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Technology Spurs On Our Ability To Deceive

Technology Spurs On Our Ability To Deceive 

Caught between the forces of mainstream media and government propaganda it seems we can believe nothing we see or hear. Much of this problem is rooted in the agendas of large companies and those who control them. These companies have become so big and powerful that they now influence government’s message and direction. Fake news and false flags have left many of us having a difficult time deciding what is real, adding to this is the rapidly growing ability of computers to generate and alter human images. This is all about to go to a whole new level.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union Antitrust Chief, is busy touting that the EU’s influence gives it the opportunity and power to shape the world. She insists the EU is ready to take on companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon which she contends has used their power to undermine competition, keep out innovation and collect data on us. This has given these companies great power to manipulate society. Google did this when it used the power of its search engine to favor its own comparison shopping service. While the EU  has signaled it is going to make several big companies use their power in a way that’s fair and doesn’t discriminate the fact is this is easier to say than do.

The EU plans to do this by flexing its muscle with a combination of competition policy and regulation changes, however, whether it will be successful remains to be seen. Like many people, I remain dubious. These powerful companies already are overly involved with shaping the message of media and government propaganda are about to unleash upon society a great deal more computer-generated models and images. These have advanced to where they blur reality and diminish the need for humans to act as spokespeople or to represent organizations.

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The biggest obstacle to progress is our idea of progres

The biggest obstacle to progress is our idea of progress

Those who oppose change, even in a single category of life, are often labeled as enemies of “progress.” In the modern era “progress” has become a catch-all word to describe every technological change by the proponents of that change. Thinking people will agree that not all change is progress. But it is striking how infrequently most people actually oppose technological change when it comes.

Often the technological change is billed as a “solution” to a problem created by a previous technological change that was billed as “progress.” The proliferation of air filtering technology comes to mind. I am not opposing air filtering technology, only pointing out that it is not a step forward but rather at most a step sideways to make up for another supposed step forward.

It is logical to assume that making progress toward one’s destination is a good thing. After all, if we have a goal, doing things which allow us to reach that goal seems positive. But this does not touch on the question of whether the goal itself will amount to progress once we get there.

One further thing to note is that “progress” in our modern technical society is almost always defined by others for us. Some corporation, inventor or software genius comes up with a new gadget or process that is then sold as an “improvement” on our current way of doing things. We don’t get to vote on these “improvements.” They are foisted upon us whether we want them or not. This is done partly by exploiting the networking effect. To wit, when everyone you know has a smartphone, they will pressure you to get one because they “need” you to be able to receive their text messages.

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The Tech Giants Are a Conduit for Fascism

The Tech Giants Are a Conduit for Fascism

A second former Amazon employee would spark more controversy. Deap Ubhi, a former AWS employee who worked for Lynch, was tasked with gathering marketing information to make the case for a single cloud inside the DOD. Around the same time that he started working on JEDI, Ubhi began talking with AWS about rejoining the company. As his work on JEDI deepened, so did his job negotiations. Six days after he received a formal offer from Amazon, Ubhi recused himself from JEDI, fabricating a story that Amazon had expressed an interest in buying a startup company he owned. A contracting officer who investigated found enough evidence that Ubhi’s conduct violated conflict of interest rules to refer the matter to the inspector general, but concluded that his conduct did not corrupt the process. (Ubhi, who now works in AWS’ commercial division, declined comment through a company spokesperson.)

Ubhi worsened the impression by making ill-advised public statements while still employed by the DOD. In a tweet, he described himself as “once an Amazonian, always an Amazonian.”

– From the must read ProPublica expose: How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagon

That U.S. tech giants are willing participants in facilitating mass government surveillance has been widely known for a while, particularly since whistleblower Edward Snowden risked his life and liberty to tell us about it six years ago. We also know what happens to executives who don’t play ball.

Perhaps the most high profile example relates to Joseph Nacchio, CEO of telecom company Quest in the aftermath of 9/11. Courageously, he was the only executive who pushed back against government attempts to violate the civil liberties of his customers. A few years later, he was thrown in jail for insider trading and stayed locked up for four years. He claimed his incarceration was retaliation for not bending the knee to government, which seems likely.

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A globalised solar-powered future is wholly unrealistic – and our economy is the reason why

A globalised solar-powered future is wholly unrealistic – and our economy is the reason why

Over the past two centuries, millions of dedicated people – revolutionaries, activists, politicians, and theorists – have been unable to curb the disastrous and increasingly globalised trajectory of economic polarisation and ecological degradation. This is perhaps because we are utterly trapped in flawed ways of thinking about technology and economy – as the current discourse on climate change shows.

Rising greenhouse gas emissions are not just generating climate change. They are giving more and more of us climate anxiety. Doomsday scenarios are capturing the headlines at an accelerating rate. Scientists from all over the world tell us that emissions in ten years must be half of what they were ten years ago, or we face apocalypse. School children like Greta Thunberg and activist movements like Extinction Rebellion are demanding that we panic. And rightly so. But what should we do to avoid disaster?

Most scientists, politicians, and business leaders tend to put their hope in technological progress. Regardless of ideology, there is a widespread expectation that new technologies will replace fossil fuels by harnessing renewable energy such as solar and wind. Many also trust that there will be technologies for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and for “geoengineering” the Earth’s climate. The common denominator in these visions is the faith that we can save modern civilisation if we shift to new technologies. But “technology” is not a magic wand. It requires a lot of money, which means claims on labour and resources from other areas. We tend to forget this crucial fact.

I would argue that the way we take conventional “all-purpose” money for granted is the main reason why we have not understood how advanced technologies are dependent on the appropriation of labour and resources from elsewhere.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

London Is Only The 6th Most-Surveilled City In The World

London Is Only The 6th Most-Surveilled City In The World

According to a study by research website Comparitecheight out of the ten most surveilled cities in the world are in China, and as Statista’s Katharina Buchholz notes, the country that has been making headlines for its generous use of surveillance technology is featured heavily throughout the whole ranking that features 120 cities globally.

Central Chinese city Chongqing tops the list with 168 public CCTV cameras per 1,000 inhabitants.

Infographic: The Most Surveilled Cities in the World | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

The highest-ranked non-Chinese city is London, also notorious for its strict surveillance of public spaces, but at 68 cameras per 1,000 Londoners, the city is featuring far less CCTV cameras than its Chinese counterparts.

Atlanta is the highest-ranked U.S. city and comes in tenth with 15.6 cameras per 1,000 people.

CCTV technology is controversial in many places around the world, with proponents touting its benefits for fighting crime and opponents cautious about surveillance’s potential to be used as a tool of public control and to violate privacy rights. The makers of the survey said that they found no connection between lower crime rates or a heightened feeling of security and surveillance in the cities surveyed.

Politics and Algorithms

Politics and Algorithms

Edward Hopper Sailing  1911

It’s a development that has long been evident in continental Europe, and that has now arrived on the shores of the US and UK. It is the somewhat slow but very certain dissolution of long-existing political parties, organizations and groups. That’s what I was seeing during the Robert Mueller clown horror show on Wednesday.

Mueller was not just the Democratic Party’s last hope, he was their identity. He was the anti-Trump. Well, he no longer is, he is not fit to play that role anymore. And there is nobody to take it over who is not going to be highly contested by at least some parts of the party. In other words: it’s falling apart.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s a natural process, parties change as conditions do and if they don’t do it fast enough they disappear. Look at the candidates the Dems have. Can anyone imagine the party, post-Mueller, uniting behind Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris? And then for one of them to beat Donald Trump in 2020?

I was just watching a little clip from Sean Hannity, doing what Trump did last week, which is going after the Squad. Who he said are anti-Israel socialists and, most importantly, the de facto leaders of the party, not Nancy Pelosi. That is a follow-up consequence of Mueller’s tragic defeat, the right can now go on the chase. The Squad is the face of the Dems because Trump and Hannity have made them that.

The upcoming Horowitz and Durham reports on their respective probes into “meddling into the meddling” will target many people in the Democratic Party, US intelligence services, and the media. In that order. Can the Dems survive such a thing? It’s hard to see.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Technological Dependence And The End Of Freedom

Technological Dependence And The End Of Freedom

Technology can be dazzling but also debilitating to real human progress, and when I say “progress” I do not mean advancements in the world of machines but advancements in the world of people, and one does not necessarily lead to the other.

First, I fully recognize that whenever anyone attempts to criticize technological innovation they take the risk of being labeled a “crackpot” or an “outdated fossil”, a barbaric relic of a foregone era. However, this attitude is an ignorant one. It assumes that the path we are on as a species is one of perpetual improvement as long as we continue to follow the great technology god; but what if this assumption is completely wrong? What if we are actually devolving rather than evolving?

I’m not here to grunt and shake my spear at the wheel and the combustion engine and the programmable computer – I like all these things. But, what I don’t like is the dark future I see when humanity turns machinery into a great metal, polymer and digital “nurse maid” and we lose our ability to take care of ourselves. Dependency is the cornerstone of slavery, and our civilization is becoming increasingly dependent.

In my time on this earth I have had the privilege and suffered the pain of watching the digital age come to fruition. I’ve witnessed the creation of the home computer, the birth of the internet, the proliferation of cellular technology, and now the spread of “artificial intelligence” and 5G. I have also seen the decay of an entire generation of millennials into uselessness and despondency, lacking any practical skills of production or survival and completely reliant on digital technology for everything, including building up illusions of friendship and intimacy. I have witnessed the pussification of America.

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Technotyranny: The Iron-Fisted Authoritarianism of the Surveillance State

Technotyranny: The Iron-Fisted Authoritarianism of the Surveillance State

“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me.’” ― Philip K. Dick

Red pill or blue pill? You decide.

Twenty years after the Wachowskis’ iconic 1999 film, The Matrix, introduced us to a futuristic world in which humans exist in a computer-simulated non-reality powered by authoritarian machines—a world where the choice between existing in a denial-ridden virtual dream-state or facing up to the harsh, difficult realities of life comes down to a red pill or a blue pill—we stand at the precipice of a technologically-dominated matrix of our own making.

We are living the prequel to The Matrix with each passing day, falling further under the spell of technologically-driven virtual communities, virtual realities and virtual conveniences managed by artificially intelligent machines that are on a fast track to replacing us and eventually dominating every aspect of our lives.

Science fiction has become fact.

In The Matrixcomputer programmer Thomas Anderson a.k.a. hacker Neo is wakened from a virtual slumber by Morpheus, a freedom fighter seeking to liberate humanity from a lifelong hibernation state imposed by hyper-advanced artificial intelligence machines that rely on humans as an organic power source. With their minds plugged into a perfectly crafted virtual reality, few humans ever realize they are living in a dream world.

Neo is given a choice: to wake up and join the resistance, or remain asleep and serve as fodder for the powers-that-be. “You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe,” Morpheus says to Neo in The Matrix. “You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Most people opt for the red pill.

The Next Major Shift in Society

The Next Major Shift in Society 

QUESTION: Do you see this new age of the internet destroying jobs that result in a Great Depression as you have illustrated with the advancement of the combustion engine in altering the agricultural economy as we move into the future? What is the future for our children?

Thank you

KL

ANSWER: Society historically moves through these great advancements. As an empire rises, civilization expands where coming together means the sum is greater than the individual or small bands of tribes. The oldest known city, discovered in Turkey, shows advanced houses with wall paintings and modern advancements. Coming together created more jobs where someone artistic could then create paintings in houses rather than tilling the soil. Civilization becomes the key to advancement.

What then happens is the government becomes corrupt and greedy. Once you reach that stage, people begin to leave the main centers. In the case of Rome, it peaked around 180 AD with a population of about 1 million and it collapsed to just 15,000. As people fled the cities due to corruption, society then moved back to fragmentation and into the feudal age. People then worked as serfs, tilling the soil for the landowner, and received free lodging along with 20% of the crop.

Then the Black Death came and wiped out 50% of the population during the 14th century. Suddenly, there was a shortage of labor so landlords began to pay wages on top of the free lodging and food deals. Government smelled the money and began to tax. This led to the first tax rebellions during the 1300s. The first peasant tax uprising over taxation was in France during 1358. This was followed by a similar uprising against taxation in England led by Wat Tyler in 1381 that was a bloody affair.

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Billions Dead: 5 Times Russia and America Nearly Started a Nuclear War

Billions Dead: 5 Times Russia and America Nearly Started a Nuclear War

Some history that should never be forgotten.

Each crisis was eventually resolved in favor of peace, but in every case both sides relied on gambles, and survived as much by luck as by strategy.

An international “crisis” is the anxious space between peace and war. It is defined by three things: time, threat, and the likelihood of violence. The shorter the time, the greater the sense of threat to important interests, and the greater the chance of physical harm, the more intense the crisis. By definition, it cannot go on indefinitely: like the analogous medical term, it’s the point at which things must get better or worse. The July crisis of 1914 lasted only weeks, for example, but plunged the Great Powers into their first global war.

During the Cold War, “crisis” had a special connotation, because each moment of political conflict raised the possibility of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Every confrontation carried the potential not only for war, but for the extermination of human civilization. While we look back on these periods now as something like curios in a museum, they were moments of existential fear for both American and Soviet leaders.

At least those days are over. Or maybe not: at this moment, Russian forces under the command of President Vladimir Putin are poised on the border of Ukraine. If they begin to move west, time, threat, and interest will collide once again. Europe, and the world, will be plunged into a real crisis, the likes of which we have not seen since the Cold War. Before the next crisis begins, it might worth reviewing the five worst crises of the Cold War before we find ourselves once more playing for time in the face of war.

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Let’s get ‘creaturely’: A new worldview can help us face ecological crises

Let’s get ‘creaturely’: A new worldview can help us face ecological crises

No farmer has ever gone out to the barn to start the day and discovered that a baby tractor had been born overnight. For farmers who work with horses, the birth of a foal would not be surprising.

That observation may seem silly, but it highlights an important contrast: Machines cannot reproduce or maintain themselves. Creatures can.

The tractor comes out of the industrial mind, while the horse is creaturely. The tractor is the product of an energy-intensive human-designed system, while the horse is the product of an information-intensive biological process that emerges from earth and sun.

The implications of this difference are rarely acknowledged in the dominant culture, but we believe they are crucial to explore, especially with new political space opened up by the Green New Deal for discussing ecological sustainability and economic justice.

In the short term, humanity needs to devise policies that respond in meaningful ways to today’s multiple, cascading ecological crises (including, but not limited to, rapid climate disruption), which present risks now greatly accelerated and intensified well beyond previous predictions. If that seems alarmist, we recommend “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” for details.

To put uncomfortable realities bluntly: In ecological terms, things are bad, getting worse faster than anticipated, leaving humanity with increasingly limited options. Everyone agrees that there are no quick and easy fixes, but we want to push further: Do not expect any truly sustainable fixes to emerge from the industrial mind.

That’s why we believe it’s crucial to discuss not only policy but the need for a new worldview, one that can expand our imaginations. The distressing realities of our moment in history need not be the end of our story, if humanity can transcend the industrial and get creaturely.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Breakthrough Energy Ventures: Our Malevolent Benefactors and Their Master Plan for Humanity

Bill Gates | Davos

Breakthrough Energy Ventures: Our Malevolent Benefactors and Their Master Plan for Humanity

The men who pull all the media, political and business levers in much of the world now want to pretend to save us from ourselves by backing GMOs and other questionable technologies.

ABusiness Insider story by author Aria Bendix caught my eye this morning by framing Bill Gates and his compatriot billionaires as “planet saving” heroes. According to the story, the same men who have made trillions off super-capitalism, and created a cabal that controls many governments, they’re now investing in six agricultural startups through Breakthrough Energy Ventures. One look at the investors should send shivers down any reasonable person’s spine. Let me frame this for you, painted with sarcasm so I retain my sanity.

Gates Loves Us to DEATH

Everyone knows how much Bill Gates loves humanity, he’s sold trillions of dollars worth of software, tablets, crummy smartphones, and even Monsanto poisons to us over the past few decades. But who among us can even fathom the warm and fuzzy adoration His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia feels for the world? Why look! Right alongside Gates, Al Talal, and Amazon’s Bezos, there’s Richard Branson, Alibaba’s Jack Ma, and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, just to mention a few of our most loving philanthropists. Yes, my friends, we are doomed by their fuzzy malevolence for certain.

The “mission” of Breakthrough Energy Ventures is to “commercialize energy innovation at scale,” at least according to the group’s narrative. I guess this means the fund is not about philanthropy after all (sorry, I am growing to hate these people).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are we sleepwalking into an AI police state?

Are we sleepwalking into an AI police state?

Predictive analytics enabling law enforcement to identify “high-risk” areas has highlighted ethical and legal quandaries

Science fiction has long speculated on the danger of a dystopian future and machines powered by artificial intelligence (AI). But with the advent of big data, we no longer need to speculate: the future has arrived. By the end of March, West Midlands Police is due to finish a prototype for the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), an AI system designed to predict the risk of where crime will be committed and by whom. NDAS could eventually be rolled out by every police force in the UK.

Ultimately, we need to be able to choose as a society how we use these technologies and what kind of society we really want to be

Fourteen police forces around the UK have used or planned to use such tools. But a report published in February by human rights group Liberty warns that far from being objective, police crime-mapping software reinforces pre-existing biases about who commits crime.

Current mapping tools use past crime data to identify so-called high-risk areas, leading to more intensive patrolling. Yet these areas are often already subject to disproportionate over-policing. By relying on data from police practices, according to Liberty’s advocacy director Corey Stoughton, these tools might simply “entrench discrimination against black and minority-ethnic people”.

Police mapping tools turning citizens into suspects

Ben Hayes, a data protection and ethics adviser to the European Union, United Nations and other international organisations, warns that the increased use of such mapping tools is increasingly turning ordinary citizens into suspects.

“People can be categorised as vulnerable, at risk, threatening, deserving or undeserving,” says Dr Hayes, noting that this tends to target those already marginalised. “Services such as border control, policing and social welfare are all subject to inherent bias. Machine-learning doesn’t eliminate those biases, it amplifies and reinforces them.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Analog Tipping Points Lurking in Tech’s Future

The Analog Tipping Points Lurking in Tech’s Future

This is a guest post from John Andrews. John is 30-year plus veteran of the banking industry. For the last 23 years he was the Head of Investor Relations for Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citadel, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank. He makes the point that explosive tech growth, which has had a significant impact on renewable energy growth, has been achieved in the absence of regulatory oversight, and that this is likely to change in the future as some of its less desirable impacts become more obvious.

Too Much Tech in Tech

There is too much tech in tech. That sounds counterintuitive if not a bit crazy. Innovative ideas and great engineering have been the foundation of the tech industry’s extraordinary success for decades. And those who drove that success – the engineers, programmers and mathematicians – rightly dominate the industry’s leadership today.

But that success has created a myopia in the industry, particularly in senior management. This will increasingly become a problem as lurking in the future are meaningful challenges that the tech sector is only now beginning to confront. These challenges are largely not technical in nature,and they do not play to the industry’s traditional strengths. And as we’ve seen in a string of recent scandals, they are challenges for which tech companies appear completely unprepared.

This flat-footedness is not surprising. A less remarked-upon contributor to the tech sector’s success has been its singular lack of scrutiny. The industry has lacked any meaningful regulatory or legislative constraints, and until recently, has not endured messy congressional or parliamentary hearings, skeptical media coverage, or meaningful public outcry. Even the occasional anti-trust action or the dot.com boom and bust left little lasting effect on how the tech industry does business.

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You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.
“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

The tale of the Emperor’s new clothes of Hans Christian Andersen has an important key to how we can change the world: it is by disclosing the prevailing myths that are the foundations of the current order. This is particularly important for a society with so many forceful feedback loops as the current industrial capitalist culture. A school strike of a fifteen year old might therefore be more important than a NGO-boycott of a multinational or a new international treaty. 

There are often vivid arguments between those that argue that consumers, the market, scientists, corporations, governments or international organizations have the main responsibility for climate change (or the deforestation of the Amazon, the use of pesticides, overfishing or cruelty to animals just to name a few others) as well as the transition to a no/low greenhouse gas emission society.  

Often, the allocation of responsibility and agency follows main political lines – neoliberals tend to believe the solution is in the market place, while socialists think the solution is found in more government regulations. But there is also a divide in the view of the possibilities of new technology. A high level of faith in technology is often, but not always coupled with a trust in markets.

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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