Situation Report #5: Exit Strategies, Survivalism and the Prospect of Superintelligence

offplanet-colony-dyson-sphereIll. Cosmic Megastructure
Could We Build a Dyson Sphere? – Popular Mechanics

Is the western world running out of moves on the grand chess board? Diplomacy, free trade agreements , open borders, quantitative easing, peace keeping forces, military interventions and covert arms dealings have been for nothing? So it seems.

The current critical situation across the planet should be a great time for anyone concerned about survivalism to practice their skills. Get your bug-out bag ready and fill up that panic room with canned food, clean water and tons of ammo! Seriously, are we really out of options?

Building the appropriate security apparatus in a turbulent world

There is plenty of time to build resilient societies, space colonies, underground bunkers, nanobiotech shields against contagious diseases, supervolcanoes and malevolent super-intelligence.

News:
Man-made quakes shake the ground less than natural ones : Nature
Is Iceland’s Next Volcanic Eruption About to Happen? – Scientific American
Inside California’s $7.5 billion drought-survival plan – New Scientist
Using Nanoparticles to Fight Ebola Virus – IEEE Spectrum
Mutant poliovirus caused Republic of Congo outbreak in 2010 – MedicalXpress.
Startup Is Building a Wearable Air-Quality Monitor - MIT Technology Review
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom and A Rough Ride to the Future by James Lovelock – Guardian
Essential gadgets while reporting on civil unrest – Boing Boing
Occupying the Throne: Justine Tunney, Neoreactionaries, and the New 1% – The Daily Beast

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Situation Report #4: Ukraine, Iraq and Ebola – heading for the perfect storm?

ferguson-policeMeanwhile in the U.S.: Ferguson riots have left a ‘deep wound’
across America, Missouri governor says via The Telegraph.

The expression a “perfect storm” describes a series of events that seldom occur simultaenously. This rare combination of circumstances that aggravate a situation drastically originated with early climatologists. The expression is also of interest when analyzing global current affairs. The global community can handle these conflicts and “disturbances” only when diplomacy, military power and effective use of resources are coordinated. 

Ukraine – rising tension or balanced endgame?

The military tension between Ukraine state military, seperatists and Russia increases as another Ukraine fighter plane is shot down over Eastern Ukraine, an area that are know for their heavy industry and related infrastructure. The city of Donetsk came under renewed shelling on Friday after 11 residents were killed and 8 wounded in heavy fighting between government forces and rebels on Thursday.

  • Ukraine claims conflict with pro-Russia rebels entering endgame via The Guardian
  • Pro-Russian separatists shoot down Ukrainian fighter jet – Telegraph
  • How did we get from trade disputes in Ukraine to nuclear threats in Severodvinsk? via Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
  • Russia launches China UnionPay credit card via Russia Today

Syria and Iraq – the rise of the “Islamic State” (aka ISIL, IS)

The current fighting and killing in Syria and Iraq under the banner of the Islamic State is the result of a serious underestimation of the backlash of military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq and the involvement in Syria. Currently the Kurdish troops are the most qualified opponents with the support of U.S. and NATO air support.

  • Jihadis accused of new massacres in Iraq and Syria via BBC
  • U.S. Airstrikes Aim at Islamic State Hold on Iraq Dam via Wall Street Journal
  • Disrupt ISIS’s Cash Flow in Iraq via New York Times

Ebola Outbreak

The Ebola outbreak in West-Africa has claimed over 1000 lives and is the largest outbreak in history. Health workers are struggling to quarantine suspected cases and the World Health Organization is critized for not putting enough effort into stopping the outbreak.  The Geneva-based agency has reported 1,145 deaths among the 2,127 people infected by the virus as of Aug. 13. There is also 1 million people in need of food aid in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and the areas hardest hit by the epidemic so far. Follow the outbreak with the contagious disease tracker Health Map on the current Ebola outbreak.

  • Ebola clinic looted by Liberian slum residents via CBC
  • Curbing Ebola Spread in West Africa Could Take Six Months via Bloomberg

..on a brighter note:

  • Snowden on NSA’s MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar via The Register
  • You Can Get Hacked Just By Watching This Cat Video on YouTube via The Intercept
  • US drone research hits regulatory turbulence via Nature News & Comment
  • Snowden Doc Tally updates – new docs released, Cryptome
  • Humans need not apply: The future of jobs is robot-shaped via The Independent

 

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Situation Report #3: Chinese water pollution, Ukraine Civil War, the Middle East disintegrates and Ebola looms

china-water-pollutionWater pollution in China

As the current outlook for the global security situation worsens the Plausible Futures Newsletter keeps covering the news and scenarios. Enjoy this current free SitRep for the dominant driving forces and scenarios:

Ukraine
Ukrainian forces advance in east as Russia, West squabble via Reuters.
Germany denies ‘land for gas’ deal with Putin via The Local.

Israel, HAMAS and Iran
Iranian officials say they have armed Hamas for fight with Israel via LA Times.
US President Obama signs bill to finance Israeli Iron Dome via Associated Press.
Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack via The Intercept.

Syria and ISIS in Iraq
ISIS Terrorists ‘Have Seized Iraq’s Largest Dam’ via Newsweek.
German flooding of the Pontine Marshes in World War II via BioOne.

Ebola pandemic?
Patient at Mount Sinai Has Ebola-Like Symptoms, Hospital Says via NY Times.
Experimental Ebola Treatment Came From California Company via NBC News.

Craters in Siberian and instant lakes in Tunisia.
Mysterious Siberian crater attributed to methane via Nature.
Mystery as ‘lake’ appears in middle of Tunisian desert and becomes overnight tourist attraction via The Independent.

Water pollution in China and radiation in Japan
Shocking Photos Show How Polluted China’s Water Has Become via Business Insider.
Monkeys show effects of fallout from Fukushima nuclear meltdown via South China Morning Post.

Subscribe to the Plausible Futures Newsletter for comprehensive scenarios.

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Special Report: Ebola Outbreak of 2014

ebola control campFeeling The Heat, Burning The Suits
(image from NPR)

The World Health Organisation reported that as of July 17 there had been 1,048 cases in the outbreak and 632 of those people have died.

Cases have occurred in the region of West Africa; Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with suspected cases in Congo and Uganda. This is the most widespread outbreak since the disease was identified in 1976 in Sudan and Congo.

WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treat patients and try to contain the Ebola outbreak that is currently gripping the vast region. Their challenge is to contain the highly deadly disease, with a chilling 60-90% death rate, by stopping human to human transmission.

Health workers also struggle to convince the population to abandon their local food tradition which includes bats, monkeys and other wildlife found in the forests and are known to carry the Ebola virus. This is food tradition is also a multi-million industry. In addition, certain religious groups are blaming the health care workers for spreading the virus.

The situation should concern the entire health and emerging disease community on the planet. If this virus remains uncontained the probability for mutations increase. The virus might find others hosts like pigs or other household animals. The Ebola virus could become the mother of all pandemics.

Scenarios for the current Ebola outbreak

Driving forces:

  • local food traditions, religion and burial rituals
  • insufficient health information and health care
  • climate change, deforestation, desertification

Uncertainty and Wild Cards:

  • Mutations of the Ebola virus
  • Ebola jumps to household animals
  • Genetic immunity among certain people
  • Ebola vaccines and treatment
  • International respons: containment, controlled burn-out or military intervention

Scenario 1 (baseline):

The Ebola virus is contained during the coming months, with few recurring cases, due to health care efforts of the international community, disease information, treatment-centers and local and national health support. Better systems for detection are implemented (see Molecular Computer Detects Ebola and Marburg Viruses)

Scenario 2:

The Ebola virus is a recurring and deadly threat for the continent of Africa for years to come until a vaccine is developed. Certain cases are quickly contained in Europe, the US and Asia. Local resistance to health care workers makes matters worse (see Suspected Ebola patient escapes hospital in Sierra Leone)

Scenario 3:

The Ebola virus becomes a constant international threat, airtraffic across the globe halts to a standstill and military control posts are common on borders from known infected countries.

Scenario 4 (worst case):

Zombie style apocalypse where the Ebola virus mutates resulting in a pandemic that cause widespread death, chaos and destruction.

Sources:
World Health Organization
Médecins Sans Frontières
ProMedMail
Ebola time line on Wikipedia.

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Situation Report #2: Robotics, Quantum Computing and Transhumanism

 

atlas1

Enjoy this weeks roundup of the current situation ranging from robotics via quantum computing to the philosophy of transhumanism.

The Robots Running This Way. 
The history of Boston Dynamics, the robotics company recently aquired by Google., and their relation to DARPA.
Source: MIT Technology Review.

Partnership plus: the future of the NATO-Ukraine relationship
Russian threatens Ukriane in addition to Finland over possible NATO membership application.
Source: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

5 predictions revisited: Iraq’s troubles are years in the making, experts say
Syria-based ISIS control several major cities in Iraq and threatens regional stability.
Source: CNN.

Study finds weird magic ingredient for quantum computing
Are we getting closer to a working method for mass production of quantum computers?
Source: PhysOrg.

Transhumanism and Marxism: Philosophical Connections
Transhumanism indicates a transitional state on the road to a posthuman state. This transition is to be accomplished primarily by technological means in a transfer of control over the process of evolution from natural selection to conscious human direction.
Source: Journal of Evolution and Technology.

Maritime route of colonization of Europe
Scientists use DNA polymorphisms of extant populations to investigate the patterns of gene flow from the Near East to Europe.
Source: PNAS.

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Synthetic Biology: Microbes defy rules of DNA

virusRecoding could stop synthetic organisms from sharing their modified DNA,
as happens when a virus (red) infects a bacterium (green).

The instructions encoded into DNA are thought to follow a universal set of rules across all domains of life. But researchers report today in Science that organisms routinely break these rules.

The finding has implications for the design of synthetic life: by designing organisms that break the rules, researchers may be able to make novel life forms resistant to viral infection. Making these organisms also been proposed as a way to stop synthetic life forms from infecting unintended hosts. Widespread exceptions to these rules, however, could make it difficult to engineer organisms that will not pass on their DNA to those in the wild.

Source: Nature News.

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Situation Report #1: Gene Therapy, EU elections and tension in China, Vietnam

Enjoy this week news roundup on the current situation:

dna-repairBreakthrough shows how DNA is ‘edited’ to correct genetic diseases
Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and the Lithuanian Institute of Biotechnology has made a major step forward in our understanding of how enzymes ‘edit’ genes, paving the way for correcting genetic diseases in patients.
Source: PhysOrg

Ukraine crisis: Dozens killed in Donetsk clashes
Ukraine forces fight seperatists for a second day in eastern city Donetsk after new leader Petro Poroshenko vows to put down ‘terrorist’ revolt.
Source: Telegraph

European elections 2014: Party leaders to set out response to Ukip victory
UK party leaders are expected to set out their response to Ukip’s “political earthquake”, after victory in EU parliament elections.
Source: The Independent

Vietnam, China trade accusations after Vietnamese fishing boat sinks
Tension rise as Chinese sink a Vietnamese fishing boat not far from where China has placed an oil rig in the disputed South China Sea.
Source: Reuters

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Archive

archive

A sample of previous posts on Plausible Futures Newsletter:

5GW and Norwegian Terrorism (co-published in Interesting Times Magazine)

The Perfect Storm and Black Swan Theory

Why you already live in a cyberpunk future (co-published in Interesting Times Magazine)

The Men Who Stare in Peace: An Interview with Dr. David Leffler

Nanowar Scenarios and the Future of Warfare: An Interview with Edwin Thomas, Director of MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.

Undesirable World Futures: Things That Could, But Shouldn’t, Happen

The Future of Designer Babies

30 Years Beyond the Limits – an interview with Jørgen Randers, co-published in Futurology, Forecasts and Initiatives.

View all previous posts on the retired Plausible Futures installation.

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