The Israel Defense Forces' expanded authorization for bombing non-military targets, the loosening of constraints regarding expected civilian casualties, and the use of an artificial intelligence system to generate more potential targets than ever before, appear to have contributed to the destructive nature of the current war on the Gaza Strip, an investigation by progressive Israeli website +972 reveals. These factors, as described by current and former Israeli intelligence officials, have likely played a role in producing what has been one of the deadliest military campaigns against Palestinians since the Nakba of 1948.
In Episode 183 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his rant on the dangers of artificial intelligence, this time focusing on the threat it poses to human evolution. The advent of Elon Musk's Neuralink brain implant technology, now approved for human testing by the FDA, actually portends the ultimate abolition of humanity, and its replacement by a conditioned post-humanity stripped of all dignity and reason. But there are signs of human resistance to robot rule that we must fan the flames of before it is too late—such as the current strike by Vancouver dockworkers against their replacement by automation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In Episode 182 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes heart in SAG-AFTRA joining the Hollywood writers' strike, demanding limits on the use of artificial intelligence by the industry. This is a sign of human resistance to robot rule and the growing hegemony of silicon-based "intelligence" over carbon-based intelligent life-forms. Although journalists are not yet at risk of being rendered redundant as script and copy writers are, Weinberg's own trade of journalism is already being impacted by AI. The post-truth zeitgeist and online cognitive environment of total propaganda is set to become exponentially worse, both quantitatively and qualitatively, through the advent of "deep-fakes," indistinguishable from actual reality. Objective truth, even as a very concept, is about to be abolished—unless the human race stands up and says no to AI, before it is too late. Contrary to the dogma that the "advance" (sic) and ubiquity of this technology is inevitable, resistance is possible. Italy this year banned use of ChatGPT within the country. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
The Israeli military has installed robotic weapons that can fire tear-gas, stun-grenades and "non-lethal" bullets in two volatile locations on the West Bank. One is atop a turret at al-Aroub refugee camp; the other in the nearby city of Hebron, where soldiers often clash with Palestinian residents. When young protesters pour into the streets hurling rocks and improvised firebombs at Israeli soldiers, the robotic weapons unleash gas and projectiles on them, according to witness accounts. The robo-weapons, produced by Israeli firm Smart Shooter, use artificial intelligence to track targets. Israel says the technology saves lives—both Israeli and Palestinian. But, as YNet states in its Nov. 16 report on the installation, "critics see another step toward a dystopian reality in which Israel fine-tunes its open-ended occupation of the Palestinians while keeping its soldiers out of harm's way."
UN Secretary General António Guterres on Dec. 13 called upon member states to devise "an ambitious plan for the future to establish restrictions on the use of certain types of autonomous weapons" ahead of the Sixth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). He called on the CCW to "swiftly advance its work on autonomous weapons that can choose targets and kill people without human interference."
In Episode 89 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes heart at the national uprising in El Salvador against the imposition of Bitcoin as legal tender, and draws the connection to his own incessant struggles against corporate cyber-overlords Verizon—as well as the to the automated drone terror in Afghanistan. As we are distracted (or, at any rate, should be distracted) by the more obviously pressing issues such as police brutality and climate destabilization, the digitization of every sphere of human activity lurches forward at a terrifying pace—with zero resistance. Until now. The heroic protesters in El Salvador have launched the long overdue revolution of everyday life. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
The Turkish military is unveiling a new upgraded "unmanned combat aerial vehicle," the Bayraktar Akıncı, developed by private drone manufacturer Baykar Defense, which is owned by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar. The Akıncı, which is Turkish for "raider," is a more advanced version of Turkey's iconic Bayraktar TB2, able to fly higher and stay in the air longer as well as carry more missiles. The TB2, developed in collaboration with another Turkish defense contractor, Roketsan, has been used by Ankara against Kurdish PKK guerillas in northern Iraq, and against Syrian regime forces in Idlib provice. Turkey is said to have 75 of the TB2 drones in its own fleet.
In Episode 64 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the maddening and telling irony that while we're all supposed to be ga-ga with triumphalism over NASA's latest Mars probe, it has received practicailly no attention that Afro-Brazilian peasant communities are being forcibly removed from their traditional lands to make way for a US-backed expansion of the Alcântara Satellite Launch Center in impoverished Maranhão state. This juxtaposition of news stories is paradigmatic of the whole global struggle—sustainable, Earth-rooted cultures against a hypertrophing technosphere that is now colonizing the very heavens. Meanwhile, there are already so many satellites in orbit that near-Earth space is experiencing a fast-growing "space junk" problem. And economic austerity down here on terra firma is compounding the agonizing impacts of the pandemic. Whatever useful knowledge may be gleaned from the Mars probe, accounts don't note that Halliburton is drawing up plans for mining operations on Mars. We recall Gil Scott Heron's wry reaction to the 1969 Moon landing ("Whitey on the Moon"), and say with Marvin Gaye: "Spend it on the have-nots!"