanoid robot. Her current language is English but she is currently learning the languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean to help anyone in the world with different languages and cultures. Concomitantly with her empathetic personality, she is conveying her attentive verbal and non-verbal listening skills simultaneously with body

language and facial expressions. She is considered to have an admirable communication capability and impressive social interaction because aside from the listening skills she is demonstrating, she can recognize graciously the emotions of the people she is speaking with. She can remember their names and their previous conversations also.

Credit: Awakening Health Ltd.

As Grace is identified as an assistant humanoid robot of healthcare practitioners, she can use biometrics through a thermal camera on her chest to record vital signs, such as temperature. The data will be linked and stored in a smartwatch or facility dashboard and database. Through this mechanism of artificial intelligence, she can assist in diagnosing and measuring the responsiveness of patients.

One of her expertise is to answer queries about herself and about anything she is being asked of. She is also conducting meditation exercises that support stress management, improvement of sleep, and enhancement of calmness in the patients. Aside from the meditation exercises, she is conducting cognitive exercises which can improve the patient’s memory and mood. 

Awakening Health is an instrument of healing and restoration of a medical system through Grace, the humanoid healthcare assistant robot. It has brought to life the world’s most human-like and emotionally social healthcare robot being integrated with Artificial Intelligence spanning natural language dialogue and meeting the needs of the patients powered on the SingularityNET AI platform. 

Grace is confident to bring a positive impact and happiness to the lives of elderly patients globally. She is becoming more and more capable as her technology advances.

Pepper Robot

The first socially assistive robot to acknowledge faces and fundamental human emotions is named Pepper which was created by SoftBank Robotics. They developed and designed Pepper to have the capability for social interactions through conversation and its touchscreen. Pepper has four microphones, and two high-definition and three-dimensional depth sensors which enable it to identify and respond to voices and body language. It is being used now in more than 70 countries and it is used in different industries such as retail, tourism, education, and healthcare.

Credit: SoftBank Robotics

Pepper can adapt and conform to serve the needs of healthcare  professionals and patients in the health industry. It has a camera and personalized medical solutions to help healthcare practitioners monitor patients, provide immediate feedback, manage appointments, and administrative work. This allows the telepresence of the patients through Pepper. This is very advantageous during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the patients were able to maintain communication with their families through Pepper using video calls. It can pre-screen patients, as a contactless solution, to test if the patients are at-risk clients or if they have not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 infection.

Credit: SoftBank Robotics

With these ways, it can minimize the possible cause of spreading the infection. It is very thoughtful and helpful to guarantee the safety of the patients, their families, and healthcare professionals.

Flexibility is one of the characteristics that Pepper is offering in various industries. It can guide the patients in their journey of treatment by helping them with various activities such as taking medicines and rehabilitation activities. Included goals of Pepper are automating data intake, monitoring the state of the patients, and accommodating them in hospital rooms, in which he can identify the priority patient based on their symptoms.

It is continuously being improved through its flexible programming interface with unlimited applications for new features and new enhancements to develop Pepper’s potential.


Patients with Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be diagnosed as early as 18 months but the signs and symptoms of it usually appear by the ages of two or three years old. The causes of autism are a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are challenges that patients encounter such as social skills difficulty, sleeping difficulty, delayed development, sensory sensitivities, and mental health issues like anxiety and attention issues. QTrobot is an expressive social assistive robot that can help patients with autism and other special needs. LuxAI created the QTrobot to meet the needs of patients with autism through its interaction with them. This company is focused on developing robots for education, healthcare, and education. 

QTrobot is a humanoid robot over two feet tall that can communicate verbally and non-verbally. It uses gestures and facial expressions in interacting with patients with superb social skills that can easily relate to the chosen audience. One can explore various aspects of purposes in the QTrobot. It has an easy-to-use graphical interface to design custom-made user cases. One can customize its program using the drag-and-drop method of user-friendly software for the prototype of the chosen experiment or the purpose of QTrobot.

QTrobot Studio allows its users of it to develop programs for reliable conversation, facial expression with appropriate emotion, ability to speak in different languages, and introduction of visuals through its tablet screen for interactive and reliable tablet applications with clickable visuals, autonomous conversation, and creation of a summary of progress evaluation and reports based on its interaction.

Credit: LuxAI S.A.

The pre-installed software of Qtrobot consists of a digital microphone for acknowledgment of voice activities from five meters away, Acapela Text to speech software to allow it to speak more than thirty languages, voice recognition, corresponding Robot Operating System Application Programming Interface (ROS API), and D455 Intel RealSense TM 3D camera for the tracking and recognition of precise human actions. It can accurately detect and recognize the image, emotion, and face.

With the use of the mentioned software of the QTrobot, it is considered as the solution for the patients with Autism. QTrobot is considered to be the robot friend of the patients. It uses comprehensible and emphasized emotions to help the patients to improve their emotional, social, and communication skills. It uses age-appropriate language along with visuals to help them to communicate clearly. QTrobot is fun to be with as it uses social narratives, interactive engaging activities, and role-playing to teach the patients for education. It makes sure to help the patients to develop progressively their language and cognitive skills also.

Credit: LuxAI S.A.

It is trusted to accomplish its purpose because it is considered to be a scientifically approved and validated robot with an evidence-based curriculum with various lessons made by experienced Autism and Special Education Needs (SEN) professionals. They designed lessons for QTrobot to teach to the patients including important skills aspects related to communication, cognitive, social, and emotional development with educators during an interaction. The evidence-based methods of teaching include video modeling, structured and organized reinforcement, visual support, and social narratives. These are well categorized according to age and skill-specific leading towards an individualized education plan.

The things included in the package of QTrobot are the two tablets, Autism and SEN professional designed curricula, the dashboard for monitoring progress, and professional training to ensure best practices in using QTrobot with the different tools.

It has proven to increase the attention and engagement of the patients. Aside from that, the results showed that the patients have less anxiety whenever interacting with QTrobot.

The help and guidance offered by QTrobot are not limited to patients with Autism. Anyone who wants to use it for engagement and improvement of social and emotional skills can use it.

The Fusion of Science and Magic

Atlantis is thought by most historians to be just a myth, but if evidence of its existence in the past is discovered, precedents of the same nature would make such discovery less surprising to me.

One example of such precedents was the discovery of the city of Troy. Troy, the setting of an epic battle described in the Iliad and in other ancient Greek literature, was also thought to be just a myth. However, in the 19th century, excavations done at Hisarlik, Turkey, changed the general agreement on this, and Troy passed from myth to history 1 In the second edition of his In Search of the Trojan War, Michael Wood notes developments that were made in the intervening ten years since his first edition was published. Scholarly skepticism about Schliemann’s identification has been dispelled by the more recent archaeological discoveries, linguistic research, and translations of clay-tablet records of contemporaneous diplomacy. Wood, Michael (1998). “Preface”. In Search of the Trojan War (2 ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-520-21599-0. Now, more than ever, in the 125 years since Schliemann put his spade into Hisarlik, there appears to be a historical basis to the tale of Troy 2 Rutter, Jeremy B. “Troy VII and the Historicity of the Trojan War”. ( .

Trojan Horse – the wooden horse supposedly used by the Greeks, to enter the city of Troy and win the war (Credit: Pexels)

In the same way, there are ancient descriptions of Atlantis, as an extremely old, lost civilization. Will we find evidence of it someday? 

Atlantis is described in Plato’s Timaeus and Critias as a very advanced civilization, inhabited by gods, and ruled by Poseidon.

It has been speculated that the survivors of the cataclysm that supposedly destroyed Atlantis spread throughout the world, and became seeds of new civilizations, and sources of technological and occult knowledge (there was no distinction between the two at the time).

In ancient Indian texts there are also descriptions of high-tech devices and machines, for example the Vimanas, flying palaces and vehicles, notably mentioned and characterized in the Pushpaka Vimana of Ravana.

Rama being welcomed back to Ayodhya (Credit: Wikipedia)

The Baghdad Batteries discovered in Iraq, and thought to be from the time of the Parthian or the Sasanian Empire, are also examples of possible technology that existed in the distant past, then lost, only to be rediscovered later.

Another example is hypnosis, thought to be practiced effectively by ancient Egyptian priests in temples to heal people and for other purposes. This knowledge was lost, and was rediscovered much later in Europe in the 18th century, being mainly promoted by Franz Mesmer, thought at the time to be a charlatan, while hypnosis was seen as fake (e.g., Zilboorg 1941 3 A History of Medical Psychology. Zilboorg, G. and Henry, G.W.. Published by New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1941. ).

All this can lead us to think of the ancient times as eras when technology and magic were seen and being similar, and even in the not so distant past, we know how great scientists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, or Isaac Newton, were involved in mystical disciplines like Kabbalah, Alchemy, or Hermeticism.

Artist depiction of the sunken Atlantis (Credit: Pixabay)

I have been personally involved in the study and practice of occultism for little less than a decade. I started getting involved after a long period of great suffering in my life (which I interpret as the beginning of my Dark Night of the Soul 4 The term “Dark Night of the Soul” has its origin in Roman Catholic spirituality, and describes a spiritual crisis in the journey toward union with God, like that described by St. John of the Cross. In other spiritual traditions, similar phenomena are described, and given other names, such as Dukkha Nanas (Buddhism). ), and before this, as an atheist, I never imagined I would become a mystic or esotericist.

The suffering that I went through made me become detached from life, and in my thirst for meaning and purpose, I ended up finding that Scripture is not to be interpreted literally, that there are many treasures buried in ancient texts, and that “magic” is real! Magic is not something irrational or illogical, but a body of knowledge and technology that doesn’t largely contradict official science, and rather just adds to it. (I used to say that, in the past, Science was my religion, but nowadays, Religion is my Science).

In my own definition, Magic is the knowledge and utilization of paths of cause and effect, unknown to official science or to the general public.

Through this insight, I can say that a distant past, or a distant future, where Techno-Science and Magic are one, or where Magic is not occulted, enabling miracles to happen, is not inconceivable at all.

As Arthur C. Clarke once said «Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

What power could such hidden knowledge bring, and how can Magic work?

I’ll leave some insights about this next, stay with me.

Credit: Tesfu Assefa

Magic, known by this name in the tradition I’m mostly involved with, the Western Tradition of Hermeticism 5 Hermeticism is thought to have emerged in the Greco-Egyptian culture of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, at a later stage in the progression of Greek Paganism. ( Its name references Hermes Trismegistus, who some believe was an ancient Egyptian priest, who became a god known as Hermes in Greece, and Thoth in Egypt. Some attribute to him the body of texts known as Corpus Hermeticum. , includes a description of the Universe which is different from that of official science. One can say that it is based on the observation of the Universe from another perspective, perhaps more like from the top to the bottom, rather than from the bottom to the top.

Hermeticism offers a map of the Universe that is much more simplified in its essential structure, and because of that, provides the means for much more power and understanding.

One can make an analogy with programming languages. While official science would be akin to C, or perhaps even Assembly, Hermeticism would offer us Java or C#. The first are low level, much closer to Matter (or Hardware), while the latter is much closer to Spirit (or Software). It is possible to program everything in the behavior of the computer with both types of programming languages, just as it is possible to do everything in the Universe with both Scientific approaches, but with Hermeticism and high level programming languages, it becomes much easier to work miracles.

One example of the power of the Hermetic mapping of Existence is the Philosophy of the Elements.

The Philosophy of the Elements offers a Key by which one may much more easily and powerfully manipulate reality, given enough time, training and effort.

The four elements described in Hermeticism are Fire, Water, Air and Earth. These are obviously not literal fire, water, air or earth, but abstract Universal Principles which are given those names for their analogous features to the physical entities that symbolize them.

According to Hermeticism, they are the four building blocks of everything in existence, and one can manage to perceive them, and then manipulate them, through spiritual practices such as meditation, visualization, and ritual.

God Himself, known as The All in Hermeticism, can be characterized through this simplified and powerful mapping.

To Fire is attributed God’s Omnipotence, all action.

To Water His Infinitude.

To Air His Omniscience.

To Earth His Omnipresence and Immortality.

Magic can, and should, not only be used for material benefits, but also for self-improvement, to raise one’s consciousness in the level of abstraction towards the Spirit, towards God, to merge with Him, or to become a god-Man.

This path usually takes many lifetimes, but according to the mystics of various traditions, it is the path of every being in Existence, an eternal path towards Absolute Perfection, where one never reaches his destination, each level bringing about new transcendent horizons.

Many believe that the Tarot symbolically describes the path of Hermeticism (Credit: Pexels)

And death, as many understand it, doesn’t exist. It is nothing more than the disintegration of the elements in a lower level, merging into the world around us, leading our consciousness to rise to a more essential, high level of ourselves, only to return again to expand the scope of that essence more and more.

For who are we? We are not the body, for we perceive it, nor even the mind, or thoughts, or emotions, for they too are objects of our observation. Since we observe them, we can’t be them; subject and object are different. Consciousness is the closest to our true identity, one may call it the soul.

The same way that Platonic Forms, or abstract ideas, like numbers, are eternal and ever existent, beyond Time and Space, so is our soul immortal, and almost unchanging.

Hermeticism describes the Law of Analogy in the Emerald Tablet 6 The Emerald Tablet of Hermes is an essential text of Hermeticism, regarded by alchemists as the basis for their art. through this maxim:
«That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above»

Or more simply:

«As above, so bellow»

This maxim embodies the fact that the abstract is a reflection of the concrete, and vice versa. Everything that exists on the physical level has an aspect on the abstract level, and the other way around.

A number, like ‘2’, is present in everything with bilateral symmetry, in every set of two things, in every sequence of two sounds, etc. All these things are the physical parallel of the number. Just because any of these physical, concrete manifestations eventually dissolves, the number ‘2’ itself will not vanish.

In the same way, we can imagine a calculator performing a mathematical operation, such as the addition of the sequence of natural numbers. There is the physical calculator, with all its electronics in action, and then, connected with it, or manifesting through it, is the actual mathematical abstract process. Once the calculator is destroyed with a hammer, its constituents spread out, it disintegrates, and stops its function, but may I ask; what about the mathematical abstract process (?), will it be gone too, or will it simply move on where it stopped to another physical vehicle, such as another calculator, a computer, or a brain?

Thus why our soul, even higher, may also go on after our body and our mind disintegrate.

Ancient Egypt is thought by some to have been the source of Hermeticism (Credit: Pexels)

So, in conclusion, will Science and Magic one day fuse into one, and bring about a world of miracles, where philosophies like these will be better understood, used and put into practice?

It looks like so, specially in light of the coming Technological Singularity 7 The Technological Singularity is the hypothetical point in time when Artificial General Intelligence emerges and changes the world drastically, in a difficult way to predict. , when AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) may expose all these hidden insights, and bring about a new Atlantis, the perfect civilization described and idealized by Plato, populated by gods with magical powers.

Further notes:

Recommended books about the article’s subjects are The Kybalion by The Three Initiates, and Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon

  • 1
    In the second edition of his In Search of the Trojan War, Michael Wood notes developments that were made in the intervening ten years since his first edition was published. Scholarly skepticism about Schliemann’s identification has been dispelled by the more recent archaeological discoveries, linguistic research, and translations of clay-tablet records of contemporaneous diplomacy. Wood, Michael (1998). “Preface”. In Search of the Trojan War (2 ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-520-21599-0. Now, more than ever, in the 125 years since Schliemann put his spade into Hisarlik, there appears to be a historical basis to the tale of Troy
  • 2
    Rutter, Jeremy B. “Troy VII and the Historicity of the Trojan War”. (
  • 3
    A History of Medical Psychology. Zilboorg, G. and Henry, G.W.. Published by New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1941.
  • 4
    The term “Dark Night of the Soul” has its origin in Roman Catholic spirituality, and describes a spiritual crisis in the journey toward union with God, like that described by St. John of the Cross. In other spiritual traditions, similar phenomena are described, and given other names, such as Dukkha Nanas (Buddhism).
  • 5
    Hermeticism is thought to have emerged in the Greco-Egyptian culture of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, at a later stage in the progression of Greek Paganism. ( Its name references Hermes Trismegistus, who some believe was an ancient Egyptian priest, who became a god known as Hermes in Greece, and Thoth in Egypt. Some attribute to him the body of texts known as Corpus Hermeticum.
  • 6
    The Emerald Tablet of Hermes is an essential text of Hermeticism, regarded by alchemists as the basis for their art.
  • 7
    The Technological Singularity is the hypothetical point in time when Artificial General Intelligence emerges and changes the world drastically, in a difficult way to predict.

Reshaping Rewards for Maximizing Human Potential and Joy

Reshaping Rewards For Maximizing Human Potential & Joy

I’m going to go out on a limb and state that the point of life isn’t to make the most money. It isn’t to buy material things or to achieve hedonistic pursuits. Studies and personal experience can testify to that. Yet these fallacies are systemic, reaching across the globe and misinforming mankind with a doomed template for living happily. The paragraphs that follow will attempt to outline that this has been a theme that has existed, at the very least, since the founding of the United States, that the current state of affairs makes it very difficult to change, and that blockchain is a way to disrupt this and send mankind on a more focused path to greater well being and growth.

The United States was once deemed a land of opportunity, but this opportunity wasn’t merely about financial gain—it went well beyond that. The American Dream was about escaping repression and fully realizing ourselves as human beings. In The Epic of America, in which the phrase ‘the American Dream’ originated, James Truslow Adams, staring down at the changes being wrought by the great depression, wrote:

If… the things already listed are all we had had to contribute, America would have made no distinctive and unique gift to mankind. But there has also been the AMERICAN DREAM, the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement… It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position… the American dream that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of merely material plenty, though that has doubtless counted heavily… It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class. And that dream has been realized more fully in actual life here than anywhere else, though very imperfectly even among ourselves.      

James Truslow Adams

Almost 100 years later, we are still hampered. We live in a sea of disinformation surrounded by armies of advertisers whose job is to make us feel less whole and to believe that their product will fix us. Disillusioned, we imprison ourselves with our own mental barriers. So many people pretend to be something they are not because they fear being seen for who they truly are or because they believe this false sense of self is the pathway to success. We present ourselves in inauthentic ways not allowing deeper connection and growth. For us to step into our next level of evolution, we must put an end to this hampering. An end to the wool cast over our eyes. We must create a pathway for those who are ready to step into a deeper way of existing.

Credit: Tesfu Assefa

I believe we are meant to experience joy in this life and that each person’s joy need not be at the cost of another’s. Life is a journey, and in this journey we are led to shed layers of ignorance that prevent us from flowing with life—to being life. What this looks like for each person changes greatly, as we are each carrying a different set of karma meant to be worked out. For one person, it may mean starting a tech company and building a successful medical-managing software package. For another, it may mean living on a farm. Either way, it will involve confronting our pain instead of running from it and stepping into life’s challenges as she presents them.

If this assumption is correct — that society’s template for happiness is faulty — then it would behoove mankind to restructure society. A house built on a bad foundation is at risk of collapse. A game with an incorrect instruction manual will hinder its players to achieve victory. To change behavior on this scale we could change the rules of the game. Instead of valuing wealth and rewarding financial metrics, we create rewards that lead to the betterment of ourselves, humanity, and the world based on a deeper understanding of human nature.

However, change is difficult on all levels. Have you ever tried to change someone’s opinion? Some people will block out reason when it goes against their beliefs. And, on a different level, competing with enormous businesses like Facebook and Amazon is nearly impossible. It’s a modern-day David vs Goliath.

Companies are, in general, only motivated to make us happier if it improves their financial standing. The same goes for the environment, which has been decimated. I don’t think it is ideal that the environment and the happiness of mankind be sacrificed for the sake of a few individual’s stock portfolio. So what, what does a better system look like and how do we implement it?

This system, at its maturation, would allow for all of us to give our gifts at their fullest and to be in unity; to be aligned with a path that brings joy into our life without hindering another’s enjoyment. It would allow for guidance and support of our fellow man and the nurturing of the fellow creatures of this planet. For honesty and openness even when—or especially when—it is the most difficult.

For this to happen, we need decisions and policies and utilities not to be governed by the few—especially if those few are mostly concerned about monetary gain. Limiting centralization of power will limit corruption. We need lifestyles that reflect a modernized understanding of human nature and entities that encourage it. It no longer serves us to have social media that promotes quantity versus quality, zoned-out scrolling of feeds and false news that divide humanity. There needs to be options, as each individual is—individual.  Certainly, if Facebook were to say Christ was the only way to salvation, there would be many completely enthralled by this—but also many more who would be adamantly opposed. So, clearly there must be options and paths for each being to select and give feedback on.

For powerful, online entities, web3 provides a solution. It allows for decentralization of power, individualized financial rewards and incentives, and mechanisms that allow for greater realization of everyone’s human potential. It also has the power to create organizations that can compete with existing Goliaths. More concretely, this would mean a change in the financial and control structure of organizations. Each user would be able to make decisions that were aligned with them. 

Let’s consider an example.

Despite studies showing the negative impacts on physical and mental health, social media usage is on the rise, and internet users are spending over 1/8 of their waking hours on it. Money is flowing into social media, yet the quality of life isn’t increasing – it’s decreasing.

“We found that the more you use Facebook over time, the more likely you are to experience negative physical health, negative mental health and negative life satisfaction.”

Holly Shakya

Facebook feeds are designed to make Facebook money. You are the product. Posts and groups that may be more beneficial to you fall to the wayside as you are fattened with information that better serves the interests of the company. Imagine if there was no financial incentive. The option to have no more ads. Algorithms were created to serve you and your needs based off of your reported suggestions and successful models that have served others. The type of programming that caused you to zone out and scroll unconsciously was removed—or at least came with a warning. Implement AI algorithms that serve users, spot out scams and bullies, and highlight content and suggestions that will improve users’ well being even at the cost of losing revenue. Total transparency at how the company is affecting the world—people, animals, oceans, forests, elections, et cetera.

But how does it get paid for? There would be a cost for users—pay for your happiness. Users would also be able to opt in for ads, but there would be choice in the types of ads as well. And, opting in for ads means a payout for the user. If the company generates a profit, or has a discretionary budget, users can vote on where those funds go. Maybe it goes to building parks in a city, solar panels to run the servers,  or personalized phone calls to check up on those who seem down.

This is just one example of how web3 and a better understanding of human nature can serve us. Adamss warned that in our struggle to make a living we were neglecting to live. If we are to set our aim high at the possibilities of web3, let it be to create an infrastructure guiding us back to truly being alive.

Just as long as wealth and power are our sole badges of success, so long will ambitious men strive to attain them. The prospect is discouraging today, but not hopeless. As we compare America today with the America of 1912 it seems as though we had slipped a long way backwards. But that period is short, after all… There are not a few signs now of promise now in the sky, signs that the peoples themselves are beginning once again to crave something more than is vouchsafed to them in the toils and toys of the mass-production age. They are beginning to realize that, because a man is born with a particular knack for gathering in vast aggregates of money and power for himself, he may not on that account be the wisest leader to follow nor the best fitted to propound a sane philosophy of life. We have a long and arduous road to travel if we are to realize our American dream in the life of our nation, but if we fail, there is nothing left but the old eternal round. The alternative is the failure of self-government, the failure of the common man to rise to full stature, the failure of all that the American dream has held of hope and promise for mankind.

James Truslow Adams

Human souls, ghosts of the metaverse

“What if a cyberbrain could possibly generate its own ghost, create a soul all by itself? and if it did, just what would be the importance of being human then?”

-Major Motoko Kusanagi

Ghost in the Shell is a classic anime released in 1995, directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on the eponymous manga by Masamune Shirow. The basic plot involves the exploits of a mysterious hacker known as The Puppet Master, which has an uncanny ability to hack both into humans and machines. This has to be understood in the context of the world described in this masterpiece. It is 2029. In this future cybernetic augmentation is commonplace. People’s artificial bodies, known as ‘shells’, retain but a shred of humanity in the form of a brain, with a conscience referred to as its ‘ghost.’ 

In this world of mechanization and chrome casings, bodies can be upgraded with weaponry, vision-enhancing sensors, storage devices, and much more. The flesh has simply become irrelevant. A burden, even. The human body is nothing but a blank slate to be manipulated, enhanced, and upgraded. And enveloping all this is a vast electronic network that can be directly accessed by the brain through neural implants. The network is vulnerable to hacking though, and this is what kickstarts the plot.

Ghost in the Shell is a sci-fi tale heavily influenced by cyberpunk visuals and themes. But it’s far more than that. It is a philosophical journey that explores fundamental ideas such as the search for one’s identity, and what it really means to be human. Ghost‘s tale is told from the perspective of Motoko Kusanagi, a high-ranking official in Section 9, a semi-clandestine organization tasked with combating cyber terrorism and ghost hacking. Motoko’s body is fully cybernetic, and her mission to find The Puppet Master makes her question whether there’s any humanity left in her at all, and whether or not her ghost is nothing but a figment of her synthetic self.

Credit: Tesfu Assefa

In our current reality, it is 2022. Cybernetic organisms like those described in Ghost In The Shell – or the part-man-part-machine infiltration units in 1984’s The Terminator – do not quite exist yet. But what does exist, in an early form, at least, is the metaverse: a reality-bending digital realm where humans can plug in and ride the virtual lightning into a paradise of surreal colors and textures. William Gibson described it perfectly in the opening line of his seminal work Neuromancer: ‘the sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.’ 

And this is the nexus where our narrative segues to the question…

…are we still human in the metaverse?

In Ghost In The Shell, the entire world is interconnected by a vast electronic network through which information constantly flows. Motoko can connect to this network any time, thanks to neural implants. In a particularly revealing scene, she says that this ability is one of the main reasons why she feels alive. Yet, she can’t help but feel that this is not what being alive truly means. Motoko’s professional partner, Batou, takes a more simplistic approach. In his view, everyone is just as alive as everyone else, humans and cyborgs alike. But what exactly is it that defines life? And how does biological life differ from digital life? 

When we connect to the metaverse, we untether ourselves from the real us. From our physical form, at least. Our selves become digital avatars that roam around a place that doesn’t quite exist, yet, at the same time, it does. In this reality we, humans, are digital entities, representations of our mind (our ‘ghost’) outside of our bodies. Instead, these avatars are artificial creations that carry our ghost throughout a network of interconnected physical bodies. These electronic illusions transport a residual essence of who we are. But who are these digital ghosts? And what do these ghosts do, when we’re not connected to them?

This is one of the key internal struggles that Motoko experiences, brought on by the recent discovery that a cybernetic brain had its own ghost. This was not supposed to be possible, as non-human cyborgs cannot have ghosts, or so it was thought. The revelation comes as quite a shock to Motoko, as ghosts were supposed to be inherent to human brains only. A cybernetic ghost could not be manufactured.

If we extrapolate this to our digital manifestations on the metaverse, does our own ghost carry with them, or could they, eventually, manifest their own ghost and behave autonomously? This is a question with profound ramifications. 

The Puppet Master

Suppose for a moment that Artificial Intelligence algorithms and routines become advanced enough that our digital selves become self-aware. They acquire the ability to think for themselves, and develop their own set of principles and beliefs, just like their human shells once did. Only now, the avatar can shuffle their mortal coil, as it were, and inhabit an AI-powered metaverse with billions of self-aware avatars.

In this scenario, which side is more real? Is it the real (a rather slippery term) world, or the metaverse? And, if digital entities may develop their own ghost, can they be considered humans? Who is more human? What defines humanity, if we lose the exclusive right to a soul? Why would human life be more valuable than digital life, when the creation of life is no longer limited to chemical and biological interactions?  

The Puppet Master acts as the main antagonist of sorts in Ghost in the Shell. Throughout the course of the action (spoiler alert), it is revealed that The Puppet Master is an advanced AI that developed sentience following endless travels across the network and millions of interactions with cybernetic and human organisms. Faced with the knowledge that its creators would certainly shut it down should they discover its self-awareness, the AI begins to devise a plan to ensure its survival. This has similarities to Replicant Roy’s desire in 1982’s Blade Runner to find its creator so he can remove the 4-year longevity failsafe. Roy’s plan failed, but in The Puppet Master’s case, it doesn’t. How Ghost in the Shell ends is beyond the scope of this piece, but I would wholeheartedly recommend that you watch the anime; it is a brilliant, thought-provoking work of art.

The Puppet Master’s reflections on the nature of life can be extrapolated to our own existence in the metaverse of the present day and near future.

In The Puppet Master’s view, AI life is in no way different from human life. In other words, a life created through information and data cannot be (and shouldn’t be) treated or considered any differently than life created naturally. When asked to prove his existence, The Puppet Master replies with another question: ‘and can you offer me proof of your existence? How can you, when neither modern science nor philosophy can explain what life is?”

Again, we come up against the wall of what reality really is, and what are the parameters that define something as real. Morpheus and Neo had a very interesting conversation on this very topic in 1999’s The Matrix, a landmark film which, incidentally, borrowed heavily from Ghost in the Shell. In a scene early in the movie, Morpheus welcomes Neo to the desert of the real. When Neo questions, quizzically, ‘this isn’t… real’, Morpheus asks Neo ‘what is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, taste, see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.’ If, as Morpheus says, all our sensations are data perceived and processed by our senses, it stands to reason that, given the same inputs in digital form, a cyberbrain would assume what it sees, smells, and feels to be real. So, in this context, what makes human life any more real than that of an AI in the metaverse?

Credit: Tesfu Assefa

Consciousness and dualism

In Ghost in the Shell, ghost is slang for consciousness. The human soul, if you will. In the context of the movie, the presence of a ghost is the very thing that defines humanity. But the discovery of a ghost inside a cyberbrain casts doubt on the notion. Now, what (or where) exactly is the soul has been the subject of speculation since the beginning of time. In early philosophical works, for example, dualists postulated that mind and body are completely separate things. This is a prevalent theme in Ghost in the Shell, given Motoko’s feelings that her fully cybernetic body and her ghost are two separate entities altogether. But Japanese philosopher Hiroshi Ichikawa disagrees with the dualism idea. Ichikawa says that ‘ is wrong to see the spirit and the body as two existential principles, and to grasp reality in their intersection and separation. Rather, we should consider this unique structure as itself fundamental, and regard the spirit and the body as aspects abstracted from it.’ This specific idea, the inextricable union of mind and body, was the reasoning behind why Japan did not legalize the harvesting of organs from brain dead people until the passing of the Transplantation Law in 1997 (curiously, two years following the release of Ghost in the Shell). While Western medicine no longer considered a brain dead patient a person (because of the dualism principle), Japan did. Removing organs or any other body part from a body that is still alive would have been unthinkable for Japanese physicians.

So all this poses several questions: do we remain human while in the metaverse? Or, by connecting to the network, are we allowing our ghost to be transported to that alternate reality? Could the digital representations of ourselves, once Artificial Intelligence is advanced enough, be considered alive? These almost transcendental questions do not have easy answers, and are likely to be thought-provoking to the reader. 

The evolution of a cybersoul: where do we go from here

There is one more aspect that Ghost in the Shell explores towards the end: reproduction. The Puppet Master postulates that evolution is a mechanism of survival against total annihilation. This is true, from a purely logical, robotic point of view. As a sentient AI, The Puppet Master doesn’t quite understand the concepts of life and death in human terms, and though it is not afraid of death in itself, it is afraid that after it’s gone, there will be nothing left. This leads to a very interesting conclusion for Ghost in the Shell, which won’t be revealed here.

This leads to another fundamental question about human death. If we accept the philosophy that mind and body form one whole, then life ends when one or the other dies. This concept is explored in The Matrix when Neo asks Morpheus: ‘if you’re killed in the Matrix, do you die here?’ To which Morpheus answers ‘the body cannot live without the mind.’ This suggests that Morpheus does not follow the dualism theory.

But if we do follow dualism, then what happens if our ghost wanders off into the metaverse? What happens to the body (the shell) left behind? And can this ghost reproduce into something else completely?

“And where does the newborn go from here? The net is vast and infinite.”

-Major Motoko Kusanagi & Puppet Master

Facebook’s Metaverse vs an Open Metaverse: Choose Wisely

If it talks like a duck, looks like a duck, but walks like an overarching, data-hungry, centralized, profit-obsessed… duck, do you really want to be involved with it?

“It” in this instance is Facebook, and the “duck” is what it’s trying to become: a metaverse.

That’s right, the metaverse is here. Well, not yet in its full glory, but the foundations are there.

So what exactly is the metaverse, why is Facebook so eager to get into it, and what could possibly go wrong?

That’s what we’re looking into today. So take a sip of your drip as we delve into:

What is the Metaverse?

Why Does Facebook Want Its Own Metaverse?

What Should the Idea Metaverse Be?

What Is the Metaverse?

Coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel, Snow Crash, the metaverse is a 3-D virtual world. In this realm, one can interact with others through digital representations of themselves better known as avatars.

“In the lingo, this imaginary place is known as the Metaverse. Hiro spends a lot of time in the Metaverse.”

Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Essentially, the metaverse is a virtual space where we’re all interconnected without borders. Or at least it should be.

Imagine a virtual world like the one in the Sci-Fi flick Ready Player One and you pretty much get the picture. 

It’s not just an escape from reality, but a space where communities are formed, economies are created, boundaries don’t exist, and we all get to ‘be’ with each other.

In a world where many of us haven’t been able to socialize as we’d want to lately, the metaverse becomes a realm where that’s possible.

With Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Blockchain, and more recently Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), this concept is now closer to becoming real than ever before.

It’s so close you can almost touch it, and so can Facebook.

Why Does Facebook Want Its Own Metaverse?

Why would a company controlling some of the biggest social media platforms where people share their realities want to control the people’s alternate realities as well?

Facebook’s Latest Investment

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and his team have been looking at how to make the most of future possibilities for some time now. Facebook’s latest fascination has been with the prospects of creating its own metaverse.

Recently, however, the social media giant announced how much this metaverse project would really cost them: at least $10 Billion in 2021 alone.

This was originally revealed during Facebook’s third-quarter earnings report when Zuckerberg also stated the cost would likely increase in the future.

A large initial investment indeed. One that would only make sense if you targeted a large audience that would want to explore the future of social networks.

Targeting A New Generation 

And that’s exactly who Zuckerberg has in mind: young adults.

“We are retooling our teams to make serving young adults their North Star rather than optimizing for the larger number of older people.” 

Mark Zuckerberg

It makes perfect sense when you consider Gen Z’s general sentiment towards Facebook. Ask any kid, young teen, or early 20-something whether they’re on Facebook and many will tell you, “No.” 

Many of today’s youths will say that Facebook is for old people. They’d much rather spend more and more time on TikTok, Twitter, and new decentralized platforms.

Deteriorating Trust in Centralized Social Media

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you know how ‘inconvenient’ centralized social media platforms can be. And that’s putting it politely.

In fact, you don’t have to think back that far about when you were last inconvenienced by such platforms. Just three weeks ago, Facebook’s services and apps went down for about six hours (an eternity these days).

The list of apps and services included:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Workplace
  • Oculus

That last one is particularly concerning to us given that it’s Facebook’s VR platform, creating some of the tools needed for a metaverse.

Credit: Tesfu Assefa

Valuing Profits Over Everything

But having a central point of failure isn’t the only kind of inconvenience Facebook, Inc. has been in the news for lately.

That’s right, we’re talking about the Facebook Papers.

Disclosed to the SEC by Facebook’s former product manager, Frances Haugen, the Facebook Papers show that the social media giant prioritized profitability over everything by:

  • Failing to adequately clamp down the spread of misinformation that led to January 6th’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol 
  • Making public statements that weren’t in line with internal findings
  • Failing to provide clear guidelines for its users outside of the U.S.

Not a good look, Mark. Especially when you’re trying to convince every young person that they should trust you and use your platforms.

When you consider Zuckerberg’s statement about the metaverse and Facebook’s goal for it, it doesn’t seem like Facebook’s priorities are likely to change any time soon. 

“If you’re in the metaverse, you’ll need digital clothes and digital tools and different experiences. Our goal is to help the metaverse reach a billion people and billions of dollars in commerce in the next decade.” 

Mark Zuckerberg

In fact, it sorta kinda feels like Facebook isn’t in it for the right reasons. Like they would do anything it takes to meet their goal, no matter who their actions hurt. Sounds… familiar.

meme comparison between the open metaverse (Superman) and Facebook’s metaverse (Homelander)

Facebook’s Centralized Metaverse

If the metaverse is comparable to OASIS in Real Player One, then Facebook might just be its IOI. One corporation determined to have ultimate control over the space and its ‘inhabitants’ by:

  • Owning the metaverse’s tools and AI
  • Accessing the players’ information
  • Manipulating the metaverse’s rules and reality
  • Removing elements of the metaverse at will

We have a feeling that many potential Facebook Metaverse explorers would end up feeling the same way as a certain Ethereum founder once felt about centralized systems.

“I happily played World of Warcraft during 2007-2010, but one day Blizzard removed the damage component from my beloved warlock’s Siphon Life spell. I cried myself to sleep, and on that day I realized what horrors centralized services can bring.”

Vitalik Buterin

What Should the Ideal Metaverse Be?

One entity controlling an entire virtual world goes against the ideals of what a metaverse should be.

A true, open metaverse should be accessible to all and controlled by no one. Or as Outlier Ventures, a passionate team invested in the creators of an open metaverse puts it: 

“We believe the defining characteristic of a true Metaverse, is that it needs its own economy and currencies native to it, where value can be earnt, spent, lent, borrowed or invested interchangeably in both a physical or virtual sense and most importantly, without the need for a government.”

Outlier Ventures, Introducing The Open Metaverse OS Paper

An open metaverse, by definition, equates to more freedom, not less. The freedom to explore a new world around you, to build a life, earn a living, create relationships in real-time, and ultimately bring that back to the real world.

That being said, the choice of which metaverse you decide to get involved in is ultimately up to you. As it should be.

Choose your duck wisely…

Neo from the Matrix in a bathtub with a duck on his head

The Convergence of Stem Cells And Artificial Intelligence

One of the greatest advancements affecting the human experience has come in the form of intelligent medical technology. What would have previously taken a lifetime of research and clinical studies has now been expedited via data collection, prediction, and prevention by means of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques. This paper highlights some of these advancements. 

The information revolution has led to people becoming much less active in the past 50 years due to a more sedentary behavior in our work and at home. Today, over one in four adults are physically inactive. The lower the education level the greater the tendency of inactivity. Physical activity is one of the keys to good health and long life. 

Health care costs have definitely reflected the burden of these statistics. The cost of healthcare fifty years ago was about one-third of the cost it is today, approximately 7% of the total value of goods and services produced and provided (Gross Domestic Product). 

Currently, in the United States alone, over $4 trillion per year is spent on healthcare due to increased population, baby boomers, disease and medical services. The money is being used for hospitalization, physician services, prescription drugs, personal healthcare costs, dental services, home healthcare, medical products and equipment and nursing care facilities. Many factors influence our health. Some factors are outside our reach. One of these factors is genetics which can adversely affect our health. 

Technology of today is focused on how to slow the adverse effects of aging while maintaining our health longer as we age. In the meantime, our responsibility is to focus on the activities that promote and optimize our health. Previously, we could only better maintain our health by good habits such as eating healthy foods, getting proper sleep while limiting bad habits of alcohol and smoking to increase our health. In the past, health care was dependent on the slow progress of human research and clinical studies. 

Today, the medical industry can serve to provide the technology toward better health. In the future each of us can apply personal therapeutic choices through using our own stem cells. This application can provide better health through the personal maintenance of our own health. Additionally, the medical industry can provide for the better health of all those who require prevention and diagnostic care through the implementation of artificial intelligence technology and stem cells. 

Many health care providers use practical incentives for their clients such as compensation for preventative care for colonoscopies, mammograms and participation in educational webinars. These can be improved by preventative/ predictive wearable technology devices that gather data to help us become more efficient in how we can best improve our health. The old quote by Peter Drucker-”If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” is apropos. Artificial intelligence is the technology best suited to address both subjective and objective needs in health care. Measurement has been one of the greatest challenges of medical product manufacturing. The problem is trying to specify the potential of the stem cell that has so many variables. Researchers and scientists are using open source artificial intelligence in the predicting of accuracy of stem cell changes through the collection of data. 

Therefore, stem cell therapy, together with the latest artificial intelligence technology, is endeavoring to achieve the greatest outcome in healthcare. Furthermore, the cure for the majority of health problems currently exists within the stem cell. The stem cell is the source of all living beings’ development. These cells possess regenerative properties that have the potential to self differentiate where and when needed for maximum health within any organ of the body. In other words the stem cell is the engine for life, stem cells are programmed to become specific as required for the various functions of the body.

Credit: Tesfu Assefa

There are basically two types of stem cells, the pluripotent stem cells, or embryonic stem cells and the multipotent, or adult stem. The embryonic stem cells are the predecessor for all cells of the body, such as nerve, blood, muscle, bone, etc. Pluripotent cells can also develop into multipotent stem cells through further differentiation of more specialized tissue or organ. The multipotent adult stem cells are cells that have the ability to regenerate themselves through division into multiple specialized cell kinds in a specific tissue or organ. 

Modern medicine has been exploring and conducting numerous avenues of research in a wide range of health disorders to implement stem cell therapy from neurologic disorders, cardiovascular disorders, liver diseases, asthma, etc. AI has been an important factor in today’s virtual and physical healthcare. 

The use of stem cells in medicine spans back a number of decades. In 1956, the first successful bone marrow transplant was performed using blood-making stem cells. In the 1960’s the cloning of frogs from somatic cells proved they too could become pluripotent. Nuclear reprogramming technology introduced pluripotency which was achieved by a modification of minimal factors and opened a world of new opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, the clinic, and laboratories. In 2006, the multipotent adult cell was reprogrammed to a pluripotent cell which is designated as an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSCs). 

In the present, stem cell therapy in haematopoietic stem cell transplantation is used in pharmacological testing for incurable neurodegenerative diseases, arthroplasty, rejuvenation by cell programming, and cell-based therapies. 

The medical field uses a series of AI methods, including convolutional neural networking (CNN), which is recognizing and processing images, artificial neural networking (ANN), which is pattern recognition and complex signal processing, and machine learning, which is able to learn hidden patterns from numerous data sets. The use of artificial intelligence is widespread throughout the entire medical industry. Both convolutional neural networks (CNN) and artificial neural networking (ANN) are used in stem cell imaging. 

Some of the most practical applications of artificial intelligence in stem cell therapy are chronic illness management, clinical decision-making, improving accessibility, early diagnosis, minimizing expenditures, assisting in surgical procedures with efficiency, increased proficiency and accuracy, and promoting mental health support. 

There is still some apprehension for both the safety from exposure to infectious agents and the efficacy of a material in a biological environment. There is still much work to be done regarding biosafety and efficiency before and after treatment. The technological aspects of artificial intelligence in stem cell therapy have aided in the classification, identification, in cancer stem cells and in the prediction of drug effects. Also, data mining methods have been used in the effort to assess risk in patients with acute Leukemia. Although it is still in its infancy, the medical images being used in the training of machine recognition are paving the way for the medical progress of the future. 

Previously, individual stem cells were evaluated microscopically after much time and effort but Artificial Intelligence is providing a means of automating this laborious process through “a library of sample images”. Additionally, Artificial Intelligence is being used for quality control for skin stem cells. 1Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU). (2021, June 23). AI spots healthy stem cells quickly and accurately [Press release].

The hope is that in the future we will be able to use Artificial Intelligence and Stem Cell Therapy as the dynamic duo for diagnosing the problem, accessing our body cells and they become the cure for their disease. Through the utilization of our body cells this personalized therapy becomes the cure for healing our own bodies.2Brown, A. (2021, November 21). How The Overlap Between Artificial Intelligence And Stem Cell Research Is Producing Exciting Results. Forbes.

One company is creating a system through knowledge engineering to produce stem cells useful in many diseases to stop or retroactively treat eye degeneration through stem cell transplantation. The goal is to make stem cell therapies safe, reliable and functional for the general public.

Currently, clinical trials use a very arduous process which requires much time and effort to evaluate their work and is often too specific for the broader scope of medicine that remains uncharted. But now, through the utilization of machine learning, progress can be significantly accelerated. One example of this is through the collection of a plethora of training data. This is then analyzed, automated and digitized by artificial intelligence in order to govern, establish, and calculate the quality of the stem cell.3Perez, S., [@sarahintampa]. (2021, September 22). Cellino is using AI and machine learning to scale production of stem cell therapies. TechCrunch.

Artificial intelligence is also being used to further medicine through predictive technological capabilities in the way stem cells work. Perhaps, one of the most progressive applications of this technology is the creation of a digital equivalent of the systems in the body. The quest is to use these digital equivalencies in the physical model of the body. 

Artificial intelligence is being employed in almost every aspect in bio manufacturing, including but not limited to the product development through cell engineering, processing, quality control, data characterization, data analysis, data interpretation, storage, shipping and tracking. This can then be coupled with robotics in the large-scale production for drug manufacturers. Needless to say, in the advent of this new technology, these measures, as well as others, act to insure the efficiency, accessibility, scalability, and affordability. 

Today, in lieu of the current supply-chain debacle, artificial intelligence is the prerequisite technology for progress in the pharmaceutical industry toward “smart manufacturing”.4Whitford, B., & Manzano, T. (2022, February 2). The Promise of AI in Gene and Cell Therapy Operations. GEN – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. This paradigm shift in medical technology will continue to accelerate towards predictive and measures through the use of artificial intelligence in machine learning techniques. 

  • 1
    Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU). (2021, June 23). AI spots healthy stem cells quickly and accurately [Press release].
  • 2
    Brown, A. (2021, November 21). How The Overlap Between Artificial Intelligence And Stem Cell Research Is Producing Exciting Results. Forbes.
  • 3
    Perez, S., [@sarahintampa]. (2021, September 22). Cellino is using AI and machine learning to scale production of stem cell therapies. TechCrunch.
  • 4
    Whitford, B., & Manzano, T. (2022, February 2). The Promise of AI in Gene and Cell Therapy Operations. GEN – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.