rs12345
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Hey! I'm working on the TSA essay and am kind of struggling to determine whether my essays are of good quality or not. None of the teachers at my school are able to help me with this, so I was wondering if someone could give me some quick feedback on the essay, and if it would be acceptable. I am a little concerned that it is too short and doesn't cover enough ground. Is that the case? Any feedback would be very highly appreciated. (I copied it word for word, ensuring not to alter any misspellings or grammatical errors)


What changes in society will follow from increased life expectancy?

An increase in life expectancy corresponds to a larger and faster growing population. This increase in population would have some significant consequences. Although most people assume these consequences would neccessarily harm society with over population, the potential benefits of an increased life expectancy could come with several key benefits to humanity.


The go-to response from most people when asked about the effects of increasing life expectancy and population is that this will lead to a strain on our resources, and thus people would be starving and society would break dow as resources are more scarce. However, what this perspective fails to address is that our technology is rapidly improving, at a frigate exceeding population growth. With robots, computers, and higher efficiency standards, the modern world is equipped to deal with population growth so long as we continue to advance. It is true that in the olden times an increase in life expectancy would be unsustainable and harm society, but with the high levels of progress today, the increases in technological development will optimize the use of our scarce resources.


In fact, increased life expectancy would further accellerate technological growth, ensuring the stability of society. If the population size grows, then it logically follows that the number of researchers will grow proportionally. This is advantageous in that the greater the number of researchers there are, the faster technology will develop. Some may argue that we may eventually hit a wall where our resources may no longer be used more optimally. While this is true, it does not seem that it will likely occur in the foreseeable future: researchers are finding new, more efficient ways to produce healthy and delicious food every day. Lab grow food is a quickly growing field, for instance.By the time we have truly maxed out potential from our resources, who knows where we could end up. Perhaps by then space travel could be perfected, giving us a new domain to gather resources from.


Furthermore, an increase in life expectancy will lead to better development in human capital. If people live longer, they can afford to spend more years in education, which would lead to a more intelligent and refined population, which would positively affect society. Additionally, as people live longer, family ties would get stronger, as people will have larger families (with their elders still alive), and would spend more time with them, leading to a closer society as a whole.


It clearly follow, then, that an increase in life expectancy would be largely positive for society. More people, and better educated people, would conduct greater research, improving our quality of life, and combatting adverse effects. Humanity will, on the whole, be a more refined and progressive species.
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notablestrumpet
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I'm taking the TSA this year and have done a few practice essays and research about what they're expecting, but I'm definitely not an expert so please take my advice with a pinch of salt! Thank you for uploading it by the way, it's good practice for me to look at and analyse another essay

Introduction
- Define the term 'life expectancy', perhaps allude to how it is calculated and what it represents
i.e. the measure of the average age at which the average person dies in a specific population

- This 'increase in population' - does increased life expectancy really mean a higher population? For instance, a specific population could have a high life expectancy they're more affluent whereas another population might have a shorter life expectancy because they're less privileged but the overall population count may have stayed the same.

- 'Most people' may be a bit of an assertion - perhaps specify whether you mean the general public, politicians, demographers, etc.

Paragraph 1
This point may be a little underdeveloped. Maybe develop the counterargument a little more. For instance, instead of just saying 'this will lead to a strain on our resources', explain how exactly it could strain our resources and how this could lead to your conclusion of 'thus people would be starving'. For example, 'an increased life expectancy and thus population, since people, on average, will be living longer suggests that society would require more energy, water supplies, food supplies and housing than we currently do...', and then you can go on to explain hypothetical examples of how 'society could break down'. You could touch on here why exactly resources would be scarce - why wouldn't we just be able to grow more food and find energy alternatives? After all, more people = more workers.

I feel like your proposed solution of technology needs to be linked to the point a little more. Mention a few examples of how this technology has the possibility of dealing with a higher population - whether than be robots that farm our food, work, etc. How exactly could technological development optimise our resources? Potential of renewable energy? Smaller but more energy-efficient homes? Switching to a more sustainable diet that can feed more people?

Paragraph 2
This might be a little too similar to your previous point and could probably be merged together and linked to flow better and show your argument and your counterargument smoothly linked together.

There's a few more assertions in this paragraph that would need more evidence too such as:-
- 'If population size grows, then it logically follows that the number of researches will grow proportionally." Again, see my above point that increased life expectancy doesn't necessarily mean more people. You could, in theory have a population of 10 people and one of them lives to 120 and the rest live to 20 and the life expectancy would be 30, or half of them live to be 120 and the rest only live to 20, the life expectancy would be 70, but the population in this example hasn't changed. Thus, in a real life scenario, life expectancy could increase, but just because rich people are living longer and poor people are living shorter. Let's assume that population has grown because of higher life expectancy (which could be assumed if you explained about how we could have more births and fewer deaths in a given time frame thus increasing the population), this might not necessarily mean more researchers. We might all live really long but not have the money and resources for education. Think of poorer countries, their life expectancies are increasing yet the proportion of researchers isn't definitely changing, it's still just the more privileged people that are more likely to get an education (but you could debate points like this a little more). There's quite a few other assertions here that I could go into if you'd like me to.

Paragraph 3
Again, needs more development and evidence to back up your points. Would family ties necessarily get stronger if more people live longer? Life expectancy has increased over the last 100 years but particularly in Britain, the elderly are often just put in care homes. I don't know if there is much evidence to support that family ties are getting stronger, but larger families would be accurate since it is something you could quantify. Maybe go a bit deeper into the implications of this on society - what changes could follow?


Sorry if I've got on a bit of a tangent or been a bit harsh! I think it's a good essay and I know how hard it is to write a decent TSA essay in only 30 minutes. I think you need to pick 2 or 3 really good points and develop them as much as you can by analysing the argument and acknowledging possible counter-arguments. In some of your paragraphs, you kind of bung in a load of points rather than delving deep into a singular point and critically thinking about it. Particularly doing more analysis on the question so you don't jump to assumptions without backing it up with evidence. You have a nice structure going on and some interesting points to say Good luck!!!
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rs12345
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I'm taking the TSA this year and have done a few practice essays and research about what they're expecting, but I'm definitely not an expert so please take my advice with a pinch of salt! Thank you for uploading it by the way, it's good practice for me to look at and analyse another essay

Introduction
- Define the term 'life expectancy', perhaps allude to how it is calculated and what it represents
i.e. the measure of the average age at which the average person dies in a specific population

- This 'increase in population' - does increased life expectancy really mean a higher population? For instance, a specific population could have a high life expectancy they're more affluent whereas another population might have a shorter life expectancy because they're less privileged but the overall population count may have stayed the same.

- 'Most people' may be a bit of an assertion - perhaps specify whether you mean the general public, politicians, demographers, etc.

Paragraph 1
This point may be a little underdeveloped. Maybe develop the counterargument a little more. For instance, instead of just saying 'this will lead to a strain on our resources', explain how exactly it could strain our resources and how this could lead to your conclusion of 'thus people would be starving'. For example, 'an increased life expectancy and thus population, since people, on average, will be living longer suggests that society would require more energy, water supplies, food supplies and housing than we currently do...', and then you can go on to explain hypothetical examples of how 'society could break down'. You could touch on here why exactly resources would be scarce - why wouldn't we just be able to grow more food and find energy alternatives? After all, more people = more workers.

I feel like your proposed solution of technology needs to be linked to the point a little more. Mention a few examples of how this technology has the possibility of dealing with a higher population - whether than be robots that farm our food, work, etc. How exactly could technological development optimise our resources? Potential of renewable energy? Smaller but more energy-efficient homes? Switching to a more sustainable diet that can feed more people?

Paragraph 2
This might be a little too similar to your previous point and could probably be merged together and linked to flow better and show your argument and your counterargument smoothly linked together.

There's a few more assertions in this paragraph that would need more evidence too such as:-
- 'If population size grows, then it logically follows that the number of researches will grow proportionally." Again, see my above point that increased life expectancy doesn't necessarily mean more people. You could, in theory have a population of 10 people and one of them lives to 120 and the rest live to 20 and the life expectancy would be 30, or half of them live to be 120 and the rest only live to 20, the life expectancy would be 70, but the population in this example hasn't changed. Thus, in a real life scenario, life expectancy could increase, but just because rich people are living longer and poor people are living shorter. Let's assume that population has grown because of higher life expectancy (which could be assumed if you explained about how we could have more births and fewer deaths in a given time frame thus increasing the population), this might not necessarily mean more researchers. We might all live really long but not have the money and resources for education. Think of poorer countries, their life expectancies are increasing yet the proportion of researchers isn't definitely changing, it's still just the more privileged people that are more likely to get an education (but you could debate points like this a little more). There's quite a few other assertions here that I could go into if you'd like me to.

Paragraph 3
Again, needs more development and evidence to back up your points. Would family ties necessarily get stronger if more people live longer? Life expectancy has increased over the last 100 years but particularly in Britain, the elderly are often just put in care homes. I don't know if there is much evidence to support that family ties are getting stronger, but larger families would be accurate since it is something you could quantify. Maybe go a bit deeper into the implications of this on society - what changes could follow?


Sorry if I've got on a bit of a tangent or been a bit harsh! I think it's a good essay and I know how hard it is to write a decent TSA essay in only 30 minutes. I think you need to pick 2 or 3 really good points and develop them as much as you can by analysing the argument and acknowledging possible counter-arguments. In some of your paragraphs, you kind of bung in a load of points rather than delving deep into a singular point and critically thinking about it. Particularly doing more analysis on the question so you don't jump to assumptions without backing it up with evidence. You have a nice structure going on and some interesting points to say Good luck!!!
Thank you so much for your feedback! I really, really appreciate it – it was very useful. I wrote a second essay today. I would very much appreciate it if you could provide your input on this one as well. Thank you once again!


Is it justified to insist on facial visibility in public spaces?
(Once again, I did not fix any typos, grammatical mistakes, or anything of the sort, in order to keep it as authentic as possible.)

A hallmark of political debate in the post-2001 era is the debate between liberty and security. Is it justified to take away certain liberties in order to protect the security of the people? The question of whether or not it is justified to force face visibility in public spaces is a direct example of this constant battle. I believe that while there may be some efforts to justify requiring facial visibility, it is ultimately an unjust cause to require facial visibility in public places.


The first, most important reason for this is that it is an infringement upon one of our fundamental rights: the freedom of expression. People may have several reasons behind hiding their faces publicly. The best example is women in Islam who need to follow their religion and wear the Hijab, covering their faces. This is an act of expressing their religion: one of the foundational rights that people have. It is not only unjustifiable, but directly undemocratic to violate freedom of religion and expression.


Some may argue, however, that a government’s job is, above others, to maintain order. To protect the peoples right to life itself. In doing so, it must protect citizens against criminal. If facial visibility is not required, then these criminals may be able to get around more easily, since it is harder to identify them. While this my be the case, the number of criminals that would escape due to hiding their faces would pal in comparison to the number of people who’s right to liberty was infringed upon. From a utilitarian perspective, this is unjustifiable. The government exists not just to maintain order, but as put by John Locke, to protect “Life, Liberty, and Property.” Failing to protect liberties while saving few, if any, lives, goes against the very purpose of government.


This sets a dangerous precedent. A world where a government may strip the liberties of hundreds of thousands to marginally improve security, is a world where the government it too powerful. Allowing the requirement of facial visibility in public places sets a dangerous precedent allowing a government to take away any liberties, so load as they are excersized by minorities.


Ultimately, while their are instances wherein security takes importance over liberty (such as in prisons), in this case allowing the government to mandate facial visibility in public is a step too far in the direction of autocracy.
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notablestrumpet
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Thank you so much for your feedback! I really, really appreciate it – it was very useful. I wrote a second essay today. I would very much appreciate it if you could provide your input on this one as well. Thank you once again!


Is it justified to insist on facial visibility in public spaces?
(Once again, I did not fix any typos, grammatical mistakes, or anything of the sort, in order to keep it as authentic as possible.)

A hallmark of political debate in the post-2001 era is the debate between liberty and security. Is it justified to take away certain liberties in order to protect the security of the people? The question of whether or not it is justified to force face visibility in public spaces is a direct example of this constant battle. I believe that while there may be some efforts to justify requiring facial visibility, it is ultimately an unjust cause to require facial visibility in public places.


The first, most important reason for this is that it is an infringement upon one of our fundamental rights: the freedom of expression. People may have several reasons behind hiding their faces publicly. The best example is women in Islam who need to follow their religion and wear the Hijab, covering their faces. This is an act of expressing their religion: one of the foundational rights that people have. It is not only unjustifiable, but directly undemocratic to violate freedom of religion and expression.


Some may argue, however, that a government’s job is, above others, to maintain order. To protect the peoples right to life itself. In doing so, it must protect citizens against criminal. If facial visibility is not required, then these criminals may be able to get around more easily, since it is harder to identify them. While this my be the case, the number of criminals that would escape due to hiding their faces would pal in comparison to the number of people who’s right to liberty was infringed upon. From a utilitarian perspective, this is unjustifiable. The government exists not just to maintain order, but as put by John Locke, to protect “Life, Liberty, and Property.” Failing to protect liberties while saving few, if any, lives, goes against the very purpose of government.


This sets a dangerous precedent. A world where a government may strip the liberties of hundreds of thousands to marginally improve security, is a world where the government it too powerful. Allowing the requirement of facial visibility in public places sets a dangerous precedent allowing a government to take away any liberties, so load as they are excersized by minorities.


Ultimately, while their are instances wherein security takes importance over liberty (such as in prisons), in this case allowing the government to mandate facial visibility in public is a step too far in the direction of autocracy.
No worries! I'm glad you found it helpful

Introduction
You provide some good context for question but I feel you need to deconstruct it a little more to show your critical thinking and understanding of the issue and make sure your essay really specifically targets the question.

Define ‘justified’ – What exactly does this mean and what interpretation of this is your essay going to take? Does it mean that it’s simply acceptable or do you think it has a positive impact?

Define ‘facial visibility’ – Give an example of this in this paragraph to establish precisely what approach you’re taking. For example ‘facial visibility’ could vary from sunglasses to burqas.

Define ‘public spaces’ – What classes as a public space? Airports, schools, shopping centres, streets, religious buildings, etc?

You could even go a little deeper and unpick what ‘insisting’ on this would mean, and whether that would be due to social expectations or through laws and thus possible criminal punishment. You’ve also assumed here that insisting on facial visibility ‘protects the security of the people’ – this may be a bit of an assertion that you’d be better off discussing in depth in the body of your essay rather than just mentioning it fleetingly here.

Paragraph 1
This point definitely needs more development. It’s good that everything you said in this paragraph was relevant to your point of freedom of expression but you just need to delve a bit deeper. Ask yourself the following questions:

Is ‘freedom of expression’ really one of our most fundamental rights? In the same way that you’re arguing that people have the right to express themselves in anyway they like, who’s to say that people can’t just walk around naked in the name of ‘freedom of expression’. Perhaps discuss the social expectations and particular implications on society in not being able to see people’s faces. Does it make others uncomfortable? Does it go against the social norms? Is this a positive or a negative thing? This is a controversial topic but being able to analyse both sides of the argument is key is this sort of essay.

What are the counterarguments of this point? Discuss the possible safety issues with people not being able to easily identify you. Touch on the ‘security’ aspect mentioned in your introduction.

(Also p.s. the hijab doesn’t cover the face – you’re thinking of the burqa!!)

Paragraph 2
This paragraph again could be developed a little more. It’s good that you touched on the security issue but maybe consider what the security implications are for people wearing burqas, for instance. Would this fuel targeted religious hate towards Muslims or draw un wanted attention or possible harassment to Muslim women? Perhaps there are some women who feel that they are obliged to wear the burqa and this law would protect those people, not just for the safety of others’ but the people who wear them themselves.

Paragraph 3
This doesn’t really feel like a stand-alone point but instead could be merged in with the previous paragraph.

Conclusion
I feel like you’ve brought in another point with the prisons and perhaps just sum up your main points and touch on their further implications in society.

You did a good job in really making sure everything you said was relevant to the question - but I still think you ought to go a little deeper. Remember you've got two sides which can be enough space to really think critically about the issues and implications of every main idea you put forward.

See this document from Oxford which is really useful in establishing the approaches you could take to questions:
http://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxfo...%20TSA%202.pdf
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rs12345
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(Original post by notablestrumpet)
No worries! I'm glad you found it helpful

Introduction
You provide some good context for question but I feel you need to deconstruct it a little more to show your critical thinking and understanding of the issue and make sure your essay really specifically targets the question.

Define ‘justified’ – What exactly does this mean and what interpretation of this is your essay going to take? Does it mean that it’s simply acceptable or do you think it has a positive impact?

Define ‘facial visibility’ – Give an example of this in this paragraph to establish precisely what approach you’re taking. For example ‘facial visibility’ could vary from sunglasses to burqas.

Define ‘public spaces’ – What classes as a public space? Airports, schools, shopping centres, streets, religious buildings, etc?

You could even go a little deeper and unpick what ‘insisting’ on this would mean, and whether that would be due to social expectations or through laws and thus possible criminal punishment. You’ve also assumed here that insisting on facial visibility ‘protects the security of the people’ – this may be a bit of an assertion that you’d be better off discussing in depth in the body of your essay rather than just mentioning it fleetingly here.

Paragraph 1
This point definitely needs more development. It’s good that everything you said in this paragraph was relevant to your point of freedom of expression but you just need to delve a bit deeper. Ask yourself the following questions:

Is ‘freedom of expression’ really one of our most fundamental rights? In the same way that you’re arguing that people have the right to express themselves in anyway they like, who’s to say that people can’t just walk around naked in the name of ‘freedom of expression’. Perhaps discuss the social expectations and particular implications on society in not being able to see people’s faces. Does it make others uncomfortable? Does it go against the social norms? Is this a positive or a negative thing? This is a controversial topic but being able to analyse both sides of the argument is key is this sort of essay.

What are the counterarguments of this point? Discuss the possible safety issues with people not being able to easily identify you. Touch on the ‘security’ aspect mentioned in your introduction.

(Also p.s. the hijab doesn’t cover the face – you’re thinking of the burqa!!)

Paragraph 2
This paragraph again could be developed a little more. It’s good that you touched on the security issue but maybe consider what the security implications are for people wearing burqas, for instance. Would this fuel targeted religious hate towards Muslims or draw un wanted attention or possible harassment to Muslim women? Perhaps there are some women who feel that they are obliged to wear the burqa and this law would protect those people, not just for the safety of others’ but the people who wear them themselves.

Paragraph 3
This doesn’t really feel like a stand-alone point but instead could be merged in with the previous paragraph.

Conclusion
I feel like you’ve brought in another point with the prisons and perhaps just sum up your main points and touch on their further implications in society.

You did a good job in really making sure everything you said was relevant to the question - but I still think you ought to go a little deeper. Remember you've got two sides which can be enough space to really think critically about the issues and implications of every main idea you put forward.

See this document from Oxford which is really useful in establishing the approaches you could take to questions:
http://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxfo...%20TSA%202.pdf

Wow! Thanks for the amazing feedback again – I really owe you one. The document you sent me at the end is also really helpful.
I hope you don't mind if I send you one final essay tomorrow or the day after. I just really want to make sure that my TSA Essay is good as it's probably the aspect of the application I am struggling most with.
Thanks again, I really appreciate the feedback!
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notablestrumpet
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Wow! Thanks for the amazing feedback again – I really owe you one. The document you sent me at the end is also really helpful.
I hope you don't mind if I send you one final essay tomorrow or the day after. I just really want to make sure that my TSA Essay is good as it's probably the aspect of the application I am struggling most with.
Thanks again, I really appreciate the feedback!
Of course I will. It's no problem at all - it actually really helps me with my section 2 practice too
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(Original post by rs12345)
Thank you so much for your feedback! I really, really appreciate it – it was very useful. I wrote a second essay today. I would very much appreciate it if you could provide your input on this one as well. Thank you once again!


Is it justified to insist on facial visibility in public spaces?
(Once again, I did not fix any typos, grammatical mistakes, or anything of the sort, in order to keep it as authentic as possible.)

A hallmark of political debate in the post-2001 era is the debate between liberty and security. Is it justified to take away certain liberties in order to protect the security of the people? The question of whether or not it is justified to force face visibility in public spaces is a direct example of this constant battle. I believe that while there may be some efforts to justify requiring facial visibility, it is ultimately an unjust cause to require facial visibility in public places.


The first, most important reason for this is that it is an infringement upon one of our fundamental rights: the freedom of expression. People may have several reasons behind hiding their faces publicly. The best example is women in Islam who need to follow their religion and wear the Hijab, covering their faces. This is an act of expressing their religion: one of the foundational rights that people have. It is not only unjustifiable, but directly undemocratic to violate freedom of religion and expression.


Some may argue, however, that a government’s job is, above others, to maintain order. To protect the peoples right to life itself. In doing so, it must protect citizens against criminal. If facial visibility is not required, then these criminals may be able to get around more easily, since it is harder to identify them. While this my be the case, the number of criminals that would escape due to hiding their faces would pal in comparison to the number of people who’s right to liberty was infringed upon. From a utilitarian perspective, this is unjustifiable. The government exists not just to maintain order, but as put by John Locke, to protect “Life, Liberty, and Property.” Failing to protect liberties while saving few, if any, lives, goes against the very purpose of government.


This sets a dangerous precedent. A world where a government may strip the liberties of hundreds of thousands to marginally improve security, is a world where the government it too powerful. Allowing the requirement of facial visibility in public places sets a dangerous precedent allowing a government to take away any liberties, so load as they are excersized by minorities.


Ultimately, while their are instances wherein security takes importance over liberty (such as in prisons), in this case allowing the government to mandate facial visibility in public is a step too far in the direction of autocracy.
I feel like the main problem in this essay is on the 3rd paragraph when you mentioned utilitarianism and John Locke. I thought that maybe instead of trying to mention them in one sentence or two, I thought that maybe you could further develop them so that they can play a greater role in your essay. Although I accept that the amount of people that would benefit from criminals being caught more easier would be much less than the amount of people whose rights would be infringed upon, I thought that there may be a problem of the so-called 'concentrated harm on a minority of people'. The amount of harm suffered by victims of violent crime may exceed the amount of harm that results from an infringement of the freedom of expression. In this view, if we were to take the utilitarian calculus as our metric, facial visibility would be justified. On Locke, according to Lockean political philosophy, one's right to life actually comes before one's right to liberty. So if you accept that the government's role is to secure citizens' right to 'life, liberty and property', you would believe that facial visibility is justified as citizens' right to life would be protected through preventing potentially life-threatening crimes.

I'm also taking the exam this coming wednesday so tbh I'm not some kind of expert. but this is just a few points that I had over my head when I read your essay. I thought that there would be room for development to make the discussion more academic Btw, just curious but what course are you applying for and what college?
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Of course I will. It's no problem at all - it actually really helps me with my section 2 practice too

Thank you! I spoke to a teacher at my school as well, and got some great feedback on how to write the essay better. Here is the newest one that I've written. Thanks!!!

Could a robot ever think like a human?

Over the past several decades, mankind has been obsessed with perfecting robots, or as we refer to them nowadays, computers. They have become immensely fast and power, with the ability to process and computer massive amounts of data. One question that persists, however, is could a “robot” (or program) ever “think” like a human? Firstly, it’s important to consider what it means to “think” like a human. What characterizes us?For the sake of argument, let’s assume it to encompass the ability to be creative, or form original thoughts, feel emotions, and have consiousness. Based on the rapid development of technology over the past century, it seems clear that machines will eventually have the ability to “think” like a human.


Some may believe that programming such “humanity” into a machine is impossible. After all, we ourselves cannot explain what it truly means to be consious or be creative, let alone what it means to be human. While this is true, it is important to consider that programming does not necessitate knowing exactly what a task entails. It only requires knowing what a success or failure in that task looks like, and what its characteristics are. For instance, machine learning enable software to discern what an animal looks like. While the idea of the animal is ineffable, and a “form”, or pure version, as put by Plato, is not in our hands, we can tell a computer whether or not it is correct in naming an animal, and thus, machine learning has enabled programers to tell apart animals without truly knowing its “form.” If we know the characteristics of a human mind, we can use them to successfully train a machine to match them.


Furthermore, on a societal level, it seems clear that we will one day successfully replicate human thought in a robot. In just a century, we have managed to dramatically sophisticate computing. People once believed it to be impossible for a computer to beat a grandmaster at chess – until did just a few years later. If we could create as powerful technology as we have in just a few decades, the possibilities when we extent it to millennia are endless: robots thinking like humans are certainly within the realm of possibility.


The true challenge we may face is not actually creating such a robot, but objectively determining if it can actually “think” like a human according to our initial definition. We have no idea what it actually means to be conscious or creative. We can only list characteristics. W ourselves don’t even know if other humans are conscious so it is intriguing to wonder how we’ll determine if our creation actually “thinks” like a “human”.
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Thank you! I spoke to a teacher at my school as well, and got some great feedback on how to write the essay better. Here is the newest one that I've written. Thanks!!!

Could a robot ever think like a human?

Over the past several decades, mankind has been obsessed with perfecting robots, or as we refer to them nowadays, computers. They have become immensely fast and power, with the ability to process and computer massive amounts of data. One question that persists, however, is could a “robot” (or program) ever “think” like a human? Firstly, it’s important to consider what it means to “think” like a human. What characterizes us?For the sake of argument, let’s assume it to encompass the ability to be creative, or form original thoughts, feel emotions, and have consiousness. Based on the rapid development of technology over the past century, it seems clear that machines will eventually have the ability to “think” like a human.


Some may believe that programming such “humanity” into a machine is impossible. After all, we ourselves cannot explain what it truly means to be consious or be creative, let alone what it means to be human. While this is true, it is important to consider that programming does not necessitate knowing exactly what a task entails. It only requires knowing what a success or failure in that task looks like, and what its characteristics are. For instance, machine learning enable software to discern what an animal looks like. While the idea of the animal is ineffable, and a “form”, or pure version, as put by Plato, is not in our hands, we can tell a computer whether or not it is correct in naming an animal, and thus, machine learning has enabled programers to tell apart animals without truly knowing its “form.” If we know the characteristics of a human mind, we can use them to successfully train a machine to match them.


Furthermore, on a societal level, it seems clear that we will one day successfully replicate human thought in a robot. In just a century, we have managed to dramatically sophisticate computing. People once believed it to be impossible for a computer to beat a grandmaster at chess – until did just a few years later. If we could create as powerful technology as we have in just a few decades, the possibilities when we extent it to millennia are endless: robots thinking like humans are certainly within the realm of possibility.


The true challenge we may face is not actually creating such a robot, but objectively determining if it can actually “think” like a human according to our initial definition. We have no idea what it actually means to be conscious or creative. We can only list characteristics. W ourselves don’t even know if other humans are conscious so it is intriguing to wonder how we’ll determine if our creation actually “thinks” like a “human”.

Introduction
This is good! It’s especially nice that you mentioned the question here too. The only thing I would add is a definition of what a robot is, even if it sounds a little obvious.

Point 1
“it is important to consider that programming does not necessitate knowing exactly what a task entails. . It only requires knowing what a success or failure in that task looks like…” – Is this true though? It’s not as if computers program themselves. If people are designing a chess software, they would struggle if they don’t understand the rules of the game because you need to produce a potential outcome for every scenario. For a robot to truly ‘think like a human’ and replicate our thought processes in different situations, it would need to truly understand it. People designing chess software could understand that ‘success’ just looks like checkmate, but that doesn’t really assist in designing software to get to that point.

“If we know the characteristics of a human mind. ”- We don’t fully understand the human mind and all the different characteristics that form our thought patterns and it may not be likely that we ever will fully understand it. How could we expect a machine (which in your explanation only appears to look at the outcome rather than the process) to understand it? Also, does this assume that every human mind has the same thought pattern? Maybe touch on this issue/assumption of the argument and how it could impact your conclusion.

Paragraph 2

“it seems clear that we will one day successfully replicate human thought in a robot” – Why? Give reasons – try to convince me. This seems like an assertion. Maybe try using less definitive language and instead uses phrases like ‘we may be able to’ instead of definitively establishing something you can’t prove.

“robots thinking like humans are certainly within the realm of possibility” – I like this! You’ve acknowledged the fact that technology grows exponentially and linked your evidence back to your point and the question in a relevant way.

Paragraph 3
I’m not sure if this is meant to be a conclusion because it sounds like a whole other argument in itself, but it's nice that you're touching on a counter-argument.

“W ourselves don’t even know if other humans are conscious” – I’ve just looked up the definition of conscious and it says “aware of and responding to one's surroundings”. I’d say humans fit this definition.

Sorry that this isn't as in depth as my other ones but I think it's a decent essay. It's so hard to really go in depth and like think critically about all your points with the immense time pressure. I think when you're writing it, it might be useful just to ask yourself 'how do I know this?' or 'what am I assuming with this argument?', so you don't end up making arguments that aren't really supported by solid evidence.

Hope this helps! Again, please take my advice with a pinch of salt I have a bit of a formula when I'm writing these sorts of essays, but that doesn't mean it's perfect - feel free to disagree with any of my points!
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rs12345
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(Original post by notablestrumpet)
Introduction
This is good! It’s especially nice that you mentioned the question here too. The only thing I would add is a definition of what a robot is, even if it sounds a little obvious.

Point 1
“it is important to consider that programming does not necessitate knowing exactly what a task entails. . It only requires knowing what a success or failure in that task looks like…” – Is this true though? It’s not as if computers program themselves. If people are designing a chess software, they would struggle if they don’t understand the rules of the game because you need to produce a potential outcome for every scenario. For a robot to truly ‘think like a human’ and replicate our thought processes in different situations, it would need to truly understand it. People designing chess software could understand that ‘success’ just looks like checkmate, but that doesn’t really assist in designing software to get to that point.

“If we know the characteristics of a human mind. ”- We don’t fully understand the human mind and all the different characteristics that form our thought patterns and it may not be likely that we ever will fully understand it. How could we expect a machine (which in your explanation only appears to look at the outcome rather than the process) to understand it? Also, does this assume that every human mind has the same thought pattern? Maybe touch on this issue/assumption of the argument and how it could impact your conclusion.

Paragraph 2

“it seems clear that we will one day successfully replicate human thought in a robot” – Why? Give reasons – try to convince me. This seems like an assertion. Maybe try using less definitive language and instead uses phrases like ‘we may be able to’ instead of definitively establishing something you can’t prove.

“robots thinking like humans are certainly within the realm of possibility” – I like this! You’ve acknowledged the fact that technology grows exponentially and linked your evidence back to your point and the question in a relevant way.

Paragraph 3
I’m not sure if this is meant to be a conclusion because it sounds like a whole other argument in itself, but it's nice that you're touching on a counter-argument.

“W ourselves don’t even know if other humans are conscious” – I’ve just looked up the definition of conscious and it says “aware of and responding to one's surroundings”. I’d say humans fit this definition.

Sorry that this isn't as in depth as my other ones but I think it's a decent essay. It's so hard to really go in depth and like think critically about all your points with the immense time pressure. I think when you're writing it, it might be useful just to ask yourself 'how do I know this?' or 'what am I assuming with this argument?', so you don't end up making arguments that aren't really supported by solid evidence.

Hope this helps! Again, please take my advice with a pinch of salt I have a bit of a formula when I'm writing these sorts of essays, but that doesn't mean it's perfect - feel free to disagree with any of my points!
Thanks again for your advice! It's actually really helpful.

I do disagree with your comment on point 1, however: "It’s not as if computers program themselves. If people are designing a chess software, they would struggle if they don’t understand the rules of the game because you need to produce a potential outcome for every scenario." Machine learning actually works in a manner that you yourself don't have to know all the specifics of the task being accomplished. Essentially, if you create enough "layers" with enough inputs, with enough data of what successes and failures look like, and allow it to run for a sufficient amount of time, then you can't even know how the computer is achieving the task: you just know that it does. If you're interested, search up Machine Learning, there's plenty of literature on the topic.

Otherwise, I agree with your feedback. Thank you so much, and good luck on your TSA tomorrow!
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notablestrumpet
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(Original post by rs12345)
Thanks again for your advice! It's actually really helpful.

I do disagree with your comment on point 1, however: "It’s not as if computers program themselves. If people are designing a chess software, they would struggle if they don’t understand the rules of the game because you need to produce a potential outcome for every scenario." Machine learning actually works in a manner that you yourself don't have to know all the specifics of the task being accomplished. Essentially, if you create enough "layers" with enough inputs, with enough data of what successes and failures look like, and allow it to run for a sufficient amount of time, then you can't even know how the computer is achieving the task: you just know that it does. If you're interested, search up Machine Learning, there's plenty of literature on the topic.

Otherwise, I agree with your feedback. Thank you so much, and good luck on your TSA tomorrow!
I just googled about it and you're totally right. That's a super interesting point and is a great point of discussion for that essay title.

Thank you! I wish you all the best for tomorrow. Let me know how you find it
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Harama
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Hey! How did you fare in the end? I am taking the TSA this year-round and found your input in this conversation incredibly useful. Was wondering if maybe you have some updated tips a year later
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AnneCathrine
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Hey !
I know this is not in connection with your original question in particular but you just seem to be very well prepared for the TSA so I was wondering if you could recommend any material that you found really useful for practicing aside form practice tests? Thanks in advance
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Krishna16
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(Original post by rs12345)
Thank you so much for your feedback! I really, really appreciate it – it was very useful. I wrote a second essay today. I would very much appreciate it if you could provide your input on this one as well. Thank you once again!


Is it justified to insist on facial visibility in public spaces?
(Once again, I did not fix any typos, grammatical mistakes, or anything of the sort, in order to keep it as authentic as possible.)

A hallmark of political debate in the post-2001 era is the debate between liberty and security. Is it justified to take away certain liberties in order to protect the security of the people? The question of whether or not it is justified to force face visibility in public spaces is a direct example of this constant battle. I believe that while there may be some efforts to justify requiring facial visibility, it is ultimately an unjust cause to require facial visibility in public places.


The first, most important reason for this is that it is an infringement upon one of our fundamental rights: the freedom of expression. People may have several reasons behind hiding their faces publicly. The best example is women in Islam who need to follow their religion and wear the Hijab, covering their faces. This is an act of expressing their religion: one of the foundational rights that people have. It is not only unjustifiable, but directly undemocratic to violate freedom of religion and expression.


Some may argue, however, that a government’s job is, above others, to maintain order. To protect the peoples right to life itself. In doing so, it must protect citizens against criminal. If facial visibility is not required, then these criminals may be able to get around more easily, since it is harder to identify them. While this my be the case, the number of criminals that would escape due to hiding their faces would pal in comparison to the number of people who’s right to liberty was infringed upon. From a utilitarian perspective, this is unjustifiable. The government exists not just to maintain order, but as put by John Locke, to protect “Life, Liberty, and Property.” Failing to protect liberties while saving few, if any, lives, goes against the very purpose of government.


This sets a dangerous precedent. A world where a government may strip the liberties of hundreds of thousands to marginally improve security, is a world where the government it too powerful. Allowing the requirement of facial visibility in public places sets a dangerous precedent allowing a government to take away any liberties, so load as they are excersized by minorities.


Ultimately, while their are instances wherein security takes importance over liberty (such as in prisons), in this case allowing the government to mandate facial visibility in public is a step too far in the direction of autocracy.
You could give some examples, real life examples, may be in your conclusion or sumat. IK you have already done your TSA. It's just a point of reference for everyone reading.
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oceanmind
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(Original post by katrinat9311)
hiya, I was wondering if anyone would want to have a look at mine, kinda don't know what to expect still so any pointers appreciated.“Privacy is only good because people aren’t good. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need privacy.” Is that right?With privacy such a pointedly protected concept, as seen through the outrage over facebooks 2018 controversy of selling personal data to Cambridge Analytica and fear orchestrated through Huawei new 5G, the concept of its plausible fruitlessness, if not for humans corruptive nature, seems impertinent. Despite this, I will explore deferent philosophies, key human rights and theories of economic development to see if in an idyllic world privacy would still retain a role. For most people, privacy provides the liberty of freedom of thought, speech and action if in an isolated and protected environment. It could be theorised therefor if privacy were to be taken away, even in a perfect world, a resultant stifling of individual ideas may come as a result. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ proclaims not only is utility a result of freedom of speech (through the promotion of truth) but that to gain any knowledge at all contradictions and analytical debates must occur. This poses 2 issues for our ‘good’ citizens: lack of privacy may be interpreted as a double-edged sword, while increasing intellectual freedom in some areas such as communist China by disintegrating censorship it may also result in silencing of oppositional ideas out of fear to segregate from cultural norms, stagnating political development, intellectual advancements and reducing overall contentment.This lack of freedom, however, is dependent on privacy being prevalent in society prior to its transformation into ‘perfect’, after all, who is to say any fear is prevalent if all citizens are ‘good’ and there is no one to penalise said ideas. If we explored the question through an always ‘perfect’ world lens, however, privacy becomes futile, not out of kind nature but from a lack of a society interested in anything which may have been hidden. In the seven stages from anarchy to a centralised state, as described by Sir Paul Collier, there is a requirement of a ‘thug’ to instigate violence and fear in order to gain power/control. If our ‘good’ citizens are void of any greed, self-interest/entitlement or violent capacity no power hierarchy’s will ever be established and it will remain in a state of equity. In such a scenario there is never a need for privacy as each family unit/individual would have remained in isolated anarchy, each self-governed by their morality and contained, with no interest or opposition towards anyone else and without the technology r infrastructure to provide the connectivity privacy protect from. Considering, however, the fact our modern society has progressed to integrated and centralised states, prevents privacy from ever being inconsequential. With the definition of ‘good’ at current equivocal, issues similar to the Eichmann case ( Eichmann was a nazi who managed transport logistics of the holocaust, however before being executed claimed he was just trying to be a good employee, detached from the context of his work trying to please his employers). Someone's definition of good may cause harm to others even if it deems their actions beneficial. Privacy would still be required therefor even in a ‘perfect world’ in order to prevent radical or predatory ideals being enacted if the individual deems them good. Ultimately, privacy will always be a requirement in a contemporary world for without the safety for individuals to formulate unique ideas society will be trapped in confinements of the status quo. Politics could not argue, markets would reach the possibility frontier and halt, stagnant everything public and predicted and security as a concept and industry would collapse. Just as it protects from the ‘evil’ it enables the ‘good’.
Hello @katrinat9311! I've also recently started looking at the TSA (a bit on the side though, as a PhysNatSci Cambridge applicant) just as a source for some interesting essay prompts. From reading through it, I think that it is generally quite a good answer to the question. However, there are a few points that I feel could be improved, or replaced. Forgive my critical tone, but I think that the style of writing could be altered just a little as well.What went well...1) Generally, quite a good answer. 2) You clearly have quite a bit of relevant knowledge for the topic!3) You have given some conceptual points.What could be improved...1) Your punctuation sometimes makes the essay a bit hard to read; perhaps you could try and use separate sentences, rather than try to mix quite a lot of ideas into one continued passage.2) There is no need to use such a substantial amount of big words! You should try and find the balance between an intelligent choice of words, and a selection that may make the essay a bit difficult to read3) When you start off, you make a remark about the impertinence of the topic. I would certainly avoid writing anything similar to this (something that tries to attack the flaws of the question). It is important to consider that the TSA essay questions were specially designed to encourage a good, discursive response from the candidate, and the examiner may take offence at this comment!4) Jump into the essay earlier -- there is no need to write such a long introduction. You can showcase your writing style better with more developed points, rather than an introduction that doesn't answer the question.5) You don't need quite as much evidence -- they are assessing your ability to think creatively on the spot, not to demonstrate wider reading.6) This one is a bit trickier: develop a bit more fluidity in writing. Imagine that your writing is an experience for the reader; how can you make it as exciting as possible? 7) Focus on developing analysis of points rather than trying to add more ideas.
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