News — At The Edge — 12/2

Three sets of issues this week —

  • Disturbing Future Issues — institutional trust declining, drone wars increasing — suggest growth of chaos and conflict.
  • Present Issues Bleeding Into the Future — truth, misinformation, automation — show a toxic environment with no remedy in sight.
  • Disturbing Present Issues — covert repression — indicate growing reasons to distrust U.S. government.

There are articles of mine about these issues you might find of interest:


Disturbing Future Issues –

The Fate of Online Trust in the Next Decade -

“Those who have doubts about progress say people are inured to risk, addicted to convenience and…expect the very nature of trust will change….When trust is absent [expect]…violence, social chaos and paralyzing risk-aversion…[and] uses of the internet are a major contributor to the problem….

[T]he internet and social media has enabled entirely new kinds of relationships…in which trust must be negotiated with others whom users do not see…in a world exploding with information of uncertain provenance used by actors employing ever-proliferating strategies to capture users’ attention…[and] privacy to be compromised through surveillance and cyberattacks….

[Also] the emergence of trust-jarring digital interactions has also coincided with a sharp decline in trust for major institutions….[Blockchain] ’is a shared, trusted, public ledger…everyone can inspect, but which no one single user controls.’”

How the Pentagon is preparing for the coming drone wars -

“Pentagon is battling another…device that threatens…American troops: the drone….Military strategists envision…robot armies capable of swarming defenses in kamikaze raids…[that] range from the size of an insect to [aircrafts]….[and] working to develop lasers and microwaves to blast drones from the sky….

Some soldiers already carry specially outfitted ‘anti-drone’ rifles that…use pulses across radio frequencies that interfere with the vehicles’ controls….’There is definitely a sense of urgency’…[because] drones are easily accessible. A search on…yields more than 80,000 results….[Intel] shows with fleets of 500 programmed drones that fly in swarms, creating shapes in the sky….

‘[Already] we’re seeing terrorists put them to use’… as a weapon of choice….Airports worry about drones…Prisons have seen [them]…smuggle in contraband…[and a] crash on the White House grounds.”

Tesla’s Elon Musk warns we only have ‘a 5 to 10% chance’ of preventing killers robots from destroying humanity -

“[Musk] speaking to employees…[says] efforts to make AI safe only have ‘a 5–10% chance of success’…[and] regulation of AI was drastically needed because it’s a ‘fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization’….

[Must] stop humanity from being outsmarted by computers, or ‘deep intelligence in the network’, that can start wars by manipulating information. Governments must have a better understanding of artificial intelligence technology’s rapid evolution in order to fully comprehend the risks.”

Present Issues Bleeding Into the Future –

Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web: ‘The system is failing’ -

“[T]he future of the web is starting to wane [with]…rollback of net neutrality protections, the proliferation of fake news, propaganda and…gatekeepers whose algorithms can be weaponised by master manipulators….

The spread of misinformation and propaganda online has exploded…[because] advertising systems of…Google or Facebook…finely trained AIs that figure out how to distract them….

The system is failing…[and] not fulfilling the goal of helping humanity promote truth and democracy….[He] called for the regulation of online political advertising to prevent it from being used in ‘unethical ways’….

Data analytics firms such as Cambridge Analytica [with]…personality profiles of millions…so they can be manipulated through ‘behavioral analysis‘, have…‘weaponised AI propaganda…ads that target…me and then vanish. This is not democracy…and should be changed….

[Also] rules to protect net neutrality…[is] the ‘first amendment of the internet’…[yet] Trump’s FCC, headed by the former Verizon employee…wants to kill the rules’…[way] AT&T blocked Skype and other similar services on the iPhone so it would make more money from regular phone calls. Verizon blocked Google Wallet from smartphones when it was developing a competing mobile payment service…[now want] control access to the internet and pose a threat to innovation if they are allowed to pick winners and losers by throttling or blocking services….

ISPs should be treated more like utilities. ‘Gas is a utility, so is clean water, and connectivity should be too…. It’s part of life…just like water.’”

The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online -

”[Experts] split on whether the coming decade will see a reduction in false and misleading narratives online….

[Some] think the dark side of human nature is aided more than stifled by technology…[since] ‘objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’…[feeding] ancient instinct people have to find information that syncs with their perspectives…[making] many vulnerable to accepting and acting on misinformation….

It is a social condition, like crime, that you must constantly monitor and adjust to….Truth is no longer dictated by authorities, but is networked by peers. For every fact there is a counterfact and all these counterfacts and facts look identical online, which is confusing to most people….

2016 election found 64% of adults believe fake news stories cause a great deal of confusion and 23% said they had shared fabricated political stories themselves…by mistake and [intentionally]….

Our brains are not wired to contend with the pace of technological change[so] online applications will magnify these human tendencies [for]…a future information landscape in which fake information crowds out reliable information.”

Automation in Everyday Life -

“Americans express more worry…about coming [automation]…[in] their lifetimes…[so] three times as likely to…worry (67%)…about algorithms that can make hiring decisions…[76%] expect that economic inequality will become much worse [and]…(75%) anticipates that the economy will not create many new, better-paying jobs for humans….

[With] driverless vehicles, 75% of the public anticipates that this development will help the elderly and disabled live more independent lives…[and] (70%) anticipate that robot caregivers would help alleviate the burden of caring for aging relatives….

Those who are hesitant to use these technologies frequently describe…lack of trust in technological decision-making…[and] would limit the use…to specific situations or that would bring human beings more fully into their operations….

[If] robots and computers to become widely competitive with human workers, majorities would also support providing all Americans with a guaranteed income that would allow people to meet their basic needs (60% in favor), as well as a national service program that would pay humans to perform jobs even if machines could do them faster or cheaper….

[Expect] within 20 years doctors will rely on computer programs to diagnose and treat most diseases…most retail interactions will be fully automated…[and] most deliveries in cities will be made by robots or drones.”

Science News and Information Today -

“[While] at the center of public divides, most Americans…get science news no more than a couple of times per month…from general news outlets…do a good job covering science….

[Public] policy issues…place continuous demands on the citizenry to stay abreast of scientific developments….

Social media…play a modest role in informing Americans about science….Twice as many social media users distrust science…on these sites than trust them…. A minority of Americans turn to family and friends for science news.”

Disturbing Present Issues –

The FCC’s craven net neutrality vote announcement makes no mention of the 22 million comments filed -

“[FCC] statement mentions…protecting consumers five times…[and] consumers wrote the Chairman by the millions to say that they felt the existing rules protect them very well and that to remove them would be detrimental to their safety and privacy….

[Instead] his proposal, which range from questionable to misleading to outright wrong…[and] single-mindedly concentrates on…the raw dollars spent on network deployment…clearly contrary to the public interest….

[FCC] does not mention the current and overwhelming consensus of the American people in support of the 2015 rules….

[Sadly] vote on December 14…all but guaranteed by the current partisan makeup of the Commission: three Republicans in favor, two Democrats opposed.”

Most Americans think the government could be monitoring their phone calls and emails -

“[Only] 13% of the public say it is ‘not at all likely’ that the government is monitoring their communications….

[80%] U.S. adults under the age of 50 think it is likely that the government is tracking their communications, compared with around six-in-ten of those 50 and older….

Americans across the political spectrum are equally likely to think the government is monitoring their phone calls or emails….(57%) believe it is unacceptable for the government to monitor the communications of American citizens.”

Find more of my ideas on Medium at, A Passion to Evolve.

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May you live long and prosper!
Doc Huston

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