I guess I’m supposed to be impressed, but I’m not.
The chicoms have landed a probe on the dark side of the moon, now commonly called the far side. This is a first, primarily because nobody, astronomers included, give a fig about the dark side, which is as inconsequential and yawn-inspiring as the side facing us.
This has nothing to do with science or charting the unknown.
It’s a showboat rolled out by the totalitarians in Beijing for the express purpose of demonstrating to the West they are besting the technological advancements of the United States, never mind the Americans can’t put anything substantial in space without help from Russia. If the chicoms—who are in fact not communist at all (as Marx understood it)—can land a rover with a light and camera on the dismal side of the moon, they can certainly put a nuke in the courtyard at the Pentagon.
Naturally, the result will be a new arms race. China’s overhyped feat of landing a Tonka toy on the ho hum side of the moon will be exploited by the military-industrial complex, an updated repeat of what happened after the Soviet Union managed to put in orbit a chunk of metal called Sputnik. Americans went crazy with fear, worried the evil Soviets would soon have the capacity to orbit nukes and drop them at will on cities across the fruited plain. This nonsense was pushed by the establishment media, at the time heavily influenced by the CIA.
A couple decades later, we learned that the Soviets were far behind the US in missile technology and had but a handful of nukes. Scary stories published in the New York Times and the Washington Post at the time about Soviet superiority were what we would today call fake news.
China is not exploring new worlds. It’s showing the Americans it can defend itself, the same as a sane person would defend himself against a rabid dog.
This is not to say the chicoms are heroic or admirable.
Forget about a vastly expensive radio-controlled toy bumping and grinding across the dusty surface of a lightless and lifeless satellite. The chicoms are mimicking dated NASA technology.
Where they really excel—beyond stealing American can-do technology and patents—is building a total surveillance police state.
Are you as sick and tired as I am of all those tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy nutters who express skepticism whenever the kind and beneficent US intelligence agencies bestow us with urgent information about a new country in need of regime change? Do you want to get rid of that kooky fringe 74 percent of Americans who believe in a “Deep State” which controls the elected government?
Well you’re in luck, bucko! I happen to have compiled right here a list of six simple steps that our compassionate government and fearless media can take to rid America of these looney toon paranoid conspiracy theorists once and for all:
1. Stop fucking lying all the time.
Simple, right? Just stop lying and people will stop wondering how the narrative they’re being spoon fed by their politicians and the media differs from reality!
End the practice of defense and intelligence agencies collaborating with think tanks and unelected insiders to manufacture false narratives which are then promulgated by pundits and politicians of both mainstream parties to advance imperialist agendas. What will Alex Jones and Sputnik talk about if the voices of power start telling the truth all of a sudden instead of lying about the justifications for imperialist wars, excluding and censoring skeptics of establishment orthodoxies from the mainstream conversation, and being forthright about the massive and ubiquitous problems in America’s democratic system?
That’ll show those crackpots!
2. Try some actual fucking government transparency.
That’s right! Add government transparency into the mix and what will hostile non-state intelligence operatives like Julian Assange have to publish? I say we drive the WikiLeaks fake news complex right out of business by eliminating the immense veil of secrecy which shrouds so many levels of US government. That way when those annoying conspiracy kooks try to say we’re not being given the full story about the behavior of America and its allies, our leaders can just tell them “Uh, yes we are actually” and show unredacted documentation of all their behaviors.
How do you like that, Russian WikiLeaks? We are the WikiLeaks now!
3. Stop fucking killing people.
Of course, it’s hard to be transparent when you’re conducting countless military operations all over the planet at any given moment, so we’ll probably have to stop that too. We don’t want to give away the secret plans and locations of America’s brave servicemen and women, after all. Dedicate the US military to defending America’s own shores and close down the hundreds of US military bases which dot the world like freckles on a Scotsman, and the next time those paranoid conspiracy freaks start questioning what they’re being told they can just be shown the truth.
Not as much fun as drone bombing children, I’ll admit, but if we want to get serious about this conspiracy theory epidemic we’ve got to start somewhere.
4. Stop promoting fucking conspiracy theories.
I don’t like to be a Debbie downer, but when we’ve got news stories coming out every few days promoting theories about the US president conspiring with the Russian government, it gets a little difficult to tell people not to indulge in conspiracy theories. Unproven claims about powerful people conspiring together is the exact thing that a conspiracy theory is, and while I understand that these are authorized conspiracy theories, we can’t rely on these crazy loons to understand the distinction.
Better to lead by example and avoid trafficking in conspiracy theories altogether, in my opinion.
5. Stop being such fucking assholes.
If US intelligence agencies weren’t torturing people, they wouldn’t have to lie about torturing. If US intelligence agencies weren’t surveilling US citizens, they wouldn’t have to lie about their surveillance programs. If US intelligence agencies weren’t constantly committing horrific atrocities to protect the interests of the powerful from the powerless, everyone would trust them and you’d stop seeing all these ridiculous conspiracy theories about what those agencies have been up to.
Call me crazy, but I’ve got this wild notion that maybe if highly secretive defense and intelligence agencies weren’t inflicting unspeakable acts of depravity and degradation upon humanity all the time from behind the veil of government opacity, humanity would be less paranoid about them.
6. Maybe try some fucking democracy for once.
People are beginning to notice that no matter who they vote for they get the same exploitative neoliberal policies at home and the same murderous neoconservative policies abroad, which doesn’t do much to dispel those wacky notions about a permanent unelected government pulling the strings while the official elected government puts on a pretend democracy show every few years. It would probably be a good idea to do something about how America has the worst electoral system in the western world, how ordinary Americans have virtually no influence over US policy or behavior compared to wealthy Americans, and the way the rigidly-enforced two-party system necessarily creates an extortion scheme where both parties serve the same plutocratic interests but bully Americans into supporting one or the other under the threat of losing civil liberties.
And again, I hate to be a wet blanket, but those defense and intelligence agencies technically are unelected and technically do wield an immense amount of power, and technically do have an immense amount of influence over Washington, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the mainstream media, big oil, plutocratic interests, US allies, world trade, and countless major world events. By restoring power to the people instead of leaving it all in the hands of an elite class of secretive agencies and their plutocratic allies, people might feel like they have a bit more control over what’s going on in their country and won’t have to make up nonsensical stories about a “deep state”.
If we could pull these steps off, what will these conspiracy-mongering grifters have to sell to the naive populace? If everyone trusts their government and feels confident in the democratic process, who will believe stories about powerful unelected forces ruling over them?
You certainly wouldn’t have 74 percent of them subscribing to this absurd “deep state” conspiracy theory, that’s for sure.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, speaking at a Ron Paul Institute conference this past weekend, predicted US troops would remain in Afghanistan another 50 years — just as they have in Germany and Korea. He also termed the ongoing US-backed campaign in Yemen the “most brutal war on earth,” a war western media overwhelming ignore.
Colonel Douglas Macgregor at the same conference called Washington DC “the place where good ideas go to die.” His years at the Pentagon, coupled with his experience leading US forces into Iraq during the first Gulf War, caused him to question the DC War Party in the most profound ways. Visiting the parents of an America soldier incinerated in a tank during that foray into Iraq, a foray with few US casualties otherwise, caused him to question not only his own missions but also the larger mission of US armed forces.
Both of these men now pose the same question: what is the goal? Why do seemingly endless military conflicts persist, despite lacking any constituency for their prosecution beyond the DC beltway? And why does US military strategy appear incoherent and counterproductive, when viewed through the lens of peace? Why can’t we do anything about this, no matter whom we elect and no matter how much war fatigue resides in the American public?
The answer is not found in a facile denunciation of the military industrial complex or war profiteers, though both are very serious problems. The answer lies in understanding how the DC War Party operates. Its goals are not ours. It is not democratic; the government is not “us.” It is not political; its architects are permanent fixtures who do not come and go with presidential administrations. It is not accountable; budgeting is nonexistent and gross failures only beget greater funding. It is above all not “economic” — it operates in an artificial “market,” one created and perpetuated by wars and interventions ordinary people don’t want. War socialism, or what former Congressman Barney Frank brilliantly termed “military Keynesianism,” has taken on a life of its own.
Ludwig von Mises saw peace as the key to any liberal economic program, and argued strenuously against the fallacy of war prosperity. Even early in his career, before his horrific experiences as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I, he recognized the critical distinction between economy and war: the former characterized by exchange and cooperation, the latter marked by the worst form of state intervention:
Only one thing can conquer war — that liberal attitude which can see nothing in war but destruction and annihilation, and which can never wish to bring about a war, because it regards war as injurious even to the victors.
For Mises, war was worse than zero-sum. Even the prevailing party suffers, just as the shopkeeper suffers in Bastiat’s “Parable of the Broken Window.” The glazier’s profit does not benefit society, just as the War Party’s success in breaking other countries does not. But the loss is not only economic, it is also cultural and moral. War, the ultimate rejection of reason as a means of navigating human society, reduces our capacity for compassion and makes us complacent about atrocities. Worst of all, it emboldens and strengthens the domestic state — encouraging us to accept absurdities like TSA theater and heavily militarized SWAT teams operating in peaceful small towns.
While US troops remain mired throughout the Middle East, a subsurface political war heats up in the US. This cold civil war creates the kind of hyper-politicized society progressives once only dreamed of. Social media outlets encourage even the most ill-informed and ill-intentioned voices to spread hatred against those with differing views. Goodwill doesn’t translate, so fake bravado hidden behind anonymity or distance are the order of the day. Epithets like “racist,” fascist,” “Nazi” and worse become cheap currency in the new vocabulary of meaningless words. Dissenting voices lose jobs, reputations, and access to popular platforms. Mobs form to attack political opponents in restaurants and shops, shout down campus events, and threaten online disclosure of their perceived enemies’ personal information.
Meanwhile overt socialists like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lead the Democratic Party to demand government health schemes, guaranteed incomes, and “people’s” ownership of corporations. The statist house organ known as the Washington Post calls for the word “socialism” to be “reclaimed” and viewed in positive terms. Ostensible conservatives like William Kristol, Max Boot, and Lindsey Graham follow suit and utterly divorce themselves from any notion of judicious government. They call for the destruction of Iran, escalation of tensions with nuclear-armed Russia, and belligerence toward China and North Korea. Donald Trump, despite some initial antiwar instincts, hunkers down with twitter while surrounding himself with rabidly interventionist advisers like John Bolton.
What can this environment yield other than a rapidly coarsening society and the increasing potential for outright war between nuclear nations?
Just as civilization cannot be divorced from civility in our personal comportment, economics cannot be divorced from war. The most important and immediate action we can take is to expose the gross economic fallacies of our day. The hawkishness of neoconservatives and the “democratic socialism” of progressives both lead in the same direction, toward economic destruction and war. If you think American society is polarized and prone to lashing out abroad now, what happens with a shrinking economy and 40% unemployment?
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Thousands of leading scientists have urged their colleagues against helping governments create killer robots, making the movie The Terminator a reality.
2,400 scientists have pledged to block the development of lethal weaponry using Artificial Intelligence, The Guardianreported.
In other words, killer robots, that could eventually develop a mind of their own and take over the world. Scientists have vowed they will not support robots “that can identify and attack people without human oversight.”
Two leading experts backing the commitment, Demis Hassabis at Google DeepMind and Elon Musk at SpaceX, are among the more than 2,400 signatories whom have pledged to deter military firms and nations from building lethal autonomous weapon systems, referred to as Laws.
The move is the latest from concerned scientists and organizations about giving a machine the power to choose someone’s fate of life or death.
The pledge organized by The Future of Life Institute, calls on governments to agree on norms, laws, and regulations that stigmatize and effectively outlaw the development of killer robots.
The signatories of the pledge have stated they will “neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons.” More than 150 AI-related firms and organizations added their names to the pledge that was announced at the International Joint Conference on AI in Stockholm.
Robots are beginning to take over every aspect of society. They are also headed for retail businesses delivering freight and eliminating truckers.
But, can we really give robots the choice whether to kill or let a human being live?
In fact, it sounds quite dangerous allowing a freight truck to drive itself; if the sensors break down on a big rig truck going 60-70 MPH, that’s potentially 40 tons barreling down the highway unattended except by artificial intelligence.
As another example, imagine A.I. having to choose who to let live in a freak accident?
Automation clearly isn’t a foolproof technology, and it can also be exploited by hackers for malicious purposes that could even include programming a bot to kill an individual.
This comes after Google employees drafted their own demands and a petition against Google’s involvement with Project Maven, demanding the engagement end, as well as an agreement to never get involved with the military again. That action caused Google to quit its drone program.
However, the agreement was already signed, so the company is locked in for another year until the contract runs out in March 2019. Google can then legally stop assisting the government with the advancement of artificial intelligence for use with its drones.
The military has also proposed a drone mothership in the sky like in the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, an absolutely scary concept at best.
The Tesla founder has previously said that artificial intelligence is potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons. That’s a shared thought with scientist Stephen Hawking, who also previously warned that “artificial intelligence could spell the end for the human race if we are not careful enough because they are too clever.”
This is the beginning of The Terminator movie, as even scientists agree that machines will begin to think for themselves in the near future and could be a threat to the human race.
With this pledge by at least 2,400 of the world’s brightest minds maybe we can stop a potential man-made threat to the human race.
Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon.