Posted on 18 Comments

Maybe Elon has a point…

While I’m a big admirer of Elon Musk and all he’s been able to accomplish, I’ve always been a bit skeptical about his alarmist rhetoric regarding Artificial Intelligence’s threat to humanity, seeing it more as a means for him to groom future volunteers for a one-way ticket to a Mars colony.

Not a bad strategy, mind you.

But with each cool but creepy new video from Boston Dynamics that hits the web and goes viral, I grow more and more less skeptical of Elon’s warnings…

Yeah…

Creepy, right?

But still… it’s way cool, too.

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of the end of humanity, here’s a cut regarding how technology is altering our perception of reality from a recent terrifying article from Buzzfeed:

“Alarmism can be good — you should be alarmist about this stuff,” [Aviv] Ovadya said one January afternoon before calmly outlining a deeply unsettling projection about the next two decades of fake news, artificial intelligence–assisted misinformation campaigns, and propaganda. “We are so screwed it’s beyond what most of us can imagine,” he said. “We were utterly screwed a year and a half ago and we’re even more screwed now. And depending how far you look into the future it just gets worse.”

That future, according to Ovadya, will arrive with a slew of slick, easy-to-use, and eventually seamless technological tools for manipulating perception and falsifying reality, for which terms have already been coined — “reality apathy,” “automated laser phishing,” and “human puppets.”

Yeah…

We’re screwed.

But still… it’s kinda cool, too.

Right?

 
 

Posted on Leave a comment

Ai Weiwei Blogging at Big Think

If you aren’t a Big Thinker, then you are missing out on what Time magazine considers one of the best news and information resources on the web.

And now, Ai Weiwei, one of the most powerful artists in the world, blogs there.

Posted on Leave a comment

F### You Motherland I Am A Grass Mud Horse

I wonder if I would have the courage to stand up to a government like China’s as Ai Weiwei has. Heck, I don’t even have the guts to spell out the word “fuck” in the title of this post so I highly doubt it.

Ai Weiwei, image courtesy Wikipedia

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry on LAST CALL WITH CARSON DALY from Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry on Vimeo.

Posted on 1 Comment

The Power of Money, the Money of Power

Chinese Currency
By: Paul. B

There is much ado in the news about China’s Wen Jiabao, the supposed People’s Premier, accumulating a massive fortune, for both himself and his extended family, while serving within the highest ranks of China’s government.

According to New York Times reporting:

Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.

No one is surprised by this, right? I mean, when in history has there ever been an authoritarian, non-transparent government where its leaders — and often…well, usually…okay, you’re right, always…those close to the leaders — did not become fabulously wealthy as a result of their position within the government?

We all know the quote, Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so it is not news that Jiabao, or any other Chinese government senior leader, and their families and friends, have profited because of their positions.

And you know what else isn’t news? The fact that China has blocked all internet access to the New York Times, as well as to other major news outlets, such as the BBC, that are reporting on the story.

Without a doubt, Western-style democracies are far from perfect; and, without a doubt, many politicians and government officials within these supposed transparent governments have amassed huge, unknowable, amounts of cash because of their positions. Still, at least we who live in countries governed by democracies, with our right to vote and with our freedom of speech, have a semblance of a notion that we can contain the corruption. Whether it’s true or not is debatable, but having a semblance of a notion is better than having none at all.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Proxy Wars

SOPA Soap Opera
jurvetson / Foter / CC BY

Oppressive governments like China, Iran, and Syria, among many others, are spending billions to censor the internet from their populations; and other governments like Pakistan, that one might not consider to be in the same oppressive category as China and the others mentioned, are also focused on internet censorship as well, mostly for religious purposes.

But as these governments find new ways to oppress, internet freedom advocates, find new ways to circumvent the oppression. Unfortunately, those seeking access to the internet usually are not as well funded as those seeking to oppress.

Just as it funded free speech initiatives like the Voice of America during its Cold War with the Soviet Union, the United States spends large sums of money each year to fund internet freedom advocacy groups who provide the proxy tools and other technology to help those in need circumvent the government firewalls.

However, like just about every other important issue the United States is facing, its massive debt is putting the internet freedom initiative in peril. At a time when the demand for the initiative is at its greatest — the demand is so huge for the proxy tools that, without additional funding to increase speed and access, its current capability is overwhelmed — cuts to the program are inevitable.

In the coming months and years, how will these cuts affect the censored and oppressed, and especially those fighting for their lives in places like Syria where their information campaign, a campaign that relies primarily on twitter and youtube postings, is crucial to making and keeping the world aware of their very real struggle for freedom?