Bureau followed with interest Huxley’s warnings of technology eroding the foundation of democracyWritten by JPat BrownEdited by Beryl LiptonThe FBI file of Aldous Huxley, released after a FOIA request by Joseph Lloyd, reveals that while the English author was never under official investigation, the Bureau found his dystopian view of the future interesting enough to follow him and take notes.The file begins in 1958, after Huxley had been interviewed on television by Mike Wallace. The interview was the work of the Fund for the Republic, a think tank founded in opposition to McCarthyism, which was itself enough to raise the FBI’s eyebrows. Huxley, the file notes, had never been deemed sufficiently suspicious to warrant an investigation …
Daily Archives: July 15, 2017
The story of Google’s AI subsidiary DeepMind took a not-unexpected turn this week when the ICO ruled that the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust failed to comply with the Data Protection Act when it provided patient details to DeepMind. This is the latest step in a saga that looks set to rumble on for some time – and one from which there are many, many lessons to be learned. One of those – sadly one that does not seem likely to be heeded as much as it should be – is that those involved in projects like this should pay more attention to those who can loosely be described as ‘privacy geeks’.Two in particular have been critically involved in this process – Hal Hodson (@halhod) and Julia Powles (@juliapowles). Hal started the ball rolling with a serious piece of investigative journalism in New Scientist in April 2016, which brought the issue to light, and as well as further journalistic work Hal and Julia wrote a piece of ‘proper’ academic work – ‘Google DeepMind and healthcare in an age of algorithms’ in the journal Healthcare and Technology. This led, ultimately, to the ICO’s investigation and ruling – though it has to be noted that the ICO’s ruling is on DeepMind’s trial with the Royal Free: the real test will be when DeepMind’s work rolls out. The ICO has asked the Royal Free, amongst other things, to do a full ‘privacy impact assessment’ prior to further work. That they did not do so prior to the previous trial is one of the serious shortcomings of the project. As Julia Powles put it in the Guardian yesterday:
When his father died, in 2011, Jay Wilde inherited the family cattle farm, in Ashbourne, UK. He has been constantly sending cows to the slaughterhouse ever since, but he recently decided he couldn’t do it anymore, so he gave away his heard of 59 cows to an animal sanctuary, where they will live out the rest of their natural lives in peace.59-year-old Wilde has been a vegetarian for 25 years, so having to sell animals to be killed for meat was particularly difficult, but he had promised his father that he would take over the family farm. Having to send off the animals to the slaughterhouse after seeing them grow under his eyes and spending time with them was extremely unpleasant, and the farmer recently decided that he couldn’t bear to do it anymore.Share PinPhoto: Jay Wilde“I began to see that cows recognize each other, and they’ve got very good memories,” Jay Wilde told the Vegan Society. “They experience a range of emotions – they can be sad, happy, bored or excited. They do also have facial expressions. You can tell what a cow is thinking by looking at them. I’ve even seen cows cry.”“Cows are conscious of what goes on around them ,they have personalities and an inner life,” the farmer adds. “They’re not just units of food. Knowing them personally makes it more difficult to think about eating them.”
122 Nations Create Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons. North Korea is the only Nuclear Country Which Voted Yes
On Friday the United Nations concluded the creation of the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty in over 20 years, and the first treaty ever to ban all nuclear weapons. While 122 nations voted yes, the Netherlands voted no, Singapore abstained, and numerous nations didn’t show up at all.The Netherlands, I’m told by Alice Slater, was compelled by public pressure on its parliament to show up. I don’t know what Singapore’s problem is. But the world’s nine nuclear nations, various aspiring nuclear nations, and military allies of nuclear nations boycotted.The only nuclear country that had voted yes to begin the process of treaty-drafting now completed was North Korea. That North Korea is open to a world without nuclear weapons should be fantastic news to numerous U.S. officials and media pundits apparently suffering traumatic fear of a North Korean attack — or it would be fantastic news if the United States were not the leading advocate for expanded development, proliferation, and threat of the use of nuclear weapons. The U.S. ambassador even staged a press conference to denounce this treaty when its drafting was initiated.Our job now, as citizens of this hapless world, is to lobby every government — including the Netherlands’ — to join and ratify the treaty. While it falls short on nuclear energy, it is a model law on nuclear weapons that sane human beings have been waiting for since the 1940s. Check it out:
After a decade-long effort by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and 72 years after their invention, today states at the United Nations formally adopted a treaty which categorically prohibits nuclear weapons.
Until now, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction without a prohibition treaty, despite the widespread and catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their intentional or accidental detonation. Biological weapons were banned in 1972 and chemical weapons in 1992.
On adoption of the treaty, ICAN’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn, said:
“We hope that today marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age. It is beyond question that nuclear weapons violate the laws of war and pose a clear danger to global security.
“No one believes that indiscriminately killing millions of civilians is acceptable – no matter the circumstance – yet that is what nuclear weapons are designed to do. Today the international community rejected nuclear weapons and made it clear they are unacceptable.
“It is time for leaders around the world to match their values and words with action by signing and ratifying this treaty as a first step towards eliminating nuclear weapons.”
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted Friday morning and will open for signature by states at the United Nations in New York on 20 September 2017. Civil society organizations and more than 140 states have participated in negotiations.
This treaty is a clear indication that the majority of the world no longer accepts nuclear weapons and does not consider them legitimate tools of war. The repeated objection and boycott of the negotiations by many nuclear-weapon states demonstrates that this treaty has the potential to significantly impact their behavior and stature.