• 09 JUN 19

    Ditch the GPS. It’s ruining your brain. ( plus an article “Forget Self-Driving Cars. Bring Back the Stick Shift” )

    The following article in the Washington Post has interesting implications for the future of today’s society as we enter the world of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), where more and more of our thinking, and most importantly, our children’s, is done for us by our devices. How will, what has been called the Google Effect, change they way we think and our ability to think independently of our devices? A shrinking brain perhaps?… From the Washington Post By M.R. O’Connor June 5 Excerpts: M.R. O’Connor is a journalist who writes about science, technology and ethics, and is the author, most recently, of “Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World.”It has become the most natural thing to do: get in the car, type a destination into a smartphone, and let an algorithm using GPS data show the way. Personal GPS-equipped devices entered the mass market in only the past 15 or so years, but hundreds of millions of people now rarely travel without them. These gadgets are extremely powerful, allowing people to know their location at all times, to explore unknown places and to avoid getting lost.But they also affect perception and judgment. When people are told which way to turn, it relieves them of the need to create their own routes and remember them. They pay less attention to their surroundings. And neuroscientists can now see that brain behavior changes when people rely on turn-by-turn directions. In a study published in Nature Communications in 2017, researchers asked subjects to navigate a virtual simulation of London’s Soho neighborhood and monitored their brain activity, specifically the hippocampus, which is integral to spatial navigation. Those who were guided by directions showed less activity in this part of the brain than participants who navigated without the device. “The hippocampus makes an internal map of the environment and this map becomes active only when you are engaged in navigating and not using GPS,” Amir-Homayoun Javadi, one of the study’s authors, told me.The hippocampus is crucial to many aspects of daily life. It allows us to orient in space and know where we are by creating cognitive maps. It also allows us to recall events from the past, what is known as episodic memory. And, remarkably, it is the part of the brain that neuroscientists believe gives us the ability to imagine ourselves in the future.Studies have long shown the hippocampus is highly susceptible to experience. (London’s taxi drivers famously have greater gray-matter volume in the hippocampus as a consequence of memorizing the city’s labyrinthine streets.) Meanwhile, atrophy in that part of the brain is linked to devastating conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s disease. Stress and depression have been shown to dampen neurogenesis — the growth of new neurons — in the hippocampal circuit.What isn’t known is the effect of GPS use on hippocampal function when employed daily over long periods of time. Javadi said the conclusions he draws from recent studies is that “when people use tools such as GPS, they tend to engage less with navigation. Therefore, brain area responsible for navigation is less used, and consequently their brain areas involved in navigation tend to shrink.”.. SNIP

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    • 01 JUN 19

    China’s People Monitoring Software Being Deployed In Darwin (two articles)

    The Chinese government’s desire to ensure social control is well known with its “social credit’ monitoring system the stuff of nightmares for those of us accustomed to personal freedom. But part of the software used by the Chinese government is now being exported and found a customer in the City of Darwin. The City of Darwin has been looking at adopting smart city technology and has decided to implement facial recognition software and other monitoring solutions in order to detect anomalous behaviour or if a known criminal or someone banned from entering a specific area….SNIP

    AND from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute
    China’s ‘social credit system’ (SCS)—the use of big-data collection and analysis to monitor, shape and rate behaviour via economic and social processes1—doesn’t stop at China’s borders. Social credit regulations are already being used to force businesses to change their language to accommodate the political demands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Analysis of the system is often focused on a ‘credit record’ or a domestic ranking system for individuals; however, the system is much more complicated and expansive than that. It’s part of a complex system of control—being augmented with technology—that’s embedded in the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) strategy of social management and economic development…SNIP

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    • 29 MAY 19

    It’s 3 a.m. Do you know what your iPhone is doing?

    From the Washington Post (Consumer Tech section) by Geoffrey Fowler
    Apple says, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” Our privacy experiment showed 5,400 hidden app trackers guzzled our data — in a single week.

    It’s 3 a.m. Do you know what your iPhone is doing? (Links removed)Mine has been alarmingly busy. Even though the screen is off and I’m snoring, apps are beaming out lots of information about me to companies I’ve never heard of. Your iPhone probably is doing the same — and Apple could be doing more to stop it.On a recent Monday night, a dozen marketing companies, research firms and other personal data guzzlers got reports from my iPhone. At 11:43 p.m., a company called Amplitude learned my phone number, email and exact location. At 3:58 a.m., another called Appboy got a digital fingerprint of my phone. At 6:25 a.m., a tracker called Demdex received a way to identify my phone and sent back a list of other trackers to pair up with.And all night long, there was some startling behavior by a household name: Yelp. It was receiving a message that included my IP address -— once every five minutes.Our data has a secret life in many of the devices we use every day, from talking Alexa speakers to smart TVs. But we’ve got a giant blind spot when it comes to the data companies probing our phones.You might assume you can count on Apple to sweat all the privacy details. After all, it touted in a recent ad, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” My investigation suggests otherwise…SNIP

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    • 23 MAY 19

    Watch out for Tesla’s autonomous cars and drunk drivers

    One of the prime reasons for the 5G rollout is its supposed ability to make a world of autonomous vehicles a reality by removing the imperfect human element. Well, so far, Tesla’s efforts to create the perfect driverless car are not going so well, according to Consumer reports. It seems that Tesla’s Autopilot artificial intelligence is on a par with a drunk driver way over the limit…

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    • 11 FEB 19

    China’s social credit system

    A dozen or so cities throughout the country are test beds for carrot-and-stick programmes to encourage businesses and individuals to comply with existing rules.
    The efforts have been roundly condemned overseas as Orwellian but for members of the public, the impact of the systems can vary…SNIP

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    • 16 OCT 18

    ‘Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss

    From the Washington Post
    By Ben Guarino

    October 15 at 3:00 PM

    Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.

    In 2014, an international team of biologists estimated that, in the past 35 years, the abundance of invertebrates such as beetles and bees had decreased by 45 percent. In places where long-term insect data are available, mainly in Europe, insect numbers are plummeting. A study last year showed a 76 percent decrease in flying insects in the past few decades in German nature preserves…SNIP

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    • 20 AUG 18

    Martin Pall’s book on 5G is available online

    Chapter 7: The Great Risks of 5G: What We Know and What We Don’t Know ( See the book for references)
    Excerpt

    We have already discussed two issues that are essential to understanding 5G. One is that pulsed EMFs are, in most cases, much more biologically active than are non-pulsed (often called continuous wave) EMFs. A second is that the EMFs act by putting forces on the voltage sensor of the VGCCs, opening these calcium channels and allowing excessive calcium ions to flow into the cell. The voltage sensor is extraordinarily sensitive to those electrical forces, such that the safety guidelines are allowing us to be exposed to EMFs that are something like 7.2 million times too high.

    The reason that the industry has decided to go to the extremely high frequencies of 5G is that with such extremely high frequencies, it is possible to carry much more information via much more pulsation than it is possible to carry with lower frequencies even in the microwave range. We can be assured, therefore, that 5G will involve vastly more pulsation than do EMFs that we are currently exposed to. It follows from that, that any biological safety test of 5G must use the very rapid pulsations including whatever very short term spikes may be present, that are to be present in genuine 5G. There is an additional process that is planned to be used in 5G: phased arrays (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phased_array). Here multiple antenna elements act together to produce highly pulsed fields which are designed for 5G, to produce increased penetration. 5G will entail particularly powerful pulsations to be used, which may, therefore, be particularly hazardous…SNIP

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    • 04 JUL 18

    The Microwave Scream Inside Your Skull

    A decade old article from Wired that has relevance to those so-called ‘sonic attacks’ at the US embassies in Cuba and China. Well worth the trip down memory lane…

    July 6, 2008, Wired.

    Excerpt

    The U.S. military bankrolled early development of a non-lethal microwave weapon that creates sound inside your head. The project is known as MEDUSA – a contrived acronym for Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio. And it should not be confused with the Long Range Acoustic Device and similar gadgets which simply project sound. This one uses the so-called “microwave auditory effect”: a beam of microwaves is turned into sound by the interaction with your head. Nobody else can hear it unless they are in the beam as well. The idea (dubbed “the telepathic ray gun”) was mentioned in a 1998 US Army study, which turned up in a recent Freedom of Information Act document dump. Five years later, the Navy decided to put some R&D dollars into the project. Now … Dr. Lev Sadovnik of the Sierra Nevada Corporation has provided more details. There are health risks, he notes. The biggest issue from the microwave weapon is … the risk of brain damage from the high-intensity shockwave created by the microwave pulse. A device that delivered a lethal shockwave inside the target’s skull might make an effective death ray. Dr. Sadovnik also makes the intriguing suggestion that … it might be used at low power to produce a whisper that was too quiet to perceive consciously but might be able to subconsciously influence someone. Sadovnik even suggests subliminal advertising, beaming information that is not consciously heard (a notion also spotted on the US Army’s voice-to-skull page). SNIP

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    • 08 JUN 18

    With Bees Scarce, A Drone Pollinates A New York Apple Orchard

    From Futurism.com

    By Dan Robitzski, June 7, 2018
    Excerpt:

    Gather ‘round! Let me tell you the story of Droney Appleseed.

    You see, in the 21st century, bee populations were dying off because everyone was using too many toxic pesticides. Farmers were starting to notice that the fuzzy little workers were starting to vanish because their crops weren’t getting pollinated. Boy, was everyone in a real pickle then! Thankfully, Droney Appleseed came to the rescue, flying over the farmland and spraying pollen wherever it went.

    OK, so, we’re probably not ready to make children’s books about this stuff quite yet. But! An apple orchard was just pollinated by a drone for the first time. SNIP

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    • 29 MAR 18

    Virtual Reality Can Leave You With an Existential Hangover

    From The Atlantic

    After exploring a virtual world, some people can’t shake the sense that the actual world isn’t real, either.

    Rebecca Searles, Dec,21, 2016

    Excerpt:
    When Tobias van Schneider slips on a virtual reality headset to play Google’s Tilt Brush, he becomes a god. His fingertips become a fiery paintbrush in the sky. A flick of the wrist rotates the clouds. He can jump effortlessly from one world that he created to another.When the headset comes off, though, it’s back to a dreary reality. And lately van Schneider has been noticing some unsettling lingering effects. “What stays is a strange feeling of sadness and disappointment when participating in the real world, usually on the same day,” he wrote on the blogging platform Medium last month. “The sky seems less colorful and it just feels like I’m missing the ‘magic’ (for the lack of a better word). … I feel deeply disturbed and often end up just sitting there, staring at a wall.”Van Schneider dubs the feeling “post-VR sadness.” SNIP

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    • 28 MAR 18

    Is our smart technology contributing to the Antarctic melting?

    Continuing on from the last two blogs, consider the possibility that our ‘smart’ technology is a not-insignificant contributing factor in the rapid and increasing melting of the Antarctic ice shelfs – with dire consequences for our modern high-tech world. The following article appears in the July 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine. It was first published on June 14, 2017 and updated on July 12 with news of the Larsen C break…
    The Larsen C Ice Shelf Collapse Is Just the Beginning—Antarctica Is Melting. The massive iceberg that broke off the Larsen C Ice Shelf may be a harbinger of a continent-wide collapse that would swamp coastal cities around the world.

    Excerpt

    Seen from above, the Pine Island Ice Shelf is a slow-motion train wreck. Its buckled surface is scarred by thousands of large crevasses. Its edges are shredded by rifts a quarter mile across. In 2015 and 2016 a 225-square-mile chunk of it broke off the end and drifted away on the Amundsen Sea. The water there has warmed by more than a degree Fahrenheit over the past few decades, and the rate at which ice is melting and calving has quadrupled…SNIP

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    • 28 MAR 18

    The Wireless Cloud is an “energy monster” warming the world

    Following on from the previous message “How smartphones are heating up the planet” here is an old analysis from 2013 that also examines the energy usage of wireless technology. Their analysis apparently did not include an estimation of the additional future contribution of 5G, the Internet of Things and possibly the roll-out of smart meters. As such, it is a very conservative estimation. All heating up the planet to what end? Titled The Power of Wireless Cloud, it was prepared and published by The Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET): Alcatel-Lucent, Bell Labs and University of Melbourne.
    Quote: The problem is that we’re all accessing cloud services – things like webmail, social networking and virtual applications – over wireless networks. It’s the modern way, but wireless is an energy monster; it’s just inherently inefficient.
    SNIP

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    • 28 MAR 18

    How smartphones are heating up the planet

    From The Conversation

    March 26, 2018

    Excerpt:

    When we think about climate change, the main sources of carbon emissions that come to mind for most of us are heavy industries like petroleum, mining and transportation. Rarely do we point the finger at computer technologies. In fact, many experts view the cyber-world of information and computer technologies (ICT) as our potential saviour, replacing many of our physical activities with a lower-carbon virtual alternative. That is not what our study, recently published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, suggests.

    Having conducted a meticulous and fairly exhaustive inventory of the contribution of ICT —including devices like PCs, laptops, monitors, smartphones and tablets — and infrastructure like data centres and communication networks, we found that the relative contribution of ICT to the total global footprint is expected to grow from about one per cent in 2007 to 3.5 per cent by 2020 and reaching 14 per cent by 2040. That’s more than half the relative contribution of the entire transportation sector worldwide. SNIP

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    • 06 JAN 18

    A Former Facebook VP Says Social Media Is Destroying Society. And He’s Right.

    From Futurism

    by Brad Jones on January 5, 2018

    Chamath Palihapitiya, the former vice president for user growth at Facebook, has spoken out about social media. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter can bring people closer together, they can also have the opposite effect.

    Excerpt

    Feedback Loop

    Speaking at a recent event at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Chamath Palihapitiya – a former vice president for user growth at Facebook – expressed a concern that social media platforms have become “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”…SNIP

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    • 29 DEC 17

    The FCC Has Approved a World-First Wireless Charger

    It had to come, a truly wireless device charger which uses a RF transmitting router with sufficient strength to remotely charge your devices with none of those old fashion annoying wires. See the video with the hefty looking router and consider some obvious questions about this device. Just what frequency and power level is it emitting? In close proximity will it be approaching the FCC limits? Will purchasers just leave it conveniently “on” in the home or workplace resulting in a significant increase in overall exposures?

    A Brave New World…

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    • 23 DEC 17

    A Non-Neutral Internet Spreads Misinformation

    On December 14, 2017 the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal “net neutrality” — the Obama-era regulations that prevented internet service providers (ISPs) from prioritizing certain websites, blocking content, and charging for different download speeds. The internet will no longer be classified as a public utility, so it can’t be regulated by the government. Providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast will not only be able to create fast lanes and slow lanes on the internet, but also decide which websites travel in which lanes — and even block certain websites from consumers on the internet, Heather Ross, an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation and Society, told Futurism. SNIP

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    • 21 DEC 17

    Ultra-fast 5G wireless service declared national security priority by White House

    From Techcrunch.com

    Now that net neutrality appears to be dead in the US, and that Trump has declared 5G as a national security priority watch for web sites that examine the health dangers of 5G being blocked from access because they are considered a threat to America’s national security. Watch for similar with websites against fracking.

    Call me paranoid perhaps but when you take a look at where America is heading with the Trump Republican party consider the possibility…

    Don

    *********************************

    From Techcrunch.com

    Excerpt:

    Who would have thought that the president who writes in 140-character missives would suddenly be interested in 70 Gbps wireless internet access?

    The White House released its congressionally-mandated National Security Strategy report (warning: PDF) yesterday. Tucked away in a section on improving America’s infrastructure was this action item: “We will improve America’s digital infrastructure by deploying a secure 5G Internet capability nationwide.” Other than natural gas, 5G wireless service was the only area of technology to get a specific calling out for infrastructure.

    5G wireless isn’t a specific technology per se, but rather a set of standards and technologies that interoperate in the millimeter wave spectrum to meet the needs of users today. That includes better performance around latency and bandwidth, as well as support for low-power, many-device contexts due to the rise of Internet of Things. SNIP

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    • 19 DEC 17

    Australia and New Zealand to be test sites for GM insect trials courtesy of DARPA (re-posted)

    In order to make sense of the title of this posting read down to where it is stated where the proposed test sits for this GM technology will be. No sites in the US obviously. After all, if there are any unexpected consequences of releasing GM altered insects in the environment better do it well away from America – and there’s lots of water between America and the Antipodes. But don’t worry, they are also preparing a PR package aimed to “create government and community acceptance”. The main funder of gene drive technology is the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). With virtually unlimited funding imagine what the folks at DARPA can come up with. For the betterment of humanity, as Bill Gates would like us to believe, or for America’s military/corporate complex with global dominance as the real goal?

    Perhaps this will not be such an easy sell in Australia because virtually all Australians know of the ongoing tragedy of the introduction of cane toads, introduced to Australia from Hawaii in 1935 by the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations as an amazing new technique to control the native grey-backed cane beetle. It didn’t work and now the toad is slowly invading much of Northern Australia with great destruction of native species.

    The coming gene drive PR spin by “Emerging Ag” will claim benefits such as controlling mosquito diseases but other not mentioned “benefits” will be to try to develop a Monsanto pesticide resistant bee which will be used to pollinate crops sprayed with the chemicals without dying. After the GM bee has done its job, it’s programmed “termator gene’ will ensure all the GM bees die without leaving offspring, so each year farmers have to purchase a new batch of GM bees if they want to have pollinating dependent crop. Such a development would go a long way to assure global US military and corporate dominance over the world’s food resources.

    The logic being why remove a profitable chemical which happens to be killing bees and other pollinating insects when you can change nature itself, at huge profit but with an unknown long-term cost to humanity

    Read on…

    Don

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    • 02 DEC 17

    Scientists Find That Smartphone Addiction Alters Your Brain Chemistry

    Posted on Futurism

    Excerpt

    Scientists Find That Smartphone Addiction Alters Your Brain Chemistry

    Many of us find it difficult to go even a few hours without looking at our smartphone or accessing the internet. Now, a new study has found that addiction to these technologies might cause a chemical imbalance in the brain.

    Life Out of Balance: Smartphones et al.

    A study presented at the 2017 meeting of the Radiological Society of North America has found that young people who are addicted to smartphone usage display an imbalance in their brain chemistry.

    A group of researchers from Seoul’s Korea University carried out the study, which was led by neuroradiology professor Hyung Suk Seo. They used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to investigate the chemical composition of teenagers who had been diagnosed as having an addition to their smartphones or the internet.

    Nineteen youths – nine male and ten female with a mean age of fifteen and a half – were compared with healthy control subjects of the same gender. Twelve of the group received cognitive behavioral therapy, based on a similar program designed to help people addicted to video games. SNIP

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    • 30 NOV 17

    How evil is tech?

    Excerpt

    Not long ago, tech was the coolest industry. Everybody wanted to work at Google, Facebook and Apple. But over the past year the mood has shifted.

    Some now believe tech is like the tobacco industry — corporations that make billions of dollars peddling a destructive addiction. Some believe it is like American gridiron – something millions of people love, but which everybody knows leaves a trail of human wreckage in its wake.

    Surely the people in tech — who generally want to make the world a better place — don’t want to go down this road. It will be interesting to see if they can take the actions necessary to prevent their companies from becoming social pariahs…SNIP…The second critique of the tech industry is that it is causing this addiction on purpose, to make money. Tech companies understand what causes dopamine surges in the brain and they lace their products with “hijacking techniques” that lure us in and create “compulsion loops.” SNIP…

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