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Archive for the ‘government’ category: Page 2

Jun 9, 2019

Catalyst: A review of 7 predictions from 2013

Posted by in categories: economics, futurism, governance, government, human trajectories, internet, journalism, transparency

My own 2013 book Catalyst: A Techno-Liberation Thesis offered a prediction of the political future, viewing the near-term future as a time of crisis shaped by the nature of technology and the slowness of states to adjust to it. As this struggle becomes more acute, guarded new technologies will also get stolen and overflow across borders, going global and penetrating every country before they were intended to. States and large companies will react with bans and lies as they try to save their monopolies. Ultimately, over a longer time-frame, the nation-state system will collapse because of this pressure and an uncertain successor system of governance will emerge. It will look like “hell on earth” for a time, but it will stabilize in the end. We will become new political animals with new allegiances, shaped by the crisis, much as the Thirty Years’ War brought about our Westphalian nation-state model. Six years on from my book, are we any closer to what I predicted?

  1. The internet is “liberating” and “empowering” in a political sense (pp. 2, 3)
    • Uncertain outcome. Will current habits of censorship, de-platforming and other techno-enslavement as a result of controversies like “Russiagate” persist or are they temporary? If the economically or commercially favorable course is one of freedom and the removal of all filters and bans, will we see a reversal in the next few years? As younger politicians replace the old, will the internet become a sacred anarchy again?
  2. “Duplicitous policies” preserve the status of rich countries as exploiters and bullies (p. 11)
    • Yes, and it is increasingly obvious. Such policies became exposed and visible under the Trump administration, which openly declares its national interest to lie in the economic deprivation of others and sabotage of their tech. This has been criticized as harmful to free trade, and has been described as “de-globalization”. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked that the tech war complicates the issue of global inequality (a rare observation seemingly asserted only in the Catalyst Thesis before recently).
  3. “Nano” and “bio” appliances will be in the household and will “shrink” production processes, abridging these processes so they are not corporate or state controlled and are in the “hands of the people” (p. 15)
    • This is uncertain. If there has been progress towards this outcome, it is not visible and has not had a major impact on world events. The possibility of it has started to cause concern for states and monopolistic schemes, but this is more in the ‘alarm’ stage rather than the ‘ban’ stage. More time may be needed, before this trend has a deeper impact on society.
  4. The nation-state system is being weakened by technology, media and globalization (p. 16), anti-state forces are “winning”
    • Well, not really. As of 2019, unless everything we just saw was a hiccup in the grand plan of history, the “ideological mask” of exploitation and division — the nation-state system — has reasserted itself. In almost every policy area in every country, the clock is running backward towards nationalism, censorship, borders, walls, and deep paranoia. Almost everyone on the political left and right is part of the problem, wittingly or unwittingly. Whether you support Trump or think he’s a Russian asset, or even care, your views and values are right out of the Nineteenth Century. We have seen the defeat of net neutrality, along with the passive acceptance of censorship on social media in the foolish assumption it will only be used on targets we dislike or who went too far. There seems to have been a lack of any major follow-up disclosures of government abuses on the scale of Edward Snowden’s, and whether it will ever happen again is questionable. With all these things considered, “losing” might be a better description of the situation for anti-government techno-politics as of 2019. If what is happening is not a minor disruption in the flow of history, it is consequential for the Catalyst Thesis and severely undermines its value. If the “soft” battle is lost as described above, and we revert to a society dominated entirely by strong states and corporations, the “hard” battle of techno-liberation may never start in our lifetimes.
  5. Historical transitions are “dark and filled with reaction” (p.23)
    • Yes. This appears to still be the case. The reaction may be what we are already facing, as all elites invested in the old system desperately try to suppress the global political will, motivated by fear of a new world order in which they are demoted.
  6. “Open-borders global political will” will form as a result of the internet, translation software, and the difficulty of statists in managing the overflow of popular technologies and their users (pp. 24, 25)
    • Yes. Almost every attempt by the media conglomerates and/or state to create a uniform public opinion about an election, a global issue, a scandal, etc. is failing because of alleged foreign “trolls”. They cannot be stopped because the internet’s circulatory system is not for one nation, but completely open to the world. That is the whole point of it, the reason it is the internet. The US 2016 election was the most visible example of the loss of control. Repressive and paranoid statements ensued. But, as of 2019, governments and media still gasp at the results they are getting.
  7. We will see new or experimental technologies shared illegally, the way information is leaked (p. 37)
    • Uncertain. Edward Snowden and Wikileaks do not seem to have captured as many imaginations as they should have, given how central they have been in the story of the internet. It is difficult to argue that the next generation will be even more rebellious, if they are to grow up in a much more monitored and conformist society. If the anarchy of the internet is going to be stopped and the smallest infractions punished as treason, this will damage the thinking of younger people who should have grown up noticing the contradictions in society. If, on the other hand, younger people are increasingly trained to be highly capable in the cyber-world (e.g. coding classes), we may see an even bigger generation of cypherpunk rebels accidentally raised by the state.

Catalyst is read in less than a day, and can be found on Kindle as well as in print. It was written to bring together a number of ideas and predictions I presented in articles at the IEET website, h+ Magazine, and other websites and includes full lists of sources. If you prefer to see more first, follow @CatalystThesis on Twitter or sign up to the email newsletter.

Jun 8, 2019

A New Industrial Base Is Taking Shape. Call It the Military-AI Complex

Posted by in categories: government, military, robotics/AI

The most essential Pentagon suppliers will be the ones that master robotics and artificial intelligence.

Look across the Potomac River toward Rosslyn, where the corporate logos of government contractors crown a parade of office towers that follows the river past the Pentagon. The skyline, like America’s defense industrial landscape, is changing. Soon, 25,000 Amazon employees will be climbing the Metro escalators to work in Crystal City each morning along with the tens of thousands of workers from military, intelligence, and the defense industry organizations.

The arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 in the cradle of U.S. government contracting comes at a portentous time for the Defense Department. Technology is altering what makes us strong, prosperous, and secure. The defense industrial base is becoming the strategic innovation base. Today’s leading digital companies have disrupted every industry they have touched, from publishing to automotive. Could Amazon and the rest of the “FAANG companies”—Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google—or one of a handful of pure-play artificial-intelligence companies, such as the authors’ SparkCognition, become fixtures of this new industrial base?

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May 25, 2019

A month after the fire that ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Posted by in categories: climatology, government

A month after the fire that ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, scientists and research bodies are getting organized to help restore the building—and advance scientific knowledge.

At a public hearing held yesterday by France’s Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Options (OPECST), academics explained how they can contribute to the government’s efforts to restore the cathedral, which was partly destroyed on 15 April.

“This catastrophe is, in the end, a privileged moment for research, because we’ll have access to materials that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to access,” said Martine Regert, deputy scientific director of the Institute of Ecology and Environment at the French national research agency CNRS. For example, analyzing certain isotopes in the cathedral’s timber frame could provide insights about the medieval climate, said Philippe Dillmann, a research leader at CNRS’s Institute for Research on Archeomaterials.

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May 24, 2019

Hey, let’s fight global pandemics by maybe starting one… Say WHAT?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health, policy

The US government quietly resumed funding experiments on the deadly H5N1 avian flu — research that makes the virus more easily transmissible to mammals.


The researchers say making new strains of the H5N1 flu virus in a secure lab can help them see what might happen naturally in the real world. Sounds logical, but many scientists oppose it because the facts show most biosafety labs aren’t really secure at all, and experts say the risks of a mutated virus escaping outweigh whatever public health benefit comes from creating them.

Continue reading “Hey, let’s fight global pandemics by maybe starting one… Say WHAT?” »

May 23, 2019

The Government Is Serious About Creating Mind-Controlled Weapons

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, drones, genetics, government, nanotechnology, robotics/AI

DARPA, the Department of Defense’s research arm, is paying scientists to invent ways to instantly read soldiers’ minds using tools like genetic engineering of the human brain, nanotechnology and infrared beams. The end goal? Thought-controlled weapons, like swarms of drones that someone sends to the skies with a single thought or the ability to beam images from one brain to another.

This week, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) announced that six teams will receive funding under the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program. Participants are tasked with developing technology that will provide a two-way channel for rapid and seamless communication between the human brain and machines without requiring surgery.

“Imagine someone who’s operating a drone or someone who might be analyzing a lot of data,” said Jacob Robinson, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice University, who is leading one of the teams. [DARPA’s 10 Coolest Projects: From Humanoid Robots to Flying Cars].

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May 22, 2019

Cyber attacks are rewriting the ‘rules’ of modern warfare—and we aren’t prepared for the consequences

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, government, military

Governments are becoming ever more reliant on digital technology, making them more vulnerable to cyber attacks. In 2007, Estonia was attacked by pro-Russian hackers who crippled government servers, causing havoc. Cyber attacks in Ukraine targeted the country’s electricity grid, while Iran’s nuclear power plants were infected by malware that could have led to a nuclear meltdown.

In the US, president Trump recently declared a “national emergency” to recognise the threat to US computer networks from “foreign adversaries”.

Politically-motivated cyber are becoming increasingly commonplace but unlike traditional warfare between two or more states, cyberwarfare can be launched by groups of individuals. On occasion, the state is actually caught in the crosshairs of competing hacking groups.

Continue reading “Cyber attacks are rewriting the ‘rules’ of modern warfare—and we aren’t prepared for the consequences” »

May 21, 2019

‘Project Blue Book’ Is Based on a True U.F.O. Story. Here It Is

Posted by in categories: government, military

Featuring a Russian spy murder, a self-immolation, gun-toting government thugs and other fanciful plot devices, “Project Blue Book,” History’s popular new series on the Air Force’s program to investigate and debunk U.F.O.s, is not your historian’s Project Blue Book.

We viewed the first six episodes from the standpoint of writers who have long worked on the serious side of U.F.O.s. We broke the December 2017 New York Times exclusive on a secret Pentagon program investigating the phenomenon, with our colleague Helene Cooper. Leslie Kean wrote the Times 2010 best-seller “U.F.O.s: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record.” Ralph Blumenthal has written about U.F.O.s for Vanity Fair as well as The Times.

So, despite the embellishments, we were interested to discover parallels between the TV version and the historical and current reality.

Continue reading “‘Project Blue Book’ Is Based on a True U.F.O. Story. Here It Is” »

May 20, 2019

Amazon Tribe Wins Lawsuit Against Big Oil, Saving Millions Of Acres Of Rainforest

Posted by in categories: government, habitats, law

The Amazon Rainforest is well known across the world for being the largest and most dense area of woodland in the world. Spanning across nine countries, the Amazon is home to millions of different animal and plant species, as well as harboring some for the world’s last remaining indigenous groups. The Waorani people of Pastaza are an indigenous tribe from the Ecuadorian Amazon and have lived in the Rainforest for many generations. However, there Home came under threat from a large oil company — they didn’t take it lightly.

Ecuador Rainforest Amazon River

After a long legal battle with a number of organizations, the Waorani people successfully protected half a million acres of their ancestral territory in the Amazon rainforest from being mined for oil drilling by huge oil corporations. The auctioning off of Waorani lands to the oil companies was suspended indefinitely by a three-judge panel of the Pastaza Provincial Court. The panel simply trashed the consultation process the Ecuadorian government had undertaken with the tribe in 2012, which rendered the attempt at land purchase null and void.

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May 20, 2019

SpaceX Is Now Suing the United States Government

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, government, space travel

And it doesn’t want the details of the case made public.


Elon Musk’s space company is taking the U.S. to court.

Read more

May 20, 2019

Friend, foe or unknown force flying overhead? Congress should find out

Posted by in categories: government, military

The good news is that America already possesses vast sensor networks, ranging from the depths of the oceans to the harsh bleakness of space, capable of collecting the requisite information. All that Congress need do at this juncture is to require the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence to review the UAP issue and deliver a report providing a comprehensive assessment. This report should include not only an estimate of the situation but a description of the structure and processes required to ensure effective collection and analysis going forward.


Since 2015, dozens of Navy F-18 fighter jets have encountered unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAPs) — once commonly referred to as UFOs — off the East Coast of the United States, some not far from the nation’s capital. Encounters have been reported by other military aircraft and civilian airliners elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad, too, including videos shot by airline passengers.

What these UAPs were and who was flying them — whether friends, foes or unknown forces — remains a mystery. Yet careful examination of the data inevitably leads to one possible, disturbing conclusion: A potential adversary of the United States has mastered technologies we do not yet understand to achieve capabilities we cannot yet match.

Continue reading “Friend, foe or unknown force flying overhead? Congress should find out” »

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