From The Conversation: The pharmaceutical industry rarely conjure up images of pollution and environmental damage. Yet, this recent study found that the global pharmaceutical industry is not only contributes significantly to global warming, but is also dirtier than the global automotive production sector. Also watch a video on extreme pharmaceutical waste pollution in Patancheru, Telangana.
From The Intercept: Industrialized militaries are a bigger part of the climate emergency than we know. If the US-military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the world’s 47th largest greenhouse gas emitter, says a new study. Another study found that America has spent an astonishing $5.9 trillion on wars since 2001.
The growth of the military-industrial complex poses an existential threat to humanity. Daniel Ellsberg, peace activist and whistleblower best known for his expose dubbed the ‘Pentagon Papers’, discusses with Allen White the precise nature of the threat posed by the military-industrial complex— and what needs to be done about it. [Courtesy the Great Transition Initiative]
Artificial intelligence could erase many practical advantages of democracy, and erode the ideals of liberty and equality. It will further concentrate power among a small elite if we don’t take steps to stop it. “We’re facing not just a technological crisis but a philosophical crisis,” says the author of ’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’.
David A. Banks writes in The Baffler: Engineering has not strayed far from its military origins… Engineers are trained to “plug into chain-of-command decision making structures… In times like these it is important to remember that border walls, nuclear missiles, and surveillance systems do not work, and won’t even exist, without the cooperation of engineers.
“These machines shape the way we view reality. We’re not just merging with machines, but with the companies that run these machines—who run these machines for profit. And here’s the existential threat… these technologies will change what it means to be human. Once we take this leap, it will be very hard to reverse course.”
From CNet/Future of Life Institute: Autonomous weapons use Artificial Intelligence to select and engage targets without human intervention. Now, a think tank backed by scientist Stephen Hawking and entrepreneur Elon Musk, among others, offers a graphic warning against machines that decide whom to kill. This fictional video underscores how seriously these experts view the issue.
Bart Hawkins Kreps writes: Will we have plenty of affordable energy to power communications among trillions of internet-connected sensors in the “Internet of Things”? Will our new fleet of self-driving cars have plenty of fuel to keep us moving en masse? The uncertainty of our long-term energy supply is not even mentioned in this book.
In Kaziranga national park, rangers shoot people to protect rhinos. The park features in a new BBC investigation, which highlights some of the conflicts that characterise contemporary conservation, as the need to protect endangered species comes into contact with the lives and rights of people who live in and around the increasingly threatened national parks.
The digital economy is a design for atomisation, for separation… Imposing the digital economy through a “cash ban” is a form of technological dictatorship, in the hands of the world’s billionaires. Economic diversity and technological pluralism are India’s strength and it is the “hard cash” that insulated India from the global market’s crash of 2008.
In her new book, The Burning Forest: India’s War In Bastar, anthropologist Nandini Sundar provides a harrowing narrative of the toll this ongoing conflict has taken on the lives of Bastar’s Adivasis. Sundar demonstrates how the institutions of democracy have failed to address the human tragedy in what has become one of India’s most militarized regions.
From Juggernaut publishing: There’s a hidden war going on in central India away from the headlines — and Bastar is at the centre of it. Sociologist Nandini Sundar, who has written about Bastar and its people for nearly three decades, has now authored a gripping account of the war between the Maoists and the State.
We will soon have artificial intelligence that can accomplish professional human tasks. Our lives will be totally 100% tracked by ourselves and others. Much of what will happen in the next 30 years is inevitable, driven by technological trends already in motion, and are impossible to halt without halting civilization, says Internet pioneer Kevin Kelly.
The Ecologist magazine reports: A 7-year old boy has been injured after getting shot by park guards in Assam’s Kaziranga national park, which operates a strict ‘shoot first’ policy. In the last nine years, an estimated 62 people have been shot dead by Kaziranga guards, four of whom were ironically arrested for alleged rhino poaching recently.
Klaus Schwab writes: A technological revolution is fundamentally altering the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, its unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but the response to it must involve all stakeholders of the global polity.
George Dvorsky writes: Last year, SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk warned that Artificial Intelligence could “take over the world”. The day when machines become smarter than humans has never appeared closer— yet we seem no closer in grasping the implications of this epochal event. Indeed, we are clinging to some serious—and even dangerous—misconceptions about artificial intelligence.
Jayati Ghosh writes: Fascism in the 21st century does have some new features, which are also common to at least some of the countries that are currently experiencing it. They are largely related to the possibilities generated by new technologies, especially communication and surveillance technologies, which are increasingly being used by governments with fascist inclinations.
Rahul Varman writes: Bauxite or iron mines are opened up by grabbing people’s lands and homes against great resistance, and UAVs and other increasingly sophisticated weapons are used to quell this resistance. The corporate sector benefits both from the mining, as well as the demand for weapons, demand which is independent of the vagaries of the market system.
Sreekumar Kodiyath writes: The final phase of the Sri Lankan Government’s war with the LTTE in 2009 saw a systematic program to make the affair a private one, by expelling reporters and human rights activists from the war zone. Those who stubbornly remained either disappeared or were detained. The army called it a “War without witnesses”.
(Note: This new book asks, and attempts to answer, the crucial question: What if government and corporate elites have given up on stopping climate change and prefer to try to manage its consequences instead?) The Secure and the Dispossessed: How the Military and Corporations Are Shaping a Climate-Changed World Edited by Nick Buxton and Ben