News — At The Edge — 1/25

Doc Huston
8 min readJan 25, 2020


While anti-human technologies are advancing rapidly, the accelerating decline in institutional trust — disinformation, lies, inequality, economy and autocrats — bodes ill for civilization and our future.


A global trust crisis

“[T]he media and government are no longer seen as competent or ethical enough to address crises like climate change and health care, according to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer study…[with] a growing gap in institutional trust between wealthier, more educated and better informed people vs. the rest of the population….

[A] record number of developed countries…are experiencing double digit divides in trust between the informed class and the mass population…[who] also say they don’t trust capitalism…[with] 57% of people globally believe that capitalism as it exists today ‘does more harm than good in the world….[and] that the media they use is ‘contaminated with untrustworthy information’ and…being used as a weapon….

’Fears are stifling hope, as long-held assumptions about hard work leading to upward mobility are now invalid.’”


‘Flood the zone with shit’: How misinformation overwhelmed our democracy —

“[I]t seems likely that a majority of voters will remain confused…[on] details of Trump’s transgressions…[thus] a serious problem for our [system]….

We live in a media ecosystem that overwhelms people with information…some of it is bogus, and much…intentionally misleading.

The result is a polity that has…given up on finding out the truth…[or] retreat into tribal allegiances….

[It’s] than ‘epistemic crisis’…in an age of manufactured nihilism….

[Steve] Bannon [says]…real opposition is the media…[and] way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit’…[as] with misinformation and overwhelm…[their] ability to mediate, then…disrupt the democratic process….

[It’s] a new form of propaganda…[that’s] muddying the waters so that consensus isn’t achievable…[and] creating widespread cynicism about the truth and the institutions charged with unearthing it erodes the very foundation of liberal democracy. And the strategy is working….

Putin uses the media to engineer a fog of disinformation, producing…enough distrust to ensure that the public can never mobilize around a coherent narrative…[and] convince people…‘the truth is unknowable’ and…only sensible choice is ‘to follow a strong leader’….

Even if CNN or MSNBC debunk [lies]…Fox and right-wing media will amplify [it]…[with] mainstream press…a step behind in debunking — and even the act of debunking will serve to amplify the lies…[so] merely repeating it cements…[it] in people’s minds…[to] become more plausible the more often they’re shared….

Our brains…tend to associate repetition with truthfulness…[so] there’s nothing left but culture war politics…‘us’ and ‘them’….

[The] conservative media functions…[lacks] journalistic ethics and exist mostly to propagate the bullshit they produce…[ensuring] counternarratives are part of the public conversation….

[We] need a paradigm shift in how the press covers politics…[yet] incentives driving media militate against this kind of rethinking….

But liberal democracy cannot function without a shared understanding of reality. As long as the zone is flooded with shit, that…is impossible.”


What do experts see as the biggest risk to the world in 2020? American politics —

Eurasia Group and Control Risks…[and] World Economic Forum…warn of increased turbulence this year from trade conflicts and political polarization that makes it harder to tackle global challenges….

Eurasia Group…designated US politics as the top risk…[and] warns that the election outcome likely to be viewed as illegitimate by roughly half the population…no matter which candidate triumphs…[and] ‘create shock waves abroad’….

[Together] reports depict a world facing thorny problems with few obvious solutions. Increasingly fractious politics…[undermining] trade and globalization…giving elected leaders license to act unilaterally and stoking conflicts….

[Experts] also worried about the climate crisis…battle between Washington and Beijing over the future of technology, geopolitical aggression on the part of Russia and continued armed conflict in the Middle East….’This deteriorating environment is…likely to produce a global crisis’….

World Economic Forum…top five risks over the…decade all relate to the environment, including increased extreme weather events and the collapse of ecosystems…[and] add up to a planetary emergency.


Shrinking Influence of Central Banks Ends Decades of Business as Usual —

‘[The] central banks…[are] unchallenged drivers of financial markets and the business cycle…[but] era is drawing to a close…[because] interest rates are so low, even negative, that…[they] can’t lower them further. Tepid economic growth and low inflation mean they can’t raise rates, either….

’[U.S.] one recession away from joining Europe and Japan in the monetary black hole of zero rates and no prospect of escape’….

[Fed] warned Congress that ‘the new normal now is lower interest rates, lower inflation, probably lower growth…all over the world…[as] banks are calling on elected officials to employ taxes, spending and deficits to combat recessions….

[But] considerable doubts that…can overcome obstacles to more robust fiscal policy, particularly political opposition and steep debt.

Business cycles in the future may resemble those of the 19th century, when monetary policy didn’t exist….

The recessions of 2001 and 2008…resulted from a boom and bust in asset prices, first…technology stocks, then in house prices and mortgage debt….Fed kept interest rates near zero from 2008 until 2015…[yet] economic growth has been slow….

[So] structurally low investment coupled with high saving by businesses and aging households can explain both slow growth and low interest rates….

Once returns have fallen close to the return on cash or its equivalent, such as Treasury bills, ‘there is no incentive to lend, or invest in these assets.’ At that point, the Fed is no longer able to stimulate spending….

[So] very low or negative rates are ‘at best only weakly effective…and at worst counterproductive’….

[Expect] shallow recessions and sluggish growth, similar to what Japan has experienced — what is called a ‘big sag’….[So] quantitative easing may suffer from diminishing returns in the next recession.

Moreover, the next recession is likely to be global…and if all major countries weaken at the same time, it will push rates everywhere toward zero…[making] it harder for…[any] central bank to support its own economy….

History shows that aggressive fiscal policy can raise growth, inflation and interest rates…[so] economists are again recommending higher inflation and deficits to escape the low-growth, low-rate trap.

Advocates of what is called modern monetary theory say the Fed should create unlimited money to finance government deficits until full employment is reached.

Some economists call for dialing up ‘automatic stabilizers,’ the boost that federal spending gets during downturns, via payments to individuals and state governments as well as infrastructure investment….

[So] weakened Fed will…[join] government to stimulate demand by directly financing deficits…[and] past suggests that once politicians are in charge of monetary policy, inflation often follows.”


State of the World 2020: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky —

‘[W]e are approaching the Thundering Twenties…[where] truth isn’t truth…[in] our new era of ethnonationalism and ‘overtourism’…[and] American technology…has Trump’s face stamped on it…[and] assume it’s a lie, a fraud, a subterfuge and a grift, and they’re gonna get rooked…but they can’t accomplish anything administratively, because the entire political class…bought into it….

[It’s] not exactly fascist oppression, but…well beyond mere discontent…like ‘New Dark 1.2,’ where everybody knows the lights have been turned out…[and] nobody thinks they’re gonna come back on….

[Focus is] on The Donald, because the actual media is in abject collapse, so there’s nothing but demagogic social media and the right-wing TV machine

[In MMXX] everybody claims they’re anti-global, sovereign and patriotic….

  • Russia is anti-global but…only nation-state that has tamed their rich people, because their spies eat them….
  • India is doing its level best to become China… naming, numbering, surveilling and confining the Muslims in vast regions of imposed Internet darkness…[and] sending out fascist squadrons…to beat up college students….
  • South Africa is going sideways…and has no solutions to offer….
  • [Britain] has the high-grade fever version of the…low-grade global disease that everybody else [has]….
  • Estonia has caught the ethnonational disease…[and] whine about foreign immigrants….

It’s strange that there’s so much unanimity in this new worldwide sensibility…[while] mainstream cultural assumptions…[and] consumer capitalism…[are] dying, fast and silent and for good, like its shopping malls.

There aren’t any ‘consumers,’ there are just oligarchs and the rabble….

The conservatives have destroyed everything they wanted to conserve…[and] liberals have nothing…to be liberal…about, except gay sex and marijuana….

Republicans are a basic ethnonational partylike Russians, Hungarians or Serbs, hicks who will put up with anything as long as it coddles their identity issues…[yet] lie about that….

Americans used to be self-assured, mobile, visionary, inventive; now they’re hunkered-down, dogmatic, disinterested in any consensus; they’re 100% American-Dream-Free…. That is an unhealthy polity….

Russians are diligently waging all kinds of asymmetrical warfare…[and] built their own domestic Splinternet to subvert, repel and destroy the Internet, and they will pitch any dreadful thing over their firewall from nerve-gas to barrel-bombs….

So in MMXX, we’re in a world…that claims to be post-global and post-Internet and post world-trade, where everybody wants to take back control, be great again, assure sovereign cyberspace, set tariffs, jail immigrant tots, beat up ethnic minorities, nurture billionaires, ignore science, and reduce education to assure…there are fewer brainy chicks — but in practice, there’s no big difference among the players…no genuine cultural variety…[with] same hardware, slogans and techniques….

Innovation and invention are out of style…[with] no wonderment, because there is no reason to wonder….

[I]n Miami Beach…[was thinking] how it would all be under water in a decade. It felt haunted….

Human extinction seems inevitable, at least on one level.”


Meet the xenobot: world’s first living, self-healing robots created from frog stem cells —

‘[Machines] small enough to travel inside human bodies…can walk and swim, survive for weeks without food, and work together in groups…[and] cut and reshaped into specific ‘body forms’ designed by a supercomputer — forms ‘never seen in nature’…even have self-healing capabilities….

[Not] a traditional robot nor a known species of animal…[rather] new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism’…[that] could be used to clean up radioactive waste, collect microplastics in the oceans, carry medicine inside human bodies, or even travel into our arteries to scrape out plaque…[and] can survive in aqueous environments without additional nutrients for days or weeks — making them suitable for internal drug delivery….

’[In] 3D biological form…could repair birth defects, reprogram tumors into normal tissue, regenerate after traumatic injury or degenerative disease, and defeat aging…(building body parts and inducing regeneration.)’….

[Organisms] can’t reproduce or evolve…[but] lifespan can increase to several weeks in nutrient-rich environments.”

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May you live long and prosper!
Doc Huston



Doc Huston

Consultant & Speaker on future nexus of technology-economics-politics, PhD Nested System Evolution, MA Alternative Futures, Patent Holder —