The global internet is disintegrating what comes next?

In 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia was signed, ending 30 years of war across Europe and bringing about the sovereignty of states. The rights of states to control and defend their own territory became the core foundation of our global political order, and it has remained unchallenged since.

Russia's increasingly restrictive internet policies have sparked protests across the country, including this demonstration in Moscow in March 2019

In 2010, a delegation of countries came to an obscure agency of the United Nations with a strange request: to inscribe those same sovereign borders onto the digital world.

In 2010, a delegation of countries – including Syria and Russia – came to an obscure agency of the United Nations with a strange request: to inscribe those same sovereign borders onto the digital world. “They wanted to allow countries to assign internet addresses on a country by country basis, the way country codes were originally assigned for phone numbers,” says Hascall Sharp, an independent internet policy consultant who at the time was director of technology policy at technology giant Cisco.

After a year of negotiating, the request came to nothing: creating such boundaries would have allowed nations to exert tight controls over their own citizens, contravening the open spirit of the internet as a borderless space free from the dictates of any individual government.

Read entire post The global internet is disintegrating what comes next? | Sally Adee | BBC

Can we reinvent democracy for the long term?

“The origin of civil government,” wrote David Hume in 1739, is that “men are not able radically to cure, either in themselves or others, that narrowness of soul, which makes them prefer the present to the remote.” The Scottish philosopher was convinced that the institutions of government – such as political representatives and parliamentary debates – would serve to temper our impulsive and selfish desires, and foster society’s long-term interests and welfare.

Today Hume’s view appears little more than wishful thinking, since it is so startlingly clear that our political systems have become a cause of rampant short-termism rather than a cure for it. Many politicians can barely see beyond the next election, and dance to the tune of the latest opinion poll or tweet. Governments typically prefer quick fixes, such as putting more criminals behind bars rather than dealing with the deeper social and economic causes of crime. Nations bicker around international conference tables, focused on their near-term interests, while the planet burns and species disappear.

As the 24/7 news media pumps out the latest twist in the Brexit negotiations or obsesses over a throwaway comment from the US president, the myopia of modern democratic politics is all too obvious. So is there an antidote to this political presentism that pushes the interests of future generations permanently beyond the horizon?

Read entire post Can we reinvent democracy for the long term? | Roman Krznaric | BBC


How to save democracy from itself

In the past the Earth was populated by numerous civilizations. The Greeks, the Incas, or the Romans are just a few egregious examples. Because the temporal and spatial correlation between those civilizations was often non-existent, or very limited, if one happened to disappear or extinguish itself, others remained or new ones simply emerged, sometimes independently of each other. Today, even though there still persist ideological and religious gradients between countries and regions, because of the immense interdependency and complexity that characterizes our times, the Earth, to all effect, is populated by one single globalized society. Because of this interdependency we are all on the same boat. If our global society fails, that’s it. There is no other to replace it.

Any form of progress or growth is accompanied by an inevitable increase in complexity. However, this is true only until the so-called critical complexity is reached. Critical complexity is a sort of a physiological chaos-rich and fragile state, or limit, beyond which no system can evolve, no matter what. In order to continue evolving beyond critical complexity, a civilization must find ways of overcoming the delicate and inevitable vulnerability in which self-inflicted destruction appears to be the most probable form of demise. Our annual analyses of data published by the World Bank, which includes hundreds of thousands of variables, indicate that the world will approach its own critical complexity around 2055-2060, amidst high fragility.

The biggest threat of our civilization is entropy – disorder –which corrodes society and its structure making it fragile.

It is painful to watch as our Western civilisation dissolves itself because of rampant decadent individualism, mindless political correctness, the spread of junk culture, reckless immigration policies, abdication of responsibility, lack of moral and intellectual discipline and relativism. We are liquefying, to cite Zygmunt Bauman, the structure of our society which took millennia to form. Destruction of the family is seen as progress. Patriotism is seen as racism. Depravation, obsessive devotion to money, pornography, the celebration of ugliness and dysfunction and mindless consumption are becoming the new mainstream values, the new normal. All this is simply insane. It must stop.

Our biggest threat is entropy – the production disorder/waste – which inevitably accompanies any form of activity, including progress and growth as well as conflicts or cultural regression. Waste, in this context is not just refuse, it includes moral and intellectual waste, which corrodes society and its structure. Since the second half of the 1990s the rate of entropy and disorder production in the world has suddenly doubled. For every step of progress our global society now produces double the entropy it produced in the previous 25 years. At such rate, the garbage bin will be full in the next 30 to 40 years. Where will we dump our entropy and chaos then?

Governing a Liquid Society - How to Save Democracy From ItselfDemocracy is a formidable and efficient entropy-producing regime. While it is seen as a conquest of humanity, democracy is, at the same time, protecting the endogenous mechanisms of self-annihilation that it spawns and then tolerates. Western societies, where democracy is deeply rooted, are very fragile. This is particularly true of Europe which is exposed to external and internal threats that compound its high innate fragility. Because of a temerarious immigration policy in times of economic uncertainty, fragmentation and fragility, Europe is invaded by millions of ‘immigrants’, that often import crime, the jihad and diseases, and who’s cultural contribution to an already immensely culturally diverse and rich continent is inexistent.

How can democracy be saved from itself in the three to four decades left before the world reaches its critical complexity? The book proposes to institute an entropy footprint, a sort of rating, for individual citizens, corporations, cities and countries, and to reward and tax them based upon the amount of disorder that is dumped by each into the system. In particular, the citizens rating system will allow to break the gridlock in which democracy finds itself today because of the one man one vote system, by rewarding ‘low-entropy citizens’ with the right to cast more votes during elections. The expected result of such skewing of the current system is that it will drive society to a state of lower entropy, hence greater resilience. The greatest crime of all is trying to make equal things that are not. If we really want to make a better society, we must reward those that are better than others. Under normal circumstances of ‘equilibrium’ the one man one vote paradigm is probably the obvious choice. However, when science identifies and recognizes an emergency of the magnitude and gravity which we expose in this book, it becomes necessary to adopt a solution which, in this particular case, the same science suggests.

The Quantitative Complexity Theory (QCT), the first ever theory of complexity that actually proposes a rational measure of complexity of all physical systems, lies at the basis of the proposals made in this book. Science is not about talking or dreaming about things, it is about measuring and ranking them. The QCT has been tested and applied for over a decade in countless projects, experiments and applications with tens of clients and institutions from four continents. Applications range from medicine to manufacturing, from economics, finance to defence and business intelligence. In 2018 a Complexity Chip has been developed for real-time monitoring of complexity of anything that is mission-critical, from military equipment to software on an automobile or to patients in intensive care. The QCT shows how our world is becoming increasingly complex and how there are physical limits as to how complex it can get.  It also hints a solution. If we don’t act, around 2055-2060 our global family will not be Too Big To Fail. It will be Too Complex To Survive.

The book is available here.

‘You did not act in time’: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to MPs

Greta Thunberg took her climate message to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on Tuesday. The 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist told a packed room that her future and the futures of her fellow children had been ‘sold’.

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.

I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.

Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?

In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren. That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.

Read entire post ‘You did not act in time’: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to MPs | Greta Thunberg | The Guardian

Standards cooperation is key to making AI and smart cities a reality

Hosted by a different member each year, the meeting of the Global Standards Collaboration, GSC-22, was jointly organized by ISO and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). The two-day event attracted participants from around the world, with notable representation from those countries where information communication technology (ICT) is set to play an increasingly strong role in the economy.

Standardization is essential to artificial intelligence – its future and its wide adoption across the world

The first day was dedicated to innovative presentations and lively panel discussions on the theme of smart sustainable cities. GSC members shared their views on standards relevant to cities that face substantial challenges in choosing suitable standards for their requirements.

Recognizing the fast pace of technological evolution combined with rapidly growing populations, members encouraged continued discussion, particularly on the development of guidelines and standards to enable seamless data exchange and interoperability.

Read entire article Standards cooperation is key to making AI and smart cities a reality | Barnaby Lewis |

A forest garden with 500 edible plants could lead to a sustainable future

This type of agroforestry mimics natural ecosystems and uses the space available in a sustainable way. UK-based Martin Crawford is one of the pioneers of forest gardening. Starting out with a flat field in 1994, his land has been transformed into a woodland and serves as an educational resource for others interested in forest gardening.

This short film by Thomas Regnault focuses on Crawford’s forest garden, which is abundant, diverse, edible, and might be one answer to the future of food systems.

Seven reasons why the world is improving

The late Swedish academic Hans Rosling has identified a worrying trend: not only do many people across advanced economies have no idea that the world is becoming a much better place, but they actually even think the opposite.

This is no wonder, when the news focuses on reporting catastrophes, terrorist attacks, wars and famines.

Who wants to hear about the fact that every day some 200,000 people around the world are lifted above the $2-a-day poverty line? Or that more than 300,000 people a day get access to electricity and clean water for the first time every day? These stories of people in low-income countries simply doesn’t make for exciting news coverage. But, as Rosling pointed out in his book Factfulness, it’s important to put all the bad news in perspective.

While it is true that globalisation has put some downward pressure on middle-class wages in advanced economies in recent decades, it has also helped lift hundreds of millions of people above the global poverty line – a development that has mostly occurred in South-East Asia.

Read entire post Seven reasons why the world is improving | Julius Probst| BBC

Are we on the road to civilisation collapse?

Great civilisations are not murdered. Instead, they take their own lives.

Collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and technological stage

So concluded the historian Arnold Toynbee in his 12-volume magnum opus A Study of History. It was an exploration of the rise and fall of 28 different civilisations. He was right in some respects: civilisations are often responsible for their own decline. However, their self-destruction is usually assisted.

The Roman Empire, for example, was the victim of many ills including overexpansion, climatic change, environmental degradation and poor leadership. But it was also brought to its knees when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455.

Collapse is often quick and greatness provides no immunity. The Roman Empire covered 4.4 million sq km (1.9 million sq miles) in 390. Five years later, it had plummeted to 2 million sq km (770,000 sq miles). By 476, the empire’s reach was zero.

Read entire post Are we on the road to civilisation collapse? | Luke Kemp | BBC

Internet 101

Few technological innovations in history have made as much of an impact as the Internet. Learn about the predecessor of the Internet, called ARPANET; how text, audio, and video messages are transmitted through the Internet; and how this transmission of information has changed the lives of billions around the world.

The perils of short-termism: Civilisations greatest threat

Not long after my daughter was born in early 2013, I had a sobering thought about the life that lay ahead for her. With health and luck, she will live long enough to see the dawn of the 22nd Century.

She may be frail or tired. But as the fireworks go off, she’ll hopefully be contemplating what comes next. By then medicine may have extended the average lifespan, and at 86, perhaps she’ll only be on the cusp of retirement.

How often do we contemplate the impact of our decisions as they ripple into the decades and centuries ahead?

As a journalist, I often encounter and deploy the date 2100. It’s a milestone year frequently cited in climate change news reports, stories about future technologies and science fiction.

But it’s so far ahead, clouded with so many possibilities, that the route we will take to get there is difficult to see. I rarely consider that, like my daughter, millions of people alive today will be there as 2100 arrives, inheriting the century my generation will leave behind.

Read entire post The perils of short-termism: Civilisations greatest threat | Richard Fisher | BBC

How science-fiction help readers understand climate change

It’s the year 2140 and two kids ride their skimboards in the heart of Manhattan, near the point where Sixth Avenue meets Broadway. If you are familiar with this junction you would know it is far from the US’ current coastline.

But in Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel New York 2140, Manhattan is flooded after unabated climate change causes the sea level to rise by 50ft (15.25m). The amphibian city is now a SuperVenice, a grid of canals populated by vaporettos where characters must learn how to deal with a world both familiar and unrecognisable to us. Mid-Manhattan skimboading is all too possible in this future.

Robinson’s 2017 climate-fiction novel belongs to a growing cadre of works about drowned nations, wind farm utopias or scarred metropolises decades into the future. As diplomats draft the rulebook for the global response to the climate crisis and engineers race to produce better solar panels, writers have found their role, too: telling what Robinson calls “the story of the next century”. In doing that, they might be helping readers across the world comprehend the situation in which we currently find ourselves.

Read entire article How science-fiction help readers understand climate change | Diego Arguedas Ortiz | BBC

Why AI, 3D printing and IoT will reach new heights in 2019

The comments below explore why there will be a further rise in the use of technologies such as AI, 3D printing and IoT as they become more affordable and are increasingly seen as vital tools to manufacturers.

Rothwell says: “In the manufacturing sector, we have been seeing the rise of a number of key technologies recently, specifically artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and additive manufacturing (3D printing).

We expect, in 2019, to see this trend continue, especially in AI and IoT adoption, as manufacturers are increasing investment in these now affordable technologies which are underpinning more accurate decision making and unlocking new business models, such as shifting towards service-based product offerings.”

Read entire article Why AI, 3D printing and IoT will reach new heights in 2019 | Dealer Support