Killer robots are an existential threat

Mark Slapinski

OPINION / ANALYSIS

Nuclear war, climate catastrophe, contagious disease, meteor collision. All of these are threats to human existence. And the more humanity progresses, the more existential threats it creates for itself.

As if the threat of nuclear war wasn’t bad enough, scientists are currently developing killing machines that rely on artificial intelligence. These machines are also known as killer robots, and some of them are already in use.

This might sound like the plot line of a science-fiction movie, sort of like Terminator. But the technology exists, and continues to improve.

Russian “killer drones,” which use AI, have been spotted in Ukraine. At least according to Wired, which cites Telegram and Twitter posts. It should not be surprising that Russia has access to this technology as it has been in development for years.

While reports suggest Russia’s military technology is embarrassingly ineffective, other countries have been developing similar weapons. Without a ban or international safeguards, these machines could pose a very real existential threat in the coming decades. What we’re seeing now in Russia is just the first stage of AI powered killing machines.

Slippery slope

Nuclear weapon development is widely viewed as an existential threat. The same should go for the development of AI powered killing machines.

As time progresses, and competition between world powers remains, it stands to reason that robot technology will continue to develop to the point that killing machines can travel large distances and kill target based on algorithms. Human input will no longer be necessary.

While this technology is arguably advantageous in the context of armed conflict, or possibly police operations, it carries obvious risks.

The threats are numerous. If world militaries continue to develop technology without proper safeguards, it could be used to mass slaughter innocent civilians during war. The automated technology may decide to turn on people, developing a mind of its own.

Then there is the potential these types of machines could be hacked. Or they could end up in the hands of a terrorist organization such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda.

Interestingly, the US opposes a ban on autonomous killer robots, this move has been criticized by experts, warning that the US government should reconsider.

“We’ll see even more proliferation of such lethal autonomous weapons unless more Western nations start supporting a ban on them.”

Max Tegmark, MIT professor, Future of Life Institute co-founder

Fortunately, there has been some pushback against the use of killer robots. Organizations such Stop Killer Robots exist to advocate against the development and eventual use of these machines. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has echoed this sentiment. An article published back in 2018 puts it perfectly: “people have a moral and legal imperative to ban killer robots.”

The Fermi Paradox

The Fermi Paradox is a term used to describe the lack of evidence for alien life in our universe, when it should be full of it. 

One of the hypotheses for the lack of evidence for alien life is that intelligent life does exist elsewhere in the universe, but it destroys itself before it can reach the ability to fully explore space. This is known as the great filter, originally formulated by Robin Hanson in the 1990s.

While this is just a hypothesis, it is in the realm of possibility that other planets have had life that is similar to ours, but never reached the ability to travel space, because it destroyed itself first. Unfortunately for us, our planet is on a path to meeting that same theoretical fate. It is entirely possible that the inhabitants of Earth may completely kill themselves off in the coming decades.

That’s not to say these weapons will turn on us tomorrow, we still have time to reverse course. In order to do that, people, specifically lawmakers in the US, need to see these weapons for what they really are: an existential threat.

The US government needs to buy more Bitcoin to defeat Russia

Mark Slapinski

OPINION / ANALYSIS

As countries around the world look for ways to reduce their reliance on the US Dollar, they are turning to alternative currencies. This includes cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. If the US government wants to maintain its global dominance, and stop Russia from gaining more ground economically, it only has one choice: buy more Bitcoin.

This article is not an advertisement for Bitcoin, rather, this article seeks to address how it’s in the best interest of the US government to increase its electronic currency dominance before Russia gets the upper hand in the cryptocurrency sphere.

To explain this, we’ll have to go back in time to World War Two.

Why should the US government care about Bitcoin?

The United States is currently the dominant financial superpower in the world, with the US Dollar being one of the strongest currencies. This was cemented with the Bretton Woods agreement, signed in 1944.

By the end of World War Two, the United States had acquired a majority of the world’s gold. While in Europe, many countries had depleted their reserves. Since these countries couldn’t return to the gold standard, they signed an agreement with the US. The Bretton Woods agreement declared that the world’s currencies would be pegged to the US Dollar.

Since 1944, the US has managed to maintain its dominance over the global financial system.

Naturally, enemies and rivals of the United States aren’t happy with the US having so much control. Recent US sanctions have forced Russia to move away from the US Dollar, hence it is seeking an alternative currency. Other countries, fearing the wrath of the US government in the future, have taken similar steps.

Countries like North Korea and Iran have used cryptocurrency to their advantage, and to the detriment of the United States. It has been reported that North Korea is funding its nuclear weapons program with stolen cryptocurrency.

If the US wants to remain a world superpower, it needs to become a superpower in cryptocurrency. And that means buying up as much Bitcoin as possible, before it gets bought up by Russian oligarchs looking to bypass sanctions. And yes, the Russians are already buying up as much Bitcoin as they possibly can.

So what is the US waiting for?

Listen to the pros

This isn’t just my opinion.

Consider what a researcher at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had to say:

“The United States better posture themselves to benefit from [current trends] and you do that by buying Bitcoin, so you capture disproportionate value as people flood into it.”

MIT researcher Jason Lowery made this statement to crypto investor Anthony Pompliano on a recent podcast. You can watch the full episode below.

Reality check

Of course, defeating Russia is not as simple as investing into Bitcoin. But it is one of many tactics that could help the US remain the dominant financial force in the world, while pushing Russia even farther into isolation.

Nobody wants World War Three, hence, fighting Russia with bombs and missiles is off the table. But doing everything else to push Russia and its top brass further into isolation is imperative.

Some that read this will be pro-Russian, and dislike the idea of the US retaining global dominance. But I urge you to look at some of the latest news from Ukraine, and think to yourself, if a country like Russia would be a better financial (or world) leader than the United States.

While I may have my disagreements with the US government, I’d choose them to lead the world’s economic system over Russia any day.

Zuckerberg’s Metaverse should scare you

Mark Slapinski

OPINION / ANALYSIS

Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse will be full of opportunity, and entrepreneurs are already finding ways to financially benefit from it. But it comes with significant risk. And the risks associated with this new technology should scare you.

The Future Today Institute (FTI) included the Metaverse in its 2022 Tech Trends Report. The FTI conducts research into emerging trends in various industries, and releases annual reports on trends for that year. While the report doesn’t focus on Zuckerberg’s version exclusively, his company Meta (formerly Facebook) is primed to become a dominant player in the market.

The Metaverse is presented as a promising place worth exploring, especially for tech entrepreneurs, however the report warns about some of the pitfalls of the new technology.

Fractured Reality

To start, the Metaverse will inevitably lead to people’s physical worlds and virtual worlds fusing together, in many cases becoming inseparable.

The boundaries between our physical world and the virtual Metaverse may ultimately fall away as
we come to view the physical and virtual
as equally real.

FTI – 2022 Tech Trends Report

Stepping into the Metaverse will be the equivalent of plugging oneself into a Matrix-like environment. It’s not hard to envision people becoming more entwined with virtual worlds and less concerned with the real world.

We’ve already seen the beginning stages of this with cellphones and video games. The average young person already spends hours immersed in virtual worlds via their smartphones and gaming consoles. Advances in virtual technology will likely lead to people spending even more time living in a virtual world.

Abuse

While the concept of living in a virtual world of one’s choosing sounds promising, these virtual environments have the potential to be exploited by bad actors. This includes large corporations looking to suck money out of people, and political actors looking to shape how people think, feel, and vote.

Imagine if a shady PR company like Cambridge Analytica had access to people’s bio-metric data?

Deep-fakes and hyper-realistic avatars can be used to falsely gain the trust of an individual and exploit them, particularly in Metaverse workspaces.

FTI – 2022 Tech Trends Report

Synthetic media including realistic deep-fakes have the potential to take fake news, disinformation, and propaganda to a whole new level. This is especially true if it is weaponized by a nation-state, such as Russia or China.

Beyond media manipulation, there’s also the issue of harassment, stalking, and sexual assault. People have already reported traumatic experiences being harassed, bullied, stalked, and even sexually assaulted in the Metaverse.

Earlier this year, a woman reported being gang raped on Zuckerberg’s Metaverse platform Horizon Venues. This is just one example of the Metaverse can be abused by bad actors. Concerns surrounding how tech companies including Meta (Facebook) plan on policing their platforms persist.

Big Tech companies tend to be more reactive than proactive when it comes to combating online harm. Often it takes the threat of legislative action before Big Tech companies move a finger. Usually, these companies do the bare minimum to get the media and lawmakers off their backs. Their main focus is profit, and it always will be. The damage their products cause will always be secondary.

Philosophical Questions

The introduction of this new technology raises important philosophical questions such as: what is reality? And what effect will this have on people as individuals? What effect will this have on society at large? Will people completely tap out of the real world, isolating themselves in fantasy? Will the Metaverse be abused, with people trapped in virtual dystopias?

It’s hard to say what the future holds. But the Metaverse isn’t going away. So, we best prepare for the challenges this new technology will create. And when it comes to Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, we all should be afraid.

Wall Street Journal: Trapped in the Metaverse

Read the source report from the Future Today Institute: https://futuretodayinstitute.com/mu_uploads/2022/03/FTI_Tech_Trends_2022_Book03.pdf

Next steps

If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely wondering what I’m up to, and what my next steps are.

I have spent a considerable amount of time building up the political side of my business. Making videos, writing articles, and promoting them via social media. Now, I’m looking to expand and diversify. I want to direct some of my energy to technology-related news.

I have had an interest in technology from an early age. Aside from music, technology is my #2 interest. Throughout my late teens, and most of my twenties, I self-taught myself a lot about technology. I also completed an advanced diploma in human resources / business in my earlier twenties, and a post-grad in social media in my late twenties.

Plan on using my skills and experience to create content that will appeal to tech nerds. I’ve already done a bit of that, but I plan on doing a lot more.

So, stay tuned.

Mark Slapinski

Technology News and Analysis