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Archive for the ‘geopolitics’ category: Page 33

May 31, 2012

Médecins Sans Frontières Scientific Day 2012

Posted by in categories: complex systems, geopolitics, policy, sustainability

Every year Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hold a conference to present scientific research carried out by their teams from different parts of the world. This year’s conference highlighted some of the strategic challenges facing MSF, and challenged some of our conceptions of medical humanitarian aid, and international development in light of groundbreaking digital technologies. We are as Paul Conneally passionately articulated in his keynote speech – Digital Humanitarian – ‘on the cusp of a global health revolution’.

Some of the groundbreaking technologies touched upon included crisis mapping, a technology that is still in its infancy, and the era of big data. The possibilities of how healthcare and humanitarian aid will be transformed by the convergence of ideas and technologies were evident in the poster session; humanitarian technology applications showed refugee camps in Kenya being monitored using satellite imagery and a humanitarian field software kit called joekit. Of the talks demonstrating real world examples, a talk by Isabella Panunzi on teleradiology proved to be immensely inspiring.

Isabella’s talk on her experience of applying teleradiology to improve diagnosis of tuberculosis in Thyolo District Hospital, Malawi showcased humanitarian innovation at its best. X-rays are taken at the Malawi hospital and the images are then sent to radiologists in the USA to interpret the images. As a result teleradiology has reduced critical delays and missed diagnosis of TB. This example of digital humanitarianism symbolises a small fraction of what can be potentially achieved in transforming our world. It opens up new possibilities in the transfer of technology and knowledge to the developing world. It also highlights the need for a different approach to modelling the strategic challenges of medical humanitarian aid and international development, and this is where complexity thinking and science can bring together different parts of problems and solutions to construct true holistic solutions.

A talk by Jonathan Smith, lecturer in Global Health and Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale University, brought together the disciplines of the arts and sciences as he gave an inventive take on using research in the digital age. Visually documenting disease and connecting the ‘emotional component to epidemiological data’ is extremely powerful to create change in global health observed Jonathon, as he showed part of a documentary film he is directing, ‘They Go to Die’, a film about,

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May 14, 2012

From Global Crisis — A Planetary Defense?

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, defense, economics, ethics, events, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, military, nuclear weapons, policy, rants, space, treaties

Russia’s hastily convened international conference in St. Petersburg next month is being billed as a last-ditch effort at superpower cooperation in defense of Earth against dangers from space.

But it cannot be overlooked that this conference comes in response to the highly controversial NATO anti-ballistic missile deployments in Eastern Europe. These seriously destabilizing, nuclear defenses are pretexted as a defense against a non-nuclear Iran. In reality, the western moves of anti-missile systems into Poland and Romania create a de facto nuclear first-strike capability for NATO, and they vacate a series of Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaties with the Russians that go back forty years.

Deeply distrustful of these new US and NATO nuclear first-strike capabilities, the Russians announced they will not attend NATO’s planned deterrence summit in Chicago this month. Instead, they are testing Western intentions with a proposal for cooperative project for near-space mapping, surveillance, and defense against Earth-crossing asteroids and other dangerous space objects.

The Russians have invited NATO members as well as forward-thinking space powers to a conference in June in Petrograd. The agenda: Planetary defense against incursions by objects from space. It would be a way of making cooperative plowshares from the space technologies of hair-trigger nuclear terror (2 minutes warning, or less, in the case of the Eastern European ABMs).

It’s an offer the US and other space powers should accept.

Apr 14, 2012

Earth’s Titanic Challenges

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, complex systems, economics, ethics, existential risks, finance, fun, geopolitics, homo sapiens, human trajectories, lifeboat, media & arts, rants
RMS <em>Titanic</em> Sails

What’s to worry? RMS Titanic departs Southampton.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster in 1912. What better time to think about lifeboats?

One way to start a discussion is with some vintage entertainment. On the centenary weekend of the wreck of the mega-liner, our local movie palace near the Hudson River waterfront ran a triple bill of classic films about maritime disasters: A Night to Remember, Lifeboat, and The Poseidon Adventure. Each one highlights an aspect of the lifeboat problem. They’re useful analogies for thinking about the existential risks of booking a passage on spaceship Earth.

Can’t happen…

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Apr 7, 2012

GadgetBridge — Taming dangerous technologies by pushing them into consumer gadgets

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, ethics, futurism, geopolitics, human trajectories, neuroscience

GatgetBridge is currently just a concept. It might start its life as a discussion forum, later turn into a network or an organisation and hopefully inspire a range of similar activities.

We will soon be able to use technology to make ourselves more intelligent, feel happier or change what motivates us. When the use of such technologies is banned, the nations or individuals who manage to cheat will soon lord it over their more obedient but unfortunately much dimmer fellows. When these technologies are made freely available, a few terrorists and psychopaths will use them to cause major disasters. Societies will have to find ways to spread these mind enhancement treatments quickly among the majority of their citizens, while keeping them from the few who are likely to cause harm. After a few enhancement cycles, the most capable members of such societies will all be “trustworthy” and use their skills to stabilise the system (see “All In The Mind”).

But how can we manage the transition period, the time in which these technologies are powerful enough to be abused but no social structures are yet in place to handle them? It might help to use these technologies for entertainment purposes, so that many people learn about their risks and societies can adapt (see “Should we build a trustworthiness tester for fun”). But ideally, a large, critical and well-connected group of technology users should be part of the development from the start and remain involved in every step.

To do that, these users would have to spend large amounts of money and dedicate considerable manpower. Fortunately, the basic spending and working patterns are in place: People already use a considerable part of their income to buy consumer devices such as mobile phones, tablet computers and PCs and increasingly also accessories such as blood glucose meters, EEG recorders and many others; they also spend a considerable part of their time to get familiar with these devices. Manufacturers and software developers are keen to turn any promising technology into a product and over time this will surely include most mind measuring and mind enhancement technologies. But for some critical technologies this time might be too long. GadgetBridge is there to shorten it as follows:

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Nov 13, 2011

D’Nile aint just a river in Egypt…

Posted by in categories: business, complex systems, cosmology, economics, education, ethics, existential risks, finance, futurism, geopolitics, human trajectories, humor, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, neuroscience, open access, open source, philosophy, policy, rants, robotics/AI, space, sustainability

Greetings fellow travelers, please allow me to introduce myself; I’m Mike ‘Cyber Shaman’ Kawitzky, independent film maker and writer from Cape Town, South Africa, one of your media/art contributors/co-conspirators.

It’s a bit daunting posting to such an illustrious board, so let me try to imagine, with you; how to regard the present with nostalgia while looking look forward to the past, knowing that a millisecond away in the future exists thoughts to think; it’s the mode of neural text, reverse causality, non-locality and quantum entanglement, where the traveller is the journey into a world in transition; after 9/11, after the economic meltdown, after the oil spill, after the tsunami, after Fukushima, after 21st Century melancholia upholstered by anti-psychotic drugs help us forget ‘the good old days’; because it’s business as usual for the 1%; the rest continue downhill with no brakes. Can’t wait to see how it all works out.

Please excuse me, my time machine is waiting…
Post cyberpunk and into Transhumanism

Oct 4, 2011

Occupy All Streets

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, rants

Nobody Can Predict the Moment of Revolution

While watching the occupy wall street movement gain momentum and challenge the status quo, we in the transhumanist and technoprogressive community should be taking notes at the differences between this movement and those of the 20th century in direct opposition to some set of conservative policies.

This movement is not in direct opposition to anything. It is however, in opposition to any kind of conservative solutions being recommended to the systemic economic ailments of today. This movement attacks fascism while often improperly referencing the term, it attacks crony capitalism which is culturally vague, and corporatism which is a new word. While an academic or linguist might find them difficult to understand, it is quite simple to judge them as defending themselves as a part of society that is being depleted, as a direct result of our inability to allocate tangible value to them. They are angry. This growing mass of people across the United States is not looking to return to a socio-economic model that influences similar politics of the last century.

Watch the reference video. This is the same group of people (young and old) that are technologically transparent as Peter Singer identifies. They would likely take, but are not looking for traditional jobs, as I and so many others have talked/written about frequently. This vast majority of human potential, while looking at the numbers, can’t be satisfied their odds to compete successfully. Of course, democratic culture has a venue to argue the abstraction of political and even economic rifts in society, but there are none that allow the relatively untrained to argue root causes of the problems preventing their previously comfortable existence.

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Jun 5, 2011

Our History Shapes the Future

Posted by in categories: counterterrorism, futurism, geopolitics, human trajectories, military, nanotechnology, philosophy, policy, space

Abstract

American history teachers praise the educational value of Billy Joel’s 1980s song ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’. His song is a homage to the 40 years of historical headlines since his birth in 1949.

Which of Joel’s headlines will be considered the most important a millennium from now?

This column discusses five of the most important, and tries to make the case that three of them will become irrelevant, while one will be remembered for as long as the human race exists (one is uncertain). The five contenders are:

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Apr 2, 2011

A (Relatively) Brief Introduction to The Principles of Economics & Evolution: A Survival Guide for the Inhabitants of Small Islands, Including the Inhabitants of the Small Island of Earth

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biological, complex systems, cosmology, defense, economics, existential risks, geopolitics, habitats, human trajectories, lifeboat, military, philosophy, sustainability

(NOTE: Selecting the “Switch to White” button on the upper right-hand corner of the screen may ease reading this text).

“Who are you?” A simple question sometimes requires a complex answer. When a Homeric hero is asked who he is.., his answer consists of more than just his name; he provides a list of his ancestors. The history of his family is an essential constituent of his identity. When the city of Aphrodisias… decided to honor a prominent citizen with a public funeral…, the decree in his honor identified him in the following manner:

Hermogenes, son of Hephaistion, the so-called Theodotos, one of the first and most illustrious citizens, a man who has as his ancestors men among the greatest and among those who built together the community and have lived in virtue, love of glory, many promises of benefactions, and the most beautiful deeds for the fatherland; a man who has been himself good and virtuous, a lover of the fatherland, a constructor, a benefactor of the polis, and a savior.
– Angelos Chaniotis, In Search of an Identity: European Discourses and Ancient Paradigms, 2010

I realize many may not have the time to read all of this post — let alone the treatise it introduces — so for those with just a few minutes to spare, consider abandoning the remainder of this introduction and spending a few moments with a brief narrative which distills the very essence of the problem at hand: On the Origin of Mass Extinctions: Darwin’s Nontrivial Error.

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Feb 9, 2011

Mixed Messages: Tantrums of an Angry Sun

Posted by in categories: business, events, geopolitics, particle physics, policy, space

When examining the delicate balance that life on Earth hangs within, it is impossible not to consider the ongoing love/hate connection between our parent star, the sun, and our uniquely terraqueous home planet.

On one hand, Earth is situated so perfectly, so ideally, inside the sun’s habitable zone, that it is impossible not to esteem our parent star with a sense of ongoing gratitude. It is, after all, the onslaught of spectral rain, the sun’s seemingly limitless output of charged particles, which provide the initial spark to all terrestrial life.

Yet on another hand, during those brief moments of solar upheaval, when highly energetic Earth-directed ejecta threaten with destruction our precipitously perched technological infrastructure, one cannot help but eye with caution the potentially calamitous distance of only 93 million miles that our entire human population resides from this unpredictable stellar inferno.

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Nov 26, 2010

“Rogue states” as a source of global risk

Posted by in categories: existential risks, geopolitics

Some countries are a threat as possible sources of global risk. First of all we are talking about countries which have developed, but poorly controlled military programs, as well as the specific motivation that drives them to create a Doomsday weapon. Usually it is a country that is under threat of attack and total conquest, and in which the control system rests on a kind of irrational ideology.

The most striking example of such a global risk are the efforts of North Korea’s to weaponize Avian Influenza (North Korea trying to weaponize bird flu http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=50093), which may lead to the creation of the virus capable of destroying most of Earth’s population.

There is not really important, what is primary: an irrational ideology, increased secrecy, the excess of military research and the real threat of external aggression. Usually, all these causes go hand in hand.

The result is the appearance of conditions for creating the most exotic defenses. In addition, an excess of military scientists and equipment allows individual scientists to be, for example, bioterrorists. The high level of secrecy leads to the fact that the state as a whole does not know what they are doing in some labs.

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