Copper Soldiers Battling Over Shapes Melt Down All The Same.

When form is made, possibility constrains, yet action opens up.

When action is taken good and evil emerge, yet love becomes possible.

When entangled in love arguments lead to fruit, yet arguments drive apart love.

Feel deeper, do you taste the dance?

 

We are all points of a oneness, empty and full at once and neither.

Saying we are many united is but less than the truth.

Saying we are one divided is but less than the truth.

Look subtler, look beyond looking.

DeepSea.gif

 

I am you and you are me.

The air we breathe has touched both our lungs

And the lungs of dinosaurs

The lungs of Christ and Buddha

No one is God, all of us are.

 

We are enlightened in our illusion

And deluded in our enlightenment.

 

The pool reflects the moon

reflects the sun

reflects hydrogen fusion

reflecting reflects primal nothing

that is everything.

 

Surveying the stars scattered like dust I remark: what path is right?

What is the purpose of all this?

Round and round we build up symbols.

Round and round we do the maths.

Round and round we give God forms.

 

Jealously guarding answers.

Righteously jostling to make truths.

Intensely defending positions from the ramparts of sand castles.

While questions foam eternal.

 

Every point is but the frothing tips of the roaring reality ocean.

Appearance is but a momentary crest.

All waves return

Having never left.

 

What of my answers that I seek so desperately?

The cosmos is mute in its roar

Only cares about raw possibility.

 

Container for all with biased form toward none.

The voidness full of all that can ever be and never was.

 

You hurt me

I hurt you

Don’t touch the fire is said,

But only learned when burned.

 

Bemoan the world

Celebrate the world.

We are the victims and the perpetrators.

We are cells of the Earth body

Blessed to fight

Fighting to bless.

 

Do great good

Do great evil

While we work against each other

While we work with each other

We are in form,

Just next to truth, but still grasping.

 

No one knows the truth

Everyone is the truth.

 

With a wink and a smile I spar and dance with you

Thinking we move

In our motionless.

 

Copper soldiers battling over shapes

Melt down all the same.

 

The pulsar sings its clock

Shine shine shine

The stars slowly spin round the cosmic drains

The hum of consumption, the din of radiation

Time is the character of music, music makes the character of time.

 

Bodies the standing waves between birth and death.

I am stardust fusing

I am all my cells

I am not my cells

I am ephemeral and gross

I am made of eternity

I am bound to die.

 

I am a suspension between saint and sinner.

When I judge I am but a tiny ship,

Sailing through infinity lost toward death.

When I surrender to no descriptions,

I am infinity sailing through itself.

 

Look inside yourself to see there is no inside.

Look outside yourself to see there is no outside.

Stillness is motion.

Motion is stillness.

 

Lub dub

Lub dub

Lub dub

 

Hear it? Feel it?

There’s your heart

The pulsar of your soul.

You are an instrument in the all symphony.

 

When you feel less than, realize your infinity.

When you feel more than, realize your finity.

Balanced between sound and quiet

The symphony becomes itself.

 

An Organism At War With Itself Is Doomed

Recently, a question was asked in a class that I am a teaching assistant for, fundamentals of technology in Georgetown's Communication, Culture & Technology graduate program. The student wondered, almost marveled, at the power of war to birth technologies - does war not push humanity forward? All the ingenious inventions as a result of the impetus of warfare. Must warfare not be a key component of human technology? After all, war seems to have been with us for some time and it seems here to stay...

This question touches on many patterns in my mind which correspond to many patterns in the world that I have been studying in my yet young existence. And just now I found a powerful talk by Samar Habib on the macro-history of warfare that inspired me to write this attempt at a response to the student's question and an appeal to you. I hope to create a small space here where you can reconsider what your options really are in this world, for so often the buzz of culture can make us feel that our world is permanent rather than constructed in part by you. 

Technology is a reflection of human agency. It goes where intention demands. It destroys what fear wants gone. The technologies of death are on a trajectory: from the start of warfare the desire has been to distance the death dealer from the consequences of their dealing. To let the user deal death maximally while also staying alive maximally. So we will have iron man suits and robots and such in the future - the modules are lining up nicely these days for both remote piloted and embodied styles of mechanical soldiers to emerge and then get iterated upon in the next decades.

Humans in the war mindset certainly do breed technologies, whole legions of clever solutions to neutralize and kill others. Yet always it is the humans birthing the technologies and humans waging the war. 

Today in our world huge populations of brilliant minds and trillions of dollars are spent to create ever more elaborate technologies of death. Ever more clever ways to find even single humans and neutralize their agency - "because they might one day try to harm us" the logic now goes. 

Fear becomes evil when it drives you to act against a fellow person's agency. The leaders who wage wars on terror are mirror loops with the terror they try to fight. A war fought to end war only breeds universal warfare.

When the Manhattan Project yielded the world's first atomic bomb, Oppenheimer was reminded of a line in Hindu scripture, where Vishnu appears before a human prince and transforms, revealing his godly form proclaiming "now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

War is a stance of fear and there is no wisdom in fear. There is much cleverness, but no wisdom. Do you create out of fear? Do you create just to be cleverer than an enemy? Likely you create the things in your life for a much different reason; your reason is perhaps a path to genuine wisdom. Why then do you accept leaders who are so unwise?

War does not breed technologies, humans do. Technology reflects the desires of the humans who craft it, or in this world we live where some humans control the actions of others, the desire of the humans who have the money. Is war worth clever gadgets? Must we suffer technologies of death to keep inventing technologies of communication, creation, and health support? 

I believe that there are other ways. I know that we will need to find them if we are to survive. We are one species, we are one planet. An organism at war with itself is doomed. Are we become death, destroyer of our world? Or can we find a new vision for ourselves where courage triumphs over fear? I believe the journey before us is one of self-healing. Where each of us can realize the beauty in difference and the wonder of discovery.

A world view continues to exist that sees the world as a single body, one which deserves loving health not fearful anxious destruction. You and I and all humans, all life on this earth, are part of one system: a mote of dust floating in a sea of eternity. 

We begin as one, and then learn to segment and divide our minds, while our bodies remain as one with the earth we are made from. A body at war with itself has cancer. Fear of the other is the cancer of the human spirit. Love and tolerance is the antidote.

Come ye fellow creatures, stir from our caves of fear! Look upon the world we are one with and you will know that you and everyone belongs, you and everything is connected. We are a way for the Universe to know itself. We are a way for the universe to express fear and love. We can choose which is expressed most. It is time we took that awesome responsibility seriously.

If a would-be leader is advocating war and segregation as solutions, turn away from them for they are too cowardly to be a true leader. A true leader has the courage to forge new paths. A true leader has the courage to embrace the wisdom of diversity, the immensity of possibilities by which people may express themselves. A true leader knows that respect of others is the key long term survival, since through diversity we find the beneficial adjacent possibles. Through diversity the cosmos dances its long flow of change.

Real courage is not taking stances against others, that is always cowardice no matter how much chest-puffing the Putins and Trumps and Hitlers get up to in order to convince you otherwise. Do you consider a person who hurts himself to be strong? Then why do you consider leaders who would hurt humanity to be strong? You and I are part of one global organism. All is dependent upon the other. Real courage, real leadership, comes from those who embrace the changing flow of time, not those who would try to stop it. Real courage is found in love.

We fight because we are scared and we are scared because we fight. Yet we have the gift to see the source. No war will ever end war, only peace will do that. "Human nature" is no excuse, for we are humans and we are nature and thus it is within our power to shape our nature. Just look at the cities and religions all around us. It is time for humanity to own up to our power and embrace loving compassion for ourselves and the world that birthed us. There is another way than fighting, will we have the courage to choose peace? I believe so. I see in us great courage, I hope we can see it in ourselves.

 

Future Warfare: the Most Costly Videogame Ever Played

Some thoughts on the future of warfare and global conflict.

This post is relatively colloquial, more a collection of thoughts than a coherent narrative. I’ve linked to content on a lot of the key points, I’d ask you send the links to background tabs as you go and make it through the whole post, but it’s up to you. Feel free to engage with me about these topics on Twitter or send me an email.

Have you ever played a real time strategy game? If you have I'd like to give you some stars because you could be a future general…

Autonomous robotics are coming, while the UN hems and haws trying to ban the ultimate pinnacle of military technology, the nation states of Earth are busy paying companies around the globe to build them robotics with varying degrees of autonomy. Let’s be clear, I am not advocating for killer robots, it’s just that I seek to be realistic in assessing the world. No one will stop doing this; we are locked in an arms race. Anyone who doesn’t build autonomous military robots will be severely behind (Russia, I’m looking at you).

I see the massive and lightning-fast adoption of remotely piloted aircraft (drones) as a direct reflection of the demands of modern conflict. Modern developed militaries, particularly the US, need to be omnipresent in order to deal with an enemy that conceals itself, and the drone has delivered. They are the ultimate response to terrorism.

Currently they are piloted, but this will change. No human can be omnipresent, always ready to find and counter threats, yet that is the demand of fighting terrorism. Only the machines can be so vigilant. When there are humans in the loop their psyches become tired, and they even suffer PTSD. Our limits of attention are finite, but the machines' attention is eternal. So we seek to develop systems that can act on their own; we tell them where to patrol and they keep that area free of enemies.

Of course we will be “on the loop,” computer vision is still quite stupid. But the stresses on human operators could be greatly reduced if the machine alerted only when something deserved a closer look; and listened for what to do when it came time to act. "Go over there and destroy that target.” Some psychologists even theorize that the humans left on the loop will feel better in this setup, they may be able to shunt blame off to the machine.

Autonomous robotics are coming, they are the ultimate realization of the trajectory of warfare since the advent of the spear: to inflict damage without risk. As Moore’s law marches on, we are entering into an era when it is finally possible to build an autonomous machine capable of weighing options and executing them on its own. The desire for these systems was always there, but now the technology is too.

Now traditionally, authors go into “Terminator” references here and start getting cheeky about robot uprisings. I don’t really fear the robots acting on their own (yet) I fear people acting without accountability.

Already I am concerned that remotely piloted drones are seductive, they make engaging in conflict too easy for democratic officials to engage in. With drones US leaders have discovered the formula for engaging in eternal conflict that works extremely well for United States society, one that lets us engage in eternal combat without risking the political fallout of bodybags coming home. The costs are entirely one sided; the enemy absorbs all the death. As a result 56% of Americans support drone strikes, although to our credit US citizens are concerned about civilian casualties. I’m glad to see that, I hope we can keep the pressure on and demand more transparency, but I won’t hold my breath.

Traditional drones are placing massive strains on the principle of proportionality in Just War theory, and I see autonomous robotics straining it even further, perhaps even to a breaking point. At least the Office of Naval Research is seeking to give autonomous robots a moral framework. So much for Asimov’s laws though, we’ll likely be breaking the first one quite soon: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

I am concerned that autonomous systems will temp officials even more. Dealing death will become easy and cheap beyond the wildest dreams of today. Autonomous systems give an illusion of cost-free war, because they are cost free for one side. Cost referring to human life, as money is no object when the topic is war. With fewer humans left in the loop the potential for abuse of power goes up, it just does.

It will be up to us the citizens to demand our leaders do not abuse their power to wage robotic warfare, this of course being a herculean feat given how intent they are to keep secrets from us. As more and more military systems become autonomous, the potential for secrecy grows; now the details about strikes can be kept very high up the chain of command. “Go there and destroy things based on these parameters” and the drone can execute. The chain of command could be shortened considerably, although there will likely be support staff; but how much will they know and how much of the actual machine’s mission will be secret?

Beyond Nation-States: A great time to be a would-be super villain

In the new age, money can buy an army directly. This excellent article by Noah Smith has proposed that the age of the gun may be over, and I largely agree with his assessment, and share his fears. It’s a hell of a time to be a would-be super villain sitting on a mountain of cash…

Just as it is in the broader civilian labor market, the career path of “soldier” is under threat from automation. The appeals of automation are universal across all sectors. Predictable, upfront costs buy you the labor you need with minimal down the line cost. Like so many other previously human endeavors on Earth, we are outsourcing warfare to our automations.

No job is safe...

No job is safe...

Imagine two technological powers going to "war" in the future.

Already power dynamics between nation states in the global system revolve primarily around economics, sanctions and the like.

Future warfare is shaping up to be the perfect distillation of capitalism. With autonomous robotics, you buy your soldiers directly and upfront. Warfare becomes whoever has the most money, in a more direct way than it ever has before. Sophisticated robots hunting and destroying each other, the most expensive video game ever played. A future "war" would amount to money blowing itself up directly. It would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. Let’s hope it stays relegated to machines killing machines...

But of course such a farce will likely never happen, at least not on a grand scale…hopefully. Large-scale land, air and sea combat is far too clunky an affair for the modern day, the global system is too tightly knit for anyone to engage in such a monstrosity offensively. Instead everyone will increasingly turn to assassinations, special operations, black ops and of course cyber incursions. We will likely see (well, those with clearance will see) remotely piloted and autonomous robots from various nations battling each other in limited skirmishes. Maybe even NGOs will get into the fray…

A troublesome foreign leader dies over here, an inflammatory mullah dies over there, an expat on the run carrying troves of government secrets collapses in the shower. Each scene might have something in common: something small landed on them and “bit” them. Maybe it’s a bee-sized robot, maybe it’s an actual bee that’s been given the cyborg treatment. With the continual advances in synthetic biology, I would not be surprised if eventually we forgo electronics entirely and create new forms of life capable of dealing death. If that sounds ridiculously dangerous, remember the motto of humanity, “if something can be done, we must do it!” Think of all the other madness we’ve unleashed on ourselves and the world. 

Beyond robotics, there’s even the growing field of custom viruses targeted specifically at an individual’s DNA. Assassination will be a flourishing art in the near future.

Walking back from slick futuristic assassinations, as drones become a commodity item we will see them used in terrorism.

It’s only a matter of time before someone straps some explosives and ball bearings to a quad copter and flies it into a crowd. There is no real defense against such a scenario, it could happen tomorrow.

Through all the security at an event with German Chancellor Angela Merkel an off-the-shelf quadcopter got through. This was a prank, imagine if it was something else…

Through all the security at an event with German Chancellor Angela Merkel an off-the-shelf quadcopter got through. This was a prank, imagine if it was something else…

Ok, winding this down now. I have a story to tell you about a potential future for ground robotics, but let’s save that for another time…

There is a grand wave of exponential change sweeping our world, across everything that we do, warfare included. Now that the tools of war are being enveloped in digital computing, they are gaining the exponential characteristics of that technology. The world we are entering into is one where individuals are increasingly empowered to kill one another with ever more precise means at ever-decreasing costs. It will be quite a feat keeping a semblance of global peace with the ever-growing numbers of empowered actors. I hope that we don’t fall prey to the seductive potential of autonomous death, but I think unfortunately we will have to learn the lesson for ourselves first hand, as we usually do. Pandora’s box is already opened, now we have to figure out how to live in a world where madness has been unleashed. So far we’ve been doing pretty well, what with biological and nuclear weapons, but the future tools of warfare are more precise, much more seductive in their “accuracy.” This will be a challenging future to say the least…

- JH