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The World Computer, Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

The World Computer, Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

 

The Message is Murder…

ICA Miami welcomed media theorist and scholar Jonathan Beller to the Knight Foundation Art + Research Center for a free public lecture titled, “From the World Computer to Post-Capitalist Economic Media?” This lecture was presented in conjunction with the Fall 2020 semester, “Recodings and Renewals.”

From Beller: “The colonization of expressivity and semiotics by capital converts nearly everything we can say or do into value for media platforms cybernetically interfaced with our brains. From the art world to social media, qualitative values (even those of protest and dissent) are stripped of their content and converted into capital that is accumulated hierarchically and that reinforces regimes of property founded on dispossession and genocide. Deterritorialized factories (that is media companies) convert the horizontal expression of values into the hierarchical accumulation of value such that, as has been said, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. This talk tries to change that dynamic by proposing that cryptocurrency should be understood as the historical emergence of a new medium. If crypto is like photography in 1845 or cinema in 1898, we need to wonder what can anti-racist, feminist, socialist, and communist movements do with it?”

Jonathan Beller is a Professor of Humanities and Media Studies and co-founder of the Graduate Program in Media Studies at Pratt Institute. His books include The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle (Dartmouth UP, 2006); Acquiring Eyes: Philippine Visuality, Nationalist Struggle, and the World-Media System (Ateneo de Manila UP, 2006); The Message is Murder: Substrates of Computational Capital (Pluto Press, 2017) and The World Computer: Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism (Duke UP, 2021). He is a member of the Social Text editorial collective. [https://icamiami.org/seminar/jonathan-beller/]

Read:

The World Computer

Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

Published: February 2021

“In The World Computer, Jonathan Beller charts the lineage and lineaments of ‘computational racial capital.’ In the code-based mode of capitalist production now consolidating itself with hegemonic reach, the image replaces the commodity as the fundamental value form, and as it does the meaning of labor mutates. Racism, Beller argues, is not just an incidental effect of ambient bias contaminating this new machinery of extraction. It is written into its DNA. The World Computer is a passionate analysis of how the phase-shift of contemporary capitalism we are currently experiencing carries forward from its colonial past a coefficient of exploitation that intensifies apace with capital’s exponentially increasing powers of abstraction. Beller’s provocative genealogy of contemporary capitalism is an essential contribution to understanding the evolving economy as a formation of power, in symbiosis with systemic racism.”

 

— Brian Massumi, author of 99 Theses on the Revaluation of Value: A Postcapitalist Manifesto

Duke University Press: “In The World Computer Jonathan Beller forcefully demonstrates that the history of commodification generates information itself. Out of the omnipresent calculus imposed by commodification, information emerges historically as a new money form. Investigating its subsequent financialization of daily life and colonization of semiotics, Beller situates the development of myriad systems for quantifying the value of people, objects, and affects as endemic to racial capitalism and computation. Built on oppression and genocide, capital and its technical result as computation manifest as racial formations, as do the machines and software of social mediation that feed racial capitalism and run on social difference. Algorithms, derived from for-profit management strategies, conscript all forms of expression—language, image, music, communication—into the calculus of capital such that even protest may turn a profit. Computational media function for the purpose of extraction rather than ameliorating global crises, and financialize every expressive act, converting each utterance into a wager. Repairing this ecology of exploitation, Beller contends, requires decolonizing information and money, and the scripting of futures wagered by the cultural legacies and claims of those in struggle.”

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano [series]: Covid-19: Militarism & Big Money Trampling Humanity [3]

By Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Professor (Ret.)

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila

 

Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

“The Covid-19 spectre, vaccine mania, deceptive remedial schemes and brutal, anti-people pandemic responses created by militarism and big money have shoved by the wayside pro-people, more sensible and a wider range of prevention and treatment strategies to address the pandemic. Bill Gates, Big Pharma and the militarist regimes and agencies, with the complicity of the WHO and others in the status quo successfully convinced practically the entire world that a vaccine and submission to authoritarian measures are the only things that will allow the people to “return to normal”. The clear scientific, empirical and historical evidence that the experimental vaccines being pushed are fraught with dangers of severe adverse reactions have been ignored. The criminal and unethical behaviour history of the major vaccine manufacturing companies, the blatant conflicts of interest of mainstream “experts” pushing for mass vaccination and the clearly ineffective militaristic measures that run roughshod over basic human rights are all swept under the rug. Indeed, with this Covid-19 calamity, militarism and big money has been trampling humanity.”

Download paper:

Covid_19_Militarism_and_Big_Money_Trampl

https://www.academia.edu/46641943/Covid_19_Militarism_and_Big_Money_Trampling_Humanity

 

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

 

 

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano [series]: Should We Take the Vaccine Against Covid-19 [2]

By Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Professor (Ret.)

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila

 

Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

“The credibility of the CDC, WHO, public health authorities and mainstream health professionals have been seriously eroded because of corporatization, conflicts of interests, dishonesty, corruption and misrepresentation.  People have good reasons to be wary of vaccines. Too much reliance on vaccines to address infectious diseases is not congruent with the current body of scientific knowledge about the immune system, microbial ecology and the intimate relationship of humans with the environment.”

Download paper:

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

Fighting Lockdown in California: A US Teacher Speaks

Left Lockdown Skeptics

March 18, 2021

Left Lockdown Sceptics interviews Andy Libson, an American anti-lockdown high school teacher and revolutionary socialist

 

“The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

— World Economic Forum, January 2020

 

“Hastily made agreements and deals made by schools with Google and Microsoft, either for free or heavily subsidized, will be extremely hard to undo. These companies are in competition for structural dominance over the digital infrastructure of schooling for the very long term. They will be integral to new modes of ‘hybrid’ schooling promoted by the tech sector and influential organizations such as the OECD, UNESCO and the World Bank. Their systems are practical instantiations of an imagined future of education in which public-private partnerships play a key role, and private infrastructures undergird increasing aspects of teaching, learning and school management.”

 

The Edtech Pandemic Shock, October 3, 2020

 

 

 

Excerpts:

1. Could you tell us what your background is and your experience in the working class movement and where you are active?

I am a high school physics and chemistry teacher at Mission High School in San Francisco, California. I have been teaching for 21 years at Mission High, a public school serving a population of largely poor students of color. As a member of the United Educators of San Francisco, I have been active in the union my entire career as the equivalent of a shop steward, and even spent a few years on the union’s executive board. Currently, I am not the shop steward, but was elected to the Union Building Committee that helps organize our work site.

Politically, I am a communist. I joined the International Socialist Organization (ISO) [twinned with the Socialist Workers Party in the UK – Ed] around 2000. In 2010 I left the ISO because I felt it was an organization entirely run from the top and that it was moving in a troubling reformist direction. Afterwards I was part of a group called La Voz, but was kicked out a few years later for publishing articles La Voz felt I should not put out publicly (here and here).

…I believe the only way out of the mess we are in today is another working class revolution for the establishment of socialism. But that will not take place through the ballot box. It will require mass strikes and an armed insurrection to establish it. Also, it cannot be called socialism unless working class democracy is at its center and is preserved and expanded through the course of the revolution and beyond. Overall, while I firmly believe capitalism must be dismantled, I have more questions than answers about the state of our political tradition and the process by which this mass socialist uprising will take place. Part of the reason I started “What’s Left?”, a podcast/channel I host with two friends, was to give myself an open space to investigate political questions that I am still working through.

The last year has made the prospects for revolutionary change (which were exceedingly dim before the mania around COVID started) seem even more unlikely. I have witnessed the revolutionary Left collapse behind the capitalist state and institutions through the course of the pandemic. I am exceedingly grateful for the existence of Left Lockdown Sceptics and their attempt to fashion a Left response and oppositions to the authoritarian maneuvers of the capitalist classes across the globe. This blog has been a glimmer of hope for me in what has felt like an ocean of despair.

2. What has been your experience of the lockdown policy in the USA?

Lockdown in the United States has been miserable on several levels. First, it has led to our physical schools being shuttered for a full year. We have been forced to teach entirely remotely. This has been terrible for the students and downright awful for me. Education under capitalism is an exercise in indoctrination and preparing future workers for accepting their continual exploitation at their work, but the one element of my job I actually believed in was the relationships I formed with students and their families. Also, working and talking with my colleagues in person made the job less soul-crushing.

…the most troubling element for me politically has been that opposition to the political developments around COVID have largely come from the political Right and not at all from the Left. Opposition to lockdown, to mask mandates, to mandated PCR testing, to vaccination mandates, to remote learning and to even the notion that we should question the narrative around COVID being spread by the capitalist state, none of that has come from the reformist or revolutionary Left here in the United States. The most meaningful critiques and actions in response to these mandates are all found on the Right or among libertarians.

Two outliers to that have been the work of Alison McDowell and Cory Morningstar on exposing the connection between these mandates and the political and economic initiatives pushed by what is globally being described as the Fourth Industrial revolution. Their work has been fundamental in helping me understand what is going on right now. I would also recommend the work of Jake Klyceck in exposing how these initiatives intersect specifically with changes taking place in education.

3. When did you begin to question the lockdown policy?

"Preparing tomorrow's workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution" - "Deloitte is a long-standing strategic partner of the World Economic Forum"

“Preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” – “Deloitte is a long-standing strategic partner of the World Economic Forum”

 

Pretty much from the beginning in February and March 2020 when all the fear of Sars-Cov-2 was really picking up in the United States, the level of alarm being rung never made sense to me. Both then and now, I consider the scale of danger of Sars-Cov-2 and the COVID-19 associated with it, as not too different from the flu. When all the mandates for shutting things down were happening last March, I suspected there was another interest in play. I largely believed we were seeing a ‘controlled demolition’ of the economy as capitalism was entering another period of global crisis (or business cycle). I felt the mandates were economically driven and conveniently provided political cover of blaming the economic destruction on a virus rather than the normal boom bust cycles of Capitalism.

It was not until I read an article by Whitney Webb describing the connection between these events and the plans to develop artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the notion of seeing data as most important commodity to control and accumulate within the inter-imperialist rivalries of global capitalism (particularly in the competition between the US and China). This is where my exploration changed from seeing this as just another moment of capitalist sleight of hand to seeing that the world was in fact being changed not as a ‘cover’ for a weak global economy but out of the rapacious competition for profits by the largest global capitalist centers who were about to hurl us into a world of even greater ‘productivity’ by using our data and the data we generate from our daily work and lives to replace both our manual and mental labor with machines.

I also began to see a future where the working class was being physically separated and atomized in a process that looked to me like ‘reverse enclosure’. I worry that this physical separation, where all our work is eventually done remotely (which I believe is where this is headed), may actually turn the working class effectively into a peasant class (or gig workers). We will still be exploited, but no longer a class that understands itself or experiences itself as a collective class. To me, this takes the Marxist notion of working class revolution off the table, making me wonder if this is part of what is in operation right now. Nevertheless, I know the capitalists are wanting to separate us, and I know that is part of their plan for accumulating profits and competing even more aggressively with each other for a share of those profits in the coming decade. All of this, by definition, comes at the expense of the working class unless we oppose all aspects of the changes being implemented today.

4. As a socialist teacher you have been campaigning to re-open schools. How has that campaign been going?

I think we need to get back to our source of power – our workplace and centers where we congregate to do work – immediately and begin figuring out how we can stop what is coming. The remote learning experience we are going through right now is not a momentary mirage of a world trying to escape COVID. What we are witnessing and participating in (as either educator or student) is the future of education that is preparing future workers for what work will be like in the coming years: remote, on a screen, mediated through data flow and transmission, overseen, monitored and directed by AI. Students are experiencing education (separated, individualized, isolated, controlled and obscure) as they will experience their future work.

Participating in remote learning today isn’t ‘safer’, it’s actually far more dangerous to all our futures. It means our lives will be more separated, more surveilled, more scrutinized and more controlled than ever before. Physical schools will be replaced with laptops and drop-in centers. Teachers will be replaced with screens and AI. Education itself will be a lifelong chase, not of learning, but of job skills so each worker can compete in a global labor market where ever-centralized capitalist centers get their pick of the litter to screen for and exploit workers not as a class but as an isolated worker connected via a screen.

This is not how my colleagues see things. They believe the danger is COVID and have accepted the capitalist narrative that the greatest danger we now face is a virus and society must be restructured to face that danger. My desire to get back immediately, with full in-person contact—no masks or 6 feet of separation, no mandated tests or vaccinations—is largely seen as dangerously conspiratorial or even as right-wing demagoguery. Virtually everyone around me has accepted the narrative that what must animate our actions are safety precautions related to COVID rather than the need to immediately reassemble our forces at work so we can figure out how to oppose the Fourth Industrial project that is being put in place without our knowledge, but with our implicit agreement and participation.

I have worked with a small group of educators to discuss reopening schools but we have been largely ineffective at reaching our fellow workers. Our union leadership and the vast majority of our membership has been focused on COVID and safety rather than the more immediate and dangerous threat of the dismantling of in-person education, the mass datamining of students and educators that will result from it, and the deskilling of education through our work evermore being replaced by AI. The position of ‘keeping ourselves and our students safe’ has actually hidden the real threat we are facing and has led teachers to be seen by many parents as animated only by the interests of saving our own skins (rightfully so in my opinion). But this story of safety is not true—we are actually hurting ourselves by agreeing to ANY remote learning at this point. The capitalists are now exploiting this schism between educators and parents.

Now the initiative has been pretty much taken by the capitalist class as lockdown fanatics like CA Governor Gavin Newsom or SF Mayor London Breed suddenly become champions of ‘opening schools’ when they have spent the last year cynically being merchants of the fear used to shut them. We educators, slow to recognize this shift in the narrative from the top, are now going to be blamed for some of the worst aspects of the lockdown imposed by the capitalist state. Now the workers (who were indoctrinated in fear by the capitalists) can be scapegoated as the barrier to ‘returning to normal’.

At the same time, capitalists are using all the fear they have whipped up to push for a return to school experience that will emphasize masks, social distancing, mass vaccinations and PCR testing, and of course, hybrid learning. Many people will mistake hybrid learning as a ‘transition’ back to full in-person learning at a future date (2023, 2024). That is false. Hybrid learning is the transition state to full online learning which is not yet workable for the capitalists but COVID made possible to begin the shift to the ‘experiment’ in education we’ve gone through this last year.

In a nutshell, education and educational workers have been smashed this last year, and we don’t even know it happened. Our situation, in my opinion, is dreadful.

5. What has been the attitude from other socialists when you raised criticisms?

"The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education."

“The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

Socialists in the United States have completely accepted the ‘virus as the greatest danger’ narrative even if their own politics are centered on understanding that the capitalist class and Capitalism represents an existential threat to all workers. They have accepted the need for lockdown and, in fact, have been critical that the lockdown has not been more severe.

They have accepted mask mandates. They have accepted the need for continued remote learning. They have accepted mass vaccination, critical only of the social justice issues of its implementation. They have accepted contact tracing largely without a peep of opposition nor even wondering who will benefit from our DNA being collected and mined as a result. They have accepted the narrative that the threat COVID represents justifies all these changes. They have also accepted and promoted the notion that any opposition to these measures is right-wing and anti-worker.

To the extent there has been a critique, it has been calling for a stimulus package that offers economic relief and more money in workers’ pockets from the government in the form of a universal basic income (UBI). This is also playing into the hands of the capitalists who will be delivering us a UBI as they move to a digital currency where they can use cash distributions to more directly control a working class population that’s increasingly desperate as more and more jobs are automated.

Basically, the revolutionary Left here has not only made a complete capitulation to the capitalist project but has joined in by pushing virtually every one of these anti-worker initiatives in the name of fighting for workers’ rights. It is really enough to make a revolutionary crazy in a world where ‘up’ means ‘down’, ‘freedom’ means ‘bondage’, ‘safety’ means ‘danger’, and ‘opposition’ means ‘surrender’.

6. Why do you think there has been so little pushback from the Left against lockdowns?

"Industry Agenda", 2015: "Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization."

“Industry Agenda”, 2015: “Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization.”

 

…things like the Transition Program as a guide to getting our bearings in the absence of struggle and in our relative isolation has led revolutionaries to become reformists as they come up with schemes of proposing specific reforms that will lead workers to revolution. Tracing out a bread-crumb trail of reforms has had the effect not of radicalizing workers but of transforming generations of revolutionaries to think like reformists. Last, I think the low level of struggle, the atrophy of our organizations and complete isolation from the class has largely caused us to give up on the idea of working class revolution in anything but name. We are no longer animated by that singular goal because we see it as so far off. That’s my best guess.

Since Marxist class politics are largely absent and separated from the U.S. working class, the revolutionary Left has both been weakened and even politically influenced by the rise and dominance of identity politics within the U.S. Left as a response to the attacks by the capitalist class. While wrapped in radical, anti-racist rhetoric, identity politics has had the net effect of both dividing the working class along identity lines and politically feeding workers into the Democratic Party who are the main ruling class advocates of both identity politics and of lockdowns, biomedical mandates and Covid fear-mongering.

Overall, A revolutionary Left that has given up on revolution can only work within the capitalist framework of reforms as it makes its way through the system. I think that is what we have been doing, coming up with capitalist solutions to problems that have no fundamental answer save through international working class socialist revolution. But if you have given up on that possibility because it seems so far off, then you are stuck talking about capitalism in capitalist terms.

7. Have you any ideas on how the Left can fight back and build a resistance movement against the bio-security state?

You can’t fight these things if you are not actually against them. So the first thing the Left in the United States needs to do is get its head on straight and realize it must oppose all contact tracing initiatives, any mandated testing, mandated vaccinations and any ID system that will be used to force workers and students to participate in these programs. We also have to expose and oppose the DNA mining endemic in the testing regime we are being put through and the data mining in all this remote work, remote learning, remote purchasing and remote living we are being put through.

Fundamentally, we have to remind ourselves that our project is a collective one and that any attempt to separate workers instituted by the capitalist class must be seen as an attack on our class and resisted as such. We will not be able to wage ANY sort of resistance to what is being instituted through the Fourth Industrial revolution behind our laptops. No matter how big our virtual meetings, we have to understand those meetings are in a controlled, corporate space that can be shut down by them any time. No fundamental change will come through participation in those spaces. So our starting point must be to challenge the mainstream narrative that is being used to terrify us of each other and then actually reassemble at work or other physical spaces to figure out what we do to try and turn the tide.

At schools, I think that means ripping up the Silicon Valley software and hardware infrastructure that is being used to dismantle in-person learning and prepare future workers for an all-remote experience and to use the work of current educators to lay the groundwork for replacing us with AI. In my opinion, that means uprooting the entire digital apparatus that’s in place and returning education to a physical, sensory experience of the world and in relationship with each other. How deep does the uprooting have to go? I am not sure, but I would say that the fight is not just about ‘returning’ to our pre-COVID educational system (that system has always been about exploitation), but seeing our schools as a center of struggle against the machinations of the Capitalists trying to reorganize all of society to maximize profits by maximizing their data collection on us.

8. Would you like to send out a message to other socialists internationally who are fighting the lockdown?

All I can say is thank you to socialists, anarchists and revolutionaries of any stripe across the water who have been responsible for reminding us that revolutionary work requires complete opposition to the capitalist project. We have fallen down badly here in the United States and I think it will be your efforts abroad that may shine a light to help orient and re-orient revolutionaries here.

I guess I would ask that we remember that the fight isn’t against Lockdown but against the capitalist class that is using lockdown to control and frighten us. Lockdowns will pass, but unless we remember that our goal is to take down the entire system, and that that project, as far away as it may seem, is an immediate and an urgent one, then we are much less likely to get fooled again. We still have nothing to lose but our chains. That is worth remembering in this time of drought and difficulty.

Full article:

https://leftlockdownsceptics.com/2021/03/fighting-lockdown-in-california-a-us-teacher-speaks/

 

[Andy Libson has taught science at Mission High School in San Francisco for over 20 years.  He received his PhD in biophysics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine prior to his decision to become a teacher. He is a longtime Marxist and a socialist. In 2018 Andy and Eduardo Abarca started the “What’s Left?” podcast series in order to explore the left narratives dominating political discussions.]

[Left Lockdown Sceptics: “We are a group of socialists in the UK who oppose lockdown policy on the basis that it doesn’t work, is based on bad science and causes unnecessary harm and deaths to society. The impact of lockdown is most severe on the working class and vulnerable people, including children.” Full statement]

 

 

 

The Shapers of Slavery – A Global Project of the World Economic Forum [Winter Oak Series]

Winter Oak

January, 2021

 

“The Shapers of Slavery”. A 5-part investigation of the World Economic Forum’s “Global Shapers” initiative – by Winter Oak.

 

“Over 900 Global Shapers joined World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab for talks on the Great Reset initiative. Putting the world back on a path towards inclusive and sustainable development will require more than a global recovery. It will require a Great Reset that places all citizens, especially young people, at the heart of social and economic systems.” — Global Shapers Community Annual Report 2019–2020

 

Source: http://killercoke.org/

 

Part I, January 9, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the plan

Excerpt:

“But, in fact, Schwab’s Great Reset is not just rhetoric: he and his corporate accomplices have been busy, for many years, building up a massive networks of collaborators to spring their heist.

 

One of these is the Global Shapers Community, set up by Schwab in 2011, registered in Geneva, Switzerland, and based at the World Economic Forum offices.”

Global Shapers - The Foundation Board

Global Shapers – The Foundation Board

 

Part II, January 10, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the leadership

Excerpt:

“A democratic society shapes itself – by means of the participation of its citizens in discussing and deciding how things should be organised and to what ends.

But, as even their name reveals, the Global Shapers want to “shape” society from above and in their own interests.”

Part III, January 11, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the empire

Excerpt:

“This is a world of “social impact investing”, of lucrative human and natural “capital”, a world of blockchain, robotics and AI, of equity funds and pharmaceutical businesses, a world of exponential profit and exploitation hidden behind a rhetoric of “inclusivity”, “sustainability” and “systemic change”.

World Economic Forum Electoral Candidates, British Columbia, Canada, 2020

World Economic Forum Electoral Candidates, British Columbia, Canada, 2020

 

What Will the World Look Like When the New Generation Leads? | Time.com

Part IV, January 12, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the virus

Excerpt:

“As the pandemic awakened the collective to long-standing system gaps, we mobilized a global community to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.”

March 19, 2020, Twitter: Global Shapers Response to COVID-19

March 19, 2020, Twitter: Global Shapers Response to COVID-19

 

" As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization, is mobilizing all stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods."

“As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization, is mobilizing all stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods.”

 

Part V, January 13, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the awakening

Excerpt:

“We would encourage everyone to explore and expose the identity and activities of hubs in their own area, starting with the information the Global Shapers have so helpfully provided for us.

 

We would also encourage you to seek out your local Global Shapers and confront them with questions, whether via social media or in the real world.”

#WeSeeEqual - a Procter & Gamble's (P&G's) Gender-Equality Corporate Branding Campaign

#WeSeeEqual – a Procter & Gamble’s (P&G’s) Gender-Equality Corporate Branding Campaign

ABB on Twitter: "We are very proud to have our collaborative #YuMiRobot on the cover of @TIME magazine's special #WEF19 edition demonstrating how humans and robots work side-by-side without barriers. Special print

The Mechanism of Invisible Hand, Invisible Cage, and Invisible Empire over Humanity and Nature

Dissident Voice

February 9, 2021

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

 

When the whole society becomes a theater of absurdity, the puppeteers become kings and queens of insanity. The society loses its logic, history, facts, honesty, sincerity, creativity and imagination, as  the monstrous imaginations of the deranged ruling class devour humanity and nature.

The invisible cage of authoritarianism comes in the shape of a bottomless pyramid.  Fear and hopelessness fill the dimly lit bottom layers. Layers and layers separate us, alienate us and dehumanize us. The? pain of “others” becomes your gain.  The power of oppressors becomes your safety: The safety of living in the dangerous imaginations of the kings and queens.

But? such a thought vanishes as quickly as our minds get flooded back with the numbing noises of the insane theater, while our remaining logic, seriousness and honesty are ridiculed and attacked by fearful fellow humans with cynicism, hopelessness and cowardliness.

The world doesn’t look like that at all for those who belong to the club of kings and queens. The unruly mass with no understanding of the righteous path of “humanity” has been inherently expendable for them. This has been shown over and over: colonization of natives by Europeans, enslavement of African people, genocides of many sorts.

But one also sees the same blunt inhumanity embedded among us today:  homelessness, deaths by treatable diseases, hunger, deaths by substance abuse, suicide, poverty, refugees, mass incarceration, state violence, the psychological torture of alienation.  The kings and queens don’t recognize those as issues to be solved with their resources.  Instead those issues represent forms of punishment for those who fail to secure viable positions within the capitalist hierarchy.  The fear of the punishment and the fear of the authority work together to lock us in positions in the hierarchy, forcing us to protect our positions which systemically and structurally threaten our well-being 24/7; we live in a system of structural extortion.

As we have become free-range people in the “divine farm” of modern-day kings and queens, we have lost our access to the fundamental material reality. A sterile cage with screens, mandatory injections, electronic tracking within the invisible fence; human mice for profits, feed for data harvesting, an ever greater degree of spiritual death. It is not hard to start connecting the dots to see how things can lead into a grim future.

But what does such a fear do to the population, which has tolerated an assortment of abuses as their “punishment”? To those who manage to ignore their fellow humans living on the streets as invisible beings or fail to feel the pain of those being cornered into substance use and desperate acts of self-destruction?

Would they believe the words of those who question, or the words of the ruling class promising a glorious future of AI, green capitalism, genetic engineering, digitization and financialization?

And before we ask such a question, one must wonder if such a question is even allowed when the socioeconomic/political trajectory of the empire has been firmly within the imperial framework of the two capitalist political parties.

The capitalist hierarchy absorbs what it needs by allocating special positions within it:  Natural resources, narratives, facts, history, people, political ideologies or anything that sits in time and space.  The kings and queens monopolize them— material resources as well as people with skills and knowledge are captured to serve.  Once monopolized, the valued items are commodified, to be distributed in ways that benefit those same kings and queens.

Meanwhile such a process occurs in layers and layers, projecting myths, exploitative narratives, false history and erroneous facts onto our collective consciousness—a fake reality which covers our eyes while we push our mortal bodies around in the real world.

The images projected onto our psyche vary according to our positions in the hierarchy.  Each narrative validates and justifies our positions in the hierarchy. Kings and queens find themselves to be worthy rulers of the universe, while the masses see themselves as freedom loving people who do their best in a world of opportunities.

In such an equation authoritarianism presents itself as a swinging pendulum between fascism and social democracy as it moves forward on the capitalist path in space and time.  The carrot and stick carefully manage projected images to stay within the capitalist framework of acceptable ideas. Corporate politics and corporate activism play crucial roles in making the pendulum swing, therefore ensuring that the capitalist interests always go forward while appearing to be “democratic”.

Those who rely on terrorist tactics of various sorts attempt to resist the system by attacking the valuable, captured elements that work for the system.  The damage compromises social dynamics in ways that deprive those who are already deprived, while dividing the population that should be uniting to dismantle the oppressive system.

Guided by agent provocateurs and corporate NGOs, righteous anger against oppressors turns into a justification for draconian measures, destruction of communities for urban renewal, and a catalyst for new projects of exploitation.

As a set of capitalist imperatives pushes the capitalist contradiction to the limit, completely depriving people’s ability to reconcile the false perceptions and the material reality, it is time for an urgent mobilization to change the trajectory of exploitation into a new field with a new set of rules.  We are told that enemies are coming, a natural disaster is coming or a disease is coming, forcing us to mobilize ourselves to adjust to a new path of plundering for the kings and queens.

Any crisis, real or not, against the backdrop of a hierarchical structure imposes two sets of momentum that keep us within the capitalist farm.   The first set has to do with fear of the authority, which keeps our frustration directed against ourselves, each other and oppressed “others”, while firmly gripping the destabilized psyche of the population—creating an ironic psychology of supporting oppressive authority against our own interests.   The second set has to do with the material constraints imposed by the particular crisis—we become enemies to each other fighting amongst ourselves to survive.   We are put in the capitalist cage.   And we are forced to protect our cage, which is constructed with vertical strength to withstand fear of the authority, horizontal strength to withstand   attacks by competitors, and a solid floor to prevent one from falling down from the position in the hierarchy. The whole structure is held together with violent force of exploitation and subjugation.

“The Great Reset”

“The Great Reset” is packaged as a “great solution”.  Just like how the ruling class has marketed “green capitalism”—carbon trading, carbon capture, reforestation, and other resource exhausting green schemes and technologies for profit, it’s designed to prop up capitalism but it is also intended to transform capitalism to have more effective control of social relations while keeping the capitalist hierarchy intact.  Capitalism is getting a new OS, and it needs to be restarted.  Just as “green capitalism” has destroyed real environmentalism in the name of saving the planet, it is designed to destroy anti-capitalist activism in the name of “revolution”.

One of the prominent leftist tools under a capitalist framework has been grass roots activism to affect state regulations and state guidelines to contain momentums of exploitation and subjugation created by Wall Street as well as capitalist social institutions.  The stock market guided economy (falsely advertised as the only system that works) allows the ruling class to dominate social policies according to their interests; it prioritizes ruling class wealth accumulation while sacrificing social relations among the general population; it is extremely inefficient, unstable and economically unjust. The capitalist state has been a great tool in ensuring the interests of the ruling class to be a priority. The socialist revolution takes over the capitalist state, it nationalizes corporate entities and sets up the economy, education and the rest of social institutions and social relations to be guided by people’s interests.  Various incarnations of the above strategies to counter capitalist exploitation and encroaching imperial hegemony have attempted to do two major things. First, they have prioritized people’s interests by emphasizing projects that benefit the general population while providing social safety nets, infrastructure for the people, environmental regulations and so on. Second, they have allowed economic activities based on people’s needs which can grow organic community dynamics based on humanity and nature.

“The Great Reset,” on the other hand, is a project of the ruling class meant to take away those measures from the people and utilize them to further solidify their dominance over the people.  Since the owners of the farm are plenty rich already, they won’t need a big farm. Their social engineering skills as well as the greater control over the economy will be put to a test in building a sustainable farming business with a smaller herd.

This is why it seems that all activism has turned into enforcing or defying the various virus lockdown measures which have been instrumental in enforcing the trajectory of “The Great Reset.” Remember how all environmental activism was swallowed by the single idea of reducing carbon emission? Fearmongering slogans of apocalyptic narratives involving climate change, strong NGO guided activism, and corporate science emphasizing the topic of global warming have created the huge snowballing momentum to fight climate change at all costs, sidelining and co-opting all other important environmental activism. This has also contributed to the idea that it is no longer relevant to insist on being a part of systematic efforts in dismantling the capitalist system and building an alternate system which allows humanity and nature to prevail in harmony;  we are told that we don’t have time to build socialism anymore. We are encouraged to be a part of green solutions by the capitalists as a result.

We are being told that casino capitalism for profits must end to introduce “stakeholder capitalism”.  But of course, since the notion is coming from the profiteers who have colonized, corporatized, militarized and financialized, we can presume that they are talking about ensuring their own interests by directly guiding the economic decisions instead of continuing the show called the economy by the “invisible hand.” We are told that we should be provided with universal basic income, free housing and other social services as long as we follow the regulations and policies of public-private partnership.  What sort of conditioning will we be subjected to after being deprived of our inherent relationships to ourselves, to each other, to our communities and to nature, forced to be a part of destructive industrial farming, digitalization of everything with massive resource extraction, colonization of our communities with multinational franchises and enslavement of our souls in the invisible cage of indoctrination and propaganda?  We already have such a system in the US—it’s called mass incarceration in the private prison system.  We are being told that the economy must not be merely guided by growth and it must be replaced by a sustainable one.  However, coming from those who have greatly restricted meaningful economic growth among the general population in order to subject livelihoods to the brutal capitalist framework, what they really mean is to restrict productive social relations among the people so that they must subsist with bare minimum requirements, eventually cornered to be a smaller herd, more manageable with less resources—an economic solution which can only be conceived by criminal minds. Who knows what role vaccines will play in it.  Who knows what sort of living hell people will be subjected to as our lives are treated like numbers in high frequency trading, or our entire lives are put on hold by AI customer representatives.

Note how the policies will be designed to be achieved by co-opting leftist agendas.  The invisible hand has been busy building a brand new invisible cage to perpetuate the violent reign of kings and queens in the name of “revolution”—a fascist revolution that is.

Now, I would like to emphasize that these trajectories are not set in stone. The problem is that those possibilities are highly unlikely to be examined by concerned people within the capitalist framework. There is a structural problem in the system. Let me go back to the pendulum.  Just like any other capitalist social institution, the capitalist political institution serves the ruling class;  it can serve as a crime laundering devise. As soon as a topic involving criminal activities is destined to be “political”—it dissociates itself from criminal elements and becomes “legitimate”. Various social institutions kick in to support such a view since they are all funded by the ruling class—media presents it as such, legislature codifies it as such, executive branch executes it as such, judicial branch judges it as such, academics support it as such, educational institution cements it as such and so on. It becomes normalized to be a part of social policies. Once the topic is on the political table embellished with a glorious history and myths of the nationhood of the United States of America, the topic becomes officially “political”, not criminal, and it is now safely and generously handled by the corporate entities.

The rendered topic floats in an artificial realm of political myths, tradition, and the gladiator battle culture of political authorities as a commodified symbol representing a fictitious version of the actual topic. Ordinary people can’t approach it coherently for what it is anymore unless they are rich and influential enough to access all moneyed social institutions.  Moreover, all the criminal records of officials are discarded, forgiven and forgotten as a new regime comes in every four years.

This is how destructive foreign policies of colonialism, corporatism and militarism, and exploitative predatory domestic policies of all sorts have been implemented against people in the name of freedom, justice and humanity.  This is how environmental concerns have turned into “green capitalism”.  This is how we are being mobilized today under the guise of virus lockdowns.

People watch and cheer the pendulum swing between political extremes within the capitalist framework.  Bits and pieces of awareness beyond the imperial framework can only be perceived with tools approved by the framework, effectively keeping those with the awareness within the ideas of the ruling class.  If you hold a world view that does not fit in it, you end up being categorized as a supporter of a political villain or simply labeled as “fascist”, “communist” and so on.  Needless to say those terms are solely defined by acceptable ideas, acceptable history and acceptable myths of the capitalist hegemony.  The fact that the US government has supported fascist regimes across the globe while brutally intervening against socialist countries across the globe won’t be admitted for instance.

How Capitalist Hierarchy Shapes Ideas

If one holds a view that defies the prevalent narrative, the individual can become a target of the authority as well as a target of multiple political extremes within the capitalist hegemony.  For instance, if you oppose Israeli war crimes from an anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist position, you can be persecuted as a dissident by the establishment, while being labeled as anti-Semitic by supporters of Israeli policies. (You may also be labeled a Zionist shill by those who believe that Jews are taking over the world and so on).  The position that points out that Israel is a crucial part of the imperial structure, serving the imperial hierarchy while benefiting from its generous support, cannot be fully discussed due to how narratives are formed by the network of the imperial institutions.

The political pendulum doesn’t only create an illusion of “democracy”, it also defines what is acceptable while tearing communities apart. It utilizes its violence as a springboard to perpetuate and strengthen its grip on the exploited. That’s why the living hell for Palestinian people keeps functioning as a devise for imperialism—the more Palestinians suffer, the more anti-Semitic sentiment emerges, which in turn justifies Israeli violence, which in turn serves the imperial agendas. That’s why victims of Katarina had to be victimized by “urban renewal” after going through the gravely tragic event. Capitalist hegemony does not allow an honest discussion because imperialism is kept invisible by default, the capitalist cage is invisible and the guiding hand of capitalists is invisible. The capitalist framework simply corners people into having dead-end arguments. Period.

With the virus situation, we are told that there are good people who wear masks and stay home and bad people who selfishly defy the rules and spread “conspiracy theories”.  The dynamics among acceptable narratives within the capitalist framework create the circular arguments of a screaming match. These dynamics exclude and belittle any understanding which goes beyond the artificial range of ideas created by the capitalist institutions:  you are fake news, you are a denier, you are a conspiracy theorist, you are a grandma killer, communists are taking over and so on. Without recognizing this mechanism, any attempt to unify the momentums will result in a populism which emulates the existing social structure—another reactionary revolution at best, but more likely it will create more divisions and destabilization among the people, resulting in perpetuation of the capitalist hierarchy. This is why there is no discussion of accountability for the death and suffering created by lockdown measures and there is no discussion about the meaning of why we are going through a structural shift.  And when the deaths and sufferings will be put on the political table, financial vultures will devour them in the emerging social impact bond markets (see studies by Wrench in the Gears).

The invisible hand that is supposed to guide us to freedom, justice and humanity has created an empire ruled by the unprecedented accumulation of power for the few.  The invisible hand has created an invisible cage over us, and it has been blinding us and dividing us, allowing the ruling class to exploit us and subjugate us.

Now, it must be clearly stated that what we perceive as the dystopian future of The Fourth Industrial Revolution—AI, blockchain, digitalization, financialization, green capitalism and so on—can’t be separated from the invisible hand and the invisible cage. It cannot be allowed to be defined by capitalist institutions as a “legitimate political topic” instead of what it really is. The newly built cage hasn’t been built, but if we fail to see it for what it is in its context, we will simply be forced to embrace some version of it as one of the “legitimate” capitalist trajectories. That’s how it works when our society is a theater of absurdity.

I want to live a life that breaks open the invisible cage and firmly shake hands with nature and humanity.  If you have stuck around this far with me, I trust that you feel the same…or not. Either way, we must start our conversations.

Further Readings

Wrong Kind of Green Website

John Steppling Website

Winter Oak Website

Wrench in the Gear Website

 

[Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.]

Naomi Klein, Conspiracy Theorist

OpEd News

March 9, 2021

By Lorenzo Raymond

 

Author Naomi Klein, and Klaus Shwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, endorse “The Future We Choose”, authored by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. [Source: Amazon]

When it comes to the “Great Reset,” Naomi Klein is offended. Her intelligence is insulted. Her legacy is tarnished. And she is here to correct the record.

As the sun set on 2020, Professor Klein stood up as the only adult in the room among those who research the machinations of multi-national corporations. The celebrated author excoriated all those sounding an alarm about The Great Reset program advanced by the World Economic Forum, the hypercapitalist organization notorious for its annual meetings in Davos, Switzerland. There was no evidence, she wrote in December, that the Great Reset promised to “turn the world into a high-tech dictatorship that will take away your freedom” through “a Big Pharma/GMO/biometric implants/5G/robot dog/forced-vaccine” agenda, as some on the “far left” claimed. Anybody who entertained the idea was just a useful idiot of Steven Bannon, serving up “an information-sh*t sandwich.” It all adds up to a yucky “conspiracy smoothie” because the Great Reset is merely a linear progression from inconsequential WEF programs of the past, and the Forum itself is relatively insignificant.

Why such brusque dismissal and puerile invective from the public intellectual? Klein insists that the Reset is a desperate “lunge for organizational relevance,” because the World Economic Forum is lacking in that apparently. This assertion is odd because the WEF counts among its partners Microsoft, BP, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United NationsRepeat visitors to Davos over the past three years include the world’s most celebrated activist, Greta Thunberg, and its most prominent state leaders, including Donald Trump and President Xi of China. If this indicates a lack of relevance, what would being impactful look like?

Beyond “exaggerating” the significance of WEF, Great Reset analysis vexes Klein because it’s “a bastardization of a concept” that she’d discovered, the “shock doctrine.” She describes the shock doctrine as encompassing “the many ways that elites try to harness deep disasters to push through policies that further enrich the already wealthy and restrict democratic liberties.” But as many critics of the theory have pointed out, the shock doctrine doesn’t just portray establishment actors as harnessing catastrophe ex post facto, it chronicles them causing it to advance monopoly disaster capitalism. Klein has repeatedly applied it this way herself.

Klein’s 2009 book on the subject includes the following examples of conspiracy: Jeffrey Sachs and the IMF deliberately forcing poor governments around the world to collapse their countries’ social institutions through austerity so that the infrastructure could then be “rescued” (that is, bought up or infiltrated) by private investors; Margaret Thatcher instigating the Falklands War as a way to undercut labor unrest in the UK; and George W. Bush contriving the Iraq War as a pretext for imposing a pliant neoliberal economy and winning profits in military spending and oil concessions for his cronies. The extended metaphor she chose for the shock doctrine involves MK-Ultra, a Central Intelligence Agency program that secretly hired distinguished doctors and nurses to conduct torturous brainwashing experiments on unsuspecting mental patients; the healthcare workers actively destroyed the victims’ psyches so that they could be built back better in a more malleable form.

Critics of the book pointed out that the shock doctrine sounded like a conspiracy theory. Klein was livid, and wrote a blog post debunking some of their lesser examples as straw men. But despite the 5000-word length of her piece, the author never rebutted the observation that her IMF, Falklands War, and Iraq scenarios were conspiratorial. Instead, she simply ignored them. This was an understandable strategy, as Klein’s status as a pillar of the progressive establishment would be over if she explicitly stated that the actions of the elite not only have vicious consequences, but often malicious premeditated intent. Even fellow progressive Joseph Stiglitz called her “overdramatic and unconvincing” and “not an academic” in her analysis, while ex-UN official Shashi Tharoor wrote that Klein “is too ready to see conspiracies where others might discern little more than the all-too-human pattern of chaos and confusion…” “Conspiracism” won’t just get you sneered at, but potentially labeled an anti-intellectual, an anti-Semite, a psychotic, and a fascist.

In 2021, concern about conspiracy theories has grown into a full-fledged moral panic fed both by the neoliberal establishment and by the respectable left. Social media companies now have a policy of censoring any post regarding the Great Reset; YouTube banned a Zero Books video that merely mentioned Reset theories to criticize them in terms similar to Klein’s. Then there are the jibes made by Adam Curtis in his new documentary Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Alongside a sensible warning about crediting the elite with omnipotence, Curtis oversells his opposition to unofficial narratives to the point of telling us not to do our own reasoning. “Pattern recognition” he tells us, is faulty thinking that leads to paranoia. The proof? Jim Garrison, the New Orleans District Attorney who prosecuted a JFK assassination-conspiracy trial, wrote a memo entitled “Time and Propinquity: Investigation in Phase One,” where he told his staff to look for patterns of relationships among suspects. D.A. Garrison’s project had many problems, but this wasn’t one of them–pattern recognition is a standard part of forming hypotheses, and generating a hypothesis is the first step of the scientific method. (Curtis also chides that pattern recognition is the basis of artificial intelligence, forgetting he once made a documentary that discussed how the Aladdin AI system conquered the stock market for BlackRock through its 95% predictive accuracy.)

The real question is if it’s possible to be a deep critic of power and not be a conspiracy theorist of some kind. Indeed, Klein’s opponents could go much further with their accusations of conspiracism if they look at her more recent writing. Miriam-Webster defines conspiracy theory as a that which “explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.” Stated positions of Naomi Klein that meet this criteria include:

– That the Democratic Party secretly influenced “the media and culture industries” to downplay the dangers of climate change during the Obama era (On Fire, pg. 76).

– That Barack Obama and the Filipino government conspired to remove anti-business climate negotiators from the Paris summit to deliver a plan so conservative it was basically “everything the Bush administration wanted.”

– That the 1989 Montreal spree-shooting was not just conceived by a lone madman, as many experts have said, but was generated by a discreet cultural network of homicidal misogynists.

– That “an elite minority has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.”

An elite minority has a stranglehold” over most of our major media outlets? I won’t claim that Klein, Jewish herself, is being antisemitic here. I prefer not to jump to conclusions. But it is one of the oldest dog whistles in the book. One that led to the Holocaust.

That last observation has a powerful emotional effect that makes us recoil from Klein’s claim. The reflex, ironically, is based on pattern recognition: The Nazis said X to falsely implicate the Jews; therefore anyone who says X is also implicating the Jews. It’s a decent first hypothesis–“phase one” as Jim Garrison would say–because a segment of conspiracy theorists really are antisemitic. There are good reasons to dismiss it as a paradigm though. One is that this would also disqualify discussion of Israeli war crimes and cover-ups in Palestine, as many Zionists insist.

So Klein isn’t opposed in principle to theorizing elite conspiracy. What then is her problem with investigating the Great Reset? Supposedly it’s a “distraction” from the real Covid shock doctrine embodied by Andrew Cuomo’s alliance with Silicon Valley oligarchs to “Reimagine Education” in New York. But looking at Klein’s May 2020 discussion of Reimagine Education, we find facts that are fully complementary to treating the Great Reset as an exceptional threat. The present Bill Gates-Eric Schmidt takeover, she writes, is “Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters,” as it “treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent–and highly profitable–no-touch future.” She quotes the CEO of a rising AI corporation: “There has been a distinct warming up to human-less, contactless technology,” under the New Normal. “Humans are biohazards, machines are not.” Klein continued:

It’s a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctor’s offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails. Of course, for many of us, those same homes were already turning into our never-off workplaces and our primary entertainment venues before the pandemic, and surveillance incarceration “in the community” was already booming. But in the future under hasty construction, all of these trends are poised for a warp-speed acceleration–a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.

This is more truth than we generally get from the progressive establishment in the US. But if it is possible to “damn with faint praise,” then it’s also possible to support with moderate criticism. The fact that this is all that Klein wrote about digital re-education through three entire seasons of lockdowns is an indictment. One would think from this report that Gates and Google have to be invited publicly by state officials in order to manipulate schools and profit off of remote learning. In fact, Reimagine Education has been discretely infiltrating schools across the country since 2015 with the collusion of two national teacher unions, the AFT and NEA. Labor leaders Randi Weingarten and Becky Pringle joined with Microsoft in promoting “disruptive technology,” “out-of-school learning,” and “blended learning.” These are all codewords for digital-dominated education, which would enable automated “experiential learning” to downsize the very school staff that the union bosses nominally represent. Klein’s remark that this technocratic power grab is “under hasty construction” is misinformation–the public-private, corporate-labor scheme has been at least five years in the making.

What else did Klein fail to mention? The plans for harvested data to be placed on digital blockchain and packaged into “social-impact bonds” (SIBs). SIBs are basically a “social-service” update on the derivatives that inflated the market in the days of the housing bubble. Since Wall Street supports continuing austerity, corporate monopolies, and precarious (at best) employment, this bubble of “social impact” is bound to collapse. The big investors will likely profit once again from shorting the market, leaving the general public in worse shape than ever. This appears to be the actual path to the “You will own nothing, and you will be happy” future that the World Economic Forum notoriously predicted. If nothing else it means what social scientists call “the financialization of urban policy.” Meanwhile, digital blockchain keeps a permanent record of intimate data, right down to DNA, on each “at risk” youth–disproportionately black and brown youth–who’ve received the social services. That certified data, officially collected for benign schemes like universal basic income and test-and-trace, can be used for whatever purposes the public-private partners in government and corporate America choose. For this reason, the NAACP passed a resolution two years ago denouncing blockchain social services:

Hundreds of billions of dollars have already been directed into social impact investments by the world’s most powerful individuals and financial institutions…in effect amplifying the investment wealth of elite investors on the backs of vulnerable communities.

You wouldn’t learn any of this from reading the author of The Shock Doctrine–nor from major progressive media outlets like Democracy Now!. I learned it from Alison Hawter McDowell and Cory Morningstar, two of the astute “far-left” researchers that Klein seems to be throwing shade at. They are also among the few on the left who are warning us about emerging schemes promoted by the WEF like militarized nanotechnology, “the Internet of Bodies,” “digital humans,” and the wrap-around concept of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” These recipes for disaster capitalism have been documented in the business press for a decade, but Klein, despite her past specialization in corporatist conspiracies (and despite McDowell presenting them to her directly) has said nothing about them.

Professor Klein pillories Great Reset researchers like McDowell and Morningstar because some of their observations are echoed in conservative sources, and because they have an incisive critique of the corporatism of the progressive establishment. But this is a position that Klein herself championed in the past; her reputation as a radical is effectively built on it. In 2013, she told Salon that

there is a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme… Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right. The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it’s going to bankrupt us, it’s handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it’s not going to work. And they were right on all counts.

What explains Naomi Klein’s current silence on, and even deflection from, crucial issues? Once perceived as the spokesperson for street activists of the anti-corporate globalization movement, Klein now works as the Facebook and Ford Foundation-sponsored Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at “Public Ivy” Rutgers University. She promotes a version of the Green New Deal that’s guided by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation through her organization 350.org. Klein’s devotion to this “sustainable” program (which relies on neocolonial technologies like carbon-capture storagelithium strip-mining, and even nuclear power) recently led her to coordinate a censorship campaign against the documentary Planet of the Humans–an investigative film covering corporate influence on the Green New Deal. But it gets spicier: Klein’s own environmental film The Message (This Changes Everything) was funded largely by Eric Schmidt (“The Schmidt Family Foundation“)–the very Google executive whom she purports to have exposed as a Covid corporatist.

Photo: Susan Rockefeller, home, NYC Klein’s 2015 book and film “This Changes Everything”, was initially launched as project “The Message” [Source]

Emulating Klein’s own past technique of connecting the dots, we can see there’s substantial ties between her Green New Deal and the WEF’s “stakeholder capitalism,” an overlap that Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz made clear when he sat down for a public discussion with her two years ago. As reported on the RBF website, Heintz, following the lead of “the talk at Davos this year”, feels strongly that we need to “move to a new economy–from obsolete capitalism to a wellbeing economy, a wellbeing society that’s organized around equity and inclusion.” But, he said, social impact and profiteering “don’t need to be mutually exclusive”; “We can be both good stewards of capital and also of what the dollars are doing.” “Klein concurred,” states the Rockefeller report.

In the ninth chapter of The Shock Doctrine, Klein wrote about the sad fate of the once-revolutionary labor leader Lech Walesa. Walesa told the truth to the Polish working-class about the Stalinist technocracy that stifled them in the late 1970s, advocating for a populist socialism instead. As he rose to prominence in the Gorbachev years, however, Walesa became more pragmatic and mature. He joined the establishment and formed a new technocracy with “revolutionary” capitalists from the global institutions. Rather than reveal the danger that this great reset posed to Polish society, Walesa downplayed it and promoted the “bold vision” of economic reform that elite comrades like Jeffrey Sachs whispered in his ear about. The result was a bonanza for Western billionaires and catastrophic peonage for the most vulnerable in society. It’s bitterly ironic that Naomi Klein seems to be following a similar journey of betrayal.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City. He has contributed to The New Inquiry, Black Agenda Report, Commune magazine, and Counterpunch. He blogs at DiversityOfTactics.org]

The Virtual Education Shock Doctrine

The Virtual Education Shock Doctrine

California’s online-schooling model is a glimpse into the future of digital austerity.

The Bellows

October 4, 2020

By Alex Gutentag

 

Long-distance learning

(Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters)

In California, the nation’s most populous state, 90% of students started the school year entirely online. When schools closed in March, 50% of low-income California students lacked the necessary technology to access distance learning. Broader tech distribution was available for the 2020-21 school year thanks to donations from companies like HP, Lenovo, Amazon, Apple, T-Mobile, Microsoft, and Google. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even personally donated $10 million to the city of Oakland’s tech initiative. With chromebooks and wifi hotspots now available for every student, California legislators and corporations congratulated themselves on closing the “digital divide.”

Despite their improved tech access, many students have more pressing material needs. Over 260,000 California students experience homelessness every year, and over 20% of California children live below the poverty line. The tech industry has not made massive donations to medical and therapy services, which low-income students often receive through community schools. Likewise, there is no private backing for the state’s free grab-and-go meals program.

Distance learning is a sleight of hand. Framed as a panacea, online education is actually the vehicle for a long-desired economic restructuring.

Online schooling will generate a treasure trove of data tech firms can buy and sell. Free meals will not. Silicon Valley boasts a yearly output of $275 billion and has a GDP similar to that of Qatar. Yet California, the world’s fifth largest economy, is currently withholding $11 billion from schools. Districts have been given IOUs for state funding and will not be reimbursed until next year. In contrast, California billionaires increased their net worth by over 25.5% ($175 billion) in the first three months of the pandemic.

Students throughout California are now stuck at home in hot, crowded rooms that occasionally fill with wildfire smoke. 19% of these students are English language learners and almost 13% of them have disabilities. Every day on Zoom they fall more and more behind both academically and socially. In Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, students are receiving 90-170 minutes of daily live instruction (depending on their age), after which they are expected to do independent work. Compared to the traditional six- or seven-hour school day, online education is laughably inadequate.

In real time, teachers and families are watching important developmental windows close for vulnerable children. Meanwhile the California Democratic Party and its affiliates tout virtual schooling as a solution for mitigating COVID-19 transmission. This policy is the result of an alignment between the Democratic Party, corporate power, and a bureaucratic teachers’ union. The purpose of their alignment is to rationalize austerity and boost commercial profits. Distance learning is a sleight of hand. Framed as a panacea, online education is actually the vehicle for a long-desired economic restructuring.

School Closures: An Unscientific and Regressive Policy

The Dreambox mathematics application: "Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization." [page 9]

The Dreambox mathematics application: “Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization.” [page 9]

California’s introduction of online schooling was driven by financial concerns, not medical or moral ones. Reopening safely would have required physical distancing plans, distribution of face shields or masks, sanitizing supplies, systems for daily health screenings, regular testing, widespread use of outdoor spaces, alternative schedules, smaller class sizes, and a massive hiring initiative. The primary reason these proposals were shot down was not rising COVID-19 cases as the governor, Gavin Newsom, asserted. California cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have been declining since August 1, but since then Newsom has only made reopening guidelines stricter.

The full prohibition on in-person learning directly contradicts the advice of medical and scientific experts. In June the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued recommendations for school re-openings, stating, “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued similar guidance. Schools, the authors argue, provide essential services to students and families.

Only after large school districts decided to stay closed did the AAP revise its original guidance to fit a perceived political consensus. Many clinical studies and reviews supported their original conclusion, demonstrating that children are less likely to transmit COVID-19 than adults, and school closures are an ineffective method of disease control. Not only will these irrational closures deepen class disparities, the policy has also overruled some children’s civil right to public education—a right that became universal in federal law less than 50 years ago.

It was not until 1975 that people with disabilities won a “Free and Appropriate Public Education” through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Before IDEA people with intellectual disabilities were often put in underfunded and abusive state schools, such as the infamous Willowbrook state school in Staten Island. Similarly, discrimination against English language learners was allowed until the 1974 passage of the Equal Education Opportunity Act.

Dismantling these gains is apparently of no concern to the California Democrats and the California Teachers Association (CTA), the state teachers union. Virtual learning effectively limits educational access for high-need populations. Yet as public resources are funneled into online learning platforms, the CTA regularly claims to be fighting back against billionaires and politicians. In reality, the teachers union is acting as an astroturfing and financing arm of the tech industry and the Democratic Party. There is no real conflict between these entities because their interests are identical.

The Teachers Union as Controlled Opposition

The Global Education Coalition was launched on March 25, 2020, by UNESCO. Founding partners include the World Bank, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the BBC, and the Global Business Coalition for Education.

The Global Education Coalition was launched on March 25, 2020, by UNESCO. Founding partners include the World Bank, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the BBC, and the Global Business Coalition for Education.

 

The median teacher salary in California is $65,252. On average, California teachers pay $1,072 in dues, and the majority of dues do not go to local organizations—they go to the CTA. In 2018 at least twelve CTA officers and directors made six-figure salaries. The CTA president took home about $340,000, and the union’s Associate Executive Director over $1 million. It is extremely difficult for teachers to find out how much of their dues money goes to political activities, let alone which of these activities actually help secure better working conditions and wages for teachers.

However, some information is available. California teachers’ dues directly contribute to the CTA’s PAC. Although teachers can opt out from donating to the PAC, this option is only given when they sign the form to join the union. While there are limits to the CTA’s donations to individual candidates through its PAC, the CTA can donate greater amounts through independent expenditure committees. For example, the CTA’s PAC donated only $29,000 to Newsom’s election campaign in 2018, but its independent expenditure committee gave $1 million to “Education Organizations for Gavin Newsom for Governor 2018.”

The National Education Association, which the CTA is a part of, is likewise opaque about how much dues money is used for political activities and what those activities are. In 2018 the NEA contributed about $5.4 million to candidates and political campaigns and spent close to $2.9 million on lobbying. After endorsing Joe Biden in March, the NEA now invites teachers to become “Educators for Joe” through its website.

The relationship between the union and the California Democratic Party extends to the CTA’s organizing work for ballot initiatives. Most recently, local California unions have asked their members to collect signatures and join rallies for Prop 15, the Students and Communities First Initiative. The slogan for Prop 15 is “Tax the Rich,” but the tax will not be on wealthy individuals, or directly on the revenue of California’s largest industries (tech, agriculture, tourism, and entertainment). The tax will instead be on business properties exceeding $3 million in value. The initiative is backed by national politicians like Elizabeth WarrenBernie SandersPete Buttigieg, and Michael Bloomberg. The Chan Zuckerberg Foundation has contributed over $6.3 million to support Prop 15.

Union members should be concerned about the fact that, according to the CTA’s own Prop 15 calculator, the plan will fund privately-operated charter schools in addition to public schools. Charter schools are property leasing schemes that exploit low-income communities for the benefit of investors. In using public school teachers to organize for this funding, the CTA has promoted an initiative that will allow investment capital to benefit from industrial property taxes, an expense that some worry will fall on small businesses in the form of increased rents. Given the level of mismanagement, cronyism, and anti-teacher animus plaguing the administrations of many California school districts, it is also worth wondering if Prop 15 money will go where it is truly needed (staffing), or whether it will be wasted on more tech products.

Ultimately, there is no real tension between the political project of the teachers union and that of the Democratic Party. Both are working toward the same outcomes. In the case of COVID-19, the desired outcome is the purchase of hardware, software, and online learning subscriptions on an enormous scale. This ploy relies on a politics of anti-solidarity in which teachers stay home on computers while risk is pushed onto lower-paid staff or contractors who lack union protection.

Woke Justifications for Academic Decline

January 2020, World Economic Forum: "The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education."

January 2020, World Economic Forum: “The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

While low-income students and families struggle to adapt, many educators are willing to push rhetoric that presents virtual learning as liberation. In some cities, local union leaders, district administrators, and other organizations have entered into an endless competition to prove who is more woke and more pro-lockdown. Racialized social justice politics have created distractions that serve to rationalize and excuse the absence of public health infrastructure and other services.

In Oakland, for example, ongoing conflicts between professionals have done little to help communities in need, and disguise a de facto consensus around school closures. California’s online learning mandate was largely decided at the state level by the governor’s office. This did not stop the Oakland teachers’ union from holding a pro-closure demonstration in front of the Oakland schools superintendent’s home. The Oakland NAACP wrote a letter condemning the action for targeting the superintendent, who is a Black woman. The East Bay DSA responded in support of the union, citing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities.

Virtual learning is training affluent students for a life of self-directed work at home. It is training low-income students for a life of no work at all.

Around the same time, elementary school principals in Oakland wrote a letter asking middle class parents to refrain from forming independently organized educational “pandemic pods,” arguing that this would be “exacerbating educational inequities.” Meanwhile, the Oakland teachers’ union was spending valuable time in reopening negotiations demanding a Black Reparations Fund. The union proposed that Local Control Funding Formula money for foster youth, English language learners, and low-income students be redirected to new “Black Sanctuary District” programs.

The woke posturing in Oakland demonstrates a pattern of California educators and other professionals wielding their cultural power to uphold tech profits while taking for granted the profound economic inequalities caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. The major stakeholders, while supposedly at odds, all supported government frugality as a science-based safety measure. With online learning now fully in place, social justice narratives contend that staring at screens is emancipation.

Various tech initiatives like the Modern Classrooms Project allege that online learning is progressive because it allows for self-pacing. The concept of virtual self-pacing is tied to declarations that some students are “thriving” through online education. School, proponents of distance learning claim, is perhaps too long, too demanding; the standards and expectations may be too high. Distance learning, they argue, allows kids to organize their own time, regardless of whether it is developmentally appropriate or not.

Similarly, education theories such as “Abolitionist Teaching” posit that white supremacy creates trauma for Black students at school. Therefore, the fundamental structures of school must be rethought. Intellectuals and writers who characterize school as inherently racist are assisting in a union-busting project. Abolitionist theorists even call on teachers’ unions themselves to demand curriculum and personnel changes, and scheduling that adheres to anti-racist thought.

The digitization of schools is an initial step toward digitization of society as a whole. Just as the school bell schedule was designed around the factory model, so the current model of virtual learning is training affluent students for a life of self-directed work at home. It is training low-income students for a life of no work at all.

Rejecting a Lockdown Future

“The long-term effects of school closures will define a generation. Children are facing increased rates of severe abuse and a mental health catastrophe. We’ve told children that their existence is harmful and their lives are unimportant. We abandoned them and they won’t forget it.”

"Greater income inequality, increased unemployment, growing dependence on government, and more mass migrations are a few of the most pressing problems that failing to train the next generation of workers for the digitally driven economy will bring." [page 3]

“Greater income inequality, increased unemployment, growing dependence on government, and more mass migrations are a few of the most pressing problems that failing to train the next generation of workers for the digitally driven economy will bring.” [page 3]


Given this threat to the teaching profession, the CTA and local unions must divest from corporate interests that aim to dismantle labor. Bribing politicians can only get educators so far. Teachers can no longer give in to the mafia-style antics of the Democratic Party if they want to survive. Union dues should not be spent on Newsom’s reelection campaign, but on a state-wide strike fund. Charter school champions benefit when public schools lose enrollment because of systematic mismanagement. They will also benefit when the union starts hemorrhaging membership due to its corruption and negligence.Since March the American left has framed neoliberal lockdown policies as the only morally viable option for dealing with COVID-19. In doing so, they have fetishized teachers’ unions and used their labor negotiations as the prime example of worker support for lockdown. Now that the damage has been done and soaring unemployment has disempowered all workers, the left may begin to roll back its discredited justifications for lockdown. No matter what challenges arise, social services and public institutions should be non-negotiable for any socialist, populist, or pro-worker politics.

Schools are necessary for communal and individual well-being—they are just as essential as health care. In their education children do not only learn content; they also learn by example and through experience. It is our collective task to consider what message continued policies of school closure and austerity send to the younger generation. They will not forget it if we fail to develop alternatives.

[Alex Gutentag is a public school teacher in California and a former union representative. You can follow her on Twitter at @galexybrane]

Did Wrongdoings in Africa Force M-Kopa Solar to Rebrand? [B Team Africa, Gates, Generation Investment]

Cyprian Nyakundi

December 24, 2020

 

 

“The financial industry is undergoing rapid technological change… The increase in demand for digital services triggered by COVID-19 is turbo-charging this transformation.”

 

“Fintech’s potential to reach out to over a billion unbanked people around the world, and the changes in the financial system structure that this can induce, can be revolutionary.”

 

December 17, 2020, What is Really New in Fintech, IMF Blog

 

“Upon first glance, a person would assume this business is the selling of solar. Yet this assumption would be a mistake. The product is finance: “About a quarter of those who pay off their first purchase move on to others, the company says.” This is colonization in a 21st century new form. Colonization via debt made possible by the selling of Western values. Other vultures exploiting the impoverished and vulnerable under the guise of green and “clean energy for all” include iniquitous organizations, such as the Gates Foundation and Mastercard.”

 

January 28, 2019: An Inconvenient Case Study: M-Kopa Solar, Africa, [The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Most Inconvenient Truth: “Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart”, ACT III]

 

 

US President Barack Obama visits M-KOPA stand at the UNEP offices in 2015

US President Barack Obama visits M-KOPA stand at the UNEP offices in 2015

 

B Team Africa's Jesse Moore, Photo by World Economic Forum

B Team Africa’s Jesse Moore, Photo by World Economic Forum

 

The B Team continues to grow and expand its coalition of corporate executives. In 2018, Indra Nooyi, chairman and former CEO of PepsiCo, joined the coalition. More recently, The B Team welcomed Ajay Banga, president and CEO of MasterCard. Another B Team leader is Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical Company. Liveris also serves as a member of The Nature Conservancy’s Latin America Conservation Council, and the Concordia Leadership Council. ”

 

September 17, 2019, We Mean Business Co-founder – The B Team [The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: They Mean Business, Volume II, Act IV]

 

Blacklock’s Reporter is a subscription service that monitors corruption in Canada and in the light of the WE Charity scandals, it has been one of the sites that has continued to give timely briefs.

The site has made a link between Jesse Moore, CEO of M-Kopa and Craig Kielburger, CEO of We Charity, another organization accused of siphoning off Canada taxpayer money in Kenya.

M-Kopa is described as a ‘money-losing door-to-door sales company in Nairobi that received millions in federal funding’ (funded by Canadian taxpayers).

Jesse Moore, a former Toronto child activist, earlier served in a youth leaders’ group with WE Charity co-founder Craig Kielburger.

WE Charity Scandal in Kenya

  1. We Charity forces whistle-blower to recant evidence of mistreatment
  2. WE Charity suspicious activities that should get the attention of Kenyan authorities
  3. We Charity shuts down Canadian operations after scandal

The link between We Charity’s Craig Kielburger and M-Kopa’s Jesse Moore

The issue was picked up by a Canadian MP in an interview with a Toronto radio station last Thursday (Last week) and it’s becoming an emerging scandal in Canada.

 

Kampala, Uganda – October 25, 2018 – “Mastercard in partnership with M-KOPA Solar and Centenary Bank, celebrated the first ‘pay-as-you-go’ QR transaction this week, officially launching the initiative, which provides a simple and inexpensive way to power the homes and businesses of Ugandans.”

"Pay-As-You-Go and the Internet of Things: Driving a New Wave of Financial Inclusion in the Developing World"

“Pay-As-You-Go and the Internet of Things: Driving a New Wave of Financial Inclusion in the Developing World”

 

January 22, 2020, World Economic Forum, Davos: "How are the pioneers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution shaping the future of society?"

January 22, 2020, World Economic Forum, Davos: “How are the pioneers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution shaping the future of society?”

 

Jesse Moore, CEO of M-Kopa. Moore is a shareholder and chief executive of M-Kopa Holdings Ltd., a Kenyan firm that sells home appliances, cellphones and household loans on the installment plan. M-Kopa was the first recipient of FinDev funding on a promise of “creating good quality jobs in East Africa.” M-Kopa laid off 150 employees two days after FinDev announced its initial share purchase in 2018. The company lost $51 million (Sh5.5 billion) over two years as taxpayer funds were spent on the company, according to financial records.

Also FinDev admitted giving another US$ 2 million (Sh218 million) in 2019, after the firing of the 150 software developers became public news.
In the past, FinDev, a federal agency bought $15.4 million (Sh1.7 billion) in shares in M-Kopa Holdings Limited.

FinDev has confirmed it was aware Moore held shares in the company. The agency has an observer on the M-Kopa board, but would not comment on salary and benefits approved for the chief executive.

“FinDev has an observer status that allows us to be informed about M-Kopa’s business developments,” said Shelley Maclean, a spokesperson for the agency. “Following its investment in M-Kopa, in January FinDev was made aware of certain employee share purchases that took place.”

Moore is a former director with CARE Canada and a 2006 Fellow at Action Canada, a federally-subsidized “leadership development” program for students. Kielburger was also a 2006 Fellow in the program.

In the article, the predatory M-Kopa is refusing to cooperate.

On other note, M-Kopa has told staff it is exiting the solar business in Uganda and will focus on its 26,899/- A11 phones (https://m-kopa.com/kenya/products/) on an extreme high-interest payment plan ( you can get same phone on Jumia for 13,500 ).

At the same time it has taken the word “Solar” out of all of its brand identity- https://m-kopa.com/ does not have the old M-Kopa Solar logo anymore. In Kenya they are telling staff that solar will reduce as they become a pure predatory phone finance company.  https://androidkenya.com/2020/01/samsung-m-kopa-phone/  And they are only selling phones, not solar, in Nigeria and Ghana.

 

"Stay Entertained"

“Stay Entertained”

 

 

The Great Reset: The Final Assault on the Living Planet [It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social, Part III]

The Great Reset: The Final Assault on the Living Planet [It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social, Part III]

November 28, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

Part three. This is the final segment of a three-part investigative series. [Part 1] [Part 2]

 

Artificial intelligence, Automation – & Cyberwarfare

 

Announced at the Global Inclusive Growth Summit on October 21, 2019, the Imperative 21 RESET campaign was launched to the public on September 13, 2020. A front campaign of The Business Roundtable, the six founding coalition partners are The B Team, JUST Capital, B Lab, Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP), Inclusive Capitalism and Conscious Capitalism. [Further reading: The Business Roundtable/CURT a Systematic Destruction of Labor]

 

“It’s an unprecedented coalition of business networks that have come together to raise our ambition. Not just to help our individual CEOs succeed,  we’ll do that for sure. But to actually bring their voices together to help shift culture. So that the pushback on the BRT [Business Roundtable] from different business publications or other people within the business community lessens. So there’s less of a headwind culturally for this type of leadership.”

 

Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab and B Corporations [Source]

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is described as, “systems that combine sophisticated hardware and software with elaborate databases and knowledge-based processing models to demonstrate characteristics of effective human decision making.” [Source] The World Economic Forum recognizes AI as “the engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. [Source] AI as applied/ utilized by social media platforms is trained with an objective and exploitative function: target users with ads for maximum ad revenue, by highlighting the newsfeed ensuring users remain on the platform for as many hours, minutes and seconds as possible. This function is highlighted by The Social Dilemma, while, ultimately, the sole function of every corporation, that of increasing revenues and maximizing profits – ad infinitum, is kept opaque.

Any technology that has power can be corrupted. In this respect, AI is perhaps the most dangerous. Hacking (PC, mobiles, viruses) is accomplished by injecting code – code that can be then detected. Deep learning, referred to as artificial intelligence, is a giant array of numbers. The AI models are self-modifying on a continuous basis, thus, it is unknown how hacking AI can – or will – be aptly detected. [Source: October 5, 2018, The Artificial Intelligence Race and the New World, Order, Council on Foreign Relations – The Malcolm and Carolyn Wiener Lecture on Science and Technology]. “Imagine tens of millions of numbers in the deep learning algorithm that’s updating itself anyway, because it’s getting more data, retraining itself. Some bad people just tweak a few numbers and all of a sudden, it might be out of control.” [Source] Meaning, for example, a hacker may succeed in turning autonomous vehicles into autonomous weapons that kill people en masse. Imagine fully autonomous nuclear weapons or autonomous nuclear power plants, the hacking of which – or malfunction of – could result in the annihilation of an entire nation, or the entire planet.

Here again, it is more important what both The Social Dilemma and the Center for Humane Technology do not divulge, rather than what they do. The Fourth Industrial Revolution cannot come into fruition without the 5G infrastructure that will run the Internet of Things. “Smart” cities must be understood within the context of global policing and the military industrial complex. Cybersecurity will be the battle space of the 21st century.

“The potential for nuclear escalation in a conventional conflict with autonomous systems is compounded by the way that autonomous systems could enable adopters to fight faster than those operating non-autonomous systems do at present… A military force that is heavily invested in AI could essentially enable faster operations by autonomous systems relative to remotely-piloted or inhabited systems. Some Chinese scholars have hypothesized that this trend could result in a “battlefield singularity,” in which the pace of action on the battlefield eclipses the speed of human decision-making.” [Source]

Remarks to the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Convention, October 4, 2016, as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, Washington, D.C.:

Q:  “You didn’t mention about autonomous systems. In light of the third off-set strategy, what is your thinking about letting in the future autonomous systems make lethality decisions without a human in the loop?”

 

A:  “I purposely didn’t talk a lot about the technology behind the third off-set because in a audience like this, you get that the most important thing is the operational concepts and the organizational constructs that employ that technology. But let me state this, state it this way.  There will be some instances where operations are happening at machine speeds and we will have to rely upon A.I. and autonomy to actually fight.” [Source]

Automation bias is when humans effectively surrender their judgment to machines:

“Of particular concern in the design of intelligent decision support systems is the human tendency toward automation bias, which occurs when a human decision maker disregards or does not search for contradictory information in light of a computer-generated solution which is accepted as correct. Operators are likely to turn over decision processes to automation as much as possible due to a cognitive conservation phenomenon and teams of people, as well as individuals, are susceptible to automation bias.” [Further reading: Automation Bias in Intelligent Time Critical Decision Support System, AIAA 1st Intelligent Systems Technical Conference, 20-22 September, 2004]

To fully comprehend this risk, a cognitive conservation phenomenon, one must contemplate the Stanislav Petrov incident.  In 1983, the satellite-based Soviet Oko nuclear early warning system detected that an intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile had been launched by the United States. The automated system reported, with the “highest” confidence, that a U.S. missile strike was underway. Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, on duty, was responsible for alerting his Soviet superiors of the attack. The siren sounded while a large screen instructed “launch” in bold red letters. The siren continued to sound as the computer identified a secondary, third, fourth and fifth missile launch, changing its instruction from “launch” to “missile strike.” Doubting the accuracy of the computer system, Petrov did not react with counter missiles, later explaining “I had a funny feeling in my gut”. He resisted falling victim to automation bias and reported a system malfunction to his superiors, rather than responding with a counter strike. Rather than launching a nuclear war. Rather than ceding his own judgment to a machine. If this had of been a fully autonomous system, as desired by global technocrats, the counter strike would have been automatic, likely unimpeded by human intervention.

[In his own words: Ex-Soviet officer Stanislav Petrov reported a possible 1983 US missile launch as a false alarm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7EmLf4Xlq0]

In 2003, U.S. army investigators found that automation bias was pervasive within the “Patriot community”, which espoused a culture of “trusting the system without question”. “Patriot operators” exhibited an “unwarranted and uncritical trust in automation. In essence, control responsibility [was] ceded to the machine.” [Source]

“The more a country fears that, in a world without using autonomous systems, its ability to retaliate to a nuclear strike would be at risk, the more attractive autonomous systems may appear.”

 

A Stable Nuclear Future? The Impact of Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence, December 2019

6G promises increased bio-cybernetic identity (identity critical service architecture, sensing based machine learning, distribution of trust) and cyber security. Now consider activity that is deemed criminal by larger society. Rather than obtaining physical keys and/or passwords to acquire access, one will require biometric access. That is, heads (face recognition), eyes (retina scanning), and/or hands.

The AI arms race between China and the US is already well underway (with China having launched its blockchain in April 2020, for global commercial use). The idea that regulation and safeguards cab be applied to AI, ensuring both privacy and data are protected, borders on the edge of a collective psychosis. Such are the lies we tell ourselves in order to sleep at night.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Its Impact on Occupational Health and Safety, Worker’s Compensation and Labor Conditions”, September, 2019:

“In FIR [fourth industrial revolution], nonstandard employment will be common. As a result, it is difficult to receive OHS services and compensation. Excessive trust in new technologies can lead to large-scale or new forms of accidents. Global business networks will cause destruction of workers’ biorhythms, some cancers, overwork, and task complexity. The social disconnection because of an independent work will be a risk for worker’s mental health. The union bonds will weaken, and it will be difficult to apply standardized OHS regulations to multinational enterprises.”

The Unfinished Network includes Ashoka, Aspen Institute, Ford Foundation, For Freedoms, Georgetown University, Imperative 21, the Max Steinbeck Charitable Trust, McCourt, Mil M2, PolicyLink, and The Shed.

Tristan Harris, co-founder, The Center for Humane Technology. ” By tapping into the power of communities, creative media and new technology, Unfinished connects thought leaders, culture shapers, policy makers and innovators to provoke ideas, elevate unheard voices and pursue collaborations for greater impact. Unfinished is headquartered in New York City and its network partners span the world.” [Source]

Rather than a collective demand from the citizenry to terminate the foray into unchartered territory, fully recognized as extremely dangerous and high-risk by those pushing the technologies forward, a discourse is manufactured. Fearing global opposition, the public is safely re-routed and encouraged to, “demand” a future that respects “humane technology”, with adherence to the precautionary principle, kept both out of sight and out of mind. In public relations, this is referred to as “crisis management”. That is, getting ahead of a crisis – monitoring, controlling and shaping public perception at all times. The wish for a “humane technology” is one that will not come true.

Smash the Smartphone

As of July 2020, there were over 290 million Facebook users in India. With 2.6 billion monthly active users, 98% of active Facebook users access the platform via mobile, with over 90% of Facebook’s ad revenues coming in via the device. [Source] Mobile advertising has become the lion’s share of Facebook’s total advertising revenue in recent years, growing from a mere 11% in 2012 to a whopping 92 percent in 2018. This translates to over 50 billion U.S. dollars in annual mobile ad revenues.” [Source]

Graph: Share of Facebook's mobile advertising revenue from 2012 to 2018, Source: Statista

Graph: Share of Facebook’s mobile advertising revenue from 2012 to 2018, Source: Statista

 

In the fiscal quarter ending March 31, 2020, 98% of Facebook’s revenue was generated through advertising. The social network’s global mobile sponsored stories account for approximately half of this advertising revenue – while approximately 50% of Apple’s revenue came from a single device, the iPhone. [Source] [Source]

Facebook revenues at a glance:

-Approximately 2.7 billion monthly active users

-98% of Facebook users access the platform via mobile

-Over 90% of ad revenues are earned via mobile

-98% of revenue was generated through advertising in 2020

-The network’s global mobile sponsored stories account for approximately half of the advertising revenue

Harris is quick to point out that, “The solution isn’t abstinence, the solution is connection.” [Thrive Global interview with Tristan Harris, April 9, 2017] Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. The solution isn’t connection – via the mobile, the solution is abstinence.

More than just abstaining, the solution has to be for everyone who owns a smartphone to trash it – never looking back. It is fact that “the fourth industrial revolution [“Great Reset”] flows through a mobile”. [Source] The smartphone is the conduit. Although the smartphone is the key to unlocking future nightmares, it’s also very much a double-edged sword. In the same way it serves to uphold the Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture, unveiled to the public as the “Great Reset”, without the smartphone, this very foundation would collapse like a house of cards. The truth is, if no one purchased smartphones, they would give them away in cereal boxes.

But this window is closing.

In the 2030 6G era, “smart phones are likely to be replaced by pervasive XR experiences through lightweight glasses”. [“Virtual (VR)11, 12 augmented (AR)13, and mixed reality (MR) technologies are merging into XR, which encompasses wearable displays and interaction mechanisms that create and maintain perceptual illusions.”] [Source: 6G Research Visions 1, September 2019]

“In the most advanced countries, today’s digital consumers (using PCs and smartphones) will likely become tomorrow’s augmented customers, adopting emerging technologies such as AI (via smart speakers) and immersive reality.”

 

— The Mobile Economy 2019, GSMA Intelligence, [Source]

It is critical to note that a vast majority of internet users (91%) now use mobile devices exclusively to go online. [Source] This is significant for a couple of reasons. First of all, this sheds much light on the ever devolving critical thinking skills by those in the West most impacted and captured by the mobile phone. Detailed information, required for in-depth critical thinking, is largely impossible to decipher and analyze using a tiny mobile device.

One should know full well by now that the success of corporate products with names preceded by the word smart – are hinged on the hope that the “consumer”, or targeted demographic, is vacuous. Anything “smart” serves capital first and foremost. Humans have survived successfully for millennia without mobiles. All we require for our survival is healthy food, clean water, clean sanitation, and shelter. And as social animals, we seek physical community, companionship, joy, and love.

The Internet Society, The United Nations & The World Economic Forum

On September 25, 2018, the Internet Society (ISOC), situated in the US and Switzerland, partnered with Facebook to expand internet connectivity in Africa. [Source] Since then, IXP [internet exchange points] workshops have been held in Morocco, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Togo, Lesotho, Burundi, Mauritius, Guinea, Benin and Chad. [Source] Internet Society partners include Access Now (a tentacle of Avaaz) [1] and Center for Democracy & Technology. The Board of Directors, serving as the Center for Democracy & Technology’s governing body, includes Julie Brill,Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft and Philippa Scarlett, Former Deputy Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, The White House. Advisory council members include affiliates of the Charles Koch Institute, RAND Corporation, Walmart, Facebook, Twentieth Century Fox, Amazon, MasterCard and Verizon. [Full list]

The Center was founded in 1992 by internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. Widely referred to the “Fathers of the Internet,” Cerf and Kahn co-designed the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet”, with both having held executive positions at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Cerf serves as Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google since October 2005 with a focus on the future of tech in areas such as artificial intelligence. Since 2010, Cerf has served as a Commissioner for the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development while Kahn serves as chairman, CEO and president of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives. Cerf also serves as member of the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, and was present at the launch of the Panel’s first report, “The Age of Digital Interdependence” released on June 10, 2019. [Source]

The Internet Society “is leading and facilitating the multi-round meetings for the Stakeholders Dialogue to collect, compile, and submit the inputs of the worldwide professionals and experts for future governance of the Internet.”

“I used to think it was a funny joke to say [that] the thing I worry about is 100,000 refrigerators attacking [the] Bank of America. That’s not a joke anymore.”

 

— Vint Cerf, 2020

In January 2019, the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation convened. Created at the behest of the UN Secretary-General the year prior, such a high-level panel is rare, with only around 20 having been convened in the UN’s 70-year history. The 20-strong panel is co-chaired by Jack Ma, founder of Aliba, member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, Foundation Board of World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, Member of the Board of Trustees, World Economic Forum, Global Board of Directors, The Nature Conservancy, co-founder and board of the Breakthrough Energy Ventures (with a focus on nuclear), and Melinda Gates:

“In his appeal to a UN panel of experts led by philanthropist Melinda Gates and Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Secretary-General António Guterres called on its members to reflect on the risks and benefits of our digital age – the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. ‘We need new thinking and innovative ideas to harness the benefits and manage the risks of this digital age,’ he said via video-link, while urging the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation to reflect on how technology could accelerate the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development.”

Handover of the Report of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation to Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

 

Serving the 20-throng panel is “His Excellency” Mohammad Al Gergawi, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future, Chairman of the UAE Council for the Fourth Industrial Revolution; Fadi Chehadé, partner at ABRY in Boston, a private equity firm, and advisory board member with the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution; Dr. Cathy Mulligan is a Visiting Research Fellow at Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering, a Senior Research Associate at University College London in Blockchain and a Fellow and Expert Member of the World Economic Forum’s Blockchain Council; Marina Kolesnik, co-founder of internet ventures and Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum. [Full list]

“Growing opportunities created by the application of digital technologies are paralleled by stark abuses and unintended consequences. Digital dividends co-exist with digital divides. And, as technological change has accelerated, the mechanisms for cooperation and governance of this landscape have failed to keep pace.”

 

— June 10, 2019, “The Age of Digital Interdependence” — Report of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation

At this same time, the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace meeting took place where a more candid, somber and cautionary tone presided, with the UN’s Fabrizio Hochschild, Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination, remarking:

After years of unbridled optimism – justified optimism – surrounding the development of digital technologies of cyberspace, we now have come to the sober realization that those positive developments carry downsides.

 

We’re at the point of asking ourselves, will emerging technologies contribute to peace overall or will they undermine it? Will they generally further access to sustainable development or will they further inequality? Will they facilitate respect for human rights or will they provide new tools to those who wish to contain or violate the realization of human rights?

 

Some 30 States have the capacity to defend themselves and those capacities are daily being built up. But where does that leave the other 163 countries that don’t have such a capacity, or the financial means, or political means to defend themselves?” [Source]

The high-level panel chaired by Gates and Ma has proposed three models: a Digital Commons Architecture (DCA), a Distributed Co-Governance Architecture (CoGov) (voluntary solutions rather than legal instruments), and a reformed Internet Governance Forum (IGF+) (enhances and extends the IGF established in 2005). The proposed “Digital Commons Architecture” would aim to synergise efforts by governments, civil society and businesses to ensure digital technologies promote the SDGs under the pretext of addressing risks of social harm, in addition to developing certification schemes for high-risk technologies such as “autonomous intelligent systems” operated by artificial intelligence (AI). [Source: The Age of Digital Interdependence Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, June 10, 2019] AI and cybersecurity certification schemes represent another lucrative emerging market, with billion dollar certification schemes having served to greenwash, thus secure, the continued plunder of the planet since the early 1990s. Such schemes can serve as a key apparatus in providing and/or maintaining the required social license to operate.  [The EU cybersecurity certification framework]

“Think of personal data as the digital record of “everything a person makes and does online and in the world.”

 

– Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class, World Economic Forum, January 2011

The panel also placed an emphasis on Blockchain. In 2017, the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) piloted the “Building Blocks” project in Sindh, Pakistan, employing the Ethereum Blockchain to distribute aid and test biometrics. This program falls under SDG #2, “zero hunger” (an emerging market in the poverty economy), and #17, partnerships. Following the test-run with 100 citizens, the second phase was then rolled out in Jordan at two refugee camps. This phase commenced with 10,000 refugees, then scaled to 100,000. The next phase is to increase the refugee participants to 500,000. Whereas in the Pakistan pilot, smartphones were used for the transactions, the Jordan project switched over to a private blockchain – with eye-scanning hardware to confirm the identity of those receiving aid. Refugees received a debit in the form of a “virtual wallet”  to be spent exclusively within the giant WFP-contracted supermarkets (“hypermarkets”). Checkout would be authorized via the IrisGuard “EyePay”.

 

“Syrian refugees receive foodstuff through the iris scan service launched by the World Food Program at Tazweed centre in the Al-Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, near the border with Syria, November 23, 2016.” Reuters/Muhammad Hamed [Source]

The first major testing ground, the Zaatari Refugee Camp, encloses 80,000 displaced citizens (150,000 in 2013) – with nearly 60%  of the displaced (55.8%, January 2020) under 17 years of age. Overseen by 44-45 organizations such as USAID, UKAID and NGOs including Oxfam, ACTED and IRD, Zaatari [2] is now referred to as one of the many growing permanent settlements: thousands of acres of land, holding tens of thousands of displaced people, enclosed within barbed wire fence perimeters, contained by police and military. Today, these open prisons, created by imperialist aggression against targeted sovereign states, are being redesigned and redefined as “liveable cities” and “smart cities. In 2014, it was reported that Zaatari costs approx. a half million dollars per day to run (with half a million pieces of bread and 4.2m litres of water distributed daily.) The second testing ground, the Azraq Camp (holds roughly 40,000 displaced peoples in 2020) would result in 100,000 blockchain transactions (totaling 1 million dollars) and retina scans. The WFP has a record of every transaction – with data as a new asset class. These transactions and iris scans will remain on the blockchains utilized (both public and private) – for eternity. In this video overview, the imperial destabilization and attempted annihilation of Syria is framed as a “civil war”, while the data harvesting itself is framed as privilege. Building Blocks is growing and set to expand.[Source][Source] [Source][Source] Jordan remains the second largest refugee host per capita worldwide with 650,000 – 750,000 displaced peoples. [Source]

The World Food Programme has three foundation partnerships: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Corporate supporters include PepsiCo, MasterCard, and Unilever. [Corporate Partners]

“Personal data is the new oil of the Internet and the new currency of the digital world.”

 

Meglena Kuneva, European Consumer Commissioner, March 2009, Personal Data

On June 11, 2020, UN Secretary-General Guterres announced the issuance of his report, Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, “on the impact of rapid technological change on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets”. High Level Speakers included: Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, Ajay Banga, Chief Executive Officer, MasterCard, Nick Read, Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone Group, Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utolkamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), “Baroness” Joanna Shields OBE, Chief Executive Officer, BenevolentAI, and Andrew Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Internet Society. [Source]

June 11, 2020, The State of the Digital World Today / Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, Klaus Schwab:

“Since the onset of Corona Virus, internet usage has increased by 70%, the use of communication apps has increased by 300%, and virtual collaboration tools by 600 percent. And some video streaming services have grown twenty fold.”

Schwab goes on to point out that this increase is only true for those connected to the internet. And that 30 years after the invention of the world wide web (1989) by Timothy John Berners-Lee, global internet users comprise just 53% of the world population. To accelerate the goal of internet access and consumption by every human being on Earth, the World Economic Forum has developed a joint action plan with the ITU, the World Bank, GSMA and industry partners. The plan seeks immediate acceleration of private public partnerships in 170 countries with a focus on digital infrastructure, user expansion, digital identity and digital payment systems and currencies. Schwab: “This fast-track partnership is deeply encouraging. A number of our partners have highlighted that we have made more progress in the last four months than in the last ten years.” [June 10, 2020]

“It is clear so the COVID-19 crisis is a watershed moment for digital infrastructure and services. Digital is the fabric of our post-covid lives. We will continue to rely on technology more and more. Unless we rapidly tackle the challenge to bring high quality universal internet access to all we will not be able to build inclusive economies or achieve our system.”

 

World Economic Forum founder and CEO Klaus Schwab, June 10, 2020

Data Centers: A Hyperscale Tsunami of Renewable Energy Consumption is Underway

ANSHUN, CHINA – MARCH 13: Aerial view of Tencent’s biggest data center under construction in the mountainous area of the hinterland on March 13, 2018 in Anshun, Guizhou Province of China. As Tencent’s chairman Pony Ma Huateng referred in a media briefing in Beijing, his firm will continue to mine vast amounts of data to bolster a number of businesses including its own. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

“It has recently been discovered that data-intensive algorithms, such as at-scale machine learning training algorithms, are much more energy-intensive than was previously assumed.”

The Hyperconnected World of 2030–2040, 2019 [Source]

 

“The international data corporation estimates that 152,000 new devices will be connecting to the internet every minute by 2025.”

 

“This will become completely unsustainable by 2040.”

 

— Anders Andrae, Senior Expert of Energy Efficiency, Emission Reduction, Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment, Huawei Technologies, Sweden

Disconnected from the natural world, Western academia, sciences et al., continue to assign names to technology belonging to the very things being lost or systematically destroyed: “walled garden” (“a closed ecosystem in which all the operations are controlled by the ecosystem operator” i.e. Facebook and Google), “walled gardens of things” (constraint), “spiderweb of things” (transformation), “asteroid belt of things” (collapse), islands of things (growth), data center server “farms”, the internet and digital “ecosystems”, “apple”, Amazon, the “cloud”, “pollinators”. The list is endless.

“Behind the peaceful image of a white cumulus is a less poetic reality, that of data centres composed of thousands of servers that not only need plenty of energy to run, back up and store your files, but also air conditioning, 24 hours a day.”

 

What Colour is the Cloud, June 21, 2019

The Social Dilemma, the Center for Humane Technology, and society at large, may speak of climate change, yet what is not addressed, in addition to militarism being a key driver of climate change, is the growing energy demand of information communications technology (ICT) which includes traditional data centers (server farms), network services, and hyperscale data centers. There is growing alarm over the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions belonging to the exponential growth of the ICT industry. Of particular concern are the hyperscale data centers which are owned and operated by corporations Microsoft, Google, and Apple, etc. [“Hyperscale refers to the capability of an IT [information technology] system or architecture to scale exponentially and rapidly to respond to demand that is increasingly heavily.”][Source] There are now over 8 million data centers littering the planet, with 541 hyper scale data centers worldwide. At present, there are currently 176 more hyper scale data centers in development.

In 2017, data superseded oil, becoming the world’s most valuable commodity.

Often described as the “cloud”  – successfully conjuring up a comforting perception that nothing exists beyond your device or laptop) – servers exist in real-world data centres. Information technology spending on data center systems worldwide in 2020 alone is estimated at USD 208 billion. [Source] On January, 15, 2020, Technavio released a report stating “hyperscalers” have invested approximately USD 200 billion in capacity expansion and opening of new data centers. For just a moment, contemplate the fact that those who promise an illusory “stakeholder capitalism” will spend billions to house data, while the subjugated and vulnerable remain homeless.

“We are using an immense amount of energy to drive this data revolution. It has real implications for our climate.”

 

— Jane Kearns, environment and technology expert, MaRS Discovery District, Toronto

The sheer magnitude and size of hyperscale data centers place enormous power demands upon global energy resources. Cisco estimates that by 2021, traffic within hyperscale data centers will have quadrupled, with hyperscale data centers accounting for approx. 55% of all data center traffic. [Source] At the local level, hyperscale data centres embody colossal electricity demand loads, adding pressure to electricity grids which are often already operating under duress. This is especially true for smaller or impoverished countries. Ireland is forecasting that 30% of their entire national grid will be earmarked for data center power consumption by 2028. One only needs to reflect upon the sheer enormity of these facilities proliferating the globe, to recognize the dire ecological impacts and consequences that lie ahead – upon an already plundered and decimated landscape and biosphere.

To ignore the ecological impact behind the exponential growth of ICT (information and communications technology), infrastructure, paramount for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to materialize, is in itself, a deliberate sleight of hand. A hypocritical genre of climate denialism practised and perfected by self-identifying liberals and progressives. At a moment’s notice, this faux left can be assembled on cue by those that preside over the non-profit industrial complex.

2017: Construction on the USD 1 billion 970,000-square-foot hyperscale Facebook data center. The 328-acre site became operational in 2019. At present, Facebook has 12 hyperscale data centers, nine in the U.S. and three in international markets amounting to nearly 15 million square feet of data center space completed or under construction, with several million more feet in the planning stages. [Source]

ICT (Information and Communications Technology)

Today the ICT industry represents the largest growing consumer of energy on the planet, with greenhouse gas emissions on par, or, more likely, far in excess of aviation. Depending on scope, in 2020 ICT accounts for up to 8% of the total global electricity. [Source] At the current rate of growth, approximately 9% each year (2018), the total electricity consumption of ICTs is projected to require 20% of the world’s electricity by 2025, and 30% all energy produced by 2030. [Source]

As concerns over data center energy consumption mount, obtaining the required data in order to ascertain the level of ecological damage resulting from the data centers becomes even more difficult. As criticisms of the industry grow, the global energy demands by data centers are being deliberately skewed downwards. Downward estimates are able to withstand scrutiny, due to the simple fact that there are no nationally reported statistics for data centers – and no global records. In a global corporatocracy, where hyper centers are privately owned by Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, et al., it is of little surprise that the tremendous energy consumed within these vast infrastructures is kept deliberately obscure. [3]

In 2010 there was a broad consensus that worldwide, data centers consumed approximately 194 TWh (terawatt-hours of electricity) of energy, representing about 1% of total demand. This is on par with the entire energy consumption of Iran that same year. [Source] In 2017, the EIA repeated this number for the year 2014: “Data centres worldwide consumed around 194 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2014, or about 1% of total demand. Although data centre workload is forecast to triple by 2020, related energy demand is expected to grow by only 3% thanks to continued efficiency gains.” In 2018, the figure for global energy consumption by data centers was said to have increased to 205 TWh. [“A 6% rise in power use with data-center computing growing by 550%”] [Source]

Today we can reflect on the past decade. Data centers have undergone “a ten-fold increase in traffic with a 25-fold jump in worldwide storage.” [Source] Yet, in 2020, data center consumption continues to be largely cited as approximately 200 TWh per year – (1% of global electricity consumption).

In 2011 Emerson Network Power stated that there were 509,147 data centers worldwide, taking up 285.8 million square feet of space – the equivalent of 5,955 football fields.

Again, reflect upon the annual cited consumption of data centers over the ten year time frame: 194 TWh in 2010, and ten years later, in 2020, 200 TWh. The estimate of 1% global energy consumption is referred to for both 2010 and 2020 – despite adding, roughly, 7.5 million data centres.

The 200 TWh of energy consumption per year claim (that remains flat) claim is further challenged by the European Union’s own research that concluded European data centers consumed 130 TWh in 2017, a 25% increase from 2014 (104 TWh), while Greenpeace reported China’s data industry to amount to 160 TWh in 2018. Together, these two figures alone suggest an annual total of 290 TWh. [Source] Further, consider that the consumption does not remain flat in the EU, despite having the newest, therefore most efficient, data centers.

In 2015, Siemens reported the global power demand for data centers as 416.2 TWh (far exceeding the UK’s total consumption, approximately 300 TWh).

Adding an additional 100 TWh to the 290 TWh cited above (the EU and China), in 2016, a Berkeley laboratory report for the US government estimated that the country’s data centres could require over 100 TWh of electricity a year by 2020, the rough equivalent of 10 large nuclear power stations. [Source] In 2017, data centers in the US alone used more than 90 TWh, the rough equivalent of 34 coal-powered plants generating 500 megawatts of power each. [Source]

2015 graphic, Siemens

In 2017, Hewlett Packard cites the energy consumption by data centers worldwide at 400 TWh:

2017 Hewlett Packard Presentation [Source]

While in 2018, “Nature”, Bloomberg, IEA, etc., continued to promote 200 TWh.

2018 Nature graphic

2018 Nature graphic

 

 

On January 6, 2020, the Uptime Institute assessed the global consumption of data centers as high as 500 TWh per annum. [Bashroush & Lawrence, 2020]. For some added perspective, 500 TWh is the equivalent of 50 large nuclear power stations:

“It seems likely that the annual consumption of energy by data centers is somewhere between 400 terawatt-hours (TWh) and 500 TWh, depending on what is counted as a data center. To put things in perspective in terms of demand, research by Uptime Institute Intelligence shows that every time an image is posted on Instagram by the Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo (who at the time of writing has the highest number of followers on the platform), his more than 195 million followers consume nearly 30 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy to view it.”

 

Beyond PUE: Tackling IT’s wasted terawatts, Uptime Institute Intelligence report, Jan 6, 2020

The most dire assessments on the growing magnitude of energy consumed by communications technology and data centers comes from Anders Andrae, senior researcher at Huawei Technologies in Sweden. At the October 2017 Nordic Digital Business Summit Andrae forecast that communications technology may account for more than 20 percent of global energy consumption (20.7%) by 2025, accounting for 5.5% of the world’s total carbon emissions. These numbers represented the expected case scenario taking into account future energy efficiencies.

In respect to growing the exponential growth of data centers, Andrae cautions that data center energy consumption could increase a staggering 15-fold by 2030, amounting to roughly 11% of the global demand.

"The share of ICT of global electricity usage: 2015 to 2025 with and without high global energy efficiency gains" [p. 18, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

“The share of ICT of global electricity usage: 2015 to 2025 with and without high global energy efficiency gains” [p. 18, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

[p. 18, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

In Andrae’s worst-case scenario, it is suggested that communication technologies could use as much as 51% of global electricity in 2030. In this scenario, “CT [communication technologies] electricity usage could contribute up to 23% of the globally released greenhouse gas emissions in 2030”.

[Annual electricity efficiency (EE) improvements were calculated at 15% (best), 10% (expected), and 5% (worst). From 2022, for EE only, 5% is assumed possible for all scenarios as the authors expect it will become more difficult to improve the electricity efficiency via Moore’s Law.] [p. 28, Andrae, A.S.G.; Edler, T. On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030. Challenges 2015, 6, 117-157.]

“The results shown in Figure 9c imply that the data centers and FAN [Fixed Access Networks] could drive a staggering 66% of the global CT electricity use in 2030, with fixed access Wi-Fi 15% and data centers 26%.” [p. 24, Andrae, A.S.G.; Edler, T. On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030. Challenges 2015, 6, 117-157.]

Figure 8. "Share of communication technology of global electricity usage 2010–2030 As shown in Figure 8 [], the share of CT Sectors, depending on scenario, in 2010 is 8%–14%, in 2020 6%–21% and in 2030 8%–51%, respectively.' [p. 22, Andrae, A.S.G.; Edler, T. On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030. Challenges 2015, 6, 117-157.]

Figure 8. “Share of communication technology of global electricity usage 2010–2030 As shown in Figure 8 [], the share of CT Sectors, depending on scenario, in 2010 is 8%–14%, in 2020 6%–21% and in 2030 8%–51%, respectively.’ [p. 22, Andrae, A.S.G.; Edler, T. On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030. Challenges 2015, 6, 117-157.]

[p. 21, The share of different sections of ICT of global electricity use in 2015 and 2025, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

[p. 21, The share of different sections of ICT of global electricity use in 2015 and 2025, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

[Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

In regard to the Internet of Things, Andrae suggests that billions of internet-connected devices alone could produce 3.5% of global emissions within a ten year timeline, growing to 14% of global emissions by 2040. [Source]

And as bleak as these scenarios are (with even the best case scenarios projecting substantial increases in emissions) – the overall situation is much worse for one simple reason: the authors’ reliance on renewable energies as a means of mitigating overall impact (damage):

“However, until 2030, globally-generated renewable electricity is likely to exceed the electricity demand of all networks and data centers.” [Abstract, On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030]

 

“We believe that CT driven optimization of the electricity systems is a strong trend and a prerequisite for renewable power sources.” [p. 17, On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030]

 

“However, the trend of using renewable power is strong [157,158] and likely many data centers can be run GHG efficient, even if they do not find ways to reduce the absolute electricity usage.” [p. 17, On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030]

 

“To mitigate the worst-case scenario for climate change related to CT, the challenges related to introducing renewable electricity need to be overcome.” [p. 27, On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030]

 

“It seems though that planned power saving measures and innovation will be able to keep the electricity consumption of ICT and the World under control.” [p. 25, 2017, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

 

“Despite evident risks, it seems though that planned power saving measures and innovation will be able to keep the electricity consumption of ICT and the World under some kind of control.” [p. 2, 2019, Projecting the chiaroscuro of the electricity use of communication and computing from 2018 to 2030]

Yet, when one acknowledges the reality that industrial scale renewable energy is not sustainable – a key premise in modelling the ecological impacts of data centers (minimizing impact) – all such assumptions go straight out the window.

Here we can add that Andrae predicted that data centers on their own could produce 1.9Gt (or 3.2% of the global total) of carbon emissions by 2025. [Source] The DXC Technology white paper published in November, 2016 [Data centers play key role in Reducing GHG emissions] estimated that while consuming approx. 3 percent of global electricity, data centers worldwide already accounted for approximately 2% of total GHG emissions:

“Worldwide, it is estimated that data centers consume about 3 percent of the global electric supply and account for about 2 percent of total GHG emissions. That’s about the same as the entire airline industry. Producing electricity consumed by data centers will result in the release of 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2020, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.” [Source]

What becomes lost in discussion, amidst a declared planetary emergency, is the fact that we are adding exponentially to our energy consumption, cancelling out any real emission reductions. The massive growth of data centers that began in the US is now standard in Europe, with hyperscale data centers now expanding into South Asia where average year round temperatures for the humid region hover around 27 degrees Celsius. All while according to studies, approx. 40 percent of the total energy that data centers consume is due to the sensitive cooling [4] requirements of IT technologies. July 9, 2019: “With a projected compound annual growth rate of 13 percent, APAC [Asia Pacific] could eventually surpass the United States and European market.” [Source] In South Asia, a region of deep poverty where 20% of the world’s population reside, 2017 research suggests “that by the end of this century climate change could lead to summer heat waves with levels of heat and humidity that exceed what humans can survive without protection.” [Source]

At the May 2018 Around the World Conference in Canada, Andrae reiterated that ICT infrastructure cannot slow its overall electricity use by 2025, even with most optimistic improvements in data center and network technology. In 2019, Andrae increased his projection: “ICT infrastructure cannot slow its overall electricity use until 2030 and it will use several times more TWh than today. [p. 3, Projecting the chiaroscuro of the electricity use of communication and computing from 2018 to 2030, February, 2019]

Based on the aforementioned information (in addition to that which follows), it is safe to suggest that the energy consumed by data centers worldwide today is an extremely conservative  400-600 TWh – in line with 3-4% of all electricity produced on the planet – and far exceeding the greenhouse gas emissions produced by aviation.

In February 2019, Andrae published an update of his calculations and forecasts presented in 2015. In this study Andrae suggests we may see an increase in the energy demand of data centers worldwide to 1,929 TWh by 2030. For this calculation, Andrae calculated the global energy consumption of data centres in 2018 at 211 TWh. [Andrae, Anders, 2019/02/28, Predictions on the way to 2030 of internet’s electricity use]

On January 2020, CBC News reported that Andrae now expects that the world’s data centers alone will account for a colossal 651 TWh of electricity in the next year:

“Anders Andrae, a researcher at Huawei Technologies Sweden whose estimates are often cited, told CBC News in an email he expects the world’s data centres alone will devour up to 651 terawatt-hours of electricity in the next year. That’s nearly as much electricity as Canada’s entire energy sector produces. And it’s just the beginning.”

 

[Jan 2, 2020, ‘Completely unsustainable’: How streaming and other data demands take a toll on the environment] [International Journal of Green Technology, 2019, Comparison of Several Simplistic High-Level Approaches for Estimating the Global Energy and Electricity Use of ICT Networks and Data Centers, Anders S.G. Andrae]

In 2018, the total amount of electricity generated from the wind industry was 1 263 TWh, with the total from solar industry constituting 562 TWh. [5]

Corporate Damage Control – Hyperscale Greenwash

“We’ll also need vigorous development and deployment of emerging technologies — such as energy storage, advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and storage — that boost the availability of carbonfree energy around the clock.”

 

— Google: Moving toward 24×7 Carbon-Free Energy at Google Data Centers: Progress and Insights, Oct 2018

“Hyperscalers” such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft gloss over the growing concerns over their massive energy consumption by securing renewable-power purchase agreements. With unlimited budgets for public relations campaigns communication strategies, branding, and marketing, the corporate entities heavily publicize commitments to large-scale renewable energy initiatives. “net zero”, and “carbon negative” storytelling. Corporate press releases boast of commitments toward 100 percent renewable energy, as well as the promotion of investments in “*carbon free” energy sources. On September 19 2019, Google, which identifies itself as the “largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world”, announced they had made “the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history”. These investments enable Google to declare it matches 100% of its global annual electricity consumption (for all global operations including data centers), through direct purchases of renewable energy. In layman’s terms – this is called offsetting – without mention of the word itself. It is nothing new and not nearly as exciting as Google would have you believe. Referred to as “CO2 colonialism” by indigenous peoples, offsetting is the means to privatize the skies and Earth’s forests while continuing to expand emissions.

[“Each Google facility is connected to its regional power grid just like any other electricity consumer; the power mix in each region usually includes some carbon-free resources (e.g. wind, solar, hydro, nuclear), but also carbon-based resources like coal, natural gas, and oil. * We define carbon-free energy as any type of electricity generation that does not directly emit carbon dioxide. This includes renewable like solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass. Nuclear power is also carbon free. In the future, our framework can be extended to other technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, that are yet to be deployed at scale but could enable carbon-free power generation from additional sources.] [Source: Google: Moving toward 24×7 Carbon-Free Energy at Google Data Centers: Progress and Insights, October 2018]

Apple announced in 2018 that all of its facilities worldwide including its data centers are now powered by renewable energy. By saturating the public relations spin with never-ending references to wind and solar, this greenwash is made palatable to the liberal class – the non-profit industrial complex having successfully framed these two technologies as “clean”. The “carbon free” energy sources that do not make the headlines are those most sought by the corporate sector: biomass, nuclear, and capture carbon and storage (CCS).

“Amazon committed to achieve “net zero” emissions by 2040, which means it would need to offset any remaining emissions from its operations through investments in carbon removal projects… Amazon is following in the footsteps of another Seattle-area tech behemoth. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced it would spend $1 billion on “carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies,” as part of an effort to offset the software company’s emissions across its entire history.”

 

June 23, 2020, Amazon creates a $2 billion climate fund, as it struggles to cut its own emissions

And despite the fact that “renewable energy” is neither “clean”, nor “green”, nor “emissions free”, as marketed, on September 18 2019, Fortune reported “only 12 percent of Amazon’s Loudoun County data centers and 4.0 percent of Google’s are powered by renewable energy, despite their promise to shift to 100 percent renewable energy”.

Amazon owns nearly half of the cloud market. In July, 2019, it was reported that the annual revenues of Amazon Web Services, had grown to $15.5 billion in the global cloud infrastructure market with revenues of $32.4 billion. Data center industry leaders recognize Amazon Web Services (AWS) as “the invisible foundation of much of the internet.” Microsoft sits at second place, with 15% of the market share. [Source] This same week, Amazon launched a network of new data centers situated in Bahrain, increasing what Amazon cites as “availability zones” to 69 zones across 22 geographic regions, with plans to build nine new zones in Indonesia, Italy and South Africa. Today, Amazon Web Services spans “77 availability zones within 24 geographic regions around the world, and has announced plans for 15 more Availability Zones and 5 more AWS Regions in India, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland.” [Source] Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, is a co-founder of Breakthrough Energy, launched in 2015 (alongside Mission Innovation at COP21 in Paris), with a keen focus on both nuclear and carbon capture and storage technology now being marketed to the public (a key aspect of expanding data center energy consumption). Between March and October, 2020, during the said pandemic, US billionaires saw their “net worth” rise by almost $1 trillion with Bezos on top with a net worth of approx. 200 billion USD. Here we can infer, that the person whose corporation now leads in mass global land degradation, resource use, energy consumption and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions, is also the wealthiest. All while Amazon continues to exploit its workers. All while those in the Global South face literal starvation. This is your new “stakeholder capitalism” as touted by World Economic Forum et al.

On September 14, 2020, Google released its most asinine statement to date: “As of today, we have eliminated Google’s entire carbon legacy (covering all our operational emissions before we became carbon neutral in 2007) through the purchase of high-quality carbon offsets. This means that Google’s lifetime net carbon footprint is now zero. We’re pleased to be the first major company to get this done, today.”

Here we must note that “net zero” has nothing to do with zero emissions, that carbon offsets, an instrument of imperialism and colonialism, do nothing to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions – and that Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, are all co-founders of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (launched in 2015), which houses a $1 billion energy venture fund. Other co-founders of the coalition include aforementioned Jack Ma, and Marc Benioff. Breakthrough’s Mission Innovation, with its focus on nuclear, has partnered with 24 member states in addition to the EU.

“The [Google] white paper also highlights other technologies that could help bridge the gap between renewable power’s inherent intermittency and the consistent needs of its facilities, including “advanced nuclear, enhanced geothermal, low-impact hydro, long-duration storagegreen hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage.” These are the same list of technologies that utilities, states and countries with zero-carbon commitments are planning to rely on to reach their goals.”

 

Sept 14, 2020, Google Pledges 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy by 2030 [Emphasis added]

More to the point – even if renewable energies at scale were in fact a solution (which they are not), effectively replacing fossil fuel energies and lowering greenhouse gas emissions – this newly produced energy is effectively being devoured by the ICT sector. Here we witness the Jevons paradox; the easier it is to consume the product, the greater the increase in consumption. In 2019, coal was the world’s largest source of electricity, representing 35.18% of the total (despite a 3% year-on-year fall), followed by natural gas (23.52%), hydro (16.54%), nuclear (10.52%), wind (5.44%), other fossil fuels (3.47%).  Solar accounted for 2.71%, biomass and waste accounted for 2.24%, with “other renewable” coming in at 0.4%. [Source]

Damage Control by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

Academia, propped up by media – financed and owned by the ruling class – reacts swiftly in such instances. They are aided by those that worship at the altar of capital. [6] A broad consensus is formed that the growing trepidation surrounding exponential energy use and greenhouse gas emissions – corresponding with an exponential growth of data centers – is unfounded. To counter the concerns they cite rapid efficiency gains, and growth in renewable energies at scale (being built into the assumptions). The more the information generates concern, the greater the response by the gatekeepers. In this particular instance the issue is quickly reframed, utilizing the argument that the massive uptake in energy consumption will result in future efficiencies, or, that the growth is countered by rapid increased efficiencies, adding that cloud providers (such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Salesforce, etc.) are rapidly moving to zero emissions sources. A 2008 report produced by the World Wildlife Fund is an example of one such paper cited as a response to Andrae’s bleak assessment: ” A report [May 2008] from the World Wildlife Fund estimated that by 2030 efficiencies from smart devices and systems can potentially reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 8 gigatons, a figure approaching one quarter of total global emissions in 2018.” Here it can be noted that the World Wildlife Fund, which bears responsibility for the displacement and torture of Indigenous and tribal peoples (see the work of Survival International), is leading the charge to financialize nature in partnership with the World Economic Forum and other conservation NGOs.

“One has to search very hard to find a truthful statement from WWF. Lies have become their stock in trade.”

 

conservation ecologist Dr. Mordecai Ogada

 

“The drivers for more energy use are simply too great to be offset by efficiency gains.”

 

Jan 2020, Data center energy use goes up and up and up

The “decoupling” of growth and greenhouse gas emissions has become the preferred method of storytelling by global institutions such as UN-WEF et al., reverberated by those serving capital.

Another prime example is the public relations effort at Ericson: “Ericson, ICT and the climate – Have you ever worried how your online activities impact the climate? According to this report, the true impact may be a lot smaller than you think. [Source] The ICT sector’s carbon footprint could be reduced by over 80 percent if all electricity consumed came from renewable energy sources. [p. 3] 50 years – For the carbon emissions of a person making a transatlantic return flight, a smartphone could be used for over 50 years.” [p. 5] [A quick guide to your digital carbon footprint Deconstructing Information and Communication Technology’s carbon emissions, February 2020] In theory, that a smartphone (of obsolete design) could be used for over 50 years, is perhaps true – yet in reality, Westerners with money (and more importantly, access to debt), replace their smartphones with a new one every two years on average.

In addition to the magic trick of 7.5 million data centers coming online – with little to no added impact to global energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions, is the complete omission of embodied energies and vast “natural resources” (biological communities) extracted (plundered) for the infrastructure. The stunning growth of the data center industry and its increasing demand for energy presents a stark ecological cost to our natural world – with ecosystems already collapsing due to the effects of industrial civilization, driven by the capitalist economic system. It is a tragic irony that this acceleration commences alongside alarm over climate change and protection of biodiversity feigned by the ruling class and industry.

[Source of graphic: Estimating a Data Center’s Electrical Carbon Footprint, White Paper 66, 2010. Note the 10-year life cycle of the data center itself.]

Woke Imperialism

If one considers that the production phase of a smartphone represents 90% of the direct energy consumption – we can safely assume the production required for hyperscale data center technologies, and subsequent impacts of such, are gargantuan.

The “green economy” can only flourish on the foundation of imperialism. Electronic devices are made from rare metals and rare earth elements which can only be extracted and refined using vast amounts of energy. More often than not, these are water-intensive processes. In the process of resource theft, it is those most vulnerable and impoverished who mine the required metals – in countries kept deliberately, and permanently, destabilized by foreign corporate interests and colonial states. Such destabilization and foreign interference will persist until the targeted state becomes depleted of the resource. In addition, land, forests and water become barren toxic wastelands, poisoning all life and the biosphere itself. The “great reset” of the global economy is the rebooting of imperialism and colonization of the Global South.

 

 

Add to this the fact that the Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture, built upon, dependent upon, 5G and 6G communication internet technologies, may very well require more metals than the Earth can provide. As a result, industry has already begun its pursuit of yet another emerging market –  seabed mining, at scale.

And as oligarchs forge ahead with their plans to mine the planet’s oceans as the next terrain for industrial plunder, global tech giants have yet another vision of what the full colonization of oceans may entail. On September 14, 2020 Microsoft announced “underwater data centers are a go” after its researchers retrieved the prototype  sealed capsule of a data center, off the shores of Orkney Islands, Scotland, where it had been submerged in the spring of 2018. [Source] The experiment, Project Natick was the second carried out by Microsoft. The first capsule was submerged off the California coast in 2014.

Energy intensive recycling, on almost every level, has proven to be a spectacular failure – and yet it has morphed into another trillion dollar industry. For this reason, storytelling, to convince the citizenry to believe that recycling will be a key component of mitigating environmental impacts and destruction going forward, will persist.

Added to the aforementioned issues, to which we are collectively blind, or perhaps oblivious to, is the obsolescence by design. In most cases, the life span of a data center is typically 10 years at best. Hyperscale data centers are expected to last between 15 and 20 years. These short life spans are still out of sync with the far faster pace of the internet technologies (IT) that comprise the centers with a vast amount of the components being replaced at a 2-5 year refresh cycle: “Hyperscalers use IT equipment for only a few initial years of its much longer useful life, and for them that’s it. It’s onto the next best CPU, or the next best storage technology.”[Source]

In addition to this accelerating nightmare, coolants for data centers require toxic/hazardous chemicals, while large diesel generators are required for power shortages and outages. Consider that the Apple data center which was planned for Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland, but scrapped in 2018 would have required 144 large diesel generators as back-up for when there was no wind, or insufficient renewable energy production, to support the power demands. [Source] In addition to diesel generators, battery (lead acid) back-ups are required for power shortages. This leads to another nightmare, now unfolding.

Lithium.

Here we must take into account, the escalating global tensions as power shifts to China. Rare earth metals and minerals are coveted by the world’s most powerful states. Access to these geographical regions, where the metals and minerals are found in abundance, is today a non-negotiable imperative for imperial governments and the transnational corporations they serve.

“A 2018 Bloomberg New Energy Finance report forecasted that Li-ion technology will comprise 40 percent of all data centre backup batteries by 2025, and that in the hyperscale sector, Li-ion will become the predominant battery technology, accounting for 55 percent of UPS [Uninterruptible Power Supply] batteries.” [October 23, 2019]

January 11. 2020: “The uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is the cornerstone of the modern data centre, and is one of the primary culprits of inefficient usage of hardware. Traditional lead-based batteries are becoming increasingly redundant… Huawei’s SmartLi UPS solution answers the call by leveraging the company’s cutting-edge Li-ion battery technology and delivering a ‘reinvention’ of the power supply system for the next generation of data centres… Reliability is further enshrined within the product with its 10-year, 5,000 cycle lifetime.” [Source: The importance of the lithium-ion battery for future data centers]

No further do we need to look, to see the “green energy transition”, as imperialism, quantified, than the November 11, 2019 coup in Bolivia, a country holding vast reserves of Earth’s lithium. (The single largest lithium deposit in the Salar de Uyuni, a salt pan, is so massive, it can be seen from space.)

 

Musk on Twitter, July 25, 2020: ""We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it."

Musk on Twitter, July 25, 2020: “”We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

 

On July, 25, 2020, billionaire and SpaceX founder Elon Musk responded to a comment directed toward him on Twitter. The comment read: “You know what wasn’t in the best interest of people? The U.S. government organizing a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia so you could obtain the lithium there.” Musk responded with “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.” Evo Morales, the first Indigenous president of Bolivia, overthrown in a coup, responded to Musk, drawing attention to the massacres that resulted from the coup, with a reminder of the Bolivian peoples’ sovereignty and self-determination: “We will always defend our resources!” That Musk is a grotesque human being, yet celebrated in our rapidly devolving Western culture, as a person to be both worshipped and emulated, speaks to our declining ability to even recognize the world’s problems, much less solve them. The Western worldview, which Musk et al. espouse, is founded on white supremacist ideology, an ideology shared by a large component of those that identify as liberal or progressive. Subjected to centuries of conditioning, generation after generation, this racist ideology hums beneath the global, capitalist economic system. A conditioned populace no longer recognizes it.

Further, the global race toward blockchain technology, dependent on the colossal expansion of militarized 5G networks, has already begun. On April 25, 2020, China launched the world’s largest Blockchain network (BSN) as the country rapidly transitions to digital central bank currency, digital wallets, digital identifications, automation, IoT, AI and biometrics at scale. On August 10, 2020, China rolled out its international website with Google and Amazon Web Services listed as cloud service providers. This vast lead in central bank digital currency (CBDC), digitalization and 4IR technologies, is recognized as a major security threat to the US. [Source]

Data centers are the heat engines of the internet. Eight million running 24/7 in order to meet the global demand. A demand now set to expand exponentially under Fourth Industrial Revolution digitalization. The more data produced – the more the storage infrastructures must expand. This growth will be unprecedented.

Here we can momentarily contemplate the World Economic Forum’s stakeholder capitalism storytelling, best described as a public relations rebranding exercise. Data centers are proliferating, while approximately 1 billion people, after 270 years of industrial revolutions, still have no access to electricity.

5G as Catalyst for Voracious Energy Consumption

The IEA forecasts that data and digital services will result in global internet traffic doubling by 2022. Internet of Things (IoT) connections (“a prevalent system in which people, processes, data, and things connect to the Internet and each other”, Cisco), will triple from 9.1 billion in 2018 to 25 billion in 2025, while global IoT revenue will quadruple to $1.1 trillion (a fourfold increase from 2018). The exponential growth of these devices is driven by “intentional obsolescence”. Mobile subscribers are projected to approach 6 billion by 2025. A projected 79% of all internet users will use smartphones exclusively to access content (up from 60% in 2018). [“In the most advanced countries, today’s digital consumers (using PCs and smartphones) will likely become tomorrow’s augmented customers, adopting emerging technologies such as AI (via smart speakers) and immersive reality.”] [Source: The Mobile Economy 2019, GSMA Intelligence] The exponential growth of digitalization [7], coupled with rapid growth of smartphone and social media users in Asia Pacific, followed by Africa, will drive unprecedented exponential growth in data center and network services.

According to Cisco, 60% of the world’s population will be online by 2022. But that was predicted in 2018 – prior to the COVID-19 “great reset”. By June 11, 2020, online access had reached 53% (Klaus Schwab), and in July 2020 the number of global internet users worldwide was reported as having reached 59% (Statista). That’s a full two years ahead of schedule.

“ICT systems give a non-negligible contribution to world electricity consumption and carbon dioxide (CO 2) footprint. This contribution will sustain since the increased demand for user’ s connectivity and an explosion of traffic volumes necessitate continuous expansion of current ICTs services and deployment of new infrastructures and technologies.”

 

November 8, 2019, Greener, Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Networks: State-Of-The-Art and New Trends

Of particular concern is the rapid growth of streaming video and gaming. By 2022 traffic from internet video is projected to have doubled from 2019, with online gaming projected to quadruple – amounting to 87% of consumer internet traffic by 2022. [Source] In addition to this dismal reality, emerging fourth industrial revolution technologies (5G, blockchain, virtual reality) will place further demands on our energy consumption, our natural world, and our collective well-being. While reading and contemplating these analyses and resulting data, it is important to bear in mind that these were compiled prior to “COVID-19, The Great Reset“. Recall Schwab, on June 11, 2020, proudly sharing the fact that some video streaming services have already grown twenty fold during this “watershed moment”.

“As blockchain applications become more widespread, understanding and managing their energy-use implications may become increasingly important for energy analysts and policy makers.”

 

— Data Centres and Data Transmission Networks, On track, International Energy Agency, June 1, 2020

Graph: “A recent IDC study claims that by 2025, worldwide data traffic will have grown by 61 percent to 175 zettabytes, with roughly 75 percent of the population having at least one data interaction every 18 seconds.” [Source]

The energy intensive 5G cellular networks serve as the very foundation of the new global architecture, as designed and sought by the ruling class. ICT experts suggest that “thanks to a combination of massive MIMO antennas, legacy networks in multiple bands and the massive proliferation of small cells”, 5G networks will consume three and half times more electricity as present 4G networks. [Source, October 30, 2019] A more recent report by ABI Research forecasts 5G energy consumption to increase by a magnitude of 61 times by the end of this decade:

“By 2028, 5G is expected to overtake LTE [Long-Term Evolution]. By this stage, both 5G NR Radio Access Network (RAN) and SA core network will be fully commercialized. As such, 5G energy consumption is expected to increase by 61x from 2020 to 2030.”

 

— September, 2020, ABI Research, Environmentally Sustainable 5G Deployment: Energy Consumption Analysis and Best Practices

As a tool for deployment of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the World Economic Forum seeks social license by leveraging the biodiversity crisis (caused by these very people, entities and institutions) as a means to obtaining social licence. That feigned concern for the ecology of the planet, and health of all life, quickly reveals itself when one becomes aware of the environmental threats that come with 5G, as well as the associated health risks, to all life forms. Although 403 scientists and doctors (as of September 23, 2020) across the European Union have signed a declaration calling for all 5G roll-out plans to be stopped, such appeals to the EU, and the World Health Organization, have been met with silence. “Listen to the science” and “unite behind the science”, but only when the science serves capital. The 2018 emerging risks report, from the European Commission’s SCHEER (Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks) committee calls attention to the potential effects on wildlife due to increases of electromagnetic radiation.

Worse, but par for the course, those tasked with protecting capital, in servitude to the hand that feeds, have deliberately framed very real 5G concerns as “conspiracy theory“, in a calculated effort to roll out 5G with as little dissent as possible.

“The overall energy and emission impacts of 5G are still uncertain.”

 

— Data Centres and Data Transmission Networks, On track, International Energy Agency, June 1, 2020

 

“The data streamed by an autonomous car would completely fill an average laptop’s 240GB hard drive in less than a minute.” [Source]

 

“5G will prompt Energy Consumption to Grow by staggering 160% in 10 years” [Source]

 

Automation at scale, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning, 3D printing, blockchain, crypto currencies, autonomous vehicles, virtual and augmented reality, Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), precision agriculture, gene editing, robotics, “smart” cities: the list is endless and ever expanding as the world’s most powerful technocrats lead the transition from bricks to mortar, to an online, digitalized fourth industrial revolution education for our children, fourth industrial revolution healthcare (ehealth, digital medicine) and an automated global workforce. With this digitalization, comes the merger of human with machine: augmentation and neuro-technological brain enhancements. Cybersecurity will be the battle space of the 21st century. Emerging technologies that drive militarism, including Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), drone targeting, and hypersonic weapons are predicted to become the norm, further dividing and destroying.

“Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday that electricity consumption will double if the world’s car fleets are electrified, increasing the need to expand nuclear, solar, geothermal and wind energy generating sources.” — Reuters  [8]

A permissioned blockchain ‘ecosystem’ “is the key infrastructure-of-infrastructures that allows the vertical integration of cloud computing, 5G communications, industrial IOT, AI and big data, with fintech and other application-level services overlayed on the stack”. [Source] 5G broadband is the instrumental network that transports the data – with data centers as the heat engines. Together, they create a digital technosphere, purposely eroding our physical biosphere, coupled with a coming ecological nightmare which will be unprecedented in scale. All under the guise of climate mitigation and the protection of biodiversity.

The following is an excerpt from the article “The World in 2030. Hyper-connected and Hyper-fragmented”, authored by Mark Leonard, Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and past Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geo-economics:

“Connectivity can cause conflict… Rather than creating a harmonious global village, we increasingly recognise that the very same forces that have brought people together and broken down boundaries between peoples and nations are leading to nationalism, protectionism, and a desire for control. The world of 2030 will therefore likely be more closely bound together than at any time in history, but also one where political fragmentation is at an all-time high. It will be a world in which connections between people and countries become instrumentalised and weaponised… The Digital Revolution has brought people together in a single connected web and is going to lead to further fragmentation of societies…

 

Migration and the movement of people will be weaponised and will also be the defining topic for politics, even more so than already now and both in countries which are scared for their existence due to demographic changes and countries that are experiencing migration influxes. Moreover, international law and institutions will grow increasingly weaponised: the idea of lawfare, using the norms and processes of these institutions to damage the opponent, is going to be a very well-known concept. We thought of law and institutions as a constraint on competition and a way of regulating our relations in the past. They will now become a core means and field for competition at the same time.” [Source]

To further demonstrate the illusory concern over the biodiversity crisis, being leveraged with COVID-19, by the World Economic Forum et al., as a means of ushering in the “great reset” as rapidly as possible, satellites are already being launched into space that will support the 5G and 6G networks, connecting  trillions of devices. On November 11, 2019 SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network, owned by Elon Musk, rocketed 60 satellites into orbit. This followed a launch of 60 SpaceX satellites launched in May 2019. By February 2020, SpaceX had launched five batches of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit – with a long-term goal of 30,000.

But Musk is far from alone in his quest to dominate the sky. There are 57,000 satellites planned through 2029. “When there are 50,000 satellites in the sky, ‘you’ll see the sky crawling,’ says Tony Tyson, a University of California Davis astronomer and physicist. ‘Every square degree will have something crawling in it.'” In addition, unregulated rocket launch emissions will further impact the global atmosphere while adding enormous quantities of space debris. [Source] While “corona” serves to distract a global populace, a virus Klaus Schwab describes as “mild” in his book COVID-19 The Great Reset, one thing is clear – billionaires are the most dangerous virus of all.

“Soon, Earth may be blanketed by tens of thousands of satellites, and they’ll greatly outnumber the approximately 9,000 stars that are visible to an unaided human eye.”

 

January 29, 2020, The night sky is increasingly dystopian

The absolute lack of regard for the subsequent harm that this will inflict upon nocturnal sentient animals and fauna is beyond pathological. The arrogance is blatant, astounding, and unequivocal. In addition to physiological harm, this new and unprecedented form of light pollution will disrupt navigation and migration patterns that have evolved within animals, birds, and insects, over millennia.”The rhythm of life is orchestrated by the natural diurnal patterns of light and dark, so disruption to these patterns impacts the ecological dynamics.” [The Hague]

The Dire Ecological Impacts & Consequences that Lie Ahead

Here it is imperative to note the consolidation of power happening in real time. World Economic Forum founder and CEO Klaus Schwab refers to this consolidation as a new global architecture; the new global governance. The following dates of are of paramount significance. On May 18, 2018, the World Bank partners with the United Nations. On June 13, 2019, the World Economic Forum partners with the United Nations. On March 11, 2020, the World Economic Forum partners with the World Health Organization (a UN body) launching the COVID Action Platform, a coalition of 200 of the world’s most powerful corporations. This number would quickly swell to over 700. On this same day, March 11, 2020, the WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. The UN-WEF partnership firmly positions Word Economic Forum at the helm of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, also referred to as the Global Goals), which they are frothing at the mouth to implement. This is not because they care about poverty, biodiversity, the climate, or world hunger. Marketed with holistic language, dressed with beautiful images of brown smiling children, SDGs represent the new poverty economy (impact investing/social impact bonds) and emerging markets. Children as human capital data to be commodified on blockchain linking behaviour to benefits. Coercion has been repackaged as empowerment. The human population to be controlled via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G, IoT, and an augmented reality environment. A world where every function of nature is monetized, to be bought, sold and traded on Wall Street.

"Around $6 trillion a year will need to be invested to deliver the SDGs, most of it in emerging markets."

“Around $6 trillion a year will need to be invested to deliver the SDGs, most of it in emerging markets.”

 

Fourth revolution technologies, in particular 5G and the ICT, fall under the SDG #9: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”; 9c: “significantly increase access to ICT and strive to provide universal and affordable access to Internet in the LDCs (least-developed countries) by 2020”. These are central to the goals of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). A critical component toward the full implementation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (“Industry 4.0”) is digitalization. In the EU, 4.0 digitalization is being rolled out under the EU Green Deal in service to Klaus Schwab.

“Around $6 trillion a year will need to be invested to deliver the SDGs, most of it in emerging markets.”

 

At Last… Climate Consensus on the Magic Mountain, February 3, 2020, SYSTEMIQ

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a term largely accredited to Schwab. He describes it as being “characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.” The World Economic Forum website adds that it will impact “all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.” [Source] One may question why collectively, we would accept an architecture that will further destroy the natural world – to become only further disconnected from our natural world. A world that will be further devastated by the very global architecture purported to save it.

“Once we can access people’s thoughts and people’s emotions, we have to create a space that enables people to think freely, to think divergent and creative thoughts.  And in a society where people fear having those thoughts, the likihood of being able to enjoy progress is significantly diminished.” [The Fourth Industrial Revolution | Full Version, World Economic Forum, April 13, 2016]

 

“The very idea of humans being some sort of natural concept is really going to change. Our bodies will be so hightech, we won’t be able to really distinguish between what is natural and what is artificial”

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution | Full Version, World Economic Forum, April 13, 2016

In closing this segment, we can juxtapose Andrae’s suggestion that communications technology may account for more than 20% of global energy consumption by 2025, with this observation articulated by The Guardian’s John Vidal back in 2017: “The industry has encouraged the idea that the digital transformation of economies and large scale energy efficiencies will slash global emissions by 20% or more.”

Thus, the power elite intend to crush the informal sectors and whole societies in the Global South – and across the world, in order to usher fourth industrial revolution digitalization, utilizing COVID-19 as the catalyst. Under the guise of protecting the biosphere and mitigating climate change, the “Great Reset”, decades in the making, has been foisted upon us by the ruling class. The new global architecture masks its intentions with illusory concern over ecological crises that they created. That they accelerate. To “slash global emissions by 20% or more” by rolling out an infrastructure that may well translate to 23% of all global emissions by 2030. At the cost of further plundering the Earth. At the cost of a growing, collective mental duress.

Imperative 21: Allies for System Change, a Virtual Convening of the Skoll World Forum - April 1, 2020

Imperative 21: Allies for System Change, a Virtual Convening of the Skoll World Forum – April 1, 2020

 

This depraved psychosis only makes sense when one understands that “action on climate” is not about mitigating climate change. Rather, it serves as an opportunity to “reset” capitalism as it teetered on the verge of collapse with global debt having reached a staggering 253 trillion dollars. [The global debt has since ballooned to a whopping 272 trillion dollars.] We are embarking on an inescapable and irreversible technological enslavement.

“Who survives? Amazon, Netflix, Google, Comcast, Facebook, et al. Those who control the screens control the world. It is a new morning in hell.”

 

John Steppling, Morning in Hell, October 7, 2020

The more that states, industries, institutions, platforms and devices rely on data and internet interconnectivity to function, the more our global energy consumption will soar.

Assessing “the silicon footprint, [and the] environmental impact of hyperconnected technologies”, the Institute for the Future concludes, “These facts considered together increase the probability that the net environmental impact of a hyperconnected world will be negative.” [The Hyperconnected World of 2030–2040; made possible by the support of the Office of Director of National Intelligence; IFTF convened a team of technology experts and researchers to look at the future of the hyperconnected world in a day-long workshop in 2019.]

The ruling classes intend to assign monetary value to nature, global in scale. The monetization of “social and human capital” will follow. This would entail the greatest transformation to the economic system in modern history. “Natural capital” valuation is expected to replace GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with nature to be bought, sold and traded on Wall Street. This, coupled with “protected areas” that would further displace Indigenous peoples. In addition to data as the new oil, classifying nature as an asset class represents a global corporate coup of the commons. With capitalism having reached its limits, and physical labour now disposable, to be replaced by automation/robotics, data and nature represent new and untapped emerging markets. Utilizing the very real fact that nature is vital to all life, we are told to believe that it can only be valued properly by humans if monetized (i.e. “natural capital” and “payments for ecosystem services”). Yet consider this: In just a few months the World Health Organization (partnering with the World Economic Forum on March 13, 2020), and the United Nations (partnering with the World Economic Forum on June 11, 2019) – in unison with the sycophant institutions, academia, sciences, media and NGOs that serve them. et al. – effectively utilized cognitive sciences, psychology, conformity and fear, to convince an entire global population that masks must be worn in order to save lives. In this same way, if they truly desired to convince a population that it is critical to protect nature against development, industry, privatization, corporate capture and monetization – as nature is vital to all life, and should be respected as such, they could easily do so. They do not – because it is they, primarily, who are wholly responsible for the bulk of the plunder they wish to continue. The global decimation of nature, from which they build and retain their fortunes and status.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has caused and will continue to cause mass upheaval, displacement, severe impacts, and untold suffering to the peasantry, Indigenous, working class and those belonging to the informal economy. The middle class will not be spared. Yet this depraved new global architecture, dangerous to life, human, sentient and biological, is pushed forward despite advanced knowledge of foretold tragedy – solely for the pursuit of money, profits and power. It is this very fact that shows us unequivocally and irrevocably that promises for a just transition, green deals, new deals, build back better schemes, are nothing but empty, hollow assurances, void of intent. These are the lies they tell. Promises and assertions that are nothing more than alibis.

Western and ruling class ideologies have played a crucial and cruel role in the violent transformation of the peoples, ecosystems and biosphere. The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents the most violent transformation of all. For as long as the ruling class is allowed to exist, social and environmental justice remain pipe dreams.

The ruling class has weaponized the power of both fear and conformity against us. That Covid-19 is the catalyst to usher in a new global architecture, that is the 4IR, is not conjecture, not “conspiracy theory“, but a fact. Full compliance is the goal. A physical transformation away from our physical world, towards a full embracing of an artificial, digital, virtual world, is being engineered, right before our very eyes. The social engineering of a collective consciousness. Social license is being harvested to reset the capitalist system – under the guise of a climate emergency and saving the planet. This we know: the planet will not be saved by those that have destroyed it.

 

 

End Notes:

[1] The September 11, 2020 article “The Social Dilemma Wants You to Delete Facebook”, is somewhat disingenuous, with the film’s emphasis on deleting notifications, rather than the social media platform. Yet what is of interest, and on the mark, is the reference to a TED Talk by Eli Pariser explaining “filter bubbles are the result of internet platforms’ race to feed users the information that will keep them coming back.” Pariser should know – as a co-founder of both Avaaz and Upworthy – with cofounder Chris Hughes of Facebook.

[2] “The sprawling camp, which is divided into 12 districts across 13 square kilometres, is surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by police and military. Refugees cannot leave without permission. If they want to move to a city elsewhere in the country, they need a Jordanian sponsor guaranteeing financial support – a condition that leaves many stuck in the camp.” [Source]

[3] Gov.UK: “We asked our hosting providers, Amazon Web Services, UKCloud and Carrenza, to tell us how much electricity we use, and how much CO2 we produce. Only one of our providers, UKCloud, agreed to give us data about our electricity usage. For Amazon and Carrenza, we made a guess about the amount of electricity we use, assuming a percentage of our monthly bill. In addition, neither Amazon nor Google currently shares information about how much CO2 their data centres produce.” [Source]

[4] Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the International Energy Agency (IEA), and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) have concluded that room air conditioners alone — the typical window and split units used in most homes — are set to account for over 130 gigatons (GT) of CO2 emissions between now and 2050. That would account for 20–40% of the world’s remaining “carbon budget” (the most we can emit while still keeping global warming to less than 2?C above pre-industrial levels — the goal set at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015).” [Source] “If room air conditioners have a massive emission, then it is hard to imagine the immense emissions that is occurring on the industrial scale.”

[5] In 2018, the total amount of electricity generated from renewables was 6 586 TWh. Renewable hydro accounted for about 63% of this (4 149 TWh), followed by wind energy (1 263 TWh), solar energy (562 TWh), bioenergy (523 TWh), geothermal energy (88 TWh) and marine energy (1 TWh). [Source: IRENA – Renewable energy highlights, July 1, 2020]

[6] “But data centers are rapidly becoming more energy efficient, and new research suggests there’s no longer a close link between more cloud computing and more energy use. A report published Thursday in Science credits the progress to better management, more efficient hardware and the rise of “hyperscale” data centers created by tech giants…The data-center industry’s 20% annual improvement in energy intensity dwarfs all other major parts of the economy. The power used today by data centers, 1% of the global total, is roughly the same as it was in 2010… This new research is the first major attempt to compile a bottom-up view of data-center energy use in a decade. Researchers based their work on reports published by Cisco Systems, Inc., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the International Energy Agency, among other sources.” [Source]

[7] The Cisco Annual Internet Report, 2018-2023 predicts that by 2023, there will be 299.1 billion global mobile application downloads, up from 194 billion global mobile application downloads in 2018. By 2023, there will be 29.3 billion global devices and connections (3.6 devices and connections per capita), up from 18.4 billion devices and connections in 2018 (2.4 devices and connections per capita). Similarly, Gartner forecasts that 14.2 billion connected things will be in use in 2019, and that the total will reach 25 billion by 2021, producing immense volume of data. [Source]

[8] Quote added on December 4, 2020 after initial publication. [Source] Full quote as follows: “Total electricity power consumption obviously will increase. I mean when everything, when all transport goes electric, or road transport going electric, it will approximately double the electricity usage, um total electricity usage. Like I said, because most of its at night, [charging batteries], that doesn’t mean a doubling of the power plant. But we will need to increase the amount of solar and wind, geothermal, hydro, [and] nuclear, I think is fine. Like I said, in order to solve the needs of electric vehicles.” — AxelSpringer Award Talk with Questions from other CEOs, December 1, 2020 [Source]

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Internationalist 360, Tortilla con Sal, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]