|Monday 27th of January 2020
Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? Let's Not Find Out Experimental findings will be either boring or extremely dangerous. @nytimes
Since the 1990s, researchers in the social and natural sciences have
used computer simulations to try to answer questions about our world:
What causes war? Which political systems are the most stable? How will
climate change affect global migration?
The quality of these simulations is variable, since they are limited
by how well modern computers can mimic the vast complexity of our
world — which is to say, not very well.
But what if computers one day were to become so powerful, and these
simulations so sophisticated, that each simulated “person” in the
computer code were as complicated an individual as you or me, to such
a degree that these people believed they were actually alive? And what
if this has already happened?
In 2003, the philosopher Nick Bostrom made an ingenious argument that
we might be living in a computer simulation created by a more advanced
He argued that if you believe that our civilization will one day run
many sophisticated simulations concerning its ancestors, then you
should believe that we’re probably in an ancestor simulation right
His reasoning? If people eventually develop simulation technology — no
matter how long that takes — and if they’re interested in creating
simulations of their ancestors, then simulated people with experiences
just like ours will vastly outnumber unsimulated people.
If most people are simulations, Professor Bostrom concluded, the odds
are good that we ourselves are simulations. Our world would be just
one simulation of many, perhaps part of a research project created to
study the history of civilization.
As the physicist (and Nobel laureate) George Smoot has explained, “If
you are an anthropologist/historian and want to understand the rise
and fall of civilizations, then you will need to make very many
simulations involving millions to billions of people.”
The theory that we are living in a computer simulation may sound
bizarre, but it has found adherents. The technology entrepreneur Elon
Musk has said that the odds that we are not simulated are “one in
billions.” Professor Smoot estimates that the ratio of simulated to
real people might be as high as 10¹² to 1.
In recent years, scientists have become interested in testing the theory.
In 2012, inspired by Professor Bostrom’s work, physicists at the
University of Washington proposed an empirical experiment of the
The details are complex, but the basic idea is simple: Some of today’s
computer simulations of our cosmos produce distinctive anomalies — for
example, there are telltale glitches in the behavior of simulated
By taking a closer look at the cosmic rays in our universe, the
physicists suggested, we might detect comparable anomalies, providing
evidence that we live in a simulation.
Similar experiments were proposed in 2017 and 2018. Professor Smoot
captured the promise of these proposals when he declared, “You are a
simulation and physics can prove it.”
So far, none of these experiments has been conducted, and I hope they
never will be. Indeed, I am writing to warn that conducting these
experiments could be a catastrophically bad idea — one that could
cause the annihilation of our universe.
Think of it this way. If a researcher wants to test the efficacy of a
new drug, it is vitally important that the patients not know whether
they’re receiving the drug or a placebo. If the patients manage to
learn who is receiving what, the trial is pointless and has to be
In much the same way, as I argue in a forthcoming paper in the journal
Erkenntnis, if our universe has been created by an advanced
civilization for research purposes, then it is reasonable to assume
that it is crucial to the researchers that we don’t find out that
we’re in a simulation.
If we were to prove that we live inside a simulation, this could cause
our creators to terminate the simulation — to destroy our world.
Of course, the proposed experiments may not detect anything that
suggests we live in a computer simulation. In that case, the results
will prove nothing. This is my point:
The results of the proposed experiments will be interesting only when
they are dangerous. While there would be considerable value in
learning that we live in a computer simulation, the cost involved —
incurring the risk of terminating our universe — would be many times
Consider the following hypothetical proposal for an experiment at the
Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator:
“This experiment is unlikely to succeed in producing an interesting
result, but if it does succeed in producing an interesting result, it
may cause the annihilation of our universe.” Would conducting this
experiment be justified? Of course not.
As far as I am aware, no physicist proposing simulation experiments
has considered the potential hazards of this work. This is surprising,
not least because Professor Bostrom himself explicitly identified
“simulation shutdown” as a possible cause of the extinction of all
This area of academic research is rife with speculation and
uncertainty, but one thing is for sure: If scientists do go ahead with
these simulation experiments, the results will be either extremely
uninteresting or spectacularly dangerous. Is it really worth the risk?
27-JAN-2020 :: #WuhanCoronavirus #nCoV2019 #coronavirus
Law & Politics
President Xi warned The Corona virus is 'accelerating' [and the]
country [is] facing 'grave situation'. At the last count [Sunday 26th
January 2020], more than 2,000 people globally have been infected.,
the vast majority of them in China, where 56 people have died from the
disease. [I, for one, believe this number is massively undercounted.
Some reports speak to 100,000 infections in China] It looks like it
started around December 1st and that it can take up to 23 days to show
symptoms. Curiously, "Bill Gates kept telling us a pandemic was
coming, in Oct 2019 he ran a simulation of a Coronavirus pandemic,
just three months later the real Coronavirus pandemic begins."
In an article carried in Business Insider in October last year Bill
Gates said the following
thinks a coming disease could kill 30 million people within 6 months -
and Gates presented a simulation by the Institute for Disease Modeling
that found that a new flu like the one that killed 50 million people
in the 1918 pandemic would now most likely kill 30 million people
within six months.
The likelihood that such a disease will appear continues to rise. New
pathogens emerge all the time as the world population increases and
humanity encroaches on wild environments.
It's becoming easier and easier for individual people or small groups
to create weaponized diseases that could spread like wildfire around
According to Gates, a small non-state actor could build an even
deadlier form of smallpox in a lab.
So who had ‘mutated bat-snake flu’ as their top market risk for 2020?
tweeted @tracyalloway. The Precise origins of the Corona virus are yet
to be established with Wiley's Journal of Medical Virology saying it
may be may be snake-to-human transmission and some even pointing the
Finger at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan bio-safety
level four (BSL-4) laboratory and surmising that the only explanation
left is artificial DNA modification, possibly by the Wuhan Institute
of Virology, which since 2007 has collected samples from thousands of
bats across the country and done genetic experiments with them.
What is clear is that the CCP suppressed information until we reached
a Groucho Marx ''Who Ya Gonna Believe, Me or Your Own Eyes'' moment.
Epidemiologists speak of Tipping Points. Malcolm Gladwell described
the ''Tipping Point'' as the name given to that moment in an epidemic
when a virus reaches critical mass. It's the boiling point. It's the
moment on the graph when the line starts to shoot straight upwards. In
an article in 2014 about Ebola I called it the moment of ''escape
velocity'' and wrote ''viruses exhibit non-linear and exponential
characteristics'' The Mathematics is the basic reproduction number of
the infection (R_0), which represents how many People each person
infected with the coronavirus is passing the disease on to. A number
of less than 1, means the virus dies out. For a Frame of Reference,
the typical R0 attack rate for the seasonal flu is around an R0=1.28.
The 2009 flu pandemic R0=1.48. The 1918 Spanish Flu =1.80. The R0
range is somewhere between 2.00-2.6 with Dr. Eric Ding speaking of 3.8
over the weekend.
@DrEricDing tweeted the new coronavirus is a 3.8!!! How bad is that
reproductive R0 value? It is thermonuclear pandemic level bad - never
seen an actual virality coefficient outside of Twitter in my entire
career [before adjusting his calculations lower to 2.5]
Each person infected with coronavirus is passing the disease on to
between two and three other people on average at current transmission
rates, according to two separate scientific analyses of the epidemic.
Ferguson’s team suggest as many as 4,000 people in Wuhan were already
infected by Jan. 18 and that on average each case was infecting two or
A second study by researchers at Britain’s Lancaster University also
calculated the contagion rate at 2.5 new people on average being
infected by each person already infected.
''Should the epidemic continue unabated in Wuhan, we predict (it) will
be substantially larger by Feb. 4,” the scientists wrote.
They estimated that the central Chinese city of Wuhan where the
outbreak began in December will alone have around 190,000 cases of
infection by Feb. 4., and that “infection will be established in other
Chinese cities, and importations to other countries will be more
The Lancet now reports that the coronavirus is contagious even when
*no symptoms*: specifically: “crucial to isolate patients...
quarantine contacts as early as possible because asymptomatic
infection appears possible”
The overarching Point is that whether its 2.5 or 3.8 this is off the
charts. The CCP is building hospitals in a record breaking 7 days but
who will man them? China has locked down a total of 47m of its
Citizens. Given the new hyperconnectedness of the World [For example,
did you know there is a daily Ethiopian Flight between Wuhan and Addis
Abeba - As of Thursday Ethiopian Airlines, which has multiple daily
passenger and cargo flights to China and Africa’s busiest airport hub,
said it was waiting for guidance from Ethiopia’s Health Ministry on
how to respond], I have to assume that the Corona virus is already in
Africa but just not diagnosed. Thats a racing certainty.
Paul Virilio wrote ''With every natural disaster, health scare, and
malicious rumor now comes the inevitable “information bomb”–live feeds
take over real space, and technology connects life to the immediacy of
terror, the ultimate expression of speed''
And in his book City of panic he described The city reconstructed
through the use mediatized panic.
Markets bought Gold and G7 Bonds on Friday as Investors dived into
Safe Havens, Nest week we could see these moves turn parabolic.
“But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the
parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice -guessed and refused
to believe -that everything, always, collectively, had been moving
toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no
surprise, no second chance, no return.’’
we predict the epidemic in Wuhan will be substantially larger by 4 February (191,529 infections; prediction interval, 132,751-273,649) #WuhanCoronovirus @DrEricDing
Law & Politics
infection will be established in other Chinese cities, and
importations to other countries will be more frequent. Our model
5/ travel restrictions from and to Wuhan city are unlikely to be
effective in halting transmission across China; with a 99% effective
reduction in travel, the size of the epidemic outside of Wuhan may
only be reduced by 24.9% on 4 February. Our findings are...
6/ ...critically dependent on the assumptions underpinning our model,
and the timing and reporting of confirmed cases, and there is
considerable uncertainty associated with the outbreak at this early
stage. With these caveats in mind, our work suggests that...
7/ a basic reproductive number for this 2019-nCoV outbreak is higher
compared to other emergent coronaviruses, suggesting that containment
or control of this pathogen may be substantially more difficult.”!!!!
Wuhan Virus: Living in an era of Misinformation - The Last Futurist
Law & Politics
I’m not usually a peddler in conspiracy theories, but China’s slow
action and blatent misinformation campaign regarding the Wuhan virus
in December and for the better half of January, got me wondering about
what is really ground zero for the virus?
You can always count on the internet for rumors and theories and one
that I think makes the most sense is not transmission from bats to
snakes to people. A more likely origin is the Wuhan virology lab
At the start of the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus, China tried to
control its information channels instead of taking action in the
valuable first few weeks of the outbreak. Here is the kicker, why
would they have done that? They knew they were responsible. Here you
have an aging population and expensive decades of healthcare ahead, so
would the Chinese Government be capable of actually releasing this
thing upon the world?
What If This was Not so ‘Novel’ A Coronavirus at all?
There is some degree of probability (possibility) that the Coronavirus
may have originated in lab linked to China’s biowarfare program.
We have to at least consider this possibility. That it was
accidentally or deliberately released,
22-JUL-2019 :: Trump has already established his credentials as a linguistic warfare specialist.
Law & Politics
His linguistics actually derive from the world of wrestling and
between 1988 and 2013, he ran wrestling events, appeared ringside
(notably in the Battle of the Billionaires), and was even inducted
into the world wrestling entertainment Hall of Fame.
Despite being presented as a competitive sport, professional wrestling
is scripted. The competitors, results, pre-match and post-match
interviews — all of it is make-believe.
The broadcasters give their audience all the things you’d expect in a
work of fiction: backstory, suspense, symbolism and so forth.
[Financial Times’Stephen Grosz].
In wrestling, as in literature, names are never neutral. Naming a
character is an essential part of creating them.
There’s always a “face” (short for baby-face, or hero) and a “heel”
(villain). Hulk Hogan and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are faces. Jake
“The Snake” Roberts and Rick Rude are heels.
Wrestling pits good against bad, a genuine he-man against a phoney
rascal. To emasculate his opponents, Trump uses this trope: “low
Energy Jeb”, “Mr Magoo” (Jeff Sessions) “Lyin’ James” (Comey), “Rat”
(Michael Cohen), “Highly conflicted Bob Mueller”.
As part of his two-fisted swagger, Trump tweets in wrest- ling-speak:
“lightweight Marco Rubio was working hard last night. The problem is,
he is a choker, and once a choker, always a choker! meltdown.
India faces first fall in direct taxes in at least two decades - sources @ReutersIndia
India’s corporate and income tax collection for the current year is
likely to fall for the first time in at least two decades, over half a
dozen senior tax officials told Reuters, amid a sharp fall in economic
growth and cut in corporate tax rates.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was targeting direct tax
collection of 13.5 trillion rupees ($189 billion) for the year ending
March 31 - a 17% increase over the prior fiscal year.
However, a sharp decline in demand has stung businesses, forcing
companies to cut investment and jobs, denting tax collections and
prompting the government to forecast 5% growth for this fiscal year -
the slowest in 11 years.
The tax department had managed to collect only 7.3 trillion rupees as
of Jan. 23, more than 5.5% below the amount collected by the same
point last year, said a senior tax official.
After collecting taxes from companies in advance for the first three
quarters, officials typically garner about 30-35% of annual direct
taxes in the final three months, data from the past three years shows.
But eight senior tax officials interviewed by Reuters said despite
their best efforts direct tax collections this financial year were
likely to fall below the 11.5 trillion collected in 2018-19.
“Forget the target. This will be the first time that we’ll see a fall
in direct tax collection ever,” said a tax official in New Delhi.
He estimates that direct tax collections for this year could end up
roughly 10% below fiscal 2019.
Direct taxes typically account for about 80% of the government’s
projections for annual revenue, and the shortfall may leave the
government needing to boost borrowing to meet expenditure commitments.
The tax officials also say that a surprise cut in headline corporate
tax rate last year aimed at wooing manufacturers and boosting
investment in Asia’s third-biggest economy is another key reason
behind the sluggish tax collections.
“We’ll be very happy if we can even breakeven with what we collected
last year,” said another senior tax official in the financial capital
Mumbai, the biggest tax generator, accounting for about a third of
revenues from direct taxes. “But given the state of the economy, I’m
not too hopeful.”
@UN Says 'Blatant' Violations of Libya Arms Embargo Continue @AP via @business
Cairo (AP) -- The United Nations decried “continued blatant
violations” by several countries of an arms embargo on war-torn Libya,
flying in the face of recent pledges made last week at an
international conference in Berlin.
The U.N. support mission in Libya didn't name any specific nations,
but said they included “several who participated in the Berlin
Saturday's statement said these countries were supplying advanced
weapons, armored vehicles and foreign fighters.
Libya sits on Africa's Mediterranean coast, and is divided between
rival governments, each supported by various armed militias and
It has the ninth largest known oil reserves in the world and the
biggest oil reserves in Africa.
The weak but U.N.-recognized government in the capital Tripoli is
backed by Turkey, and to a lesser degree Qatar and Italy.
Rival forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Hifter receive
support from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and
“Over the last ten days, numerous cargo and other flights have been
observed landing at Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts
of the country providing the parties with advanced weapons, armored
vehicles, advisers and fighters,” the U.N. statement said.
The U.N. warned that continuing to funnel arms into the conflict
threatens the “fragile truce” in Tripoli.
Hifter's forces have laid siege to the capital since last April. A
cease-fire was brokered earlier this month by Russia and Turkey.
At the Berlin summit, many world powers with an interest in Libya
pledged to halt foreign interference and honor the U.N. arms embargo.
Among those who attended the Berlin conference were Russian President
Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French
President Emmanuel Macron, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike
The peace push followed a surge in Hifter’s offensive against Tripoli,
which threatened to plunge Libya into chaos rivaling the 2011 conflict
that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Earlier this month, powerful tribal groups loyal to Hifter also seized
several large oil export terminals along the eastern coast as well as
southern oil fields.
The closure of Libya’s major oil fields and production facilities has
resulted in losses of more than $255 million in the six-day period
ending Jan. 23, the country’s national oil company said Saturday.
20-JAN-2020 :: The main Theatre for Proxy operations in Libya.
On one side we have General Haftar a dual Libyan-American citizen who
is the Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) and is bankrolled
and supported by the UAE, Egypt, France and Greece
On the other side we have the Government of National Accord led by
Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and supported by Turkey and Qatar
because they have been joined at the hip for a while now.
President Putin started on Haftar’s side but likes to play a
‘’balancing’’ role and might well eventually align with Turkey.
Germany is currently holding a Peace Conference this week. The US is
sidelined other than making the odd phone call. Libya is clearly an
example of geopolitical ‘’cliff edge’’ risks.
The Horn of Africa exhibits entirely similar characteristics. In fact,
from the Maghreb to the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, we are witnes-
sing a surge in asymmetric warfare and the intrusion of Middle Powers.
Zimbabwe freezes Chinese firm's account over currency manipulation @ReutersAfrica
Zimbabwe’s central bank has frozen an account of a Chinese company it
accused of manipulating the local currency, which lost ground against
the dollar on the black market this week.
The southern African nation reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar last
June, ending a decade of dollarisation, but this resulted in runaway
inflation, which economists say reached 520% in December.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya, in a statement
late on Friday, singled out unlisted China Nanchang as a currency
Mangudya said the RBZ financial intelligence unit (FIU) had identified
Nanchang as a company that had used millions of Zimbabwe dollars to
buy greenbacks on the black market, weakening the local unit.
Nanchang is the major contractor for the construction of a dam that is
set to supply water to Zimbabwe’s drought-hit second biggest city
Bulawayo, among other government contracts.
“The FIU has ordered the freezing of the identified account pending
further analysis and is undertaking ongoing surveillance to identify
more culprits involved in the parallel market transactions,” Mangudya
The central bank did not say if the account was held with RBZ or with
A spokesman for Nanchang could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Zimbabwe dollar was trading at 25 to the U.S. dollar on the black
market on Saturday compared to 22 last week. On the official market,
the local currency was pegged at 17.
Last year, the central bank temporarily froze accounts belonging to
four companies over the same charges.
A weakening currency along with shortages of cash, foreign exchange,
fuel and electricity are among symptoms of Zimbabwe’s worst economic
crisis confronting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
09-DEC-2019 :: Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes
Ramaphosa’s South Africa which reported -0.6% Q3 2019 GDP.
President Ramaphosa, however, was awarded the Grand Croix de l’Orde
National du Merit, on behalf of the Grand Master, His Excellency
President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea.
The two biggest beasts in Sub Saharan Africa are essentially providing
fewer opportunities and their Citizens have been becoming worse off
year after year for more than five years now.
'This is huge': Locust swarms destroy crops in East Africa @AP
KATITIKA, Kenya (AP) — The hum of millions of locusts on the move is
broken by the screams of farmers and the clanging of pots and pans.
But their noise-making does little to stop the voracious insects from
feasting on their crops in this rural community.
The worst outbreak of desert locusts in Kenya in 70 years has seen
hundreds of millions of the bugs swarm into the East African nation
from Somalia and Ethiopia.
Those two countries have not had an infestation like this in a
quarter-century, destroying farmland and threatening an already
vulnerable region with devastating hunger.
“Even cows are wondering what is happening,” said Ndunda Makanga, who
spent hours Friday trying to chase the locusts from his farm. “Corn,
sorghum, cowpeas, they have eaten everything.”
When rains arrive in March and bring new vegetation across much of the
region, the numbers of the fast-breeding locusts could grow 500 times
before drier weather in June curbs their spread, the United Nations
“We must act immediately,” said David Phiri of the U.N. Food and
Agricultural Organization, as donors huddled in Kenya’s capital,
Nairobi, a three-hour drive away.
About $70 million is needed to step up aerial pesticide spraying, the
only effective way to combat them, the U.N. says.
That won’t be easy, especially in Somalia, where parts of the country
are in the grip of the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group.
The rose-colored locusts turn whole trees pink, clinging to branches
like quivering ornaments before taking off in hungry, rustling clouds.
Astonished by the finger-length insects, children dash here and there,
waving blankets or plucking at branches to shake the locusts free. One
woman, Kanini Ndunda, batted at them with a shovel.
Even a small swarm of the insects can consume enough food for 35,000
people in a single day, said Jens Laerke of the U.N. humanitarian
office in Geneva.
Farmers are afraid to let their cattle out for grazing, and their
crops of millet, sorghum and maize are vulnerable, but there is little
they can do.
About 70,000 hectares (172,973 acres) of land in Kenya are already infested.
“This one, ai! This is huge,” said Kipkoech Tale, a migratory pest
control specialist with the agriculture ministry. “I’m talking about
over 20 swarms that we have sprayed. We still have more. And more are
A single swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square
kilometer of farmland, an area the size of almost 250 football fields,
regional authorities say.
One especially large swarm in northeastern Kenya measured 60
kilometers long by 40 kilometers wide (37 miles long by 25 miles
Kenya needs more spraying equipment to supplement the four planes now
flying, Tale said. Ethiopia also has four.
They also need a steady supply of pesticides, said Francis Kitoo,
deputy director of agriculture in southeastern Kenya’s Kitui county.
“The locals are really scared because they can consume everything,”
Kitoo said. “I’ve never seen such a big number.”
The locusts eat the fodder for animals, a crucial source of livelihood
for families who now worry how they will pay for expenses like school
fees, he said.
His own concern about the locusts?
“They will lay eggs and start another generation,” he said.
A changing climate has contributed to “exceptional” breeding
conditions, said Nairobi-based climate scientist Abubakr Salih
Migrating with the wind, the locusts can cover up to 150 kilometers
(93 miles) in a single day. They look like tiny aircraft lazily
crisscrossing the sky.
They are now heading toward Uganda and fragile South Sudan, where
almost half the country faces hunger as it emerges from civil war.
Uganda has not had such an outbreak since the 1960s and is already on alert.
The locusts also are moving steadily toward Ethiopia’s Rift Valley,
the breadbasket for Africa’s second-most populous country, the U.N.
“The situation is very bad but farmers are fighting it in the
traditional way,” said Buni Orissa, a resident of Ethiopia’s Sidama
region. “The locusts love cabbage and beans. This may threaten the
shaky food security in the region.”
Even before this outbreak, nearly 20 million people faced high levels
of food insecurity across the East African region long challenged by
periodic droughts and floods.
As exasperated farmers look for more help in fighting one of history’s
most persistent pests, the FAO’s Locust Watch offers little
“Although giant nets, flamethrowers, lasers and huge vacuums have been
proposed in the past, these are not in use for locust control,” the
U.N. agency says.
“People and birds often eat locusts but usually not enough to
significantly reduce population levels over large areas.”
Still, it offered recipes. One suggested seasoning in Uganda is
chopped onion and curry powder. Then fry.