Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Technology, the Answer to all our Problems

[Approximate Reading Time: 5 minutes]
[Mood: Questioning]

I don't want to mislead my readers...the title of this post is supposed to be sarcastic. This post is all about how Technology is being sold to us as the remedy for all the misery in the world. Whether you agree with the advertised benefits of new technologies coming out of government, academic and corporate laboratories or cast a skeptical eye toward the savior role that it is going to play in our lives in the next 5, 10 or 20 years, the truth is that there's been a marked change over the past several decades in the reasons we are being given for the need for new research and more science and technology in our lives. Until recently, new technology was used to address old problems, like food, shelter, clothing, education, etc. Thus we experience, in our daily lives, the effect technology has had on the most basic of human activities, schools of thought and ways of life. More recently, though, it seems that new technologies are being proposed to address problems created and left behind by older (mostly industrial era) technologies.

Space Debris

Earth's oceans are large but we have managed to fill it with so much trash that there's now a large area called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" somewhere between California and Hawaii that's larger than the state of Texas. Outer space is so much more larger than the oceans but it turns out we have effectively managed to fill the far reaches of our atmosphere and beyond with space debris. The debris is generated by satellites (mostly old or dead) colliding with each other and splitting into smaller fragments. Debris is also created from parts of rockets that detach from the payloads as they make their way into orbit. A small piece of debris as small as a metal bolt has enough energy to disable a satellite if it strikes it in orbit. This is a major problem today with NASA tracking over 22,000 different objects circling over our heads so they can change the course of satellites that might be harmed by one of these wayward space bullets. As one would expect, new technologies are being proposed that would "take care" of this problem. One of the ideas being proposed is to deploy a massive net, not unlike a fishing net, that would catch and collect these wayward pieces of junk in space. What a fantastic idea! If this is not the stuff of science fiction, then what is?

Image of the entry hole created on Space Shuttle Endeavour's radiator panel by the impact of unknown space debris
[Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:STS-118_debris_entry.jpg]

Nano-Technology

[Source: http://www.gizmag.com/nano-velcro-heavy-metal-detection-epfl/24100/]

A new technology that, we're told, promises to revolutionize every aspect of life in the next decade or two is nano-technology. Numerous nano particles, particles that are smaller than 1/1,000,000,000th of a meter across, will help us fight disease, perform robotic micro-surgery, clean up oil spills, enhance food security, etc. It is yet another technology that we are adopting, or rather diving into headlong, without due caution and long term studies. Today, we are telling ourselves that nano-technology will solve the problems left behind by older technologies, like heavy metal contamination. Tomorrow, will we be proposing something even newer and "smarter" that will help clean up the mess left behind by nano technologies? Were we thinking of the potential for older defunct satellites to disintegrate and clutter the orbits before we adopted and deployed aerospace technologies indiscriminately? I tend to believe there were voices who brought forward such concerns but the forward march of technological progress typically runs roughshod over puny little consciences. One would think God has been trying to send the long-awaited Messiah to save us all but he keeps getting hit by space debris every time :)

The Native Americans used to have a rule of thumb whenever someone in their tribes came up with something new that deviates from or changes their traditional practices - think of the next seven generations and imagine how it might impact them!

It's a sign of our times that to keep this precarious edifice built on technology running, not thriving and growing, but simply "running", we propose, experiment with and deploy ingenious sounding ideas that while bordering on science fiction, are nevertheless within reach, just around the corner, and would fix the all these problems easily. Or so we are told. We seem to forget that most of these problems are, to begin with, a result of indiscriminate deployment of untested technologies in decades past. We seem to be living a delusion with one of the central themes being clever technologies will be invented in the near future that will take care of every problem we're facing on the planet today, from end of cheap oil to climate change, from poverty to disease and even death!

15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Mark,

    can you give me some links that could explain what you do there, what is in store for us with those "pending thermal solutions"? What could such bacteria become or do once they've "consumed enough" radiation, are sated? How might they mutate?
    Insanity is the new sanity, we know that ...poor us. Knowing is pain, again and again. Poor you.
    But we'll have to bear it.
    When I talk to (ordinary) people about what you tell us here, they either won't believe it, think of it as science fiction or say that it's a good thing. Let's have some more nuclear power!
    I want to cry.

    Of course, nothing ever surprises me.

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    1. I want to try to not to bring negative energy here. Nobody needs my personal problems. But all the big cyber hacks into the White House e-mail, State Dept computers & even the NSA data base just hit home. ISIS and other terrorist who seek to attack or facilities decided to come after us personally. They now know how to find me and thousands of others. I get plenty of hate mail. Anger from Lidia is an example. But now my life and my family have received direct death threats today. Easier to take out the protectors of the grid rather than the actual plants.

      TV News on my way to from Cape Canaveral to Jupiter today = $700 million for Everglades restoration projects has been hijacked by corporations. And I am on my way to meeting with Scripps Institute, Max Plank labs re: synthetic biology.

      This is almost as dangerous as the original Manhattan project splitting the atom. It is giving me a splitting headache. I am in the chain of command to approve millions. Daily I try to caculate the run-away side effects of un-natural hybrid viral gentech. It will seek the trace amounts of radon gas emitted by marble floors, The nano bacteria will eat most appliances, it goes on and on.. Sabine that's what "such bacteria will do once they've "consumed enough" radiation ---doubt they will be are sated? How might they mutate? The Haliburton chemical COREXIT used on BP oil spill is now mutating.

      I now an old physicist who swallowed a spider...to catch a fly...I don't know why she swallowed a fly.

      In 2002 I got engaged and adopted the 12 year old daughter that came with the new relationship. I love her. I've been somewhat thru the trials of raisng a teenager. I did not have prior children but I care about her safety. Along with the cat, my parents, you and billions of other living things....for a time line long after we are all gone. (Possibly some spirits would like to return)

      Real living comes with many factors. And briefly I'm at a tipping point about how to meet these demands to all the highest standards. With lot's of complaints and very little thanks. Dr. Mc Pherson & others say it is too late. Anyone who tries to save anything is a deluded hero. Don't ask the public to use common sense to help reduce anything. And if I do get killed or kidnapped in this line of duty nobody will notice. 90% are way to busy shopping & texting & complaining...so maybe I should escape into bliss. Drop the safety issues. Ten Thousand years of radioactive mutations might not be as bad on evolution as Applied Molecular Evolution contract to Steven Benner.

      Your all welcome to help me play dice with the future. Google Steven Benner and think about which radioactive path you would choose. Contract deadline is May 1st.

      Mo Flow is kindly giving me personal guidance during this decision crisis. Sorry but full scale decommissioning is not an actual option as much as I wish it was. Personally I don't approve of any of the projects developing in the Geo-engineering field. But that is beyond the scope of my powers. However, at the moment I do have a certain amount of agency. Or I can decline but that will not stop this decision being made by others.

      ARTLEADS - you are a kind teacher. I know my presentation skills need much improvement. Honestly I should only be making the physics decisions. But risk/safety projects are not high enough priority on the Pentagon levels to provide my team with a public relations staff. (I actually made an offer to Satish in my desperation.) I appreciate each of you no matter what you do. I know this is only a personal share space. All my best & thanks.

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    2. "Or I can decline but that will not stop this decision being made by others."... the tragedy of the commons as they say. If I don't cut down these trees, someone else, so I might as well do it. If I don't over-pump water from this aquifer, the neighbor down the road will, so I might as well. This game has been going on for hundreds of years. At least. It's been only heating up. The sociopaths leading the way for the rest of us.

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    3. Or protect the commons by hanging around the area long enough to ward off other pumpers & cutters. Delay, debate, paper shuffle till an even better solution might appear. One day at a time.

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  3. Mark,

    Everyone feels utterly agency-less, even those who believe they have agency. Agency is to be able to cook your own food today but perhaps there won't be any food to cook tomorrow, or water to cook it with tomorrow. I live in the heart of Silicon Valley and there are a dozen EPA Superfund sites here. Who knows what's in the ground. No one talks about it. No one cares.

    We all have those moments: if only I could convince a few people and each of them would convince a few. I haven't been able to convince anyone of anything. We're under the grip of centralized forces. We care more about what WSJ is telling us than the friend of 10 years, what the boss is telling us than the peer. Pine beetles are killing pines by the thousands in CA. It's drought, says the local newspaper. They don't say it's climate change, just drought, just the severest one yet.

    And yet, there are some problems that are bigger than others. Some that are about future life on Earth and about reactors. But the process is the same, writing to so-called leaders and hoping they will do something about it. The leaders who step through revolving doors between energy companies and the dept of energy. From being corporate counsel to secretary, and back to the private sector. We have built a machine and it continues despite a letter of appeal, a class action lawsuit, a grassroots effort, a campaign. The machine rolls on, climbing over them like the wheels climb over a speed bump, hardly slowing down. The shock absorbers work great. No need to slow down. Shock absorbers that were engineered to dampen shocks to the machine and its march. The occupants of the machine hardly feel the speed bump. They are unreachable.

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    1. We have built a machine and it continues despite a letter of appeal, a class action lawsuit, a grassroots effort, a campaign. The machine rolls on, climbing over them like the wheels climb over a speed bump, hardly slowing down.

      I also found your mention of EPIgenetics in an article. Satish you are scary smart. I own a share of EPIMEDIX, INC.

      SATISH & SABINE I've thinking about all your thoughts. My response would be a kaleidoscope of empathy. Look at everything from every aspect,,then go deeper,,just a bit more !!!!

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    2. Hi Mark, what does EPIMEDIX do? This is in Hallandale Beach, FL? Looks like they have been around for a while.

      Exactly: "Look at everything from every aspect,,then go deeper,,just a bit more" Trying to do just that. How does Mark see the world? Hope things are calmer now and you're able to get a breath of fresh air over the weekend.

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    3. I wrote you a rather rambling private e-mail at MIA. Sorry no spell check. I actually finished it in seat 5A and hit send before the steward made me shut my lap top. A huge reason I am here is seeing the world thru you because a few years ago I was all over the map looking at all the problems. Your web site is much like a photo album of my mind in 2005 - 06. I'm still in a stage of intense debate with "having agency" sailing way...writing some very interesting revisionist history charts where I future still ends up a mess no matter what we do. For instance take Robert J. Oppenheimer out of existence then chart how the world turns out. Run the butterfly effect a few times and it turns there is something to "agency" after all. You deserve a better presentation/case, but you are very smart so I bet you can figure out how you might be talking yourself out of your own impacts. Even when you stay neutral you are a part of my decision making. Trust me, I'm like a juror who listens carefully to both sides while staring out the window at what mother nature is signaling. Also thinking about the pane of glass we are looking through. All the invisible things like the energy, resources & advertising that put that glass in place which we look right through at other things going on. What do we see with a POV tainted by propaganda. Being convinced you have power or no power actually effects the way you live. Much respect to you always. Writing is hard for me but I read easily. Q.E.D. --- LOL

      Our Main office at Epimedix Inc. is Crystal City overlooking the Pentagon. Most Pentagon ops will be moving to NORAD.

      The Florida office has a bio-genetic research contract. Cell Longevity in hybrid synthetics. My business partner Dr. Jeff Perlman was a director of the CDC & NIH for decades. He's a leading expert on the effects of drug hormones in the public water supply. F.A.U. & NOAA monitor how everything we ingest (chemicals in milk, meat, eggs) are altering biological systems. Our team includes Dr. Leslie Ford who is the current Deputy director general of the NIH. I'm very closely associated with Dr. Leslie Ford on a personal basis. The Cherry Blossoms are out all over Georgetown. My D.C. home is almost across the street from Dunbarton oaks gardens. Many pictures of Georgetown on any search engine. Have you ever been to D.C.? 3:30 am Time for bed!

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  4. Satish,

    Your shock absorber metaphor is so apt. The "speed bumps", how can the occupants of the machine feel them? How indeed!

    The way you describe this above, has been my feeling for a long time. So I stopped appealing to the ones in power quite some time ago. There's nothing pessimistic about that. It's just seeing the "reality" that separation has created for all life, the breaking up into ever smaller pieces. So the king's men cannot put Humpty together again, they are in the system, on the inside looking in.

    I'm trying to live and experience away from this machine you describe so well, with my heart showing me the way. But nonetheless, we're all caught up too much in the works. How can we not be?
    No matter how much knowledge, information I gather and process - and I'm as good as most modern educated people at that - it will never satisfy my heart and my gut.
    We here all know that we need a different story, project our creativity to overcome separation. But the machine won't allow this. All these human minds who have rationally imagined this man-made world for us - shaped the "reality" (over a long, long time) for the machine which obviously can't imagine anything else - leave us helpless to change things. There are too few of us, always have been.

    What I liked about Eisenstein's book was his way of putting forward the teleological way of analysing: starting with the purpose (of the whole) rather than taking things apart looking for causes. That would be a good start.
    I tend to do that anyway. I felt revulsion at school when we had to dissect in order to find out about "life", how it worked. And that's why I never considered myself to have a "scientific mind". Intellectually, I would be equipped.... but to go down that road....like Lidia would be a version of hell for me. Could these be intuitions and instincts natural to some people (still) and not others? What makes a person react like me and another like Lidia? Even though I've always been able to "employ" reason, it's just a tool to be used when necessary. It can be learned, something I found out in the "Germanic culture" which I grew up in.

    Nevertheless, reason, pure reason etc. etc. never satisfied me. I often think that I might be the opposite to an autistic person, wherever they are on the spectrum. It's impossible for me to draw borders. I cannot do it. But then certainty is not something I seek. I always feel that I need to grow towards connection in every way and explore. Is that my nature? Is Lidia's different? Arguing, having a "standpoint" is futile, as you said. You never know where you might be tomorrow. In reality, there are no borders. You feel that, so do I.

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    1. Sabine, I really liked your comments yesterday! The ones that you addressed to others too...

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    2. "Could these be intuitions and instincts natural to some people (still) and not others?" I wonder how this works too. I have seen many like Lidia where I used to work. People who say things like Q.E.D. and see the world and its workings like a machine and its automatic processes. It's a result of the Scientific educational system we've built, in my opinion. Boundaries and sub-divisions are necessary to make sense of things. Mathematics is essential. Instinct? What's that? A mental illusion. Something we can't agree on, so something to skip over.

      The head of Human Resources at Google just released a book and one of his pieces of advice: ignore your gut and rely on data. It gives a mental kick to see data, as if it's a representation of reality. The world, reduced to bits of information, zeroes and ones. Google Maps is just that: zeroes and ones stored in a data center and pulled out on demand. Every mountain is the same, every valley the same, as long as the zeroes and ones match. There's no sense of the sacred, no reverence to the river, just a blue curve in space, reconstructed using zeroes and ones. These words themselves, stored in a data center, as zeroes and ones, come to you, courtesy of Google. And Science and Technology. To be recreated as pixels on your monitor and as chemical signals in your brain. We have become the MACHINE!

      It's hard for the sacred to survive in such a world reduced to bits. But the seed lives on.

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  5. Mark, my thoughts are with you. If there is anything I can do to be here for you, please let me know.


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  6. Hi Mark, you're having a rough day putting out fires. You're taking on a huge responsibility on behalf of all of us Earthlings. Good luck and hang in there... the weekend is almost here.

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  7. 2016-17 C.A.P. cities warning:

    CRISPR/Cas9 is a powerful system that enables researchers to manipulate the genome of target cells like never before. This section will provide a general framework to get you started using CRISPR/Cas9 in your research. Although we will focus on using CRISPR in mammalian cells, many of these principles apply to using CRISPR in other organisms. First, consider the genetic manipulation that is necessary to model your specific disease or process of interest. Do you want to:

    Generate complete and permanent loss of gene expression or function (i.e. knock-out)?
    Express a mutated version of the gene (e.g. point mutant)?
    Increase or decrease expression of a target gene?

    Once you have a clear understanding of what you are trying to do, you are ready to start navigating the different reagents that are available for your particular experiment.
    Select Your Desired Genetic Manipulation

    Different genetic manipulations require different CRISPR components. Selecting a specific genetic manipulation can be a good way to narrow down which reagents are appropriate for a given experiment. Make sure to check whether reagents are available to carry out your specific genetic manipulation in your specific model organism. There may not be a perfect plasmid for your specific application, and in such a case, it may be necessary to customize an existing reagent to suit your needs.

    from the hundreds of dead monkeys at Fort Detrick to the spectacle of Seventh Day Adventist soldiers, the vaccinated volunteers in Project Whitecoat, strapped to chairs amid cages of animals in the Utah sunlight as Q fever aerosols are blown over them. Most chilling are the mock scenarios played out in urban areas: light bulbs filled with simulated BW agents being dropped in New York subways, men in Washington National Airport spraying pseudo-BW from briefcases, and similar tests in California and Texas and over the Florida Keys.

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