How Artificial Intelligence (AI) and West's Wars could lead to a Global Totalitarian State #384
West's Wars propelled by Military Industrial complex followed by AI takeover could lead to a Global Totalitarian State. Here's how.
In the Hindu scriptures, a consistent theme is that the human body is the rarest of gifts to an individual "atman" which takes millions of births. Why? Because it may be the only instrument that can connect with the gross physical existence as well as the underlying consciousness at the same time. A feature that no other form in existence has.
While a disembodied "individual" can exist while carrying on the karmic residue, it lacks discretion.
So, the connection with the universal consciousness (or, as some religions childishly call "God"), and the ability to exercise discretion (vivek, in Sanskrit) are two things that separate a human being.
The lure of the gross and power has led humanity to put these faculties aside in a way that these are not even considered relevant anymore.
What defines the greatness of a human being has been ossified.
The faculties that have taken center stage in terms of human capabilities are the lower-end ones. Ones that will be taken over by the creation of the human mind itself. Machines and Artificial Intelligence.
Where is this leading us all?
America's Very Long War
Historian Andrew Bacevich calls it America’s Very Long War (VLW).
In our discussion on the question of "Why does America Wage Wars", we had argued that America's wars are about redistribution of wealth and not about either any moral principle or even winning the war for those principles that were flashed in front of the intellectually blind populace at home and across the world in the run-up to those fiascos.
The fact is that America (and the West) has fought many wars since World War II and despite overwhelming superiority over their adversaries in terms of weapons and technology, lost every war. Some very humiliatingly (remember the last helicopter in Vietnam?)!
All the wars entail increased expenditure by the government that goes into the pockets of the military contractors.
So really speaking - the money for these wars - $345 Trillion - has been moved from the taxpayers' pockets to the politicians and the honchos of the weapons and military contractors industries where the powerful and the top brass made all the money, while the workers (even in those industries) and the larger populace remained untouched by this redistribution of wealth.
The whole process is rigged.
War and Politics
The call to war. The mobilization. The lies. The redirecting of the moneys.
Just see the surge in Pentagon budget every time there was a war. And everytime that new high was eventually breached.
After 9/11, the push was unprecedented. Between FY2002 and FY2003, the increase in US military spending was more than the military budget of any other country in the world!
The then Boeing VP Harry Stonecipher famously remarked (as quoted by Anne Marie Squeo and Andy Pasztor in their Wall Street Journal article titled "Pentagon's Budget Becomes Bulletproof," Wall Street Journal, dated October 15, 2001)
And thereafter it was an open freakshow with military contractors switching wars on and off at their will.
The defense contractors lavishly throw money at the elections for Congressional seats. That lobbying has a singular consequence - increase in military outlay for the defense - and by extension for the military contractors.
In 2022, the Armed Services Committee increased the record defense budget of $813 billion proposed by Joe Biden by $37 billion in the House and $45 billion in the Senate.
The U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on Wednesday backed a proposal to increase spending for the Department of Defense by $37 billion on top of the record $773 billion proposed by President Joe Biden. The vote paved the way for a Pentagon budget of at least $810 billion next year after the Senate Armed Services Committee already backed a $45 billion increase in its version of the bill. (Source: "U.S. Congress moves to boost Biden's record defense budget" / Reuters)
The “military-industrial-Congressional complex" as many call it, is well and truly at work.
As per a report released in 2023 by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the taxpayers are heavily benefitting the military contractors. Thanks to the priorities set by Congress and the Presidents who are shamelessly bought by the military contractors.
This year, the average American taxpayer paid $1,087 just for Pentagon contractors alone — a sum representing twenty-one days of work for the average person and four times what they contributed to K-12 education ($270). They also paid approximately $74 for the maintenance of nuclear weapons, while just $43 went to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An average taxpayer gave $298 to the five largest military contractors, while only $19 went to programs concerned with mental health and substance abuse. Lockheed Martin, incidentally a major air polluter, received $106 from the average person’s income tax contribution, while a mere $6 went to renewable energy. (Source: Ordinary Americans are forced to subsidize the Military Industrial Complex)
Every vote has a value and a price. So, the Congressmen and women are zombies who vote not based on their conscience - but on the money used to purchase them. They are commodities that are out there to be bought. The military-industrial complex gives them a good price for their soul.
The vast majority of these campaign contributions went to members who voted to increase the Pentagon budget above the president’s $813 billion recommendation. Specifically, House Armed Services Committee members who voted “yes” to increasing the FY23 Pentagon budget by $37.5 billion on June 22, 2022, received a total of $3 million from the defense industry in the 2022 election cycle. Senate Armed Services Committee members who voted “yes” to increasing the FY23 Pentagon budget by $45 billion on June 16, 2022, received a total of $7.2 million from the defense industry in the 2022 election cycle. (Source: Military-Industrial Complex Clinches Nearly 450,000% Return on Investment / Public Citizen)
It is indeed instructive to see how much money was poured in and what were the results.
The return on the investments made by the Military Industrial Complex on the pliant US Congressmen and women has been a cool 450,000%!
The Hanging Tree
In the movie "Hunger Games Mockingjay," rebels attack in a human wave such that most are shot and a few make it inside the dam to set the bombs in an obvious suicide attack. They do so in order to weaken the Capitol.
Are you, are you comin' to the tree?
Where they strung up a man, they say, who murdered three
Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be
If we met at midnight in the hanging tree...
So goes their crying song as they come in waves.
In the movie series "The Hunger Games", the totalitarian power center comprising elites, rich and powerful keep the population poor and divided.
Control is the name of the game.
Well, the main source of power in The Hunger Games is clear: the totalitarian government of the Capitol. Because the Capitol holds most of the country of Panem’s wealth, the government there is able to control the people in all of the districts across Panem. The Hunger Games, then, are the ultimate display of the government’s power and were designed to warn the populace against rebellion. In the Hunger Games, the citizens of Panem become nothing more than pawns in an elaborate game of life or death. Since only one teenage contestant, or "tribute," can win, the tributes are forced to kill teens from the other districts and one from their own district. It's all symbolic of how the Capitol prevents the people in the districts from joining forces and rebelling – the Games keep the people of the districts divided and fighting among themselves. Worst of all, the government broadcasts the event live on television, reinforcing the idea that the tributes are giving their lives for little more than the entertainment of the Capitol. (Source: The Hunger Games Power / Shmoop)
Why are we suddenly talking of The Hunger Games?
The Hunger Games is really a showcase of what happens wealth is redistributed in a way that the poor have no way to decide their own lives, while they are remotely controlled by the powerful.
Singleton and Global Totalitarianism
Nick Bostrom (Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University) introduced an interesting concept - Singleton.
In set theory, a singleton is a set with only one member, but as I introduced the notion, the term refers to a world order in which there is a single decision-making agency at the highest level. Among its powers would be (1) the ability to prevent any threats (internal or external) to its own existence and supremacy, and (2) the ability to exert effective control over major features of its domain (including taxation and territorial allocation). (Source: "What is a Singleton?" / Nick Bostrom)
Was this some outlandish theory or thought that some professor elaborated on? Or is it a real threat to humanity? An existential one at that?
Or worse still...
In a very interesting report by the Global Priorities Project, along with the Future of Humanity Institute and Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland titled "Existential Risk: Diplomacy and Governance," many serious existential risks were mentioned. The last one is the most potent - Global Totalitarianism.
A complete and unshakeable Global Totalitarian colonialism would probably be worse than complete extinction!
Technology changes and improvements could not just create but also sustain the power differential via powerful surveillance technologies.
When we talk about Surveillance Capitalism one wonders if we should be talking about Colonialism as well. Nick Couldry and Ulises A. Mejias write in the “Internet Policy Review” journal that yes, the creation of economic value is the argument for data enterprises. But the real consequence is colonialism.
We approached this topic in our earlier newsletter.
So imagine a world where a global totalitarian government uses cutting-edge powerful technologies to lock the rest of the population around the world into perpetual suffering.
That is the "World in Chains" scenario.
That situation is worse than extinction.
Researchers at the Center on Long-Term Risk, a non-profit research institute in London, have expanded upon x-risks with the even-more-chilling prospect of suffering risks. These “s-risks” are defined as “suffering on an astronomical scale, vastly exceeding all suffering that has existed on Earth so far.” In these scenarios, life continues for billions of people, but the quality is so low and the outlook so bleak that dying out would be preferable. In short: a future with negative value is worse than one with no value at all. This is where the “world in chains” scenario comes in. If a malevolent group or government suddenly gained world-dominating power through technology, and there was nothing to stand in its way, it could lead to an extended period of abject suffering and subjugation. (Source: "The grim fate that could be ‘worse than extinction’" / BBC)
Very powerful surveillance technologies that can virtually (and physically, if needed) lock people up are now a reality.
An American Civil Liberties Union report says that technology is at a stage where surveillance could be used to look at millions, even billions, to make predictions.
China is already at the forefront of using surveillance against their own citizens.
And the thing to remember is that cutting-edge surveillance technologies are not just the handiwork of the dictators but it is most in vogue in liberal democracies!
Liberal democracies are major users of AI surveillance. The index shows that 51 percent of advanced democracies deploy AI surveillance systems. In contrast, 37 percent of closed autocratic states, 41 percent of electoral autocratic/competitive autocratic states, and 41 percent of electoral democracies/illiberal democracies deploy AI surveillance technology.1 Governments in full democracies are deploying a range of surveillance technology, from safe city platforms to facial recognition cameras. This does not inevitably mean that democracies are abusing these systems. The most important factor determining whether governments will deploy this technology for repressive purposes is the quality of their governance. (Source: The Global Expansion of AI Surveillance / Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
It is being called "Digital Authoritarianism."
Digital authoritarianism, as the Center for Strategic and International Studies cautions, involves the use of information technology to surveil, repress, and manipulate the populace, endangering human rights and civil liberties, and co-opting and corrupting the foundational principles of democratic and open societies, “including freedom of movement, the right to speak freely and express political dissent, and the right to personal privacy, online and off.” The seeds of digital authoritarianism were planted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, with the passage of the USA Patriot Act. A massive 342-page wish list of expanded powers for the FBI and CIA, the Patriot Act justified broader domestic surveillance, the logic being that if government agents knew more about each American, they could distinguish the terrorists from law-abiding citizens. (Source: Digital Authoritarianism: AI Surveillance Signals The Death Of Privacy / Eurasia Review)
Now, let us look at how the redistribution of wealth will be further accentuated by AI technologies like ChatGPT.
Tremendous disruptions in the Job market
Every innovation disrupts jobs. But this innovation - Artificial Intelligence - will be different. It will take the top-level white color workers down with it.
Per a report by Goldman Sachs, 300 million full-time jobs globally are under threat. (Also read Business Today)
Worse, this will happen as the global GDP because of Generative AI will increase by 7%.
So, while the pie increases, the takers will decrease!
Given this, which job profiles are most at risk?
Here is a list of some of the jobs that we can think of.
Movie story writers
Coders and computer programmers
Advertising - Creative
Accountants and auditors
Education workers (administration, not teachers)
School psychologists, counselors
University-level History teachers
Arbitrators and mediators
If you think this is outlandish, let us discuss the obvious ones.
Doctors and Surgeons
Whenever I have been to a doctor in the last 30 years, I have often wondered -
"What does this person know more than me to prescribe a medicine that in today's world does not even heal me?"
The answer every time has been:
- Memorized knowledge of interpreting the results of the tests that are done
- Memorized knowledge from books on body symptoms
- Memorized knowledge of the chemicals that resolve those symptoms temporarily and semi-permanently
- Experience of the case studies s/he has encountered in the past
What does that mean?
There was a time when the healers would hold your hand and touch your nerve and know what is wrong with your entire body in a couple of minutes and were able to suggest the right medicine or a healing regimen. Those skills have been lost by a deliberate strategy to destroy the past knowledge.
The current mechanisms that the medicine world came up with can easily lend themselves to a better "doctor" experience with an AI chatbot.
More importantly, the "AI Doctor" will be consistent every time and willing to do all this in the comfort of your home!
In fact, there are studies that are already showing all this!
It may take a while, but it is conceivable that AI may well be the main source of medical guidance and doctors will either be relegated to the sidelines or completely eliminated.
In a recent paper, David Dranove and Craig Garthwaite, professors of strategy at Kellogg, explored the implications of incorporating AI into healthcare—in particular, how such software would affect the central role of the physician. For now, the need for human interaction in healthcare is likely to keep AI on the sidelines as a complement, rather than a substitute, for doctors, Dranove says. But perhaps in a few decades, patients will be comfortable interacting with computers and even trust them as their main source of medical guidance. “Maybe in the long run, that will change,” he says. (Source: Source: Will AI Eventually Replace Doctors? / Kellogg Insight)
Certain disciplines within the medical fraternity will be replaced for sure.
Now, let us ask the unthinkable question - what about highly paid surgeons?
To understand the future of surgery, look at the cutting-edge experiments - very successful ones at that - already being done in terms of Remote Robotic Surgery.
Doctors carry out surgeries sitting 400 km away using robotic arms and instruments on patients. In fact, robots have already been proven to make incisions and sutures better than the trained hands of a Human Surgeon!
Let us extend this further.
The tests are already being performed.
Lawyers and judiciary
Many years back, I had to deal with the judicial system in India for a property law suite of ancestral property.
Corruption of the system aside, I found that 99% of the lawyers I talked to had no idea of the exact legal provisions and case studies pertinent to my case. Thankfully, I happened to take a written detailed note from a very knowledgeable lawyer in Tis Hazari (lower first court in Delhi) who despite his brilliance was not confident enough to speak in front of the High Court judges.
And in a short tryst with the judicial system in the US for a personal matter, I found the level of quality lawyers almost similar there as well.
Why is this so?
The legal provisions and case studies are humongous. Very few can memorize all of them. And, then being creative and out-of-the-box to think through all the ways to handle the law is well nigh impossible.
But an AI program can do that. And do it better, consistently and holistically!
Eric Pacifici (Twitter handle - SMBAcquisitionAttorney) posted a 19-tweet thread on "Things ChatGPT can do right now that (maybe) you no longer need to pay lawyers for."
One AI platform called Harvey is already making waves.
Enter Harvey, today’s golden child that lives at the intersection of technology and law. Harvey is an A.I. platform that can help lawyers perform legal tasks in areas such as due diligence, litigation, and compliance. Described as “the innovative artificial intelligence platform built on a version of Open AI’s latest models enhanced for legal work,” legaltech startup Harvey, the self-styled “generative A.I. for elite law firms,” is about to play in the big leagues. Harvey is being rolled out for use by 3,500 lawyers in 43 offices of Allen & Overy, the seventh largest law firm in the world and part of London’s “Magic Circle.” (Source: "Will artificial intelligence replace your lawyer–and will its name be Harvey?" / Fortune)
Though some commentators are suggesting (bravely?) that all these professions may not be replaced. At least yet. But the writing is already on the wall.
Where are we headed?
While AI creates a new wave of billionaires, it will push many workers out of very well-paid jobs.
So what do we have on our hands:
- Highly skewed distribution of income due to wars
- AI creating a complete, automated, complex surveillance and military state
- AI creating few billionaires and trillionaires while impoverishing billions across the world
Let us put it visually and see if that makes sense?
Obviously, this does not portend well for humanity.
At that time, what will be the alternatives facing mankind?
Could the Storming of the Bastille (from the French Revolution) or the bombing of the District 5 dams (from the Hunger Games) be a likely scenario?
Video Corner: Fighting the Woke Industrial Complex
Republican Presidential nominee Vivek Ramaswamy is shooting up in visibility and in terms of his voice being heard all over. He makes a lot of sense. But one thing he discusses really well is the emergence and almost take-over by the Wokes of the entire US (and global) business and social agenda and narrative.
How did it happen? Why did it happen? I have not heard anyone discuss this as well as Vivek. Please do listen to this ~32 mins video because it will be the biggest education in this area.