Archive for the War Category

What the 2012 DA14 asteroid teaches us about ourselves

Posted in Faith & Science, Psychology, War on February 22, 2013 by daviddiel

For many people, the 2012 DA14 asteroid brought up visions of an apocalypse, like something out of the movie Deep Impact. For ages, humans have looked to the stars to interpret events and predict the future. Although I agree with Carl Sagan that astrology is nonsense, I think this event can teach us a lesson about ourselves.

In the days leading up to the 2012 DA14 asteroid event, scientists around the world employed advanced technology to track the threat with great accuracy. Numerous articles were written in advance. We watched closely as a 40,000-ton asteroid predictably flew by the Earth, meanwhile failing to predict an unnamed 10,000-ton asteroid that did hit the Earth on the same day. According to CNN, the explosion of the unnamed asteroid measured 300 kilotons and injured 1000 people in Siberia.

The lesson here is that improbable and unpredicted events can be more important than those that we expect and understand. While it is prudent to watch out for known threats and to try to mitigate them, vigilance does not define importance. In fact, the most important events in human history usually come as a surprise, like a Black Swan. It takes humility to admit, but this is the nature of the universe.

DNA data storage or rise of genetically modified humans?

Posted in Faith & Science, Law, Money, Music-Movies-Media, Software, War on January 27, 2013 by daviddiel

I’ve noticed several news stories and advertisements lately regarding the future of data storage. Apparently, researchers at the European Bioinformatics Institute have stored and retrieved a few digital files in DNA. That’s interesting on many levels, yet the sales pitch seems to be focused on the hard drive market. Here are some example articles:

Why DNA Will Someday Replace the Hard Drive

Storing Shakespeare and “I Have a Dream” in DNA

New technique stores terabytes of data on DNA with 100% accuracy

Depending on your background, and your level of trust in scientists, you might interpret this news as a another step in the advancement of technology. It could enable lighter cell phones, thinner notebook computers, and smaller data storage centers. All of those things could be true, but the discussion is missing a very important and serious application: People will be able to store and print all forms of life, which will inevitably include genetically modified humans. Once a DNA sequence is printed or cloned, it has already been shown using sheep, that it can be inserted into an egg, and a surrogate mother can grow and bear the child.

From what I have read, a person’s DNA represents about 6 GB of data. Therefore, your genetic code, which is a large part of what makes up who you are, would probably fit on your cell phone using today’s technology. It would not be surprising if most people reading this blog have their DNA sequenced within the next 20 years. It is not a stretch to think that some of you will request to store your sequence on a reliable form of digital media, like a Blu-Ray disc, for example.

Then what? What if you could send your DNA out for a little touch-up, deleting a few flaws and disease markers here and there? What if your DNA could be virtually mated with anyone who you choose? Would you want to have a child made from a modified version of yourself and your favorite movie star? What if you could add or select features, such as better metabolism, greater intelligence, or a particular eye or hair color? Could all of this be used to make super humans or warriors?

My moral compass says that we should not go down this path. But, somebody’s going to do it anyway. Let’s just be honest and recognize that the target market for this technology is biological elitists who want to make super-babies, not those who are overburdened by the size and weight of their personal electronics.

What led to the Adam Lanza school shooting?

Posted in Education, Law, Music-Movies-Media, Psychology, War with tags , , , , , , , on December 19, 2012 by daviddiel

Regarding the school shooting last week in Connecticut, I have been asking the questions: How did this happen? What factors led to the outcome?

Here are the elements that I think were critical:

1) Lanza had access to weapons that he knew how to use. The weapons didn’t have to be guns. They could have been mining explosives. But his killing pathology must have developed through training that matched the weapons.

2) Lanza probably trained through first person shooter video games. The pattern of aiming at a person, pulling the trigger, feeling no remorse, and targeting another person for pleasure is not innate, but learned. The creation of such games is partly funded by war money.

3) The school did not have armed security personnel. In this case, the principal acted heroically to try to stop Lanza, but failed because he did not have a sufficient weapon. An armed police officer on staff, or any adult present with a concealed weapon and proper training, might have stopped the rampage.

4) Lanza had an episode of a mental dysfunction that got out of control. This case particularly points to a childhood developmental disorder, based on who he chose to kill. Lanza’s immediate fear of treatment triggered a trap loaded with biological predispositions and parenting mistakes.

Steps could be taken on all of these issues, but #2 can be addressed for free without passing legislation. All we need to do is boycott video games and movies that trivialize murder. Which video games or movies would you boycott in honor of the Sandy Hill Elementary victims? Answer in the comments below.

Reliability

Posted in Education, Faith & Science, War on May 4, 2012 by daviddiel

“I see God in the instruments and the mechanisms that work reliably, more reliably than the limited sensory departments of the human mechanism.” — Richard Buckminster Fuller

Preemption is nothing more than first strike

Posted in War on June 11, 2009 by daviddiel

One of the greatest safety-nets of western civilization is the widespread public understanding that correlation is not causation. For example, people now consider it common knowledge that “although a large percentage terrorists are Muslims, a relatively small percentage of Muslims are terrorists.” Similar phrases can be constructed from stereotypes about every cultural and ethnic group.

However, those who pursue the goal of “security above all else” shortcut causes, and engage in preemptive action based on correlation. Whether their preeption comes in the form of political rhetoric or acts of violence, one cannot escape the law of causation–in a record of events, cause always comes before effect.

Therefore, preemption and preventive action are nothing more than fancy words for what military strategists call the advantage of first strike.