TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Futurism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Futurism. Show all posts

Friday, November 15, 2019

New Post at The Dragonfly: The Long Gameplay


Image Source: imdb.

I have a new post up at The Dragonfly:

The Long Gameplay

This post on video gamers' skills peripherally considers a topic I have been discussing on this blog, namely, that the way we interact with technology is intimate, disturbing, and involves a global meditation on our species' long term survival.

The human-tech interface concerns how we use tools to augment our five senses. I suspect that two camps will emerge from this process. One group, the anti-materialists, will use technology to enhance our organic capabilities. The other group, the materialists, will evolve into cyborgs and will cultivate artificial versions of those organic capabilities.

Image Source: imdb.


Monday, October 28, 2019

Materialist Rhetoric: The Cosmic Indifference of Alien AI Gods


From Alan Moore's Lovecraftian comic, Providence. Image Source: Xataka.

This week, I am selecting vocabulary used by materialists to reveal their long game. Materialism here refers loosely to those who subscribe to secular and scientific values, that is, those who explore the world in the strictly physical sense.

I deconstruct some materialist values here, not to write an anti-scientific or technophobic screed, but to consider alternative approaches toward science and technology. I mean to show here that what we think of as 'rationalism,' 'secularism,' 'materialism,' 'science,' and 'technology' are social constructions, grounded in obsolete, 19th and 20th century modernist concepts of order and madness. I will discuss this historical background in future posts.

Can we build AI without losing control over it? | Sam Harris (19 October 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

In recent years, several tech leaders have come forward to predict the rise of artificial intelligence. The prediction rests on a definition of intelligence as 'information processing' and 'interactivity,' about which I have blogged here. Developers consider AI 'goal-setting' to be the same thing as human dreaming. The AI vocabulary projects machine processes onto human cognition, and removes the extra-sensory, the anti-materialistic, or any magical thinking that is otherwise undefined in physical terms.

If one adheres to this set of ideas, one removes emotional, moral and ethical concerns from intelligence. One ignores non-linear, lateral, interstitial, and other undefinable elements that are part of the purely human, non-mechanical experience. (Thanks to -D.)

Materialist Proposition 1: Progress is Worship, Expressed through Physical Augmentation of Natural Ability

Quantum Computers - An Altar To An 'Alien god'! Doorway To Other Dimensions And Image Of The Beast! (2 February 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Tech leaders like Geordie Rose, father of marketed quantum computers, adhere to a 19th century vision of 'progress.' They believe that history is an upward story of human and scientific expansion. We must develop bodies, societies and systems which transcend the limits of biology.

ideacity 2019 - Geordie Rose - Synthetic Minds, Cooperation and the Future of Humanity (21 June 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

In this view, the brain is a machine, which we will decode, mechanize and develop with the help of artificial intelligence. Because of its independent functions and the symbiotic assistance it will provide during our brain upgrades, the AI will appear to us like an alien god. Technologists admit this god will destroy our humanity, but that is acceptable, because the god will help one nation get ahead of another in the geopolitical balance of power. That, or the god will cure cancer.

Despite their supposed adherence to logical explanations, these technologists justify themselves through glib asides. They never ask if there is an alternative to 19th century scientific progress. They do not reflect on whether their political biases pose problems for their planning. They never consider whether the nation-state is a dated idea. They never refer to the evolutionary purpose which cancer may serve, about which I have blogged, here and here. They certainly never ask (at least publicly) if there are extra-physical aspects of human cognition, which cannot be simulated. It does not matter if the consequences of technologists' blind spots will result in species-wide slavery. In fact, that is the expected result.

The real question, then, concerns the developers' ambitions. A very small number of humans aim to control the machines that will control the bulk of humankind. XPRIZE founder Peter Diamandis remarked:
"Today, a group of 20 individuals empowered by the exponential growing technologies of AI and robotics and computers and networks and eventually nanotechnology can do what only nation states could have done before."
These humans will act, based on their limited intelligence and values. If the story of the AI as alien god is really a story about the ambitions of a tiny group of tech moguls and billionaires, we should identify the real beliefs of this group.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

What's Left Over? A Plague on Both Your Houses


"Star cross'd lovers take their life." 'Life' is singular. One life is lost when Romeo and Juliet die, because the two characters form one character in death. Romeo + Juliet (1996) prologue. (1996) © 20th Century Fox Video Source: Youtube.

The New Millennium is synonymous with the future, and if you identify with that future, you may have noticed a trend which enflames polarities, but then oddly reconciles opposites, even between right- and left-wing politics. A Millennial third way seeks the Sun (masculine), Moon (feminine), and Stars (the higher union). Or: Past, Present, and Future.

There are different routes to the third way, and not every path is positive. The future's third way may follow the current course of world politics. After a prologue in conflict, it may destroy polarities through war and conflagration. Or it may erase polarities through technological, social and biological engineering.

Whether we follow the path of war or technocracy, the course will be materialistic. There is an alternative, however, which is anti-materialist. This blog post continues my series, What's Left Over?, which reappraises Millennial politics and political culture in terms of materialism and anti-materialism. I argue that the alternative media are not alt-right so much as alt-material. Their radicalism is not grounded in outdated left-right political paradigms, as much as it is in the political connotations of living in, and with, virtual reality.

Prologue in Conflict

U.S. set to hit China with new wave of tariffs on September 1st (31 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

Paradoxically, the institution of higher, unifying principles is preceded today by a deliberate exacerbation and intensification of differences. It could be one way of bringing about the desired union in the long term. Think of a couple fighting, followed by make-up sex. This may be the long game behind mainstream propaganda which has worsened political differences and regional tensions and has left us feeling that there is no chance to negotiate in order to solve problems.

Boris Johnson suggests prorogation will help negotiate Brexit deal with EU (30 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

'Boris Johnson, shame on you': thousands protest against prorogation (31 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

Brexit. Lebanon. Kashmir. Hong Kong. Egypt. You may abhor or adore the populists and their elitist opponents, or the democratic and anti-democratic factions, or honour the aggressors or victims. But it could be that all are servants of this greater aim, this third way, whether they know it or not. They worsen conflicts which will eventually obliterate the very barriers they are erecting. And perhaps this was the aim all along, to push things so far that finally we begin to break down divisions between different perspectives and ways of living.

Hong Kong riot police seen beating protesters in clash at metro station (31 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

A transcendent third way to overcome past and present problems is a very old idea. It is evident in symbols like the Yin and Yang, the Hammer and Sickle, and the Star of David or Shatkona. All could be taken as representations of the act of sex, the union of masculine and feminine energies. Equally important in east and west, as critical for the ancients as for the moderns, the higher union or third way is a code for nothing less than the survival of our species. As such, it is a positive idea.

The Hammer and Sickle symbol goes beyond the Hegelian dialectic. It confirms the occult roots of socialism. The hammer represents masculinity, while the sickle refers to femininity in harvest and death. Both symbols imply creative and destructive aspects of gender symbolism in northern mythological traditions. Image Source: Russia Beyond.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The God Emperor and Venezuela


In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Britain is known as Airstrip One. Image Source: picssr.

In mid-January 2019, a Wiki user with the handle ZiaLater created a world map of nations according to their support in the country's current presidential crisis of Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaidó.

I was immediately struck by the fact that the Venezuela president recognition map 2019 is almost identical to the map of the world in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

Venezuela president recognition map 2019 (January 2019). Image Source: Wiki.

Orwell's fictional superstates in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Image Source: Reddit.

Although the similarity between the two maps could confirm yet again that Orwell accurately predicted the future, it might mean instead that big geopolitical alignments don't change as much as we think they do. There are many continuities between Orwell's time and ours. The inchoate superstates Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia were and are always there, waiting to be born. This made me wonder what catalysts really prompt the imperial birth of superstates. In Orwell's novel, the catalyst is a nuclear war.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The People Who Want to Microchip People


Image Source: CBS News.

In an earlier post, I noted how the BBC is promoting human microchipping as well as larger tech-body implants. Their poster boy for this cause, colour blind guy, Neil Harbisson, merits a special 'cyborg' passport status.

Image Source: NYT.

Image Source: Munsell Color.

The subcutaneous chip was first developed by Siemens in the United States. The human microchip implant was invented by Kevin Warwick: "He is known for his studies on direct interfaces between computer systems and the human nervous system, and has also done research concerning robotics." You can read backgrounders on human microchip technology, here and here.

If this practice becomes widely accepted, it will become an automatic, mainstream practice, and children will be microchipped at birth. There are already brain chips which can affect moods and behaviour. Let this go further, and subcutaneous implants will become an organic user interface. They will also constitute an assault on the integrity of the bodies and minds of individuals both as individuals, and as members of society. Soon, it won't be necessary to talk about human rights and freedoms, because the preconditions for them will be medically removed and technically absent. For a disturbing, unconfirmed original sources on this endgame, see here.

The BBC promoting microchipping for Humans (29 January 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

The Body, Colonized

China Behavior Rating System V/S Sweden Microchip implants | Must watch technology (18 June 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Of course, rhetoric which promotes rights and freedoms will remain. The political speeches will continue, but rights and freedoms will be erased in reality. Lip service will be paid to these archaic constructions until it is no longer necessary to do so, and people have forgotten them, or been reprogrammed. Expect whatever slavery that follows to be labeled as a new type of freedom. The Chinese have a saying about manipulation and the acquisition of power: point to a deer, and call it a horse.

Human microchipping is part of a new field called 'biointerfaced nano-engineering.' Another catch-all term is 'wearables,' created by firms like Proteus and MC10. This is not the path to convenience, progress or enlightenment. It is the path to slavery. Although it seems that the human body must become the next technological platform, it is not inevitable. Do not do it. Do not accept it.

This post is not a Luddite screed. It is a plea to save the best potentials of technology and keep them on a course that will not destroy us. We are entering a new stage in the Tech Revolution, in which we have to learn to take responsibility for progress and innovation. Thus far, citizens have been accepting actors on the receiving end of research projects released via big tech companies. These were experimental prototypes, presented as exciting consumer goods. Electronic goods were marketed with various political and socio-economic messages to make them palatable in the capitalist endeavour to build self-identity from the outside in.

Image Source: Go into the Story.

We were entranced in the first decades of the Tech Revolution by the gadgets and rapid software upgrades. Most people believed in the opening act that they acted as consumers inside the pre-existing capitalist model. They did not understand that that old system had already been effectively outdated and internally destroyed; only an illusory shell of that model persists as a form of mass behavioural control.

We can all be forgiven for assuming that consumerism was how tech was introduced into our reality. But it never was.

Although glitzy, futuristic marketing campaigns created the illusion that technology turned people into empowered, connected consumers, each new level of hardware and software between the 1980s and the 2010s blinded technophiles to the fact that they were never consumers at all. They were increasingly-conditioned lab rats, running through monitored environments, inside the biggest human behavioural study ever conducted.

Now, things must change. It is time to wake up. It is time to grow up. We can be forgiven for trusting those big corporations, helmed by intelligence agencies and Promethean research groups, as benevolent guides in the opening act of the Tech Revolution.

Image Source: Film Connection.

But we cannot be forgiven if we sleepwalk into Act Two, and deliver our children into immersive slavery. In transhumanism, the commodity is not the microchip or its successor technologies. The commodity will be a new type of interbody imperialism and colonization, developed under the banner of building safer, more efficient societies. This will be a coercive, predictable, micro-legalized system, based on live feed maps of humankind's biological processes, mass consciousness, and psychological and physical reactions as a collective of living beings.

There has to be a moment when we recognize that the integrity of our bodies and souls is worth more than a few everyday conveniences. We are not meant to become 'the Borg.' Planting a gadget in your body is not a form of self-improvement that is good for the environment. To believe this reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the body as an environment in itself, and of the body as an organism functioning within the larger natural environment.

I suspect that what will happen is that humankind will split into two camps. One group will absorb technology fully into the mind and body with erotic abandon. They will love the quasi-sexual interface, and will mistake the enhanced experience for an authentic upgrade.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Second November Twenty Twenty


Frank Wasser, 02.11.20 (2018) © Frank Wasser. Image Source: Jerwood Visual Arts via The Evening Standard. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use.

From 3 October to 16 December 2018, an exhibition of up-and-coming UK artists at the Jerwood Space in London includes a distasteful and fictitious future newspaper by artist Frank Wasser, whose oeuvre shows that he likes to play with text as visual artistic symbols. The headline states that President Donald Trump was assassinated at 2 p.m. on 2 November 2020. From The Evening Standard:
"Fictional newspapers imagine 'assassination' of Donald Trump at new exhibition. Fictional newspapers of the future that imagine Donald Trump being assassinated are among the artworks on display at an exhibition opening in London this week.

Survey, a new exhibition opening at Jerwood Space today, shows works by 15 up and coming artists who have been nominated by mid-career artists as the contemporary art stars of the future.

Among these is Frank Wasser, whose work, 02.11.20, in the exhibition a fragment of a fictional future edition of the Metro newspaper, which leads with the story of Donald Trump’s assassination in November 2020.

The story then goes on to imagine Jeremy Corbyn reacting to the event in his role as Prime Minister, and other parts of the paper imagine a hard border in Ireland and NHS warnings relating to screen viewing induced illnesses."

Frank Wasser, 02.11.20 (2018) © Frank Wasser and Jerwood Visual Arts. Image Source: Jerwood Visual Arts via The Evening Standard. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Fascism at a Hairpin Turn


The undercut was an Edwardian haircut which remained popular through the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. It became the iconic male haircut of Nazi fascism. It did not become widely popular again until the 2010s. Today, it is sported in different variations by hipster urbanites on the left and the right, with only some individuals aware of the hairstyle's political message. Image Source: The Bold Italic.

Social control. Censorship. Totalitarianism. They won't arrive in the 20th century varieties we expect. Nouveau Nazis have appeared in dozens of movies, including Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984); V for Vendetta (2005); The Man in the High Castle (2015-present); The Handmaid's Tale (2017-present), and Fahrenheit 451 (2018).

Greater Germanic Reich | Man in the High Castle (5 March 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

An alt-historical adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle (1962), produced by Ridley Scott, considers what America would be like if the Axis Powers won World War II. The new adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985) depicts fascists as rigid, hypocritical, psycho-Christians, who impose a violent, patriarchal and puritanical monoculture, viciously suppress women's rights, and divide American society into uniformed, hierarchical, militaristic-gender castes.

The Handmaid’s Tale Trailer (Official) (26 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Elisabeth Moss Describes A 'Fictional' Totalitarian, Right-Wing Regime (21 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Because of these cultural representations, we expect totalitarianism to dress itself in brownshirts and jack boots. The subtext in liberal adaptations is that Donald Trump's America is an alt-right neo-Nazi régime.

Neo-Nazis have certainly reemerged during Trump's administration more boldly than they have in the previous sixty years. Yet fascism is also exploding into the mainstream from other political quarters. It must be combated at all costs, but to do that, you have to understand what fascism is and how it works. That requires recognizing the menace you can't see coming, as much as the threat you're sure you know.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Defend the Right to Repair


Image Source: LA Times (Hat tip: The Outer Light).

The tech giants have moved one step closer toward criminalizing anyone who refurbishes or recycles old electronics. The hypocrisy of Silicon Valley companies came into sharp relief as a US federal appeals court in Miami ruled to imprison a tech waste e-cycler on 11 April 2018.



HLN LIVE Recycler Eric Lundgren - Stands Up For Repair and Recycling! (2 May 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Flights of the Immortals


RTA and Volocopter operate Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) in Dubai (19 June 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Flying cars have arrived, so the future is officially here. The new socio-economic divide will be evident to those still stuck in ground traffic, as they gaze high above their heads. A BBC World News television interviewee stated this week that the aim for these "future mobility ecosystems" was to,
"ease us into this before we go completely pilotless."
In the United States, regulators are currently opening up lower air space to drones and air taxis. The past few years have seen American property rights activists battling for citizens to retain some control over the airspace around and above them as an extension of private property they own - and of their own individual autonomy. After all, how low is 'lower airspace' when it comes to an unmanned aircraft system that is an ultra-tiny drone smaller than a gnat? Two inches above your head? Inside your ear canal? But really, like all the rest of hyper-accelerated technology, humankind seems helpless to resist the inevitable.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: Psychic Spies and Time Cross Predictions


Image Source: BackPackerVerse.

Welcome to another countdown to Hallowe'en! This year, October 31st will mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant ReformationMartin Luther (1483-1546) nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. On October 31st, I will publish a special interview about Martin Luther.

The Hallowe'en countdown is an online event, a mass blogathon, in which dozens of blogs count down to the end of October every year. The countdown is led by this blog (where you can see the other participants), run by the American comic book and graphic novel writer, John Rozum, and blogger Shawn Robare, who runs the Gen X Website, Branded in the 80s.

My contributions to the Hallowe'en countdown, to be published this year every three days, tend to cover odd subjects which nonetheless shed light on mainstream Millennial technology and culture. Today's post deals with the precognition and temporal psi protocol developed by the US Army in 1978, known as remote viewing. This was one of the primary psychic weapons cultivated in the Stargate Project; you can read the table of contents of the Stargate manual at the CIA's online reading room, here.

During the Cold War, the US military used remote viewing to view its enemies psychically and to foresee the future. A film dramatized this work, The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009); it was based on the 2004 book of the same name and starred George Clooney. On 12 August 2017, Leonard (Lyn) Buchanan, one of the US government's former remote viewers (and the person upon whom Clooney's character was based), gave an interview on Youtube, below.

Original Govt. Psychic Spy Reveals Remote Viewing Secrets (12 August 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Buchanan stated that at the end of World War II, the Nazis' secret research was shared among the Allies. Due to lack of interest from the USA and UK, the Russians took the Germans' psychic and esoteric experiments, including remote viewing. According to Buchanan, the Russians developed this body of knowledge, and achieved apparent successes, to the alarm of the Americans. The most famous psychic in the Russian program was Nina Kulagina (1926-1990), who was later accused of fraud.

This was what led the US Army to develop the Stargate Project, officially until 1995, although the CIA may then have taken it over under another name. You can read a 1985 Master's thesis, Psychokinesis and Its Possible Implication to Warfare Strategy by W. G. Norton, here. There is a 2004 report by Eric W. Davis, Teleportation Physics Study, sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, here.

Lyn Buchanan claimed that remote viewers can see the past and present with high degrees of accuracy. They can view the future, but the future (unlike the past and present) is changeable. Buchanan maintained that he had been tasked to view as far into the future as the year 2080, whereupon he got into strange, conspiratorial territory:
"An agrarian society with very few people. Large cities, mainly deserted, and most people very self sufficient on their little farms. ... A low population count. That's what I found. ... [Between now and 2080] there's going to come some rough times. ... The population will be greatly affected. ... Intentional changes, from the tasking - remember there's 30 per cent inaccuracy here - from what I've found, the first step of all that is what is called chemtrails. The chemtrails are a selective thing that will damage the health of, or even kill off, certain types of people, while leaving others not so badly affected. And in the process, a sort of genetic selection will be made. But that's doom and gloom, and one of the rocks in the pond of time, I don't think there's very much we can do about that."
Other weirdness associated with Buchanan's remote viewing involves psychic police work; gambling; space exploration; space aliens; cosmology; and consciousness. He said he does not "kill things" using remote viewing, but "it's scarily easy to do." Another figure associated with this project is Joseph McMoneagle, who was the first recruit in the US Army's remote viewing program. He was designated as 'Psychic Spy 001.' You can hear an interview with him below. He spoke of visiting Russia, touring their remote viewing facilities and meeting his Russian psychic spy counterparts, who did remote viewing in the conflict in Chechnya. He remarked that the Russian capacity for remote viewing is "substantial."

Joe McMoneagle US Army Remote Viewer aka Psychic Spy 001 (2 March 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

The CIA is also rumoured to have used this parapsychological tool in psychic espionage. The US government's remote viewing training manual is here and here. I have previously written about psychic military projects here.

Excerpt from a CIA document on remote viewing. Click to enlarge. Image Source: 4chan.

Remote viewing is considered pseudoscience, but it has understandably attracted a lot of attention. After all, what government - or civilian group - wouldn't want to be able to predict coming events, re-examine historical events, or send spies to learn closely guarded secrets at almost no expense or risk?  The Chinese have studied remote viewing. The UK's Ministry of Defence secretly ran a remote viewing experiment in 2001 and 2002. Some members of the public are also attempting to conduct organized investigations of this protocol. For example, German remote viewers are listed here.

Proponents of remote viewing claim that the technique seems to work best under blind conditions, that is, viewers should not know what target the project leader has assigned. Some remote viewers, like this one trying to foresee the possibility of war with Russia, use Associative Remote Viewing (ARV), which involves knowing the target.

Monday, November 7, 2016

World War III Projections 1: The Worm That Sleeps in the Wild


The Clutch album, Psychic Warfare, released 2 October 2015 by Weathermaker Music (for a taster, go here). Image Source: Jeff  Draws.

Like religions, wars are indices of technology. Henry David Thoreau said: "What is human warfare but just this; an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party." War also involves a psychological marshaling of forces as well as catharses. It permits a descent into savagery, and paradoxically produces efficient organization which rewards strategists. Brutal and logical, unbridled and innovative, war turns the unthinkable into reality.

Future of robotics - Boston Dynamics.
Future of robotics - Boston Dynamics.
Posted by Arch2O.com on Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Although there is a popular belief that we will regress to sticks and stones, conflicts serve jumps in innovation. When radical testing is needed to assimilate knowledge secretly, war can enable unspeakable experiments beyond the usual subterfuges. The first use of airplanes in war occurred in 1911, in a conflict between Italy and Libya - one of several engagements fought around the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

This fact should inspire concern in a time when the tech industry is developing new capabilities ever more quickly, compulsively upgrading for the sake hyper-innovation. Technology departs the realm of engineers as mechanical capabilities intensify and deepen; tech is becoming more organic, intimate, integrated, more moral or spiritual than ever before. It is altering our behaviour; how we think; and what we think. Gadget designs are on the verge of becoming physically invasive.

This is the first of a series of posts which will ask what World War III would, or will, be like in an age of global communications. Given the way it is administered, the Internet as we know it would break down. But several systems would replace it.

Because currencies collapse in war zones, I wanted to know what would happen with gold and Bitcoin. It is a vast topic, so I will reserve gold and war for a future post. However, my first search on recent disappearances of large amounts of gold brought up a curious conspiracy theory that USD $740 million of gold and other precious metals disappeared from a two storey vault under the World Trade Center complex after 9/11.

Bitcoin, the currency of the Internet, could gain in value in a time of war; or perhaps the damage to the existing Internet would render Bitcoin worthless. There are two pages on page on Reddit where people have discussed this:
  • "In WW3 we all die. The only working currencies are ammo and iodine. But when people come out of the bunkers and restart civilization - there is a chance that one of them is a bitcoiner. Anyways bitcoin could be the currency for exchanging value between nations that hate one-another."
  • "How do you think the existing financial system works ... beads and shells? If WW3 kicks off this will be the least of our worries. However seen as you have asked I would imagine due to its inherent decentralization bitcoin would be extremely resilient. What other ledger of account is self propagating and distributed across 1000s of nodes? It may even be in space before long."
  • "Every soldier will get a 20 satoshi ration (worth $20 in 2026)"
  • "It will become completely worthless as well as fiat money will become worthless. The Blockchain will simply freeze because you need more energy then a coal plant generates to find new blocks at a reasonable time ... Nobody would be able to effort so much energy just to keep the Blockchain alive."
  • "Dont you think developers could Manually adjust difficulty?"
  • "Assuming there are developers with electricity and a computer, with an uplink? There is a fair probability that for at least the first while, they will have more important things on their mind than getting the blockchain running again. After that, a Hard Fork could be pushed to adjust difficulty, but at that point you'd have an interesting time pushing it."
  • "And whoever was pushing it would be effectively campaigning for election to run a gasp central bank."
  • "I was entertaining the thought of a 51% attack. Same concept, but whoever can get the ball rolling would be in control. Of course, it doesn't even begin to get into how war time inflation works, and how bartering winds up being used because the currencies can't keep up value-wise. A full blown world war would decimate bitcoin for a while I think, even if people somewhere were working on preserving it."
  • "The worst part of the war will be fought electronically. Governments will 'hack' each others systems to cause financial ruin. Grids will go down, markets will loose all information, treatment plants will go offline. Any server that can be pinpointed will be vulnerable. Most of all credit will stop causing most to fend for themselves. How this affects Bitcoin is that it runs on servers. I would think in the early stages of full scale mobilization people will flock to it but if the war drags on into most systems being taken off line it would probably become pretty useless. If things got to that point though currency would be the least of your problems. Most likely we would be forced to live under a feudal system where each ruler that can protect his population would seek to get back online and communicate with the rest of the world. In that case the original blockchain would most likely be lost and a new one would be started. But Im just guessing."
  • "Depends on how bad things get. The blockchain ledger would still exist in multiple states, I'm sure someone would've made a backup of it. However, screwing with the blockchain ledger would get significantly easier. With a lot less mining nodes around, reaching that 51% of hashing power would be more feasible. If you still had internet. If you still had power. But honestly, if WW3 happens and you somehow survive, I don't think the loss of your bitcoins will be your real problem. Finding things like food and shelter and clothing would be your real priority, and then if you somehow managed to get electricity flowing again, and jerry rigged an intarweb connection, then you'd be worried about recovering from backups (you did make backups, right) and seeing what's left of your BTC stash. Even gold would be more or less useless in a Mad Max screnario for the most part. Personally, I'm anticipating a Weimar type hyperinflation, where the phones and power all worked. Maybe I'm being too optimistic about the future? We'll see. You can tell me you told me so, if I'm wrong :)"
  • "I would be more concerned with forks in the blockchain when nations isolate themselves (internet wise) due to the embargoes (digital and otherwise) that would result. The fork would cause real problems for Bitcoin after the reconciliation of warring nation states. Let's hope this never happens."
  • "I actually think that gold and silver would quickly re-establish as money in a post-apocalyptic world. Basically I think civilization would revert to a historical model appropriate to whatever infrastructure and technology remain. Even if that meant returning to a lifestyle like ancient Rome, there would be local strongmen with armies and headquarters, there would be farms and protection money paid to operate them, there would be something very much like taxation, and there would be a need for a medium of exchange with all the classic properties of money ... just like there has been in every place and time, all throughout history. In the first few weeks after the bombs fall, food, water, and ammunition will reign supreme; but in the months and years after that, gold and silver will revert to their historic role."
  • "What? You mean that all these bottle caps I have been collecting in case of a post-apocalyptic scenario was for nothing? In all seriousness, I agree that we would either go back to the gold/silver/copper standard. A digital currency wouldn't be of much use with no internet."
Those chatting on Reddit did not consider that Bitcoin is entangled with the development of cyberwarfare. Just as Bitcoin challenges the power of central state banks, on this developing front of cyberwarfare, the full computing might of nation-states is brought to bear against that of state and non-state actors. In 2016, there were reports that ISIS had been attacked through cyberwarfare. In terms of politics, technological evolution during World War III will be tied to the evolution of the nation-state.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: Silicon Britain and the US Election


The Purge: Election Year (2016) is a dystopian American horror film. Image Source: The Verge.

Today's Hallowe'en countdown post concerns the American election. This is a politically neutral blog, so I will not express preferences for parties or candidates, although I have referred to Trump (here and here) and the Clintons (here, here, here and here).

This year, the Hallowe'en countdown practically wrote itself, because the news and this election have been crazy, the headlines stressful and surreal. There is a political action committee (PAC) called 'Americans against Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands,' or 'Donald Trump has Tiny Hands,' for short. It actually made the news that the sale of Hallowe'en masks of candidates has predicted the winner of the American election for the past 36 years, and Donald Trump masks are outselling Hillary masks. The Internet reports a viral nationwide pumpkin-carving trend: the Trumpkin.


Images Source: NBC.

Masks and wigs on sale 27 September 2016, at the Chicago Costume store in the Wrightwood Neighbors neighborhood. Image Source: Chicago Tribune.

Today's post deals with another aspect of the election: predicting the future. It concerns people who make money speculating on who will win. It is illegal in the United States to bet on elections, although people find ways around that in the name of research. BritsCanadians and Australians are among the non-Americans betting on the American election. This post considers how much money you can make if you suspend all values and opinions and coldly and correctly assess mechanistic outcomes in a system - and this post further considers whether that assessment can actually create the future, rather than predicting it.

In the case of Brexit, pro-EU George Soros accurately anticipated Brexit's effect on the pound and claimed that the "catastrophic" break-up of the European Union is now "practically irreversible." Elsewhere in London, others were less glum. A young hedge fund manager, James Hanbury, personally made £110 million speculating that Britain would leave the European Union. Hanbury works for Odey Asset Management, headed by Crispin Odey, who bet about £7.5 billion of his firm's funds that a majority of Brits would vote for Brexit. Correctly anticipating the drop in the pound, the firm invested in mining in gold, diamonds, and in post-Brexit firms expected to prosper, particularly those in the tech sector; the firm also bet against economic sectors expected to lose value because of Brexit. Odey reportedly personally made £220 million betting on Brexit. Bloomberg observed that the firm's fund gained 15% on its investments on the 23 June 2016 vote. The correct assessment that Brexit would occur was based on a "private poll." According to The Independent:
"[Odey] is one of the richest men in the UK, with a personal fortune of [over] £900m. In 2014 it was reported Mr Odey built a Romanesque stone temple to house his chickens." 
Brexit commentators in the MSM fixate on class, age, and educational differences between pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit voters; they speak of stresses in the European Union as liberal globalists contend with alt-right or far-right populists. Brexit's critics concluded that the vote was about racism and xenophobia, backward thinking, a retreat to the dark ages, away from a progressive future. Those talking points obscure an underlying trend. While pro-EU supporters argued that Brexit spelt economic cataclysm, the investors who profited from Brexit told a different story. Investors' huge gains involved positive bets on technology; moreover, those betting capabilities were curiously enhanced by that same technology. This result signaled that Brexit was partly about the evolution of the UK economy: Brexit showed that Euro-Britain is morphing into Silicon Britain.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Predicting the Future: Women and the Anti-Terror Algorithm


On 9 September 2016, the Guardian reported: Cell of French women guided by Isis behind failed Notre Dame attack, indicating that ISIS-supporting female jihadis targeted one of the French cathedrals associated with the feminine heart of Christianity. Image Source: Guardian.

On 16 June 2016, the New York Times reported that a physicist at the University of Miami is developing an algorithm to analyze social media communications in order to predict terrorist attacks:
"After Orlando and San Bernardino and Paris, there is new urgency to understand the signs that can precede acts of terrorism. And with the Islamic State’s prolific use of social media, terrorism experts and government agencies continually search for clues in posts and Twitter messages that appear to promote the militants’ cause.

A physicist may not seem like an obvious person to study such activity. But for months, Neil Johnson, a physicist at the University of Miami, led a team that created a mathematical model to sift order from the chaotic pro-terrorism online universe.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, Dr. Johnson and Miami colleagues searched for pro-Islamic State posts each day from mid-2014 until August 2015, mining mentions of beheadings and blood baths in multiple languages on Vkontakte, a Russia-based social media service that is the largest European equivalent to Facebook. Ultimately, they devised an equation that tries to explain the activity of Islamic State sympathizers online and might, they say, eventually help predict attacks that are about to happen."
Johnson describes his research as follows:
"My research looks at the physics of collective behavior and emergent properties in real-world systems which are 'complex': from the physical, biological, medical domains through to social and even financial domains. A complex system is one in which unexpected phenomena emerge spontaneously at the macro-level, through the micro-level interactions of many objects over time. For example, traffic jams arise from the interactions of cars -- but understanding what a single car can do tells us little about the jams that emerge. The same holds true for applications in medicine (cancer tumors), molecular biology (macroscopic chromosone dynamics within E. Coli), neurology (brain function from individual neuron firings) through to economics and sociology (mass downloads of a given YouTube video, or crashes in financial markets). The fascinating feature of Complex Systems is that they all contain many interacting objects, with strong feedback from both inside and outside the system, and are typically far from equilibrium and exhibit extreme behavior."
Dr. Johnson's Website is here and another report on his studies of 200 ISIS online communities is here. He found that women users cemented ISIS online communal terror initiatives, potentially in part because of their strong communications and social abilities, combined with the fact that they are shut out of positions of communal authority in conventional systems of organization:
"We were surprised to find that 40% of followers declared themselves to be female. Women hold an unexpected position in the pro-ISIS networks — they tend to be centres of information-flow between followers, and to increase the lifespan of the communities. They typically do not have similarly prominent roles in comparable networks from the everyday world, such as innovation networks for patents in industry and academia."
See further reports on Johnson's work on chaos and predictability in war (here) and a formula for threats (here):
"Using the lens of complexity science, our research team based at the University of Miami have recently shown that the SAME statistical pattern lies hidden in these nightly casualty figures across a wide range of insurgent conflicts and terrorist campaigns -- from the deserts in Iraq, to the jungles in Colombia, and from the streets of Northern Ireland to the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The implication is that the WAY in which insurgents and terrorists carry out day-to-day violent attacks is statistically the same everywhere -- irrespective of where they are or why they are doing it. And just as medical diagnostics can help specialists treat new diseases as they arise, so our findings offer new insight into how insurgent and terrorist groups organize themselves and hence how best to disrupt them."
The article on the anti-terror algorithm was published in Science on 17 June 2016, New online ecology of adversarial aggregates: ISIS and beyond (Science 17 Jun 2016: Vol. 352, Issue 6292, pp. 1459-1463 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf0675).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

NASA's Plan to Colonize Mars


Developing adequate supporting technology is a pre-existing requirement in NASA's plan to colonize Mars. Image Source: NASA via Daily Mail.

Interplanetary communications systems are being developed in plans to colonize Mars. I first covered Google's InterPlanetary Internet Protocols in 2011, here. Delay-tolerant network protocols must cope with huge distances between our planet and a future Martian settlement. On 9 October 2015, NASA released its plan for a manned journey to Mars, including a stated need for IPFS development:
"Currently, Mars robotic rovers have data rates around two million bits per second, using a relay, such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The ISS data rate is 300 million bits per second, two orders of magnitude faster. Future human Mars missions may need up to a billion bits per second at 1,000 times greater range than ISS, requiring laser communications to reduce weight and power. In addition, disruption and error-tolerant interplanetary networking and improved navigation capabilities are required to ensure accurate trajectories and precision landing."
This networking requirement for space exploration will potentially establish a permanent Internet, which I have discussed - coming from other sectors - here. On 18 March 2016, The Daily Mail reported that NASA plans to develop nuclear-powered rockets to travel to Mars, following a similar statement from the Russians in January 2016. With a nuclear rocket, spacecraft could reach the Red Planet in six weeks. The only problem is finding the money.

Planet Mars, As Seen by the 100 Inch Telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory: "Before we sent any spacecraft to Mars, these were the best images we had of the Red Planet." Image Source: The Carnegie Institution for Science via Tech Insider.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Tornado


A tornado in Colorado, USA (7 May 2016). Image Source: Tori O'Shea.

This blog is skeptical of conspiracy theories because they are not consistent with the way reality is created. Conspiracy theories about current events - for example, regarding the disastrous situation in Syria - are examples of modern urban folklore, which impose exactly the same superstitious, deterministic logic onto the world that an established religion would. Many of today's orthodoxies are nominally secular, but they are no less based in blind faith. Actors on the international scene do try to impose strategic control on the world's hot spots; the media come to these hot spots with spin, preconceived ideas and even false flag agendas. However, the notion that anyone - governments, politicians, banks, shadowy cabals, unseen actors, evil establishments - controls the reality that ensues from fluid conditions is incorrect.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Infosec and the Totalitarian Principle


The Intercept: "New Study Shows Mass Surveillance Breeds Meekness, Fear and Self-Censorship" (28 April 2016). Image Source: The Intercept (Hat tip: Edward Snowden).

On 26 April 2016, the political commentator Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's main foreign affairs programme, GPS, debated ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden for NYU Wagner's Debates of the Century, on whether the American government should have access to privately-held technology and private data. Debates of the Century:
"Some people believe the recent dispute between the FBI and Apple over a locked iPhone marks the return of what privacy advocates called the 'crypto wars' of the 1990s, when federal authorities tried and failed to mandate government access to most forms of electronic communication. Although the FBI managed to decrypt the iPhone at issue without the company’s help, Apple and others are racing to build devices and messaging services that no one but their owners can unlock. The legal question remains unresolved in Congress, where competing bills have been introduced, and in dozens of cases pending in state and federal courts.

Law enforcement agencies believe their vital mission requires compulsory access, under valid court order, to any device or communications stream. Leading technology companies (backed by some other U.S. government voices) say they cannot meet law enforcement demands without undermining customer security and privacy against hackers and foreign adversaries. Edward Snowden and Fareed Zakaria disagree on which course better serves society at large. Should companies be required to break into their own encrypted products, and should they be allowed to sell encryption that no one can break?" 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Time and Politics 19: Predicting the Future, A Tricky Business


Professor Bruce Bueno de Mesquita spoke at LSE (Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building) on 21 October 2009; the chair of the discussion was Professor Richard Steinberg. Video Source: Youtube.

Caption for the above video: "Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has been shaking the world of political science to its foundations with his predictions of world events. His systems based on game theory have an astonishing 90%+ ratio of accuracy and are frequently used to shape US foreign-policy decisions on issues such as the terrorist threat to America to the peace process in Northern Ireland. Considered by many to be the most important foreign-policy analyst there is, it is no surprise that he is regularly consulted by the CIA and US Department of Defence. In this lecture Professor Bueno de Mesquita will look at what is needed to reliably anticipate and even alter events in any situation involving negotiation in the shadow of the threat of coercion. He will demonstrate how to bring science to decision making in any situation from personal to professional."

In an earlier post, I discussed the work of NYU professor Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, who uses game theory to predict the future in international relations and advises businesses and the American government on major strategic policy concerns. In the 2009 talk above from the London School of Economics (at 53:00), he explained how he was hired to develop a fraud prediction model applied to banking regulations. At 55:32, he remarked:
"One of the best early warning indicators of fraud is that, relative to growth in market cap, compensation for senior management is under expectation for the size of the organization of the firm, not over. ... They're husbanding whatever resources they can to try to save the company."
Bueno de Mesquita has become widely known for his predictions on war, the economy and politics, although he remains dogged by popular fringe elements who compare his work to mystical prognosticators and fortune-tellers of the past, such as the Renaissance apothecary Nostradamus (1503-1566). In this lecture, he maintained a serious academic attitude while promoting his book, The Predictioneer's Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future. He has since published a book on how leaders exercise power (2012); and he issued a new edition of his book on war and peace in international politics (2013). He need not worry about becoming too popular; one Youtuber was unimpressed:
"The fiction that human beings are 'rational actors' has been totally discredited. Establishment academics with tenure have a hard time accepting real [world] facts that most people on the street intuitively understand without ... study. Anyone who claims 90% prediction accuracy in working with any complex system - who has not made themselves a billionaire with such gifts - is a con man."
Two questions put to Bueno de Mesquita at the end of his talk suggested that the Youtuber's remark had some weight. Random events, as well as anti-rational or irrational impulses, fall outside the professor's model. This is the 10 per cent range of human behaviour extending into the future, where game theory meets chaos theory meets randomness.

At 56:40, a member of the audience asked about Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007; 2nd ed. 2010). To paraphrase, the person asked if random, chance occurrences could drastically affect statistical models (Bueno de Mesquita corrected him: game theory models) due to unique expressions of human nature.

At 1:10:00, another member of the audience asked about Frederic Vester's (1925-2003) sensitivity model, which applied game theory to biology and behavioural ecology, and produces results similar Bueno de Mesquita's application of game theory to economics and politics. This similarity implies that organic systems mirror human systems in their predictability and unpredictability.

Both questions relate to the nature and impact of the Internet, especially as it is redesigned to endure and become a lasting edifice. Is the Web a techno-organic entity which reflects the rational and irrational impulses of its users, and to what degree? Can we describe peer-to-peer technological environments as 'ecosystems,' and if they are organic, to what degree are they chaotic and unpredictable? Or are the computer systems and technical designs of the Web and other peer-to-peer technologies, including cryptocurrencies, shaping the way we behave and think inside virtual realities? Are we driving the car or is the car driving us? This is a concern as Big Data analysts flock to predict, manipulate and control consumers' behaviours and voters' choices. In future posts, I will consider how these theories of predictability relate to decentralized behavioural psychology and the psychodynamics of peer-to-peer technologies.

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