Tag Archives | Emerging Issues

Will Corporations Try To Stop The Singularity?

Division by zero

Photo: CERN (CC)

KURZWEILAI:

“Corporations are People, my friend”
and they might be slowing down evolution, or even preventing Utopia.

The approaching Technological Singularity could bring drastic changes, such as rendering money obsolete via the destruction of scarcity-based ‘value’ systems. The time is not far-off when nano-replication of gold, diamond or other previously precious materials becomes possible, rendering most economic systems obsolete.

It is clear that legacy-age institutional forces will naturally fight for their survival and relevance. How hard will they fight and can they be influenced to be less resistant?

Human beings are confused and confusing creatures. We don’t have very clear goal systems, and are quite willing and able to adapt our top-level goals to the circumstances. I have little doubt that most humans will go with the flow as Singularity approaches.

But corporations are a different matter. Corporations are entities/organisms unto themselves these days, with wills and cognitive structures quite distinct from the people that comprise them.

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Inside the Deep Web

Chris 73 (CC)

Shawn Wasson at The News Junkie describes his journey into the other Internet:

The Internet has evolved quite a bit since I first logged on to CompuServe in 1994. I’d spent a few years tooling around on BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) connections throughout the country at that point and the most visible portions of a forming World Wide Web were quite innocent in appearance. But as I ramped up my father’s 4600 baud modem and looked around at the fringes of online existence, I unknowingly caught a glimpse at the Web’s early underbelly. From there, pornography, craziness and illegal activities were easily accessible. There weren’t many people logging on so, naturally, there weren’t many people to police this new digital space. Eventually, as AOL, Prodigy and other ISPs became more mainstream, the more nefarious outlets vanished into the shadows. But where did it all go? I recently took a plunge into the ‘Deep Web,’ a sub-surface area of the Internet not indexed by search engines and only available to those on the forefront of technology, namely people connected to the Tor Network.

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As Ice Cap Melts, Militaries Vie for Arctic Edge

KV Svalbard

Photo: Marcusroos (CC)

Via Common Dreams:

While the corporate media continues to keep alive a false narrative that the world’s scientists are still divided over global climate change — new reports show the military has moved beyond that debate. The Associated Press reports today that “to the world’s military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over.”

Instead, military planners from a number of nations that border the Arctic are gearing up for a new cold war – a battle for control of the vast treasure of mineral and oil resources and control of new, strategic sea lanes. As the ice cap melts, the war for the North Pole is heating up.

Greenpeace reported last year: “WikiLeaks releases … have shown the Arctic oil rush is not just a threat to the environment and our climate, but also to peace.”

“The documents show how deadly serious the scramble for Arctic resources has become.

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Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in Earthquakes

Middle America Earthquake ZoneAlexis Madrigal writes on the Atlantic:

Earthquakes are striking the heartland from Alabama to Montana at an unprecedented rate — and human activity is probably to blame.

A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an “unprecedented” and “almost certainly manmade” increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That’s six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century.

While the changes in the area’s seismicity began in 2001, the trend has really accelerated since 2009, the geologists note. That happens to coincide with increased oil and gas production using new extraction techniques in some parts of the area.

The new work is being presented at the Seismology Society of America’s conference later this month. An abstract for the presentation is available online. In some regions, the increase in earthquakes is even greater than six fold.

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FBI: “We’re Not Winning” Against Hackers

FBIDevlin Barrett reports in the Wall Street Journal:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's top cyber cop offered a grim appraisal of the nation's efforts to keep computer hackers from plundering corporate data networks: "We're not winning," he said. Shawn Henry, who is preparing to leave the FBI after more than two decades with the bureau, said in an interview that the current public and private approach to fending off hackers is "unsustainable.'' Computer criminals are simply too talented and defensive measures too weak to stop them, he said. His comments weren't directed at specific legislation but came as Congress considers two competing measures designed to buttress the networks for critical U.S. infrastructure, such as electrical-power plants and nuclear reactors. Though few cybersecurity experts disagree on the need for security improvements, business advocates have argued that the new regulations called for in one of the bills aren't likely to better protect computer networks ...
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BP Atlantis Platform Faces ‘Present and Imminent Danger’ According to Whistleblower

Atlantis PlatformVia Common Dreams:
A whistleblower who has a standing lawsuit against BP has argued this week that the company's Atlantis Project, located 150 miles south of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico, faces "present and imminent danger." The whistleblower, Kenneth Abbott, is a former BP contractor on the Atlantis. His lawsuit says that BP failed to keep required records of the safety systems for the Atlantis. Back in 2010, Food & Water Watch, which joined Abbott's lawsuit, warned that the massive Deepwater Horizon oil disaster foreshadowed another Gulf of Mexico disaster caused by BP's Atlantis platform. At that time, Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, said, “We have evidence that Atlantis is unsafe and is in danger of creating an even worse spill than the one caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion.”
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Direct Action In Action: Occupy Piccolo

Occupy PiccoloAaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

A group of parents, students, teachers and activists occupied an elementary school in Chicago over the weekend to protest what the city calls a “turnaround,” which would shake up the staff and put the school under the authority of the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a private organization opponents say fails to produce results. Parents of students at Piccolo Elementary School in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood voted overwhelmingly against the proposed turnaround measures and developed a counter proposal, but their voices were ignored by City and Chicago Public Schools officials.

About 15 people stayed inside the school, while more than 100 helped to set up tents out front to show solidarity. Despite the cold, a few dozen stayed in shifts throughout the night, and well more than 100 supporters came back the next day to show their solidarity. Despite being denied food and in one person’s case, much needed blood pressure medication, the parents and activists inside remained until Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz met with them to listen to their demands.… Read the rest

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Mystery Kidney Disease Epidemic in Central America

Central AmericaKate Sheehy reports for PRI’s The World:

In the western lowlands of Nicaragua, in a region of vast sugarcane fields, sits the tiny community of La Isla.The small houses are a patchwork of concrete and wood. Pieces of cloth serve as doors.

Maudiel Martinez emerges from his house to greet me. He’s pale, and his cheekbones protrude from his face. He hunches over like an old man — but he is only 19-years-old.

“The way this sickness is — you see me now, but in a month I could be gone. It can take you down all of a sudden,” he says. Maudiel’s kidneys are failing. They do not perform the essential function of filtering waste from his body. He’s being poisoned from the inside. When he got ill two years ago, he was already familiar with this disease and how it might end. “I thought about my father and grandfather,” he says.

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The Road to the Iraq War Will Happen Again

Saddam CapturedThe power of the corporate media to deceive the people is simply astonishing, but, mind you, it depends on an already distracted, ignorant, semi-passive multitude whose marching values have been carefully cultivated.

In 2003 we went into Iraq under scandalously false pretexts, guns blazing—bragging about our ability to deliver “shock and awe” with impunity (the mark of the bully) and with one goal in mind: to rob and rape that country blind of its riches. The official excuse was that Iraq and Saddam were mortal threats that had to be neutralized.

Within a matter of weeks if not days, the official line—adopted without missing a beat by the entire punditocracy—was that we had gone in “to save Iraq”, “make it a democracy,” and all the rest of the self-serving claptrap we use over and over again to justify our uber-criminal behavior.  With a straight face the official voices declared that those who had the audacity to resist our criminal violence were ingrates.… Read the rest

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Coming to a Theater Near You: The Greatest Water Crisis in the History of Civilization

WildfireWilliam deBuys writes at TomDispatch:

Consider it a taste of the future: the fire, smoke, drought, dust, and heat that have made life unpleasant, if not dangerous, from Louisiana to Los Angeles. New records tell the tale: biggest wildfire ever recorded in Arizona (538,049 acres), biggest fire ever in New Mexico (156,600 acres), all-time worst fire year in Texas history (3,697,000 acres).

The fires were a function of drought. As of summer’s end, 2011 was the driest year in 117 years of record keeping for New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana, and the second driest for Oklahoma. Those fires also resulted from record heat.  It was the hottest summer ever recorded for New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, as well as the hottest August ever for those states, plus Arizona and Colorado.

Virtually every city in the region experienced unprecedented temperatures, with Phoenix, as usual, leading the march toward un-livability. This past summer, the so-called Valley of the Sun set a new record of 33 days when the mercury reached a shoe-melting 110º F or higher.

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