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Samurai, spy, commando: who were the real ninja?

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The author of this piece in Aeon seems to know his subject:

Antony Cummins is an author and historical researcher, founder of the historical Ninjutsu Research team whose aim is to bring Japanese warrior literature to the English speaking world. You can read about the ninja in his works: Book of Ninja, Samurai and Ninja, True Path of the Ninja, In Search of the Ninja, Iga, and Koka Ninja and Secret Traditions of the Ninja. He has a bachelors degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and a masters degree in Archology, both from the University of Manchester.

The article begins:

few people might know a commando, even fewer might know a spy, yet the ninja, or shinobi, of Japan is both a commando and a spy, an instantly recognisable figure from the worlds of combat and espionage who occupies the borderland between reality and the unreal.

Despite this semi-mythical status, ninja were real, and an integral part of the samurai war machine from the early Middle Ages through to the 17th century, just as recognisable as any other department of war. Research shows that ninja were used in various roles: as propaganda agents, spy-hunters, commando units, single operators, criminal capture agents, topographers, advance scouts, castle and military camp defence, and of course as classic spies. They were billeted separately from regular troops and excused from daily camp duties due to their nocturnal activities.

Japan has a history of using masks to hide identity, and what we think of as the ‘ninja mask’ would have been seen in the streets of most Japanese towns and cities. Such masks would be used by officials not wanting to be recognised, gamblers arriving at gambling dens, and unfaithful husbands in the pleasure quarters of a city.

Ninjas, however, were not among the masked. In fact, though hundreds of ninja manuals remain from the Middle Ages onwards, not one reference to masks has emerged. In these manuals, evidence suggests that faces were visible. Instructions tell ninjas to hide the face with the sleeve, and mention the use of white headbands that identify members of a ninja unit at night as well as divine hair pins said to be charged with magical invisibility.

The writings also instruct that armour, which has been secured to avoid sound, be used on night raids. Loose clothing is to be worn when infiltrating a housing complex; black clothing for a new moon; light‑coloured clothing for a full moon; and popular colours to be used in open daylight when moving in crowds. The agent is to use disguise when taking on another identity, such as a merchant, monk or beggar.

Today’s popular image has the ninja throwing shuriken, colloquially known as ‘throwing stars’ or ‘ninja stars’, items that have almost no connection to the historical figure. Shuriken are a Japanese weapon that did exist throughout the period of the active ninja, but they simply do not appear in the manuals, nor does the equally iconic straight‑bladed sword, crowned with a square guard. Both straight (and, for the sake of argument, almost straight) blades and square hilts existed in Japan but there is no mention of the infamous ninjato or sword of the ninja.

Instead, as part of the samurai class, ninja used the standard weapons of their day along with special infiltration tools, including multiple sizes of saws, keys, nail extractors, drills, iron bars, pincers, shears, lock picks, sound dampeners, silent cloth sandals, low emitting lights, probes, door‑locking devices and sleeping gas. In addition to this, the ninja manufactured and used gunpowder, landmines, hand grenades, waterproof torches, incendiary arrows, scaling equipment, floating aids, collapsible ladders and bridges, signal flares, secret codes and seals.

Some of the most fascinating ninja narratives come from The Taiheiki: A Chronicle of Medieval Japan. The 14th-century epic describes the war between Shogun Ashikaga Takauji of Kyoto to the north and Japanese Emperor Go-Daigo, in Yoshino to the south.

Volume 20 of The Taiheiki states:

One night, as it was windy and raining, Moronao took advantage of the weather and sent out an Itsu mono no shinobi ( 逸物ノ忍: excellent ninja) to infiltrate Hatchiman Yama and to set fire to the buildings.

Volume 24 continues: . . .

Continue reading.

Ninja seem to correspond to the US Special Forces.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 February 2018 at 11:07 am

Posted in Military

He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He’s Worried About An Information Apocalypse.

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Charlie Warzel reports at BuzzFeed News:

In mid-2016, Aviv Ovadya realized there was something fundamentally wrong with the internet — so wrong that he abandoned his work and sounded an alarm. A few weeks before the 2016 election, he presented his concerns to technologists in San Francisco’s Bay Area and warned of an impending crisis of misinformation in a presentation he titled “Infocalypse.”

The web and the information ecosystem that had developed around it was wildly unhealthy, Ovadya argued. The incentives that governed its biggest platforms were calibrated to reward information that was often misleading and polarizing, or both. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google prioritized clicks, shares, ads, and money over quality of information, and Ovadya couldn’t shake the feeling that it was all building toward something bad — a kind of critical threshold of addictive and toxic misinformation. The presentation was largely ignored by employees from the Big Tech platforms — including a few from Facebook who would later go on to drive the company’s NewsFeed integrity effort.

“At the time, it felt like we were in a car careering out of control and it wasn’t just that everyone was saying, ‘we’ll be fine’ — it’s that they didn’t even see the car,” he said.

Ovadya saw early what many — including lawmakers, journalists, and Big Tech CEOs — wouldn’t grasp until months later: Our platformed and algorithmically optimized world is vulnerable — to propaganda, to misinformation, to dark targeted advertising from foreign governments — so much so that it threatens to undermine a cornerstone of human discourse: the credibility of fact.

But it’s what he sees coming next that will really scare the shit out of you.

“Alarmism can be good — you should be alarmist about this stuff,” Ovadya said one January afternoon before calmly outlining a deeply unsettling projection about the next two decades of fake news, artificial intelligence–assisted misinformation campaigns, and propaganda. “We are so screwed it’s beyond what most of us can imagine,” he said. “We were utterly screwed a year and a half ago and we’re even more screwed now. And depending how far you look into the future it just gets worse.”

That future, according to Ovadya, will arrive with a slew of slick, easy-to-use, and eventually seamless technological tools for manipulating perception and falsifying reality, for which terms have already been coined — “reality apathy,” “automated laser phishing,” and “human puppets.”

Which is why Ovadya, an MIT grad with engineering stints at tech companies like Quora, dropped everything in early 2016 to try to prevent what he saw as a Big Tech–enabled information crisis. “One day something just clicked,” he said of his awakening. It became clear to him that, if somebody were to exploit our attention economy and use the platforms that undergird it to distort the truth, there were no real checks and balances to stop it. “I realized if these systems were going to go out of control, there’d be nothing to reign them in and it was going to get bad, and quick,” he said.

Today Ovadya and a cohort of loosely affiliated researchers and academics are anxiously looking ahead — toward a future that is alarmingly dystopian. They’re running war game–style disaster scenarios based on technologies that have begun to pop up and the outcomes are typically disheartening.

For Ovadya — now the chief technologist for the University of Michigan’s Center for Social Media Responsibility and a Knight News innovation fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia — the shock and ongoing anxiety over Russian Facebook ads and Twitter bots pales in comparison to the greater threat: Technologies that can be used to enhance and distort what is real are evolving faster than our ability to understand and control or mitigate it. The stakes are high and the possible consequences more disastrous than foreign meddling in an election — an undermining or upending of core civilizational institutions, an “infocalypse.” And Ovadya says that this one is just as plausible as the last one — and worse.

Worse because of our ever-expanding computational prowess; worse because of ongoing advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning that can blur the lines between fact and fiction; worse because those things could usher in a future where, as Ovadya observes, anyone could make it “appear as if anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did.”

And much in the way that foreign-sponsored, targeted misinformation campaigns didn’t feel like a plausible near-term threat until we realized that it was already happening, Ovadya cautions that fast-developing tools powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality tech could be hijacked and used by bad actors to imitate humans and wage an information war.

And we’re closer than one might think to a potential “Infocalypse.” Already available tools for audio and video manipulation have begun to look like a potential fake news Manhattan Project. In the murky corners of the internet, people have begun using machine learning algorithms and open-source software to easily create pornographic videos that realistically superimpose the faces of celebrities — or anyone for that matter — on the adult actors’ bodies. At institutions like Stanford, technologists have built programs that that combine and mix recorded video footagewith real-time face tracking to manipulate video. Similarly, at the University of Washington computer scientists successfully built a program capable of “turning audio clips into a realistic, lip-synced video of the person speaking those words.” As proof of concept, both the teams manipulated broadcast video to make world leaders appear to say things they never actually said.

As these tools become democratized and widespread, Ovadya notes that the worst case scenarios could be extremely destabilizing.

There’s “diplomacy manipulation,” in which a malicious actor uses advanced technology to “create the belief that an event has occurred” to influence geopolitics. Imagine, for example, a machine-learning algorithm (which analyzes gobs of data in order to teach itself to perform a particular function) fed on hundreds of hours of footage of Donald Trump or North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, which could then spit out a near-perfect — and virtually impossible to distinguish from reality — audio or video clip of the leader declaring nuclear or biological war. “It doesn’t have to be perfect — just good enough to make the enemy think something happened that it provokes a knee-jerk and reckless response of retaliation.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2018 at 9:11 am

Afghan Pedophiles Get Free Pass From U.S. Military, Report Says

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Rod Nordland reports in the NY Times:

On 5,753 occasions from 2010 to 2016, the United States military reported accusations of “gross human rights abuses” by the Afghan military, including many examples of child sexual abuse. If true, American law required military aid to be cut off to the offending unit.

Not once did that happen.

That was among the findings in an investigation into child sexual abuse by the Afghan security forces and the supposed indifference of the American military to the problem, according to a report released on Monday by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, known as Sigar.

The report, commissioned under the Obama administration, was considered so explosive that it was originally marked “Secret/ No Foreign,” with the recommendation that it remain classified until June 9, 2042. The report was finished in June 2017, but it appears to have included data only through 2016, before the Trump administration took office.

The report released on Monday was heavily redacted, and at least in the public portions it did little to answer questions about how prevalent child sexual abuse was in the Afghan military and police, and how commonly the American military looked the other way at the widespread practice of bacha bazi, or “boy play,” in which some Afghan commanders keep underage boys as sex slaves.

“Although DOD and State have taken steps to identify and investigate child sexual assault incidents, the full extent of these incidences may never be known,” the report said, referring to the departments of Defense and State.

Sigar said it had opened an investigation into bacha bazi at the request of Congress and in response to a 2015 New York Times article that described the practice as “rampant.” The article said that American soldiers who complained had their careers ruined by their superiors, who had encouraged them to ignore the practice.

“DOD and State only began efforts to address this issue after it was raised by The New York Times,” said John F. Sopko, the special inspector general. “And even after that story, the sufficiency of policies they’ve put in place and the resources they’ve committed seem questionable. When Congress passed the Leahy laws they prioritized the issue of gross human rights violations. As our report clearly shows, both agencies failed to live up to that task.”

A former Special Forces officer, Capt. Dan Quinn, who beat up an Afghan commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave, said at the time that he had been relieved of his command as a result. “We were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did,” said Captain Quinn, who has left the military.

Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a highly decorated Green Beret, was forced out of the military after beating up an Afghan local police commander in Kunduz who was a child rapist. Sergeant Martland became incensed after the Afghan commander abducted the boy, raped him, then beat up the boy’s mother when she tried to rescue him. Congressional inquiries apparently led to Sergeant Martland’s reinstatement.

The Times article also cited the suspicious death of Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr., a United States Marine who was killed at a checkpoint where he was stationed with a notorious commander who had a retinue of bacha bazi boys. Corporal Buckley had complained about that commander and was killed, along with two other Marines, by one of the commander’s boys.

The Sigar report made no mention of the cases of Corporal Buckley, Captain Quinn or Sergeant Martland, and it appeared to have interviewed only three unnamed American soldiers who reported being aware of the practice, which many soldiers and Afghan officials have told journalists they know to be widespread.

As of Aug. 12, 2016, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 January 2018 at 8:58 am

Posted in Daily life, Military

Republicans haven’t really prepared for a shutdown

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Jennifer Rubin reports in the Washington Post:

As Republicans bungle their way to a government shutdown, it is worth noting that they do not seem to have, to our knowledge, adequately prepared for it. When the clock hits 12:01 Saturday morning, the government must close, employees must cease using government devices (e.g. computers, cellphones) and contractors cannot provide services. The exceptions are twofold — the uniformed military and those designated as essential personnel.

PolitiFact tells us that for the military, the defense of the nation goes on:

Active-duty military personnel have always been required to work through shutdowns. Army troops don’t abandon their posts and naval ships don’t all return to port. In addition, many civilian workers in the Defense Department have been required to work through shutdowns.

Other civilian workers in the Defense Department, however, hold jobs that do not meet the urgency threshold to keep working. In 2013, the government furloughed about half of its civilian workers, or about 400,000 employees, leaving a patchwork of various permissible and impermissible activities, according to Federal News Radio.

The “essential” designation for civilians throughout the government is hardly self-evident. The White House needs to give direction as to how broadly or narrowly to interpret “essential.” The doctors at a Veterans Affairs hospital are almost certainly essential, but what about the clerk who orders medicine or the doctors providing non-emergency services?

The Post reports that even basic decisions have not yet been made. “With government funding set to expire at midnight Friday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was still working with White House and National Park Service officials to develop a plan for keeping open parks from the District to Montana without rangers or other staff on site.”

Each government agency and department must go through every category of employee and decide who stays and who goes. Obviously, preparations to shut down the government (everything from warning notices to building security to halting payment of vendors) must be arranged in advance. Then to reopen the government, an orderly process must be adopted as well. Is the federal government ready for all this?

According to Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service (which among other things teams up with The Post to track the status of political appointees), tells me it’s not easy to bring the federal government to a halt — or to restart it. He says that “preparations for a shutdown are arduous and have not been sufficiently undertaken.”

Stier also writes:

One can expect regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to curtail enforcement activities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cease some of its disease surveillance during one of the worst flu seasons in years. National Parks will close, passport applications will not be processed, small businesses will not receive financing and multiple services for veterans will be curtailed.
In addition, it has been estimated by S&P Global analysts that a shutdown would cost the economy about $6.5 billion a week. If it lasts an extended period of time, a shutdown could even slow the nation’s economic momentum.

Congress’s utter dysfunction is wasting the taxpayers’ money and depriving taxpayers of the functional government their dollars have paid for.
There is a bigger issue at play here, even aside from the possible shutdown. The repeated use of continuing resolutions in lieu of a budget means agencies and departments (including the military) don’t get the full year of funding they were promised. (Try building three-fourths of an airplane.) Rather than budgeting and paying appropriate rates for goods and services to be used over the course of a year, the federal government must do so in increments of a few weeks. In essence, it is buying bread by the slice rather than purchasing loaves of bread at the wholesale rate. Stier explains:

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was more direct, commenting in December that continued budget ambiguity since 2011 has cost his service a staggering $4 billion due to stalled acquisition programs and deferred maintenance. He said it also has resulted in operational inefficiencies and hurt troop readiness.
“We have put $4 billion in a trash can, poured lighter fluid on it and burned it,” Spencer said. “Four billion is enough to buy a squadron of F-35s, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, 3,000 Harpoon missiles. It’s enough money to buy us additional capacity that we need. Instead, it’s lost because of inefficiency in the ways of the continuing resolution.”

All of this is an argument for banishing dysfunctional lawmakers in the majority who with a president of the same party have been given custody over the federal government. If they care so little about its operation and effectiveness, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2018 at 11:43 am

Canadian Research Adds to Worry Over an Environmental Threat the Pentagon Has Downplayed for Decades

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Abrahm Lustgarten reports in ProPublica:

New research by Canadian scientists into the spread of a chemical commonly used in military explosives has confirmed some of the worst fears of U.S. environmental regulators tracking the threat posed by the Pentagon’s handling of its munitions in this country.

The Canadian research analyzed soil and water samples at nine sites where military explosives were detonated between 1990 and 2014, and came up with data about where and in what concentrations the explosive compound known as RDX, a possible human carcinogen, had turned up. Calling RDX “an internationally known problem,” which “has led to an international warning on possible soil, surface water, and groundwater contamination on military training sites,” the research described with actual measurements how RDX floats on the wind and seeps through soils into water supplies.

The researchers took water samples from groundwater at the explosives sites and found that in 26 out of 36 samples, the RDX that had made its way into aquifers exceeded levels considered safe. As a result, the researchers suggest that the data can be used to model RDX contamination at any site where munitions are routinely detonated, and for the first time, give environmental experts a way to quantify how much of it is spreading into surrounding communities.

RDX was considered a major military breakthrough when it was first developed for large-scale use on the eve of World War II, and to this day it remains a staple of the U.S. military’s war-making abilities, used in bombs, missiles and other weapons. And for decades, the Pentagon has known about RDX’s potential health and environmental threat. But the Pentagon has long maintained that the risk is not great, and it has both financed research and flexed its political muscle to have its view prevail. Most recently, the Pentagon has waged an intense fight to not have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency upgrade its classification of RDX’s health threat, a move that could expose the Department of Defense to billions of added dollars in cleanup costs.

At a minimum, the Canadian research — published Nov. 17 in the Journal of Environmental Quality — will add to the store of knowledge about RDX contamination. The research found that while the highest concentrations of RDX remained in a ring around the sites where munitions had exploded, pieces of explosive, perhaps as large as a centimeter, were carried on the wind and later settled in the soil. Surface and groundwater samples showed that the RDX ultimately did not quickly dissolve or degrade as it sank deeper into the earth, where it usually was carried into water supplies.

Harry Craig, one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s foremost experts on explosives contamination, has described RDX as the single greatest problem the U.S. faces when it comes to cleaning up thousands of toxic munitions sites across the country. In an email to agency colleagues, Craig described the Canadian research as both novel and useful.

ProPublica reported on the history of RDX and the Department of Defense’s long-standing campaign to minimize its risks and fight EPA regulation in December. RDX has been discovered at dozens of U.S. defense sites, and increasingly in public drinking water supplies around them.  After early research by the U.S. Army determined that RDX was likely responsible for cancerous tumors in rats and mice, the Department of Defense has produced dozens of reports portraying RDX as more benign. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2018 at 3:00 pm

Wars are not won by military genius or decisive battles

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Very interesting article. It is, of course, necessary to win at least some battles, but that is not sufficient. Cathal J Nolan, who teaches military history at Boston University and is the author of The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost (2017), has in Aeon an extract from his book:

War is the most complex, physically and morally demanding enterprise we undertake. No great art or music, no cathedral or temple or mosque, no intercontinental transport net or particle collider or space programme, no research for a cure for a mass-killing disease receives a fraction of the resources and effort we devote to making war. Or to recovery from war and preparations for future wars invested over years, even decades, of tentative peace. War is thus far more than a strung-together tale of key battles. Yet, traditional military history presented battles as fulcrum moments where empires rose or fell in a day, and most people still think that wars are won that way, in an hour or an afternoon of blood and bone. Or perhaps two or three. We must understand the deeper game, not look only to the scoring. That is hard to do because battles are so seductive.

War evokes our fascination with spectacle, and there is no greater stage or more dramatic players than on a battlefield. We are drawn to battles by a lust of the eye, thrilled by a blast from a brass horn as Roman legionaries advance in glinting armour or when a king’s wave releases mounted knights in a heavy cavalry charge. Grand battles are open theatre with a cast of many tens of thousands: samurai under signal kites, mahouts mounted on elephants, a Zulu impi rushing over lush grass toward a redcoat firing line. Battles open with armies dressed in red, blue or white, flags fluttering, fife and drums beating the advance. Or with the billowing canvas of a line of fighting sail, white pufferies erupting in broadside volleys. Or a wedge of tanks hard-charging over the Russian steppe. What comes next is harder to comprehend.

The idea of the ‘decisive battle’ as the hinge of war, and wars as the gates of history, speaks to our naive desire to view modern war in heroic terms. Popular histories are written still in a drums-and-trumpets style, with vivid depictions of combat divorced from harder logistics, daily suffering, and a critical look at the societies and cultures that produced mass armies and sent them off to fight in faraway fields for causes about which the average soldier knew nothing.

Visual media especially play on what the public wants to see: raw courage and red days, the thrill of vicarious violence and spectacle. This is the world of war as callow entertainment, of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds(2009) or Brad Pitt in Fury (2014). It’s not the world of real Nazis or real war.

Battles also entice generals and statesmen with the idea that a hard red day can be decisive, and allow us to avoid attrition, which we all despise as morally vulgar and without redemptive heroism. We fear to find only indecision and tragedy without uplift or morality in trench mud, or roll calls of dead accumulating over years of effort and endurance. Instead, we raise battles to summits of heroism and generals to levels of genius that history cannot support. Though some historians might try, celebrating even failed campaigns as glorious. Prussia is wrecked, yet Frederick is the greatest of Germans. France is beaten and an age is named for Louis XIV, another for Napoleon. Europe lies in ruin, but German generals displayed genius with Panzers.

Whether or not we agree that some wars were necessary and just, we should look straight at the grim reality that victory was most often achieved in the biggest and most important wars by attrition and mass slaughter – not by soldierly heroics or the genius of command. Winning at war is harder than that. Cannae, Tours, Leuthen, Austerlitz, Tannenberg, Kharkov – all recall sharp images in a word. Yet winning such lopsided battles did not ensure victory in war. Hannibal won at Cannae, Napoleon at Austerlitz, Hitler at Sedan and Kiev. All lost in the end, catastrophically.

There is heroism in battle but there are no geniuses in war.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 January 2018 at 10:43 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Military

Yuval Harari, author of “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” has a new book

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Here are the opening paragraphs of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow:

At the dawn of the third millennium, humanity wakes up, stretching its limbs and rubbing its eyes. Remnants of some awful nightmare are still drifting across its mind. ‘There was something with barbed wire, and huge mushroom clouds. Oh well, it was just a bad dream.’ Going to the bathroom, humanity washes its face, examines its wrinkles in the mirror, makes a cup of coffee and opens the diary. ‘Let’s see what’s on the agenda today.’

For thousands of years the answer to this question remained unchanged. The same three problems preoccupied the people of twentieth-century China, of medieval India and of ancient Egypt. Famine, plague and war were always at the top of the list. For generation after generation humans have prayed to every god, angel and saint, and have invented countless tools, institutions and social systems – but they continued to die in their millions from starvation, epidemics and violence. Many thinkers and prophets concluded that famine, plague and war must be an integral part of God’s cosmic plan or of our imperfect nature, and nothing short of the end of time would free us from them.

Yet at the dawn of the third millennium, humanity wakes up to an amazing realisation. Most people rarely think about it, but in the last few decades we have managed to rein in famine, plague and war. Of course, these problems have not been completely solved, but they have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. We don’t need to pray to any god or saint to rescue us from them. We know quite well what needs to be done in order to prevent famine, plague and war – and we usually succeed in doing it.

True, there are still notable failures; but when faced with such failures we no longer shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Well, that’s the way things work in our imperfect world’ or ‘God’s will be done’. Rather, when famine, plague or war break out of our control, we feel that somebody must have screwed up, we set up a commission of inquiry, and promise ourselves that next time we’ll do better. And it actually works. Such calamities indeed happen less and less often. For the first time in history, more people die today from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals combined. In the early twenty-first century, the average human is far more likely to die from bingeing at McDonald’s than from drought, Ebola or an al-Qaeda attack.

Hence even though presidents, CEOs and generals still have their daily schedules full of economic crises and military conflicts, on the cosmic scale of history humankind can lift its eyes up and start looking towards new horizons. If we are indeed bringing famine, plague and war under control, what will replace them at the top of the human agenda? Like firefighters in a world without fire, so humankind in the twenty-first century needs to ask itself an unprecedented question: what are we going to do with ourselves? In a healthy, prosperous and harmonious world, what will demand our attention and ingenuity? This question becomes doubly urgent given the immense new powers that biotechnology and information technology are providing us with. What will we do with all that power?

Before answering this question, we need to say a few more words about famine, plague and war. The claim that we are bringing them under control may strike many as outrageous, extremely naïve, or perhaps callous. What about the billions of people scraping a living on less than $2 a day? What about the ongoing AIDS crisis in Africa, or the wars raging in Syria and Iraq? To address these concerns, let us take a closer look at the world of the early twenty-first century, before exploring the human agenda for the coming decades. . .

I bought it and am reading it now.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 December 2017 at 1:15 pm

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