Mind Expanding 5 May 2023: drawing a Blank on defense🛡️exponencels vs s-curve boys📈trophic rewilding🐾the human superorganism🔋cathedral thinking🏰
I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more
Mind Expanding is my ~fortnightly curation for Memia subscribers of links to deeper dives and bigger thinks and other eclectica that I’ve come across while compiling the weekly newsletter. Thanks for reading!
(Sorry a little late to push “send”, I was talking with Bernard Hickey and Peter Bale on “The Hoon” about AI safety and regulation, recording up soon.
Links in today’s post:
🛡️ Drawing a Blank on defense: Steve Blank looks at how the defense sector globally is being revolutionised by commercial private sector technology innovation. What does this mean for AUKUS Pillar 2? (🚫 And how about a 6 month pause on defense spending?
📈 Exponencels vs S-Curve boys how does your exponential garden grow?
🐤 Artificial canaries Anticipatory AI regulation
🔐 Who will control reality? Control over generative AI discussed
🦑Shoggoth and friends HP Lovecraft was ahead of his time
🕶️ Immersive rights in the Metaverse?: a virtual Bill of Rights?
🐾 Trophic rewilding: Wild animals enhance carbon capture
🍃 Degrowth President precedent: Irish president advocates for Degrowth
📝 Is Substack a Neoliberal Hellhole? self-marketing yikes
🚀 No room for deep space: Space exploration to remain in LEO.
🔋 The Human Superorganism: Discussing energy and its impacts
🤯 The future of governance?: John Vervaeke and Jordan Hall … go *abstract* on what “governance” means in future…
🏰 Cathedral thinking: A conversation with Sophie Howe who has just finished as Wales’ first commissioner for future generations.
⚙️Cogs and Monsters: Digital tech revolutionizing economics.
🌿 Sleeping Beauties: Evolutionary innovations and their timing.
🇺🇸 Concrete Block 2024: NS Lyon’s satirical piece on Biden's octagenarian candidacy
😡 I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more: Classic film clip from the 70s film “Network” shared.
🦌 Reindeer cyclone: Nature is amazing.
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🛡️Drawing a Blank on defense
Against a background of record global defense spending, the war in Ukraine has provided a demonstration that quickly integrating new commercial technologies (drones, satellites…) can achieve quicker and more effective outcomes than decades-long centralised military procurement.
Steve Blank, Stanford University Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship has some robust analysis and advice for US lawmakers: Reorganizing the DoD to Deter China and Win in the Ukraine -- A Road Map for Congress:
“Today, the U.S. is supporting a proxy war with Russia while simultaneously attempting to deter a China cross-strait invasion of Taiwan. Both are wakeup calls that victory and deterrence in modern war will be determined by a state’s ability to both use traditional weapons systems and simultaneously rapidly acquire, deploy, and integrate commercial technologies (drones, satellites, targeting software, et al) into operations at every level.
Ukraine’s military is not burdened with the DoD’s 65-year-old acquisition process and 20th-century operational concepts. It is learning and adapting on the fly. China has made the leap to a “whole of nation” approach. This has allowed the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) to integrate private capital and commercial technology and use them as a force multiplier to dominate the South China Sea and prepare for a cross-strait invasion of Taiwan…
Congress must…create a new defense ecosystem that uses the external commercial innovation ecosystem and private capital as a force multiplier.”
(Steve is better known for his work in the Lean Startup movement (including the excellent Startup Owners Manual which I still recommend and dip into regularly)
In parallel to this discussion in the US, there is a more-vocal-than-usual debate happening right now in my country, Aotearoa New Zealand, on whether to join AUKUS Pillar 2 and partake in the (likely rather expensive and potentially rapidly obsolete) next generation of US/UK/Australian “big defense” technology platforms, including AI… or alternatively sit on the sidelines as “The Switzerland of the South Pacific” and blithely hope that no-one will try to cut off our supply routes or invade.
The underlying assumption of joining AUKUS Pillar 2 - that in future the US-led “big” military-industrial complex will be able to provide US$Billions-worth better technology than that available from other more nimble commercial (and increasingly open source) innovators is wide open to challenge. The bleeding edge of AI innovation right now is in decentralised open source communities, not big Military-Industrial firms. Will it ever go back? I doubt it…
In the event of a conflict, very expensive but outmoded military equipment would quickly get found out to be obsolete against more agile new technology iterations. (Witness Russian tanks vs improvised Ukrainian drone bombs).
Particularly as the exponential acceleration of technology advancement becomes ever more apparent, would AUKUS Pillar II provide “value for money” vs. a mixed-technology, commercial and open source procurement approach?
💡How about a 6 month pause on defense spending?
Bigger picture: to be frank, the bellicose narratives of national exceptionalism which drive all this defense spending — particularly loud from the US, China and Russia — sound increasingly tired to the rest of us who live elsewhere.
Bluntly: global ecosystems are collapsing at an alarming rate. There is still no viable, scalable solution to climate change. PLUS the US may be just weeks away from the biggest debt default in history… what’s needed are more effective global governance systems to de-escalate aggression and re-focus investment, not greater spending on weapons.
So…where are all the hand-wringers proposing a 6 month pause on defense spending?
📈Exponencels vs S-Curve boys
I’ve mentioned the e/acc “movement” a few times this year…
“The essence of e/acc (effective accelerationism) is a belief, based in thermodynamics, that existence has certain characteristics that are most amenable to life that continuously expands…
First, practically speaking, the solution to the problems facing humanity is to grow out of them. Humanity solves problems through technological advancement and growth. Contrary examples from history—where humanity has solved a problem by skulking backward—are scarce to non-existent. This is not a surprise, and is in fact a consequence of our physical reality.“
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