Pressure Building: All Sides Are Turning Against Silicon Valley

Gene Veith correctly notes that Silicon Valley is angering both conservatives and liberals, but the correct reason is not revealed: Technocrats are apolitical and simply use politicians to further their own agenda. What is that agenda? It hasn’t changed since the 1930s: “Technocracy is the science of social engineering, the scientific operation of the entire social mechanism to produce and distribute goods and services to the entire population…” (The Technocrat, 1938) The bottom line is, nobody likes to be manipulated.  TN Editor

The tech geniuses and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley have been lauded for their creativity and innovation, held up as models of financial enterprise and economic brilliance.  But lately opinions have been changing.  Now the titans of technology are being regarded more as 19th century robber barons.

According to Ben Smith in There’s Blood In The Water In Silicon Valley and Eric Newcomer in Backlash Against Silicon Valley is Heating Up, both conservatives and liberals–as well as people in between–are reacting against the magnates of the tech industry.

Conservatives are irked at the way the industry supports liberal causes.  Not only by funneling lots of money to Democrats but by firing employees who express politically-incorrect views and tamping down conservative voices in the search engines and social network sites that they rule.

But for all of their social and political liberalism, the technology industrialists have also angered the left.  A recent survey of tech company executives shows what activists have long been complaining about, an extreme hostility to labor unions and government regulation.

Meanwhile, conservatives, liberals, and moderates can all agree in resenting how the tech industry is endangering Americans’ privacy with its automatic information-gathering on consumers in order to target advertising.  In addition to the intentional information-gleaning, the technology that has been developed is easily exploited for government surveillance and identity theft.

The big tech corporations have also come under scrutiny under anti-trust and monopoly laws.  Both liberals and conservatives oppose monopolies, which happen when companies get so big that they buy up or run out of business their competition, so that they can become the sole provider of the service, cornering the market and letting them set prices to whatever they please. Conservatives dislike monopolies because they prevent the free market from functioning; liberals dislike them because of their general aversion to big corporations.

The European Union has slapped a $2.7 billion fine on Google for manipulating search requests to favor its businesses and advertisers.  Then, when a think-tanker praised the EU’s action, Google pressured the foundation to fire him!  (See this editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune.)

And although Silicon Valley says all the politically-correct things about diversity and feminism–and gets rid of employees who dissent–in practice, companies are coming under fire for their own lack of diversity and mistreatment of women!

And all sides complain about the “fake news” that the new technology makes possible, the way the internet can be used to recruit and motivate terrorists and extremists of both the left and the right, and how it all can be exploited politically.

Then there is all of the cultural disruption that the new technology is causing, such as the debasement of human relationships, the bankruptcy of local businesses due to online retail, the cyberbullying and trolling that comes from anonymous communication, etc., etc.  (For an example of a recent case that has sparked the ire of the general public, see this.)

Here is Eric Newcomer’s  list of grievances: 

  • Simmering 99 percenters angry over tech’s growing power
  • Mounting antitrust concerns
  • Animus from ad-dependent media companies
  • Bias charges from right-wingers without a seat at the table in Silicon Valley
  • Complaints, especially from Democrats, about Russian interference in the election, particularly via social media
  • An effort to reckon with gender discrimination and harassment at male dominated engineering companies
  • Accusations of fake news and clickbait all around.

Then again, all of these complaints about the technology companies are typed using word processing technology, posted on internet blogs, and discussed on social media.  The critics might pause to show at least a little gratitude.

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Billionaire Tech Investor: By 2050 A.I. Will Learn Like Humans

The biggest problem with Silicon Valley tech is massive self-deception: Simply imagining machines as human does not make them human. The Technocrat mind is easily deceived because it worships science.  TN Editor

Within the next three and a half decades, artificial intelligence will be able to learn at the same speed as humans.

That’s according to Jim Breyer, the founder and CEO of Breyer Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Breyer was an early investor in Facebook and Etsy and is as a billionaire three times over, according to Forbes. He’s especially interested in artificial intelligence, and as a top-tier investor, Breyer spends much of his time traveling around the world learning from the smartest people in the industry so he can back the best new companies.

“When I visit campuses and speak to the AI experts, there is a median year of 2050 where they think the self-learning capability of AI will be singular and will be at human-level intelligence,” says Breyer, speaking at CNBC and Institutional Investor’s Delivering Alpha conference in New York City.

 “So, 2050? Does it happen? There are a lot of people who don’t think that is the case. It is median data from some of the best AI researchers in the world.”

In recent months, some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley have publicly talked about the future of artificial intelligence. Elon Musk called AI “a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg said that Musk’s dire warnings are “pretty irresponsible” and that the potential of artificial intelligence is worth being optimistic about.

“Well, I bet on Mark Zuckerberg when he was 20 and I will never bet against Mark Zuckerberg,” says Breyer, who owes much of his significant wealth to an early bet on Facebook.

Breyer doesn’t go so far as to disavow Musk, but says, “For the next decade or two, the good that comes out of proper, safe and interesting AI applications is enormous, and I am very excited about being part of investing in it.”

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The Alarmist Case For Global Warming Is Falling Apart

Al Gore and the United Nations have a bitter pill to swallow, but given their religious zeal for self-deception, it is likely they will ignore and then bury this report. Since Technocrat life centers around their ‘razor-sharp’ science, they cannot tolerate criticism or legitimate scientific discussion.  TN Editor

Climate alarmists have finally admitted that they’ve got it wrong on global warming.

This is the inescapable conclusion of a landmark paper, published in Nature Geoscience, which finally admits that the computer models have overstated the impact of carbon dioxide on climate and that the planet is warming more slowly than predicted.

The paper – titled Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C –  concedes that it is now almost impossible that the doomsday predictions made in the last IPCC Assessment Report of 1.5 degrees C warming above pre-industrial levels by 2022 will come true.

In order for that to happen, temperatures would have to rise by a massive 0.5 degrees C in five years.

Since global mean temperatures rarely rise by even as much as 0.25 degrees C in a decade, that would mean the planet would have to do 20 years’ worth of extreme warming in the space of the next five years.

This, the scientists admit, is next to impossible. Which means their “carbon budget” – the amount of CO2 they say is needed to increase global warming by a certain degree – is wrong. This in turn means that the computer models they’ve been using to scare the world with tales of man-made climate doom are wrong too.

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One researcher – from the alarmist side of the argument, not the skeptical one – has described the paper’s conclusion as “breathtaking” in its implications.

He’s right. The scientists who’ve written this paper aren’t climate skeptics. They’re longstanding warmists, implacable foes of climate skeptics, and they’re also actually the people responsible for producing the IPCC’s carbon budget.

In other words, this represents the most massive climbdown from the alarmist camp.

But you certainly wouldn’t guess this from the way the scientists are trying to spin their report.

According to the London Times:

 Michael Grubb, professor of international energy and climate change at University College London and one ofthe study’s authors, admitted that his previous prediction had been wrong.

He stated during the climate summit in Paris in December 2015: “All the evidence from the past 15 years leads me to conclude that actually delivering 1.5C is simply incompatible with democracy.”

Speaking to The Times, he said: “When the facts change, I change my mind, as Keynes said.

“It’s still likely to be very difficult to achieve these kind of changes quickly enough but we are in a better place than I thought.”

and

Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford and another author of the paper, said: “We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models. We haven’t seen that in the observations.”

He said that the group of about a dozen computer models, produced by government research institutes and universities around the world, had been assembled a decade ago “so it’s not that surprising that it’s starting to divert a little bit from observations”.

He said that too many of the models used “were on the hot side”, meaning they forecast too much warming.

Note the disingenuousness here.

Grubb is claiming that the facts have changed. Which they haven’t. Climate skeptics have been saying for years that the IPCC climate models have been running “too hot.” Indeed, the Global Warming Policy Foundation produced a paper stating this three years ago. Naturally it was ignored by alarmists who have always sought to marginalize the GWPF as a denialist institution which they claim – erroneously – is in the pay of sinister fossil fuel interests.

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Cities Are Gaining Power And Influence In Global Politics

As predicted by Dr. Parag Khanna in Connectography, global cities are slated to eclipse the nation-state in controlling the world’s economy and societal structure. The UN is pushing this agenda with the New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda initiatives.  TN Editor

Over the past two years, urban issues – from sustainability in the built environment, to inequality in cities – have become an international priority. Cities, in turn, are taking on a more important role in global politics; the growth of city diplomacy has forged hundreds of city networks and thousands of transnational initiatives.

These developments have been disrupting the established political order. Cities are now relating directly to global instruments, treaties and commitments, often bypassing states – as seen in the steps taken by many cities to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, despite opposition from central governments.

These efforts are being met with growing recognition – not least by the United Nations (UN), which has introduced an urban focus to negotiations and agreements of international significance, such as the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction, the universally-binding Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), and the Addis Ababa Agenda on financing sustainable development.

Perhaps the most relevant development yet, though, was when 170 of the UN’s member states agreed on the New Urban Agenda – a road map to guide the growth of cities over the next 30 years – at the Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador in October, 2016.

Yet the process leading up to and beyond Habitat III raised questions as to whether the UN is fit for purpose, when it comes to addressing major global urban challenges. These concerns materialised in the appointment of an independent panel on the effectiveness of UN-Habitat – the agency responsible for the UN’s work on human settlements and urban development.

The panel reported its findings at a high-level meeting of the UN’s General Assembly (UNGA) over September 5 and 6, where I spoke for academia, offering my input on the panel’s recommendations alongside numerous other representatives and delegates involved with UN-Habitat.

Time for reform

The discussions made clear that reform is already afoot, and welcome at the highest level of the UN. As UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed said in her opening speech, the organisation now recognises that “the global response to the promise of urbanisation has been inadequate”.

Bold recommendations are needed, as too much of the urban work in the UN system is fragmented across different arms of the organisation. The stakes are high, as the reform of UN-Habitat is seen by Mohammed as a “litmus test for UN reform ambitions” – so far, a key focus for the new UN Secretary General António Guterres, who took office in January 2017.

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Google Is The Highest-Spending Company For Federal Lobbying

What Google wants, Google gets. It’s annual spending rate is running at $24 million for lobbyists to twist the arms of elected officials. Is it time for Google to be reined in? Many legislators think so.  TN Editor

Google spent the most it ever has in a single quarter trying to influence elected officials in Washington, according to lobbying disclosures made public late Thursday. The past three months have also seen record spending on lobbying by several other major tech companies, including Amazon, Apple and Uber.

Google Inc., according to the disclosure forms, spent $5.93 million between April 1 and June 30, more than any other corporation in the second quarter. That’s about 40 percent more than it had spent during the same period last year. The only three entities that doled out more money were large business organizations: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($11.68 million), the National Association of Realtors ($10.92 million) and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ($6 million).

Since the 2016 election, the tech industry has had to navigate not only a Republican-controlled Congress, but also an administration whose decisions have often cut against Silicon Valley’s business interests and largely progressive outlook.

The combined lobbying efforts of some of the most influential tech companies — Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft — totaled $15.79 million.

Google’s lobbying efforts come as it faces the largest fine the European Union has ever levied against a company for abusing its dominant market position. In June, the European Union’s antitrust chief hit Google with a $2.7 billion fine, saying the company illegally steered users toward its comparison shopping site. If the ruling is not overturned, it could reshape the company’s behavior and direct the evolving boundaries of tech-industry regulation.

Stateside, Google and others in the industry have had to adapt to a new political order, one without the close ties it built with the Obama administration. In recent months, some in Washington have called for increased scrutiny of tech’s dominant companies.

Google lobbied both chambers of Congress and the White House. Among the issues lobbied for were “legislative responses” to the president’s travel ban, high-skilled immigration, education, U.S. and international antitrust law, Federal Communications Commission’s privacy regulations, and freedom of expression.

Google declined to comment.

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Scientists: Climate Change Not As Threatening To Planet As Previously Thought

While this science may still be flawed with inaccurate data, it flies in the face of the “science is settled” crowd, who will most likely lambast these Oxford scholars. The fact is, science is never settled and should always be open to critique and advancement.  TN Editor

Climate change poses less of an immediate threat to the planet than previously thought because scientists got their modelling wrong, a new study has found. New research by British scientists reveals the world is being polluted and warming up less quickly than 10-year-old forecasts predicted, giving countries more time to get a grip on their carbon output.

An unexpected “revolution” in affordable renewable energy has also contributed to the more positive outlook.

Experts now say there is a two-in-three chance of keeping global temperatures within 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the ultimate goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

They also condemned the “overreaction” to the US’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, announced by Donald Trump in June, saying it is unlikely to make a significant difference.

According to the models used to draw up the agreement, the world ought now to be 1.3 degrees above the mid-19th-Century average, whereas the most recent observations suggest it is actually between 0.9 to 1 degree above.

The discrepancy means nations could continue emitting carbon dioxide at the current rate for another 20 years before the target was breached, instead of the three to five predicted by the previous model.

“When you are talking about a budget of 1.5 degrees, then a 0.3 degree difference is a big deal”, said Professor Myles Allen, of Oxford University and one of the authors of the new study.

Published in the journal Nature Geoscience, it suggests that if polluting peaks and then declines to below current levels before 2030 and then continue to drop more sharply, there is a 66 per cent chance of global average temperatures staying below 1.5 degrees.

The goal was yesterday described as “very ambitious” but “physically possible”.

Another reason the climate outlook is less bleak than previously thought is stabilising emissions, particularly in China.

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UN Chief To Reshape Global Finance For Sustainable Sevelopment

Danger: The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said that “trillions of dollars need to be mobilized a year by tapping into the savings of citizens around the world…” The financing fix for Sustainable Development is revealed: simply take it from citizens’ saving accounts. Actually, if Sustainable Development is completely established in place of Capitalism/Free Enterprise, private property (including savings) will be wiped out anyway.  TN Editor

As the high-level week of the United Nations General Assembly gets underway, Secretary-General António Guterres today stressed the role of the UN to help reshape “unproductive and unrewarding” finance and redirect investment to creating a better world for all.

“The choices we make on finance will be critical,” Mr. Guterres told a special event held at the UN Headquarters in New York on financing for global development goals.

Mr. Guterres noted that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – adopted by UN Member States in September 2015 – are a blueprint for building an inclusive, sustainable fair globalization.

“We can choose to bemoan the lack of financing for the 2030 Agenda in a world awash with so much unproductive and unrewarding finance. Or we can grasp the opportunity to reshape finance, according to our urgent, collective needs,” he said. “The choice is clear. Let us invest in the 2030 Agenda and finance a better world for all.”

However, today’s global financial system, which manages some $300 trillion in financial assets, is simply not fit for purpose, the UN chief said, recalling that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted in 2015 at an international conference in the Ethiopian capital on financing for development, highlights the importance of being innovative in leveraging resources and financing for development.

The UN’s three-part strategy for enhancing its support to financing the 2030 Agenda would help achieve short- and medium-term results, he said.

The Secretary-General said that he will lead UN efforts to ensure that the objectives of the 2030 Agenda are fully reflected in international economic and financial policies by working closely with key inter-governmental platforms, such as the G20.

Second, he will reform the UN development system to strengthen its country teams, and third, he will champion key international initiatives that can harness large-scale changes in financing and financial system development, such as in the fields of digitalization and climate finance and in cooperating with major investment initiatives.

Also addressing the event was Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who said that trillions of dollars need to be mobilized a year by tapping into the savings of citizens around the world, official development assistance (ODA), domestic financing and the world’s financial system.

The UN has always been engaged in this financing agenda, with its partners, allies and of course Member States, but “our question is whether we are doing enough, and the answer, in short, is no,” she said, explaining that this event is timely as it highlights progress and opportunities from parts of the UN’s leadership team, key partners such as the World Bank, private sector actors, and Member States.

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UN Report: Better Land Use And Management Critical To 2030 Agenda

The data behind this UN report is full of the typical fabrications of data and facts. It would lead you to think that trees are running out and we will all die of oxygen deprivation. However, a 2011 study demonstrated that the U.S. had more trees than it had 100 years ago. In the heavily populated eastern U.S., forest growth was 380 percent greater than in 1920.  TN Editor

Consumption of the earth’s natural reserves has doubled in the last 30 years, with a third of the planet’s land now severely degraded. Each year, we lose 15 billion trees and 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil. Smallholder farmers, women and indigenous communities are the most vulnerable, given their reliance on land-based resources, compounded by their exclusion from wider infrastructure and economic development,” according to the new publication, The Global Land Outlook (GLO), launched today, at the 13th meeting of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Ordos, China.

Currently, more than 1.3 billion people are trapped on degrading agricultural land, drastically increasing competition for crucial ecosystem services such as food, water and energy. The GLO draws on an analysis of recent trends in land productivity and modelling of land demand scenarios up to the year 2050. It outlines how reversing trends in the condition of land resources could accelerate efforts to achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals, by adopting more efficient planning and sustainable practices.

Speaking at the launch, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut said, “land degradation and drought are global challenges and intimately linked to most, if not all aspects of human security and well-being – food security, employment and migration, in particular.”

“As the ready supply of healthy and productive land dries up and the population grows, competition is intensifying, for land within countries and globally. As the competition increases, there are winners and losers. To minimize the losses, The Outlook suggests it is in all our interests to step back and rethink how we are managing the pressures and the competition. The Outlook presents a vision for transforming the way in which we use and manage land because we are all decision-makers and our choices can make a difference – even small steps matter,” she further added.

Welcoming the UNCCD’s new flagship publication, Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator stated, “over 250 million people are directly affected by desertification, and about one billion people in over one hundred countries are at risk. They include many of the world‘s poorest and most marginalized people. Achieving land degradation neutrality can provide a healthy and productive life for all on Earth, including water and food security. The Global Land Outlook shows that each of us can in fact make a difference, and I hope that in the next edition we are able to tell even more stories of better land use and management.”

This landmark publication on the current and future state of the world’s land resources is the first in-depth analysis of the multiple functions of the land viewed from a wide range of interrelated sectors and thematic areas, such as the food-water-land nexus, as well as the ‘less obvious’ drivers of land use change, notably the nature of economic growth, consumer choice and global trade patterns. Crucially, the report examines a growing disconnect between the financial and socio-economic values of the land and how this affects the poor.

The first edition of the GLO was published by the UNCCD secretariat with the support of numerous partners, including the European Commission, the Governments of Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and UNDP. It is available in both print and digital formats on a dedicated web platform.

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Jerry Brown

State Governors At U.N. Assembly: ‘You Have Allies’ On Climate Change

The great rebellion against Trump’s Administration is underway, with governors and mayors pandering their support for climate change to the United Nations.  TN Editor

Jerry Brown, the governor of California, huddled on Sunday night with European, Brazilian and small-island leaders — gathered here for the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, which formally begins on Tuesday — and pledged to work with them on climate change. On Monday he met with António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, to discuss the future of the Paris agreement.

In another era, meetings like these might have been the exclusive domain of the State Department. But with the Trump administration vowing to leave the Paris agreement on climate change — affirmed on Monday by Gary D. Cohn, the chief White House economic adviser, at a meeting with allied ministers — Democratic state governors are taking an increasingly conspicuous role on the international stage, forming something of an informal negotiating team.

It is the first time that governors have taken such a prominent role on climate change at the annual General Assembly. Analysts said it would be the first real test of whether governors can persuade world leaders that efforts by American states might be able to take the place, at least in part, of federal government action.

The goal, the governors say, is to assure other countries that they, along with and hundreds of cities and businesses, remain committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and meeting the goals of the Paris accord.

He rejected the idea that the governors represent a shadow diplomatic corps. “I don’t think it’s a shadow,” he said. “We’re in the sunlight. We’re shining the bright light of success.”

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AI Robots To Replace Human Teachers Within 10 Years

You might expect that this new trend is starting in California, using robots to teach little Johnny about values and human nature. The early Technocrats considered education to be nothing more than human conditioning. To those who understand the onslaught of Technocracy around the world, it is not a mystery that modern education is exactly that: human conditioning.  TN Editor

Robots will begin replacing teachers in the classroom within the next ten years as part of a revolution in one-to-one learning, a leading educationalist has predicted.

Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said intelligent machines that adapt to suit the learning styles of individual children will soon render traditional academic teaching all but redundant.

The former Master of Wellington College said programmes currently being developed in Silicon Valley will learn to read the brains and facial expressions of pupils, adapting the method of communication to what works best for them.

The impact is going to be massiveSir Anthony Seldon

The new era of automated teaching promises an end to grouping children by year, as the personalised nature of the robots will enable pupils to learn new material at their own pace, rather than as part of a class.

“It will open up the possibility of an Eton or Wellington-style education for all,” Sir Anthony said.

“Everyone can have the very best teacher and it’s completely personalised; the software you’re working with will be with you throughout your education journey.”

He warned, however, that the new technology would have to be carefully introduced to avoid “infantilising” pupils and teachers.

As part of robot-led learning, teachers would adopt the role of “overseers”, monitoring the progress of individual pupils, leading non-academic activities and providing pastoral support, Sir Anthony said.

The efficiency of automated teaching would also mean that only 30 per cent of school time will be spent in class.

A contemporary historian who has written biographies of David Cameron, Tony Blair, John Major and Gordon Brown, Sir Anthony heralds the new educational era in a book, The Fourth Revolution”, due out next year.

“The impact is going to be massive” he said.

“This is beyond anything that we’ve seen in the industrial revolution or since with any other new technology.”

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