News — At The Edge — 11/17
While technology could make the world a better place — cryptocurrency & wearable devices — civilization seems to have lost its way — wars & digital tyranny.
“[Wars] in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers…$2 trillion more than all federal government spending during…2017–18 fiscal year….
[Also] 480,000 people have died as a direct result of fighting…244,000 civilians have been killed…[and] 10 million people have been displaced….
[Costs] breaks down….Total U.S. war-related spending through fiscal year 2019 is $4.9 trillion. $1 trillion reflects estimates for the cost of health care for post-9/11 veterans…[with] more than 4.3 million veterans by 2039.” https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/14/us-has-spent-5point9-trillion-on-middle-east-asia-wars-since-2001-study.html
Our Human Stain
Beyond accumulated scientific knowledge. art and magical technological artifacts, we humans remain primates with…
“Artificial intelligence could…erode the ideals of liberty and equality…[and] further concentrate power among a small elite….
Monarchies, oligarchies, and other forms of authoritarian rule have been far more common modes of human governance…[and] liberalism has begun to lose credibility…[as] leaders are showing a penchant for demagoguery and autocracy….
Together, infotech and biotech will create unprecedented upheavals in human society, eroding human agency…[so] liberal democracy and free-market economics might become obsolete….
In 2018 the common person feels increasingly irrelevant…and they are frantic to use their remaining political power before it is too late….
In the past, machines competed with humans mainly in manual skills…[now] in cognitive skills. And we don’t know of any third kind of skill…in which humans will always have an edge….
AI enjoys uniquely nonhuman abilities…connectivity and updatability…[that] might make sense to replace all humans with computers….[Already] 21st century has produced a global epidemic of stress….
AI is a tool and a weapon unlike any other…[and] will almost certainly allow the already powerful to consolidate their power further…[with] surveillance as well as…new forms of manipulation and covert control as well as…unjust market outcomes….
[Governments] might eventually be able to gauge what each and every citizen is thinking at each and every moment…[or] manipulate the human heart — reliably, cheaply, and at scale — democratic politics will mutate into an emotional puppet show…with hordes of bots that know how to press our emotional buttons better than our mother…at the behest of a human elite….
We tend to think…conflict between democracy and dictatorship as a conflict between two different ethical systems, but it is actually a conflict between two different data-processing systems.
Democracy distributes the power to process information and make decisions… whereas dictatorship concentrates information and power….[AI] might make centralized systems far more efficient than diffuse systems, because machine learning works better when the machine has more information to analyze….
Even if some societies remain ostensibly democratic, the increasing efficiency of algorithms will still shift more…authority from individual humans to networked machines…[and] human life will cease to be a drama of decision making, and our conception of life will need to change….
Technological disruption is not even a leading item on the political agenda….
[AI] might serve only to empower the natural stupidity of humans, and to nurture our worst (but also, perhaps, most powerful) impulses, among them greed and hatred….
[So] we must regulate the ownership of data…which is inherently a far more difficult task than regulating land or machines….
Currently, humans risk becoming similar to domesticated animals….[If] not careful, we will end up with downgraded humans misusing upgraded computers to wreak havoc on themselves and on the world.” https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/10/yuval-noah-harari-technology-tyranny/568330/
Civilization’s Anti-Human, Not Machines
April 2000, as millennium celebrations passed into history, Silicon Valley luminary, Bill Joy, wrote a provocative…
“’[W]e should consider the…state to supply money to the digital economy. The advantage is…[that] payment would be immediate, safe, cheap and potentially semi-anonymous’….
Canada, China, Sweden and Uruguay were all ‘seriously considering’ digital currency proposals….
’The more people you serve, the cheaper and more useful the service’….
Although the technology underlying digital assets…[speeds] up financial transactions and reducing costs, the anonymity behind cryptocurrency trading has prompted concern among regulators.” https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46203869
“A major factor holding back development of wearable biosensors for health monitoring is the lack of a lightweight, long-lasting power supply….
[A] new method…plus a special sewing technique…creates a flexible mesh of aligned electrodes on a textile backing….[Result] solid-state device has a high ability to store charge…that allow it to power wearable biosensors…[and] can literally embroider a charge-storing pattern onto any garment…[and] can be scaled up and remain cost-effective….
[Already] the new embroidered charge-storage arrays with e-textile sensors and low-power microprocessors to build smart garments that can monitor a person’s gait and joint movements throughout a normal day.” https://phys.org/news/2018-11-material-scientists-fabric-alternative-batteries.html
Find more of my ideas on Medium at,
Or click the Follow button below to add me to your feed.
Prefer a weekly email newsletter — free, no ads, no spam, & never sell the list — email me email@example.com with “add me” in the subject line.
May you live long and prosper!