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’.
From PeakProsperity.com: Many people are expecting some degree of approaching collapse — be it economic, environmental and/or societal — thinking that they’ll recognize the danger signs in time. As if it’ll be completely obvious, like a Hollywood blockbuster. That’s not how collapse works. Collapse is a process, not an event. And it’s already underway, all around us.
From The Tyee: Ellul predicted the chaotic tyranny we pretend is the good life in technological society. Just as Marx deftly outlined how capitalism threw up new social classes, political institutions and economic powers in the 19th century, Ellul charted the ascent of technology and its impact on politics, society and economics in the 20th.
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.
Climate science has consistently underestimated the effect of biology on climate. A geomechanical bias holds sway, seeing life as hostage to fluctuations in atmospheric components. In contrast, a living planet view holds that fundamentally it’s life itself that maintains the conditions for life, and the depletion of life is the biggest threat to the climate.
“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 Nature: Science fiction is increasingly in the here and now. With technological change cranked up to warp speed and day-to-day life smacking of dystopia, where does science fiction go? Has mainstream fiction taken up the baton? Six prominent American science fiction writers reflect on what the genre has to offer about our common future.
The pro-and anti-GMO positions will remain irreconcilably polarized as long as larger questions remain unexamined. What’s at stake here is much more than a choice about GMOs. It is a choice between two very different systems of food production, two visions of society, and two fundamentally different ways to relate to plants, animals, and soil.
In this keynote address delivered at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Post Carbon Institute’s Nate Hagens discusses how our lives will be influenced by how we react to the coming era of harder to extract and more costly fossil fuels that will be combined with cleaner but less concentrated energy types.
Ursula K. Le Guin, legendary American sci-fi author and creator of the classic ‘Earthsea’ series, died on January 22. She was 88. In this tribute, we present a video of her talk on “Transformation Without Apocalypse: How to Live Well on an Altered Planet”, as well as her article on ‘the future of the Left’.
Colin Todhunter writes: Despite four high level government reports that have advised against adopting Genetically Modified crops in India, there are alarming reports of GM okra, soyabean & brinjal being cultivated illegally in thousands of acres. The industry’s strategy is to flood the country with illegal GMOs so that there’s nothing you can do about it.
James Kunstler writes: I watched Blade Runner 2049, the latest from Hollywood’s dream-shop. It was an excellent illustration of the over-investments in technology with diminishing returns that are dragging us into collapse and of the attendant techno-narcissism that afflicts the supposedly thinking class in this society, who absolutely don’t get what this collapse is about.
Richard Heinberg writes: Over the past century-and-a-half, fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is only a symptom.
From Slate.com: Industrial civilisation’s impact is so massive that it goes way beyond climate change. Earth scientists now suggest that it is creating a distinct geological layer made of ‘technofossils’. The scale of our stuff is so gargantuan, that it is throwing off the quite robust balance of our natural systems—that’s how powerful it is.
Even when we question the personal impacts of modern technology, how many of us consider how our dependence on technology might be harming us? Or question the belief that technological advances will save us from our most pressing environmental and societal challenges? Richard Heinberg tackles this thorny issue in this brilliant essay and animation feature.
Here’s a thinker, who in the 1960s, declared climate change as a defining problem of the age. Who accused his fellow environmentalists of advocating mere “technical fixes” of capitalism, instead of addressing root causes. But today, his ideas are enjoying an unexpected revival. Damian White pays tribute to Murray Bookchin, who died on this day in 2006.
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.
From Quartz.com: The Luddites were the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton mills, which they believed was threatening their jobs. As machine learning and robotics consume manufacturing and white-collar jobs alike, New York Times journalist Clive Thompson revisits the Luddite’s history to see what the 200-year-old workers’ rebellion can teach us.
Michael Snyder writes: What in the world are we going to do with billions of human workers around the globe that are no longer needed when technology takes virtually all of our jobs? Some have suggested that society will evolve into a socialist utopia; others see a dystopian future with greater inequality than ever before.
CBC News reports: A new report has calculated the total mass of all manmade things-from buildings to cars and computers- to be an astounding 30 trillion tons, seven times more than the total amount of living matter on Earth. It shows the sheer magnitude of the human impact on our planet, which is still growing.