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Are new technologies undermining the laws of war?

the-taranis-drone_smallby Braden R. Allenby via Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Throughout history, new military technologies have had profound ramifications: The rise of gunpowder and cannon created economies of scale that encouraged the emergence of nation-states, and Prussia used railroads to surprise the Austrians at Königgrätz, beginning the end of the Austrian Empire.

Today, emerging military technologies—including unmanned aerial vehicles, directed-energy weapons, lethal autonomous robots, and cyber weapons—raise the prospect of upheavals in military practice so fundamental that they challenge assumptions underlying long-established international laws of war, particularly those relating to the primacy of the state and the geographic bounds of warfare. But the laws of war have been developed over a long period, with commentary and input from many cultures. What would seem appropriate in this age of extraordinary technological change, the author concludes, is a reconsideration of the laws of war in a deliberate and focused international dialogue that includes a range of cultural and institutional perspectives

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Cyborg Parts: bionic ear with integrated electronics

earPrinceton researchers, using a 3-D printer, have built a bionic ear with integrated electronics. lab-made organs could do more than just serve as ready options for patients in need: with the right blend of biology and materials science, they might even be able to endow people with superhuman abilities.

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Great Books for Far Out Futures

Here are some of my favorites in the “not so distant” and still “far out” genre of science fiction literature:

Ready Player One

VR-storyline with immensive amounts of references to the best of eighties geek culture. 

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

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2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

The new book “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years” by Jorgen Randers raises the possibility that humankind might not survive on the planet if it continues on its path of over-consumption and short-termism. 

In the report author Jorgen Randers raises essential questions: How many people will the planet be able to support? Will the belief in endless growth crumble? Will runaway climate change take hold? Where will quality of life improve, and where will it decline?

Read more about the book on The Club of Rome.

5GW and Norwegian Terrorism

The atrocities committed against innocent civilians in the recent terrorist attacks in Norway shows how much harm and disruption one person can do against an unprepared society. Is the attack a precursor for a general transformation and individualization of terrorism?

According to the evolution of military theory advanced surveillance, intelligence and sophisticated weaponry is useless against terrorists like Anders Behring Breivik (ABB). This was confirmed by the chief of the Norwegian chief of internal security (PST) admitting that even the STASI secret police couldn’t have stopped the attack.

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OECD: Future Global Shock – Improving Risk Governance

In this project, public and private experts explore how to increase resilience to Future Global Shocks. The Project will generate options for governments to enhance capacity to identify, anticipate, control, contain and/or mitigate large disasters.

The project recognises that shocks can provide opportunities for progress, not just negative consequences. Amongst the inputs from which the final report will draw are six background papers and case studies on the following themes: Systemic Financial RiskPandemicsCyber RisksGeomagnetic StormsSocial Unrest and Anticipating Extreme Events.

Read the entire report: “OECD Reviews of Risk Management Policies: Future Global Shocks“, PDF.

The Perfect Storm and Black Swan Theory

The BP oil crisis in the Mexican gulf, deadly heat waves in Russia, earthquakes in Haiti (7.0 Mw) and Chile (8.8 Mw) and flooding in Australia caused almost 300.000 deaths from natural disasters in 2010 (1).

A few months into 2011 New Zealand is hit by a 6.3 Mw earthquake followed by the Japan 9.0 Mw earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The situation in Libya, Syria and many other Arabic and African countries adds uncertainty to global stability. The complexity of the situation demands a new approach to early warning systems for natural disasters and reduction of global systemic risk.

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Nanoparticles Could Be Planted Under Our Skin for Glucose Monitoring

In collaborative work between researchers at MIT and Northeastern University in Boston, MA a comparatively long and hollow nanoparticle has been developed that could be implanted under the skin and remain anchored at its original location to monitor levels of glucose or salt or other targets over time.

Source: IEEE Spectrum.

(c) Copyright Plausible Futures Newsletter 2013