What the Hell is Going on in the World? LINKS 02/11/18


AMERICA

Justin Raimondo on the United States’ perpetual attempts to create false bogeymen nemeses:

The United States currently has no rivals worthy of the name anywhere on earth. Not Russia, not China, not anyone or anything can compete with the US as the premier superpower – the one and only “hyper-power,” as the French have dubbed us – in the world. This may be a blessing, or – in the end – a curse. But surely one of the hazards of playing this role is the realization that “there is no security at the top of the world,” as the Old Right seer Garet Garrett put it at the dawn of the cold war era. Living at such heights induces a kind of vertigo, and perhaps a touch of paranoia, too, as the lofty view affords a constant search for enemies over the horizon.

Our real enemies are all internal, a lesson conservatives are just beginning to learn…


 

CRYPTOCURRENCY

Peter Thiel Says, ‘Crypto Is Libertarian, AI Is Communist.’ What the Heck Does That Mean?

Cryptocurrencies are typically open-source, meaning that anyone with technical ability can contribute. On top of that, anyone disgruntled with a given cryptocurrency’s trajectory can “fork” it, creating a new coin, as has happened to both bitcoin and ethereum. When tokens are purchased or earned, they can’t be confiscated unless the owner’s private keys (a sort of cryptographic password) are compromised.

Cryptocurrencies are also famously designed to be extralegal — beyond the reach of the government — although of course the SEC and the IRS hope to quash that notion.

Meanwhile, artificial intelligence relies on the trend that came before it, big data, and big data is gathered by big entities. For example, Google is able to do extraordinary things with machine learning because of the staggering amount of search data, image data, and general user behavior data that it’s amassed over the years.

Historically, communist regimes like the Soviet Union and Maoist China sought to create highly centralized command economies, noted Thiel. A sufficiently powerful AI could realize the bureaucrat’s dream of accurately predicting peasant farmers’ potato yields months in advance from thousands of miles away. No wonder, then, as he said, “the Chinese Communist Party hates crypto and loves AI.”


 

MEN & WOMEN

Peter Hitchens criticizes Jordan Peterson for not going far enough in his fight against academia and radical progressivism.

I am too keenly aware of the good things which have been utterly lost in recent years to be comforted by what looks like an attempt to reconcile us with the revolutionary order. I find it hard to applaud efforts to help me adapt to a world which I think has gone utterly wrong. [Peterson’s] message is aimed at people who have grown up in the post-Christian West. I think it appeals especially to young men. And I think this is mainly because those young men cannot work out how to behave correctly towards modern young women. These young women’s minds have been trained to mistrust masculinity. But in their hearts they still despise feeble, feminised men. The outcome is that men are trapped in a minefield, in the midst of a quicksand. Whether you stand still or move, it will still destroy you. I do not know how anyone copes with it, or ever could.


 

RUSSIAGATE

Aaron Maté on what we’ve learned in Year One of Russiagate:

If “hard evidence” is what “many Americans most eagerly anticipated” in January 2017, they have continued to wait in vain. The Russian government may well have hacked Democratic Party e-mails, but evidence of it beyond unsubstantiated claims has yet to arrive.

In its place is a bipartisan fearmongering campaign that recalls the height of the Cold War. The nation is said to face “an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process” (Democrats Representative Adam Schiff and Senator Dianne Feinstein); in which “Russia continues…to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation” (former acting CIA director Michael Morell and former Republican Representative Mike Rogers); which means that we cannot “simply sit back and hope that we do not face another attack by a hostile foreign power” (Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen).

A credulous national media has helped disseminate the panic. When news of Russian-linked Facebook ads (in reality, Russian troll farms) broke open, The Daily Beast calculated that the “Russian-funded covert propaganda posts…were likely seen by a minimum of 23 million people and might have reached as many as 70 million,” meaning that “up to 28 percent of American adults were swept in by the campaign.” National audiences were soberly informed of covert Russian attempts to dupe them via Pokemon Go. CNN reported—and multiple outlets repeated—that “highly sophisticated” Russian Facebook ads targeted “the states that turned out to be pivotal,” including “Michigan and Wisconsin, two states crucial to Donald Trump’s victory last November.” The New York Times consulted with “analysts” to ponder over the mysterious significance of a Russian-linked “Facebook group for animal lovers with memes of adorable puppies”…


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