Category Archives: Science

China Just Launched the Most Frightening Game Ever — and Soon It Will Be Mandatory

(ANTIMEDIA) Oceania, China — As if further proof were needed Orwell’s dystopia is now upon us, China has now gamified obedience to the State. Though that is every bit as creepily terrifying as it sounds, citizens may still choose whether or not they wish to opt-in — that is, until the program becomes compulsory in 2020. “Going under the innocuous name of ‘Sesame Credit,’ China has created a score for how good a citizen you are,” explains Extra Credits’ video about the program. “The owners of China’s largest social networks have partnered with the government to create something akin to the U.S. credit score — but, instead of measuring how regularly you pay your bills, it measures how obediently you follow the party line.

In the works for years, China’s ‘social credit system’ aims to create a docile, compliant citizenry who are fiscally and morally responsible by employing a game-like format to create self-imposed, group social control. In other words, China gamified peer pressure to control its citizenry; and, though the scheme hasn’t been fully implemented yet, it’s already working — insidiously well.

Zheping Huang, a reporter for Quartz, chronicled his own experience with the social control tool in October, saying that “in the past few weeks I began to notice a mysterious new trend. Numbers were popping up on my social media feeds as my friends and strangers on Weibo [the Chinese equivalent to Twitter] and WeChat began to share their ‘Sesame Credit scores.’ The score is created by Ant Financial, an Alibaba-affiliated company that also runs Alipay, China’s popular third-party payment app with over 350 million users. Ant Financial claims that it evaluates one’s purchasing and spending habits in order to derive a figure that shows how creditworthy someone is.”

However, according to a translation of the “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System,” posted online by Oxford University’s China expert, Rogier Creemers, it’s nightmarishly clear the program is far more than just a credit-tracking method. As he described it, “The government wants to build a platform that leverages things like big data, mobile internet, and cloud computing to measure and evaluate different levels of people’s lives in order to create a gamified nudging for people to behave better.”

While Sesame Credit’s roll-out in January has been downplayed by many, the American Civil Liberties Union, among others, urges caution, saying:

“The system is run by two companies, Alibaba and Tencent, which run all the social networks in China and therefore have access to a vast amount of data about people’s social ties and activities and what they say. In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance. Among the things that will hurt a citizen’s score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them.” And, in what appears likely the goal of the entire program, added, “Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create.”

Social pressure, of course, can be highly effective given the right circumstances. China seems to have found exactly that in the intricate linking of people’s scores to their contacts, which can be seen publicly by anyone — and then upping the ante through score-based incentives and rewards. Rick Falkvinge pointed out a startling comparison:

The KGB and the Stasi’s method of preventing dissent from taking hold was to plant so-called agents provocateurs in the general population, people who tried to make people agree with dissent, but who actually were arresting them as soon as they agreed with such dissent. As a result, nobody would dare agree that the government did anything bad, and this was very effective in preventing any large-scale resistance from taking hold. The Chinese way here is much more subtle, but probably more effective still.”

As Creemers described to Dutch news outlet, de Volkskrant, “With the help of the latest internet technologies, the government wants to exercise individual surveillance. The Chinese aim […] is clearly an attempt to create a new citizen.”

Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Johan Lagerkvist, said the system is“very ambitious in scope, including scrutinizing individual behavior and what books people read. It’s Amazon’s consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist.”

James Corbett has been tracking the implementation of Sesame Credit for some time. Introducing the ubiquitous tracking system for a recent episode of the Corbett Report, he mused:

“Coming soon to a New World Order near you: social credit! Earn points by behaving like the government wants you to behave! Get penalized if you don’t act like a doubleplusgood citizen! What could be more fun?”

Indeed, because mandatory enrollment in Sesame Credit is still a few years away, its true effectiveness won’t be measurable for some time. But even a reporter’s usual wariness appears knocked off-kilter, as Zheping Huang summarized his personal experience: “Even if my crappy credit score doesn’t mean much now, it’s in my best interest I suppose to make sure it doesn’t go too low.”

And that, of course, is precisely why gamifying State obedience is so terrifying.

Claire Bernish


 

This article (China Just Launched the Most Frightening Game Ever — and Soon It Will Be Mandatory) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

 

Source : The Anti Media

Something—we’re not sure what—is radically dimming a star’s light

 

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, designed to discover planets orbiting distant stars, has turned up something that’s decidedly not a planet. And at this point, that’s pretty much all we can say about it—except that it’s a mystery.

Of all the stars in the Kepler field of view, KIC 8462852 seems to be a special snowflake.

A star that Kepler has been observing, KIC 8462852, underwent several periods of dimming. This is exactly what Kepler was built to look for, because a slight dimming in a star’s light can indicate the presence of a planet passing in front of it. But this is no slight dip in the star’s light output—it dims by a full 20 percent. That’s way too much change for any transiting planet to produce. So, as two researchers titled their paper, “Where’s the Flux?”

The paper exhaustively examines various possible identities for the phenomena. They settle on a most likely scenario, but clearly this is one of the many cases in science where future work is needed.

Planet hunters

While Kepler focuses on a relatively small patch of sky—about 100 square degrees, while the whole sky is about 41,253—there are a lot of stars within that patch, and it followed more than 150,000 of them. That’s way too much data for the researchers to search individually. Instead, they use algorithms that look for repeating patterns, like periodic dips in a star’s flux (light output).

But that approach lacks a certain human touch—it won’t spot anything that’s unexpected, since that won’t be incorporated into the algorithm. So to complement it, researchers relied on a citizen science project called Planet Hunters. Astronomy enthusiasts among the public were given the chance to pore over the data by eye. It was the Planet Hunters project that discovered KIC 8462852, marking it as an interesting object.

In just the first quarter of Kepler’s mission, volunteers had identified it as “bizarre,” “interesting,” and a “giant transit.” As new data on the star was released, discussions continued on the “talk” page of the Planet Hunters site, where it became increasingly apparent something was afoot.

Rises and dips

Kepler checked the star using a series of 30-minute observations throughout the duration of its mission. For most of that time, the flux remained constant, but there were a number of significant departures from that.

After two small dips in 2009, which had attracted the notice of the Planet Hunters, there was another major dip of about 15 percent in 2011, and it lasted nearly a week. Finally, there was a whole series of dips in 2013, one of them managing to dim the star’s light by 22 percent.

To figure out if any of these changes are periodic, or at least have a periodic component, the researchers used a mathematical tool called a Fourier transform, which breaks signals down into the frequencies that make them up. It turns out there is indeed a regular period embedded in there, a rather short 0.88 days (or 1.14 cycles per day).

This number is pretty much what researchers would expect for a star like KIC 8462852, as it could represent the rotation of the star itself. They were able to calculate the star’s size as a result—they found that it was consistent with a normal F type star. Could the rotation of disturbances on the surface of the star itself explain the strange reduction?

Not entirely. The Fourier transform graph reveals that something more complex is going on, as there are a few other periodic signals that also contribute to the signal. In other words, it still looks a lot like a type F star, but its rotation leaves a number of signals unaccounted for.

Looking closer

The duo then turned to the ground-based Nordic Optical Telescope in the Roque de los Muchachos (Castle of the Kids) observatory of La Palma, Spain. They used it to obtain some spectroscopic data on the star during the period in question, to complement Kepler’s observations. Most of these results are fairly typical for an F-type star, though they do provide extra details about the star itself.

But the spectra also revealed the presence of some interstellar gas in our line of sight to the star.

The researchers also predicted the presence of a companion star not too far away, which they then detected using the Keck II telescope in Hawaii. They can’t confirm that the companion is physically bound to KIC 8462852, rather than simply a background or foreground star, but they estimate that there’s only a one percent chance that it’s not part of the physical system.

But given its distance, the companion can’t really affect the star directly. Still, it might perturb the orbits of any other objects in the system over the long-term.

Explanations

The researchers then wondered if KIC 8462852 was the only star in the Kepler data behaving in this strange way. To find out, they constructed an algorithm to search for similar extreme dips in the star’s brightness. They found over a thousand of them, but the rest turned out to be either binary systems undergoing eclipses, sunspot activity, or errors in the Kepler instrument itself. When they’d reviewed all the candidates, not a single other star had the same behavior.

That means it’s likely not a common phenomenon. So what is it? The main problem is that, while there is periodicity within the dimming pattern, the full, overall pattern is not periodic. Multiple events that aren’t periodic are hard to create a model for. But the researchers evaluated as many possibilities as they could think of. These are:

  • Instrument or data errors: The first possibility the researchers discuss is that the dimmings are caused by the instrument itself, just like a smudge on your camera lens can produce an image that looks like a UFO. To rule out these glitches, they applied data analysis algorithms, checked to make sure no cosmic ray events were recorded at the same times as the dips (as those can sometimes cause errors in electronic devices), looked at the light from neighboring sources recorded by Kepler to see if those displayed the same patterns (they didn’t), and more. At the end of this analysis, the researchers concluded that the pattern Kepler’s seeing is not a technical problem—it’s a real astrophysical event.
  • Variable stars: Some stars see their brightness vary naturally. But KIC 8462852 doesn’t match the characteristics of most known variables. There is, however, one type that could almost fit the bill and could even explain some of the weirdness in KIC 8462852’s graph. These are Be stars, and they’re spinning so fast they’re essentially breaking up, ejecting material every so often. This is often seen as a bright emission, but sometimes it can cause dimming. But Be stars produce excess infra-red light, which isn’t the case here; the star’s temperature is also wrong, among other issues. Close, but no pez.
  • Dust getting in the way: Another possibility is clumps of dust loosely orbiting the star, periodically obscuring it. While there’s no way to rule this one out, the researchers “disfavor” it, because KIC 8462852 doesn’t seem to be a young star, and older stars don’t tend to maintain these sorts of dusty disks (they tend to condense into planets).
  • Debris getting in the way: It’s possible that the system has an equivalent (but far more dense) version of our asteroid field. If so, maybe some of that material is getting in the way. Alternatively, objects like broken up comets or debris from planetary collisions could cause dimmings. This one is actually something of a promising possibility, so the researchers discuss it in more detail.

Constraints

If something is getting in the way of the star, the first step would be to figure out how big it is and how close it is to the star. In that way, the researchers put constraints on it. For example, to block this much light, it could either be big and close to the star or smaller and far from the star. But if it’s small and far away, it couldn’t be moving fast enough to produce the right duration for the dips in brightness. All of these put constraints on the object(s).

Similarly, you can constrain the minimum possible size of the clumps by looking at the depths of the dips. It turns out that at least some of the clumps have to be a significant fraction of the size of the star. The authors found a number of similar constraints based on other characteristics of the observations.

Putting all this information together, they found that whatever the clumps are, they have to be at a distance roughly equivalent to Jupiter and the other gas giants’ distance from the Sun. And it would have to be large, larger even than the star itself.

It’s possible that a small planetary body known as a planetesimal could have a large collection of dust orbiting it. That way, the planetesimal itself might have escaped our detection because it’s so small, but its gravitationally bound dust might be enough to block all that light.

Cometary conclusions

But that scenario, too, has issues, as do two others they raise: dust blasted into space after a planetesimal/asteroid collision, and debris resulting from a collision with a planet. After considering all these options, they found that the most likely scenario involves a family of broken comet debris.

Since many stellar systems have been found to have hot Jupiters—huge gas giants on extremely close orbits to their stars—it’s plausible that this system has one, too. Its gravity could have broken up a passing comet. It’s even possible that the comet could have come too close to the star and been broken up due to its tidal forces.

This idea, too, has its issues, and it’s not yet clear whether it can fully explain the data. For one thing, the absence of an excess of IR light is puzzling. It doesn’t rule out the comet explanation, but it might require another star to pass through the system, dragging objects from the system’s Oort cloud (a ring at the outer edge of most stellar systems that contains millions of icy objects). That’s kind of far-fetched, especially as the aforementioned companion star is too far to have managed this.

But for now, the researchers conclude that it’s the best explanation. “Of the various considered, we find that the break-up of [an] exocomet provides the most compelling explanation,” the authors write in their paper.

Future work is needed, first and foremost, to continue monitoring the star’s behavior and to learn more about the frequency of the dips. The team will engage in that continuing observation in collaboration with the MEarth project, a robotic survey.

Additionally, if it is indeed a family of comets, it should be releasing gas as well as dust, which can be tracked with future observations.

Whatever the case, KIC 8462852 will certainly be an interesting star to watch. “Our analysis characterizes the object as both remarkable (e.g., the “dipping” events in the Kepler light curve) and unremarkable (ground-based data reveal no deviation from a normal F-type star) at the same time,” the authors write.

But wait, aliens?!

It seems we left out an important possibility:

  • Aliens: A technologically advanced alien civilization might be building something around their star.

Other sources have been reporting that KIC 8462852’s behavior could be evidence of an alien Dyson sphere or an alien megastructure. The researchers didn’t actually discuss this possibility in their paper, where they concluded the comets are currently the best explanation. But as the cometary explanation is not fully satisfying, lead author Tabetha Boyajian of Yale consulted with Jason Wright, an astrophysicist with Penn State University, who had studied ways to detect potential extraterrestrial constructions.

Wright posited that the dips in flux from the star might be due to an alien Dyson sphere. Dyson spheres, of Star Trek fame, are massive, hypothetical constructs built around a star to collect its energy through millions of solar panels.

“Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider,” Wright told The Atlantic. “But this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Well, it does fit the bill. If aliens had built a partial Dyson sphere, it could explain the strange behavior. But that doesn’t mean that’s the correct explanation. As Wright says, it should be the very last hypothesis we consider. And we still have other plausible explanations, such as the comets.

Nonetheless, Wright is writing up a proposal to use the NRAO’s Green Bank Telescope, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope, to look for radio transmissions from the system. If accepted, the observation would take place in January. If it turns up something worth further study, it would then be turned over to the Very Large Array in New Mexico, which should be able to confirm if the radio waves come from a technological source.

It’s an interesting idea. While it’s sexier by far than comets, “We should also approach it skeptically,” Wright told Slate. It’s all well and good to investigate the possibility, as Wright is doing, but (despite the impending return of “The X-Files”) it’s not quite time to go “full Mulder” just yet.

If actual evidence exists, we might find out in January. The truth is out there, after all.

 

By Xaq Rzetelny

 

Source : Ars Technica.

Back to School Vaccine Hysteria Culminates in Hunt for Unvaccinated Kids

 

vaccs_dees

By Heather Callaghan

Due to increased mandatory vaccination legislation, parents are being politely threatened by the corporate-sponsored press, the CDC and the school systems that they had better get jabs for their children. In many cases, such as in California, it’s the law. In cases where it’s not completely mandatory, veiled threats and social pressure to submit have reached an ominous fever-pitch.

While the media can offer ostensible friendliness in passive aggressive threats to “get with the vaccine program” as it can rest on the buttress of law, it has not yet dispensed with extraordinary hysteria, authoritarian peer pressure and even targeting children in public shaming rituals.

This is because it’s “Back to School” rush hour, one of the biggest spending seasons. In the rush to spend one’s literal last pennies on supplies, clothes and lunches, the government doesn’t want you to forget to sacrifice and scrape that last bit for required injections.

One headline goes like this: Parents told to check vaccine status ahead of school. It was a “friendly reminder” to Oregon parents that their non-medical exemptions are null, that booster shots are required for older students and that preschool caretakers are to get jabs or close down.

A recent CNN headline “As kids go back to school, states look to encourage vaccinations,” chides parents who might be naughty:

When kids start school this fall, it’s a sure bet that some won’t have had their recommended vaccines because their parents have claimed exemptions from school requirements for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Following the much publicized outbreak of measles that started in Disneyland in California in December, these exemptions have drawn increased scrutiny.  [emphasis added]

That’s right, all of these convenient moves to corral people into compulsory toxic injections hinge on the original hysteria produced by “Disneyland measles.” What the media never reports is that California had a 97.46% student vaccination rate during that time. Pharma manufacturers cry that they need 95% rate to achieve so-called “herd immunity.” And did you know that Idaho has the highest proportion of kindergartners with exemptions, at only 6.5 percent?

The hysteria also serves as a convenient deflection from other inconvenient truths such as the fact that so many more people have died from the MMR vaccine (and the previous single-vial measles vaccine) than the measles disease in over a decade. Have the pharmaceutical manufacturers ever been held accountable – no, we account for it in tax dollars under a $3 billion dollar bail-out, so far.

Back to Disneyland measles which followed Ebola-gate. I see that it has further victimized children. While these laws pass due to cries of “the children! the children!” – the Senators spearheading the crusade obviously do not show concern for children when they receive funds from Big Pharma. Big Pharma sits on bail-outs, industry-paid “scientists,” control of media (including social media) and mandatory legislation. Emotional trolling has led some parents to succumb to disgraceful social interactions like asking a parent if her kid has “had her shots” before they are allowed to come over and play.

One report provides “tools” for parents to help them “remember” to get all the pharma recommended shots:

Secretary Galvin has a new tool on his website that shows parents the recommended vaccines for their children by age – from birth to eighteen years old.

At first the report conveyed friendly help to new parents, but then…:

As students prepare to head back into the classroom, some parents believe they shouldn’t be required by law to vaccinate their kids. [emphasis added]

Additionally, the pressure is high to “hunt” unvaccinated children in public shaming statistics that compel parents to do the dirty work of peer-pressure. For instance, if states post local vaccination rates at the recent behest of the CDC, and if parents act accordingly by the statistics, it will increase pressure to vaccinate on area doctors and school systems desperate for attendance funds.

Associated Press reports [emphasis added]:

How many kids are vaccinated at your child’s school? Federal health officials think you should be able to easily find out.

CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat made the push more public during a press conference Thursday.

“It’s important to recognize when vulnerabilities exist in communities,” said Schuchat, who oversees the agency’s vaccination work.

Parents could use the information to weigh their child’s risk of vaccine-preventable illnesses at specific schools or school districts, Schuchat said. And it could help health officials identify pockets of unvaccinated children, she said.

Can these numbers be trusted? What happens when the rate of vaccination reaches 100% and the only thing left to show for it is more disease and sickness? Who or what will be blamed then? Again, there is no recourse.

One would think stigmas, discrimination, scarlet letters and other forms of public shaming would be counter-intuitive in preventing disease and helping children grow into healthy, confident adults. To see the results of previous experiments, just glance back at history. It’s never been about “the children.” They say that truth is the first casualty of all types of wars – are children the second? If deception is the first weapon of forceful agendas, are shame and hysteria the second? They are the most negative, yet effective forms of marketing ever concocted.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

Recent posts by Heather Callaghan

 

Source : Activist Post

Standing at the Gates: Our Generation Has to Convert Ideas of Change Into Action

(Photo: Youth and Technology via Shutterstock)(Photo: Youth and Technology via Shutterstock)

I don’t know if I am becoming more argumentative and cantankerous as I get older, but I find myself in more and more arguments with strangers. The latest episode has stayed with me, partly because on paper our backgrounds and ambitions should have aligned.

I was sitting on a patio of a Mexican restaurant in Cape Town, next to a friend of a friend, a young Italian woman who lives in Silicon Valley. Conscious that this montage of globalization would not have been possible twenty years ago, I asked what brought her to the city. She told me how she is a recent graduate of Singularity University, an ‘innovation lab’ based in NASA’s Ames campus in northern California founded by Ray Kurzweil (father of the Singularity, the idea that a super intelligence will result as man merges with machine in the year 2045) and Peter Diamandis (founder of the X Prize and eager planet miner and solar system colonizer). She explained that she had previously worked at a ‘tech incubator’ in the ‘Valley’ and how she was focused on ‘disruptive thinking’ and ‘exponential technologies’ that could save the world.

As she glowed in reverence for the curriculum at Singularity University, she explained how she and her classmates have created a mobile application that will help accelerate education for up to one billion people, largely in developing countries, by ‘gameifying’ education.’ Hence her trip to South Africa. Somewhere between ‘productization’ and ‘monetization,’ I interjected by stating that the only proven model for exponential growth has been the computer microchip processor. Moore’s Law is not a universal law.

In fact, over the past two decades we have had increase in poverty and inequality, increasing food famines, and experts predict mass resource wars as we move to ‘peak everything.’ The Earth has lost 50% of its wildlife in the last 40 years, and according to the International Panel on Climate (IPCC) we will lose half of the planet’s biodiversity – that’s half the living plant and animal life in the world – as we mitigate for a four degree Celsius rise in temperature by 2050.

As these statements challenged the core of my new friend’s Panglossian world-view, I saw myself fall quickly out of favour. The politeness of new acquaintances gave way to a hostile barrage of illogical suppositions. “Would you have us go back to a primitive way of living? How are you living your supposed values as you drink bottled water? And who wouldn’t choose hope over despair?”

It was of course not my intention to elicit this type of reaction. I was hoping to encourage the next generation of idealist to expand her scope to include a more structural analysis of our current situation. But as always, ideology is a constant background condition. It strikes me that the real divide here has two axis lines.

The first is the whether or not one believes the world is getting better or worse. The second is whether one believes that history matters. Quite simply, if you believe the world is getting better and history is inconsequential, the technoutopian world-view has a natural gravitational pull. It doesn’t matter that we are creating unprecedented rates of species extinction, or that our current system amplifies the historical injustices of colonialism, imperialism, genocide, slavery, misogyny and racism, or even that perpetual growth has planetary bounds, as our ingenuity and technological prowess will inevitably overcome all of these inconvenient truths.

And of course, the question of who is the world getting better for is never questioned. The Western hope in technology as saviour is conveniently self-enforced by material comfort and privilege, and shelters us from recognising that eight out of ten of our brothers and sisters are living under $5 a day, the threshold which the UN body UNCTAD says is the minimum to achieve “a standard of living adequate for health and wellbeing”: the inalienable right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If one believes that things are getting worse and history is important, the corollary is that things can of course get better. True optimism is not whitewashing away anything but ‘good news’ but seeing deep trends of progress and potential in an accurate, whole picture. It is also knowing that where we came from can help us build a better roadmap to where we are going.

As we usher in this better world, we heed the lessons of the past so as to not replicate the violence, oppression, extraction and exploitation of our current economic and political system. We are encouraged to believe the former. Our education system is molded on the ‘victors of history,’ the elite perspective and selective memory. Those considered talented are usually those who show a deep and unquestioning acceptance of this perspective, who do well on standardized tests and faithfully validate and extend the establishment logic in their careers.

They are lauded with scholarships, awards and promotions that reinforce the virtue of their belief, their ‘giftedness.’ As John Ralston Saul reminds us, it is in the nature of all complex social and political systems to reward those who best perpetuate their logic. Where that logic is psychotic, based on self-interest, greed and shorttermism, that is the psychology and behavior that will be most rewarded. In such a system, the rest of us – the majority – who do not demonstrate that behavior come to serve its needs through their service of perpetual, and ever-greater debt – if not through school, then through healthcare or access to food or housing. Once indebted, we find ourselves having to work for money that is manufactured in privatized mints and administered by governments, the apparatchiks of the global corporate system.

As elite wealth and its associated power congeals – 85 billionaires now have the same wealth as 3.5 billion people- their power shows itself up as the only truly exponential factor, outside of microchip processors. In turn, thanks to the influence of money in politics around the world, we inexorably entrench the conditions of what we call this . In this way, the world system is organized according to neo-liberal logic of ‘trickle-up’economics that serve an undemocratic, unaccountable elite at the expense of the majority.

The result of believing that the arrow of progress is righteous and unbending, especially in the face of stark evidence to the contrary, is that we become not only complacent but complicit in the inherent destructiveness of this brand of late stage capitalism.

Take, as yet another example, the fact that for every dollar of wealth created, 93 cents goes to the top 1%. Unless this can be shown to be a gross and temporary aberration, it can only be concluded that this manner of wealth creation directly, inextricably and exponentially also creates vast wealth inequality. Add to that the fact that every dollar of wealth created heats up our planet thanks to the fossil-fuel based energy requirements; that the world’s poor and middle class pay grossly more than their fair share of the world’s tax as rich elites and multinational corporations opt out of their social contract through the use of tax havens and accounting black magic; and that, through global trade deals like NAFTA and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the underlying operating principles are, right now, being super-charged and replicated for a whole new generation, and the true and extreme rapaciousness of this system are painfully apparent.

The promise of the Internet was to remove the gatekeepers of this dominant system, to usher in a world of democratic access to information, innovation and decision-making, beyond the old constraints of geographical borders. Instead, the culture of Silicon Valley has created a new ideology.

A fuzzy mix between technological determinism and free market evangelism. In their world, corporations like Google and Facebook are benevolent dictators, busily not being evil, even though they have monetized and made a marketable-commodity of what not long ago we considered our most private data, and are now as much the gatekeepers of this system as any steel or tobacco corporation, or government agency.

They appeal to the logical and necessary instinct for anarchism in our youth (and other free thinkers): the desire to creatively self-organize, and they twist that into an elitist form of Libertarianism, where there is little or no room for governments or regulation.

All the while they are training them to believe that the problems created by the market-fundamentalist system – climate change, mass poverty, rabid inequality – can be solved by the very same market mechanisms. As Peter Diamandis states, “In a world where the biggest problems on the planet are the biggest market opportunities, why wouldn’t you be focusing on them?”

We are told that chasing profit through technological incrementalism is somehow commensurate with solving the world’s problems. Distracted by ‘disruptive innovation,’ ‘conscious capitalism,’ ‘social enterprise,’ ‘impact investing’ and other deeply unpoliticized blind alleys, we are told we can go on exactly as we are. We have become prisoners of our own construction, forgetting that the crisis we face as a civilization is as much a crisis of the economic system as it is an ecological, spiritual and moral crisis.

Those who were supposed to become the gatecrashers – the radicals, the misfits, the real innovators, like the brilliant Italian woman I met that day in Cape Town – have become the gatekeepers through a combination of alluring ideology, debilitating privilege and myopic amnesia. As Milan Kundera reminds us in the Book of Laughter and Forgetting, “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

If we connect the dots between the capitalist system and the crises that face us, if we think constellationally, a new set of solutions will emerge. They may include a re-localization of politics and the economy; the rediscovery of the Original Wisdom of Indigenous cultures around the world; putting limits on the power of corporations and taxes on the source of carbon use; a revival of barter and gift economies; the closing down of tax havens; an embrace of steady state economics; the provision of a citizen’s income to cover the basic necessities required for human dignity; and even the abolition of military spending.

Digital technology will inevitably play a powerful facilitating role, but technology is only a tool. In the absence of new principles – a new and wiser ideology – guiding the hands that use it, it can only change the pace, and not the direction, of travel.

Put simply, the task of our generation is one of reconstruction. If we want to truly be gate crashers, we must move beyond the frustration of the ineptitude and psychopathy of the elites, corrupt politicians and robber barons that are lionized in our media and educational institutions. We must start by taking responsibility.

The most powerful realization we must engender in ourselves and communities is that there is no separation between humans and all other life; this planet is, ultimately, a single bio-organism. From there, it is a short step to realizing that human power is such that the current state of this world – all the wealth and wonder and all the destruction and misery alike – are a product of our collective manifestation. We have a social, political and economic system that reflects our level of consciousness.

So we must simultaneously go deep within ourselves to reconnect with our source, and spread ourselves wide, throughout our communities. We must do whatever re-progamming is necessary for this new consciousness to emerge – unlearning, re-learning, remembering, examining our imprints, getting to a non-ordinary state through meditation or the use of psychedelics or whatever avenues allow us to be free thinkers again. And we will of course use the existing system to build the new system.

The aim will be to create structures that allow the conscious evolution and ascension of our species, in symbiosis with Nature. As the great Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo was fond of saying, we have to go from theoreticians of evolution to practioners of evolution. We must all be gatecrashers now.

By Alnoor Ladha

Alnoor Ladha is a co-founder of /The Rules, a global collective of activists and organizers focused on addressing the root causes of inequality and poverty. He is also a board member of Greenpeace International, USA.

 

Source : truth-out.org

Social Engineering 2.0 Google Algorithm Poses “Serious Threat to Democratic System”

(Truthstream Media) Did democracy just get downgraded (yet again)?

Social engineering is now a dated practice, that has undoubtedly influenced nearly all our lives for the past century in ways that many of us perhaps don’t notice.

I have a book titled Social Control from 1901, by Edward Alsworth Ross, that as the dust jacket explains, “formulated (and gave an answer to) the problems of the massive transformation of the American society by industrialization” where Ross “analyzed the dynamics of social change for modern socieities in general and for America in particular.” The book was a hit, and influenced economists, scholars, politicians and Progressives.

In the decades that followed, P.R. gurus like Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee pioneered the use of spin, advertising, propaganda, cross-branding and quite a few subtle tricks of undue persuasion to sell a consumerist society to the masses, and create a marriage of the mind between their clients and the people who would come to depend upon and identify with their products.

The BBC has an excellent mini-series called the Century of the Self that explains the huge impact that Edward Bernays and Madison Avenue had in transforming America. Using psychology to fuel market research and advertising to reach customers on a more potent level, society became populated with suggestible, obedient naive sheep, with critically thinking citizens fewer and further between.

The success at penetrating the minds of the masses was so successful that the same approach used by advertisers – to target unconscious desires and emotional appeal – with politicians and campaigns for important public policy issues.

Fast forward to more recent times, where the public relations-laundered official version of events has become a staple substitute for reality, airing 24 hours a day on sanitized news networks and appearing in every stale scripted soundbite uttered by officials and authorities in our lives. The phoniness is inescapable.

But…

Things are now so advanced, that Politico is blowing the whistle on how much influence technology has gained in its ability to steer a “democratic” society that believes in the illusion of choice, elections and voting.

A simple algorithm could allow Google to swing popular opinion on election candidates or issues by as much as 20%, and beyond according to this report. That’s more than enough to alter the outcome of democracy… and make our voices something of a moot point. According to Politico’s Robert Epstein:

Google’s search algorithm can easily shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more—up to 80 percent in some demographic groups—with virtually no one knowing they are being manipulated…

Research I have been directing in recent years suggests that Google, Inc., has amassed far more power to control elections—indeed, to control a wide variety of opinions and beliefs—than any company in history has ever had.

[…]

There are at least three very real scenarios whereby Google—perhaps even without its leaders’ knowledge—could shape or even decide the election next year… the employees who constantly adjust the search giant’s algorithms are manipulating people every minute of every day. The adjustments they make increasingly influence our thinking—including, it turns out, our voting preferences.

What we call in our research the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) […]

Because SEME is virtually invisible as a form of social influence, because the effect is so large and because there are currently no specific regulations anywhere in the world that would prevent Google from using and abusing this technique, we believe SEME is a serious threat to the democratic system of government.

And so there you have it. Of course, voting was already very much a farce.

But even so, computers and Internet search engines are having new profound effects on our thinking and our opinions – enough to officially be declared a threat.

Google’s ranking system has been labeled unfair and discriminatory before, particularly since the massive company announced its plans to rank search results by perceived factual content rather than the number of relevant links.

This opens the door wide to politicized “facts” and distorted truths that can be steered and controlled by sophisticated algorithms that can in turn steer society – even against its true will.

While all technology is neutral until it is deployed, we are all wading in enough bullsh*t as it is. We don’t need to go further into the fog.

It’s officially time to face it – we are a highly manipulated society, and the game is rigged.

There is no voting. Only mega-donors, high tech organizers and algorithms.

Welcome to the Techno-Oligarchical Collectivism, i.e. an oligarchy that rules the masses with experts and technology.

 

Source : Truthstream Media.

Propaganda, Intelligence, and MH-17

During a recent interview, I was asked to express my conclusions about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, prompting me to take another hard look at Official Washington’s dubious claims – pointing the finger of blame at eastern Ukrainian rebels and Moscow – based on shaky evidence regarding who was responsible for this terrible tragedy.

Unlike serious professional investigative reporters, intelligence analysts often are required by policymakers to reach rapid judgments without the twin luxuries of enough time and conclusive evidence. Having spent almost 30 years in the business of intelligence analysis, I have faced that uncomfortable challenge more times than I wish to remember.

So, I know what it feels like to confront issues of considerable consequence like the shoot-down of MH-17 and the killing of 298 passengers and crew amid intense pressure to choreograph the judgments to the propagandistic music favored by senior officials who want the U.S. “enemy” – in this case, nuclear-armed Russia and its Western-demonized President Vladimir Putin – to somehow be responsible. In such situations, the easiest and safest (career-wise) move is to twirl your analysis to the preferred tune or at least sit this jig out.

But the trust-us-it-was-Putin marathon dance has now run for 13 months – and it’s getting tiresome to hear the P.R. people in the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper still claiming that the U.S. intelligence community has not revised or updated its analysis of the incident since July 22, 2014, just five days after the crash.

Back then, Clapper’s office, trying to back up Secretary of State John Kerry’s anti-Russian rush to judgment, cited very sketchy evidence – in both senses of the word – drawn heavily from “social media” accounts. Obviously, the high-priced and high-caliber U.S. intelligence community has learned much more about this very sensitive case since that time, but the administration won’t tell the American people and the world. The DNI’s office still refers inquiring reporters back to the outdated report from more than a year ago.

None of this behavior would make much sense if the later U.S. intelligence data supported the hasty finger-pointing toward Putin and the rebels. If more solid and persuasive intelligence corroborated those initial assumptions, you’d think U.S. government officials would be falling over themselves to leak the evidence and declare “we told you so.” And the DNI office’s claim that it doesn’t want to prejudice the MH-17 investigation doesn’t hold water either – since the initial rush to judgment did exactly that.

So, despite the discomfort attached to making judgments with little reliable evidence – and at the risk of sounding like former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld – it seems high time to address what we know, what we don’t know, and why it may be that we don’t know what we don’t know.

Those caveats notwithstanding I would say it is a safe bet that the hard technical intelligence evidence upon which professional intelligence analysts prefer to rely does not support Secretary of State Kerry’s unseemly rush to judgment in blaming the Russian side just three days after the shoot-down.

‘An Extraordinary Tool’?

When the tragedy occurred U.S. intelligence collection assets were focused laser-like on the Ukraine-Russia border region where the passenger plane crashed. Besides collection from overhead imagery and sensors, U.S. intelligence presumably would have electronic intercepts of communications as well as information from human sources inside many of the various factions.

That would mean that hundreds of intelligence analysts are likely to have precise knowledge regarding how MH-17 was shot down and by whom. Though there may be some difference of opinion among analysts about how to read the evidence – as there often is – it is out of the question that the intelligence community would withhold this data from President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and other top officials.

Thus, it is a virtual certainty that the Obama administration has far more conclusive evidence than the “social media” cited by Kerry in casting suspicions on the rebels and Moscow when he made the rounds of Sunday talk shows just three days after the crash. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Kerry told David Gregory that “social media” is an “extraordinary tool.” The question is, a tool for what?

The DNI report two days later rehashed many of the “social media” references that Kerry cited and added some circumstantial evidence about Russia providing other forms of military equipment to the rebels. But the DNI report contains no mention of Russia supplying a Buk anti-aircraft missile system that Kerry and the DNI cited as the suspected weapon that downed the plane.

So, why does the administration continue refusing to go beyond such dubious sources and shaky information in attributing blame for the shoot-down? Why not fill in the many blanks with actual and hard U.S. intelligence data that would have been available and examined over the following days and weeks? Did the Russians supply a Buk or other missile battery that would be capable of hitting MH-17 flying at 33,000 feet? Yes or no.

If not supplied by the Russians, did the rebels capture a Buk or similar missile battery from the Ukrainians who had them in their own inventory? Or did some element of the Ukrainian government – possibly associated with one of Ukraine’s corrupt oligarchs – fire the missile, either mistaking the Malaysian plane for a Russian one or calculating how the tragedy could be played for propaganda purposes? Or was it some other sinister motive?

Without doubt, the U.S. government has evidence that could support or refute any one of those possibilities, but it won’t tell you even in some declassified summary form. Why? Is it somehow unpatriotic to speculate that John Kerry, with his checkered reputation for truth-telling regarding Syria and other foreign crises, chose right off the bat to turn the MH-17 tragedy to Washington’s propaganda advantage, an exercise in “soft power” to throw Putin on the defensive and rally Europe behind U.S. economic sanctions to punish Russia for supporting ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine resisting the new U.S.-arranged political order in Kiev?

By taking a leaf out of the Bush-Cheney-Tony-Blair playbook, Kerry could “fix the intelligence around the policy” of Putin-bashing. Given the anti-Putin bias rampant in the mainstream Western media, that wouldn’t be a hard sell. And, it wasn’t. The “mainstream” stenographers/journalists quickly accepted that “social media” was indeed a dandy source to rely on – and have never pressed the U.S. government to release any of its intelligence data.

Yet, in the immediate aftermath of the MH-17 shoot-down, there were signs that honest intelligence analysts were not comfortable letting themselves be used as they and other colleagues had been before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

To buttress Kerry’s shaky case, DNI Clapper arranged a flimsy “Government Assessment” – reprising many of Kerry’s references to “social media” – that was briefed to a few hand-picked Establishment reporters two days after Kerry starred on Sunday TV. The little-noticed distinction was that this report was not the customary “Intelligence Assessment” (the genre that has been de rigueur in such circumstances in the past).

The key difference between the traditional “Intelligence Assessment” and this relatively new creation, a “Government Assessment,” is that the latter genre is put together by senior White House bureaucrats or other political appointees, not senior intelligence analysts. Another significant difference is that an “Intelligence Assessment” often includes alternative views, either in the text or in footnotes, detailing disagreements among intelligence analysts, thus revealing where the case may be weak or in dispute.

The absence of an “Intelligence Assessment” suggested that honest intelligence analysts were resisting a knee-jerk indictment of Russia – just as they did after the first time Kerry pulled this “Government Assessment” arrow out of his quiver trying to stick the blame for an Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus on the Syrian government.

Kerry cited this pseudo-intelligence product, which contained not a single verifiable fact, to take the United States to the brink of war against President Bashar al-Assad’s military, a fateful decision that was only headed off at the last minute after President Barack Obama was made aware of grave doubts among U.S. intelligence analysts about whodunit. Kerry’s sarin case has since collapsed. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

The sarin and MH-17 cases reveal the continuing struggles between opportunistic political operatives and professional intelligence analysts over how to deal with geopolitical information that can either inform U.S. foreign policy objectively or be exploited to advance some propaganda agenda. Clearly, this struggle did not end after CIA analysts were pressured into giving President George W. Bush the fraudulent – not “mistaken” – evidence that he used to make the case for invading Iraq in 2003.

But so soon after that disgraceful episode, the White House and State Department run the risk that some honest intelligence analysts would blow the whistle, especially given the dangerously blasé attitude in Establishment Washington toward the dangers of escalating the Ukraine confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia. Given the very high stakes, perhaps an intelligence professional or two will summon the courage to step up to this challenge.

Falling in Line

For now, the rest of us are told to be satisfied with the Sunday media circus orchestrated by Kerry on July 20, 2014, with the able assistance of eager-to-please pundits. A review of the transcripts of the CBS, NBC, and ABC Sunday follies reveals a remarkable – if not unprecedented – consistency in approach by CBS’s Bob Schieffer, NBC’s David Gregory (ably egged on by Andrea Mitchell), and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, all of whom hewed faithfully to a script apparently given them with two main talking points: (1) blame Putin; and (2) frame the shoot-down as a “wake-up call” (Kerry used the words repeatedly) for European governments to impose tight economic sanctions on Russia.

If the U.S. government’s hope was that the combination of Kerry’s hasty judgment and the DNI’s supportive “Government Assessment” would pin the P.R. blame for MH-17 on Putin and Russia, the gambit clearly worked. The U.S. had imposed serious economic sanctions on Russia the day before the shoot-down – but the Europeans were hesitant. Yet, in the MH-17 aftermath, both U.S. and European media were filled with outrage against Putin for supposedly murdering 298 innocents.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders, who had been resisting imposing strong economic sanctions because of Germany’s and the European Union’s lucrative trade with Russia, let themselves be bulldozed, just two weeks after the shoot-down, into going along with mutually harmful sanctions that have hurt Russia but also have shaken the EU’s fragile economic recovery.

Thus started a new, noxious phase in the burgeoning confrontation between Russia and the West, a crisis that was originally precipitated by a Western-orchestrated coup d’état in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, ousting Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touching off the current civil war that has witnessed some of the worst bloodshed inside Europe in decades..

It may seem odd that those European leaders allowed themselves to be snookered so swiftly. Did their own intelligence services not caution them against acquiescing over “intelligence” from social media? But the tidal wave of anti-Putin fury in the MH-17 aftermath was hard if not impossible for any Western politician to resist.

Just One Specific Question?

Yet, can the U.S. concealment of its MH-17 intelligence continue indefinitely? Some points beg for answers. For instance, besides describing social media as “an extraordinary tool,” Kerry told David Gregory on July 20, 2014: “We picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing. And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar.”

Odd that neither Gregory nor other “mainstream” stenographers have thought to ask Kerry, then or since, to share what he says he “knows” with the American people and the world – if only out of, well, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. If Kerry has sources beyond “social media” for what he claims to “know” and they support his instant claims of Russian culpability, then the importance of his accusations dictates that he describe exactly what he pretends to know and how. But Kerry has been silent on this topic.

If, on the other hand, the real intelligence does not support the brief that Kerry argued right after the shoot-down, well, the truth will ultimately be hard to suppress. Angela Merkel and other leaders with damaged trade ties with Russia may ultimately demand an explanation. Can it be that it will take current European leaders a couple of years to realize they’ve been had – again?

The U.S. government also is likely to face growing public skepticism for using social media to pin the blame on Moscow for the downing of MH-17 – not only to justify imposing economic sanctions, but also to stoke increased hostility toward Russia.

The Obama administration and the mainstream media may try to pretend that no doubt exists – that the “group think” on Russia’s guilt is ironclad. And it seems likely that the official investigations now being conducted by the U.S.-propped-up government in Ukraine and other close U.S. allies will struggle to build a circumstantial case keeping the Putin-did-it narrative alive.

But chickens have a way of coming home to roost.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He is a 30-year veteran of the CIA and Army intelligence and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). McGovern served for considerable periods in all four of CIA’s main directorates.

Reprinted with permission from Consortium News.

 

Source : Antiwar.com

Space elevator with inflatable tower patented by Thoth Technology – Technology & Science – CBC News

 

Photo: Thoth Technology, Inc.

Pembroke, Ont.-based Thoth Technology has patented an inflatable tower that could carry a “space elevator” higher than passenger jets fly – and eventually into low-Earth orbit.

The patent, which has been granted in the U.K. and the U.S. so far, describes a tower with a space launch platform on top that would initially be built to a height of around 20 kilometres high, but could theoretically be built to more than 200 kilometres high, and reach into low Earth orbit.

It would be made of stacked rings of Kevlar cells inflated with hydrogen or helium to an extremely high pressure. An elevator could ride up the tower, carrying spacecraft, satellites and other goods to be launched into space – along with tourists looking for an extraordinary view.

Carrying space cargo partway with an electric elevator would drastically reduce the amount of fuel needed to send such loads into space, says Brendan (Ben) Quine, the inventor behind the patent and Thoth Technology’s chief technical officer.

Right now, rockets carry extra fuel in containers called “stages” that drop off and fall into the ocean as the rocket gains altitude.

Brendan Quine

Ben Quine, inventor of the space elevator tower, is chief technology officer at Thoth Technology and an associate professor of space engineering at York University in Toronto. (Thoth Technology)

Launching from a 20-kilometre-high tower would cut the amount of fuel needed by a third and make the first stage of the rocket unnecessary, Quine said, making fully reusable spacecraft, including rockets and space planes, more practical.

Caroline Roberts, president and CEO of the company, which is also working on getting a Canadian patent, says the tower could work well with the reusable rocket technology that SpaceX is developing.

She also believe the 20-kilometre-high tower would be an attractive tourist destination.

“From the top of the tower looking out, you would be able to see the bright blue rim of the Earth and a view stretching 1,000 kilometres.”

The tower could also support massive wind turbines for power generation and be an alternative to satellites as a place to attach communications equipment.

Quine has already built a seven-metre-high scale model, which he unveiled in 2009 at York University in Toronto, where he is an associate professor.

Roberts says the company hopes to build a 1.5-kilometre-high prototype within five years – a height that would make it significantly higher than the current world’s tallest building, the 830-metre-tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Roberts thinks a version that could reach 20 kilometres above sea level, starting from the top of a five-kilometre-high mountain, could be built with 10 years at a cost of about $5 billion US.

Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the world’s tallest manmade structure, at 828 metres. Thoth Technology hopes to build a protoype of its space elevator tower that is almost twice as tall within five years.

She added that Thoth is interested in partnering with companies that could help with construction of the prototype, including the developers of the world’s largest buildings.

Quine’s invention isn’t a traditional space elevator, an idea that has been kicking around since the late 19th century. The traditional concept consists of a fine cable with one end attached to weight in space, orbiting the Earth, and the other end tethered to the ground. The cable would be used as a track for attaching “climbers” carrying goods from one end to the other.

There are two challenges with that concept, Quine said:

  • It needs to be built in space.
  • The cable would be degraded by meteor and lightning strikes, and would have to be replaced every six months.

Thoth Technology’s elevator tower could be built from the ground up, and easily withstand not just lightning and meteors, but even category five hurricanes, Quine says.

In fact, the design includes gyroscopes to control the tower’s movement and actively stabilize it during major storms.

Self-climbing elevator

Quine envisions several possible ways to get the elevator up the tower.

The traditional cable used to raise most elevators wouldn’t be possible, since existing elevator cable materials couldn’t support 1.5 kilometres worth of their own weight. Scientists have proposed making space elevator cables out of a new, ultra-strong, high-tech material called carbon nanotubes, but “you can’t make cables out of carbon nanotubes that are rated for people yet,” Quine says.

One possibility is a “self-climbing” elevator attached to claws that reach three-quarters of the way around the tower and wheels underneath the claws to allow the elevator to spiral around the outside.

“My preference would definitely be to have them on outside because then you’d get the view,” Quine said. “The safety engineers are going to want it on the inside.”

While the company works on the Canadian patent, it is interested in talking to anyone around the world who is interested in licensing its technology and building the prototype, Quine says.

 

Source : CBC News

And Now for the Robot Apocalypse…

 

t800

Well, you can’t blame them for trying, can you?

 

Earlier today the grandiloquently named “Future of Life Institute” (FLI) announced an open letter on the subject of ‘autonomous weapons.’ In case you’re not keeping up with artificial intelligence research, that means weapons that seek and engage targets all by themselves. While this sounds fanciful to the uninformed, it is in fact a dystopian nightmare that, thanks to startling innovations in robotics and artificial intelligence by various DARPA-connected research projects, is fast becoming a reality. Heck, people are already customizing their own multirotor drones to fire handguns; just slap some AI on that and call it Skynet.

 

Indeed, as anyone who has seen Robocop, Terminator, Bladerunner or a billion other sci-fi fantasies will know, gun-wielding, self-directed robots are not to be hailed as just another rung on the ladder of technical progress. But for those who are still confused on this matter, the FLI open letter helpfully elaborates: “Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group.” In other words, instead of “autonomous weapons” we might get the point across more clearly if we just call them for what they are: soulless killing machines. (But then we might risk confusing them with the psychopaths at the RAND Corporation or the psychopaths on the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the psychopaths in the CIA or the psychopaths in the White House…)

 

In order to confront this pending apocalypse, the fearless men and women at the FLI have bravely stepped up to the plate and…written a polite letter to ask governments to think twice before developing these really effective, well-nigh unstoppable super weapons (pretty please). Well, as I say, you can’t blame them for trying, can you?

 

Well, yes. Actually you can. Not only is the letter a futile attempt to stop the psychopaths in charge from developing a better killing implement, it is a deliberate whitewashing of the problem.

 

According to FLI, the idea isn’t scary in and of itself, it isn’t scary because of the documented history of the warmongering politicians in the US and the other NATO countries, it isn’t scary because governments murdering their own citizens was the leading cause of unnatural death in the 20th century. No, it’s scary because “It will only be a matter of time until [autonomous weapons] appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc.” If you thought the hysteria over Iran’s nuclear non-weapons program was off the charts, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait till the neo-neocons get to claim that Assad or Putin or the enemy of the week is developing autonomous weapons!

 

singularityIn fact, the FLI doesn’t want to stop the deployment of AI on the battlefield at all. Quite the contrary. “There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans” the letter says before adding that “AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so.” In fact, they’ve helpfully drafted a list of research priorities for study into the field of AI on the assumption that AI will be woven into the fabric of our society in the near future, from driverless cars and robots in the workforce to, yes, autonomous weapons.

 

So who is FLI and who signed this open letter. Oh, just Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Nick Bostrom and a host of Silicon Valley royalty and academic bigwigs. Naturally the letter is being plastered all over the media this week in what seems suspiciously like an advertising campaign for the machine takeover, with Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk having already broached the subject in the past year, as well as the Channel Four drama Humans and a whole host of other cultural programming coming along to subtly indoctrinate us that this robot-dominated future is an inevitability. This includes extensive coverage of this topic in the MSM, including copious reports in outlets like The Guardian telling us how AI is going to merge with the “Internet of Things.” But don’t worry; it’s mostly harmless.

 

…or so they want us to believe. Of course what they don’t want to talk about in great detail is the nightmare vision of the technocractic agenda that these technologies (or their forerunners) are enabling and the transhumanist nightmare that this is ultimately leading us toward. That conversation is reserved for proponents of the Singularity like Ray Kurzweil and any attempts to point out the obvious problems with this idea are poo-pooed as “conspiracy theory.”

 

singularity2And so we have suspect organizations like the “Future of Life Institute” trying to steer the conversation on AI into how we can safely integrate these potentially killer robots into our future society even as the Hollywood programmers go overboard in steeping us in the idea. Meanwhile, those of us in the reality-based community get to watch this grand uncontrolled experiment with the future of our world unfold like the genetic engineering experiment and the geoengineering experiment.

 

What can be done about this AI / transhumanist / technocratic agenda? Is it possible to be derailed? Contained? Stopped altogether? How? Corbett Report members are invited to log in and leave their thoughts in the comment section below.

by James Corbett

 

Source : The Corbett Report.

Gun Group: We’ll Pay $15K for Your Carbon Fiber 3-D Printer

The age of 3-D printing in carbon fiber has hardly arrived. But the controversy over 3-D printing carbon fiber guns is well under way.

Starting in the second half of last year, 3-D printing startup MarkForged has been shipping the Mark One, a device it advertises as the world’s first 3-D printer that prints carbon fiber; The Mark One digitally fabricate objects in a material as light as plastic and as strong by some measures as aluminum. But one group isn’t about to receive its Mark One order: Defense Distributed, the non-profit political group that invented the first fully 3-D printed gun nearly two years ago.1

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson says he pre-ordered the Mark One about a year ago for $8,000, but was told last Friday in a phone call with a MarkForged salesman that the company refuses to sell him one, citing terms of service that disallow private citizens from using the machine to make firearms. So instead, Wilson is offering what he describes as a “bounty” to anyone who can get him MarkForged’s new carbon fiber printer.

“Anyone who’s got access to one, any reseller, any individual or business or entity that can deliver it to me, I will give them fifteen grand,” says Wilson, who has also released a YouTube video advertising his offer. “I’m going to get this printer. I’m going to make a gun with it. And I’m going to make sure everyone knows it was made with a MarkForged printer.”

In a statement to WIRED, MarkForged cited terms of service that “limit experimentation with ordnance to the United States Government and its authorized contractors.” In fact, the company’s terms of service page doesn’t include that statement. But it does reserve the right for the company to refuse sale to anyone, even after an order is placed.

“Our website automatically took Mr. Wilson’s pre-order, and we certainly regret that we did not catch this sooner,” MarkForged’s statement continues. “We are expediting his refund with interest.”

Wilson, of course, isn’t satisfied with a refund. Defense Distributed’s radically libertarian founder—who has said he seeks nothing less than to prove all government regulation irrelevant in the digital era—accuses MarkForged of denying Defense Distributed its printer based on hypocritical politics, given that it’s willing to let its machines be used to make weapons for the US military and defense contractors. “They’re happy to sign contracts with [a government contractor like] Boeing. There’s Department of Defense money in the mix here,” he says. “This isn’t about stopping us [from printing a gun.] They’re demonstrating which side they’re on.”

MarkForged is far from the first company to try to disassociate itself from Defense Distributed’s anarchist, gun-loving mission. Indiegogo pulled the group’s initial fundraising campaign in 2012. 3-D printer maker Stratasys refused to rent a printer to the group after it learned what it was being used for. 3-D printing websites like Thingiverse and Shapeways have banned gun components from their collections of CAD models. Even Fedex and UPS have refused to ship a computer-controlled milling machine that Defense Distributed began selling late last year.

Those obstacles didn’t stop Wilson’s gun-making organization from creating and test-firing the Liberator, the world’s first fully 3-D printed firearm, in May, 2013. If the group gets its hands on one of MarkForged’s carbon fiber 3-D printers, it could potentially demonstrate homemade, lethal weapons that are far more durable and practical. MarkForged advertises that its material—plastic polymer laced with carbon fiber strands—is 20 times stiffer than typical 3-D printing plastic and five times stronger, with a higher strength-to-weight ratio than aluminum.

That material could make a firearm that doesn’t crack or deform after a few shots, as the plastic Liberator tends to. Defense Distributed engineer John Sullivan says one of the biggest barriers to the Liberator’s durability has been the expansion of its barrel with every firing. A barrel with strands of carbon fiber wound around it in rings would withstand much greater “hoop stress,” as Sullivan calls it. “The barrel won’t expand. It’s just beautiful,” Sullivan says. “This is a gun machine they’ve made, and we want to make a gun on it.”

Wilson says a more durable barrel is only the beginning. Defense Distributed has been working on 3-D printed carbon fiber gun designs since it pre-ordered MarkForged’s printer last year. “We’re talking about paradigmatically different stuff,” Wilson says. “The gun is entering a new chapter.”

Printing a gun on one of MarkForged’s new carbon fiber printers—if Defense Distributed does obtain one—would be a bit of a stretch from the group’s original goal of making a gun that anyone could download and create on a cheap printer with a click of a mouse. But as 3-D printing evolves and becomes more mainstream, carbon fiber printing is sure to become more accessible, too.

Markforged and other companies’ attempts to publicly distance themselves from that gun-printing won’t prevent it from happening, says Michael Weinberg, a 3-D-printing-focused policy analyst for the non-profit Public Knowledge. “On any sort of scale, this is not particularly sensical,” Weinberg says. “For the printer companies, they don’t have the time or resources or inclination to figure out everything that’s coming out of their machines. That’s an impossible task.”

Weinberg argues that companies like Stratasys or MarkForged refusing business to a group like Defense Distributed is largely a public relations move more than a practical attempt to stymy gun printing. “They’re not thinking ‘now no one will be able to 3d print firearms,’” he says. “They’re thinking, ‘we don’t want to be associated with this high profile example of it.’”

In a marketing video for its new printer, MarkForged founder Greg Mark almost seemed to acknowledge the company’s lack of control over how its customers will use its machines.

“We’ve now enabled you to print carbon fiber,” Mark says in the final line of the video, “And God knows what you’re going to do with it.”

1Correction 3/3/2015: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that MarkForged had yet to ship the Mark One. Apologies for the error.

 

Source: Wired

Can Revolution Produce Freedom in the Technological Age of Surveillance and Control?

Control through electronic surveillance is totally pervasive now… But can technology produce a strong revolution of freedom, independence and self sufficiency as well? I’m hopeful, but not convinced.

After reading up on the history of cybernetics, the ARPA (DARPA) Internet and television, I’m about ready to go Amish, or low-tech Amish.

The Technological Age & The End of Freedom?


The topic of the Unabomber came up again. It concerns a favorite passage of transhumanist Ray Kurzweil (included in his book Age of Spiritual Machines) and Bill Joy (which he wrote about), founder of the now acquired and defunct Sun Microsystems, in which Ted Kaczynski explains the “New Luddite Challenge” – essentially the question of what happens if computers take over completely, and if not, what happens at the hands of an elite who don’t need the masses for labor, or anything else.

Will people be simply exterminated? Will the population be gradually but sharply reduced through population control, eugenics, family planning and propaganda (as is actually happening now), or will the masses instead be treated as “pets” with cute hobbies and trivial pursuits, but no real meaning in society? The question remains, or could be a combination of all of the above.

In the face of mass unemployment and depopulation, is violent revolution justified?

For reasons I explain in the video above, likely not.

It is not clear who could be stopped with force that would in turn result in stopping, or slowing, the tyranny; the tyranny exists, but it is systematic and compartmentalized in the hands of thousands, and probably millions of people. There are countless corrupt and even evil officials, but stopping them will not stop the system. Moreover, violence has become a trivial event for media sensationalism and a tool in justifying greater police state powers, etc. Thus, violence is the wrong approach on many levels, including moral.

Gandhi made significant advances with non-violent non-cooperation, by the way –  yet was ironically inspired by the same works of Henry David Thoreau on civil disobedience and self sufficient living that inspired the violent revolutionary Kaczynski.

Liberty Through Revolution, and Liberty Through New Revelations

Meanwhile, there is the question of liberty, and the kind of freedom that America’s Founding Fathers pursued circa 1776.

Though other methods were attempting – the Tea Party protest, for instance – the revolution was ultimately fought through violent, guerilla warfare. One of Thomas Jefferson’s most famous quotes – as author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States of America – is:

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Years later, in his letters to John Adams, the second president and a one-time political enemy of Jefferson’s, Jefferson posed the idea that freedom could not so easily restored through violence, particularly if the public were unenlightened and uneducated in the ways of liberty and good self government.

Jefferson discusses the case of ancient Rome, where the usurped powers of Julius Caesar transformed the republic into a thoroughly corrupt dictatorship. Caesar was killed in a conspiracy by the Senate, led by Brutus. Ultimately, the Caesar dynasty remained in control of the empire anyway.

But Jefferson argues that even if Brutus had prevailed, or other Roman icons of freedom such as Cicero or Cato in power, it would have been nearly impossible to create good government in the climate of corruption, and the era of debased, demoralized masses who were uneducated in the virtues of self-government:

“How can a people who have struggled long years under oppression throw off their oppressors and establish a free society? The problems are immense, but their solution lies in the education and enlightenment of the people and the emergence of a spirit that will serve as a foundation for independence and self-government.”

“If Caesar had been as virtuous as he was daring and sagacious, what could he, even in the plenitude of his usurped power, have done to lead his fellow citizens into good government?… If their people indeed had been, like ourselves, enlightened, peaceable, and really free, the answer would be obvious. ‘Restore independence to all your foreign conquests, relieve Italy from the government of the rabble of Rome, consult it as a nation entitled to self-government, and do its will’.”

“But steeped in corruption, vice and venality, as the whole nation was,… what could even Cicero, Cato, Brutus have done, had it been referred to them to establish a good government for their country?… No government can continue good but under the control of the people; and their people were so demoralized and depraved as to be incapable of exercising a wholesome control.”

“These are the inculcations necessary to render the people a sure basis for the structure of order and good government. But this would have been an operation of a generation or two at least, within which period would have succeeded many Neros and Commoduses, who would have quashed the whole process. I confess, then, I can neither see what Cicero, Cato and Brutus, united and uncontrolled could have devised to lead their people into good government, nor how this enigma can be solved.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, Dec. 10, 1819.

Thinking Our Way Into a Future That Needs Us

The take away here is the need for education – not just training, or common core standards to produce automatons and robot-like worker bees, but real education based upon enlightening and empowering information. If the future needs anything it is thinkers, not regurgitators, memorizers, replicators and drones – technology is undoubtedly already quite good at all that.

The Founders were great scholars of history and political theory and instituted limited government after careful consideration of all the things that went wrong with past systems, and what the best options were for encouraging freedom on several levels. They weren’t perfect, and in fact were quite flawed as individuals, but they did make a principled attempt.

Today, in the age of technology, computers and the Internet, freedom is losing to the control freaks, engaged in mass surveillance, mind control, economic centralization and oligarchical collectivism. Is there room for freedom in this technological society? Could a peaceful revolution succeed?

That depends upon what we can learn from technology’s inspiring possibilities – but also what we can learn from the many lessons of the past. Hint: most of these lessons are being wholesale ignored, as power for the state and corporate institutions concentrates and grows to levels well beyond dangerous, looming and eerie.

Or will we become just “pets,” as the musical act Porno for Pyros predicted?:

 

Source : Truthstream Media.

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