‘The God of Israel said, to the Rock of Israel [David]; I rule man; who rules Me? It is the righteous: for I make a decree and he may annul it’.
Babylonian Talmud 16b
A few weeks back I was sitting in a laundromat watching my clothes spin round and reading a book on the Holocaust. Not quite sure why such a situation would lend itself to commentary from strangers, but I was approached by a 50ish or so middle class looking guy who felt it his duty to point out to me that Stalin and Mao had killed a lot more people than Hitler.
Humanity faces a range of threats to its viability as a civilization and its very survival. These catastrophic threats include natural disasters such as supervolcano eruptions and large asteroid collisions as well as disasters caused by human activity such as nuclear war and global warming. The threats are diverse, but their would-be result is the same: the collapse of global human civilization or even human extinction.
My father went to Vietnam. As an ROTC member in college, he had no choice—serve or go to prison. Not being a fan of prison, he went. My father was also an electrical engineer and lifelong ham radio hobbyist. As a result, when he arrived in the hot, sweaty jungles of Vietnam he wasn’t sent to the front line, instead he was assigned to building the communications towers that would keep the US army and its allies connected throughout the war.
Fans of Game of Thrones were treated to a big piece of news last week. As audiences know, the fan-favorite character Jon Snow was left to die at the hands of his Night’s Watch Brothers at the end of the previous season. Yesterday, a poster was revealed showing a bloodied image of the character.
Of course we are all still quivering, following the attacks in Paris last week that killed 129 people, not so very far from where my wife and I lived for a couple of years, as newlyweds during the 1990s. Our hearts go out to the brave folk of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité in la Ville Lumiere.
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind centred around the terrorist group knows as the Islamic State. First, several attacks in Paris left 129 dead and countless others injured, then a bomb threat in Germany and a threat by ISIS to attack the rest of Europe and Washington, D.C. Fear grips the hearts of people around the world in an iron vice. And that is exactly what ISIS wants. Right now, they are winning.
Airing every Sunday 9/8c, National Geographic’s latest TV show Breakthrough, hosted by Paul Giamatti, provides a unique walkthrough into the growing arena of “how-to-enhance-human-beings” using advanced science and technology. In their latest episode, “More Than Human,” Giamatti gets up close and personal with Lockheed Martin’s newest exoskeleton suit FORTIS (video clip of the episode is provided below).
The recent slaughters of hundreds of innocent civilians in Paris, in Ankara, in Beirut, and aboard the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 illustrate without a shadow of doubt that the threat from the barbaric sect known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, and the Islamic State cannot be contained within the Middle East. ISIS is an enemy of humanity, decency, and Western civilization. It will continue killing completely peaceful civilians of Western nations, both in their home countries and abroad, in gruesome ways. ISIS is a cancer upon humanity, and it will continue to metastasize and inflict damage until it is either eradicated or until it completely kills its host. Like cancer, ISIS cannot coexist with a healthy humankind. This cancerous “Islamic State” should be eradicated using the resources of any willing parties.
Okay, when do you ever see some (rational) person take one of Donald Trump’s wild, paranoid rants and declare “he didn’t go anywhere near far enough”?
Well, I am about to do that. He has lately taken flack for being the first prominent figure to (at long last) connect the dots and publicly lay at least partial blame for the 9/11 attacks at the feet of President George W. Bush, the man who was not only captain at the helm, but proximately responsible under any adult standard.
Online petition campaigns were launched this week to stop Wal-Mart from selling Israeli soldier Halloween costumes and to get Wheaties cereal to stop putting U.S. soldiers on its cereal boxes—boxes known for featuring photos of outstanding athletes.
The two campaigns have no relation to each other. Wheaties has not, to my knowledge, indicated the slightest interest in doing what the petition asks it to do.
What will the future look like? The further upwards one moves from the basement domain of physics, the harder it often gets to predict long-term trends. Nonetheless, we have some fairly good clues about what to expect moving forward.
The world’s two big nuclear militaries are in the same war now in Syria and, if not on opposite sides exactly, certainly not on the same side. A primary, if not the primary, goal of the United States in Syria is overthrowing the Syrian government. A primary, if not the primary, goal of Russia is maintaining the Syrian government. Hostilities are building in each nation toward the other.
There is a dangerous and not so new idea currently making the rounds that not only is conventional war between the great powers inevitable, but that it would be much less of an existential threat to humanity than we have been led to believe and even might be necessary for human progress.
Reading the continued, ongoing arguments about gun regulations (“reasonable” or otherwise) is frustrating. Not only for the usual reasons (absolutist positions, inability to recognize multi-causal phenomena, relentless hostility towards different opinions, etc.), but because of how incredibly irrelevant it is becoming. 3D-printable firearms are already here, and becoming increasingly reliable. Every gun control law in the world is obsolete.
This past summer saw the release of the new film “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Like so many recent movies, the villains in this one were once again killer robots. But the idea of deadly, weaponized robots isn’t just isolated to titillating movie plots. Such machines are already with us, in one form or another, in many places on the globe.
In the second decade of the 21st century, crime has fully embraced the age of advanced technology. To address these futurist crimes, we have to consider combating them, fire with fire. In other words, using advanced technology to counter-balance the level of power criminals could possibly attain at the opportunity of the technological age. Which is why DARPA is stepping up its game in terms of chip making.
I wonder if people in the United States understand what it means that the Labour Party in London now has a peace activist in charge of it. Jeremy Corbyn does not resemble any U.S. politicians. He doesn’t favor “only the smart wars” or prefer drone murders to massive invasions. Corbyn opposes wars, and he works to end militarism.
The following is a thought experiment: an attempt to understand the Iranian deal by way of logical speculation regarding the issues and facts as perceived by the Obama administration.
I am assuming that Obama is not a Marxist/Islamist/Kenyan, consumed by post-colonial resentment and dedicated to destroying the Constitution and the United States. Nor a Black Nationalist anti-Semite, whose most important priority regarding Iran is to screw Israel. I am assuming he is a patriotic American who desires to be a historically great President.
Science and technology luminaries Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak count among the hundreds of researchers pledging support of a proposed ban on the use of artificial intelligence technologies in warfare. In “Autonomous Weapons: an Open Letter from AI & Robotics Researchers”, the researchers (along with thousands of citizens not directly involved with AI research) call on the global community to ban “offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.”
Talk of war? Major war in Europe? This long and very detailed article in Vox examines the ways that Russia’s contretemps with NATO and the US and the West could spiral out of control, via many of the same psychological and strategic miscalculations that tumbled the planet – 100 years ago – into the First World War.
It is incredible how international events can be driven by the electoral ambitions of some megalomaniacs. Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu has created all sorts of problems in his backyard just to be reelected. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now doing the same in Turkey after his party Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost the majority in recent parliamentary elections.
The Biafra Civil War from 1967-1970 resulted when the small West African region – primarily populated by the Igbo tribe – attempted to secede from Nigeria, a former British colony. An estimated 1-2 million people were killed in the conflict; 40% were Igbo children who died of starvation and malnutrition. The Igbo thought the global community would support them, but they gained little assistance, whereas Nigeria was massively armed by the British and Russians. Biafra was invaded and the Igbo were eventually subdued.
How are the Igbo doing today? Have they survived economically? Are they participating in Nigerian political affairs? Have enmities been forgiven?
This August 6th and 9th millions of people will mark the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in those cities and at events around the world. Some will celebrate the recent deal in which Iran committed not to pursue nuclear weapons, and to comply with the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and with requirements not imposed on any other nation.
Is there any politically tractable strategy for transhumanism to avoid the Bismarckian move, which ultimately curtails the capacity of basic research to explore and challenge the fundamental limits of our being? My answer is as follows: Transhumanists need to take a more positive attitude towards the military.
I just read what may be the best introduction to peace studies I’ve ever seen. It’s called Peace Lessons, and is a new book by Timothy Braatz. It’s not too fast or too slow, neither obscure nor boring. It does not drive the reader away from activism toward meditation and “inner peace,” but begins with and maintains a focus on activism and effective strategy for revolutionary change in the world on the scale that is needed. As you may be gathering, I’ve read some similar books about which I had major complaints.
Once again this year, the clear winner, in not just women’s soccer and incarceration, but also in militarism, is the United States of America, sweeping nearly every category of military insanity with seemingly effortless ease. Find all of last year’s and this year’s maps here:
The dangers that face Earth and its inhabitants are diverse and intricate. The solutions, if any exists per particular danger, are equally complex and nuanced. Below you will find a shortlist of threats that range from conventional to bizarre.
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