A 2016 study, US Public Wary Of Biomedical Technologies To ‘Enhance’ Human Abilities by Cary Funk, Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Sciupac of the Pew Research Center, reveals that the US public are more concerned than positively excited at the prospect of biomedical technologies which are meant to enhance the human-soma capability (such as synthetic blood, brain-chip implants and genomic editing).
Some of the key findings include:
Unsurprisingly, the more familiar one was with the listed technology, the more comfortable one was considering the prospect of its future utilization. A more wholesale integration of technics into the spiritual as well as cultural sphere may, however, be required before the mainlining of such procedures.
Knowledge is power, but it does not exist in a vacuum. In any society, but especially an interconnected, technological society, those who can control the majority of the information flows are possessed of, not just great power, but arguably, the greatest power. This is not to say that control of data flows, nor power more generally, is always a negative eventuality (quite the contrary); some forms of information (such as those pertinent to the manufacture of deadly diseases or nuclear weaponry, etc) should be, it can be plausibly argued, controlled, and stringently. However, quite obviously, the majority of information placed onto the public sphere falls well outside this classification-range, thus, it is important to understand who controls what, where and how, and to evaluate such organizations and their practices without undue preconception.
With that firmly in mind, we can turn our attention to the report-proper, which looks to key nexus-points of information generation and control, in as thorough and metadiagrammatic a fashion as possible.
Alphabet Incorporated (Google)
“[Google’s] atmosphere of creativity and challenge… has helped us provide unbiased, accurate and free access to information for those who rely on us around the world.”
—Larry Page and Sergey Brin
2004 Founders’ IPO Letter
“Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main internet products contained in Alphabet instead. […] Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.” — Larry Page, G Is For Google. 2015.
Eric Schmidt (Princeton-educated former executive chair of Alphabet Inc, former CEO of Google, Board of Directors, Alphabet, billionaire).
HQ: 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, US.
Whilst the name of Google is globally ubiquitous, Alphabet Inc. is considerably less well known. Alphabet Inc (abc.xyz) is a corporate holding conglomerate forged out of the 2015 restructuring of Google and the tech-giant’s present parent company.
In addition to Google (and Google Fiber) Alphabet’s subsidies as of this 11/30/18 writing include:
Alphabet’s Google is the single most trafficked website on earth. As such, it is also the single greatest conduit to information on earth and thus, potentially, the single greatest barricade. For sometime it has been something of an open secret that Google is partial to modulating its search engine to garner added visibility to company-approved topics and memory-hole sites deemed inimical to the software leviathan’s goals. Proof of this penchant for soft, creeping censorship can be found in the form of both their internally directed and externally directed campaigns (those solicited by foreign governments, such as China), as well as in their own written/spoken documentation or documentation obtained from Google (and its subsidies) staff.
Corporate censorship practices
Google and by extension, Alphabet’s famous operative slogan “Don’t be evil” is a fascinating encapsulation of the moral rectitude of the company. Unfortunately for many, this sense of self-righteousness has led to more than one scandal involving censorship, a policy which has been admitted to and affirmed by Google internal documentation, most notably the infamous Good Censor memo, an 85 page document which lays out the company’s belief that the ‘American tradition’ of free speech was based on a misbegotten “utopian narrative,” and as a consequence, was no longer viable. In place of American concepts of free expression and speech, Google opted for what they call the ‘European tradition’ – ie. ‘good censorship’ through the prizing of “dignity over liberty” and “civility over freedom.”
One of the European laws which Google mentions in its memo include the 2017 German Network Enforcement Act, informally referred to as the ‘Facebook Act’ which can entail a fine of up to €50 million (approximately 57 million USD) if a post designated as “hate speech” remains up for over 24 hours. To further compliance, the act stipulates that all social media companies covered under the ruling must submit public reports detailing number of posts flagged and removed. Facebook expressed concerns over the ruling, citing cultural-linguistic specificity, ie. some words, which are offensive in one culture, have a completely different meaning in another, such as “fag” which refers to a cigarette in Britain, but is a derisive term for a homosexual in America. The German government seemed unconcerned.
Google accomplishes much of its censorship through passive modification to its search engine via a autocomplete blacklist, that being, a list of words and phrases which are purposefully excluded from Google’s autocomplete feature. In 2016, during the presidential election, two extremely popular nicknames for Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton (who many top Google brass supported) concocted by then-candidate Donald Trump included “Lying Ted” and “Crooked Hillary.” At that time, if using Google search, autocomplete would fill out “Lying Ted” instantly, whereas it would not fill out “Crooked Hillary.”
Google acknowledges the existence of the blacklist in their internal memorandum.
In addition to the autocomplete blacklist, Google also maintains a blacklist of certain territories in Google Maps. Some of these voided regions are military installations, others the homes of the wealthy. If someone who is not governmental connect or ultra-rich wants their home residence struck from the map or voided they are in for some bad news, as Eric Schmidt, responding to a question concerning privacy-invasion via Google Maps responded “Just move.” The question this obviously raises is: To where? Mr. Schmidt’s comments, though bizarre to many, are well in keeping with his personal philosophy; for example, in 2010, via a conversation with The Wall Street Journal, Schmidt stated the following:
“We’re trying to figure out what the future of search is. I mean that in a positive way. We’re still happy to be in search, believe me. But one idea is that more and more searches are done on your behalf without you needing to type… I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.”
Corporate values & political activism
In 2016, after the election of Donald Trump an over 1-hour long confidential TGIF meeting video of top Google brass was leaked to the press, wherein various company staffers expressed their dismay and concern at the election of the new POTUS, which “conflicts with many of [Google’s] values,” and the need for Google to take a proactive stance in thwarting the Trump agenda. Google co-founder Sergey Brin takes a particularly hardline on Trump supporters, declaring that they were motivated by “boredom” and, at various points, compares them to fascists and rolls the idea around of increasing donations to progressive causes. Global Affairs VP, Kent Walker, echoing Brin, states that MAGA supporters are motivated by “fear, xenophobia, hatred, and a desire for answers that may or may not be there,” and later goes on to say that Google should bring its tremendous resources to bare upon the issue to ensure that the American Populist movement is rendered nothing more than a “hiccup” in the historical process, which, he believes, “bends towards progress.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai notes that Google’s AI and machine learning programs will be utilized to combat the “misinformation” of “low information voters.” CFO Ruth Porat broke down in tears during a consideration of the political situation. VP of ‘People Operations’ Eileen Naughton states that “diversity of opinion and political persuasion” are important and that she has heard from some conservative Google employees that they are “uncomfortable” being who they really are due to political polarization. Despite Naughton’s temperance and raising of the issue, a few months later James Damore would be fired from Google, allegedly due to his political beliefs regarding differences between men and women. Naughton also states the need for sweeping US immigration reform to remedy a “broken” system.
After the publication of the video by Bannon-created news site, Breitbart, Google released the following statement:
“At a regularly scheduled all hands meeting, some Google employees and executives expressed their own personal views in the aftermath of a long and divisive election season. For over 20 years, everyone at Google has been able to freely express their opinions at these meetings. Nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products. To the contrary, our products are built for everyone, and we design them with extraordinary care to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without regard to political viewpoint.”
In 2017, after the publicization of Bannon and Trump’s muslim travel ban, numerous Google employees staged a walk-out in protest. During the protest, Sundar Pichai and Sergey Brin gave public speeches in solidarity with their employees and migrants at large. Brin also protested the POTUS’ travel ban with others during a demonstration at the San Francisco International Airport, stating, “I’m here because I’m a refugee” (Brin’s family emigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1979).
That same year Youtube (controlled by Google) was sued by conservative commentator, Dennis Prager, well known for his ‘Prager U’ video series. Prager alleged that Google via Youtube, was censoring conservative voices. In 2018, the case was thrown out; the judge, Lucy Koh, stated that Mr. Prager failed to show how Google, a private company at the time, had infringed upon his speech rights.
In 2018, Google witnessed a large data breach associated with its G+ platform, potentially affecting the personal information of 500,000 users. Fearing congressional investigation and subsequent action in the wake of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company willfully obfuscated this fact and did not inform their users that a breach had occurred until long after the fact.
Affiliated Group: SPLC
“When I was 5, I bought a pig for a dollar. I fattened it up and sold it for 12.” — Morris Dees, Peoples Magazine.
Like many other tech companies, Alphabet/Google solicits advice from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a 501(c)3 legal advocacy group created in the 1971 by Morris S. Dees and Joseph Levin Jr., to determine what is and what is not a “hate group.” The Southern Poverty Law Center made its name combating the Klu Klux Klan at a particularly volatile period in the latter organizations history and as such garnered significant acclaim. However, the modus operandi for the organization, as revealed by a pertinent investigation of the facts surrounding their campaigns can only be described as free-mongering for-profit. Additionally, the SPLC has a long history of defamatory campaigns which slander and tarnish the reputations of political opponents (both real and perceived) of the organization. One such victim of the SPLC’s slander campaigns was US Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul, who was designated a “extremist” by The Center.
Jiankui’s experimentation was done with CRISPR-Cas9, a gene editing tool crafted from a naturally occurring genome editing system in bacteria which, in the wild, is utilized as a defense mechanism against viruses by cutting viral DNA. Scientists utilize CRISPR in a lab similarly, only in place of using it to disable viruses, they leverage the DNA manipulation properties inherent to the system to create genomic edits by creating a guide RNA which binds to a particular piece of DNA and a Cas9 enzyme. Once the targeted segment is clipped, the DNA’s own repair machinery activates and can be used to add or delete particular portions of material. At the end of the process one has a customized DNA sequence. However, germline edits (those made to genes in egg or sperm-cells) can create intergenerational changes which are difficult to account for which predisposes scientific communities to reticence. Further, many contest that it is “unnatural” and thus wrong, to change human attributes such as eye or hair color or IQ, which would have obvious and monumental social consequences which only further intensifies concern.
As a consequence of Jiankui’s work and announcement thereof, his university has organized a thorough investigation. Southern University of Science, in a public statement concerning the affair, stated, “Our school will immediately hire authoritative experts to set up an independent committee to conduct in-depth investigations and publish relevant information after investigation.” Qiu Zilong of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (中国科学) of Shanghai replied to the affair in a letter, stating, “We can only describe such behaviour as crazy.”
According to the Chinese/English news site, Caixin, He’s human gene experimentation is not just ethically dubious but potentially against Chinese law. The Chinese Communist Party has distanced themselves from the affair, signalling that it is, regardless of legality, deeply contentious.
Ironically, the errant researcher, He Jiankui himself, has echoed these concerns by stating that he only believes gene-editing should be used to cure illnesses and that any gene modifying procedures which change things such as hair or eye color or IQ should be “banned.” It is curious that such a high IQ population which has risen to become a contender for world hegemon as a consequence should look upon willfully increasing aggregate population intelligence as somehow perverse. Further, consider that providing schooling is considered extremely virtuous but increasing the intrinsic potential to absorb and make use of said schooling is considered grotesque…
Following Japan’s Project Ocean Spiral, China has recently released plans for a 1.1 billion yuan (160 million USD) underwater city in the Hadal Zone (6000-11,000 meters deep) of the South China Sea. The prospective habitation will be designed somewhat like a space station, with docking platforms and cutting-edge analytical equipment. In contradistinction to Ocean Spiral, China’s deepsea structure is planned to be partially autonomous, operating via a mechanical “brain.” Robotic submarines are to be deployed for sea-bed surveillance for the project.
The South China Morning Post has described the project as the “first artificial intelligence colony on Earth.”
The geopolitical snags will only intensify if China continues along with its other major project, crafting over 20 floating nuclear reactors in the SCS by 2020, a move which may violate international law (as per the 2016 UN court rulings), depending on who is asked and what, precisely, they build and where. Regardless, the scope of the project is grand and China’s ambitions, admirable.
One potential partner in the venture may be the Philippines, whose government, currently lead by Rodrigo Duterte, has pulled away from the country’s historical ally, the USA, in favor of closer ties to the Eurasian Bloc, namely, Russia and China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, said of the project, “There is no road in the deep sea, we do not need to chase [after other countries], we are the road.”
A Chinese researcher named He Jiankui of Shenzhen has recently released a video via Youtube wherein he declares that twin girls Lulu and Nana (pseudonyms to protect their identity) whose father was HIV positive and whose genes the Chinese scientist edited for increased resistance, “came crying into the world a few weeks ago,” and that they were home with their mother, Grace, and father, Mark.
According to the scientist, the gene surgery was a success, one which could only have happened in China, as the practice is illegal in the United States. He would not identify the couple (Mark and Grace), nor would he disclose their location.
Whilst He Jiankui does not provide any direct evidence of his claim, he does provide email links to both himself and Lulu and Nana (both provided at the end of the video).
If true, it would be quite groundbreaking.
Not everyone was taken with the news, for example, Dr. Kiran Musunuru, a University of Pennsylvania gene editing expert, stated that He’s experimentation was “unconscionable” and that human experimentation “is not morally or ethically defensible.”
Whilst present future-energy discussions are consumed by a locked-in back and forth between proponents of “renewables” and “fossil fuels,” nuclear energy has faded into the background. This is unfortunate as one of the most promising energy developments, nuclear fusion, is being consistently overlooked or dismissed as too far-flung and fanciful.
Nuclear fission is the process utilized at contemporary nuclear facilities whether LWRs or HWRs, fast-breeders or graphite moderated, wherein a uranium atom is split, releasing a tremendous amount of energy and a significant amount of nuclear by-product which decays slowly. In contradistinction to fission, nuclear fusion merges hydrogen atoms together into helium atoms and generates larger amounts of energy than fission and also generates a large amount of by-product which decays rapidly. Fusion is the process by which stars (such as our sun) generate energy. Whilst fusion is easy in a solar body as massive as the sun, due to the extreme pressure and heat, it is very difficult to recreate on earth.
Some of the most promising means of recreating the internal conditions of a star were achieved via the creation and utilization of tokamak reactors (the word “tokamak” comes from a Russian science abbreviation). Tokamak reactors differ markedly from traditional nuclear fission reactors in terms of their design which features a doughnut shaped apparatus (torus) that houses deuterium and tritium (heavy and super-heavy hydrogen isotopes) which are then meant to be heated to 100+ million degrees Celsius via electric currents within the apparatus. At such high temperatures the electrons are stripped off of the atoms and generate charged hydrogen plasma. Magnets within the tokamak reactor constrain the plasma to a small area which both keeps it from melting the machine-interior (because no known material can withstand such high temperatures) and increases the chances of hydrogen ions fusing and giving off more energy. The energy generated by this process can then be used to turn water to steam and power turbines to generate electricity.
One of the most well known tokamak reactors in the world is China’s EAST (Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak), located in Hefei; the first reactor in the world to utilize super-conducting toroidal (parallel to lines of latitude) and poloidal (towards the poles) magnets. EAST has been able to achieve temperatures of 50 million Celsius for 102 seconds, the device was also able to sustain plasma for over 100 seconds (a world record at the time of achievement in 2017). Later, the EAST reactor was able to achieve temperatures of 100 million Celsius, the ideal temperature range for the technology.
EAST’s success is the culmination of over 12 years of intensive research and planning as researchers from China’s Hefei Institute of Physical Science have been attempting to achieve nuclear fusion since 2006.
A large collaborative project (of which China is a member) known as the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is slated for testing 2027 in the south of France and is designed and expected to produce 10 times the number of energy utilized to power it which, if successful, will be the very first tokamak reactor to output more power than was put into the system.
Whilst even the most impressive tokamaks, such as EAST, to date, cannot output more energy than is put into them, the fact that they can generate charged plasma and increasing densities is extremely promising. However, tokamak reactors are not the only configurations being developed in the pursuit of nuclear fusion. Another promising reactor design purposed for nuclear fusion are known as stellarators (from the latin for star) and were first envisioned by the American theoretical physicist Lyman S. Spitzer Jr. Unlike tokamaks, stellarator reactors feature a modified torus which allows for better sustained plasma via the utilization of computationally modeled magnetic fields (to better direct and contain the plasma). One of the world’s most advanced stellarators is the Wendelstein 7-X of the Max Plank Institute For Plasma Physics of Greifswald, Germany. The Wendelstein has been able to sustain plasma for up to 26 seconds which is quite impressive given that a few years ago the public was astounded when plasma was sustain for less than a second. The rate of advancement in system enhancement bodes well.
Another vector of research is laser fusion wherein extremely short bursts of high powered lasers are used to achieve the high-temperature and pressure scenarios required for fusion via the hyper-compression of hydrogen isotopes which then fuses into helium and releases high-energy neutrons. A vexing consequence of this process (when utilizing deuterium and tritium) is the creation of neutron radiation. A alternative laser fusion method at the University of South Wales utilizes normal hydrogen protons and boron 11. Hydrogen-boron (HB11) fusion is fascinating because it produces very, very low levels of radioactivity; in fact the radioactivity levels are lower even than those generated by coal production. That’s extremely promising. But then the obvious question: How far away are any of these technologies from a fully functional, generously outputting fusion reactor?
According to ITER Director General Bernard Bigot, “The ITER project is very much on track. By the second half of this century this fusion technology will be available.” Others say development will take slightly longer, others, sooner. No one knows precisely, but what everyone can say for certain is that the technologies are progressing rapidly as both EAST and 7-X aptly demonstrate. In place of a “green” future we should be angling – championing – for a future far brighter, wherein the stars are not only ours to own, but ours to emulate and control.