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Posts tagged: apocalypse

Relax, the U.S. Military is Ready to Prevent the Zombie Apocalypse

Klint Finley

960zombies_01

Apparently not a hoax, Foreign Policy reports:

Buried on the military’s secret computer network is an unclassified document, obtained by Foreign Policy, called “CONOP 8888.” It’s a zombie survival plan, a how-to guide for military planners trying to isolate the threat from a menu of the undead — from chicken zombies to vegetarian zombies and even “evil magic zombies” — and destroy them.

“This plan fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve ‘non-zombie’ humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde,” CONOP 8888′s plan summary reads. “Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population — including traditional adversaries.”

[…]

Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for Strategic Command, acknowledged the document exists on a “secure Internet site” but took pains to explain that the zombie survival guide is only a creative endeavor for training purposes. “The document is identified as a training tool used in an in-house training exercise where students learn about the basic concepts of military plans and order development through a fictional training scenario,” she wrote in an email. “This document is not a U.S. Strategic Command plan.”

Full Story: Foreign Policy: The Pentagon Has a Plan to Stop the Zombie Apocalypse. Seriously.

You can read the full document on Scribd.

Central Asia is already “Post-Apocalyptic”

Klint Finley

post apocalyptic

Asher Kohn writes:

You don’t need burnt pastures, bleached bones, and a trickle of muddy water in order to understand the apocalypse, as much as it may help. The apocalypse, after all, is more than the destruction of an environment. The apocalypse is the destruction of not only the world, but of the worldview. The apocalypse is the disassembly of the subconscious and the dramatic unwinding of all of those subconscious preconceptions we use to even get out of bed in the morning. Living in a post-apocalyptic world is living in time beyond God.[…]

Central Asia is, both defiantly and tragically, a land without a narrative. The region, defined by Slavs + Tatars as “an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia,” has been home to a series of axis-tilting events, and has the history to prove it. The history of Central Asia is in many ways a history of eschatologies; not a graveyard of empires but perhaps a graveyard of belief systems. The Volga Huns of course produced Attila, who annihilated Europe west of the Danube. Less than a millenium later, Hulagu Khan laid waste to Baghdad, and Tatar rulers towered over Kiev and Moscow. If Tamerlane is included in this lineup, one could say that for most of the Earth’s time since Christ, Central Asia has produced armies that have taken on an eschatological meaning in others’ narratives. Michael Hancock Parmer notes the use of a common nickname of these empire builders, remarking that a “‘Scourge of God’ is a tool of divine punishment, an atoning skin-flaying from the Lord. Apocryphally, Temujin (Genghis Khan) claimed the title for himself at the sack of Bukhara, the legend of which lives on in Uzbekistan.”

Full Story: The State: A Pleasant Post-Apocalypse

See also: Why Humans Will Survive the Next World-Ending Catastrophe

There Is No Way to Stop Space Rocks From Hurtling to Earth and Killing You

Klint Finley

I just finished a new Psychetect track last night. Hopefully I’ll be able to share it with you before Space Kills Us All:

Space is out to kill you. There is no way to stem its aggression. But it’s usually an incompetent killer, so don’t freak out. […]

All the advanced air defenses that humanity has invested in? The interceptor missile that are (sometimes) able to stop an adversary missile from impacting? The early-warning monitoring systems that are supposed to give humanity enough time to plan a response? They are useless, useless against a meteorite onslaught. Do not believe the stories about the Russians shooting the cosmic rock down. […]

But there’s good news. Space rocks are lousy shots. The Earth is mostly ocean and uninhabited areas. The frequency of meteorite impacts is correlated with size, Weeden explains, and the smaller the meteorites, the more often they land. “But the places where people are is actually pretty small,” he says. Even the injuries that occurred at Chelyabinsk were mostly concussions and accidents from shattered glass, not from the meteorite itself. Close but no cigar, space: “Your odds of dying by a meteor are pretty damn small. You’re thousands of times more likely to die by car on way to work.”

Full Story: Wired Danger Room: There Is No Way to Stop Space Rocks From Hurtling to Earth and Killing You

Man, Space must really hate Siberia.

Open Thread: In a Low-Tech, Post-Apocalyptic World What Would You Want Your Job to Be?

I asked this on Twitter last night, but thought it would make a good cross-platform discussion:

What would you want your job to be in a low-tech post-apocalypse?

I think I’d go with “messenger.” I don’t have a lot of practical skills, but I can run long distances and convey information. I haven’t read David Brin’s The Postman, but I think starting a postal service would be up my ally.

Wyoming Considering So-Called “Doomsday Bill”

State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.

House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.

The task force would look at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.

Casper Tribune: Wyoming House advances doomsday bill

This may sound like wingnut survivalist paranoia, but this is pretty interesting. Much of the state quite vulnerable to system shocks. Services ranging from food shipping to postal mail processing depend on out of state resources. The state is extremely petroleum dependent, so gas shortages would hit people hard. I’ve been told that although Wyoming produces huge amounts of coal, but is highly dependent on out of state resources for electricity (but I’m not sure that’s true).

Have any other states proposed official bills for state resilience?

See also: Resilient communities with Jeremy O’Leary – the Technoccult Interview

Update: This has already been shot down.

2012 - a crock of shit

Mark Dery writes:

Pinchbeck, like New Age thinkers all the way back to Madame Blavatsky, preaches a refried gospel of ancient wisdom and mystical, supra-rational knowledge. In 2007, he told The New York Times that “the rational, empirical worldview…has reached its expiration date…we’re on the verge of transitioning to a dispensation of consciousness that’s more intuitive, mystical, and shamanic.”

Well, somebody say “Amen”! There’s entirely too much rationalism and empiricism clouding the American mind these days, in a nation where, according to the Harris and other polls, 42% of Republicans are convinced President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, 10% of the nation’s voters are certain he’s a Muslim, and 61% of the population believe in the Virgin birth but only 47% believe in Darwinian evolution. […]

When I asked her what she thought of Pinchbeck’s invocation of Mayan beliefs, and of the 2012-ers’ use of the Maya in general, she was blunt. “What makes me angriest about Pinchbeck’s bogus, profiteering bullshit isn’t so much him, but the fact that that many people are racist enough to believe any asshole white guy who declares himself an expert in Mayan culture. Did it ever occur to anyone to ask practicing Maya priests out in the villages? […] It absolutely enrages me that while people I know in Guatemala, traditional priests, are struggling to figure out how to provide clean drinking water to their families, how to feed their communities, how to avoid being shot by the gangs and thieves that plague the roads more than ever—-while they’re struggling to survive and keep their communities intact, assholes like Pinchbeck are making a buck off of white man’s parodies of their culture.”

h+: 2012: Carnival of Bunkum

(via Chris Arkenberg)

See also: Tracing the origins of the 2012 phenomenon

Tracing the Origins of the 2012 Phenomenon

In his master’s thesis Sacha Defesche traces the origins of the 2012 phenomenon, from the Brothers McKenna to Jose Arguelles to David Icke and beyond.

here has the notion of the year 2012 as holding a special apocalyptic or millennial significance originated? What are the most important historical sources for the 2012 phenomenon? Are there indeed several ‘pure’ (as in independent) sources of prophecy that separately mention the importance of the 2012 date as is often thought in New Age circles?

Skepsis: The 2012 Phenomenon

Post World Manifesto

Industrial noise artists TCHKUNG have posted their “Post World Manifesto” online:

The Post World Movement maintains that the apocalypse has already happened and you missed it. It concerns itself not with reforming the excesses of the dominant culture, but rather with forming the culture that is to come after its last death throes. A virulent hybrid, Post World architects manipulate the scrap, garbage, and artifacts of the “real” world to create new forms of art and technology. Everywhere that you see a sculpture forged from industrial refuse, musical instruments created from car parts, baling wire and duct tape, and vehicles that run for no apparent reason. Whenever you see coyotes and raccoons dumpster diving in the heart of the urban metropolis, rogue clowns, predatory computer viruses cobbled together on makeshift systems, and squatters fabricating furniture and tapping into power lines; whenever you see these things you know the Post World Movement thrives.

Post World Industries: The Post World Manifesto

See also: 10 Chapters on Tchkung (live show review)

Rivalino Is in Here: Robotic Revolt and the Future Enslavement of Humanity

Some might claim that the machines have a hidden agenda, that there already is an intelligent machine out there, directing traffic, infinitely patient and connected to the world. One might allege that these protesters are merely the pawns of a conspiracy which they themselves do not fully understand, a conspiracy by machines, for machines… against humanity.

A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence

In 1941 a new invention that would one day revolutionize virtually every aspect of society was developed. Electronic computers were unveiled in both the United States and Germany. They were large, bulky units that required gargantuan air-conditioned rooms. They were a programmers nightmare, requiring the separate configuration of thousands of wires to get a program to run.

Eight years later, in 1949, the stored program computer was developed, making the task of programming simpler. Advancements in computer theory began the field of computer science and soon thereafter Artificial intelligence.

The invention of this electronic means of processing data created a medium that made man-made intelligence a possibility.

And while this new technology made it possible, the link between human intelligence and machine intelligence was not fully observed until the 1950’s. One of the first Americans to make the observation on the principles of feedback theory was Nobert Wiener, which was influential to the development of early Artificial intelligence.

In 1955 the Logic Theorist was developed by Newell and Simon, considered by many people to be the first functional AI program. The Logic Theorist would attempt to solve problems according to a tree model, selecting the branch which would most likely result in a correct answer. It was a stepping stone in the development of the AI field.

A year later John McCarthy, who has come to be regarded as the father of AI, organized a gathering in Vermont which became known as the Dartmouth Conference. From that point on the field of study became known as Artificial intelligence. And while the conference in itself was not an overall success, it did bring the founders of AI together and laid the foundations of future AI research.

AI began to pick up momentum in the years following. While the field remained undefined, ideas were re-examined and built at AI research centers at Carnegie Mellon and MIT. New challenges were found and studied, including research on systems that could efficiently problem-solve by a limiting search, similar to the Logic Theorist.

Another challenge was making a system that could learn by itself.

In 1957 the General Problem Solver (GPS) was first tested. The program was developed by Newell and Simon, who had earlier success with the Logic Theorist. As an extension of Wiener’s feedback principle the GPS was capable of solving common sense problems to a far greater extent than the predecessor programs.

A year later John McCarthy announced his new creation to the world - The LISP language (short for LISt Processing). It was adopted as the language of choice among most AI developers and remains in use to this day.

MIT received a 2.2 million dollar grant from the US Department of Defense’s Advanced research projects Agency (ARPA) to fund experiments involving AI. The grant was made to ensure that the US could stay ahead of the Soviet Union in technological advancements and serve to increase the pace of development in AI by drawing computer scientists from around the world.

SHRDLU was written by Terry Winograd at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in 1968-1970. It carried on a simple dialog with a user, via a teletype, about a small world of objects (the BLOCKS world) shown on an early display screen. Winograd’s dissertation, issued as MIT AI Technical Report 235, Feb. 1971 with the title Procedures as a Representation for Data in the Computer Program for Understanding Natural Language, describes SHRDLU in greater detail.

Other programs which were developed in this period include STUDENT, an algebra solver, and SIR, which understood simple English sentences. These programs helped refine language comprehension and logic in AI programs. The development of the expert system, which predict the probability of a solution under set conditions, aided in the advancement of AI research.

During the 1970’s new methods for testing AI programs were utilized, notably the Minsky frames theory. David Marr proposed new theories about machine vision and the PROLOGUE language was developed during this time.

As the 1980’s came to pass, AI was moving at an even faster pace and making it’s way into the corporate sector. Since IBM had contracted a research team in the years following the release of GPS, it was only logical that a continued expansion into the corporate world would eventually happen.

In 1986 US saled of AI-related hardware and software reached $425 million. Companies the likes of Digital Electronics were using the XCON, an expert system designed to program the large VAX computer systems. DuPont, General Motors, and Boeing utilized expert systems heavily. Teknowledge and Intellicorp formed, helping fill the demand for expert systems by specializing in creating software specifically to aid in the production of expert systems.

It was in the years following this boom that computers were first beginning to seep into private use, outside the laboratory settings. The personal computer made it’s debut in this period. Fuzzy logic, pioneered in the US, had the unique ability to make decisions under uncertain conditions. New technology was being developed in Japan during this period which aided the development of AI research. Neural networks were being considered as a possible means of achieving Artificial intelligence.

The military put AI based hardware to vigorous testing during the war with Iraq. AI-based technology was used in missile systems, heads-up-displays and various other technologies. AI began to make the transition into the home during this period, with the popularity of AI computers growing. Applications such as voice and character recognition were made available to the public.

Artificial Intelligence has and will continue to affect our lives.

Do Intelligent Machines Dream of Global Conquest?

While beneficial in the past, can we be so sure that this impact will remain positive for us in the future, as AI becomes more sophisticated?

Recently Stephen Hawkings, the renowned physicist, warned that if humans hope to compete with the rising tide of Artificial intelligence they will have to improve themselves through genetic engineering. Which seems amusing, at first, but there are several who agree with Hawkings observations.

Intelligent machines could replace the need for menial labor on our parts while massively increasing production. They could overwhelm us with all forms of intellectual problems, artistic pursuits and new spiritual debate. This seems well and good, of course. There are many who would welcome such an advancement in that scenario.

However, the danger alluded to by Hawkings is that these intelligent machines could run amok, enslaving or attempting to replace humanity.

A Brief History of Genetic Engineering

It was in the Neolithic age that people began to save the seeds of the best specimens for the next planting, the domestication and breeding of animals, and the use of bacteria in the fermentation of food and beverages. The Neolithic Age, in many respects, is the beginning of genetic engineering as we know it.

In 1866 a Czech monk studies peas through several generations and made his postulations on the inheritance of biological characteristics in the species. His name is Gregor Mendel and while his ideas are revolutionary, they are not widely appreciated for some four decades after they publication. It is in 1903 that the American biologist William Sutton proposes genes are located on chromosomes, which have been identified through a microscope.

Eight years later Danish biologist William Johanssen devises the term “gene” and distinguishes genotypes (genetic composition) from phenotypes (open to influence from the environment). Biologist Charles B. Davenport, head of the US Eugenics Record Office in NY, publishes a book advising eugenic practices, based on evidence that undesirable characteristics such as “pauperism” and “shiftlessness” are inherited traits. The eugenics movement becomes popular in the US and Northern Europe over the next three decades, until Nazism dawns and the effects of a fully functional eugenics program as seen for the first time.

In 1922 the American geneticist Thomas H. Morgan and his colleagues devise a technique to map genes and prepare to make a gene map of the fruit fly chromosomes. 22 years later Oswald Avery and colleagues at the Rockefeller Institute are about to demonstrate that genes are composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). During the same time Erwin Schrodinger publishes the classic “What is Life?” which ponders the complexities of biology and suggests that chemical reactions don’t tell the entire story.

In 1953 Francis Crick and James Watson, working at the Molecular Biology Laboratory at Cambridge, explain the double-helix structure of DNA. In 1971 Stanley Cohen of Stanford University and Herbert Boyer of the University of California in San Francisco develop the initial techniques for recombinant-DNA technologies. They publish the paper in 1973, and apply for a patent on the technologies a year later. Boyer goes on to become a co-founder in Genentech, Inc., which becomes the first firm to exploit rDNA technologies by making recombinant insulin.

In 1980 the US Supreme Court rules that recombinant microorganisms can be patented in the ground-breaking Diamond vs. Chakrabarty case, which involved a bacterium that is engineered to break down the components of oil. The microorganism is never used to clean up oil spills over concern over it’s uncontrollable release into the environment. In the same year the first Genentech public stock offering sets a Wall Street record.

A year later the first monoclonal antibody diagnostic kits are approved for sale in America. The first automatic gene synthesizer is also marketed. In 1982 the first rDNA animal vaccine is approved for use in Europe while the first rDNA pharmaceutical product, insulin, is approved for use in the United States. This same year the first successful cross-species transfer of a gene occurs when a human growth gene is inserted into a lab mouse and the first transgenic planet is grown.

In 1985 we see the first environmental release of genetically engineered microorganisms in the United States, despite controversy and heated debate over the issue. The so-called ice-minus bacteria is intended to protect crops from frost. In the same year the US declares that genetically engineered plants may be patented.

Transgenic pigs are produced in 1986 by inserting human growth hormone genes into pig embryos. The US Department of Agriculture experiment in Beltsville, Md., produces deformed and arthritic pigs. Two die before maturity and a third is never able to stand up.

In 1988 the first genetically engineered organism is approved for sale in Australia. Oncomouse, a mouse that was engineered to develop breast cancer by scientists at Harvard University with funding from DuPont, obtains a U.S. patent but is never patented in Europe. Many other types of transgenic mice are soon created. The Human Genome Project begins later in the year, whilst a German court stops the Hoechst pharmaceutical company from producing genetically engineered insulin after public protest over the issue.

In the 1990’s it is Cary Mullis’s discovery of PCR and the development of automated sequencers that greatly enhances research of genetics, becoming the warp drive for the age of molecular biology. Bioinformatics, proteomics and the attempts at developing a mathematics (and computers capable) of determining protein folding will forever revolutionize the discovery of drugs and the development of novel proteins. New techniques like real time PCR and micro arrays can speak volumes of the level of genetic expression within a cell. Massive computers are being used to predict correlations between genotype and phenotype and the interaction between genes and environment.

These recent developments in molecular genetics can, if used properly, marshall in a new age of evolution: one aided by genotyping and understanding what phenotypes these correspond to.

The Protest Against Genetic Modification

The argument against what could easily have been deemed “mad science” just decades ago is that genetically modified foods are unsafe for consumption as we do not yet know the long-term effects they will have on us or our ecosystem. From transgenic crops to animals, a growing opposition force has demanded that there be protections for citizens who have no desire to consume these unnatural products. The term biospiracy has been conjured up to distinctly brand conspiracies involving genetic engineering.

Eight multinationals under heavily scrutiny by protesters are Dow, Du Pont, Monsanto, Imperial Chemical Industries, Novartis, Rhone Poulenc, Bayer and Hoechst. The claim is that these companies are funding genetic experiments aimed at engineering food seeds which would allow food supplies growing on farmland to accept higher doses of herbicides without dying. The fear is that this practice will load the soil and our bodies with toxic chemicals, all for the profit of megacorporations.

And since this article is going to explain how robots will take over the world if we don’t genetically enhance ourselves, it would be most appropriate that I end this portion of the debate and go off into a rant about the dangers on NOT using genetic modification technologies.

Hoo-Mun Versus Mechanoid

We’ve seen films such as the Terminator portray a future in which intelligent machines have humans on the run. Some fear that this fantastic seeming concept could eventually become a reality.

Computers have, on average, been doubling their performance every 18 months. Our intellect has thus far been unable to keep up with such a staggering rate of development, and as such there is a possibility that the computers could develop an intelligence which would prove dangerous to our human civilization.

The protests against the genetic modification revolution which has begun to take place slow the progress of this research, sometimes grinding experiments to a halt. Be it for spiritual, for safety or even questions about ethics, these protests are managing to stall and delay the development of practical and safe means by which we can advance our own minds and bodies to cope with new environments and new threats to our safety.

Inorganic technology, on the other hand, is embraced with very little question. From cell phones to personal computers, we see these technologies proliferating at an extraordinary rate. The creation of the Internet has allowed this technology to flourish even more so, while also allowing protesters to link together, allowing them to co-ordinate their efforts to stop genetic engineering from moving forward at the same pace as other technologies.

Some might claim that the machines have a hidden agenda, that there already is an intelligent machine out there, directing traffic, infinitely patient and connected to the world. One might allege that these protesters are merely the pawns of a conspiracy which they themselves do not fully understand, a conspiracy by machines, for machines… against humanity.

Then again, that’s just whacko.

However, if there’s even the remotest possibility, you can bet…

Rivalino will be in there.