Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Viral swarming

Robb., J. (2007). The coming urban terror. City Journal. Summer 2007. Available online: http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_3_urban_terrorism.html (from Global Guerrillas).

A few days ago, John Robb emphasized the danger of engineered viruses. The piece was a hit, being featured on adayinthelife, Ed Driscoll, jilosophy, Noisy Room, and Zenundit, among others. However, a focus on bioweapons overlooks a much more serious threat: bioswarming.

Certainly cheap, available viral technologies will hardly be an unreserved boon, but limits on conceptual complexitiy may prevent much harm. "Engineering" viri requires either the computational power or cognitive skill to model an unimaginatively complex program's interaction on a world that's exponentially more complex yet.

A graver threat, and one more in keeping with Robb's affection for swarming and distributed action, is a natural plague. And considering that viri thrive on several forms of diversity, the fact that man is now an urban species is alarming. Especially when you consider that much of the Gap hosts large, urban, and poor populations that lives with minimal hygiene and a great genetic diversity (all the better for viruses to evolve in).

Human diversity is here to stay, and is indeed a weapon that works against any one virus being able to cut down a large swath of mankind. The rest of the risk factors, though, can be lessened through economic growth. "Cities" as we know them are much better than those in the Gap -- indeed, by Gap standards we barely live in "cities" at all. But as long as the Gap exists, it (and not some crackpot scientist) is the most likely source for a plague. Indeed, nearly disease we know about is Gappish in origin (HIV, the flu, SARS, etc.).

Plagues are just one reason why a lassiez-faire attitude toward shrinking the gap is not just genocidal in effect against them, it is democial in effect against us. "Devil take the hindmost" translates to "just kill a lot of people generally."

Shrinking the gap is the greatest human genetic engineering feet in the history of man. For the first time ever, genocide will not be a regular method of group-level selection. For the first time ever, mass rape will not be a regular method of group-level propagation. Such a breathtaking change is already the case among 2/3rds of humanity. We should shrink the gap not only to make their lives better, but to defend ourselves, too.

Shrink the Gap. Declare war on genocide. Overthrow the state of nature.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Military-Industrial Complex becomes the Sysadmin-Industrial Complex, despite the Kossacks

Wolf, R. (2007). Transfer of military tech to police. Welcome to the police state. Daily Kos. August 19, 2007. Available online: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/8/19/134642/645.

Shrinking the gap requires a Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex, a system that supports mission-readiness and mission-execution regardless of which party wins this-or-that election. This establishment would function like the Military-Industrial-Complex that does the same when it comes to preventing and fighting "big wars." Indeed, I have argued both can be properly thought of as Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex and the Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex: complementary twins for building a more peaceful world.

Because they are similar, its no surprise that technologies created for the Military-Industrial-Complex will find their ways into the Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex. Indeed, this is a great way to build up the Systems administration part of our society, because money and resources naturally flow from where there's already a lot of it. (And a lot of money goes into the military complex):

Two recent articles captured my attention. The first related to the use of spy satellites by police. The second was the marketing of the new robot weapons platforms to police.

Each of these developments is alarming in its own way. However, since police are supposed to keep the peace, and the military is supposed to pacify using deadly force, the use of something like a weapons platform by police is beyond unnerving. In fact, it was once illegal to transfer military technology to local police forces. But ... as the saying goes ... 9/11 changed everything....

Now. What about those robots? The equipment being marketed to police departments is very similar to the robot platforms that were put in use by the military in Iraq in 2005. These robots are designed for urban environments and may be deployed for reconnaissance, with an assortment of weapons, or to deploy explosives (as in the picture), or for bomb disposal. The robots are remotely controlled from several thousand feet away. They cost about $230,000 a piece, but that can vary depending on how it is outfitted. The Talon is yet another "force magnifier" technology. The U.S. military strategy of the future seems to be (in part) to use remote operators of lethal arms. For those forces on the ground, they will be "modified" in a variety of ways to either be "super soldiers," or the meld with the equipment they are operating.

If you noticed something odd about the tone of the piece, it's because it's from Daily Kos, a topsy-turvey blog where the murder of security contractors is celebrated and pro-victory politicians are targeted for defeat.

The same good news about the expansion of the Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex, without a weird commentary, is available from The Washington Post and Wired.

The folks who support Daily Kos will one day win elections. Only a Syadmin-industrial-complex can keep shrinking the worst parts of the gap in spite of that kind of electoral disaster.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Give Homeland Security an Army

The United States already has seven uniformed services

  • Air Force

  • Army

  • Coast Guard

  • Marine Corps

  • Navy

  • NOAA Corps

  • Public Health Service

While the latter two are relatively toothless, the first five on the list do show that uniform services can become critical.

Give Them Guns

While at the Boyd Conference, one questioner asked a panel composed of William Lind, Frank Hoffman, and Bruce Gudmundsson if they could help with a new legislative initiative to be proposed shortly: create a Uniformed Service under the Department of Homeland Security. I regret not writing down the questioner's name. This is an amazingly exciting proposal, for one reason: capabilities create intentions.

In the panel proper, Bruce explained how the trench warfare of World War I was enabled by the large gun factories created by the British and French for a naval war against each other that never happened. Nonetheless, the ability to mass produce lots of very large guns remained after the English Channel Threat had passed. So when a new problem (German aggressiveness) came up, warfighters reached for the tools they already had: in that case, including large artillery pieces.

If this sounds familiar, it should. While pre-Great-War Britain and France featured miniature Military-Industrial-Artillery complexes, the United States currently possesses an enormous Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex (MILC). While the MILC has largely outlived its usefulness -- what was once our front-line defense against a Soviet takeover of the world is now relegated to topping the odd tyrant and defending Taiwan -- the way it enabled our 5GW against Soviet Communism is something we must always be greatful for.

Now it is time to build a Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex (MISC) to win our 5GW to shrink the gap. Because 5GW relies on observation and not orientation, it does not matter if policy makers intend to fight the 5GW at the outset, so long as what they observe leads them to do so anyway. You know the old expression, "when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail?" The 5GWarrior who wishes to shrink the gap must think the same way. We need to give our policy makers a Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex so that more problems in the Gap looks like jobs for the Sysadmin.

Creating a uniformed service under Homeland Security is a way to do this. It does not matter if policy makers originally see the Homeland Security Corps as a tool for rescuing people from hurricanes, fighting forest fighters, or state-building in Arab Africa. All that matters is that it has the capability to do system administration, in the same way that those old naval guns had the capability to do trench warfare.

Capabilities create intentions. Shrink the Gap. Build a Gap-Shrinking-Platform.

Create the Homeland Security Corps.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Describing the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex: How We Will Win the 5GW to Shrink the Gap

After I described how we will lose the war of ideas to al Qaeda and therefore must search for a better way of winning, Curtis of Dreaming 5GW asked that I be more precise. Specifically, how would I build a 5GW that can lead America to victory even after conceding the 4GW battlespace to al Qaeda? And how should the centerpeice of our 5GW to shrink the gap, the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex, look like?

The Military-Industrial-Sysadmin Complex (MISC) is a broader version of Thomas P.M. Barnett's "Department of Everything Else (DOEE)." While Barnett's DOEE takes on, the "miscellaneous" functions of the federal government involved in processing politically bankrupt states, the MISC is the broader structure which keeps the long war going.

The Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex must be built around an Iron Triangle of Congress, the Department of Everything Else, and Sysadmin Contractors.

A Typical Iron Triangle

Each edge of the MISC supports each other. The Virutal Department of Everything Else funnels money to contractors. The contractors provide jobs for voters and therefore votes for incumbent Congressmen. Congressmen fund the Virtual Department of Everything Else.

The Iron Triangle that will Shrink the Gap

Just as the Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex that won the Cold War existed in all its pieces before the National Security Act of 1947, each part of the Iron Triangle can be assembled from politicians

The Congress
  • 435 Representatives, of both parties

  • 100 Senators, of both parties

The Department of Everything Else

The Sysadmin Contractors
  • Lockheed Martin (especially their integration unit)

  • Blackwater (and related security contractors)

  • Enterra (and other provides of development in a box)

  • &c

In shrinking the gap, as in most of politics, principles are fine, but steady cash flows are better.

Defeat al Qaeda. Win the Long War. Shrink the Gap. Build the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

5GW + Shrinking the Gap: The Money/Fantasy Machine

Mountainrunner's review of Brave New War was greeted thusly by John Robb:

Knew it was going to happen. Oh well. To tell you the truth, I kinda expected more push-back to an outsider like me from the "conference crowd" guarding the walls around the counter-terrorism money/fantasy machine in Washinton. This guy is the only one to do so publicly.

Respondingly publicly, MR wrote:

I don't know that I am trying to protect the "money/fantasy machine", mostly because I don't know what he means (a little help?). However, it does sound bad and I would probably agree the "money/fantasy machine" needs to be whacked based on name alone. Whatever it is, my issue with the book pivots on his failure to include and factor in purposes and support systems into the analysis of his guerrillas. Insight into these two not insignificant data sets can't be dismissed or ignored, but that is just what BNW does.

At the time, I noted this was a humorous way to turn the other cheek. However, MR is wrong. The "money/fantasy machine" is a vital part of shrinking the Gap.

Read more ...

Friday, June 24, 2005

Agriwelfare v. Shrinking the Gap

"Millennium challenged," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 22 June 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001973.html.

Tony Blair and Jeff Sachs and the ONE campaign want the U.S. to plus up their development aid to Africa, but just pouring more money on the problem is not the answer. The Old Core spends more than a quarter trillion on ag subsidies to its own farmers each year, more than three times the money it collectively provides the Gap in Official Developmental Aid (ODA). The World Bank estimates that if all such subsidies were removed and trade barriers eliminated, the in-kind transfer to the Gap would be in the range of $100 billion in income-just like that.

But what's the point of doing that much to help win the Global War on Terrorism when you it might hurt agriwelfare and force some farmers to get a real job?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Shrink the Gap (Good) and They Will Sell Oil (Bad)

"Hubbert's Curve: does not apply in Gap," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 26 May 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001878.html.

An interesting observation from Thomas Barnett on the Hubbert Curve and Peak Oil -- the claim that we are running out of exploitable oil.

Hubbert's Curve is real and applies to Core areas where oil supplies have been exploited to death. It does not apply in Gap where National Oil Companies (NOCs) rule the reserves. We simply haven't explored most of the Gap. It's that simple

All the more reason to be geogreen. Oil has been a disaster to countries that have it. To save the descendants of the current citizens of the Gap, we must make sure their oil is worthless.

18:35 Posted in Oil, Thomas Barnett | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tags: shrink the gap