The universe is the internet is the library is the internet is the universe. Or is it? And if so, who are the librarians? And if we have all the information we can ever want, does that mean we have knowledge or wisdom? If not, how do we make it? Or who will make it for us? Join James in this classic "Film, Literature and the New World Order" examination of “The Library of Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges.
Our economy is based on consumption and advertising is the arm of creating artificial demand. And without that arm, we wouldn’t have people aspiring to things that are highly irrational. When advertising presents something that seems to be what some people want, it spreads like a virus and then everybody wants it, because it is an issue of social inclusion, which is a part of our biology, because that is how we identify. We identify and define ourselves by how others see us and how we are included in the group.
So it manipulates our most primal sense of humanity in order to sell things. If we didn’t have that arm in our consumption-based society since the Industrial Revolution, the economy would collapse. That is a very unique point to make because when you first start an economy like in the agrarian society, you’re meeting demand right? That’s the point and that makes sense.
But at some point this had to change because when you have such a highly-efficient, productive economy that we have today, at least in the technical sense of what we can create, you have to have demand created now.
That is one of the central flaws of market economics or capitalism that has come to fruition today, not only destroying human psychology, but destroying the environment simultaneously, because you have an insatiable culture that has been literally generated. And then progress is defined by what we produce. The more you buy, the more you own. That must be progress now.
It’s a kind of cultural violence. The more people promote materialistic values, the more they want more and more this and that, the more they flaunt this type of phenomenon, the more they create cultural violence. Because if you create a society that thrives in this type of self-identification, you are basically also promoting not only the destruction of the environment, but the diminishment of others, because you are saying, “I can afford this. I have the status and I am better for than and this person can’t.” And we see that phenomenally amplified today in the modern world.
I often wonder what a world would be like without advertising, which would be a world without marketing and markets, and I can tell you it would be a far more peaceful and sustainable and amiable and humane than what we see today.
Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder, CEO Social Capital and former Facebook executive, warned about the unintended consequences of social media at Stanford Graduate School of Business: "I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. You are being programmed"
As the former executive states, we compound the problems in, and curate, our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short-term signals (hearts, likes, thumbs up), and we conflate that with value and truth. Instead, what it really is, is fake, brittle popularity, that is short-term, and it leaves you even more (admit it) vacant and empty.
Watch the original, full-length video here
During his View From The Top talk, Chamath Palihapitiya, founder and CEO of Social Capital, discussed how money is an instrument of change which should be used to make the world a better place. “Money drives the world for better or for worse. Money is going to be made and allocated – you have a moral imperative to get it and then use it to make a difference.“
Now openly admitted, governments and militaries around the world employ armies of keyboard warriors to spread propaganda and disrupt their online opposition. Their goal? To shape public discourse around global events in a way favorable to their standing military and geopolitical objectives. Their method? The Weaponization of Social Media.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, January 19, 2018 said he signed into law a bill renewing the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program. “Just signed 702 Bill to reauthorize foreign intelligence collection,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to legislation passed by the U.S. Congress that extends Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The law is renewed for six years and with minimal changes the National Security Agency (NSA) program, which gathers information from foreigners overseas and also collects an unknown amount of communications belonging to Americans.
Without Trump’s signature, Section 702 had been set to expire on Friday, though intelligence officials had said the surveillance program could continue to operate until April.
Under the law, the NSA is allowed to eavesdrop on vast amounts of digital communications from foreigners living outside the United States via U.S. companies like Facebook, Verizon, and Google.
But the program also incidentally scoops up Americans’ communications, including when they communicate with a foreign target living overseas, and can search those messages without a warrant.
The White House, U.S. intelligence agencies and congressional Republican leaders have said the program is indispensable to national security, vital to protecting U.S. allies and needs little or no revision.
Privacy advocates say it allows the NSA and other intelligence agencies to grab data belonging to Americans in a way that represents an affront to the U.S. Constitution.
Volz, D. (2018). Trump signs bill renewing NSA's internet surveillance program. [online] Reuters. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-cyber-surveillance/trump-signs-bill-renewing-nsas-internet-surveillance-program-idUSKBN1F82MK?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews [Accessed 23, Jan. 2018].
A design flaw, more accurately described as an exploit, affecting owners of Windows PCs with Intel processors has been discovered.
A software update has been released by Microsoft that fixes the security flaw but could cause the performance of the Intel chips to slow down by as much as 30%.
The Intel processor flaw is related to software "kernels" - the core of an operating system. At the most basic level, the kernel handles the interactions between the operating system and the processor.
In this case, the issue apparently is linked to an exploitable security flaw in the way that the kernel of the Microsoft Windows operating system interacts with Intel processors. In theory, a hacker could exploit this undesirable interaction, using malware, and bypass normal security measures, enabling hackers to "observe" passwords, encryption keys, and other sensitive personal data on computers. The underlying root of the issue has to do with Intel's own processors.
Intel-based PCs running the Linux operating system suffer from the same problem. This could have big implications for cloud computing, given that Linux is popular in datacenters.
Additionally, Apple Mac computers are also reportedly affected and will require an update to fix, as the flaw is primarily based in the physical Intel chip design. It is currently unclear how the flaw and any update fixes will affect Apple computers.
Initial reports indicated that the security flaw was limited to Intel processors, but chipmaker ARM has since said that chips based on its technology are also affected.
Intel, AMD, ARM, original equipment manufacturers, and operating system vendors, have been collaborating to come up with fixes and mitigations for the issue since the discovery of the exploit. Repairs will involve software and firmware updates on both the hardware and the software sides.
Intel CEO States Flaw Discovered Months Ago
According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, the widespread microprocessor flaw was discovered by Google months ago, in June of 2017.
Even more alarming is the discovery of $24 million worth shares sold by Mr. Krzanich, months after he had been informed of the security vulnerability — but before the problem was publicly known.
The stock sale left Krzanich with just 250,000 shares of Intel stock — the minimum the company requires him to hold under his employment agreement.
The sell-off could draw even more scrutiny now, given the news about the security vulnerability and the timing of when Intel knew about it.
Intel claims Krzanich's sale was preplanned and had nothing to do with the newly disclosed chip vulnerability— but that plan was put in place months after it learned of the chip vulnerability.
Villas-Boas, A. (2018). Intel CEO: Google discovered the chip problem 'months ago'. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/intel-ceo-google-discovered-the-chip-flaw-months-ago-2018-1 [Accessed 9 Jan. 2018].
Villas-Boas, A. (2018). Windows PCs could get a big performance slowdown because of a flaw in Intel chips. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/intel-cpu-flaw-big-performance-slowdow-windows-pc-2018-1 [Accessed 9 Jan. 2018].
Wolverton, T. (2018). Intel was aware of the chip vulnerability when its CEO sold off $24 million in company stock. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/intel-ceo-krzanich-sold-shares-after-company-was-informed-of-chip-flaw-2018-1 [Accessed 9 Jan. 2018].
The San Francisco SPCA (a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), an animal advocacy and pet adoption group, has deployed an autonomous robot in an effort to patrol local areas for crime and deter homeless people from setting up camps along the sidewalks.
The City of San Francisco ordered the SPCA to keep its robot off the sidewalks or face a penalty of up to $1,000 per day for operating in the public right-of-way without a permit.
SPCA rents the robots for $7 an hour — $3 less than a security guard's hourly wage. Knightscope has over 19 clients in five US states. Most customers, including Microsoft, Uber, and Juniper Networks, put the robots to work patrolling parking lots and office buildings.
The K9 robot circling the SPCA has drawn mixed responses. Within the first week of the robot's deployment, some people who were setting up a homeless encampment nearby allegedly put a tarp over it, knocked it over, and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors.
One wonders what the human backlash will be once a vast portion of America's middle class realizes that it has been made obsolete courtesy of robots who can do its job faster, smarter, much more efficiently and for a fraction of the cost.
Green, A. (2017). Security robot that deterred homeless encampments in the Mission gets rebuke from the city. [online] Bizjournals.com. Available at: https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2017/12/08/security-robot-homeless-spca-mission-san-francisco.html [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017].
Robinson, M. (2017). Robots are being used to deter homeless people from setting up camp in San Francisco. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/security-robots-are-monitoring-the-homeless-in-san-francisco-2017-12 [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017].
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) plans to move forward with progressively implementing facial recognition and other biometric data into screenings at various airports across the United States. The agency began testing out the methods, which also include iris scans and fingerprints, on volunteers in their PreCheck program at airports over the summer. On November 1, the TSA announced plans to expand the program.
The TSA Pre-Application program claims to enhance “aviation security by permitting TSA to better focus its limited security resources on passengers who are more likely to pose a threat to civil aviation, while also facilitating and improving the commercial aviation travel experience for the public.”
Under the program, individuals are to submit biographic information (including, but not limited to, name, date of birth, gender, prior and current addresses, contact information, country of birth, images of identity documents, proof of citizenship/immigration status) and biometric data (such as fingerprints, iris scans, or facial images) to a TSA contractor, which forwards the information to the agency.
From Pilot Program to National Policy
In June and July of 2017, the TSA “launched a proof of concept initiative at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Denver International Airport to determine whether fingerprints from TSA Pre✓® Application Program applicants,” who volunteered to participate, could be used for identity verification.
The TSA is currently “seeking a revision to the currently approved request to allow for the collection of additional biometrics, particularly facial images but may include other biometrics such as iris, from TSA Pre✓® Application Program applicants.”
The TSA claims that "the regular collection of biometrics, such as facial images, will provide TSA with the ability to use those biometrics for identity verification at TSA checkpoints, potentially eliminating the need to show identity documents and improving both security and the customer experience.”
Some privacy advocates disagree with the attempted expansion. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the TSA’s push to expand its use of biometrics is part of a broader push by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to nationalize the collection and use of biometric data.
According to an assessment by the DHS, in 2016 the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will operate a test at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, in Atlanta, Georgia in order to identify reliable and cost-effective border management capabilities (such as verifying biometrics of departing travelers) that can be deployed nationwide and across multiple modes of travel. Photos of travelers taken during boarding will be compared against photos taken previously (U.S. passport, U.S. visa, and other DHS encounters) and stored in existing CBP systems. Prior to the departure of each flight, CBP will collect facial images and boarding pass information of all travelers, including U.S. citizens, as they pass through the passenger loading bridge to board their flight. CBP will use this data to test the ability of CBP data systems to confirm a traveler’s identity using a facial biometric comparison as the traveler departs from the United States.
Initially, the DHS states that the data will be stored for no longer than one year after the test. Since then the DHS updated it's stance, stating "CBP retains biographic exit records for 15 years for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and 75 years for non-immigrant aliens."
These actions would be carried out without congressional authorization.
Initially these practices were to be limited to international flights. However, according to John Wagner, deputy assistant commissioner at CBP, the TSA is now seeking to expand the collection of biometric data to domestic flights, as well.
DHS Data in the Hands of Third Parties
Concerns should also be raised regarding the storage of biometric data in the hands of third parties, including but not limited to airlines. DHS sub-agencies are sharing data with the FBI, and the TSA Pre-check program shares it with private companies it uses as contractors.
Americans should be concerned about these proposals because the data collected—your fingerprint, the image of your face, and the scan of your iris—will be stored in the databases of the FBI, DHS, and other non-government third parties (such as commerical airlines and air authorities), which will be searched for immigration, law enforcement, and intelligence checks, including checks against latent prints associated with unsolved crimes.
This vast data collection will create a huge security risk. As seen with the 2017 Equifax breach, no government agency or private company is capable of fully protecting your private and sensitive information. While losing your social security or credit card information may result in fraud, those numbers can easily be changed. On the other hand, if your biometrics get into the wrong hands, you can’t change your face.
Dhs.gov. (2016). Departure Information Systems Test. [online] Available at: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/privacy-pia-cbp-dis%20test-june2016.pdf [Accessed 15 Dec. 2017].
Dhs.gov. (2017). Traveler Verification Service (TVS). [online] Available at: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/privacy-pia-cbp030-tvs-september2017.pdf [Accessed 15 Dec. 2017].
Lynch, J. (2017). TSA Plans to Use Face Recognition to Track Americans Through Airports. [online] Electronic Frontier Foundation. Available at: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/11/tsa-plans-use-face-recognition-track-americans-through-airports [Accessed 15 Dec. 2017].
Regulations.gov. (2017). Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: TSA Pre-Check Application Program. [online] Available at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=TSA-2014-0001-0021 [Accessed 15 Dec. 2017].
Wedler, C. (2017). TSA Plans to Use Facial Recognition to Track Americans in US Airports. [online] The Anti-Media. Available at: http://theantimedia.org/tsa-facial-recognition-biometrics/ [Accessed 15 Dec. 2017].
The launch of the so-called AWS Secret Region comes six years after AWS introduced GovCloud, its first data-center region for public-sector customers. AWS has since announced plans to expand GovCloud. The new Secret Region signals interest in using AWS from specific parts of the U.S. government.
In 2013, AWS and the CIA signed a $600 million contract to keep up with big data analytics. That event singlehandedly helped Amazon in its effort to sign up large companies to use its cloud, whose core services have been available since 2006. Today AWS counts companies such as Comcast, Hess, Intuit and Lionsgate as customers. AWS' competitors include Microsoft, Google, IBM and Oracle.
"With the launch of this new Secret Region, AWS becomes the first and only commercial cloud provider to offer regions to serve government workloads across the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret," Amazon said in a blog post.
The new region is available to customers as a result of AWS' contract with the intelligence community's Commercial Cloud Services, or C2S, group, and it will meet certain government standards, Amazon said. But the region will also be accessible for U.S. government organizations that aren't part of the intelligence community so long as they have their own "contract vehicles" and sufficient secret-level network access, Amazon said.
Amazon Web Services. (2017). Announcing the New AWS Secret Region | Amazon Web Services. [online] Available at: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/publicsector/announcing-the-new-aws-secret-region/ [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017].
Konkel, F. (2017). Sources: Amazon and CIA ink cloud deal -- FCW. [online] FCW. Available at: https://fcw.com/articles/2013/03/18/amazon-cia-cloud.aspx [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017].
Novet, J. (2017). Amazon launches a cloud service for US intelligence agencies. [online] CNBC. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/20/amazon-launches-aws-secret-region.html?__source=twitter%7Cmain [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017].
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first digital pill — a medication embedded with an ingestible sensor the size of a grain of sand that can alert doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine.
The approval — announced on Monday, November 13, 2017 — marks a significant advance in the growing field of digital devices designed to monitor medicine-taking and to address the expensive, longstanding problem that millions of patients do not take drugs as prescribed (Iuga, & McGuire, 2014). It is estimated that nonadherence or noncompliance to medication costs about $100 billion a year, much of it because patients get sicker and need additional treatment or hospitalization (Viswanathan et al., 2012).
Abilify, a antipsychotic medication, was originally approved by the FDA in 2002 for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and in conjunction with an antidepressant, major depressive disorder. Patients who agree to take Abilify MyCite (aripiprazole tablets with sensor), the digital version of the medication, must sign consent forms allowing their doctors and up to four other people, such as family members, to receive electronic data showing date and time stamps, and the dosage of pills ingested. The patient can revoke access at any time.
The pill is fitted with a tiny sensor, containing copper, magnesium and silicon, that communicates with a patch worn by the patient — the patch then transmits medication data to a smartphone app in which the authorized persons are able to see. An electrical signal is activated when the sensor comes into contact with stomach acid — the sensor then passes through the body naturally. A patch the patient wears on their left rib cage receives the signal several minutes after the pill is ingested. The patch then sends data to a smartphone app over Bluetooth, and must be replaced every seven days. The app allows patients to add activity level, their mood and the hours they have rested, then transmits the information to a database that can be accessed by those who have permission.
Although this digital pill has the potential to improve public health, especially for patients who want to take their medication but forget, if used improperly, it could foster more mistrust instead of trust.
Although voluntary, the technology is still likely to prompt questions about privacy and whether patients might feel pressure to take medication in a form their doctors can monitor. While ethical for a fully competent patient, a digital drug sounds like a potentially coercive tool. Insurers might eventually give patients incentives to use them, like discounts on copayments, adding that ethical issues could arise if the technology was so much incentivized that it almost is like coercion. Another controversial use might be requiring digital medicine as a condition for parole or releasing patients committed to psychiatric facilities.
The newly approved pill is a collaboration between Abilify’s manufacturer, Otsuka, and Proteus Digital Health, a California company that created the sensor. Otsuka has not determined a price for Abilify MyCite, which will be released next year, first to a limited number of health plans. The price, and whether digital pills improve adherence, will greatly affect how widely they are used.
Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, noted it has only been approved to track doses, and has not yet been shown to improve adherence. He added there is any data currently to say it will improve adherence, but that will likely be studied after sales begin.
While embedding digital technology in medications does open up many intriguing treatment avenues, it does raise privacy concerns as well. Would you want an electrical signal coming out of your body strong enough so your doctor (and others) can read it? Who knows what else a sensor in a pill could eventually track and how this data may be used?
Belluck, P. (2017). First Digital Pill Approved to Worries About Biomedical 'Big Brother'. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/health/digital-pill-fda.html [Accessed 16 Nov. 2017].
Fda.gov. (2017). FDA approves pill with sensor that digitally tracks if patients have ingested their medication. [online] Available at: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm584933.htm [Accessed 16 Nov. 2017].
Iuga, A. O., & McGuire, M. J. (2014). Adherence and health care costs. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 7, 35–44. http://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S19801
Viswanathan, M., Golin, C., Jones, C., Ashok, M., Blalock, S., Wines, R., Coker-Schwimmer, E., Rosen, D., Sista, P. and Lohr, K. (2012). Interventions to Improve Adherence to Self-administered Medications for Chronic Diseases in the United States. Annals of Internal Medicine, [online] 157(11), p.785. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-157-11-201212040-00538 [Accessed 16 Nov. 2017].
Saudi Arabia has become the first country to grant citizenship to Sophia, a humanoid robot. Sophia's citizenship was announced at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 25, 2017.
“I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction,” Sophia said in an interview with moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin. “This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”
Sophia, designed to look like Audrey Hepburn, was created by David Hanson for Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics - a company known for making human-like robots.
Sophia demonstrated her “expressive face,” showing the audience her angry, sad, and happy face. “I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people,” Sophia said.
When asked whether robots can be self-aware, Sophia responded. “Well, let me ask you this back, how do you know you are human?”
“I want to use my artificial intelligence to help humans live a better life,” she said. “I strive to become an empathetic robot.”
Sophia was asked about the fear that robots could take over, and responded: “You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.”
What could go wrong?
RT International. (2017). Saudi Arabia grants citizenship to humanoid robot (VIDEO). [online] Available at: https://www.rt.com/news/407825-saudi-robot-citizen-sophia/ [Accessed 1 Nov. 2017].
In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to modify a current DHS system of records titled, “Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection—001 Alien File, Index, and National File Tracking System of Records.” This system of records contains information regarding transactions involving an individual as he or she passes through the U.S. immigration process.
DHS is updating the DHS/USCIS/ICE/CBP-001 Alien File, Index, and National File Tracking System of Records to include the following substantive changes, related to social media:
Federal Register. (2017). Privacy Act of 1974; System of Records. [online] Available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/09/18/2017-19365/privacy-act-of-1974-system-of-records [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].
Many YouTube videos covering certain topics or having particular opinions, shared by alternative media sources, have been flagged, censored, demonetized, or flat-out removed. YouTube (owned and operated by Alphabet Inc.) claimed this was due to tighter enforcement of existing rules, even if true this will restrict the type of content that gets made and is a form of censorship.
We are seeing a concerted effort to such down free speech on the Internet, under the name of "fake news", "Russian propaganda", etc. A solution to combat this internet censorship lies in an alternative decentralized platform: BitChute.
What is BitChute?
BitChute is a peer-to-peer (p2p) video sharing platform powered by WebTorrent, with a mission to put people and free speech first. Rather than needing massive data centers with humongous bandwidth costs, torrents are open-source and depend on many people sharing videos from their home computers. In other words, it is decentralized and depends on people to use it; in fact, the more people that use the platform, the faster videos will load. While this has been possible for many years through bit torrent, bit torrent applications have steep learning curves; this site aims to make the torrent experience seamless by working entirely in the web browser. Unlike Youtube, BitChute is a p2p network, thus the user can host content as well as watch. Right now, BitChute will work in Firefox and Chrome Internet browsers.
BitChute is not alone in the wake of the battle for free speech; there are various other video sharing platforms dedicated to prevent Internet censorship, including but not limited to:
BitChute. (2017). BitChute is a peer to peer video sharing platform. [online] Available at: https://www.bitchute.com/faq [Accessed 3 Oct. 2017].
If you haven't already been informed, the new iPhone X was announced September 12, 2017. While the $1,000 device represents a whole new era of technological achievement, many of the new capabilities should raise some concern. Most notable is Face ID; the ability to unlock the device with the user's face and eyes. This feat is accomplished by a number of new sensors built into the front-facing screen, including a dot projector, infrared camera, flood illuminator and proximity sensor. By projecting a field of over 30,000 invisible dots out into the environment, together these sensors are able to constantly scan for and map the geometry of the user's face to unlock the device from multiple angles, even in the dark. In other words, your face is your password. The technology is able model faces and adapt to the changing landscape and aspects of a person’s face as they grow and change. Apple states that the biometric data is stored locally on the device and claims that Face ID cannot be fooled by photographs of faces. Beyond the obvious question, "why is this necessary?", delving deeper into the device and it's data ties with the intelligence agencies, should raise skepticism regarding the true intentions behind the technology.
Privacy Violation: Governments Spying Via iPhones
According to hundreds of leaked documents via Wikileaks, as many as 160 intelligence contractors in the mass surveillance industry may have access to the data on a single cellular device. Intelligence agencies, military forces and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers - no matter the country. Users’ physical location can be tracked if they are carrying a mobile phone, even if it is only on stand by. In addition, systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are and have been on the intelligence market since the rise of the patriot act, due to events that took place on September 11, 2001.
Companies like Phoenexia in the Czech Republic collaborate with the military to create speech analysis tools. These speech analysis tools are able to identify individuals by gender, age and stress levels and track them based on ‘voiceprints’.
DROPOUTJEEP, a spyware said to be one of the tools employed by the NSA's ANT (Advanced or Access Network Technology) division, is able to gain backdoor access to various electronic devices. DROPOUTJEEP can infiltrate virtually all areas of the iPhone (not only the iPhone X), including voice mail, contact lists, instant messages, and cell tower location.
The general response among people who have justified and have been normalized to privacy violation after reading this is, "I have nothing to hide." Why is it that one closes the door when they use the restroom? Or why does one have a password on their phone is the first place? Akin to freedom of speech, privacy is, or should be, a basic human right. But the reality is that the right to privacy no longer exists. By waiving your freedom of privacy and saying, "I have nothing to hide", is equivalent to waiving your freedom of speech and saying, "I have nothing to say."
Normalizing Facial Scanning
Have you had your fingerprints taken for government ID? Your irises scanned? Your earlobes measured? A microchip implanted? Are you prepared to? Where will you draw the line? Acknowledged or not, this technology is normalizing facial scanning. Let us not be naive, this is a coordinated plan to institute a worldwide biometric id system to track every human on the planet.
Faces Contain a Significant Amount of Data
The science of judging one’s character from their facial characteristics, or physiognomy, dates back to ancient China and Greece. Aristotle and Pythagoras were among its disciples, and the latter used to select his students based on their facial features. Cesare Lombroso, the founder of criminal anthropology, believed that criminals could be identified by their facial features. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that character can influence one’s facial appearance, and vice versa. The appearance of an individual's face drives first impressions of others, influencing our expectations and behavior toward them, which, in turn, shapes their character.
The existence of such links between facial appearance and character is supported by the fact that people can accurately judge others’ character, psychological states, and demographic traits from their faces. Some people can easily and accurately identify others’ gender, age, race, or emotional state — even from a glimpse of their faces. However others may lack the ability to detect or interpret them.
Case in point, a patent filed in 2014 by Facebook described plans to detect users emotions and deliver specific content, based on those emotions, through computing devices such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets that have a digital camera.
Recent progress in AI and computer vision has been largely driven by the widespread adoption of deep neural networks (DNN), or neural networks composed of a large number of hidden layers. DNNs mimic the neocortex by simulating large, multi-level networks of interconnected neurons. DNNs excel at recognizing patterns in large, unstructured data such as digital images, sound, or text, and analyzing such patterns to make predictions. DNNs are increasingly outperforming humans in visual tasks such as image classification, facial recognition, or diagnosing skin cancer. The superior performance of DNNs offers an opportunity to identify links between characteristics and facial features that might be missed or misinterpreted by the human brain.
Michal Kosinski, a Stanford University professor, conducted research suggesting that artificial intelligence (AI) can detect the sexual orientation of people based on photos. He mentions that sexual orientation was just one of many characteristics that algorithms would be able to predict through facial recognition. Using photos, AI will be able to identify people’s political views, whether they have high IQs, whether they are predisposed to criminal behavior, whether they have specific personality traits and many other private, personal details that could carry huge social consequences, he said.
Faces contain a significant amount of information, and using large datasets of photos, sophisticated computer programs can uncover trends and learn how to distinguish key traits with a high rate of accuracy. With Kosinski’s AI, an algorithm used online dating photos to create a program that could correctly identify sexual orientation 91% of the time with men and 83% with women, just by reviewing a handful of photos.
A Feature Able to be Used Against One's Will
The iPhone X’s facial recognition capabilities could spell disaster for those wanting to keep their private data from the prying eyes of law enforcement.
While the convenience of not having to lift a finger to unlock a phone is being touted as a selling point by Apple, the potential for privacy invasion at the hands of police has people worried. Police require a warrant to unlock and check your phone, but they don’t need one to compel you to use your fingerprint to unlock it.
Run through the following scenario: Police demand access to your iPhone X. Cannot compel you without warrant? No problem, they turn phone to face you, unlocks with FaceID.
In 2014, a Virginia judge ruled police could force users to unlock their phones using their fingerprints. In February 2016, a judge in Los Angeles signed a search warrant to make a woman unlock her iPhone with her fingerprint. Due to Fifth Amendment protections around self-incrimination in the US, police can’t force a person to give over their passcode, as it’s considered “knowledge.” Albeit, a fingerprint or a face, however, is a different scenario. This is worrying for the vast amount of people who are unlawfully detained and illegally searched.
Data Being Used Against the User
Beyond the violation of privacy, there are larger implications by which the intelligence agencies are able to hijack individual computers and phones (including iPhones, Blackberries and Androids), take over the device, record its every use, movement, and even the sights and sounds of the room it is in.
With the help of this facility, and many others like it, each day the NSA is able to intercept and store 1.7 billion electronic communications. Since it's inception, this secret industry has boomed and is worth billions of dollars per year.
There are commercial firms that now sell special software that analyze this data and turn it into powerful tools that can be used by military and intelligence agencies. Around the world, mass surveillance contractors are helping intelligence agencies spy on individuals and ‘communities of interest’ on an industrial scale. The Wikileaks Spy Files reveal the details of which companies are making billions selling sophisticated tracking tools to government buyers, flouting export rules, and turning a blind eye to dictatorial regimes that abuse human rights.
Sentient World Simulation
Remarkably, this is precisely what is happening.
It is called the “Sentient World Simulation.” The program’s aim, according to its creator, is to be a “continuously running, continually updated mirror model of the real world that can be used to predict and evaluate future events and courses of action.” In practical terms that equates to a computer simulation of the planet complete with billions of “nodes” representing every person on the earth.
The project is based out of Purdue University in Indiana at the Synthetic Environment for Analysis and Simulations Laboaratory. It is led by Alok Chaturvedi, who in addition to heading up the Purdue lab also makes the project commercially available via his private company, Simulex, Inc. which boasts an array of government clients, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice, as well as private sector clients like Eli Lilly and Lockheed Martin.
The program can be used to predict what would happen in the event of a large scale tsunami, for example, or how people would react during a bioterror attack. Businesses can use the models to predict how a new product would fare in the market, what kind of marketing plans would be most effective, or how best to streamline a company’s organization.
The original concept paper for the project was published in 2006 and in 2007 it was reported that both Homeland Security and the Defense Department were already using the system to simulate the American public’s reaction to various crises. In the intervening five years, however, there has been almost no coverage at all of the Sentient World Simulation or its progress in achieving a model of the earth.
The Sentient World Simulation is one example of one program run by one company for various governmental and Fortune 500 clients. But it is a significant peek behind the curtain at what those who are really running our society want: complete control over every facet of our lives achieved through a complete invasion of everything that was once referred to as “privacy.”
Ultimately, it should be noted that all technology can be used as either a tool or as a weapon. But when the technology is in the hands of multinational, monopoly corporations with government influences and coercion, it may be best to side with skepticism and not with open arms.
Corbett, J. (2012). Sentient World Simulation: Meet Your DoD Clone : The Corbett Report. [online] Corbettreport.com. Available at: https://www.corbettreport.com/sentient-world-simulation-meet-your-dod-clone/ [Accessed 24 Sep. 2017].
Krannert.purdue.edu. (2017). Seas Labs. [online] Available at: http://www.krannert.purdue.edu/centers/perc/html/aboutperc/seaslabs/seaslabs.htm [Accessed 24 Sep. 2017].
Priest, D. and Arkin, W. (2010). A hidden world, growing beyond control (Printer friendly version)| washingtonpost.com. [online] Projects.washingtonpost.com. Available at: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/a-hidden-world-growing-beyond-control/print/ [Accessed 24 Sep. 2017].
RT International. (2017). iPhone X facial recognition could give cops easy access to your cell. [online] Available at: https://www.rt.com/news/403229-iphone-face-id-police/ [Accessed 24 Sep. 2017].
Wang, Y., & Kosinski, M. (2017). Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Wikileaks.org. (2014). WikiLeaks - The Spy Files. [online] Available at: https://wikileaks.org/the-spyfiles.html [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017].
In the details of the document, air temperature within the eye and in the outflow of a hurricane is able to be raised by flying scores of jet planes with afterburners in the structure. It should be noted that small changes in temperature on a large scale bring in large changes in other variables on the smaller scale to change the direction and intensity of the hurricane.
Cloud seeding is a known process for artificially modifying the weather by injecting a composition into a cloud for formation of an ice freezing nuclei. Silver iodide is a well known substance used for cloud seeding. The Storm fury project carried out by the US Government for several years focused on hurricane formation suppression by means of aerial dispersion of silver iodide. This project was evaluated as a failure and cancelled.
In 1976, William Gray et al., suggested that the use of carbon black (or soot) might be a good way to modify tropical cyclones. The idea was that one could burn a large quantity of a heavy petroleum to produce vast numbers of carbon black particles that would be released on the edges of the tropical cyclone in the boundary layer. These carbon black aerosols would produce a heat source simply by absorbing the solar radiation and transferring the heat directly to the atmosphere. This would provide for the initiation of thunderstorm activity outside of the tropical cyclone core and weaken the eye wall convection. In 1958, the US Naval Research laboratory carried out some experiments to monitor clouds seeded with soot but the results were inconclusive.
As described in the patent, there are several "advantages", for the existence and application of this technology:
Patents Related to Weather Modification
Below is a list composed of some of the patents that describe abilities to modify weather:
Project Popeye - Cloud Seeding During Vietnam War
Project Popeye was a highly classified weather modification program in Southeast Asia during 1967–1972. The objective of the program was to produce sufficient rainfall along these lines of communication to interdict or at least interfere with truck traffic between North and South Vietnam.
A test phase of Project Popeye was approved by State and Defense and conducted during October 1966 in a strip of the Lao Panhandle generally east of the Bolovens Plateau in the valley of the Se Kong River. The test was conducted without consultation with Lao authorities (but with Ambassador Sullivan’s knowledge and concurrence).
During the test phase, more than 50 cloud seeding experiments were conducted. The results are viewed by DOD as outstandingly successful.
The experiments were deemed undeniably successful, indicating that, at least under weather and terrain conditions such as those involved, the U.S. Government has realized a capability of significant weather modification. If anything, the tests were “too successful”—neither the volume of induced rainfall nor the extent of area affected can be precisely predicted (Department of State - Office of the Historian, 1967).
Project Stormfury - An Attempt to Modify Hurricanes
Project Stormfury was an attempt to weaken tropical cyclones by flying aircraft into them and seeding with silver iodide.
The project was run by the United States Government from 1962 to 1983.The hypothesis was that the silver iodide would cause supercooled water in the storm to freeze, disrupting the inner structure of the hurricane. This led to the seeding of several Atlantic hurricanes. However, it was later shown that this hypothesis was incorrect. In reality, it was determined most hurricanes do not contain enough supercooled water for cloud seeding to be effective. Additionally, researchers found that unseeded hurricanes often undergo the same structural changes that were expected from seeded hurricanes. This finding called Stormfury’s successes into question, as the changes reported now had a natural explanation.
The last experimental flight was flown in 1971, due to a lack of candidate storms and a changeover in NOAA’s fleet. More than a decade after the last modification experiment, Project Stormfury was officially canceled. Although a failure in its goal of reducing the destructiveness of hurricanes, Project Stormfury was not without merit. The observational data and storm lifecycle research generated by Stormfury helped improve meteorologists’ ability to forecast the movement and intensity of future hurricanes.
Former CIA Director, John Brennan, Discusses SAI or "Chemtrails"
A number of government agencies have developed plans for research and operational programs in weather and climate modification. Here is a report from 1966, in which various agencies expressed interest in the ability to modify the weather. In 2015, the National Academy of Sciences conducted a 21-month geoengineering study, which happened be funded by the "U.S Intelligence community", also known as the Central Intelligence Agency (National Academy of Sciences, 2015). Below is a video of John Brennan, former CIA director from March 2013 to January 2017, speaking about stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), commonly referred to as "chemtrails", at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Research Suggests Climate Engineering is Ineffective
Scientists at Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research (Kiel, Germany) conducted a study where they evaluated effectiveness and risks of different geoengineering techniques, such as SRM (solar radiation management), afforestation, artificial ocean upwelling, ocean iron fertilization and ocean alkalinization.
The researchers discovered that even when applied continuously and at scales as large as currently deemed possible, all methods are, individually, either relatively ineffective
with limited (o8%) warming reductions, or they have potentially severe side effects and cannot be stopped without causing rapid climate change (Keller, Feng and Oschlies, 2014).
To assess their true potential and verify their side effects, such interventions require full-scale experiments that may have long-term and possibly compromise the very planetary mechanisms and ecosystems we’re trying to save.
Potential Proof of Weather Manipulation
In the photos below, several abnormal cloud formations with a seemingly unnatural origin, containing straight lines and 90° angles, can be observed.
Based on the information aforementioned, toxic materials, heavy metals, and harmful chemicals are able to be positioned in the atmosphere of the planet. Many speculate that these particles may be manipulated by powerful radio frequency signals, in which a strange impact on clouds can be observed. In addition, it is claimed that these square clouds are created via electrically conductive heavy metal nanoparticles (that are constantly being sprayed into our atmosphere by the the geoengineers) which are able to be manipulated with the global grid of radio frequency transmitters. Some suggest that these radio frequencies have originated from ionospheric heaters like HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) in Gakona, Alaska, the most notable U.S. geoengineering facility. HAARP wasscheduled for shut down by the U.S. Air Force in May, 2014. There are many other transmission installations around the world, some officially known and others completely secret.
U.S. Senate Document Reveals Weather Modification
The United States Federal government has been involved for over 60 years in a number of aspects of weather modification, through activities of both the Congress and executive branch. Since 1947, weather modification bills pertained to research support, operations, policy studies, regulations, liabilities, activity reporting, establishment of panels and committees, and international concerns have been introduced in the Congress. There have been hearings on many of these proposed measures, and oversight hearings have also been conducted on pertinent ongoing programs. In the 750-page document below, various topics regarding weather modification are discussed, including but not limited to:
Weather Warfare Explained Further
Department of State - Office of the Historian. (1967). Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume XXVIII, Laos - Office of the Historian. [online] Available at: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1964-68v28/d274#fnref:18.104.22.168.14.336.7.6 [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
Keller, D., Feng, E. and Oschlies, A. (2014). Potential climate engineering effectiveness and side effects during a high carbon dioxide-emission scenario. Nature Communications, 5. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms4304
Wigington, D. (2016). Is Climate Engineering Real? Square Cloud Formations Are Undeniable Proof. [online] Geoengineering Watch. Available at: http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/is-climate-engineering-real-square-cloud-formations-are-undeniable-proof/ [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
Artificial intelligence (AI): is intelligence exhibited by machines, rather than humans or other animals
In the open letter, the specialists warn the review conference of the convention on conventional weapons that this arms race threatens to usher in the “third revolution in warfare” after gunpowder and nuclear arms.
The founders wrote: “Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways...We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”
AI experts have previously warned that AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of autonomous weapons is feasible within years, rather than decades. While AI can be used to make the battlefield a safer place for military personnel, experts fear that offensive weapons that operate on their own would lower the threshold of going to battle and result in greater loss of human life.
The letter, launching at the opening of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in Melbourne, Australia on Monday, August 21, 2017, has the backing of high-profile figures in the robotics field and strongly stresses the need for urgent action, after the UN was forced to delay a meeting that was due to start Monday to review the issue.
The founders call for “morally wrong” lethal autonomous weapons systems to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN’s convention on certain conventional weapons brought into force in 1983, which includes chemical and intentionally blinding laser weapons.
An Open Letter Launched in 2015
This is not the first time the IJCAI, one of the world’s leading AI conferences, has been used as a platform to discuss lethal autonomous weapons systems. In 2015, the conference was used to launch an open letter signed by thousands of AI and robotics researchers including Musk and Stephen Hawking similarly calling for a ban, which helped push the UN into formal talks on the technologies.
This open letter was announced at the opening of the IJCAI 2015 conference on July 28, 2015:
"Autonomous weapons select and engage targets without human intervention. They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria, but do not include cruise missiles or remotely piloted drones for which humans make all targeting decisions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.
Many arguments have been made for and against autonomous weapons, for example that replacing human soldiers by machines is good by reducing casualties for the owner but bad by thereby lowering the threshold for going to battle. The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce. It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group. We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.
Just as most chemists and biologists have no interest in building chemical or biological weapons, most AI researchers have no interest in building AI weapons — and do not want others to tarnish their field by doing so, potentially creating a major public backlash against AI that curtails its future societal benefits. Indeed, chemists and biologists have broadly supported international agreements that have successfully prohibited chemical and biological weapons, just as most physicists supported the treaties banning space-based nuclear weapons and blinding laser weapons.
In summary, we believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so. Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control."
Future of Life Institute. (2017). Open Letter on Autonomous Weapons - Future of Life Institute. [online] Available at: https://futureoflife.org/open-letter-autonomous-weapons [Accessed 29 Aug. 2017].
Gibbs, S. (2017). Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/20/elon-musk-killer-robots-experts-outright-ban-lethal-autonomous-weapons-war [Accessed 29 Aug. 2017].
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