30 May 2014

#Review: TransEvolution by Daniel Estulin @EstulinDaniel - #transhumanism

TransEvolution: The Coming Age of Human Deconstruction (2014) is an alarmist book by Daniel Estulin, a commentator on the secretive Bilderberg Group who is well-liked by many – in particular on conspiracy theorist forums. Essentially, this should be regarded as conspiracy theory material. My refutations of it are too many to cram into this review, so I will mainly focus on what the book itself says.

Daniel Estulin connects disparate events and sources to depict an elaborate conspiracy. The main starting claim of the book is a link between the 2005 Bilderberg Conference and the 2006 document Strategic Trends 2007-2036 prepared by the British government (p. 1-12). Estulin claims that the latter report’s predictions betray “Promethean” plans that represent “designs by the Bilderberg Group”.

The book makes the allegation that the economic pressure on the world today “is being done on purpose, absolutely on purpose. The reason is because our current corporate empire knows that “progress of humanity” means their imminent demise”. The “powers-that-be” destroy nation-states to maintain power, and “this is by design” (p. 13). Estulin decries international money flows and globalization, and promotes “physical economy” instead. To make a long story short, he describes the apparatus of globalization, integration, etc. as a clash between the nation-state and global oligarchy and frames this as a classic battle between good and evil respectively (p. 13-35). “The ideas of a nation-state republic and progress” are intrinsically connected (p. 34), Estulin argues, putting forward his preference for the old Jacobin ideological script of the Nineteenth Century rather than modern discourses on integration and communication.

In his preference for the nation-state, Estulin attacks the WTO’s record on free trade, and makes criticisms that are provisionally valid. However, he confuses the tendency for weaker nations to be exploited through free trade with a conspiracy against the nation-state. The WTO’s commitment to what it calls free trade, a commitment to “One World, One Market”, reflects “anti-nation-state intent”, Estulin argues (p. 37-38).

Although they attach too much agency to global “elites”, Estulin’s description of the way international trade on agriculture has been manipulated to disadvantage poor nations and advantage rich nations (p. 38-49) agrees with already powerful sociology theories of “free trade imperialism” and the larger humanitarian message of the alter-globalization movement. Estulin quotes William Engdahl’s The Seeds of Destruction at length to argue against the destructive local impacts of global agribusiness (p. 47-53).

Estulin interprets the spread of the pharmaceuticals industry as evidence of the elite seeking a docile and controlled population, “massive drugging of the population”, “controlled chaos”, and even goes as far as to say that GMOs will be poisoning everyone on the planet and finally kill 3 billion people indiscriminately (p. 63-68). More puzzlingly than what has already been specified, Estulin blames the Club of Rome thesis itself (which predicted the depletion of resources leading to economic collapse) for making an enemy of humanity and submitting a plan for no less than the deliberate depopulation of the Earth (p. 17-20).

Synthetic biology is not spared from criticism by Estulin. He immediately labels it as “founded on the ambition that one day it will be possible to design and manufacture a human being” (p. 69). For the record, nowhere in the field of synthetic biology has anyone actually advocated manufacturing human beings, and nor does such an ambition coincide with the conspiracy theory about depopulating the Earth. Estulin further confuses science with pseudoscience, stating “genetics, as defined by the Rockefeller Foundation, would constitute the new face of eugenics” (p. 71). “Ultimately,” Estulin writes, “this is about taking control of nature, redesigning it and rebuilding it to serve the whims of the controlling elite” (p. 72).

In further arguments against the perceived “elite”, Estulin demonizes space exploration, saying “the elite are planning, at least, a limited exodus from the Planet Earth. Why? What do they know that we don’t? Nuclear wars? Nanowars? Bacteriological wars?” (p. 123) Chapter 4, although titled “space exploration”, is dedicated to explaining the deadly potential of future security and defense technologies when used by regimes against their own people (p. 115-156).

Then, we get to transhumanism (only in the last chapter.) The chapter alleges that the US government thought up a transhumanist agenda in 2001 as a strategic military contingency – in particular the Russian 2045 Movement. According to Estulin, the transhumanist conspiracy in its present form comes from a conference, “The Age of Transitions” (p. 159-161). Using little more than the few links between political or business figures and transhumanism as evidence, he alleges that transhumanism is “steered by the elite” and that “we, the people, have not been invited” (p. 161-162).

The movie Avatar (2010) by James Cameron (mistakenly named as David Cameron in Estulin’s book), is connected by Estulin with the 2045 movement’s enthusiasm for humans becoming “avatars” by means of being uploaded as digital beings (p. 162-164). Further, the movie Prometheus (2012) by Ridley Scott reflects the “future plans of the elite” according to Estulin (p. 165-170). However, he does not analyze either movie, and fails to note that Peter Weyland (the “elite”) in the movie is actually a vile character and his search for life-extension is a product of his greed and vanity (this is not exactly a glamorization of the search for life extension). If anything, Prometheus joins a long tradition of literature and film that encourages people not to trust transhumanism and life extension and to fear where such movements could lead.

Exaggerated connections and resemblances between disparate conferences, such as the US government and Russian longevity enthusiasts, are put forward as evidence of a conspiracy (p. 170). Then, we get to Estulin’s real complaint against transhumanism:
“Many people have trouble understanding what the true transhumanism movement is about, and why it’s so evil. After all, it’s just about improving our quality of life, right? Or is transhumanism about social control on a gigantic scale?” (p. 172-173)
Estulin also asserts:
“Transhumanism fills people’s hopes and minds with dreams of becoming superhuman, but the fact of the matter is that the true goal is the removal of that pesky, human free will itself.” (p. 186)
Estulin (and Engdahl’s) belief in a eugenic “depopulation” agenda (p. 57), as hideous as the crimes of Nazism, in Monsanto’s work is an example of a conspiracy theory appealing to irrational fears. Both of these writers are confusing corporate greed and monopolistic priorities with actual wicked and genocidal intent, and assigning motives that do not exist. They are confusing structural evils in the world system with actions by evil men gathered in dark rooms. Estulin also conveniently misses out the fact that the indiscriminate poisoning of all life by changing the DNA of every living thing would also threaten the conspirators and their own families. I guess we must assume that the conspirators are also a suicide cult, of the same breed as Jim Jones’ “People’s Temple”.

At the end of the book’s tirade about synthetic biology being a ticket for the elite to control all life, Estulin reverts back to a question very prominent in mainstream fora: “can we trust the major corporations with the right thing?” (p. 74). The answer from almost everyone would be Nobut not for any of the reasons Estulin has put forward. We can’t trust the major corporations, because their only interest is endless profit in the near term, and such profit is maximized by their ability to monopolize and detain real progress. Monsanto and other agri-giants are only vainly forestalling and trying to contain the real technium for their own greed – there is nothing radical about them.

One thing I find ever entertaining about conspiracy theories is the tendency to get their ideas from Hollywood movies, while at the same time refuting the movies as an example of brainwashing and propaganda. Apparently, despite all their warnings to people not to be influenced by media, conspiracy theorists are incapable of noticing how impressionable and easily pressured they themselves are.

The book even attacks Darwinian evolution and natural selection, seeing a sinister agenda in them (p. 179-180), which adds to the book’s already deep anti-science message. He connects the theory of evolution with the destructive idea of social Darwinism, and with transhumanism in turn (p. 190-191). The elite plan to “bring society down to the level of beast” by encouraging such social Darwinism, Estulin alleges (p. 211-219).

Bizarre speculated connections between Malthusian theories, Darwin, the British Empire, eugenics and ultimately transhumanism (p. 174-178) do not take note of the fact that transhumanists and technoprogressives are the one camp in the world most opposed to Malthusianism. Technoprogressives are the camp with the most faith in the idea that the entire world can be fed and sustained. No-one has more faith in the infinite resources of humanity and the ability to meet everyone’s needs than the technoprogressives.

Perhaps reflecting the book’s confusion, Chapter 1 is dedicated to asserting that the “elite” will reduce everyone to a primitive and chaotic setting, whereas Chapter 2 onwards alleges that the plan is a high-tech dystopia. These two polar opposite conspiracies do not coincide in any way, as do the paradoxical claims that transhuman technologies are never going to be seen by the world’s poor, yet are also going to be forced on the whole of humanity.

The coverage of transhumanism and understanding of it in this book is not positive (to put it politely). It fails to take account of transhumanism’s real basis as a movement exploring emerging trends to change humanity for the better. Instead, it simply exaggerates marginal influences by futurism, popular science and technology enthusiasm on governments and business elites as representing a global conspiracy.

A more informative theory about the relationship of the “elite” towards transhumanism would instead explore the habit of ignorant opposition by Neoconservatives, warmongers, and the mainstream media towards international peace, development, science, education, web freedom, and ultimately transhumanism.

By Harry J. Bentham - More articles by Harry J. Bentham

Originally published on 20 May 2014 at h+ Magazine

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Making the most of your #laptop… case

An excellent laptop case is essential if you take good care of your hardware on the move. Netbooks have their own selection of cases too. The following are the best choices determined by ClubOfINFO, if you are in need of a case.

Cases can actually be used for more than just keeping dust off your laptop. According to one personal security expert, they even help privacy. Correctly sealed, they will neutralize the ability of hackers and government spies to listen in on your personal conversations via your machine when it isn’t in use.

Best laptop case


A laptop sleeve is just as effective as a laptop case (minus that you can’t keep your lead and other equipment in it), and many are carefully engineered impact foam to absorb shock if the machine is dropped. Our recommendation of this kind is the Case Logic sleeve for 15 inch screens.

If a full case is what you are searching for, you will need to be prepared to pay more, but it will have the added bonus of being able to store your lead, a tablet and more. In fact, many of these are indistinguishable from the briefcases that many people use to carry their workload. For this, we recommend the Case Logic 17 inch laptop and tablet case.

Of course, we recognize that these cases only work for you if you have one of the bigger laptops that are increasingly popular now. Many, like me, instead prefer to rely on netbooks because they are such small and convenient partners to have.

Best netbook case


A sleeve is the most convenient and reliable way of keeping hold of a netbook. Netbooks are so small that, once in a sleeve, they can be put away in almost any briefcase and not burden the user much. The Kensington reversible sleeve is very good quality and has been reduced recently to a very low price, which makes it by far the most logical choice.

One suggestion would be to combine this with a Samsonite briefcase or similar, which would allow for easily moving documents and a netbook. University students making their way to lectures are particularly fond of this kind of combination.

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27 May 2014

#NetNeutrality and Government Hypocrisy on #WebFreedom - @HJBentham

- @ClubOfINFOOn May 15, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed rules that would threaten net neutrality.

As stated by Michael Copps at the Common Cause grassroots organization, “This is an alarming day for anyone who treasures a free and open Internet – which should be all of us”. Many are still unfamiliar with this subject, but they should take the time to learn what it means. Not simply US citizens should be concerned about a threat to net neutrality. US hegemony over the Internet means everyone should be concerned.

According to an analysis from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), rules proposed by the FCC “threaten the future of our Internet” by stifling the potential for creativity, innovation and freedom of expression. They do this by saying it is okay for internet service providers to discriminate in favor of bigger web companies, so they can connect to their users faster. The EFF amply sums this up as “allowing Internet providers to discriminate how we access websites by offering an option for web companies to pay to connect to users at faster speeds.” This has been called creating “fast lanes” for firms able to pay more than the others.

The discrimination permitted under the FCC proposal is recognized to mean there will be less diversity, less creativity and less freedom available to everyone through the Internet. Internet service providers could become “gatekeepers”, thus reducing competition and freedom of expression.

Many believe that the unique character of the Internet as a place of anarchic socialization and equality – the most celebrated aspects of life online – is under threat by the FCC’s proposed rules (If you are one of them, sign here to take a stand). If people do not act quickly to stop it, they will face the dark possibility of the Internet being yet another space occupied by a handful of monolithic companies, like the airwaves or the newspapers before.

What is happening is part of a frightening trend that seriously threatens the usefulness of the Internet as a popular space giving a voice to the voiceless. The Internet should not be hired out to the highest bidders and dominated solely by them, in a mere sham of free speech and competition. The actions of large firms in the direction of curtailing competition, freedom and the popular Internet will take more offensive forms, if they are not stopped.

While the current proposed rules by the FCC are a threat mainly to small businesses, we can already imagine the trend eventually affecting our own lives. Imagine not being able to view the best of anything other than the sites controlled by powerful corporations – the same “stakeholders” that already control the US government and media through lobbying. Not only would this discrimination be tantamount to censorship, it would also appear to be part of a deepening offence against democratization and moral revolutions through technology in the Western world.

As usual, the US government is continuing to accuse vulnerable regimes around the world of not respecting freedom, while it goes to extraordinary lengths to stifle freedom and strengthen a corrupt and autocratic corporate regime to the detriment of society. As usual, the US government continues to claim it supports competition, yet its only interest seems to be in privileging and protecting a handful of corporations, crushing competition, retarding technology and crippling the long-term potential of humanity for the sake of its own greed.

Regardless of its origins or its original design, the Internet has come to be used as a means of disclosing and encountering the truth. It has been a source of alternate media, and it has drastically weakened the influence of the corporate media. It is inevitable that the corporate-lobbied regime in the US will try to launch an onslaught against the foundations of such transparency and freedom. Greed and the desire for illicit monopoly and oligopoly pervade the US establishment and regime, leading them to seek out the total invulnerability of the regime and the handful of monstrously powerful corporations that sponsor it.

If consumers do not take a stand against the creation of “fast lanes”, they can expect to suffer further costs in the near future as powerful companies gain unfair advantages and tighten their grip over the Internet. The FCC rules, if they really come into effect, may be the thin end of a wedge to completely removing individuals and organizations from the Internet because they are unable to conform to the cruel monopolistic regulations of the corporate-dominated regime.

The problem, according to consumer advocates, lies in the attempt to portray the web as a service to be purchased at different qualities depending on how much money you have, rather than a utility that should be equally available to everyone, guaranteed and protected by the government. If the Internet can be classed as a utility to be safeguarded by the government, like electricity and gas, web users can be assured that they are not at a disadvantage to the handful of powerful businesses determined to suffocate freedom and competition.

If we take into account its true liberating and awakening impact on global society, the Internet must be seen not just as a utility but as a human right. As Pope Francis noted, the Internet is truly valuable for society. It offers an unprecedented opportunity for communication and the elimination of global disparity. Such things make it tantamount to a “gift from God”, something that cannot be denied so long as we know it to be a source of liberation for the many.

By Harry J. Bentham - More articles by Harry J. Bentham

Originally published on 22 May 2014 at Dissident Voice

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'Are We Too Dependent on #Computers?' - Jermaine Santos

A computer has been one of mankind's greatest invention among other inventions ever since the foundation of science began. Its development was a result of years and years of long experiments spanning a hundred or so years conducted not just by one man, but many. Development of computers as it is today is a continuous process and it will ever be. Computers, however simple they may seem now to the computer literate, has a complex set of system underneath. It takes multiple disciplines in both computer studies and electronics to fully understand them. After all, computer in itself is subdivided into branches as is science itself.

While other technological inventions may have had already been developed prior to the foundation of science, "technology" is not yet a proper term for such. The word technology, after all, is always correlated with science and both science and technology are mutually inclusive to one another, strictly speaking in terminologies. Computers of today, however advanced they may seem, have had its origins in humble beginnings.

How did computers begin?


Abacus, the earliest form of calculator, has been recorded to be in use since the early civilizations estimated to be around 1000 and 500 B.C., only to be adopted elsewhere in the world. The idea on how the algorithm of a computer does its arithmetic was based on this, in logic. Soon after, for as early as 1820's, in the personification of Charles Babbage, dubbed to be one of the fathers of modern computer, developed ideas on how computers should do its math, initially known as the difference engine, it developed later after to become what is known as the analytical engine. While Charles Babbage, due to funding issues, didn't get to see his ideas into fruition during his lifetime, it is his youngest son, Henry Babbage, who did so in 1910 based on his. However, this primitive form of computer is not as advanced as how we see on computers of today.

The idea of the need to do the computation on our behalf as man, hence the word 'computer,' came out of the need to handle complex problems and perform complex computations that is both difficult and takes longer time for man to handle. Especially true during the times of the industrialization era and great world war where the need for such arose. How a computer behaves is what's in a library of a computer.

The development of computer grew by a lot since laying the foundation by Charles Babbage as was inspired by existing "technologies" of its time. From names of people of the past significant in the foundation of computers such as Ada Lovelace, Konrad Zuse, Alan Turing, John Atanasoff & Clifford Berry, Howard Aiken & Grace Hopper, so on and so forth, up to the present computer giant names such as William Gates, Steve Wozniak, and Steve Jobs, among others, computers of today are bigger in functions than they are their sizes and have found a spot in every people's lives in both commercial and personal usage.
How do people use computers in their daily lives?

Modern day computers laid out the foundation on how we perform duties of today. It is a lot more efficient and makes the work done in shorter times. From a simple household leisure such is playing games or running multimedia programs, to doing office works, to a more difficult developing programs, up to a more complex computations such is done in NASA, computers made all this possible -- all in a single box. What once takes a long time to finish in groups as in seen in companies without computers, can now be finished in shorter times with those.

Computers taking over the world


Also one of the most popular usage of computers is the internet. What once was the trend for telephones and telegrams, has become internet's - and it is worldwide. Literally, computers taking over the world.

Although initially used for military purposes concurrent to the development of the computer, the internet grew up to become commercialized as it is used today. The internet, in conjunction to and other than the previous means, made communication around the world possible which also gave rise to communication tools such as the social media. To date, billions of people use computers with the internet every day.
Are we really too dependent on computers?

We may be are dependent on computers in relation to the internet given the information age we are in, since the computer age began. But such dependency was initially for a good intention - that is, to keep up with the demands of progress through the efficiency and rate the work demanded is done with computers as both our aid and tools. Let's face it, there are complex works out there that can only be efficiently done if and only if we have computers. However, one should also ask whether such dependency is good for us. What if, by some chance, this technology called computers and the things it can do were taken from us? What then? Just like a bad addiction, computer dependency outside of our needs and moderation can be harmful for us, its users. An ideal tool for tyrants. While it may sound like it is out of context, it is not. In fact, we are as capable workers as our ancestors were without computers. Although obviously at a cost of the efficiency and ease we've known on how we do things with computers. These are not statements about abandoning computers as we know and use them, we're just waking up with the idea of who we are without computers and who are ancestors were without those. No, we are not worthless without computers - we are not just as capable as someone who does and we alone are not capable as what a complex computer does as a computing machine. But do not be fooled, we are still the ones who made computers as they are today. In a way, we as a mankind is still superior to machines.

Now to the question, "are we too dependent on computers?" -- the answer is, we are, at both misuse and discretion. Ultimately, how we use computer, as a technology, in our everyday lives weighs down on how we use it and for what purpose. Is it for the common good? Is it beneficial? In fact, these are questions also answerable by our own selves, as its users.

I am a freelance writer, having some writing experience as such. If you're interested in my writings, please feel free to contact me. You can view my profile on LinkedIn using my full name and can be contacted via Skype with this username: dothackjhe or using my full name just the same. I am open for freelance work anytime.

By Jermaine Dimalanta Delos Santos - More articles by Jermaine Dimalanta Delos Santos
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23 May 2014

#ESSAY: Does Advanced Technology Make the 2nd Amendment Redundant? - @hetero_sapien

The 2nd amendment of the American Constitution gives U.S citizens the constitutional right to bear arms. Perhaps the most prominent justification given for the 2nd amendment is as a defense against tyrannical government, where citizens have a method of defending themselves against a corrupt government, and of taking their government back by force if needed by forming a citizen militia.

While other reasons are sometimes called upon, such as regular old individual self-defense and the ability for the citizenry to act as a citizen army in the event their government goes to war despite being undertrooped, these justifications are much less prominent than the defense-against-tyrannical-government argument is.

This may have been fine when the Amendment was first conceived, but considering the changing context of culture and its artifacts, might it be time to amend it? When it was adopted in 1751, the defensive-power afforded to the citizenry by owning guns was roughly on par with the defensive-power available to government. In 1751 the most popular weapon was the musket, which was limited to 4 shots per minute, and had to be re-loaded manually. The state-of-the-art for “arms” in 1791 was roughly equal for both citizenry and military. This was before automatic weapons – never mind tanks, GPS, unmanned drones, and the like. In 1791, the only thing that distinguished the defensive or offensive capability of military from citizenry was quantity. Now it’s quality.

Technological growth has made the 2nd amendment redundant. If one agrees that its purpose was to give citizenry the ability to physically defend themselves against a tyrannical government, then we must admit that the inequality of defensive capability created by the advanced state of arms and weaponry available to military, and not available to the citizenry, has made the 2nd amendment redundant by virtue of the fact that the types of weapons available to citizens no longer compare in defensive and offensive capability to the kinds of weapons available to the military. Law lags behind technology; what else is new(s)?

This claim would have been largely true as early as WWI, which saw the adoption of tanks, air warfare, naval warfare, poison gas and automatic weapons – assets which weren’t available to the average citizen. Military technology has only progressed since then. Indeed, the wedding of military assets with industrialization and mass-manufacturing that occurred during WWI may have entrenched this trend so deeply that we had no hope of ameliorating such technological disparity thereafter. This marked the beginning of the military industrial complex, which today assures that the overwhelming majority of new technological advances are able to be leveraged by the military before they trickle down to the average citizen through industry.

None of this will be a problem if advances in technologies-of–post-scarcity (e.g nanotech, fab-labs) progress to the point where all cost becomes attributable to the information in the design of a given product. The average citizen currently doesn’t have access to the types of manufacturing and processing assets needed to create advanced weaponry; such assets are only available to the military, via the military-industrial complex. But if veritable means of post-scarcity came into the picture, then the only hope military would have of keeping proprietary access to certain technologies (that is, of making certain technologies illegal to use and own if you’re an average citizen) would be to keep the designs of such weapons confidential – a possibility in turn undermined by the trend of increasing transparency, which some think will culminate in full-on sousveillance – in which case confidentiality is out of the question.

​So the broader trend of increasing-power-in-fewer-hands, seen vividly in the increasing scale of destruction throughout the history of war, may level things out by itself (whether singly or in tandem with increasing transparency). I’m sure that when the first Atomic Bomb was dropped, very few people thought that so much destruction could have been unleashed by one bomb. Now we take for granted the fact that such things are possible. If the trend continues and the constructive and destructive capabilities available to an individual through the use of technology keeps on climbing, this dichotomy (of inequality of offensive/defensive capability between citizen and military) may be flattened out on its own, and may turn out to be but a bump in the road.

Conclusion, confusion, contusion:


So, should we give the 2nd amendment a final shot to the head on the grounds that its most called-upon utility has been obviated by technological growth– or should we level the laying-field from the opposite direction, and give every man, woman and child access to the latest in cutting-edge weapons-of-mass-destruction?

Probably neither. The transformative potential of technology makes such 2-tone options seem pale and inadequate. Perhaps the real message is this: that technologies can disrupt and rupture what seem to be quiet raptures weighty with wait and at rest, that futures often refute and that the past is quick to become the post – that technologies transform, and that we must be on constant guard against our precast foundations and preconceptions, which can turn at any moment with a little technological momentum underfoot. While they may have made sense at one point, sensibility was made to be remade. Culture is a seismic landscape, and what we take for Law, whether physical or Man-Made, always remains terribly (and thankfully) uncertain in the face of technologies’ upward growth.

We must always remain open to facing the New, and to remaking our selves and our world in response thereto, even if on the face of it the victory of our change seems like our defeat. Technology changes the circumstances, and we cannot rely on tradition and unflinching Law to provide the answer. We must always be ready to lift the veil and have another look at the available options when new technologies come into play, and always remain willing to will our own better way. Certainty is a fool’s crown, and one that the bastard-prince Newness will be fast to dash to the ground.

By Franco Cortese - More articles by Franco Cortese

Originally published at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies on 30 December 2013

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#VIEWPOINT: You Are Being Followed: Simple Things You Can Do To Keep Your Private Data - Private

If you feel like you are being followed around when you are on the internet, you are probably not just paranoid. You are, indeed, being targeted!

Everything that you see and do while you are online is being tracked and "personalized" (i.e. changed without you even knowing it!). "But, why?" you might ask.

It's simple, really: there is big money to be made in - let's just call it what it is - violating your privacy. There are advertising companies and personal data vendors that profit from every piece of information you give them - knowingly or unknowingly! There are companies prepared to pay well for as much information about their customers that they can possibly get.

What can you do to prevent them from snooping? How to keep your private data - private?

Remember: "If you are not paying for a service, you're the product - not the customer". While you are using a "free" product or a service, the company providing its product or service for free is busy collecting information about you - your demographics, income, and buying habits.

The collected data is then used to target you as a potential customer and to convince you - and knowing a lot about you, that is being done as effectively as possible - to buy their other, non-free stuff. Or, it is simply being sold to other companies.

Some people think that it doesn't matter if their private data is being accessed, because "they are not that important" and they "have nothing to hide". These people are wrong: their information is much more valuable than they think it is!

To browse in peace, install some kind of a privacy add-on or extension in your browser that stops websites from transmitting your data to third parties and following you across websites. Almost every browser nowadays allows you to use some sort of "incognito" or "privacy mode" setting to protect your privacy: explore how that option works on your favorite browser.

Remember to log out every time you're finished using a website, and clear your cookies after each browsing session. These are just basic, commonsense things you can do to protect your privacy, but can go a long way.

When a website you are not sure about asks for a lot of personal information, you can always provide them with false data. That will stop them from "profiling" you. However, if a website doesn't look trustworthy, it is best to just delete your account altogether, or even better - don't deal with them in the first place.
The average person is exposed online to Intelius, Spokeo, Everyone411, Whitepages, etc. Marketing companies and sometimes fraudsters use this info. #bad;) 411Privacy is the solution!

By Anita Bern - More articles by Anita Bern
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20 May 2014

#VIEWPOINT: #VIRUS! Rebutting the Fear of Synthetic Biology #SynBio

- @ClubOfINFO - A recent massive leap forward in synthetic life, recently published in Nature, is the expansion of the alphabet of DNA to six letters rather than four, by synthetic biologists – the technicians to whom we entrust the great task of reprogramming life itself.

Breakthroughs such as the above are quite certain to alert more and more people to synthetic biology and its possible consequences. For as long as such breathtaking discoveries continue to be made in this area of research, it is inevitable that latent fears among society will come closer to the surface.

There is likely to be a profound distrust, whether inculcated by religion or by science fiction horror movies and literature, towards the concept of tampering with nature and especially the very building blocks that brought us into existence. While the people with this profoundly negative reaction are not sure what they are warning against, they are motivated by a vitalistic need to believe that the perversion of life is going to provoke hidden – almost divine – repercussions.

Is it really true that no-one should be meddling with something so fundamental to life, or is synthetic biology the science of our century, our civilization’s key to unlimited energy? Whatever the answer may be, the science enabling it already exists and is growing rapidly, and history seems to show that any technology once invented is impossible to contain.

The fact that synthetic base pairs now exist should confirm, for many, the beginning of humanity’s re-engineering of the structures of life itself. As it is unprecedented in our evolution, we are presented with an ethical question and all points of view should be considered, no matter how radical or conservative they are.

It is hard to find a strong display of enthusiasm for the use of synthetic biology as a solution to the world’s greatest problems, even among the transhumanists and techno-progressives. Most of the popular enthusiasm for technological change, particularly the radical improvement of life and the environment through technology, focuses on artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and things like solar cells as the solution to energy crises. There is not much of a popular case being made for synthetic biology as one of the keys to civilization’s salvation and humanity’s long-term survival, but there should be. The first obstacles to such a case are most likely fear and prejudice.

Even among those theorists who offer the most compelling arguments about self-sustaining technologies and their potential to democratize and change the means of production, enthusiasm for synthetic biology is purposely withheld. Yannick Rumpala’s paper Additive manufacturing as global remanufacturing of politics has a title that speaks for itself. It sees in 3d printing the potential to exorcize some of the most oppressive structural inevitabilities of the current division of labor, transforming economics and politics to be more network-based and egalitarian. When I suggested to Yannick that synthetic organisms – the most obvious choices of technology that will be able to self-replicate and become universally available at every stratum of global society – he was reserved. This was half due to not having reflected on biotechnology’s democratic possibilities, and half due to a principled rejection of “artificial environments”.

Should synthetic biology make people nervous rather than excited, and should be it be rejected as controversial and potentially dangerous rather than embraced as a potentially world-changing and highly democratic technology? The second tendency that results in a rejection of synthetic biology by those who normally go about endorsing technology as the catalyst for social change is the tendency to point to a very specific threat – a humanity-threatening virus.

This second rejection of synthetic biology is easier to respond to than the first, because it is very specific. In fact, the threat is discussed in sufficient depth by synthetic biology’s own leading scientist himself, J. Craig Venter, in his 2013 book Life at the Speed of Light. In anticipation of a viral threat, “bio-terror” is considered the top danger by the US government, but “bio-error” is seen by Venter as an even bigger danger. There is a possibility of individual accidents using synthetic biology, analogous to medical accidents from overdoses. It could involve a virus introduced as a treatment for cancer becoming dangerous (like in the movie, I Am Legend). This is especially possible, if the technology becomes ubiquitous and “DIY”, with individuals customizing their own treatments by synthesizing viruses. However, many household materials and technologies already present the same level of threat to lone individuals, so there is no reason to focus on the popular use of synthetic biology as an extraordinary threat.

A larger scale disaster is far easier to prevent than the death or illness of a lone individual from his own synthetic biology accident. A bio-terror attack, Venter writes, would be extremely difficult using synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is going to give medical professionals the ability to quickly sequence genomes and transmit them on the airwaves to synthesize new vaccines. This would only make it easier to fight against bioterror or a potentially apocalyptic virus, as the threat could be found and sequenced by computers, with the cure being synthesized and introduced almost immediately. Despite this fact that synthetic biology provides the best defense against its own possible threats, it is still important to be balanced in our recognition of the benefits and threats of this technology.

More dangerous than a virus breaking loose from the lab, Venter recognizes the potential for the abuse of synthetic biology by hostile governments. Of most concern, custom viruses could be used as assassins against individuals, whether by governments or conspirators. A cold could be created to have no effect on most people, but be deadly to the President of the United States. All you would need to do is get access to a sample of the President’s genetic material, sequence it, and develop a corresponding virus that exploits a unique weakness in his/her DNA. This danger in particular seems to be more worthy of concern than an apocalyptic virus or devastating bioterrorist attack striking the whole of humanity.

The ethical burden on those who work with synthetic life, as Venter takes from a US government bioethics study, requires “a balance between the pessimistic view of these efforts as yet another example of hubris and the optimistic view of their being tantamount to “human progress” ”. Synthetic biologists must be “good stewards”, and must “move genomic research forward with caution, armed with insights from value traditions with respect to the proper purposes and uses of knowledge.”

However, there is also an undeniable reason to embrace synthetic biology as a solution to many of the world’s most urgent problems. J. Craig Venter’s own words confirm that synthetic life deserves to be included in Yannick Rumpala’s analysis, as a democratic technology that can transform global politics and economics and counter disparity in the world:
“Creating life at the speed of light is part of a new industrial revolution that will see manufacturing shift away from the centralized factories of the past to a distributed, domestic manufacturing future, thanks to 3-d printers.”
There may be a terrible threat from synthetic biology, but it will not necessarily be bio-error or bio-terror. The abuse could come from none other than a very familiar leviathan that has already violated the trust of its citizens before: the supposedly incorruptible United States government. Already, there is an interest in sequencing everyone’s genomes and placing them on a massive database, ostensibly for medical purposes. One cannot help but connect this with the US government’s fascination with tracking and monitoring its own citizens. If the ability to customize a virus to target an individual is true, the killer state will almost certainly maintain the military option of synthetic biology on the table – a possible way of carrying out “targeted killings” around the world in a more sophisticated and secretive manner than ever before.

The threats of synthetic biology are elusive and verge on being conspiracy theories or overused movie plots, but the magnificent potential of synthetic biology to eliminate inequality and suffering in the world is clear and present. In fact, the greatest bio-disaster in the history of the world may be humanity’s reluctance to remanufacture life in order to make more efficient use of the world’s declining natural resources. At the same time, the belief that ubiquitous synthetic biology will threaten life is secondary and distracting, as the true responsibility for unjustly threatening life is likely to always be with the state.

By Harry J. Bentham - More articles by Harry J. Bentham

Originally published on 13 May 2014 at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET)

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#VIEWPOINT: 5 Ways to Protect Your Data and Privacy

In the age of the NSA and sophisticated computer hackers both domestic and foreign, it's getting harder and harder to keep your data safe and secure. If you're concerned about maintaining your privacy, but you can't live without your bevy of electronics, read on for 5 easy ways to protect your data and your privacy.
1.) Turn electronics off when not in use. Your computer and cell phone can easily be a window for hackers or the government to spy on you. Close that window by turning off electronics, closing covers and putting them away. Whether you put your computer in a drawer, a closet or a computer bag, getting it shut down, closed and out of the same space as you will prevent anyone that does hack into the system from seeing or hearing anything. 
2.) Only visit sites you know and trust. Hackers that aren't associated with the government get access to your computer by putting a small virus or spyware program on your system. When you click on a suspicious link, visit a page that's infected or download a file that has an embed virus, you open your computer to a variety of hackers that can manipulate your computer's camera and microphone to hear and see what you're saying and doing. 
3.) Periodically run a virus and spyware scan. It's a good idea to periodically run a spyware and virus scan on your computer to identify and eliminate any malicious infections before the people behind the programs have a chance to access your computer or phone. There's a variety of free spyware and virus detection software available on the internet, so you should never have to choose between security and your budget. 
4.) Change your password regularly. You know you're supposed to change your password regularly, but do you actually do it? If you have a hard time remembering, set up a reminder on your calendar so you change your password every couple of months. Make it easy and cycle through a series of 4 or so passwords. Take this tip one step further by using multiple passwords for different sites. After all, you don't want it too easy for a hacker to gain access to your email, your Facebook and your bank account all at once, do you? 
5.) Avoid putting your personal information into forms online. While you may like to enter every sweepstakes under the sun, giving out your name, address and email to anyone that asks for it is asking for trouble. You may inadvertently be handing a hacker your personal information while downloading a virus at the same time. Only enter information on sites that you know and trust and never click a link through an email.
Common sense will get you far when it comes to protecting your data and privacy. Knowing how you're vulnerable and taking steps to correct it is the best way to keep yourself safe in the digital age.

By Daisy Binx - More articles by Daisy Binx

Daisy is a personal security expert interested in helping others achieve privacy online and in their own homes. Get the tools you need to protect your privacy at Privacy Patches. Read about us and learn what inspired the creation of Privacy Patches!
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Daisy_Binx
http://EzineArticles.com/?5-Ways-to-Protect-Your-Data-and-Privacy&id=8498849
Image credit: By EFF (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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16 May 2014

#ESSAY: Anti-Statism for States

By HarisX at en.wikipedia, from Wikimedia Commons
On 19 June [2013], Barack Obama delivered his unwelcome speech in Berlin. His focus was on overcoming the harms of walls, exclusion and fears in the world, although not making any suggestion of more government transparency by the United States itself. Standing in a bullet-proof box as he spoke to a small non-hostile audience, the man did his best to excuse and justify rampant paranoia, deception and state brutality while simultaneously arguing for a world open and free, without walls and fear.

Adding to the irony, members of the audience also held celebratory signs calling for the end of divisions and borders, the attainment of a single global community. It is ironic because such sentiment, when true, is anti-statist. It is not anti-statist in the common usage of the term, as a synonym of anarchism or extreme libertarianism (although the non-systems entailed by those two might be transitional necessities to escape nation-state ideology) but it is anti-statist from the perspective offered in Immanuel Wallerstein’s theories.

Yale sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein predicts the weakening of the interstate system in its present form. The present interstate system, with its pecking order of rich and poor states and the support states render to oligopolistic firms, is considered as the political superstructure to legally back up the disparities inherent in the world economy. Anti-statism in the Wallersteinian sense, then, would refer to a political view rejecting the interstate system and its sources of legitimacy. A Wallersteinian anti-statist would be someone who goes about with a lack of interest in claiming state power, but also determined to weaken all current state legitimacy and power in the world because of their harmful effects.

Opposition to the fictive cultural narratives and nationalistic sentiments giving rise to state legitimacy and the need for borders and security will qualify as anti-statism in the Wallersteinian sense. This is so, even if such anti-statism becomes the very policy of a state. “Anti-statism for states” might also describe hypothetical policies when states, after abandoning their claims to legitimacy, still accept their power as currently useful in some anti-“stateness” form, e.g. preventing other less socially responsible actors from acquiring and abusing too much “stateness” (police order) in the power vacuum.

Wallerstein indicates that seizing state power has been an ineffectual strategy for overcoming the current exploitative global system. Nevertheless, political commentary may be useless unless at least lobbying existing authorities that have some aspects of “stateness”. Lack of interest in seizing state power does not preclude the use of lobbying to get states to take certain short-term steps in a progressive direction. Advocates of “open borders” such as Dan La Botz promote the political goal to discard the archaic, paranoid use of borders to exclude immigrants and deny their rights.

While politically inclusive policies can be introduced by states, the basic principle necessitating states and citizenship remains a principle of exclusion. The outcome of the long-term trend rejecting borders and “stateness” is truly anti-statist, especially when done by states, because it works to kick out the sole source of state legitimacy. Where there are no citizenship criteria and no security provisions exclusive to “citizens”, there are no exclusive “citizens”. Where there is no legitimate jurisdiction, there is no “state”. Such a direction is where the social order is projected to inevitably go, whether we choose to embrace it as progressive or not, according to Immanuel Wallerstein’s idea of structural crisis. I must emphasize that the reader should try not to confuse “is” and “ought” when this point about social change is being asserted. The states system is to be replaced, regardless of personal preferences for what ought to replace it or anyone’s rebuttals to those preferences. Cosmopolitan inclusion of people into a “national” culture delegitimizes states founded on the doctrine of popular sovereignty. The current model of state attains legitimacy only by appealing to a national body. To say everyone is welcome in the national body is either to demand “world government” or reject the legitimacy of the current states. Because the former is not substantively reachable yet (although it is earnestly hoped for as the only balanced outcome from the Wallersteinian perspective) only the latter can be met.

Why should we lobby our nation-states to reject their own source of legitimacy? Perhaps more importantly, why should they listen? One novelty the political audience of all countries should consider is this: just because states are states does not mean they are unable to be anti-statist. Such things as scrapping border controls, citizenship criteria, cultural prejudices, police order, national icons and other forms of social protectionism or “stateness” is an anti-statist policy available for states. Anti-statist states would be coherent innovations away from our current states, and such transitional regimes to world government are achievable in the same sense that a featureless black flag can be displayed as an “anti-flag flag” to reject the archaic Nineteenth Century norms of nation-states.

A good interpretation would be that the future kind of state is very focused on undermining the legitimacy of itself and other states, and this can be a great redeeming quality because it pushes history in the right direction. States can adopt a position of anti-statism not by taking up a position that their authority ought to be surrendered without any consideration of its possible efficacy, but by taking the position that the legitimacy of current state authority and its bounds is not sustainable. One can laud the state machinery for helping vulnerable people and keeping social harms at bay, but one must still begin to consider the state machinery and the limits of the state territory as illegitimate. Ultimately, the only legitimate form of political authority that is not filled with contradictions would be the first global democratic authority of a socialist world government. Such an authority would be required to first gain the approval of the stateless population of the global whole (perhaps a population formerly living in transitional “anti-statist states”). Legitimacy would fall on such an authority, because it would integrate the world and thus be actually true to the principles of equality and liberty rather than living out the contradiction of placing strict territorial limits on where such limitless ideals can be enforced.

To sum up, being a Wallersteinian anti-statist does not mean rejecting the efficacy of the state in the current juncture of our global system. It merely entails the rejection of the current archaic nation-states as units in a world economy to preserve and legitimize disparities. While normally an anti-statist state would be the impossibility it sounds like, a Wallersteinian anti-statist state is both possible and rational by simply getting the state to admit its illegitimacy and surrender its claims and identity as much as possible to the point of displaying a black flag. However, such would not require any taking of power or altering of the state machinery. The state machinery would be used to the negation of itself by depriving the state of its own sources of legitimacy. If such a species of transitional anti-statist regime were to be created, it would be one small historical step forward to attaining a more democratic and egalitarian future. Because such a state is possible, perhaps anarchist and libertarian sentiments are necessary parts of the transition to a better social order, although these non-systems in themselves should not be regarded as glimpses into the next social order.

By Harry J. Bentham - More articles by Harry J. Bentham

Originally published on 19 August 2013 in Dissident Voice

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#VIEWPOINT: Insider's Guide to Getting a Job in Manchester

Carol Winder, via Wikimedia Commons
Manchester is one of the up-and-coming cities of the UK. The Greater Manchester area has been growing steadily since 2007 and is one of the areas of the UK that has recovered most quickly from the credit crunch recession. It is the second largest functional financial region outside of London and shows a growth rate of almost twice that of the majority of UK urban areas. The expansion has been fuelled by large scale investment in services industries, particularly the financial sector. Some of the major businesses with offices and large employee bases in the Manchester region are Vodafone, the BBC, Thomas Cook, the Guardian, Kellogs, ITV and the heinous internet ogre Google.

Between them, they provide a wealth of job opportunities, however, the appeal of Manchester to job seekers is that there are also plenty of other industries. The main industry is the financial sector; banking and insurance but other opportunities are available in retail and telesales in particular. Manchester is a centre of excellence for the service sector including logistics. The latter is natural since Manchester is at the hub of the UK's transport network with motorways and rail links radiating out in all 4 cardinal directions. There are some highly specialised niche industries that have centred on the area for example, biotechnology and environmental technology; perhaps due to the presence of the Manchester Institute of Technology (MiT) which produces many scientific and technically qualified experts.

On a human scale rather than economical scale, the city and its environs are cosmopolitan and there is a thriving cultural scene. The latter has attracted creatives to the city - check any search engine and you will find pages of advertising agencies and other creative companies based here. These include digital and print advertising, packaging design, marketing, media... the list goes on and on! So not is it a great area for technical job searches, it is also great for those on the other side of the coin looking for creative jobs. Whilst looking through available jobs, I found an unusually high (well it seemed high to me) number of jobs for linguists too - the travel industry required Polish speakers; a car rental company needed someone who spoke excellent Norwegian and there were openings fr French speakers in retail!

Salaries in Greater Manchester are very varied. For telesales and basic retail jobs, they are as low as 12,000, but you don't have to look far for well paid managerial and technical jobs that offer 40 - 50K plus. So in other words, there is pretty much something for everyone, depending on their skills and experience.

How to find a job in Manchester


Online is a good place to start. It will save you a lot of time and several bus fares! There are thousands of advertised jobs on the usual websites like gumtree, Monster and fish4. But a really good site for job seekers is Reeds, a national recruitment agency as you can see how many others have applied for the jobs in which you are interested. For creative jobs, check out 'The Drum' and remember to check out the Guardian jobs pages too.

But before you even start, you should re-vamp your CV. This is best left to professionals who, after exploring the type of employment you are looking for, can provide you with an edge over the others. They will advise you on the best type of CV (yes, there are several effective ways to present a CV) and use your skills and experience to paint you in a very positive light. You, after all, are an amateur in the field, unless of course you are in HR!

Words Worth Reading ltd have an experienced team of HR personnel who offer Manchester CV writing services for those who are looking for financial, management or technical jobs.

By Samantha Pearce - More articles by Samantha Pearce
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Samantha_Pearce
http://EzineArticles.com/?Insiders-Guide-to-Getting-a-Job-in-Manchester&id=8292172
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14 May 2014

#VIEWPOINT: What if China plans to invade US in 2034? - @DanJohnJohnson

Image credit: http://www.news.com.au/
Recent American interference in Ukraine, in which America helped neo-Nazis and far right extremists overthrow a democratically elected government, is but the latest episode in a decades-long pattern of US intervention in sovereign states in order to “help” their beleaguered inhabitants.

Since 1945 America has bombed 33 countries, oftentimes with the aim of saving their respective populations from their selves, a campaign of altruistic mass slaughter which has led to countless deaths and untold environmental and economic destruction.

On the eve of NATO’s bombardment of Libya, President Obama declared:
"All attacks against civilians must stop …. Gaddafi must stop his troops from advancing… Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya. Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable. If Gaddafi does not comply, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action….”
American oil interests and international financial institutions keen to lend the new Libyan government money to rebuild their own country cast more than a shadow of doubt on the sincerity of the President’s intentions, but let us for a moment give him the benefit of the doubt. Let us assume that throughout the 20th and 21st centuries America really did unleash wave after wave of destruction across the globe in order to create a better world for the inhabitants of the countries she destroyed.

Let us also imagine that in 20 years from now, America is no longer the preeminent military and economic power in the world. Let us imagine for instance that China has replaced America as global policeman extraordinaire, and has followed in America’s footsteps by making it her business to correct by force the internal problems – real or invented – of any country it sees fit.

To where might China, the new global policeman in our hypothetical scenario, turn its attention? Which failed state, tin pot dictatorship or terror sponsoring tyranny will China choose to liberate from its self-imposed bondage? Well there is one country which comes to mind – America!

The year is 2034, and the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party is addressing the people of America via satellite television:
“My fellow citizens, events in America have now reached the final days of decision. Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the American regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
“The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East, and it has aided, trained and harboured terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaeda. It has formed, along with Israel and others, an ‘Axis of Evil’ which poses a clear and present danger to our country and our allies abroad.
“The American regime promotes violence against women, being as it is the centre of the global pornography industry. The American regime has a history of persecuting minorities, with racial slavery only being officially outlawed in the State of Mississippi in 2007!
“America is gripped by religious extremism! Cults like “Heaven’s Gate” promoting belief in UFOs, and radical preachers like David Koresh have convinced many impressionable young people to commit suicide! Serial murder and mass shootings have become commonplace! The American public has become so miserable that use of Prozac has reached epidemic levels, and even household pets are now taking the drug!
“America has proved that it is not fit to govern its own affairs. Corporations like ENRON swindle the people out of their money, and they must not be allowed to continue operating with impunity!
“Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety. Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed. 
“Many Americans can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them: if we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the noodles and traditional Chinese medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new America that is prosperous and free.
"In free America there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbours, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. 
“The tyrant will soon be gone.”
By Daniel Johnson - More articles by Daniel Johnson

Originally published on April 7 2014 in Press TV

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#VIEWPOINT: 'Finding the crossroads of #politics and #technology': @HJBentham

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Rather than location, education or privilege, having something to offer seems to now be the only determining factor for a writer or activist to be published and gain a voice internationally.

As a student, I initially chose postgraduate study as a route to publishing nonfiction and becoming a political scientist, but I never accessed the necessary funding to start this. After graduating from Lancaster University in 2012 and not being able to become the academic I wanted to be, I have found that postgraduate study is unnecessary to become a nonfiction author or even a political theorist.

There are many alternative media options, especially thanks to the internet. So, since March 2013, I have had work published in well over 40 different publications and the number is growing.

Rather than being a cheap alternative, publishing in online magazines is actually a more effective way of gaining recognition and a strong publishing history than academic publishing. It also takes less time and effort, and you achieve more rewards along the way. As such, the internet has truly overcome the need for educated elites in the old-fashioned sense, since anyone with sufficient knowledge and background is now positioned to gain recognition and have their say.

For some months now, I have been a member of the Lifeboat Foundation. This US-based scientific think tank includes many eminent futurists, including Google’s Ray Kurzweil, and is a credible and influential source of much revolutionary thinking about science, technology and politics. I got invited to this think tank and I continue to contribute to it, despite that I live in the UK and have never travelled to the United States.

Because I have also been writing science fiction for years, my futurist publishing success has provided a valuable means of exploring and attracting interest to ideas I might use in that fiction. It serves to add to the conversation on science and technology, if sci-fi authors can write works with powerful and relevant themes. The link between science fiction, scientific discovery and engineering is far greater than many predict, making artistic or cultural perspectives valuable for influencing science and ethics.

My interest is drawn mainly to what I call the crossroads of politics and technology. Part of this interest comes down to the fact that alternate media is transforming politics, aided by the internet, and this has been instrumental in my own success. This very same interest has led me to launch ClubOfINFO (clubof.info), a new biweekly webzine I am editing from Wigan. This publication occupies a niche for offbeat politics and science articles, activism-savvy product recommendations and sci-fi eBook downloads. I highly recommend a visit to this publication, and subscription is free (follow on Twitter @ClubOfINFO).

Much like the World Wide Web, I believe we can expect many other highly democratic world-changing technologies, and they are set to fundamentally change society. These have been of greatest interest to me, and I have written on what I consider to be the most socially and politically significant technologies. Contributing to the futurist h+ Magazine and the progressive Institute for Emerging Technologies think tank, I have put forward articles praising the potential social and political revolutions resulting from advances in 3D printing, synthetic biology, nanotechnology and other key developments.

Among the work I have published are some of the best in-depth reviews available for consequential books, such as Julian Assange’s Cypherpunks. In this book, Assange eerily predicts a bleak future of “total surveillance” even speaking prior to the shocking revelations of warrantless email and phone interception from whistle-blower Edward Snowden. However, he also acknowledges the possibility of a more favourable outcome: the emergence of a “rebel elite”, a tech-savvy global society of activists and experts who know how to restrain and counter the might of governments bent on using technology for repression and domestic spying. Assange’s book is exactly the kind of work that stimulates the discussion that should be happening all over the world, addressing how exponentially improving technology and the democratization of that technology can empower common citizens against their governments. It is the essence of the crossroads of politics and technology.

My own view of where to go on the crossroads of politics and technology is not important, but I am dedicated to exploring possibilities. Increasingly, users improvise new uses for technology that were not thought of or conceived by the designers themselves. The more rapidly our technology evolves, as depicted repeatedly in trends celebrated by futurists, the less control monolithic companies and governments have over how it will ultimately be used. Depending on your point of view, this may be either worrying or exhilarating. In the grand scheme of things, it cannot be stopped, and people should instead be thinking about how society can adapt to the inevitable change.

It is possible to build a community of internet-based thinkers and activists who are not intellectual snobs, but who have online publishing and political credentials, are trusted by their readers and taken seriously by their opponents. I encourage writers at every level of society to be bold in tackling political subjects and talking about how new science and technology can alter politics or the whole future of civilization. This is the goal I hope to promote with projects such as ClubOfINFO, and it is fully in line with the activities of tens of influential similar publications like h+ Magazine.

For people who believe they have something decisive to offer to futurist discussions about where technology is carrying society and the state, there is no reason to defer to academics and self-proclaimed experts. Everyone’s interests should be taken into consideration, and all should take part in what should be the most democratic explosion in history.

By Harry J. Bentham - More articles by Harry J. Bentham

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