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Transhumanist
Feb 21, 2023
In Climate & Geoengineering
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is looking into understanding reflective particles in the stratosphere, and their effects. Could solar geoengineering cool the planet? U.S. gets serious about finding out | Science | AAAS
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Transhumanist
Sep 23, 2022
In Criminal & Lawful Activities
While I am fascinated by the Finnish system for traffic fines that considers the severity of the offense as well as the ability of the offender to pay, I received the following in a newsletter by Florence Gaub (visit https://www.futurate.institute to subscribe to the newsletter). I hope Florence will not mind me posting it here: The future of jail time More than 11 million people in the world are currently serving time in prison, which has become the standard form of punishment with the end of public flogging and the decline of the death penalty. The problem is, it is a flawed concept. In the best case, it should have a deterrent effect, i.e. knowing that one will end up in jail should stop a person from committing a crime. In reality, this applies - if at all - only to crimes that carry low or medium-term sentences. The worse a crime, such as murder, the less jail time will deter it. In the worst case, prison is supposed to prevent future crime as criminals are off the street, but here, too, research paints a different picture: serving jail time actually increases the probability of committing crimes in the future: depending on country, relapse rates are consistently between 30 and 50% in the three years following time in prison. (Relapse rates for sex offenders and terrorists are generally on the lower end with 2 - 20%) The reason for that is perhaps less a genetic predisposition for crime, and more that prison makes reintegration into society very hard. Halden Prison in Norway has set out to make this its objective rather than punishment per se. Its focus on mentoring and role models seems to work as it has a relapse rate of 25% after 5 years. While crime prevention is a whole-of--government task, preventing convicts from relapsing works better with probation sentences than jail time. In more than half countries of the world (53%), prison populations are below 150 per 100,000 - in Europe, this number has dropped to 73 in the last ten years, being the world region with the lowest number. But in many other parts of the world, prison populations are growing. In the United States, over 2 million people are incarcerated (629 per 100,000), with Rwanda (580 per 100,000), Turkmenistan (576), El Salvador (564) and Cuba (510) not far behind. In southern African countries, this stands at 248, in central America, at 278. So while prison time is not doing a good job at being an effective punishment, is unlikely to disappear. Precrime = pre-punishment Will we ever be able to apprehend criminals before they commit their acts? The 1956 Philip K. **** novella Minority Report imagined exactly that: its Precrime police department arrests individuals before the act. While we might not have the mutants that saw these acts coming in the book, we do have surveillance technology and Big Data analysis, which has led some to declaring that the book is already a reality. Since 2019 the number of surveillance cameras has grown by 30% worldwide – now a billion surveillance cameras are in use. One AI algorithm, for instance, claims to predict crimes one week in advance with 90% accuracy in eight American cities - but it does not say who will commit these crimes, only where they are likely to occur. This way, police presence can be increased in these locations well ahead of time – in what is called predictive policing. We are therefore not yet at Minority Report levels, but China is moving into exactly this direction. Its elaborate surveillance system - it has 372 cameras per 1,000 people, compared to London's 13.35 - strives to eradicate threats before they can happen, by alerting police to the movements of people of interest. The effectiveness of this system is hard to gauge: Chinese statistics suggest there is essentially no crime in the country. The future of the death penalty Until the 18th century, most criminals did not serve time in jail, simply because it was not considered a way of effectively preventing or punishing crime. Instead, convicts were either physically punished - often in public - or executed. Both forms of punishment are on their way out: the last floggings in the United States were carried out in the state of Delaware in 1952, and Saudi Arabia, one of the last to use it, ruled it out in 2020. Meanwhile, the death penalty is slowly in decline, too: 142 countries have either banned or suspended it. While Europe led the way - France's last execution occurred in 1977 -, all of Latin America and 4-in-5 African countries have banned it, too. (The outlier is Belarus, the only European country to still carrying out executions.) But this does not mean that it does not have its supporters. When European states began to abolish it, most citizens were still in favour. In the United Kingdom, 75% of the population were in favour in 1983 - today, it stands at 53%. In the United States, 60% of adults support the death penalty, 45% favour it in France, 35% in Germany, 31% in Italy and 28% in Spain. The highest levels are in Japan with 80% in in favour. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam and Iraq together make up the vast majority of global executions - in all of these states, social support for the measure is still strong.
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Transhumanist
Sep 07, 2022
In Climate & Geoengineering
An alliance with nature is seen by many as a key recipe for a more benign existence. But alliances are creatures of war as well as peace. And peace is what we need. The analogy is wonderfully illustrated in the New York Times article below It Was War. Then, a Rancher’s Truce With Some Pesky Beavers Paid Off. - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
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Transhumanist
Aug 29, 2022
In Climate & Geoengineering
.. and if it could, would it be? Cloud Wars: Mideast Rivalries Rise Along a New Front - The New York Times (nytimes.com) The article of NYT starts with a chilling story: .... "In 2018, amid a searing drought and rising temperatures, some senior (Iranian) officials concluded that someone was stealing their water from the clouds. “Both Israel and another country are working to make Iranian clouds not rain,” Brig. Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali, a senior official in the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, said in a 2018 speech". A number of countries have been running cloud-seeding programmes for decades and the thought that secret knowledge is used for political advantage is not new in politics. ...
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Transhumanist
Aug 25, 2022
In Climate & Geoengineering
An important part of probabilistic forecasting is that it is... probabilistic. Newsweek reports that in Hungary, top weather forecasters were fired after forecasting storm that missed Budapest Hungary Fires Top Weather Officials Over Wrong Forecast (newsweek.com) - an interesting sequel to the story of Italian seismologists who were jailed for failing to predict a deadly earthquake in L' Aquila in 2009 (who were subsequently cleared by a court of appeal in 2014 - Italian seismologists cleared of manslaughter | Nature). Misunderstandings about science, certainty and risk of "natural catastrophes" (in "" because catastrophes predicted can be mitigated and sometimes avoided altogether) can radically alter the discourse around climate change - a quality that has been massively exploited. See Oil firms’ climate claims are greenwashing, study concludes | Oil | The Guardian; Big oil’s ‘wokewashing’ is the new climate science denialism | ExxonMobil | The Guardian
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Transhumanist
Aug 24, 2022
In The Future of Health
Monkey pox brings back memories of smallpox and many of us thought that we would never encounter polio in our lives. A report in Nature shows that reality is more complex than that - Spate of polio outbreaks worldwide puts scientists on alert (nature.com)
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Transhumanist
Aug 23, 2022
In Geopolitical Reconfiguration
Jeffrey Sachs digs into the search for "hegemonic power" by the West in general and the US in particular as an important cause of the current perilous state of the world. He argues that "at this time of extreme danger, European leaders should pursue the true source of European security: not US hegemony, but European security arrangements that respect the legitimate security interests of all European nations, certainly including Ukraine, but also including Russia.... Europe should reflect on the fact that the non-enlargement of NATO and the implementation of the Minsk II agreements would have averted this awful war in Ukraine. At this stage, it is diplomacy, not military escalation, is the true path to European and global security." https://www.other-news.info/the-wests-false-narrative-about-russia-and-china/
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Transhumanist
Aug 18, 2022
In Hydrogen
A call for climate scientists to speak up about the need to change Europe's energy system Europe’s energy crisis — climate community must speak up (nature.com)
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Transhumanist
Jul 05, 2022
In Lifestyles and the Environment
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Transhumanist
May 30, 2022
In The Future of Health
brings about the potential role of biotechnology and the problems of biosecurity... see: Did US Biotechnology Help to Create COVID-19? by Neil L. Harrison & Jeffrey D. Sachs - Project Syndicate (project-syndicate.org)
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Transhumanist
May 30, 2022
In The Future of Health
Did US Biotechnology Help to Create COVID-19? by Neil L. Harrison & Jeffrey D. Sachs - Project Syndicate (project-syndicate.org)
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Transhumanist
May 27, 2022
In Criminal & Lawful Activities
gains from the drive to sanction Russian oligarchs... see Power and plunder: Putin’s gift to the counter-kleptocracy movement – POLITICO
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Transhumanist
May 24, 2022
In Climate & Geoengineering
There is a rising conscience of the effects of humans on the planetary system. A new book Altered Earth: Getting the Anthropocene Right by Julia Adeney Thomas, Ed. Cambridge University Press, 2022, contains 12 essays by 19 scholars, that seek to set out the scientific evidence and the “human terms”’ that define the Anthropocene. Between Harari's Homo Deus and Thierry Gaudin's "planetary gardening" (see The world in 2025: A challenge to reason (fiuc.org) the search for appropriate planetary governance is on. In a review of Altered Earth in the journal Science, E C.Ellis and M Maslin (https://www.science.org/doi/ full/10.1126/science.abq1474) comment: "Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is what is left out.... Where is the essay on defining the Anthropocene in relation to the wealthiest people on Earth—those most responsible for climate change? Where are the billion black Anthropocenes (A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None — University of Minnesota Press (umn.edu)) and the communities who suffered as a result of European colonialism? What of the Indigenous peoples who have sustained Earth’s biodiversity for millennia? In Altered Earth, this fertile and important ground for discussion is left to others.
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Transhumanist
Apr 25, 2022
In Climate & Geoengineering
Using nudging to induce behavioural change has been very popular in policy circles, especially in relation to the environment and climate. Some see it as a substitute for heavy law-making processes, others see it as a complement of regulation. In any event, it has become a feature of contemporary policy-making. Does it work? Some lessons from US traffic management systems... Can behavioral interventions be too salient? Evidence from traffic safety messages (science.org)
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Transhumanist
Feb 23, 2022
In Towards a Global Science
Discussion begins in Brussels over science sanctions on Russia | Science|Business (sciencebusiness.net)
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Transhumanist
Feb 17, 2022
In Smart Spaces
from a debate on the future of Bristol http://bristolcommentary.uk/expert-views-on-high-rise-bristol
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Transhumanist
Feb 17, 2022
In Towards a Global Science
In this post I would like to begin to outline a vision of global science as a force for the global good. A vision that is built on the belief that reason and truth must be important values in global affairs and that a global scientific community is the best way to ensure that these values are upheld. Seeds of this vision are found in interventions of scientists in world affairs such as the recent letter of Nobel Prize Winners that "calls on all countries to jointly reduce military spending by 2% each year and instead contribute to a global fund to tackle climate change, pandemics and extreme poverty" (Put defence money into planetary emergencies, urge Nobel winners (nature.com)). In our foresight we developed a view of global science for global good during the exercise that supported the 3rd Strategic Plan of Horizon 2020 (Strategic foresight - Publications Office of the EU (europa.eu)). In that work we linked explicitly global challenges with an opportunity for peace and the evolution of a global conscience. The title in the report was "Facing climate change, oceans and space as pacifying / unifying projects". It continued.... "The climate, the oceans and space are global commons which can give rise to pacifying / unifying projects for humanity as a whole. Many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals require global governance related to the environment, resource use and climate change. The IPPC, a global scientific effort to help global governance, illustrates how research on climate change can help decisions dealing with global commons and can inspire other areas such oceans and space. Space exploration could constitute in itself a 'great challenge for humankind' for which nations could collaborate. ..... " Since this work was published in 2016 there are more signs of a global conscience emerging around the vision of global science. Let's see if we can build it up.
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Transhumanist
Feb 16, 2022
In Towards a Global Science
In 2011 the International Science Council published its scenarios for 2031. The half way mark is a good point to reflect on past foresight foresight-report-1.pdf (council.science)
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Transhumanist
Feb 15, 2022
In Climate & Geoengineering
How Bad Is the Western Drought? Worst in 12 Centuries, Study Finds. - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
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Transhumanist
Feb 14, 2022
In The Future of IPR
NATURE PODCAST: 11 February 2022 Coronapod: How African scientists are copying Moderna's COVID vaccine (nature.com)
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