Posts Tagged ‘Social Science’

Ignorance Is Futile Exclusive:

Nanotechnology poses inherent threats greater than anything we’ve ever faced. This heavily modified Hollywood film shows what such a takeover by tyrants via nanobots could look like.

Currently billions of dollars per year are dumped into nano research by governments and corporations worldwide.

Nanobots that can penetrate past the blood-brain barrier to attach to neurons for mind control are like nothing we’ve ever faced. These could be released into the drinking water supply or administered via vaccine shots.

Even Ray Kurzweil realizes this threat. From a repost from his site:

Another class of terrorist-selective defenses could be keyed to the intentions, rather than to the actions, of potential actors. Future medical nanotechnology should enable intrusive involuntary brain scans of sufficient fidelity to accurately measure and report internal psychological states and motives. But here too there are several difficulties. First, all human beings on Earth would have to be continuously monitored for “terrorist” intentions. This monitoring duty would probably fall to some government (or related institutional) entity, and a corrupt government entity could not be prevented from scanning for “freedom fighter” intentions as well. Such scanning would elevate Brin’s “transparent society” to a new level to intrusiveness—we might call it the “transparent mind”—which would be even more anathematic to civil libertarians and would offer even greater potential for abuse. Second, the amount of data to be processed might be so enormous as to require the intervention of an AI (as in the previous example) to sort it all out, whether the AI was a stand-alone system or embedded in a human/machine hybrid system. Third, it is but a small step from passively monitoring brain states to actively controlling those brain states using nanotechnology-based neural nanorobotics, which would enable the push-button disposal of critics by tyrants. Thus, the freedom fighters would again be disabled along with the terrorists.

It appears quite likely, though perhaps not inevitable, that eventually, somewhere in the world, a tyrant will emerge who is equipped with some of the most sophisticated nanotechnological instrumentalities available. This tyrant would likely employ these advanced technical means to eliminate within his own borders any possibility of freedom fighting or terrorism, both of which he might rationally presume could be directed at him or his vassals. Other technically sophisticated societies might or might not have the will or the means to oppose this tyrant, and still other societies might decide to emulate or join him; therefore, his emergence and ascendancy cannot be ruled out.

Recognizing that global tyranny is a logical end-state of the unchecked spread of nanotechnology-enabled dictatorships that are capable of employing perfect mind  control, those who subscribe to the policy doctrine of preemption might rationally conclude that it is necessary to actively liberate other societies that have already decided to capitulate (“entrust their future”?) to a nanotechnology-enabled autocrat. But might not budding tyrants rationally conclude that any developed nation population that treasures individual freedom above most other moral values should be exterminated preemptively in order to eliminate the most obvious threat to their global ambitions? Consider that humanity may have survived the Cold War because at key moments of crisis, both sides opted for survival over domination. In future conflicts, if either side is significantly less dedicated to survival than to domination, then, like a terrorist, that side will not be deterred from seeking domination at all costs.

Could mere discussion of these issues create a self-fulfilling prophecy? It is true that if potential future tyrants come to believe that people in general are unlikely to have the desire or will to resist them, or that people will be so effectively disarmed of personal weaponry by their well-meaning but overprotective governments that individual armed resistance would become futile, then deterrence of nanotechnology-enabled tyrannies is minimized and the emergence of those regimes may be accelerated. But this should affect only the timing, and not the ultimate fact, of such emergence. If the technology allows it—and it does—then eventually some tyrant will seek to close his iron fist around the throat of humankind. We need to decide what, if anything, we ought to do about this.

His “solution” is for us to deliberately inject ourselves with “defensive” nanobots, which only creates entire new sets of problems.

Of course, there will be great concern regarding who’s controlling the nanobots, and over who the nanobots may be talking to. Organizations such as governments or extremist groups or just clever individuals could put trillions of undetectable nanobots in the water or food supply. These “spy” nanobots could then monitor, influence, and even control our thoughts and actions. We won’t be defenseless, however. Just as we have virus scanning software today, we will make use of patrol nanobots that search for (and destroy) unauthorized nanobots in our brains and bodies.

Congress has acknowledged this issue:

Every exponential curve eventually reaches a point where the growth rate becomes almost infinite. This point is often called the Singularity. If technology continues to advance at exponential rates, what happens after 2020? Technology is likely to continue, but at this stage some observers forecast a period at which scientific advances aggressively assume their own momentum and accelerate at unprecedented levels, enabling products that today seem like science fiction. Beyond the Singularity, human society is incomparably different from what it is today. Several assumptions seem to drive predictions of a Singularity. The first is that continued material demands and competitive pressures will continue to drive technology forward. Second, at some point artificial intelligence advances to a point where computers enhance and accelerate scientific discovery and technological change. In other words, intelligent machines start to produce discoveries that are too complex for humans. Finally, there is an assumption that solutions to most of today’s problems including material scarcity, human health, and environmental degradation can be solved by technology, if not by us, then by the computers we eventually develop.

And:

The NNI is clearly geared toward developing the technology on a broad front, correctly seeing it as the source of tremendous benefits to society. Its mission is not to see whether we should go forward with research and development. It is to go forth boldly, while trying to discover and deal with possible risks.

Another governmental document, “Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance” sheds more light on this:

But it is important to note that there is a melding of human and S&E development here: human development, from individual medical and intellectual development to collective cultures and globalization, is a key goal.
…Four transforming tools have emerged: nanotechnology for hardware, biotechnology for dealing with living systems, information technology for communication and control, and cognition-based technologies to enhance human abilities and collective behavior.
…Far from unnatural, such a collective social system may be compared to a larger form of a biological organism. Biological organisms themselves make use of many structures such as bones and circulatory system. The networked society enabled through NBIC convergence could explore new pathways in societal structures, in an increasingly complex system (Bar-Yam 1997).”

Here’s the real wowzer:

Hive Mind
If we can easily exchange large chunks of knowledge and are connected by high-bandwidth communication paths, the function an d purpose served by individuals becomes unclear. Individuals have served to keep the gene pool stirred up and healthy via s exual reproduction, but this data-handling process would no longer necessarily be linked to individuals. With knowledge no longer encapsulated in individuals, the distinction between individuals and the entirety of humanity would blur. Think Vulcan mind-meld. We would perhaps become more of a hive mind —an enormous, single, intelligent entity.

Yes, that’s from an actual government document.

This is also interesting:

Doug Dorst, a microbiologist and vaccine critic in South Wales, says these advances have an immense appeal to vaccine makers. “Biotech companies and their researchers have quickly moved most funding initiatives towards nanotechnology to increase the potency of their vaccines,” he said. If microorganisms inside of vaccines can be coaxed into targeting or invading specific cells, they could achieve their goal at an accelerated rate over conventional vaccines. “Depending on which side of the vaccine debate you’re on, whether pro or con, nanobots inside vaccine preparations could advance their effectiveness exponentially by either dramatically improving or destroying immunity depending on their design,” he added.Dorst claims that present day nanobot technology could just as easily be used to advance biological weapons as they can to advance human health. “For every fear that biotech propaganda proliferates about deadly diseases and how vaccines prevent them, it is one more lie to incrementally convince the masses that vaccines are effective.”

The worry for Dorst is that one day vaccines “will do what they’ve always been intended for…control of the global populace.”

Here goes some various nanotech advances:

New sensors built using nanotechnology could read and write information directly into the brain.

A Battery-Free Implantable Neural Sensor
A tiny radio chip implanted in a moth harvests power and senses neural activity.If the promise of nanotechnology is to be fulfilled, nanoparticles will have to be able to make something of themselves. An important advance towards this goal has been achieved by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who have found a simple and yet powerfully robust way to induce nanoparticles to assemble themselves into complex arrays.

Brain implants that can more clearly record signals from surrounding neurons in rats have been created at the University of Michigan.

Team develops DNA switch to interface living organisms with computers.

Enzyme computer could live inside you.

DNA-wrapped carbon nanotubes serve as sensors in living cells.

There’s also the health threats of  nanoparticles themselves:

And on that note here goes a cool video made by my friends over at Transalchemy:

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NSLF:

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is fond of saying, “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.” Well, the Obama Administration certainly has not let the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil rig crisis go to waste, using it as a smokescreen to silently assault and further diminish American citizens’ personal freedom.

While the nation has its eyes and ears focused on the blame game ping-pong match between President Obama and BP top brass, President Obama on Thursday, June 10, quietly announced a new Executive Order establishing the “National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council.”

Claiming the “authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America,” President Obama has truly gone off the deep end this time in his most atrocious attempt to date to control every aspect of Americans’ lives.

According to the Executive Order that details the President’s “National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy,” the Council will be charged with carrying out ” lifestyle behavior modification” among American citizens that do not exhibit “healthy behavior.”

The President’s desired lifestyle behavior modifications detailed in Sec. 6 (c) focus on:

  • smoking cessation;
  • proper nutrition;
  • appropriate exercise;
  • mental health;
  • behavioral health;
  • sedentary behavior (see Sec. 3 [c]);
  • substance-use disorder; and
  • domestic violence screenings.

Making matters even worse, if that is even possible at this point, President Obama will create an “Advisory Group” composed of experts hand-picked from the public health field and various other areas of expertise “outside the Federal Government.”

Let’s consider who the President has sought advice and mentoring from in the past:

  • Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who the Anti-Defamation League calls a “Messenger of Intolerance,” and
  • Bill Ayers, leader of the 1960′s domestic terrorist group ”Weatherman” that was “responsible for 30 bombings aimed at destroying the defense and security infrastructures of the U.S.”

Now, President Obama is going to seek medical advisors who will be charged with modifying lifestyles and behaviors of those citizens he deems unhealthy? “Paging Dr. Kevorkian! You’re wanted in the White House STAT by President Obama!”

Whether you are a child, a parent, a worker, or retired, the President’s approximately 25-member “Advisory Group” will soon be present in every aspect of Americans’ lives, as the Executive Order prescribes in Sec. 4 (b). Specifically, our new so-called lifestyle behavior modification advisors will be actively carrying out the President’s orders in:

  • worksite health promotion;
  • community services, including community health centers;
  • preventive medicine;
  • health coaching;
  • public health education;
  • geriatrics; and
  • rehabilitation medicine.

President Obama’s sweeping plan to enforce “lifestyle behavior modification” is chock full of open-ended target areas, especially when it comes to issues of “mental” and “behavioral” health, “proper nutrition,” “sedentary behavior,” and “appropriate exercise.” The President’s Executive Order is a blatant and forceful attempt to adjust the way Americans young and old think, behave, eat, drink and whatever else free will used to entitle our nation’s citizens to enjoy as prescribed by the Founding Fathers.

If you are feeling stressed-out, sad, confused, hungry, thirsty, bored, or tired, do you honestly trust President Obama and his “Advisory Group” to act in your best interests?

New Scientist:

WHEN we fall under the spell of a charismatic figure, areas of the brain responsible for scepticism and vigilance become less active. That’s the finding of a study which looked at people’s response to prayers spoken by someone purportedly possessing divine healing powers.

To identify the brain processes underlying the influence of charismatic individuals, Uffe Schjødt of Aarhus University in Denmark and colleagues turned to Pentecostal Christians, who believe that some people have divinely inspired powers of healing, wisdom and prophecy.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Schjødt and his colleagues scanned the brains of 20 Pentecostalists and 20 non-believers while playing them recorded prayers. The volunteers were told that six of the prayers were read by a non-Christian, six by an ordinary Christian and six by a healer. In fact, all were read by ordinary Christians.

Only in the devout volunteers did the brain activity monitored by the researchers change in response to the prayers. Parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and scepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated when the subjects listened to a supposed healer. Activity diminished to a lesser extent when the speaker was supposedly a normal Christian (Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsq023).

Schjødt says that this explains why certain individuals can gain influence over others, and concludes that their ability to do so depends heavily on preconceived notions of their authority and trustworthiness.

It’s not clear whether the results extend beyond religious leaders, but Schjødt speculates that brain regions may be deactivated in a similar way in response to doctors, parents and politicians.

Technology Review:

Europe’s Plan to Simulate the Entire Planet

The ‘Living Earth Simulator’ will mine economic, environmental and health data to create a model of the entire planet in real time.

When it comes to global crises, we’re not short of complex systems that look close to the edge: the climate, the food supply, energy security, the banking system and so on. Add to this the threat of war in many parts of the world and the possibility of global pandemics and it’s a wonder that anybody gets out of bed in the morning.

Science has certainly played an important role in understanding aspects of these systems but could it do more?

Today, Dirk Helbing at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich outlines an ambitious project to go further, much further.

Helbing’s idea is to create a kind of Manahattan project to study, understand and tackle these techno-socio-economic-environmental issues. His plan is to gather data about the planet in unheard of detail, use it to simulate the behaviour of entire economies and then to predict and prevent crises from emerging.

Think of it as a kind of Google Earth for society. We’ve all played with Google’s 3D map of the Earth that uses real data to reveal not only the town where you live and work but your home and back garden too.

Imagine a similar model that uses in real time things like financial transactions, health records, travel details, carbon dioxide emissions and so on to build a model of not just the planet but the entire society that populates it. Helbing calls it ‘reality mining’.

This model will be capable not only modelling the planet in real time but of simulating the future, rather in the manner of weather forecasters.

Helbing’s simulator will look for economic bubbles and collapses, warn of global pandemics and suggest how to tackle them, it will model and predict the outcome of regional conflicts and determine the effect of our behaviour on the climate. He even wants to create ‘situation rooms’ in which global leaders can view and manage crises as they occur.

This Google-Earth-on-steroids is to be called the Living Earth Simulator and Helbing’s plan is to have it working by 2022 at a cost of a cool EUR 1 billion, funded by the European Commission. He’s even assembled an impressive team to help, including partners from most of the top universities in Europe.

So what to make of this plan and it’s ambition. At first glance, it seems a somewhat worrying, even frightening, vision of the future. A Living Earth Simulator will change how we see ourselves and our planet in ways that are hard to imagine right now.

There’s no question that we need to better understand the global nature of the society we live in and the effects that it has on the planet. We also need to know how to leverage the benefits of these global systems while limiting the downsides they can generate.
This capability is coming whether we like it or not. Clearly, the computing infrastructure of the near future will be increasingly capable of such a task.

The great worry, of course, is that it will not be the great public universities and government-funded research institutes that complete this task. The huge benefits of a Living Earth Simulator will make it a valuable tool for insurance companies, financial traders, global businesses and even search engines.

It’s not hard to imagine a company like Google wanting and even building such a model. And if that seems hard to swallow, there are plenty of organisations that may be even less palatable operators of such a system. Imagine a Goldman Sachs Earth Simulator or one run by the People’s Liberation Army. EUR 1 billion is just a small fraction of the money these organisations play with.

When viewed through that prism, it seems clear and even necessary that such a project is publicly funded and managed. Should the European Commission agree, Helbing, who is a world leader in the new science of techno-socio-economic studies, may well be the man who leads it.

A Living Earth Simulator is coming, one way or another, perhaps even to your living room or mobile communicator. The only question is who builds it.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1004.4969: The FuturICT Knowledge Accelerator

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – Brain scans may be able to predict what you will do better than you can yourself, and might offer a powerful tool for advertisers or health officials seeking to motivate consumers, researchers said on Tuesday. …

“On day one of the experiment, before the scanning session, each participant indicated their sunscreen use over the prior week, their intentions to use sunscreen in the next week and their attitudes toward sunscreen,” the researchers wrote.

After they saw the messages, the volunteers answered more questions about their intentions, and then got a goody bag that contained, among other things, sunscreen towelettes.”

“A week later we did a surprise follow up to find out whether they had used sunscreen,” Falk said in a telephone interview.

About half the volunteers had correctly predicted whether they would use sunscreen. The research team analyzed and re-analyzed the MRI scans to see if they could find any brain activity that would do better.

Activity in one area of the brain, a particular part of the medial prefrontal cortex, provided the best information.

“From this region of the brain, we can predict for about three-quarters of the people whether they will increase their use of sunscreen beyond what they say they will do,” Lieberman said.

“It is the one region of the prefrontal cortex that we know is disproportionately larger in humans than in other primates,” he added. “This region is associated with self-awareness, and seems to be critical for thinking about yourself and thinking about your preferences and values.”

FULL STORY

11th suicide at Apple factory

Another employee of Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn fell to his death yesterday at the company’s plant in southern China — the 11th such death this year, state media reported.

The apparent suicides have raised questions about the conditions for millions of factory workers in China, especially at Apple manufacturer Foxconn, where labour activists say long hours, low pay and high pressure are the norm.

The official Xinhua news agency provided no further details on the latest death, which came just hours after the firm reportedly urged its workers in southern China to promise in writing not to kill themselves as it battles to stem a spate of factory suicides. …

Nets were put on buildings to stop people from jumping, and about 100 mental health counsellors were being trained. …

The walled-in industrial park employs 300,000 workers and looks more like a small city with fast-food restaurants, bakeries, Bank of China branches and towering dormitories for workers.

Foxconn was trying to address allegations from labour groups that the workers were killing themselves because of hellish conditions in the factories, which churn out iPhones, Dell computers, (Hewlet Packard products), Nokia mobile phones and many other big-selling electronics.

Critics allege that Foxconn manages its plants with a strict military approach and workers must work too much overtime on assembly lines that move too fast.

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France to introduce new law banning ‘psychological violence’ in marriages

Sociologist Pierre Bonnet said: ‘The next step will be to make rudeness a criminal offence.’

Daily Mail | Jan 5, 2010