Since 9/11 the budget for the USA Special Ops has quadrupled. Under President Obama, the forces of the Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), which includes the Green Berets, Navy SEALS and Army Rangers, have been granted more latitude and greater autonomy, engaged in counter-terrorism, surveillance and reconnaissance in as many as 120 countries around the world.
It was said that it takes at least a decade to figure out the effects of a major war. It probably takes a lot longer. It took a few decades to figure out that Britain had lost its empire by winning World War II and only now are we beginning to see that Germany was not defeated after all.
Most of you followed last year’s revolution in Egypt, and how protestors used Twitter, Facebook, etc, and the effort the government made to “shut down the internet”. This illustrated very effectively how the internet is a tool that is inherently hostile to “information control.”
An armed madman, James Holmes, walked into a movie theater armed with weapons that any Islamic terrorist would love to have and killed 12 people. The difference between this madman and an Islamic terrorist is simple: this madman lives in a country in which it is legal to own a gun, and in fact it is encouraged.
During the recent Seasteading Conference reports highlighted the benefits of different regions for proposed seasteads. Where some factors were favorable others were not - off the coast of East Africa is environmentally a very favorable location but the issue of piracy makes it forlorn.
It’s time to get serious about the moral questions resulting from our new class of weapons. In the last week or so, cyberwarfare has made front-page news: the United States may have been behind the Stuxnet cyberattack on Iran; Iran may have suffered another digital attack with the Flame virus; and our military and industrial computer chips may or may not be compromised by backdoor switches implanted by China. These revelations suggest that the way we fight wars is changing, and so are the rules.
Flash news: The U.S. government’s secret space program has decided to give NASA two new telescopes for orbital use, as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope. Designed for surveillance, the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office were no longer needed for spy missions and can now be sent with missions aimed outward, instead of inward, to study the heavens. They have 2.4-meter (7.9 feet) mirrors, just like the Hubble.
Could the next wave of Occupy protests be ripped apart by rubber bullets and tear gas launched by remote-controlled robots hovering overhead, steered by police officers miles away? It’s not a futurist scenario anymore. According to CBSDC:
The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to understand the science behind what makes people violent, and then find ways to hijack their minds by implanting false, but believable stories in their brains, with hopes of evoking peaceful thoughts: We’re friends, not enemies.
In this essay, I outline Five futures for Pakistan: (1) the Pendulum continues forever, (2) Collapse, (3) Joining Chindia, (4) the Great Game, and (5) a South Asian Confederation. The most familiar and likely are based on the pendulum of rule by the military and rule by landlord/politicians. However, what is needed is to move from the more likely and less desirable futures to a process of anticipatory democracy where the citizens of Pakistan consider, create and commit to building their preferred future.
There is one country in the world that in December 2011 was keeping 97 journalists in prison, and it is not mainland China. It is a country with just a fraction of China’s population: Turkey. Turkey also ranks among the countries that exerts the strictest censorship of the World-wide Web: one million websites are banned in Turkey (including mine, http://www.scaruffi.com).
“Daddy, why did the bad guys kill Anne Frank?” asks my eight-year-old daughter. I hesitate, then I tell her about Nazis and the Holocaust: Kristallnacht, the trains, the camps, head-shaving, tattooing, starvation, disease, digging one’s own grave, the gassings, the ovens. “Daddy,” she asks when my gruesome chronology is complete, “will it happen again?”
First of all, I do not believe for a second that Iran ever had any intention of destroying Israel. I believe the Iranian regime is a very rational and pragmatic regime, one that has worked with Russia and China (both guilty of atrocities against Muslims) and whose closest ally is Syria (a Sunni country). We are always told that the enemy (whether the Soviet Union or Saddam Hussein) is an irrational demon in order to justify our own irrational behavior, but later find out that the demon’s first priority was its own survival.
Fear this? Mutant, homicidal wasps employed as border guards. Eavesdropping optimized birds spying on civilian activists. Hybrid human/beasts annihilating drafted youths on reality TV. All this DNA mayhem, and more, occurs in the bestsellers by Suzanne Collins, who replays an ancient device utilized in the classic myth of the Minotaur, a bull-man fusion that lurked in the Labyrinth of Crete.
Last month we asked “Is it ethical for an advanced military to use drones or robots to attack enemy soldiers?” A third of you want military drones and robots banned, and a quarter believed they were unproblematic. But the center of opinion was that they should be under human control or used by both sides.
The Syrian regime of Bashir Assad is the last remaining of the secular despots of the Arab world after the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. The rest of the Arab world is in the hands of “enlightened” kings/sheiks/sultans that somehow have better weathered the “Arab Spring” or is in the process of becoming democratic (Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria).
For centuries, world politics has been organized around nations and their official functionaries—with artificial borders drawn up, separating French from German, Australian from New Zealander. But this could all be blown away as technology and political movements reshape our understanding of world governance.
Identical twins they’re not. The two halves of Korea - a rabbit-shaped, mountainous peninsula jutting into the Yellow Sea - are wildly dissimilar. The North is an impoverished, tyrannized, height-and-economy stunted state, bizarrely cloistered with secret tunnels, rogue nuclear missiles and a recent “boy-king.” The South is a workaholic, studious, sleep-deprived builder of huge ships, skyscrapers, Samsung, Hyundai, globe-leading innovations, and direct democracy.
This is the first piece of fiction that we are publishing, submitted in response to our call for short science fiction reflecting “on the social, moral, political, economic or philosophical consequences of future technologies, in particular pieces that touch on the IEET’s core issues - the ethics and policy dimensions of life extension, human enhancement, moral enhancement, non-human personhood, structural unemployment and catastrophic risks.” We will be publishing at least four of the twenty submissions we have received so far, one a week, and will continue reviewing submissions for consideration. - J. Hughes
Robots are replacing humans on the battlefield—but could they also be used to interrogate and torture suspects? This would avoid a serious ethical conflict between physicians’ duty to do no harm, or nonmaleficence, and their questionable role in monitoring vital signs and health of the interrogated. A robot, on the other hand, wouldn’t be bound by the Hippocratic oath, though its very existence creates new dilemmas of its own.
On October 6, 2011, protestors will converge on Washington D.C. to recreate Tahrir Square here in the United States. It is important to transhumanists and non-transhumanists alike because it calls for, in the end, the reduction of the use of money and technology to feed America’s imperial war efforts and to challenge those in charge to use our defense money for environmental purposes.
Inspired by Ayn Rand, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, along with Patri Friedman and others, are helping the Seasteading Institute plan a floating ‘start-up country’ off the coast of San Francisco, built on oil-rig like platforms in international waters.
Can Europe, whose motto is “unity in diversity,” help to navigate humanity through the upcoming decades like a clear-eyed Renaissance astronomer? Or will it simply sink, squabbling and sniveling, into irrelevancy?