robotocracy

Biden executive order restricts asylum seekers at border

President Joe Biden signed an executive order June 4 barring asylum claims from anyone who crosses the US-Mexico border illegally. The ban will be suspended if border agents observe a seven-day average of fewer than 1,500 "encounters," which include apprehensions of undocumented migrants within 100 miles of the border or entry refusals at US-Mexico land border crossings. However, if border authorities record a seven-day average of 2,500 or more encounters, the restriction will be reinstated.

Lower emissions from US power grid (at least)

The US Department of Energy on April 25 released its preliminary estimate for the nation's carbon emissions in the previous year. While falling far short of the kind of drop needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals, a dip in emissions was recorded—almost entirely due to changes in the electric power sector. US carbon emissions have been trending downward since 2007, when they peaked at about six gigatonnes. The COVID-19 pandemic produced a dramatic drop in emissions in 2020, bringing the yearly total to below five gigatonnes for the first time since before 1990, when DoE monitoring began. Carbon dioxide releases rose after the return to "normalcy"; 2023 marked the first post-pandemic decline, with emissions again below five gigatonnes.

Google fires employees who protested Israel contract

Google fired 28 workers on April 17 after dozens of employees participated in sit-ins at the company's offices in New York City and Sunnyvale, Calif., to protest a cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. Nine were arrested at the company headquarters in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood after they refused police orders to disband their occupation. Another five were arrested at the Sunnyvale headquarters. Tensions had been building between management and activist employees over Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion joint Google-Amazon deal to supply the Israeli government with cloud services, including artificial intelligence. Google employees affiliated with the group that organized the sit-ins, No Tech for Apartheid, said in a statement that the firings were "a flagrant act of retaliation."

Podcast: the Facebook dilemma

This week's Meta outage plunged millions around the world into panic. No sooner did Bill Weinberg get back on Facebook than its robots slapped restrictions on his account for supposedly promoting "dangerous organizations"—precisely in response to his protests against online stanning for extremist groups! Apart from subjection to such Orwellian diktats from Meta's robotocracy, Facebook has tweaked its algorithm to sideline links to news articles and instead boost "reels" and "memes," with high entertainment value but little informational content. This has tanked hits for news outlets and resulted in ominous layoffs across the news industry. In Episode 216 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill reiterates his call for a meme moratorium, as the only means of consumer resistance to Meta's profiteering, anti-social agenda—but also asks what can be done about the more fundamental question of this corporate Borg's assimilation of every sphere of human reality.

Podcast: for a meme moratorium

Meta has tweaked the Facebook algorithm to sideline links to news articles and boost "memes"—precisely the format most subject to the fabrications and distortions being aggressively peddled by both sides (yes) in the Gaza conflict. Such propaganda has already been implicated in genocide in Burma and Ethiopia. But even apart from such egregious abuses, memes are dumbing down discourse and entrenching groupthink and dogmatism—and are being pushed by Meta as part of its sinister corporate design to enclose the internet. In Episode 207 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls for a total moratorium on posting or sharing memes as a means of pressure on Meta to re-emphasize actual news articles, and deep-six the war propaganda.

Demand international treaty to ban 'killer robots'

Countries that approved the first-ever United Nations General Assembly resolution on "killer robots" should promote negotiations on a new international treaty to ban and regulate these weapons, Human Rights Watch said Jan. 3. These so-called "autonomous weapons" systems select and apply force to targets based on sensor processing rather than human inputs.

Israel uses AI to expand Gaza targeting: report

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.

Artificial intelligence and the abolition of humanity

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.

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