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Archive for February 10th, 2012

Mass Media Promoting Transhumanism: the “Mind-Blowing Benefits of Merging Human Brains and Computers”

Posted by Admin on February 10, 2012

http://vigilantcitizen.com/latestnews/mass-media-promoting-transhumanism-the-mind-blowing-benefits-of-merging-human-brains-and-computers/

By  | February 8th, 2012 | Category: Latest News | 72 comments

Ray Kurzweil in Time Magazine

We’ve seen in previous articles (notably in The Transhumanist and Police State Agenda in Pop Music) that the concept of transhumanism, which can be defined as the merging of humans and robots, is being abundantly promoted in music videos, movies and video games. On top of this “indirect” kind of promotion, transhumanism is being sold through more direct channels such as documentaries, television features and news reports. The main face of the movement is the American inventor Ray Kurzweil who has recently been on a massive PR campaign to promote what he calls “Singularity” (a term that is probably less threatening than “transhumanism”).

Kurzweil is however not a lone nut with a crazy futuristic dream. He works in collaboration with the world’s most powerful people in business and politics. For example, in February 2009, Kurzweil collaborated with Google and the NASA Ames Research Center, to create the Singularity University training center for corporate executives and government officials. The University’s self-described mission is to “assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges”. It is safe to say that transhumanism is not only the goal of one man but of the entire global elite. For this reason, the merging of humans and robots is not only promoted as something “cool” and positive in mass media, it is announced, despite its potential pitfalls, as an inevitability.

Here’s an article from the Daily Mail about Singularity. It bares the typical “overwhelmingly-positive-but-with-a-hint-of-obligatory-criticism-to-appear-objective” tone most mainstream news sources use when covering the issue.

Hitler would have loved The Singularity: Mind-blowing benefits of merging human brains and computers

Of all the tall tales in the science-fiction TV series Star Trek, what impressed me most when I was a  little boy was the Vulcan mind meld.

Laying his hands on the head of a human (or, in one of the films, a humpback whale), Mr Spock could, for a moment, dissolve the distance between two living things.

Each experienced everything the other felt, thought, knew and saw.

Now it seems scientists are about to make the Vulcan mind meld a reality – and go far beyond it.

Ten years ago, the US National Science Foundation predicted ‘network-enhanced telepathy’ – sending thoughts over the internet – would be practical by the 2020s.

BrainMan and machine: Computers could soon be hardwired into the human brain and unlock amazing powers

And thanks to neuroscientists at the University of California, we seem to be on schedule.

Last September, they asked volunteers to watch Hollywood film trailers and then reconstructed the clips by scanning their subjects’ brain activity.

‘We’re opening a window into the movies in our minds,’ Professor Jack Gallant announced.

Last week, the scientists boldly went further still. They charted the electrical activity in the brains of volunteers who were listening to human speech and then they fed the results into computers which translated the signals back into language.

The technique remains crude, and has so far made out only five distinct words, but humanity has crossed a threshold.

We can now read people’s minds. On Star Trek, the Vulcan mind meld had medical benefits, curing a nasty imaginary infection called Pa’nar syndrome.

Science fact soon?: The Vulcan mind meldScience fact?: Harnessing the power of the mind was a favourite of science fiction, including Star Trek’s Vulcan mind meld

But the new breakthroughs promise to deliver much greater – and real – benefits.

No longer need strokes and neurodegenerative diseases rob people of speech because we can turn their brainwaves directly into words.

But this is only the beginning. Neuroscientists are going to make the mind meld look like child’s play. Mankind is merging with its machines.

The process began centuries ago with simple devices such as eyeglasses and ear trumpets that could dramatically improve human lives.

Then came better machines, such as hearing aids; and then machines that could save lives, including pacemakers and dialysis machines.

By the second decade of the 21st Century, we have become used to organs grown in laboratories, genetic surgery and designer babies.

In 2002, medical researchers used enzymes and DNA to build the first molecular computers, and in 2004 improved versions were being injected into people’s veins to fight cancer.

By 2020 we may be able to put even cleverer nanocomputers into our brains to speed up  synaptic links, give ourselves perfect memory and perhaps cure dementia.

But inserting technology into human brains is not the only thing going on. Some scientists also want to insert human brains into technology.

Since the Sixties, computer chips have been doubling their speed and halving their cost every 18 months or so.

If the trend continues, the inventor and predictor Ray Kurzweil has pointed out that by 2029 we will have computers powerful enough to run programs  reproducing the 10,000 trillion electrical signals that flash around your skull every second.

They will also have enough memory to store the ten trillion recollections that make you  who you are.

Adolf HitlerDangerous technology: The huge potential unlocked by the technology raises frightening prospects if it were to be used by evil dictators like Adolf Hitler

And they will also be powerful enough to scan, neuron by neuron, every contour and wrinkle of your brain.

What this means is that if the trends of the past 50 years continue, in 17 years’ time we will be able to upload an electronic replica of your mind on to a machine.

There will be two  of you – one a flesh-and-blood animal, the other inside a computer’s circuits.

And if the trends hold fast beyond that, Kurzweil adds, by 2045 we will have a computer that is powerful enough to host every one of the eight billion minds on Earth.

Carbon and  silicon-based intelligence will merge to form a single global consciousness.

Kurzweil calls this ‘The Singularity’, a moment when ‘the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep . . . that technology appears to be expanding at infinite speed’.

At that point, we will have  left the Vulcan mind meld far behind. But even this may not be the end of the story.

Much of the research behind last week’s breakthrough in brain science was funded not by universities but by DARPA, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

It was DARPA that brought us the internet (then called the Arpanet) in the Seventies, and DARPA’s Brain Interface Project was a pioneer in molecular computing.

More recently, DARPA’s Silent Talk programme has been exploring mind-reading technology with devices that can pick up the electrical signals inside soldiers’ brains and send them over the internet.

With these implants, entire armies will be able to talk without radios. Orders will leap instantly into soldiers’ heads and commanders’ wishes will become the wishes of their men. Hitler would have loved it.

Thing of the past: Advances in technology could revolutionise the way armies communicateThing of the past: Advances in technology could revolutionise the way armies communicate
U.S. Special Forces soldierCyborg-soldier: The defence industry could soon try implanting computer technology into the brain of soldiers

Some of the clearest thinking about the new technologies has been done in the world’s departments of defence, and the conclusions the soldiers draw are alarming.

For example, US Army Colonel Thomas Adams thinks that military technology is already moving beyond what he calls ‘human space’, as robotic weapons become ‘too fast, too small, too numerous, and . . . create an environment too complex for humans to direct’.

Technology, Col Adams suspects, is ‘rapidly taking us to a place where we may not want to go, but probably are unable to avoid’.

As goes war, so,  perhaps, goes everything else. The merging of mankind and its machines that Kurzweil predicts for the mid-21st Century may, in fact, turn out just to be a lay-by on the way to a very different destination.

Later in the century, what we condescendingly call ‘artificial’ intelligence might replace us humans just as thoroughly as we humans once replaced all our evolutionary ancestors.

All this will come to pass . . .  unless, of course, it doesn’t. Maybe the trends Kurzweil and Col Adams identify will slow down, or even stall altogether.

And maybe the critics who mockingly call the Singularity ‘the Rapture for Nerds’ will be proved right.

But on the other hand, maybe the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Richard Smalley is closer to the truth when he points out: ‘When a scientist says something is possible, they’re probably underestimating how long it will take.

But if they say it’s impossible, they’re probably wrong.’

The University of California’s neuroscientists have taken us one more step towards a final frontier far beyond anything dreamed of in Star Trek.

- Source: Daily Mail

 

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SOPA and PIPA Postponed…But Not Cancelled

Posted by Admin on February 10, 2012

http://vigilantcitizen.com/latestnews/sopa-and-pipa-postponed-but-not-cancelled/

By  | January 20th, 2012 | Category: Latest News | 109 comments

I am not a fan of big, over-the-top statements, but it is safe to say that the future of the internet is currently being decided. Will it remain a haven of free speech or will it become another tool of governmental and corporate control? A “fight for the internet” is taking place. On January 19th, the FBI shut down the popular file sharing site Megaupload while anti-SOPA protests took to the streets and the world wide web (you might have noticed that Wikipedia’s blackout). In case you didn’t know, SOPA and PIPA give the US government unprecedented authority to shut down websites without prior notice (see the article I published about SOPA back in November for more information).

Seeing that an overwhelming majority of internet users oppose this legislation and that its potential enactment has caused nothing less than a major uproar in the internet world, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used an old trick: He postponed the vote for SOPA, which was scheduled for January 24th, to a later date, hoping that the negative publicity surrounding the vote would die down. As you know, voting for ridiculous law in a context of general indifference is the elite’s favorite way of proceeding. It is up to us to stay vigilant, to not forget about this awful piece of legislation and to make sure our voices are heard until SOPA and PIPA are thrown in the garbage – where they belong. Here’s an article about the postponing of SOPA and PIPA.

Senator Reid: PIPA Vote Postponed

The anti-SOPA Day of Protest ripples continue to spread. On Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) put the brakes on a PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) cloture vote. The vote was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24.

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP Act,” said Reid in a statement Friday morning.

In a cloture vote, the Senate decides whether or not to end debate on a bill and bring it forward for a final up-or-down vote. For such a vote to be successful, three-fifths of the Senate (or 60 Senators) must vote in the positive.

Sen. Reid previously said that “we need to work on this and we’re going to — I will hope we can have a manager’s amendment when we get back here in a week or 10 days and move forward on this. It’s important that we try to do this on a fair basis and I’m going to do everything I can to get that done” during a Jan. 15 interview on NBC’s Meet the Press.

On Wednesday, major websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit went dark to protest PIPA and its sister bill in the House of Representatives, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Facebook and Google, which came out against SOPA and PIPA in a public letter written late last year, provided users with information about the bills and contact information for elected officials. Google also launched an online petition, which gathered over 7 million signatures by Thursday morning.

SOPA and PIPA made it into the CNN-Southern Republican presidential debate Thursday night, with each candidate denouncing the bills to some extent.

Supporters of the two bills consider PIPA and SOPA necessary new tools in the fight against online piracy and copyright infringement. Opponents claim they give excessive power to copyright holders and the federal government, and that they risk making the Internet slower and less secure while also stifling online freedom of speech and digital innovation.

Do you think it’s good that the Senate is taking more time to consider PIPA? Let us know in the comments below.

- Source: Mashable

 

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Justice Department indictment of MegaUpload

Posted by Admin on February 10, 2012

http://documents.latimes.com/justice-department-indictment-file-sharing-site-megaupload/

Justice Department indictment of MegaUpload

The U.S. De­part­ment of Justice shut down MegaUp­load.com, one of the world’s largest file-shar­ing web­sites, on Thursday after char­ging the site and its ex­ec­ut­ives with vi­ol­a­tion of pir­acy and copy­right laws.

In an in­dict­ment, the Justice De­part­ment al­leged that MegaUp­load was a “mega con­spir­acy” and a glob­al crim­in­al or­gan­iz­a­tion “whose mem­bers en­gaged in crim­in­al copy­right in­fringe­ment and money laun­der­ing on a massive scale.”

The De­part­ment also said that MegaUp­load, which had about 150 mil­lion users, tal­lied up an es­tim­ated harm to copy­right hold­ers in ex­cess of $500-mil­lion by al­low­ing users to il­leg­ally share movies, mu­sic and oth­er files. In ad­di­tion, pro­sec­utors also said in the in­dict­ment that those who op­er­ated the site racked in an in­come from that topped $175-mil­lion.

— Nathan Olivarez-Giles (Jan. 19, 2012)

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MegaUpload file sharing site shut down for piracy by Feds

Posted by Admin on February 10, 2012

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2012/01/file-sharing-megaupload-shut-down-for-piracy-by-feds.html

January 19, 2012 |  2:39 pm

The homepage of Megaupload.com

This post has been updated. See note below.

The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has conducted a major action to shut down MegaUpload, a popular file-sharing site widely used for free downloads of movies and television shows.

Justice Department indictment of MegaUpload

After receiving indictments from a grand jury in Virginia for racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and other charges on Jan. 5, federal authorities on Thursday arrested four people and executed more than 20 search warrants in the U.S. and eight foreign countries, seizing 18 domain names and an estimated $50 million in assets, including servers run in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

MegaUpload is a “digital locker” that allows users to store files that can then be streamed or downloaded by others. Its subsidiary site MegaVideo became very popular for the unauthorized downloads of movies and TV shows. Users whose uploaded content proved particularly popular were paid for their participation.

DOCUMENT: Read the indictment against MegaUpload

In a joint statement, the Justice Department and FBI called the action “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.”

Ira Rothken, an attorney for MegaUpload, said in an interview that he only learned of the actions in a press release this morning and had not yet read the entire indictment. “Our initial impression is that the allegations are without merit and MegaUpload is going to vigorously contest them,” he said. “We have deep concerns over due process and assets being taken without the opportunity for a hearing.”

According to the indictment, the operators of MegaUpload earned more than $175 million in illegal profits and caused an estimated $500 million in harm to copyright holders.

The site is advertised as having more than 50 million daily visitors, according to federal authorities.

Four of MegaUpload’s operators have been arrested in New Zealand, while three more remain at large. The seven each face a maximum of 55 years in prison.

Not listed on the indictment is rapper Swizz Beatz — real name Kasseem Dean — who, according to a report in the New York Post, is the CEO of MegaUpload. Beatz is married to pop singer Alicia Keys.

Rothken said that Beatz had not been running the site but that recently there had been “a transition period going on.”

The news is sure to be welcome in the entertainment industry, whose leaders have faced a recent setback in their push for the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act. The proposed bills, if passed, would make it easier for U.S. courts to go after piracy sites that, unlike MegaUpload, operate entirely overseas.

Critics who believe the bills are heavy-handed and don’t adequately protect civil liberties conducted a U.S. Internet “blackout.” As many as 10,000 websites went black Wednesday, among them Wikipedia, Craigslist and Reddit. The protest helped to pressure lawmakers to oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Obama administration announced its opposition to the bills in their current forms Saturday.

[Update, 2:55 p.m.: The websites of the Justice department and Universal Music Group, which had been involved in litigation with MegaUpload, were down on Thursday. The sites were attacked by members of the hacker group Anonymous in response to the actions against MegaUpload, according to a report on CNET News.]

RELATED:

Photos: Sites that went dark to protest SOPA

SOPA, PIPA backlash could hurt Obama in Hollywood

Hollywood unions blast Google and urge Senate support for PIPA

Ben Fritz

Photo: The homepage of Megaupload.com. Photo: Associated Press

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SOPA or How to Use Copyright as an Excuse to Censor the Internet

Posted by Admin on February 10, 2012

http://vigilantcitizen.com/latestnews/sopa-or-how-to-use-copyright-as-an-excuse-to-censor-the-internet/

By  | November 17th, 2011 | Category: Latest News | 47 comments

A screenshot from tumblr protesting against SOPA

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is a proposed bill that has the potential of ending freedom of speech on the internet. While it appears to be about piracy and “protecting copyrights”, the bill gives the power to corporations to complain to law enforcement to have websites shut down. To many, this is a step too and goes way beyond fighting illegal downloads. Here’s an article fromCNN Money about internet companies (many of which have close ties to the government) opposing this bill.

Tech giants say SOPA piracy bill is ‘draconian’

A proposed new bill intended to combat online piracy has sparked a giant backlash from big tech companies, including Google and Facebook, who say the proposals are far too strict and rife with unintended consequences.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was introduced in the House of Representatives in late October, aims to crack down on copyright and trademark issues. Its targets include “rogue” foreign sites like torrent hub The Pirate Bay.

Protecting content is a worthy goal, but here’s the flip side: Opponents say SOPA — and a similar bill called the Protect IP Act that is making its way through the Senate — effectively promotes censorship.

If SOPA passes, copyright holders would be able to complain to law enforcement officials and get websites shut down. The law would also force intermediaries like search engines and payment processors to withhold their services from targeted websites.

That would be quite a change from the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which mandates that companies “act in good faith” to remove content that infringes on copyrights and other intellectual property laws.

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt called the bill “draconian” during a speech in Boston on Tuesday.

Google and other tech behemoths — AOL, eBay, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga — also lodged a formal complaint on Tuesday in the form of a letter sent to key Senate and House lawmakers.

“We support the bills’ stated goals,” the letter reads. “Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities [and] mandates that would require monitoring of web sites.”

The companies are asking Congress to “consider more targeted ways to combat foreign ‘rogue’ websites.”

SOPA’s critics — some of the Internet’s most heavily trafficked sites — launched an awareness campaign on Wednesday. Hundreds of sites adopted black “STOP CENSORSHIP” logos, including BoingBoing, Reddit and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

One site tried to annoy consumers into action. Blogging site Tumblr blacked outwords in its content feeds, and a message at the top of users’ dashboards read: “Stop The Law That Will Censor The Internet!”

“Congress is holding hearings today and will soon pass a bill empowering corporations to censor the Internet unless you tell them no,” Tumblr wrote in a post Wednesday, calling the bills “well-intentioned but deeply flawed.”

Meanwhile, SOPA has drawn support from groups including the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, which say that online piracy leads to job loss.

Proponents of the bill dismiss accusations of censorship.

The legislation would “[prevent] those who engage in criminal behavior from reaching directly into the U.S. market,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, who introduced the bill, said in a statement Wednesday. “We cannot continue a system that allows criminals to disregard our laws.”

- Source: CNN Money

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WTF is SOPA ? aka The US Government Trying to Ruin the Internet (video)

Posted by Admin on February 10, 2012

By  | December 29th, 2011 | Category: Latest News | 91 comments

http://vigilantcitizen.com/latestnews/wtf-is-sopa-aka-the-us-government-trying-to-ruin-the-internet-video/

If you’re on this page right now, it is probably because you enjoy obtaining insights and information from sources that are not mainstream. Be aware that this could radically change if SOPA, an awful piece of legislation making internet censorship EXTREMELY easy, goes through. While it is said that the goal of SOPA is to fight internet piracy, the powers it bestows to governments and elite corporations go way beyond copyright issues. Entire websites could potentially get shut down without notice and without a legitimate court order, even if they do not explicitly host pirated content. Think I’m going too far? Well, it has already happened a few times already and SOPA would simply make it completely legal, legitimate and a lot easier.

Here’s an informative video on SOPA by Cynical Brit a channel that usually deals with gaming. Yes, the issue is that important and affects the entire world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhwuXNv8fJM&feature=player_embedded

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