Tag Archives | Geopolitics & Globalization

Billions of Dollars + Zero Wisdom = Google Hires Resident Philosopher

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

via Pacific Standard:

How an Oxford don is helping the tech giant understand the nature of modern identity—and stay out of court.

One day this past September, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, sat down with a group of experts in Madrid to begin publicly discussing how Google should respond to a recent, perplexing ruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice. In May, the court had declared that, in accordance with the European “right to be forgotten,” individuals within the E.U. should be able to prohibit Google and other search firms from linking to personal information that is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive.”

In an age of revenge porn, social media gaffes, and all the infinite varieties of embarrassment that can attend one’s name in a Google search, the ruling was, in spirit, an attempt to keep ordinary Europeans from being unduly tyrannized by an Internet that, famously, never forgets.

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“You Can’t Stop the Signal” — An Analysis of Social Media Activism

Essam Sharaf  (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons.

Essam Sharaf (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons.

Via World Policy Blog

Welcome back to the World Policy “Best of” list. Today we pull back the curtain on the Egyptian revolution and reveal its somewhat dark underbelly. Political activist Mahmoud Salem, who tweets under the name “sandmonkey,” shares how the introduction of social media into Egyptian culture sparked the Egyptian revolution where he played a seminal social media role. At the same time, these same tools now jeopardize the creation of any political infrastructure capable of governing effectively. 

By Mahmoud Salem

CAIRO, Egypt—As a child of the 1980s, I grew up watching science fiction television shows and movies—all set in the “not-so-distant future.” Holographic communication, teleportation, and flying cars were central tenets of that universe. And while I marveled at the prospect of these technologies, I was most fascinated by the “magical technological device”—that could be used to complete any task, from basic communication to dissemination of news to national security.

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Global Citizenship: Technology Is Rapidly Dissolving National Borders

Lars Plougmann (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lars Plougmann (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By  via Singularity Hub

Besides your passport, what really defines your nationality these days?

Is it where you were live? Where you work? The language you speak? The currency you use?

If it is, then we may see the idea of “nationality” quickly dissolve in the decades ahead. Language, currency and residency are rapidly being disrupted and dematerialized by technology.

Where you live, where you work…

Increasingly, technological developments will allow us to live and work almost anywhere on the planet… (and even beyond).

Soon, you’ll be able to live in the Greek Islands and work in Manhattan, London, and Los Angeles.

Telepresence & Virtual Environments

Today I use telepresence robots to telecommute around the globe, attend an XPRIZE meeting in India, or if I’m overseas, pop home for breakfast or dinner with my kids.

The product I personally use comes from Suitable Technology and is called the “Beam.” I have about 15 beams across my different companies, and I’ll be integrating another 20 beams into my Abundance 360 Summit.

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The Tragedy of the American Military

via The Atlantic:

In mid-September, while President Obama was fending off complaints that he should have done more, done less, or done something different about the overlapping crises in Iraq and Syria, he traveled to Central Command headquarters, at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. There he addressed some of the men and women who would implement whatever the U.S. military strategy turned out to be.

The part of the speech intended to get coverage was Obama’s rationale for reengaging the United States in Iraq, more than a decade after it first invaded and following the long and painful effort to extricate itself. This was big enough news that many cable channels covered the speech live. I watched it on an overhead TV while I sat waiting for a flight at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. When Obama got to the section of his speech announcing whether he planned to commit U.S.

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Topaz Turns On 9 Million Solar Panels at World’s Largest Photovoltaic Power Plant

Oregon Department of Transportation (CC BY 2.0)

Oregon Department of Transportation (CC BY 2.0)

Via IEEE Spectrum:

Silence generally reigns across California’s Carrizo Plain, about 160 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles. But for much of the past three years, this expanse of grassland and farms was anything but silent, as up to 880 people trucked out each day to the plain’s sparsely inhabited northern end to build a hefty power plant. On a bright October afternoon, only a handful of construction workers remain, and the nearly completed plant is generating at close to full tilt. And yet it makes nary a click, buzz, or whir, even as it pumps hundreds of megawatts of electricity into California’s power grid.

The utter quiet is a facet of the technology. This is the world’s largest solar power plant, Topaz Solar Farms, where First Solar, based in Tempe, Ariz., has erected nearly 9 million of its cadmium-telluride thin-film photovoltaic panels across 19 square kilometers of former ranchland.

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My horrible right-wing past: Confessions of a one-time religious right icon

Frank Schaeffer writes at Salon:

I am a white, privileged, well-off, 61-year-old former Republican religious right-wing activist who changed his mind about religion and politics long ago. The New York Times profiled my change of heart saying that to my former friends I’m considered a “traitorous prince” since my religious-right family was once thought of as “evangelical royalty.”

You see, only in the Mafia, the British Royal family and big time American religion is a nepotistic rise to power seen as normal. And I was good at it. And I hated it while hypocritically profiting from it — until, that is, in the mid-1980s, I quit. These days I describe myself as an atheist who believes in God.

Ironically I helped my father become famous in the religion sector. In the 1970s I directed and produced two film series featuring Dad with book companions that became evangelical bestsellers: “How Should We Then Live?” and “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” By the time Dad and I completed two nationwide seminar tours launching those projects, I was being invited to speak at the biggest religious gatherings, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters.

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Follow the Money: Meet the US Senate’s most important anti-environmentalist

Global average temperature anomaly since 1880, compared to the average temperature from 1901 to 2000. (NOAA).

Global average temperature anomaly since 1880, compared to the average temperature from 1901 to 2000. (NOAA).

Via The Verge

In 2003, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and then-chair of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, took to the Senate floor and asked, “With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people?” More than 10 years of science has been completed since Inhofe first posed his question. Nearly all of it shows climate change is definitely not a hoax. That hasn’t stopped Sen. Inhofe and other conservative politicians from waging a crusade against climate policy and science.

The Senate changes hands

Republicans took back the Senate in the November elections. That means Inhofe is headed back to the EPW chairmanship after a seven-year absence. He’s promised to use his position to stop environmental legislation in its tracks and rein in the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Let’s leave behind the age of fossil fuel. Welcome to Year One of the climate revolution

Mohamed Malik (CC BY 2.0)

Mohamed Malik (CC BY 2.0)

Via The Guardian

It was the most thrilling bureaucratic document I’ve ever seen for just one reason: it was dated the 21st day of the month of Thermidor in the Year Six. Written in sepia ink on heavy paper, it recorded an ordinary land auction in France in what we would call the late summer of 1798. But the extraordinary date signaled that it was created when the French Revolution was still the overarching reality of everyday life and such fundamentals as the distribution of power and the nature of government had been reborn in astonishing ways. The new calendar that renamed 1792 as Year One had, after all, been created to start society all over again.

In that little junk shop on a quiet street in San Francisco, I held a relic from one of the great upheavals of the last millennium. It made me think of a remarkable statement the great feminist fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin had made only a few weeks earlier.

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The World Is Not Falling Apart

141209_Charts-Homicide-Rates-US-England.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

Via Slate

Never mind the headlines. We’ve never lived in such peaceful times.

It’s a good time to be a pessimist. ISIS, Crimea, Donetsk, Gaza, Burma, Ebola, school shootings, campus rapes, wife-beating athletes, lethal cops—who can avoid the feeling that things fall apart, the center cannot hold? Last year Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before a Senate committee that the world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.” This past fall,Michael Ignatieff wrote of “the tectonic plates of a world order that are being pushed apart by the volcanic upward pressure of violence and hatred.” Two months ago, the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen lamented, “Many people I talk to, and not only over dinner, have never previously felt so uneasy about the state of the world. … The search is on for someone to dispel foreboding and embody, again, the hope of the world.”

As troubling as the recent headlines have been, these lamentations need a second look.

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$14 Million An Hour: War Costs Top $1.6 Trillion Since 9/11, Say Congressional Researchers

Moyan Brenn (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Moyan Brenn (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via IBT

American taxpayers have shelled out roughly $1.6 trillion on war spending since 9/11, according to a new report from Congress’ nonpartisan research arm. That’s roughly $337 million a day — or nearly a quarter million dollars a minute — every single day for 13 years.

The $1.6 trillion estimate, which comes to $14 million per hour since 9/11, from the Congressional Research Service is up roughly half a trillion dollars from its 2010 estimate, which found that the post-9/11 military operations are second only to World War II in terms of financial cost.

In its report, which was released earlier this month, CRS finds that the 92 percent of the war-related expenditures since 9/11 have flowed into the Pentagon. Just 6 percent has been spent on foreign assistance and diplomacy, and 1 percent on medical services for veterans.

The report, which was posted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists, breaks down the war-related expenditures by different military operations.

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