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Ed Webb

Why the Islamic State is the minor leagues of terror | Middle East Eye - 0 views

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    "The sole advantage the Islamic State has when it comes to this country is that it turns out to be so easy to spook us."
Ed Webb

Americans on the future of science and technology: meh | Bryan Alexander - 2 views

  • our expectations are generally unexcited and restrained.  The bold imagination of 20th-century American visions seems to have gone for a nap.  As Smithsonian’s article notes, “Most Americans view the technology- driven future with a sense of hope. They just don’t want to live there.”  We’re actually less excited than that
      • When it comes to specific emerging technologies we often greet them with broad, deep skepticism and fear, including human genetic engineering, robotics, drones, and wearable computing:

        • 66% think it would be a change for the worse if prospective parents could alter the DNA of their children to produce smarter, healthier, or more athletic offspring.
        • 65% think it would be a change for the worse if lifelike robots become the primary caregivers for the elderly and people in poor health.
        • 63% think it would be a change for the worse if personal and commercial drones are given permission to fly through most U.S. airspace.
        • 53% of Americans think it would be a change for the worse if most people wear implants or other devices that constantly show them information about the world around them. (emphases in original)
  • The heroic days of NASA in the popular imagination are long flown: “One in three (33%) expect that humans will have colonized planets other than Earth.”  Indeed. a few more Americans actually see teleportation happening.
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  • Overall, Americans look at the future of science and technology with some hefty amounts of skepticism and dismay.  Health care improvements do appeal to us, unsurprisingly, given our ageing demographics.  Classic futures themes of space and travel have withered in our collective mind.  I’m reminded of Bruce Sterling’s aphorism about the rest of the 21st century: “The future is about old people, in big cities, afraid of the sky.”
Ed Webb

BBC News - US Secret Service seeks Twitter sarcasm detector - 0 views

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    Internet Explorer?! Really?
Ed Webb

Drone warfare's deadly civilian toll: a very personal view | James Jeffrey | Comment is... - 0 views

  • Both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the west as a result of President Obama's increased reliance on drones. When surveying the poisoned legacy left to the Iraqi people, and what will be left to the Afghan people, it's beyond depressing to hear of the hawks circling around other theatres like Pakistan and Yemen, stoking the flames of interventionism.

    I fear the folly in which I took part will never end, and society will be irreversibly enmeshed in what George Orwell's 1984 warned of: constant wars against the Other, in order to forge false unity and fealty to the state.

  • in Afghanistan, the linguistic corruption that always attends war meant we'd refer to "hot spots", "multiple pax on the ground" and "prosecuting a target", or "maximising the kill chain".
  • encroachment of drones into the civilian realm is also gaining momentum. President Obama signed a federal law on 14 February 2012, allowing drones for a variety of commercial uses and for police law enforcement. The skies above may never be the same. As with most of America's darker elements, such as its gun culture, there's profit to be made – the market for drones is already valued at $5.9bn and is expected to double in 10 years.
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  • Technological advancements in warfare don't have a good track record in terms of unintended consequences
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