Does Jeff Bezos Want To Take Over The State Next?

A consummate Technocrat, Bezos is ‘providing the vital infrastructure of state’ and quietly subsuming its power. The Atlantic outlandishly suggests that Bezos’ private government is ‘preferable to a public government run by Trump’.

Such are the calls for Technocracy in America, and they fit perfectly with the original 1930s mandate to replace all elected government representatives with top-to-bottom control by unelected and unaccountable Technocrats. Already Bezos has more monopolistic power than any other American oligarch before him and he is the richest man on the planet.

The Atlantic should just call it what it is: Technocracy. ⁃ TN Editor

On Monday, Jeff Bezos announced the creation of the Bezos Earth Fund, which will disperse $10 billion in the name of combatting climate change. The fund is a triumph of philanthropy—and a perfect emblem of a national failing.

Or rather, a series of national failings. In a healthy democracy, the world’s richest man wouldn’t be able to painlessly make a $10 billion donation. His fortune would be mitigated by the tax collector; antitrust laws would constrain the growth of his business. Instead of relying on a tycoon to bankroll the national response to an existential crisis, there would be a national response.

But in an age of political dysfunction, Bezos has begun to subsume the powers of the state. Where the government once funded the ambitious exploration of space, Bezos is leading that project, spending a billion dollars each year to build rockets and rovers. His company, Amazon, is spearheading an experimental effort to fix American health care; it will also spend $700 million to retrain workers in the shadow of automation and displacement. Meanwhile, swaths of the federal government have contracted with Amazon to keep data on the company’s servers. Bezos is providing the vital infrastructure of state. When Amazon locates its second headquarters on the Potomac, staring across the river at the capital, it will provide a perfect geographic encapsulation of the new balance of power.

It is possible to watch Jeff Bezos’s public spirited commitments and respond: Well, at least someone is doing something. And isn’t a private government run by Bezos preferable to a public government run by Trump?

Trumpism may indeed pose the most immediate danger; the growing concentration of power in one man, however, is hardly a democratic path. And whereas Trump is curbed by Congress, courts, and elections, there is no meaningful public oversight of Bezos’s power. His investments and donations—not to mention the dominance of his sprawling firm and his ownership of one of the nation’s most important newspapers—give him an outsize role in shaping the human future.

Thus far, the extent of the public’s knowledge about the new foundation largely derives from an Instagram post by its namesake. There’s no clear sense of the projects it will bankroll, even though a contribution of that scale will inevitably set the agenda of academics and nongovernmental organizations. Bezos’s personal biases—his penchant for technological solutions, his skepticism of government regulation—will likely shape how the Bezos Earth Fund disperses cash. And that will, in turn, shape how activists and researchers craft their grant proposals, how they attempt to please a funder who can float their operations.

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St. Louis

Bayer Enters Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Field

Bayer, a company completely given over to Sustainable Development, is making its entry into the intelligence world by investing in a geospatial innovation center in St. Louis. GEOINT means real-time tracking of everything that moves. ⁃ TN Editor

Sledgehammers breaking through a mock wall signaled the construction start of the new “Geosaurus, Powered by Bayer” Innovation Resource Center at T-REX, a St. Louis based advanced technology incubator.  Geosaurus will serve as the latest pillar in St. Louis’ efforts to become the global leader in geospatial intelligence, excellence and expertise.

Last year, T-REX was awarded a $500,000 grant from Bayer to support the creation of a new geospatial innovation space that would be located inside the nonprofit’s downtown St. Louis building. To accommodate “Geosaurus, Powered by Bayer”, crews are renovating T-REX’s entire 14,760-square-foot fourth floor.

With an emphasis on entrepreneurship, innovation, workforce development, partnerships with area universities and training programs, Geosaurus will provide collaborative content and programming for advancing the geospatial industry. It will also become a talent pipeline for companies like Bayer and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, which is relocating its Washington, D.C. headquarters to a site that is less than two miles away from T-REX. By 2026, it’s estimated that companies operating within the “Geosaurus, Powered by Bayer” Innovation Resource Center will create more than five thousand new geospatial industry jobs and generate more than $500 million in economic growth for the St. Louis region.

St. Louis has so many incredible geospatial resources across the region, and Geosaurus will be the thread that connects them,” said Patricia Hagen, President and Executive Director of T-REX. “This is where innovations will be fostered; talent will be cultivated and partnerships will be formed.”

T-REX is home to more than 200 companies, including those focused on geospatial intelligence such as Geodata IT, SAIC, Optimal Geo, UNCOMN and Boundless, which Bayer began a collaborative relationship with in 2017 to coordinate open source geospatial code to the Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) community.

“Geospatial intelligence is becoming a high priority for agriculture as well as other industries that rely on highly technical and precise mapping data,” said Al Mitchell, Vice President of Corporate Engagement for Bayer. “Bayer is excited to partner with T-REX in the development of Geosaurus, which will help to further define St. Louis as an innovation and technology hub.”

One of the first companies moving into Geosaurus will be the Combatting Wildlife Trafficking Geo-Analytic Hub, which is working to harness geospatial analytics and predictive modeling for efforts to stop global poaching.

Joining Mitchell and Hagen at today’s “wall smashing” ceremony were St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Downtown STL, Inc. CEO Missy Kelley and St. Louis Development Corp. Executive Director Otis WilliamsSt. Louis architectural firm Remiger is designing the “Geosaurus, Powered by Bayer” space. Construction of the new center is expected to be completed in August 2019.

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