Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics … –


Trevor Burrus: Welcome to Free Thoughts from and the Cato Institute. Im Trevor Burrus.

Aaron Powell: And Im Aaron Powell.

Trevor Burrus: Joining us today is Thomas C. Leonard, research scholar at the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University and lecturer at Princeton Universitys Department of Economics. He is the author of the new book, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era. Welcome to Free Thoughts.

Thomas Leonard: Thanks. Nice to be with you.

Trevor Burrus: So Id like to start with the title which says a lot by itself. Why Illiberal Reformers?

Thomas Leonard: Well, everyone knows that the scholars and activists who dismantled laissez faire and built welfare state were reformers. They dont call it the progressive era for nothing. But its my claim that a central feature of that reform, central feature of erecting the regulatory state, a new kind of state, was the producing of liberties in the name of various conceptions of the greater good. Not just economic liberties, property rights, contract and so forth, thats sort of a well-known part of the transition from 19th century liberalism to 20th century liberalism, but also I maintain civil and personal liberties as well.

Trevor Burrus: And what time period, are we talking about just after the turn of the century or the turn of the 20th century or going back further than that?

Thomas Leonard: Well, the idea is the architecture, if you will, the blueprints were drawn up sort of in the last decade and a half of the 19th century and they gradually made their way into actual sort of legislation and institutions, government institutions in the first 2 decades of the 20th century. Sort ofto use the usual scholarly terms kind of late gilded age and then the progressive era.

Trevor Burrus: So, who are these people, these reformers? Are they politicians mostly or are they in some other walk of life?

Thomas Leonard: Eventually they are politicians, but the politicians have to be convinced first. So the convincers in the beginning are a group of intellectuals or if you like scholars. They are economists, sociologists, population scientists, social workers.

Trevor Burrus: Population scientists, are those basically Malthusians or?

Thomas Leonard: No. Today we call them demographers.

Trevor Burrus: We dont use that term anymore. We call them what today?

Thomas Leonard: No. No. Today, we would call them demographers.

Trevor Burrus: Oh, okay.

Thomas Leonard: Yeah. Its not quiteit doesnt have to sound that sinister. But one of the interesting things, Trevor, about social science in this kind ofin its very beginnings in the late 19th century is itsits only beginning to become an academic discipline which is part of the book story. And a lot of social science kind of social investigations, fact-finding, research reports, a lot of that is being done outside the academy in the immigrant settlement houses, to a lesser extent in government administrative agencies, in investigations funded by the brand-new foundations and eventually in this brand-new invention called the Think Tank.

Aaron Powell: Was this increasing influence by what these people are ultimately working is largely academic, so is this new for academics or academics this influential before this?

Thomas Leonard: No. It is new. Its a revolution in academia. If we could transport ourselves backwards in time to Princeton, say, in 1880, we wouldnt recognize the place. American colleges, you know, just after the Civil War were tiny institutions. They werent particularly scholarly. They were denominational. They were led by ministers. In Princetons case, they would have been finishing southern gentlemen and you wouldnt recognize it at all.

If, however, we could transport ourselves back to, say, 1920, just at the end of the progressive era, you would recognize everything about the place. The social sciences had been invented and installed. Theres the beginning of the physical sciences in academia and its no longer just the classics, theology and a little bit of philosophy and mathematics. Part of the story of the rise of reform is the story of this revolution in American higher ed which takes place between 1880 and 1900.

Trevor Burrus: In the book, you discussed how Germany figures into this to some degree, which I thought was kind of interesting because Germany also figured into reforming our public education below higher ed but Germany status in the intellectual world was very influential on Americans in particular.

Thomas Leonard: Yeah, thats quite right. The German connection is crucial for understanding the first generation of economists and other reformers. In the 1870s and into the 1880s, if you wanted to study cutting-edge political economy, Germany was where you went and all of the founders of American economics and indeed most of the other sort of newly hatching social sciences did their graduate work in Bismarck in Germany. And its only sort of beginning in the 1890s that American higher end catches up but, boy, does it catch up quickly. Thats why we use the term revolution.

But the turn of the century, you know, the number of graduate students in the United States getting Ph.D.s is in the thousands. You know, sort of after the Civil War even as late as 1880, it would have just been a handdful.

Trevor Burrus: So what did these people start thinking aboutI mean these illiberal reformers, what did they get in their head partially from Germany, partially from other sources which we can talk about later? But in the sort of general overview when they looked at society, what did they sort of maybe not suddenly but at that moment, what did they decide they wanted to do with it?

Thomas Leonard: Well, another thing to understand is that most of them, in addition to sort of having this German model of how an economy works and also a German model of how an economy should be regulated, there were also evangelical protestants, most of them grew up in evangelical homes, most of them were sons and daughters of ministers or missionaries and they had, you know, this extraordinary zeal, this desire to set the world to rights. And they looked around them during the industrial revolution and they saw what really was extraordinary, unprecedented, economic and social change which we cannot gather under the banner of the industrial or at least the American industrial revolution.

And when they looked around them, they saw injustice. They saw low wages. There was a newly visible class of the poor in the cities. They saw inefficiency. They saw labor conflict. They saw uneducated men getting rich and this upending of the old social order in their view was not only inefficient, it was also un-Christian and immoral and it needed to be reformed, and they were sort ofits important to say unabashed about using evangelical terminology. They referred to this is the first generation of progressives. They referred to their project as bringing a kingdom of heaven to Earth.

Aaron Powell: Then how did theyso theyve got this project. Theyve identified these issues that they want to change. How did they go about turning that concern and the expertise that they thought they had into control of the reins of power or influence within government?

Thomas Leonard: Great question. It wasnt easy. They understood that they had a tall task in front of them. They had to persuade those in power that reform was needed and reform was justified. And it helped that 2 other students, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson went on too famous as politicians and so did other progressives at lower levels too. Part of the idea of academic economics in this sort of beginning stage was that you didnt just spend time in the library or do blackboard exercises. Your job was to go out and make the world a better place.

So, I think the best way to think about it was they, along with many other reformers, wrote for the newspapers, went on the lecture circuits, bent the air of politicians first at the state level and then later at the federal level and said its a new economic world. The old economic ideas, laissez faire as they called it, are not only is it immoral, its economically obsolete and we need to build a new relationship not unlike the model that Germany provided between the state and economic life. And very gradually it happened.

Trevor Burrus: They were talking about also the emergence of the administrative state comes into this too because then they can take over posts in government that are not necessarily elected where their expertise is supposed to be utilized.

Thomas Leonard: Thats exactly right. The crucial point is that we think about the progressive era as a huge expansion in the size and scope of government and indeed it is that. But the progressives didnt just want bigger government. They also wanted a new kind of government, which they saw as a better form, as a superior form of government. Famously the progressives werent just unhappy with economic life which was one thing, they were also unhappy with American political life and with American government which they saw and rightly so as corrupt and inefficient and not doing what it should be doing to improve society and economy. So they wanted to not only to expand state power but also to relocate it, to move government authority away from the courts which traditionally had held quite a bit of regulatory power and away from legislatures and into what they sometimes called a new fourth branch of government, the administrative state.

Trevor Burrus: And youre right, youre right in your book which I think this is a very succinct way of pointing it. Progressivism was first and foremost an attitude about the proper relationship of science and its bearer, the scientific expert, to the state and of the state to the economy and polity. And so these expertsI also want to think we should make clear, this was not a fringe group of intellectuals and academic professors. This waswould you say it was the mainstream or at least a kind of whos who of American intellectuals and all the great Ivy League institutions?

Thomas Leonard: Absolutely. Its the best and brightest if I can use an anachronistic phrase. Now, we have to be a little careful with Ivy League because the centers of academic reform are at places like Wisconsin and to some extent at Columbia and at Johns Hopkins and to some extent at Penn. But the old colonial colleges like Harvard and Yale were a little late to catch up. It took them a while to catch on to this new German model of graduate seminars and professors as experts and not merely instructors.

Trevor Burrus: So how did they conceptualize the average worker that needed their help? You have this great line in your book which I think says something about modern politics too. Progressives did not work in factories. They inspected them. Progressives did not drink in salons. They tried to shudder them. The bold women who chose to live among the immigrant poor and city slums called themselves settlers, not neighbors. Even when progressives idealized workers, they tended to patronize them. Romanticizing a brotherhood that they would never consider joining.

Thomas Leonard: Yeah. I think its fair to say and its not exactly a revelation that the progressives were not working class, but neither were they, you know, part of the gentry class. They were middle class and from middle class backgrounds, as I say sons and daughters of ministers and missionaries. So, they were unhappy when they looked upward at the new plutocrats who were uneducated and in their view un-Christian and potentially corrupting of the republic, but they also didnt like what they saw when they looked downward at ordinary people particularly at immigrants. If you dont mind, I feel like I should circle back to this fourth branch idea

Trevor Burrus: Please.

Thomas Leonard: as a conception of the administrative state. I didnt finish my thought very well. I think that the way that the progressives thought about the fourth branch is very important because the administrative state is as everyone knows has done nothing but grow since its blueprinting and its sort of first construction in Woodrow Wilsons first term. I think the key thingsort of these two key components that make this a new kind of government in the progressive mind. The first is that the independent agencies like the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission and the Permanent Tariff Commission were designed to be independent of Congress and the president. That was by design.

They were supposed to be in some sense above politics. They served for 7 years. They had overlapping terms. Oftentimes, they would be balanced politically and the president could not remove one of these commissioners except for cause and neither could Congress impeach them. So they occupied a kind of a unique place, a new place did these bureaucrats.

The second thing that matters I think for understanding the administrative state is that administrative regulations have the full force of federal law, right? Regulations are laws no different than you know, Congress had passed one. Moreover, the fourth branch, the administrators are also responsible for executing regulations and third, of course, theyre responsible for adjudicating regulatory disputes. So theres this combination of statutory and adjudicatory and executive power all rolled up into one, which is why I think the progressives called it the fourth branch. And the growth of administrative government I think is a much better metric for thinking about the success, if you will, or the durability of the progressive vision than simply looking at something like government spending as a share of GDP.

Aaron Powell: Can we decouple at least for purposes of critique the ideology of the progressives from the methods? Because obviously they ended up once they had the power, ended up doing a lot of really lamentable or awful things with it. But the basic idea of having experts in charge of thingsI mean you can see a certain appeal to that especially as, you know, science advances, technology advances, our body of knowledge grows. We understand more about the economy and more about how societies function just like you would want, you know, experts in the medical sciences overseeing your health as opposed to just laymen. Is there anything just inherently wrong or dangerous about the idea of turning over more of government to experts distinct from just the particular ideas of this set of experts?

Thomas Leonard: I dont think so. I think the question is more a practical one of what we think experts should do whether theyre working in government or in the private sector. And the progressives had what you might call a heroic conception of expertise. They believed that they not only could be experts serve the public good but they could also identify the public good and thats what I mean by a heroic conception. Not only do we know how to get to a particular outcome, we know also what those outcomes should be.

Now theres nothing about expertise per se that requires that heroic vision which in retrospect looks both arrogant and nave. It makes good sense for the state to call upon expertise where expertise can be helpful. So I dont think its an indictment of the very idea of using science for the purposes of state. Its more about what sort of authority and we want experts to have. Going as we sort of move into the new deal era, which is another great growth spurt in the size of the state, we get a slightly less heroic vision of what experts do. Thereswell, after World War I, that sort of nave heroic view of expertise is simply outmoded.

Trevor Burrus: So they definitelytheyre pretty arrogant as you mentioned. They haveso Im going to ask you sort of a few things about the way that theyre looking at society and what they think that they can do with it and what theyre allowed to do with it. So, how did they view individual rights and as a core layer, I guess, how do they think of society as opposed to the individual in terms of the sort of methodology of their science or state craft or whatever you want tohowever you want to describe it?

Thomas Leonard: Thats a great question. I think one of the most dramatic changes that we see in sort of American liberal thinking and its transition from 19th century small government liberalism to 20th century liberalism of a more activist expert-guided state is a re-conception of what Dan Rogers calls the moral hole, the idea of a nation or a state or a social organism as an entity that is something greater than the individual people that make it up. And I think this fundamental change is one of the sort of key elements in this progressive inflection point in American history. Up until that point if youre willing to call an era a point, forgive me. Up until that moment, I think thats what we should say.

Trevor Burrus: I think thats good, yes.

Thomas Leonard: Yeah, right. We would have said the United States are and after the progressive reconceptualization, its the United States is. Instead of a collection of states of federation, now the idea is that theres a nation. Woodrow Wilsons famous phrase at least famous in these precincts was Princeton in the nations service and this desire to identify a kind of moral hole, a nation, a state or a social organism. They gave it different names. I think the great impetus to the idea that it was okay to trespass on individual liberties as long as it promoted the interests of the nation or the state or the people or society or the social organism.

Trevor Burrus: So how doesand this is another big factor because its kind of interesting. We have awe talk about them as evangelicals and then progressives, which a lot of people might be surprised, the people who call themselves progressives now. But we also have them as evangelical but with Darwin and evolution having a huge influence on their thinking which also seems to not go with the way we align these things today. How did Darwin and evolution come in to their thinking and what did it make them start to conclude?

Thomas Leonard: Right. Well, remember the quote you had before about progressivism as being essentially a concept that refers to the relationship of science to government and of government to the economy. The science of the day or at least the science that most influencedthe economic reformers was Darwinism. And theres just no understanding progressive era reform without understanding the influence of Darwinism. It was in the progressive view what made these brand-new social sciences just barely established scientific. Thats one of the reasons we do history. Economics today doesnt have a whole lot to do with evolution or with Darwinism and has a lot to do with mathematics and statistical approaches. But at the turn of the century and until the end of the First World War, evolutionary thinking was at the heart of the science that underwrote economics and the other new social sciences, which were at least in the progressive view to guide the administrative state in its relationship to economy and polity.

Aaron Powell: What does Darwinian thinking look like in practice for the policy preferences of the progressives? I mean I see were not just talking about we need to breed out undesirable traits or something of that sort. How does the specifics of Darwin apply to their broader agenda?

Thomas Leonard: Well, Darwin does many things for the progressives. Darwin by himself is sort of a figure that they admire, sort of hes a disinterested man of science concerned only with the truth and uninterested in profit like, say, a greedy capitalist, uninterested in power like, say, a greedy politician. I mean Darwin is kind of a synecdoche if you like for the progressive conception of what a scientific expert does.

More than that, I think that, you know, the progressives andand by the way, many other intellectuals too, socialists and conservatives alike, were able to find whatever they needed in Darwin. Darwin was so influential in the gilded age and in the progressive era that everybody found something useful for their political and intellectual purposes during the gilded age and the progressive era.

Take competition, for example. If you were a so-called social Darwinist, you could say that competition was survival of the fittest, Herbert Spencers phrase that Darwin eventually borrowed himself and that, therefore, that those who succeeded in economic life were in some sense fitter. The progressives could use other evolutionary thinkers and say Wait a second, not so. Fitter doesnt necessarily mean better. Fitter just means better adapted to a particular environment. So competition would be an example of Darwinian thinking that was influential in the way that progressives thought about the way an economy works.

Trevor Burrus: But they werent particular. I mean they werent laissez faire and I know at one point you mentioned that theI think you said that it was either the American Economic Association or maybe sociology was started partially against William Graham Sumner. Was it sociology? William Graham Sumner was very influential on creating counter-movements to him and he is sort of a proto-libertarian or a libertarian figure who was laissez faire but they were absolutely not.

Thomas Leonard: Yeah. Thats quite right. Sumner is the bte noire of economic reformers. He was of a slightly earlier generation, the generation of 1840, and he was the avatar as you say of free markets and of small government and Sumner was the man ElyRichard T. Ely, sort of the standard bearer of progressive economics said that he organized the American Economic Association to oppose. Yeah, Sumner was in the end the only economist who is not asked to join the American Economic Association. So much was he sort of personally associated with laissez faire.

Trevor Burrus: Now, of course, they were accused and this is an important historical point because you mentioned the social Darwinism and I think I can almost hear your scare quotes through the line because that idea of Sumner and Herbert Spencer being Darwinists of a sort of wanted to let people die is a little bit overextended. Spencer definitely had some evolutionary ideas about society, but the social Darwinism doesnt only come in until the 50s if I understand correctly.

Thomas Leonard: Yeah. Social Darwinism is really an anachronism applied to the progressive era. I think we can safely, you know, ascribe the influence of that term to Richard Hofstadter who coined it in his dissertation which was published during the Second World War. It is true, of course, that you could find apologists for laissez faire or you could find people who said that, you know, economic success was not a matter of luck or a fraud or of coercion but was deserved, was justified.

There were lots of defenders of laissez faire on various grounds and Spencer and Sumner find they fit that description. But neither of them were particularly Darwinian. Spencer was a rival of Darwins. He thought his theory waswell, it was prior. He thought it was better and he coined the term evolution. And Sumner really wasnt much of a Darwinist at all if you look through his work, its only dauded with a few Darwinian references. I think what Hofstadter did, and he was such a graceful writer, is he coined a new term that sounded kind of unpleasant.

And if you look through the entire literature which Ive done, you will be hard-pressed to find a single person who identifies him or herself as a social Darwinist. You wont find a journal of social Darwinism. You wont find laboratories of social Darwinism. You wont find international societies for the promotion of social Darwinism.

Trevor Burrus: But ironically, eugenics, you will find all of those things.

Thomas Leonard: You will find all of those things.

Trevor Burrus: Actually, could you explain what eugenics is before we jump into the truly distasteful part of this episode?

Thomas Leonard: Well, eugenics is just in the progressive era what it meant, the period of my book, is the social control of human heredity. Its the idea that human heredity just like anything else guided by good science and overseen by socially-minded experts can improve human heredity just like it can improve government. It can make government good. It can make the economy more efficient and more just and so too can we do the same for human heredity.

Trevor Burrus: And eugenics wasI mean I think big is even an understatement of at least the first two decades of the 20th century and into the third and fourth decade but especially the first two decades.

Thomas Leonard: Yeah, there was an extraordinary intellectual vogue for eugenics all over the world, not just in the United States. Eugenics, its very difficult viewed in retrospect that is viewed through the sort of crimes that were committed by Nazi Germany in the middle of the 20th century. Its very difficult to see how what is a term that is a dirty word could actually be regarded as sort of the height of high-mindedness and social concern. But it was, in fact, at the time.

And across American society, eugenics was popular. It was popular among the new experimental biologists that we now called geneticist. It was certainly popular among the new social scientists, the economists and others who were staffing the bureaus at the administrative state and sitting in chairs in the university. And it was popular among politicians too. There were many journals of eugenics. There were many eugenics societies. They had international and national conferences. Hundreds probably thousands of scholars were happy to call themselves eugenicists and to advocate for eugenic policies of various kinds. Theres a book published in I think around 1924 by Sam Holmes who was a Berkeley zoologist and theres like 6000 or 7000 titles on eugenics in the bibliography.

Aaron Powell: How did the eugenicists of the time think about what they were doing or think about the people that they were doing it to?

Trevor Burrus: Well, first we should ask what they were doing. We havent actually got to that.

Aaron Powell: But I mean in generallike the attitude towards the very notion of this because we can even setting aside the horrors of what Nazi Germany did from our modern perspective looking back at this with the debates that we have and the struggle we have to allow people to say define the family, the way that they choose and just the overwhelming significance in, you know, the scope of ones life and the way one lives in that decision to have children and become a parent. And eugenics, no matterI mean no matter the details of it is ultimately taking that choice away from someone or making that choice for them and it seems just profoundly dehumanizing and did they consciously or unconsciously was there a dehumanizing element to it? Did they think of the people that they were going to practice this on as somehow less and so, therefore, deserving of less autonomy? Or was there a distancing from that element of it?

Thomas Leonard: Well, its important to rememberthe answer to the question is yes. The professionals, if you will, in the eugenics movement sort of the professionals and the propagandists certainly saw immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, immigrants from Asia, African Americans, the mentally and physically disabled as inferiors as unfit. Theres just no question about it. But what we needone important caution here again is that there were very few people at the time proposing anything like hurting inferiors into death chambers.

Eugenic policies were much less extreme. So when we encounter it in the context of, say, economic reform, it comes up In immigration, for example. If you regard immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and from Asia as unfit, as threats to American racial integrity or as economic threats to American working mens wages, thats a eugenic argument. Youre saying that when you argue that they will sort of reduce American hereditary vigor, thats a eugenic argument. It doesnt have to involve something as ugly as, say, coercive sterilization or worse.

Theres many ways of which I think are, you know, strange to us in retrospect of thinking about the law, be it immigration reform or minimum wages or maximum hours as a device for keeping the inferior out of the labor force or out of the country altogether.

Trevor Burrus: Yeah, lets goyeah, the last third of your book kind of goes with this. We have a chapter called Excluding the Unemployable. So can you talk a little bit about what that entailed?

Thomas Leonard: Sure. The unemployable is a kind of buzz phrase that I think was probably coined by Sidney and Beatrice Webb who were Fabian socialists, founders of the London School of Economics and whose work was widely read by American progressives and with whom American progressives had a very kind of fruitful trans-Atlantic interaction with. Its a misnomer, of course, because the unemployable refers to people who many of whom were actually employed. And the idea here is that a certain category of worker is willing to work for wages below what progressives regarded as a living wage or a fair wage and that these sorts of people who were often called feeble-minded when they were mentally disabled or defectives when they were physically disabled were doing the sort of transgressing in multiple ways.

The first thing was by accepting lower wages, they were undermining the deserving American working men or American really means Anglo-Saxon. The second thing is because they were willing to accept low wages, the American worker was unwilling to do so to accept these low wages and so instead opted to have smaller families. That argument went by the name of race suicide. The undercutting inferior worker because he was racially predisposed to accept or innately predisposed to accept lower wages meant that the Anglo-Saxon native, if you willscare quotes around nativehad fewer children and as a result the inferior strains were outbreeding the superior strains and the result was what Edward A. Ross called race suicide.

Trevor Burrus: Now that sounds like the movie Idiocracy. Have you ever seen this movie?

Thomas Leonard: Im not familiar with it.

Trevor Burrus: Oh, well. So, but I want to clarify something that might shock our listeners thatand you mentioned this briefly a little bit like for the economists, for members of the American Economic Association, at the time some of them thought of the minimum wage as valuable precisely because it unemployed these people. So whereas now were actually having this fight about whether or not the minimum wage unemploys anyone. It seems like there were a few doubts that it did unemploy people and the people it unemployed were the unemployable, unproductive workers who shouldnt be employed in the first place.

Thomas Leonard: Thats right. Theres a very long list of people who at one time or another just almost comically if it werent sad, long list of groups that were vilified as being inferior. As I say, physically disabled, mentally disabled coming from Asia or Southern Europe or Eastern Europe, African American, although the progressive werent terribly worried about the African Americans, at least outside the south until they started the great migration and became economic competitors in the factories as well. So, this very long list of inferiors creates a kind of regulatory problem which is how are we going to identify them and so you can, if you think for example that a Jew from Russia or an Italian from the mezzogiorno is inferior, how are you going to know that theyre Jewish or that theyre from Southern Italy. Their passport doesnt specify necessarily.

So one way, of course, is to take out your handbook, the dictionary of the races of America or another more clever way ultimately is to simply set a minimum wage so high that all unskilled labor will be unable to legally come to America because theyll be priced out.

Trevor Burrus: And that was also true ofit goes a little bit past your book but the migration of African Americans north had some influence on the federal minimum wage of the New Deal if I remember correctly.

Thomas Leonard: Yes, it did, and also Mexican immigrants as well. The idea of inferiors threatening Americans or Native Americans is a trope that recurs again and again and again, not just in the progressive era but also in the New Deal. And it is I suppose shocking and bizarre to see the minimum wage as hailed for its eugenic virtues. But one very convenient way of solving this problem of how do we identify the inferiors is to simply assume that theyre low-skilled and, therefore, unproductive and a binding minimum wage will ensure that the unproductive are kept out or if theyre already in the labor force, theyll be idled. And the deserving, that is to say the productive workers who were always assumed, of course, to be Anglo-Saxon will keep their jobs and get a raise. Its a very appealing notion.

And youre quite right that today, you know, most of the debate or a good part of the minimum wage debate concerns a question of how much unemployment you get for a given increase in the minimum. But theres no question that any disemployment from a higher minimum is a social cause thats undesirable. The progressive era was not seen as a social cause. It was not seen as a bug. It was seen as a desirable feature and this is why progressivism has made a virtue of it precisely because it did exclude so many folks who were regarded as deficientdeficient in their heredity, deficient in their politics, deficient in many other ways as well.

Aaron Powell: What struck me when you were running through the policies that they wanted so the minimum wage in order to exclude these people or the concerns about immigration is how many of them maybeI mean not in the motives behind them necessarily, not in the stated motives but in the specifics of the policies and some of the concerns look very much like what you hear today, you know. There seem to be conventional wisdom about the need to keep out unskilled immigrants. You hear stuff about, you know, theres too many of them in the population and that that will ultimately cause problems if they, you know, tip over into a majority or the existing minimum wage, but they dont seemthey dont have the what we think of as terrifically ugly motives behind them.

And so is therelike that historic change because it seems odd that if the motives and the desires and the attitudes have shifted, we would have seen the resulting policy shift. So how did thathow do we get that transition from, you know, keeping the desire for the policies of the progressive era but shifting our attitudes, our sense of virtue to something that would see the motives behind the policy of the progressive era as so repugnant?

Thomas Leonard: Well, I think that, you know, we teach freshmen in economics to make this fairly bright distinction between the so-called positive and the normative, right? So the positive question is what are the effects of the minimum wage on employment and what are the effects of the minimum wage on output prices and what are the effects of the minimum wage on the income distribution. And you can sort of think about these questions without sort of tipping over onto the normative side which isis it a good thing or a bad thing that a particular class of worker namely the very unskilled are likely to be harmed at all? So you canI think in a way its partly a parable about, you know, the capacity of sorting so-called scientific claims from so-called normative or ethical matters.

You know, my own view is one can be a supporter of the minimum wage, of course, without, you know, having repugnant views about the folks who are going to lose their job if we raise the minimum wage too high.

Trevor Burrus: Yeah, of course. That

Thomas Leonard: Goes with I think that goes without saying.

Trevor Burrus: Well, thats an interesting question about what are the lessons

Thomas Leonard: Yeah.

Trevor Burrus: from this. But I wanted to ask you about one more thing before we kind of get to that question which is aboutbecause theres another one that we didnt touch on which might surprise people, which is excluding women. So we gotwe went therethere were some sterilization, which weve been talking about much but you mentioned excluding unemployable. We had about immigration and now we also have excluding women and people might be surprised to hear that progressives were actually interested in doing this.

Thomas Leonard: Yeah. This is awell, all of these accounts are complex. The story of womens labor legislation is probably the most complex of all and thats partly because in the progressive era, most labor legislation was directed at women and at women only, not all but sort of the pillars of the welfare state which is to say minimum wages, maximum hours, mothers pensions which eventually evolved into AFTC and welfare. Those pillars werethose pillars that legislation was women and women only.

Now, there are different ways of thinking about it. I think that the thing to remember is that a lot of these legislation to set a wage floor to set a maximum number of hours to give women payments women with dependent children payments at home were enacted not so much to protect women from employment, the hazards of employment but rather to protect employment from women.

And when you look at the discourse, you do find a kind of protective paternalistic line where, for example, the famous Brandeis Brief which was used in so many Supreme Court cases in defensive labor legislation just sort of boldly asserts that women are the weaker sex and thats why women as women need to be protected from the hazards of market work. They didnt worry so much about the hazards of domestic work.

Trevor Burrus: And Brandeis was a champion ofI mean hes considered a champion of progressive era, but he did write this unbelievably sexist brief in Muller versus Oregon.

Thomas Leonard: Indeed he did and he collaborated with his sister-in-law, Josephine Goldmark, and its regarded as sort of not only the case but the brief itself is regarded as sort of a landmark in legal circles. So theres also a second class of argument which still lives on today, I might add, which is called the family wage and this is the idea that theres a kind of natural family structure wherein the father is the breadwinner and the mother stays at home and tends the hearth and raises the kids and that male workers are entitled to a wage sufficient to support a wife and other dependents, and that when women work for wages, they wrongly usurp the wages that rightly belong to the breadwinner. Thats another argument for regulating womens employment. Thats not really protecting women. Thats protecting men, of course.

And there were a whole host of arguments. Another argument was worried about womens sexual virtue that if women accepted, you know, low wages at the factory, theyll be tempted into prostitution. The euphemism of the day was the social vice and John Bates Clark pointed out that if 5 dollars a week tempts a factory girl into vice, then 0 dollars a week will do so more surely.

Trevor Burrus: Its really hard to decide when youre going through all this stuff and you include immigration and all these issues whether or not these people arewhen were talking about progressives, so thats the name we all call them now. But if were going to use modern term, are they liberals or are they conservative? I mean if the immigration thing looks conservative now and the protecting womens virtue and supporting the family looks conservative and the racism, you know, but the minimum wage wanting that. So there seemed to be a hodgepodge of something that doesnt really map to anything now.

Thomas Leonard: Yeah, I think thats right. I think its a mistake. I mean one of the problems that we face looking backwards from today is that progressivism todaya progressive today is someone on the left, someone on the left wing of the democratic party and thats not what progressive meant in the progressive era. There certainly were plenty of folks on the left who were progressives but they were also right progressives too. Men like Theodore Roosevelt would be a canonical sort of right progressive. Roosevelt ran as you know on that progressive ticket in 1912 handing the White House to Woodrow Wilson in so doing.

Yeah, I thinkyeah, one of the, you know, the historiographic lessons of the book is be careful projecting contemporary categories backwards in time. You know, the original progressives, they defended human hierarchy. They were Darwinists. They either ignored or justified Jim Crow. They were moralists. They were evangelicals. They promoted the claims of the nation over individuals and they had this, of course, heroic conception of their own roles as experts. Thats very different from what 21st century progressives are about. The 21st century progressives couldnt be more different in some respects. Theyre not evangelicals. Theyre very secular. They emphasize racial equality and minority rights. Theyre nervous about nationalism but they donttheyre not imperialists like the progressives were. Theyre unhappy with too much Darwinism in their social science. So, in these respects contemporary progressives are very different from their namesakes.

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Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics … –

North Carolina Beaches: Come as Guests. Leave as Family!

Whoever coined the term “antidote to civilization” must have visited the peaceful and tranquil shores of North Carolina. A warm sunny day, little traffic, a gourmet picnic lunch and a bottle of wine it just doesnt get any better. To help you plan your visit, we present you with information on where to stay, fine dining establishments and some ideas on what to do while you enjoy the coast of North Carolina.

There’s something about North Carolina’s legendary coast that attracts visitors from all over the globe. The commanding splendor of the ocean, sunny and temperate climate of the pristine beaches and the abundant marshes and wetlands are just some of the reasons that North Carolina beaches are one of the hottest attractions in the nation. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, helps you find the ideal spot for your next trip. With more than 300 miles of unspoiled coast, it’s easy to find the perfect beach for your getaway … whatever the occasion. Take a complete tour, beach-by-beach, of North Carolina’s peaceful shore.

The east coast boasts of the largest sand dunes in the United States, as well as more than 3,375 miles of shoreline (including the offshore barrier islands.) North Carolinians are also quite proud of the beaches as they provide not just a wealth peaceful beauty, but an abundance of history. The United States named Cape Hatteras, NC as the first national seashore in 1953; yet its discovery was well documented nearly four centuries earlier as Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano set out to find a westward passage to Asia and discovered the unspoiled land. North Carolina was also home to the first English settlement in North America. Roanoke Island, an island situated between the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, first welcomed explorers in 1585. The second group came to the area in 1587 and from their mysterious disappearance the tale of the Lost Colony was born.

The shores of North Carolina became a huge commerce area for fishing, yet the maritime heritage stands apart from other coasts because of the many shipwrecks rather than the monetary gains. Graveyard of the Atlantic, as it is called, has been responsible for over 600 shipwrecks since the 16th century. The wrecks were due largely to the unique shape of the beaches, especially around the Outer Banks. The area is home to Diamond Shoals, where two great ocean currents meet: the cold Labrador and the warm Northbound Gulf Stream. As the currents meet, the difference in temperatures creates constantly-shifting sandbars that have aided in the numerous wrecks. Historian and author David Stick poetically describes the angular coast. In his book Graveyard of the Atlantic: Shipwrecks of the North Carolina Coast , Stick writes, “You can stand on Cape Point at Hatteras on a stormy day and watch two oceans come together in an awesome display of savage fury; for there at the Point the northbound Gulf Stream and the cold currents coming down from the Arctic run head-on into each other, tossing their spumy spray a hundred feet or better into the air and dropping sand and shells and sea life at the point of impact. Thus is formed the dreaded Diamond Shoals, its fang-like shifting sand bars pushing seaward to snare the unwary mariner. Seafaring men call it the Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

It is because of these wrecks that North Carolina constructed 10 lighthouses along the coast, seven of which stand today as reminders of the rich coastal culture. Perhaps the most famous of the lighthouses is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, completed in 1870. Two additions to add height were made 50 years later making it America’s tallest lighthouse at 208 feet high. Construction took roughly 1.25 million bricks and cost $155,000.00 in the eighteen hundreds. Today more than 175,000 visitors flock to climb the 257 steps to the top. Recently the lighthouse made quite a stir in the media as the enormous structure was moved nearly 3,000 feet in the summer of 1999 to ensure its preservation from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.

From the Southern shores of Holden Beach and Wilmington to the narrow stretch of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks, visitors can choose the destination based on the different activities offered or atmosphere of the beach itself. Historians relish in the many museums, national seashores and legends surrounding the coast. Environmentalists enjoy the wildlife refuges, bird watching and nature trails scattered down the beaches. Adventurers enjoy the windsurfing, scuba diving, hang gliding and many more activities. The Southern beaches, such as Wilmington, Oak Island and Holden Beach, are well known for their plethora of nationally acclaimed golf courses. Known as “North Carolina’s Golf Coast,” the area between Wilmington and Calabash boasts of more than 35 champion golf courses. Famous golf pros such as Palmer, Couples and Dye designed some of the best courses in the area. Whether you’re looking to rent or own a fully equipped villa or beach front cottage, the southern beaches accommodate all styles.

The northern beaches of North Carolina, from Emerald Isle to the Outer Banks, offer many different sporting activities. Because of the great winds, kites are a favorite way to enjoy the beach and are found decorating many of the shops in the area. Families flock to the beach with brightly decorated kites to enjoy hours of fun. Kiteboarding, a sport unique to the Outer Banks and growing in popularity, has become one of the biggest activities of the area. Kitty Hawk Kites, a store that offers everything from toys to tours, has every kind of kite possible. Whether it’s single line kites for kids on the beach or Stunt kites that for those who want to perform tricks and advanced maneuvers, you will find everything you need to enjoy the Outer Banks wind.

One of the more popular activities with a long history, fishing brings in many travelers from around the nation. North Carolina beaches provide the perfect spot for fishing as the nearby The Gulf Stream warms the Atlantic. The collision of the warm The Gulf Stream and the cold Labrador currents create a hotspot for all types of fish, and fishermen catch anything from Wahoo to Sailfish, depending on the season. From deep sea fishing to pier and surf fishing, North Carolina beaches have everything you need.

Yet the beaches of North Carolina are more than just a vacation spot; they are a year-round beach community where people work and play. Come visit our spectacular sites and sandy beaches all along North Carolina’s shores. The comprehensive database of anything from restaurant coupons and menus to vacation rentals will help you plan your ideal trip to anywhere on the North Carolina coast.


North Carolina Beaches: Come as Guests. Leave as Family!

Artificial Intelligence/Definition – Wikibooks, open books …

Over the past few years, you might have come across the term artificial intelligence and have imagined it to be a vivid personification of extraterrestrial beings or robots. But, what is artificial intelligence in fact? In this section, we will explore the meaning and semantics of the term artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence is the search for a way to map intelligence into mechanical hardware and enable a structure into that system to formalize thought. No formal definition, as yet, is available for as to what artificial intelligence actually is. Over the course of this section, we will try to formulate a working definition, reasoning and articulating facts and preferences of various other authors and practitioners of the field. To start with, we would think of the word artificial and intelligence as main sources of inspiration and come up with a brief description of the same as follows:

With our first set of formal declaration of the concept, we tread gradually through different semantics of it and try to explore a much broader definition for AI. In their book Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, authors Russell and Norvig tried to establish a clear classification of the definition of the field into distinct categories based on working definitions from other authors commenting on AI. The demarcation of concepts holds true to these clauses for systems that:

So, one would be tempted to improve upon the definition given above to include these facts into perspective such that the definition that we end up with says that:

There are numerous definitions of what artificial intelligence is.

We end up with four possible goals:

What is rationality? -> “doing the right thing” – simply speaking.


For (1.): “The art of creating machines that perform functions that require intelligence when performed by humans” (Kurzweil). Involves cognitive modeling – we have to determine how humans think in a literal sense (explain the inner workings of the human mind, which requires experimental inspection or psychological testing)

For (2.): “GPS – General Problem Solver” (Newell and Simon). Deals with “right thinking” and dives into the field of logic. Uses logic to represent the world and relationships between objects in it and come to conclusions about it. Problems: hard to encode informal knowledge into a formal logic system and theorem provers have limitations (if there’s no solution to a given logical notation).

For (3.): Turing defined intelligent behavior as the ability to achieve human-level performance in all cognitive tasks, sufficient to fool a human person (Turing Test).Physical contact to the machine has to be avoided, because physical appearance is not relevant to exhibit intelligence. However, the “Total Turing Test” includes appearance by encompassing visual input and robotics as well.

For (4.): The rational agent – achieving one’s goals given one’s beliefs. Instead of focusing on humans, this approach is more general, focusing on agents (which perceive and act). More general than strict logical approach (i.e. thinking rationally).

A human judge engages in a natural language conversation with two other parties, one a human and the other a machine; if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine is said to pass the test. It is assumed that both the human and the machine try to appear human.

Tried to debunk the claims of “Strong AI”. Searle opposed the view that the human mind IS a computer and that consequently, any appropriately construed computer program could also be a mind.

A man who doesn’t speak Chinese sits in a room and is handed sheets of paper with Chinese symbols through a slit. He has access to a manual with a comprehensive set of rules on how to respond to this input. Searle argues, that even though he can answer correctly, he doesn’t understand Chinese; he’s just following syntactical rules and doesn’t have access to the meaning of them. Searle believes that “mind” emerges from brain functions, but is more than a “computer program” – it requires intentionality, consciousness, subjectivity and mental causation.

The problem deals with the relationship between mental and physical events. Suppose I decide to stand up. My decision could be seen as a mental event. Now something happens in my brain (neurons firing, chemicals flowing, you name it) which could be seen as a physical, measurable event. How can it be, that something “mental” causes something “physical”. Hence it’s hard to claim that both are completely different things. One could go on and claim that these mental events are, in fact, physical events: My decision is neurons firing, but I’m not aware of this – I feel like I made a decision independently from the physical. Of course this works the other way round too: everything physical could, in fact, be mental events. When I stand up after having made the decision (mental event), I’m not physically standing up, but my actions cause mental events in my and the bystanders minds – physical reality is an illusion.

It is the question of how to determine which things remain the same in a changing environment.

Occurs whenever an organism or artificial intelligence is at some current state and does not know how to proceed in order to reach a desired goal state. This is considered to be a problem that can be solved by coming up with a series of actions that lead to the goal state (the “solving”).

In general, search is an algorithm that takes a problem as input and returns with a solution from the searchspace. The search space is the set of all possible solutions. We dealt a lot with so called “state space search” where the problem is to find a goal state or a path from some initial state to a goal state in the state space. A state space is a collection of states, arcs between them and a non-empty set of start states and goal states. It is helpful to think of the search as building up a search tree – from any given node (state): what are my options to go next (towards the goal), eventually reaching the goal.

Uninformed search (blind search) has no information about the number of steps or the path costs from the current state to the goal. They can only distinguish a goal state from a non-goal state. There is no bias to go towards the desired goal.

For search algorithms, open list usually means the set of nodes yet to be explored and closed list the set of nodes that have already been explored.

In informed search, a heuristic is used as a guide that leads to better overall performance in getting to the goal state. Instead of exploring the search tree blindly, one node at a time, the nodes that we could go to are ordered according to some evaluation function that determines which node is probably the “best” to go to next. This node is then expanded and the process is repeated (i.e. Best First Search). A* Search is a form of BestFS. In order to direct the search towards the goal, the evaluation function must include some estimate of the cost to reach the closest goal state from a given state. This can be based on knowledge about the problem domain, the description of the current node, the search cost up to the current node BestFS optimizes DFS by expanding the most promising node first. Efficient selection of the current best candidate is realized by a priority queue.

Finding Heuristics:

Minimax is for deterministic games with perfect information. Non-Deterministic games will use the expectiminimax algorithm.

For CSPs, states in the search space are defined by the values of a set of variables, which can get assigned a value from a specific domain, and the goal test is a set of constraints that the variables must obey in order to make up a valid solution to the initial problem.

Example: 8-queens problem; variables could be the positions of each of the eight queens, the constraint to pass the goal test is that no two queens can be such that they harm each other.

Different types of constraints:

In addition to that, constraints can be absolute or preference (the former rules out certain solutions, the latter just says which solutions are preferred). The domain can be discrete or continuous. In each step of the search, it is checked if any variable has violated one of the constraints – if yes: backtrack and rule out this path.

Forward checking checks if any decisions on yet unassigned variables would be ruled out by assigning a value to a variable. It deletes any conflicting values from the set of possible values for each of the unassigned variables. If one of the sets becomes empty – backtrack immediately.

There are also heuristics for making decisions on variable assignments.

Selecting the next variable:

After selecting the variable:

variables connected to the current variable through constraints.

CSP’s that work with iterative improvement are often called “heuristic repair” methods, because they repair inconsistencies in the current configuration. Tree-structured CSPs can be solved in linear time.

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Artificial Intelligence/Definition – Wikibooks, open books …

Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco …

Condition: Used: Good

Comment: This book shows minor shelf wear on the cover or jacket. This book has been read, resulting in slight bends to pages or other minor but noticible changes from new. The interior pages have crisp clear text, but some pages do show underlining, highlighting, or notes.

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Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco …

Futurism (art) – definition of Futurism (art) by The Free …


1. A belief that the meaning of life and one’s personal fulfillment lie in the future and not in the present or past.

2. An artistic movement originating in Italy around 1910 whose aim was to express the energetic, dynamic, and violent quality of contemporary life, especially as embodied in the motion and force of modern machinery.

3. Christianity A belief that biblical prophecies, especially those contained in the book of Revelation, will be literally fulfilled at some point in the future.

futurist n.

(Art Movements) an artistic movement that arose in Italy in 1909 to replace traditional aesthetic values with the characteristics of the machine age

futurist n, adj


(sometimes cap.) a movement in the fine arts attempting to give artistic form to the dynamism and speed of industrial technology.


a movement of the 20th century attempting to capture in painting the movement, force, and speed of modern industrial life by the simultaneous representation of successive aspects of forms in motion. Futurist, n. Futuristic, adj.

the seeking of lifes meaning and fulfillment in the future, futurist, n. futuristic, adj.

(c. 190919) A movement of writers and artists founded by the poet Filippo Marinetti (who described speed as a new form of beauty.) Its manifesto advocated incorporating the thrust of modern technology into art in order to express the movement and dynamism of modern life.

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Futurism (art) – definition of Futurism (art) by The Free …

War Against The Weak – Home Page

THE BEST BOOK ON EUGENICS. Edwin Black has written what may well be the best book ever published about the American eugenics movement and the horrific events it spawned. Combining exhaustive research, a very readable style, and just the right touch of moral outrage, Black splendidly conveys the evil depth and breadth of eugenics philosophy, the pseudo-science and social theory that unleashed a half-century of war against society’s most vulnerable citizens.

Wesley Smith National Review

Gregory Mott Washington Post Book World

Gregg Sapp Library Journal

Daniel Kevles New York Times Book Review

Adrienne Miller Esquire Magazine

Starred Review Publishers Weekly

Ray Olson Booklist

Tony Platt Los Angeles Times Book Review

David Plotz Mother Jones Magazine

Paul Ranier Der Spiegel

Nancy Schapiro St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Carl Zimmer Discovery

Cynthia Dettelbach Cleveland Jewish News

Steve Courtney Hartford Courant

Mark Lewis Tampa Tribune

Jack Fischel The Forward

Amy DeBaets Ethics and Medicine


War Against The Weak – Home Page

Futurism – RationalWiki

Events, by definition, are occurrences that interrupt routine processes and routine procedures; only in a world in which nothing of importance ever happens could the futurologists dream come true.

Futurism, or futurology, is the study, or hypothetical study, of what might become of the human race and our relationship with technology and our environment. It is quite often difficult to discern between the realistic, the science woo, and the science fictional elements of the works of futurists.

The first use of the term “futurism” appeared during the early 19th century in reference to a specific brand of Christian eschatology that teaches that many parts of the Bible, especially the Book of Revelation, will take place in the future.[1] Obviously, futurism still holds some influence in modern Christianity considering all the cranks still banging on about the end times.

The term “futurist” was not explicitly used in reference to a number of 19th century science fiction writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, though modern futurists claim to draw inspiration from them.[2]

The original futurist movement was born in early 20th century Italy which was known for exalting art, technology, and violence. One of the key documents of the early futurist movement was The Futurist Manifesto, published in 1909 by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.[3] This positioned Marinetti as the leader of the Italian futurist movement and eventually the head of the Futurist Political Party formed in 1918. Many of the futurists were also Italian nationalists and became fascist ideologues and supporters of Benito Mussolini.[4]

One of the many strains of futurist music (see the next couple sections) came out of the Italian movement. Musician Balilla Pratella wrote an article Manifesto of Futurist Musicians[5] in 1910. In it, he addresses young musicians (because “only they can understand what I have to say”), encouraging them to ditch commercialism, academia, closed competitions, critics, sacred music, librettist/composer partnerships, vocal centrism, and quite a few other things he believes are holding back musical innovation. Typical of the movement, Pratella adopts a vitriolic tone, never taking a moment’s breath to stop painting the “traditionalists” as mortal enemies of music.

Pratella was forgotten over time and 20th-century classical music lived on.

Modern futurism came to be characterized by a more scientific (or scientistic, as some might say) bent while still retaining its artistic elements. Ossip K. Flechtheim called for a field of “futurology” beginning in the 1940s in an attempt to “scientifically” predict the future based on history.[6]Future Shock, by Alvin Toffler is known for being one of the most influential popularizations of futurism. Nowadays the field is rife with anyone who can get the media to call them futurists.

Futurist themes were embraced by a number of African-American artists, especially musicians, in the mid-20th century. This style eventually came to be known as “Afro-futurism.” Sun Ra, a jazz pianist and bandleader, is known as the progenitor of this style.[7]. A number of other musicians have become associated with Afro-futurism, including Parliament-Funkadelic, Model 500 and DJ Spooky.

The current incarnation of futurism is known as transhumanism, a somewhat loosely knit movement that has gained a few wealthy financial benefactors in Silicon Valley. Many transhumanists are “Singularitarians” who posit a coming “technological singularity” in which an artificial intelligence is built that exceeds human intelligence and initiates an explosion of technological advancement. Transhumanists are also proponents of pseudoscientific, dubious, or otherwise problematic technology, such as cryonics and mind uploading. Ray Kurzweil is probably the most famous transhumanist around today.

The movement that came to be known as “cyborg feminism” or “cyberfeminism” takes its inspiration from Donna Haraway’s 1985 essay “A Cyborg Manifesto.” Haraway rebutted the idea that science and technology are inherently patriarchal or capitalistic. Cyberfeminism tends to concentrate on the intersection of gender roles and technology.[8] Another movement with some overlap with cyberfeminism is “postgenderism,” which advocates for technological advances in service of erasing gender (and sexual dimorphism too).[9] Both of these movements also have some overlap with transhumanism.

There was a strain of ’80s electronic synthesizer pop of this name, which they got from the Italian ones. It went “ZOMG MACHINES EXIST” in a new wave sort of manner with silly haircuts and eyeliner. Examples include Visage and Depeche Mode. In the early 2000s, industrial bands VNV Nation and Apoptygma Berzerk invented the name “futurepop” for their version of this.[10] Even more confusingly is a resurgence in 80s-sounding synth-music thanks to films like Drive and videogames like Hotline Miami with a number of names, like “Synthwave” or “Retro-Synth.”[11] So “future” means “retro,” except…

It’s basically an aesthetic used in art and design built on all those failed futurist predictions leading to styles such as “steam punk” or “diesel punk.”

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Futurism – RationalWiki

The Nanotechnology Institute

Composing the first Draft from a Creative: What it is Love

Possessing routed my most recently released unique away and off to my agent a couple of weeks in the past, I&ve savored not publishing a single thing. I&ve trapped on email messages and administrative but havenAndt very had been able to do all of my book-having-really that will wait around! Even So contain the encourage to write for a second time, to start out the particularly long and bumpy technique of composing a first draft on the novel, according to a perception IAndve suffered from into my go for weeks.

IAndm nonetheless warming up however; We need an exciting new notebook computer, I need to clean my table, I have to loose time waiting for on the list of time when my 4 yr old is at kindy simply because setting up a first draft needs a whole entire occasion of quantity, and also new stationery! But pondering starting to prepare over again taught me to think about the operation of producing the first draft connected with a novel. It&s quite a specified practice, or at best it happens to be i believe.

Thus I&ve made an infographic which summarises the 8 steps I experience as soon as i generate a first write.

I feel right here is the most challenging component to a first draft. Normally it takes 2 or 3 weeks of simply writing bit little scenarios, checking out writing prompts and training, and reading other books. This is the slowest portion of the for starters draft and, i believe, the least pleasing. It&s at which I need to motivate by myself to sit down and write down. Until, eventually, I post a item and that i are aware of it uses the suitable voice. I do know it&s the solid I want my creative to receive. And after that I&m from and composing.

Possessing a voice is very well but have you thought about a story? I usually embark on my firstly drafts while using barest your bones connected with an understanding of a charm, although with no real notion of what this persona would possibly do and definitely no idea to what the plan may just be. IAndve been improving at wishing to put together my pantsing method to composing with a small amount of plotting, by means of devices like Scapple and Scrivener, but there is however even so a very real duration of groping blindly along the length of, looking to find the one grain of yellow sand relating to the shoreline which includes a glint of magical concerning it.

This is often quite literally like bumping my go as i&m got rid of in the dark of Point 2. I will out of the blue create a landscape which actually starts to illustrate me what my history could be. Or a new personality seems, including the character of Selena in my for starters publication, a persona I needed practically never plotted to publish, but who can bring it alive within the unplanned way. Excitement are exhilarating as well as to be cherished; I like it right after i reach out to this state within the very first write.

Once I reach the Big surprise, the storyplot actually starts to unspool, to show themselves with me. I go alongside for any cruise, keying in as quickly as I will with the idea i always can find your hands on the words previously they fade away. There may be quite a lot of bliss in that position of simply writing; indeed, there&s not much I might instead do and interruptions just like having to nibble on are most unwelcome!

Soon after difficult on the pumps of a Fireworks is available that essential speech of doom I&ve put together about prior to when, the one that informs me my plan is stuffed with slots, my personas are incredibly dull and derivative, my simply writing is lifeless and lifeless. ItAnds very only a matter of driving on recent this step, writing on irregardless, understanding now, after having grappled by using it in each of my textbooks, we gets so much the better from it if I just overlook it till And#8230;

On this point, I know I am nearing the conclusion. I know I causes it to be and yes it allows me a rise of pure vitality. It may get me through the skepticism and my phrase count up accelerates on this website as all I would like to do is go to that fairly survive post and performed with the pressure for the firstly write.

It is reason for event. Completing an initial write is an important success and plenty of most people who want to generate novels in no way make it to the end connected with a initially draft. I understand that I already have a tale; I actually have a plan and so i have some character types. I&m going for walks on oxygen, until I recall And#8230;

I just like redrafting, although the idea of doing the work right after finish your first write might be problematic. I genuinely feel more secure after i redraft after i have a very good account I can make greater. Yet the redraft is known as a technique unto per se and requires a completely new infographic, that i will bring you in a couple of weeks, if you like this.

But have you considered you? Would you undergo any of those phases when publishing an initial write? Or do you have a several variety of stages? For you if you put on&t write down, is that this just what you imagined freelance writers would do right after they published the main draft within their guidebook? Tell me while in the remarks listed below.

Writing Lousy Firstly Drafts

Developing forwarded my most recently released unique off and away to my agent a couple of weeks ago, I&ve really liked not formulating nearly anything I&ve caught up on e-mail messages and admin but haven&t somewhat had been able do my arrange-having-certainly which will wait! But I enjoy the urge to produce again, to begin the prolonged and bumpy operation of creating an initial draft of an book, depending on a good idea IAndve obtained around my mind for many months.

I&m yet warming up nonetheless; I need a totally new laptop computer, I need to tidy my workplace, I need to watch for just one of the hours when my 4 year-old is at kindy considering that beginning an initial draft demands a go to this site entire period of level, not to mention new stationery! But contemplating beginning to post back again made me think about the operation of composing the first draft to a fresh. It&s a very unique process, or perhaps it really is personally.

Thus I&ve created an infographic which summarises the 8 steps I undertake after i prepare an initial write.

I believe this is basically the most challenging a part of the first write. It usually takes many weeks of creating bit limited scenes, checking out publishing prompts and physical exercises, and browsing other novels. Here is the slowest an area of the for starters draft and, in my opinion, the very least worthwhile. It&s exactly where I need to force me personally to take a seat and generate. Up until, one day, I publish a section and therefore i be aware of it has got the proper sound. I understand itAnds the sound I want my creative to acquire. And thereafter IAndm away from and publishing.

Enjoying a tone of voice is all really well but have you considered a tale? I usually begin the process my very first drafts while using barest bone tissues of any idea about a figure, yet with no realistic notion of what this individuality could do and certainly no clue of what the plot will be. I&ve been improving at aiming to incorporate my pantsing way of authoring with some plotting, by using instruments like Scapple and Scrivener, but there is nevertheless a very true time of groping blindly down, trying to find the only one grain of sand about the shore which includes a glint of power about this.

This can be really like bumping my go while IAndm got rid of at nighttime of Phase 2. I am going to instantly post a scene which actually starts to demonstrate to me what my history may possibly be. Or even new figure appears, for instance the figure of Selena within my for starters publication, a figure I needed never ever thought out to produce, but who produces the ebook alive in the unanticipated way. Unexpected situations are enjoyable in order to be treasured; I adore it once i obtain this place of the primary draft.

When I arrive at the Big surprise, the tale begins to unspool, to disclose themselves to me. I go alongside for the journey, typing as quickly as I will in the hopes that we can seize hold of the phrase right before they subside. You can find lots of happiness inside this state of publishing; the reality is, there&s practically nothing I would personally rather do and interruptions just like having to eat are most unwelcome!

Pursuing hard on the heels within the Fireworks occurs that internal speech of doom IAndve drafted about prior to, the individual that tells me my plan is stuffed with holes, my personalities are tedious and derivative, my authoring is lifeless and lifeless. ItAnds very only a matter of forcing on history this place, publishing on regardless, figuring out now, after you have grappled about it in all of my publications, which i might get the more desirable from it generally if i just forget it until

During this level, I recognize I am just nearing the conclusion. I know I will make it and also it offers me a increase of unique electricity. It receives me through the question and my concept calculate accelerates at this point as all I want to do is be able to that pretty endure website and become carried out with the worries of your to start with draft.

This is exactly reason for festivity. Completing the first write is a big fulfillment and a lot of persons who wish to create textbooks practically never reach the end of the to begin with write. I recognize i always now have a narrative; I have a plot we have a set of people. IAndm walks on fresh air, until finally I recall

I just like redrafting, however the very thought of carrying it out following completing the very first write could very well be intimidating. I truly feel more secure once i redraft because i have a nice storyline I can make more desirable. Though the redraft is definitely a system unto itself and requires a completely new infographic, that i will give you in a few weeks, if you love that one.

But have you considered you? On earth do you endure such steps when formulating a first write? Or do you have a various list of periods? For those who donAndt prepare, is this what you dreamed of writers would do the moment they wrote the initial draft with their arrange? Inform me essay writing services in through the remarks directly below.

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The Nanotechnology Institute

The Myths and History of Red Hair – Aliens, Atlantis and …

Homepage Aliens, Atlantis and Internet Conspiracies

Whilst scouring the Internet for information about red hair I’ve came across countless strange beliefs and conspiracies. A lot of them I find fascinating. I’ll reproduce some of the more interesting ones here. For the most part I’ve found these ideas amusing, but I must admit there’s always a slight doubt at the back of my mind – after all, who am I to judge what’s true and false. Maybe the truth is stranger than we’d all care to imagine.

One peculiar internet article I came across carried the heading, “The Master Race becomes Friendly Aliens.” In it the writer explains how the “familiar Nazi agenda is still being propagated” by aliens of “Germanic, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon” stock. These aliens in question are generally called “Nordics” by the UFO community and the writer describes them thusly:

“They are all tall, Blond or Red Hair with Blue eyes. They average in height from 6′ to 61/2′ tall with some reported to be as tall as 8′.”

The article continues, stating:

“Consistent to the reports throughout the world in regards to Nordics is the near perfect physical appearance. No one has ever reported plain or physically deficient members in their company. Just what one may expect if you had a choice in the matter through controlled genetics.”

Another message board article I came across was titled “Are redhead’s DNA of alien origin?” On it was posted this:

“There is another race that has branched off from this giant race, the red-haired Lyrans. Their hair was red to strawberry blonde in color. The skin tone very, very fair; these entities had a difficulty exposing their skin to certain frequencies of natural light, due to the planet they sprang from. Some of these were also giant in stature, though there were some who were average human size. Eye color was generally light to what you would now consider green, though it is a different quality of green than you see upon your world. These entities were some of the first Lyran pioneers. (Pioneers is a very kind word, for there are many worlds that consider the red-haired ones to be the invaders, marauders and the basic havoc-wreakers of the Lyran genotype).”

I’ve since read that the “Lyrans” are quite well-known in ufological circles and that, as the article states, they are generally seen as being red-haired. The post continues, making a link between these red-haired “Lyrans” and the redheads on earth:

“Well, to some degree we are speaking about the distant past as they interacted with your earth plane. These entities still exist but are much fewer in number. We would say that your closest mythological remnants are in your Norse mythology – Vikings etc. Some of that mythology was about actual Earth beings who were either influenced by or interacted with this red-headed Lyran strain. This is not a very common interaction on your world, not as common as that of the giants, but common enough to have made it into your mythology.”

The post then carries on:

“Apparently there’s a remnant of a red-haired group in the Pleiades…[t]he Pleiadian version is much more watered down. But the purebred red-head was very aggressive, violent, passionate and, to some degree, very rebellious.”

The article also asks the question,

“Did these red-haired people naturally evolve as red-haired, or was there intentional manipulation somewhere along the line?”

I keep imagining an episode of StarTrek were Captain Kirk lands on a planet inhabited entirely by ginger people.

In fact, the post actually reminds me of the famous “Villas Boas” abduction case. A case concerning a young Brazilian farmer, named Antonio Villas Boas, who was apparently abducted by a UFO and forced into a liaison with a beautiful alien woman who had red pubic hair. Incidentally, I also remember watching a TV show about UFO abductions a while back that stated that there had been a spate of abduction cases in Turkey that all specified red-haired aliens.

It’s amazing the number of articles I’ve come across on the internet that associate red hair with royalty and ruling elites. In fact, one comment I read on a blog about world political leaders stated:

“[A]nother disproportional thing in politics is hair color. the number of leaders who have red hair is actually amazing…how many of the founding fathers of the USA were redheads? lenin [and] Trotsky…malcom X…How much of the royal families? Cleopatra, napoleon, Alexander the great…seems like red hair and conquering the world go together.”

The commenter also relates some of his own personal experience of living with the colour:

“[W]hen i walk sometimes past old columbian women, they cross themselves and you can hear them say in spanish things against the devil.”

Another article I came across associated red hair with secret societies. The writer of this particular article linked red hair with the symbol of the rose and wrote:

“It’s all about the rose. It means rose-cross, or red cross of the Templars. It is found in rose-line, or Rosslyn, the Chapel of the Sinclairs. And, as strange as this may sound, red hair is their characteristic feature.”

It continued:

“It is a sign of descent from the Edomites, or more specifically, the Scythians of southern Russia, who were the Lost Tribes. They were known to the Jews of the Middle Ages as Red Jews. They later became Khazars. All the leading bloodlines of Europe descend from them. That’s the point of Brown’s book, that Da Vinci, painted the Magdalene with red hair, it is the ultimate signal.”

I found one foray into red-hair conspiracy lurking in the review section on Amazon. It was a review for the book “Henry Neville and The Shakespeare Code” by Brenda James, a book that questions the authorship of the works of Shakespeare. The enthusiastic reviewer wrote:

“MY THEORY…!!…is that Elizabeth [the First] was not a virgin – and had at least 8 children, among them Oxford, Bacon, Neville, Philip and Mary Sidney (I think their adoptive father was Elizabeth’s half brother), Essex, Cecil junior, and Southampton. You will find an act of parliament passed when she was 50 saying that the issue of her body will be her heirs – not her legally born children! If you remember that was what caused Henry VIIIs troubles – he did have illegitimate children, but tried impossibly hard to get a legal son – even changing the religion in England to do so. Every other King in Europe had tons of illegitimate children – so why not Elizabeth? Elizabeth’s very first letter to Cecil, when she is 13 or 14, asks him to squash the rumours going around that she is pregnant!”

“It goes on and on ..! Elizabethan history is a whole lot more interesting to me now! Everything fits, for the first time. All those loose ends, that made no sense. Why did Leicester adopt Essex? Well, he was his own son, by Elizabeth! Why did Elizabeth make Cecil a Baron the day before his daughter was married? Because his daughter was marrying Elizabeth’s own first son. It is endless – I could go on for hours! The modern world was created by Elizabeth’s bastards! They were all placed by Cecil, brilliantly educated, and given the European tour. Some of the plays are quite possibly a family effort! It is a BIG story! A Hollywood blockbuster – somebody will do it one day.”

“Look at the portraits of Elizabeth’s children – they all have thin faces with curly orangery hair – like their parents! I believe that if both parents have red hair the children must all have red hair too. Is that right? Leicester was with Elizabeth for about 15 years. I think they found his last letter to her on the desk next to her bed when she died.”

Although the tone of this review amuses me somewhat, I must admit that the issue does fill me with suspicion. I don’t think the “virgin queen” had eight children, but personally, I’d be surprised if she had none either. And it is true that Henry Neville had red hair, as did Leicester and Elizabeth.

The same reviewer then wrote another piece, this time in the review section for the book “Oxford: Son of Queen Elizabeth I” by Paul Streitz, continuing on the same theme.

“Compare the pictures of Henry VIII, Elizabeth, Edward de Vere, Sir Henry Neville, and Henry Wriothesly, the Earl of Southampton. They all have red hair, and look remarkably similar. It is begining to look like Edward and the two Henrys could have been brothers!!”


In many ways this continues on the theme of red-haired rulers. Of all the theories about red hair on the Internet this one seems to be the most abundant, and it goes something like this:-

All the ancient civilisations of pre-history were started and ruled by seafaring redheads, who originally came from a land over the sea, often, but not always, equated with Atlantis. The evidence for this can be found in ancient myths and in the mummified remains of redheaded people discovered around the globe.

For the most part these theories begin in ancient Egypt and are centred around the fact that many mummies have been found displaying red hair. Needless to say, these finds have led to much speculation about the origin of the ancient Egyptians and their glorious culture. The basic premise of the theory being that red-haired survivors from Atlantis at some point arrived and sowed the seeds of civilisation. As you can imagine a lot of this speculation is wildly inventive. One internet article I read, titled “Red Haired Mummies of Egypt,” began with this statement:

“There were the blue-bloods of Ancient Times which extended into European Times. They actually did have blue blood, and it was not hemoglobin based but copper based. They were semi-human. There are still to this day, some animal species in South America that have copper based blood systems. There was a problem with hemophilia, and not because of intermarrying. The problem was that they started to marry outside of the copper based blood system. Hemoglobin and copper systems don’t mix. That’s where the laws against marrying commoners originated. Lobsters, octopuses, squids and horseshoe crabs have copper based blue blood.”

Incidentally, Egypt isn’t the only place where red-haired mummies have been found. They’ve been found as far afield as China and Peru. The Tarim mummies were found in what is now present day Xinjiang, China and some of them possessed red hair. Likewise in Peru mummies have been found with striking red locks.

Other discoveries of red-haired mummies have come in Polynesia and the Canary Islands. In fact, both these places are, or were, noted for red-haired people. The Canary Islands was the home of the Guanches, a red-haired tribe that built monuments which can still be seen on the islands today. And red-haired people have been noted sporadically throughout parts of Polynesia, including New Zealand. One internet writer relayed the following legend:

“One Kiribati legend describes eels (Serpents?) coming ashore who turned into red haired men when they swam ashore. Another legend (Bue the Ancestor) describes one of these red men copulating with a woman who was bathing in the shallows at sunrise. The legend describes the “Sun” entering her loins, suggesting a child of the sun was born to her. When this child grew up, he set sail to the East (America) to look for his ancestors.”

The writer also noted:

“The Urekehu – or red heads amongst the Maori are believed to have come from a hot dry land to the East.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly the writer elaborated by making reference to Atlantis.

“I am not suggesting that Englishmen came and did the Jack in the Green dance in front of the Tolai, nor that a Scottish mason jumped ship and taught these people a secret handshake. What I am saying is that Both European and Pacific cultures have a common link a long long way back in time, possibly in Atlantis 11,500 years ago…[t]he ancient culture of Atlantis was not just carried on by the Egyptians, but was also carried on by the red haired civilization of Tulapin (Terapin/Turtle Island) and were a dominant population in America until 6,000 years ago.”

Of particular interest in regards red hair is Easter Island. An article in Fortean Times about the island stated:

“Ethnically, Rapa Nui are polynesian, though paler-skinned and with an anomalous genetic trait of red hair dating from before first contact with Europeans.”

It should also be noted that the large statues on the island all have “topknots” of red stone. Many believe that these represent red hair.

Although I often make light of these ideas it must be said that the presence of red hair so far afield is actually quite interesting. It either suggests that red hair blossoms accidentally in populations rather easily or that there was a lot more migration in pre-history than modern experts would have us believe.

Another interesting thing I came across on this general theme was the story of Lovelock Cave. This is apparently a cave in Nevada that was found to contain the remains of red-haired giants. The story goes that the Paiutes, a tribe of natives who inhabited the area, were at war with these giants and killed them off by ambushing them in the cave. One webpage I came across stated:

“Growing up in Nevada I had heard stories of the Sitecah from the Paiute Indians that lived in the area. They told of red-haired men and women of light colored skin as tall as 12 feet who originally lived in the area when the Paiutes had first arrived. Evidently these human giants liked to eat the Indians so they had problems making friends. The Indian tribes of the area finally joined and ambushed the giants killing most of them on the spot.”

Some of the comments on the page make particularly good reading. One posted:

“Nice Hub, I asked some of the old people about these so called ‘red haired giants’. I dont know what was more surprising, your hub or the fact one of our respected elders not only had a name for them but could tell me prominent ancestors who migrated hundreds of years ago to this land through the polynesian islands who were fair, had red hair and were so called giants!?!? I was gobsmacked! He was talking as if it were common knowledge!”

Another said:

“I have been a barber in Nevada for 35 years and I cut many Piaute men’s hair.. I have heard the stories about the red haired giants for many years. The older ones told me the giants ate some of their great, great grand parents and the story about going to Lovelock to kill them is absolutley true (according to many of these men).”

And a final mentioned:

“I am Paiute and have heard of these giants. I’m from Oregon near the Nevada border and have heard of the Paiutes in Nevada talk of these red-head giants. I heard where these giants lived in caves and did eat some of the Natives.”

I can only begin to imagine what other stories are lurking out there on the Internet waiting to be discovered.

Originally posted here:

The Myths and History of Red Hair – Aliens, Atlantis and …

Introduction. -The dogma of human equality is no part of …

Journal of the History of Ideas

Description: Since its inception in 1940, the Journal of the History of Ideas (JHI) has served as a medium for the publication of research in intellectual history that is of common interest to scholars and students in a wide range of fields. It is committed to encouraging diversity in regional coverage, chronological range, and methodological approaches. JHI defines intellectual history expansively and ecumenically, including the histories of philosophy, of literature and the arts, of the natural and social sciences, of religion, and of political thought. It also encourages scholarship at the intersections of cultural and intellectual history — for example, the history of the book and of visual culture.

Coverage: 1940-2011 (Vol. 1, No. 1 – Vol. 72, No. 4)

The “moving wall” represents the time period between the last issue available in JSTOR and the most recently published issue of a journal. Moving walls are generally represented in years. In rare instances, a publisher has elected to have a “zero” moving wall, so their current issues are available in JSTOR shortly after publication. Note: In calculating the moving wall, the current year is not counted. For example, if the current year is 2008 and a journal has a 5 year moving wall, articles from the year 2002 are available.

ISSN: 00225037

EISSN: 10863222

Subjects: History, History

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Introduction. -The dogma of human equality is no part of …

Introducing Libertarianism: A Reading List …

November 3, 2011 essays

The eight books on this list offer a thorough but accessible introduction to libertarianism.

Libertarianismits theory, its practiceis an awfully big topic. This reading list gives you a place to start. A combination of newcomers and established classics, these books offer accessible introductions to variety of libertarian thought, from philosophy to history to economics.

Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boaz

Boazs book provides exactly what its title promises.Libertarianism: A Primer is a quick and easy read, but its also a remarkably thorough introduction to libertarianism. It covers the historical roots of libertarianism and the basics of libertarian political philosophy and economic thinking. Boaz then applies these ideas to major policy areas, showing how free association and free markets, not government coercion and bureaucracy, can solve our most pressing social issues.

The Law by Frdric Bastiat

Everything this 19th century Frenchman wrote is worth readingand The Law is a great place to start. Bastiats knack is tackling head-on, with great wit and clarity, the fundamental errors and hidden interests behind much economic and political thinking. With The Law, published in 1850, his target is legal plunder or state-authorized confiscation of property. The law exists to protect our basic rights, Bastiat argues. When it instead becomes a means of coerced redistribution, the law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others.

The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism by David Friedman

Libertarianism represents a spectrum of political philosophies, all sharing a general presumption of liberty. These philosophies vary in how much of a role they grant the state. Classical liberals, for instance, allow government to tax for the provision of many services, including education and social safety nets. Minarchists see governments only legitimate role as providing rights protection in the form of police, courts, and national defense. At the extreme are the anarcho-capitalists, who would abolish the state altogether and replace it with purely private and voluntary provision of services, including for the law itself. David Friedmans The Machinery of Freedom offers an introduction to anarcho-capitalism, arguing from a consequentialist perspective that the state is both unnecessary for achieving a desirable society and that it in fact makes the world worse through its actions. The questions Friedman raises and the analysis he offers will benefit any student of liberty.

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman

Published as the companion volume to the 10-hour documentary of the same name, Free to Choose was one of the bestselling books of 1980. Here Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose, give a spirited and readable critique of the interventionist state, focusing on concrete examples and explanations. Free to Choose is an excellent introduction to the productive power unleashed by freedomand also a primer on the economic analysis of public policy. The Friedmans examine the workings of markets, look at how well-meaning policies like the minimum wage hurt the poor, and explain the causes of the Great Depression. Covering much the same ground as the documentary series, though in more depth, Free to Choose is a perfect introduction not only to the thought of Milton Friedman, one of the 20th centurys foremost champions of liberty, but also to the under-appreciated and often misunderstood benefits of laissez faire.

Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics by P. J. ORourke

Proving that economics need not be a dry, textbook affair, P. J. ORourkes Eat the Rich sets out to answer the critical question, Why do some places prosper and thrive while others just suck? ORourke, one of Americas premier humorists, travels the world, visiting Wall Street, Albania, Sweden, Cuba, Russia, Tanzania, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and uses his experiences to untangle the relationship between markets, political institutions, and culture. While Eat the Rich is a breezy and hilarious read, it is far from facile. ORourkes explorations and the insights he draws from them make the book live up to its subtitle, A Treatise on Economics. If youve never taken Econ 101 and the thought of supply and demand curves makes you want to nod off, Eat the Richis a perfect book.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

A perennial bestseller since its publication in 1957, Ayn Rands mammoth novel Atlas Shrugged has probably turned more people on to libertarianism than any other book. Atlas Shrugged explores a dystopian future, where the government has enthusiastically embraced collectivism in the name of fairness and equality and leading innovators, industrialists, and artists have begun disappearing. The book served as Rands platform for promoting Objectivism, her comprehensive philosophy of rational selfishness. While Rands philosophy remains deeply divisive to this day, it is impossible to deny the enormous impact shes had on promoting the benefits of free markets and dynamic capitalism.

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

The newest book on this list, Matt Ridleys The Rational Optimistemploys the grand sweep of human history and pre-history to argue for the incredible significance of free tradeand against those who would seek to restrict it. In so doing, Ridley offers what amounts to a book-length answer to the question, Why are people rich? Most humans who have ever lived did so in unimaginable poverty. It was only recently that standards of living began their remarkableand acceleratingclimb. What happened? Free exchange. Just as sex made biological evolution cumulative, Ridley writes, so exchange made cultural evolution cumulative and intelligence collective, and that there is therefore an inexorable tide in the affairs of men and women discernible beneath the chaos of their actions.

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell

While the libertarian vision is much more than just free markets, economic thinking greatly informs the libertarian approach to public policy. When youre ready to move beyond the brief introduction provided by P. J. ORourkes Eat the Rich, Thomas Sowells Basic Economics is the ideal place to turn. Sowell presents the fundamentals of economic reasoning in clear, jargon-free prose. He addresses everything from incentives and the role of prices, to international trade, monetary policy, and the banking system. Sowell shows how so many government programs, enacted with the best of intentions, run afoul of simple economic truths and, as a result, often do far more harm than good.

Aaron Ross Powell is a research fellow and editor of, a project of the Cato Institute. presents introductory material as well as new scholarship related to libertarian philosophy, theory, and history. Powells writing has appeared in Liberty and The Cato Journal. He earned a JD from the University of Denver.

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Introducing Libertarianism: A Reading List …

Business ecosystem – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Starting in the early 1990s, James F. Moore originated the strategic planning concept of a business ecosystem, now widely adopted in the high tech community. The basic definition comes from Moore’s book, The Death of Competition: Leadership and Strategy in the Age of Business Ecosystems.[1]

The concept first appeared in Moore’s May/June 1993 Harvard Business Review article, titled “Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition”, and won the McKinsey Award for article of the year.[2]

Moore defined “business ecosystem” as:

An economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individualsthe organisms of the business world. The economic community produces goods and services of value to customers, who are themselves members of the ecosystem. The member organisms also include suppliers, lead producers, competitors, and other stakeholders. Over time, they coevolve their capabilities and roles, and tend to align themselves with the directions set by one or more central companies. Those companies holding leadership roles may change over time, but the function of ecosystem leader is valued by the community because it enables members to move toward shared visions to align their investments, and to find mutually supportive roles.[3]

Moore used several ecological metaphors, suggesting that the firm is embedded in a (business) environment, that it needs to coevolve with other companies, and that the particular niche a business occupies is challenged by newly arriving species.[4] This meant that companies need to become proactive in developing mutually beneficial (“symbiotic”) relationships with customers, suppliers, and even competitors.

Using ecological metaphors to describe business structure and operations is increasingly common especially within the field of information technology (IT). For example, J. Bradford DeLong, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, has written that “business ecosystems” describe the pattern of launching new technologies that has emerged from Silicon Valley.[5][6] He defines business ecology as a more productive set of processes for developing and commercializing new technologies that is characterized by the rapid prototyping, short product-development cycles, early test marketing, options-based compensation, venture funding, early corporate independence.[7] DeLong also has expressed that the new way is likely to endure because it’s a better business ecology than the legendarily lugubrious model refined at Xerox Parca more productive set of processes for rapidly developing and commercializing new technologies.[8]

Mangrove Software,[9] The Montague Institute,[10] Kenneth L. Kraemer, director of the University of California, Irvines Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations[11] and Stephen Abram, Vice President of Micromedia, Ltd.,[12] Tom Gruber, co-founder and CTO of Intraspect Software,[13] Vinod K. Dar, Managing Director of Dar & Company,[14] have all advocated this approach.

Gruber explains that over a century ago, Ford Motors did well using methods of mass production, an assembly line, and insourcing. However, Ford began to outsource its production [w]hen the ecology evolved. Gruber (n.d.) has stated that such evolution in the ecology of the business world is punctuated now and then by radical changes in the environment and that globalization and the Internet are the equivalents of large-scale climate change. Globalization is eliminating the traditional advantages of the large corporation: access to capital, access to markets, and economies of scale.[13]

The application service provider (ASP) industry is moving toward relationship networks and focusing on core competencies. According to the gospel of Cisco Systems, companies inclined to exist together within an ecosystem facilitate the imminence of Internet-based application delivery.[15]

Books also use natural systems metaphors without discussing the interfaces between human business and biological ecosystems.[16]

Another work defines business ecology as a new field for sustainable organizational management and design, one that is based on the principle that organizations, as living organisms, are most successful when their development and behavior are aligned with their core purpose and values what we call social DNA.[17]

The need for companies to attend to ecological health is indicated by the following: Business ecology is based on the elegant structure and principles of natural systems. It recognizes that to develop healthy business ecosystems, leaders and their organizations must see themselves, and their environments, through an ecological lens.[18]

Some environmentalists have used “business ecosystems” as a way to talk about environmental issues as they relate to business rather than as a metaphor to describe the increasing complexity of relationships among companies. According to Townsend, business ecology is the study of the reciprocal relationship between business and organisms and their environments. The goal of this “business ecology” is sustainability through the complete ecological synchronization and integration of a business with the sites that it inhabits, uses, and affects.[19]

Other environmentalists believe that the ecosystem metaphor is just a way for business to appear ‘Green’. For example, in the book ‘The Unity of Nature’, published in 2002 by Imperial College Press, Alan Marshall shows that the metaphor is used to make out that somehow business operates using natural principles which should be left to run without interference (by governments).

The Cooperative Bank, established in the United Kingdom in 1872, launched its National Centre for Business Ecology in 1995. This Centre promotes itself as a low cost, high quality environmental advisory service to small and medium-sized UK businesses.[20] The bank reports that in keeping with its Ecological Mission Statement, it will not invest in businesses that focus on fossil fuel extraction, the manufacture of harmful chemicals, or the non-sustainable use of natural resources.[20] Yet, exactly what business ecology means to the bank and how it differs from current approaches to greening business are unclear.

Kinetix advertises that it provides sustainable business solutions to companies by working with them on strategy, design, and project management. Located beneath its name on the companys web site are the words business ecology, which the company defines as the effective use of material, social and financial resources the key to sustainability.[21] The company cites pollution, climate change, the need for corporate transparency, and the 2001 economic downturn as creating a market opportunity that is being met by firms involved in renewable energy, working toward creating zero waste, attending to product life cycles, and using the triple bottom line in their accounting practices. In its online brochure, the company has explained that it offers resource audits, workshops for organizational change, environmental management systems, and other services .[21]

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Business ecosystem – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – Texas Secession, Texas independence …


I know that this article will catch lots of grief and criticism, but I and millions of Texans are fed up with the rhetoric, misleading reporting, and just plain naivete or stupidity of the press in the handling of Obama and the present Islamist situation we have in this world.

Every day we actually watch the truth of the Muslim world on TV. My God, when you see it, how can you not believe it? Radical Islam has declared war worldwide! Now, from Bill OReilly to our local news reporters, everyone – including the retired generals interviewed about the subject – all say the same thing: We cannot understand why Obama does not do more about the violence from Islamist radicals. We dont understand why Obama will not engage. Why does Obama want to raise taxes and continue to write mandates through executive orders that harm America? All I hear is that he is a good family man, and nice guy, and maybe he just doesnt understand.

Fellow Texans, he not only understands, but he knows exactly what he is doing! Did you read his book Dreams From My Father? He hates America! He hates a red Texas. He is a supporter of the Muslim religion. He orchestrated the Arab Spring and covered it up with a move for democracy. Those countries wouldnt know democracy if they stepped in it! It was a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, and was supported by Obama. The political correctness and nice guy reporting must stop, and people better wake the hell up because we are sliding into a cesspool that we will never get out of.

Obama is a socialist, Islamist apologist, America-hating radical who is pulling off what he told all of us when he got elected the first time: We will fundamentally change America. Can everyone wake up and see that he is doing exactly that?

To the Governor of Texas, the legislature in Texas, the spineless Congress in Washington DC: I know the majority of you only care about power, money, and your next elected office, but you damn well better start telling the truth about Obama, his administration, and his ultimate goal of destroying America, or as they say in the not listened too part of America, the you-know-what will hit the fan! We common everyday folks can see through this like a glass door and will not stay quiet any longer!

When the SHTF scenario begins – and it will – all of you from the press to the sitting elected plutcocrats will have no one to blame but yourselves. We all know that you will label patriots as home-grown terrorists, right wing radicals, Bible toting gun lovers, but, in reality, they are good people who saw through the BS of this government a long time ago; people who will not give up their freedom and liberty at any cost. It will be the People who understand that Obama and his minions are evil!

We in Texas demand of those who can make a difference: stand up! Take care of Texas by getting us out of this situation. The next two years of this administration will cause the fall of all the states and the US government, or worse yet, a civil war that will make the Civil War of 1861 look like a skirmish!

Can we return to a small government led by and founded on the God-given rights as laid out by our Founding Fathers? Will you say the truth of the real evil that runs DC now? Will you stop lying to the people who know that what you say are lies? If not, people of Texas, it is time to get off the couch, take firm action with our elected leaders, and do not surrender our beloved home, our Texas, to those that lie and refuse to act!

Deny this if you will, but most know it to be true. Those that know will be enough to change things. I believe that, because there is nothing else left to believe in anymore!

God Bless Texas, Cary Wise Freedom Texas

See the original post: – Texas Secession, Texas independence …

What’s Next: Top Trends | Diary of an accidental futurist …

Heres my re-write of the chapter on money again. I must stress that this is now going into an edit process so it will come out looking slightly different. Quite a bit of material got dumped (which really hurts when you like it). Otherwise it was a matter of better signposting, starting with the economy and then moving into money and constantly teasing out the digital. Sorry about the layout, its gone rather haywire. (BTW, Ive added a few links, which obviously wont appear in any paper versions of this chapter).

The Economy and Money: Is digital money making us more careless? The idea of the future being different from the present is so repugnant to our conventional modes of thought and behaviour that we, most of us, offer a great resistance to acting on its practice. John Maynard Keynes, economist Networks of inequality A few years ago I was walking down a street in West London when a white van glided to a halt opposite. Four men stepped out and slowly slid what looked like a giant glass coffin from the rear. Inside it was a large shark.

The sight of a live shark in London was slightly surreal, so I sauntered over to ask what was going on. It transpired that the creature in question was being installed in an underground aquarium in the basement of a house in Notting Hill. This secret subterranean lair should, I suppose, have belonged to Dr Evil. To local residents opposing deep basement developments it probably did. A more likely candidate might have been someone benefiting from the digitally networked nature of global finance. A partner at Goldman Sachs, perhaps. This is the investment bank immortalised by Rolling Stone magazine as: a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity. Or possibly the owner was the trader known as the London Whale, who lost close to six billion dollars in 2012 for his employer, JP Morgan, by electronically betting on a series of highly risky and somewhat shady derivatives known as Credit Default Swaps. London real estate had become a serious place to stash funny money, so maybe the house belonged to a slippery individual dipping their fingers into the bank accounts of a corrupt foreign government or international institution. In the words of William Gibson, the former sci-fi writer, London is: Where you go if you successfully rip off your third world nation.

Whichever ruthless predator the house belonged to, something fishy was underfoot. My suspicion was that it had to do with unchecked financial liberalisation, but also how the digital revolution was turning the economy into a winner-takes-all online casino. The shift of power away from locally organised labour to globally organised capital has been occurring for a while, but the recent digital revolution has accelerated and accentuated this. Digitalisation hasnt directly enabled globalisation, but it certainly hasnt restrained it either and one of its negative side effects has been a tendency toward polarisation, both in terms of individual incomes and market monopolies.

Throughout most of modern history, around two-thirds of the money made in developed countries was typically paid as wages. The remaining third was paid as interest, dividends or other forms of rent to the owners of capital. But since 2000, the amount paid to capital has increased substantially while that paid to labour has declined, meaning that real wages have remained flat or fallen for large numbers of people.

The shift toward capital could have an innocent analogue explanation. China, home to an abundant supply of low-cost labour, has pushed wages down globally. This situation could soon reverse, as China runs out of people to move to its cities, their pool of labour shrinks, due to ageing, and Chinese wages increase. Alternatively, low-cost labour may shift somewhere else possibly Africa. But another explanation for the weakened position of human labour is that humans are no longer competing against each other, but against a range of largely unseen digital systems. It is humans that are losing out. A future challenge for governments globally will therefore be the allocation of resources (and perhaps taxes) between people and machines given that automated systems will take on an increasing number of previously human roles and responsibilities.

Same as it ever was? Ever since the invention of the wheel weve used machines to supplement our natural abilities. This has always displaced certain human skills. And for every increase in productivity and living standards thereve been downsides. Fire cooks our food and keeps us warm, but it can burn down our houses and fuel our enemys weapons. During the first industrial revolution machines further enhanced human muscle and then we outsourced further dirty and dangerous jobs to machines. More recently weve used machines to supplement our thinking by using them for tedious or repetitive tasks. Whats different now is that digital technologies, ranging from advanced robotics and sensor networks to basic forms of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, are threatening areas where human activity or input was previously thought essential or unassailable.In particular, software and algorithms with near-zero marginal cost are now being used for higher-order cognitive tasks. This is not digital technology being used alongside humans, but as an alternative to them. This is not digital and human. This is digital instead of human. Losing an unskilled job to an expensive machine is one thing, but if highly skilled jobs are lost to cheap software where does that leave us? What skills do the majority of humans have left to sell if machines and automated systems start to think? You might be feeling pretty smug about this because you believe that your job is somehow special or terribly difficult to do, but the chances are that you are wrong, especially when you take into account whats happening to the cost and processing power of computers. Its not so much what computers are capable of now, but what they could be capable of in ten or twenty years time that you should be worried about.

I remember ten or so years ago reading that if you index the cost of robots to humans with 1990 as the base (1990=100) the cost of robots had fallen from 100 to 18.5. In contrast, the cost of people had risen to 151. Der Spiegel, a German magazine, recently reported that the cost of factory automation relative to human labour had fallen by 50 per cent since 1990. Over the shorter term there wont be much to worry about. Even over the longer term therell still be jobs that idiot savant software wont be able to do very well or do at all. But unless we wake up to the fact that were training people to compete head on with machine intelligence theres going to be trouble eventually. This is because we are filling peoples heads with knowledge thats applied according to sets of rules, which is exactly what computers do. We should be teaching people to do things that these machines cannot. We should be teaching people to constantly ask questions, find fluid problems, think creatively and act empathetically. We should be teaching high abstract reasoning, lateral thinking and interpersonal skills. If we dont a robot may one day come along with the same cognitive skills as us, but costs just $999. Thats not $999 a month, thats $999 in total. Forever. No lunch breaks, holidays, childcare, sick pay or strike action, either. How would you compete with that?

If you think thats far fetched, Foxconn, a Chinese electronics assembly company, is designing a factory in Chengdu thats totally automated no human workers involved whatsoever. Im fairly sure well eventually have factories and machines that can replicate themselves too, including software that writes its own code and 3D printers that can print other 3D-printers. Once weve invented machines that are smarter than us there is no reason to suppose that these machines wont go on to invent their own machines which we then wont be able to understand and so on ad infinitum. Lets hope these machines are nice to us. Its funny that our obsessive compulsive addiction to machines, especially mobile devices, is currently undermining our interpersonal skills and eroding our abstract reasoning and creativity, when these skills are exactly what well need to compete against the machines. But who ever said that the future couldnt be deeply ironic. There are more optimistic outcomes of course. Perhaps the productivity gains created by these new technologies will eventually show up and the resulting wealth will be more fairly shared. Perhaps therell be huge cost savings made in healthcare or education. Technologically induced productivity gains may offset ageing populations and shrinking workforces too. Its highly unlikely that humans will stop having interpersonal and social needs and even more unlikely that the delivery of all these needs will be within the reach of robots. In the shorter term its also worth recalling an insightful comment attributed to NASA in 1965, which is that: Man is the lowest-cost, all-purpose computer system which can be mass-produced by unskilled labour. But if the rewards of digitalisation are not equitable or designers decide that human agency is dispensable or unprofitable then a bleaker future may emerge, one characterised by polarisation, alienation and discomfort. Money for nothing

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, once responded to demands that Apple raise its return to shareholders by saying that his aim was not to make more profit. His aim was to make better products, from which greater financial returns would flow. This makes perfect sense to anyone except speculators carelessly seeking short-term financial gains at the expense of broader measures of benefit or value. As Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric once said: Shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. It was Plato who pointed out that an appetite for more could be directly linked with bad human behaviour. This led Aristotle to draw a black and white distinction between the making of things and the making of money. Both philosophers would no doubt have been disillusioned with high frequency trading algorithms algorithms being computer programs that follow certain steps to solve a problem or react to an observed situation. In 2013, algorithms traded $28 million worth of shares in 15 milliseconds after Reuters released manufacturing data milliseconds early. Doubtless money was made here, but for doing what?

Charles Handy, the contemporary philosopher, makes a similar point in his book The Second Curve that when money becomes the point of something then something goes wrong. Money is merely a secure way to hold or transmit value (or frozen desire as someone more poetically put it). Money is inherently valueless unless exchanged for something else. But the aim of many digital companies appears to be to make money by selling themselves (or their users) to someone else. Beyond this their ambition appears to be market disruption by delivering something faster or more conveniently than before. But to what end ultimately? What is their great purpose? What are they for beyond saving time and delivering customers to advertisers? In this context, high frequency trading is certainly clever, but its socially useless. It doesnt make anything other than money for small number of individuals. Moreover, while the risks to the owners of the algorithms are almost non-existent, this is not generally the case for the society as a whole. Huge profits are privatised, but huge losses tend to be socialised. Connectivity has multiple benefits, but linking things together means that any risks are linked with the result that systemic failure is a distinct possibility. So far weve been lucky. Flash Crashes such as the one that occurred on 6 May 2010 have been isolated events. On this date high-speed trading algorithms decided to sell vast amounts of stocks in seconds, causing momentary panic. Our blind faith in the power and infallibility of algorithms makes such failures more likely and more severe. As Christopher Steiner, author of Automate: How Algorithms Came to Rule Or World writes: Were already halfway towards a world where algorithms run nearly everything. As their power intensifies, wealth will concentrate towards them. Similarly, Nicholas Carr has written that: Miscalculations of risk, exacerbated by high-speed computerised trading programs, played a major role in the near meltdown of the worlds financial system in 2008. Digitalisation helped to create the sub-prime mortgage market and expanded it at a reckless rate. But negative network effects meant that the market imploded with astonishing speed, partly because financial networks were able to spread panic as easily as they had been able to transmit debt. Network effects can create communities and markets very quickly, but they can destroy them with velocity and ferocity too. Given the worlds financial markets, which influence our savings and pensions, are increasingly influenced by algorithms, this is a major cause for concern. After all, who is analysing the algorithms that are doing all of the analysing?

Out of sight and out of mind Interestingly, its been shown that individuals spend more money when they use digital or electronic money rather than physical cash. Because digital money is somehow invisible or out of sight our spending is less considered or careful. And when money belongs to someone else, a remote institution rather than a known individual for instance, any recklessness and impulsiveness is amplified. Susan Greenfield, the neuroscientist, has even gone as far as to link the 2008 financial crisis to digitalisation because digitalisation creates a mindset of disposability. If, as a trader, you have grown up playing rapid-fire computer games in digital environments you may decide that similar thrills can be achieved via trading screens without any direct real-world consequences. You can become desensitised. Looking at numbers on a screen its easy to forget that these numbers represent money and ultimately people. Having no contact with either can be consequential. Putting controls on computers can make matters worse because we tend to take less notice of information when its delivered on a screen amid a deluge of other digital distractions.

Carelessness can have other consequences too. Large basement developments such as the one I stumbled into represent more than additional living space. They are symbolic of a gap thats opening up between narcissistic individuals who believe that they can do anything they want if they can afford it and others who are attempting to hang on to some semblance of physical community. A wealthy few even take pleasure seeing how many local residents they can upset, as though it were some kind of glorious computer game. Of course, in the midst of endless downward drilling and horizontal hammering, the many have one thing that the few will never have, which is enough. Across central London, where a large house can easily cost ten million pounds, it is not unusual for basement developments to include underground car parks, gyms, swimming pools and staff quarters, although the latter are technically illegal. Its fine to stick one of natures most evolved killing creatures 50 feet underground, but local councils draw a line in the sand with Philippino nannies. The argument for downward development is centred on the primacy of the individual in modern society. Its their money (digital or otherwise) and they should be allowed to do whatever they like with it. There isnt even a need to apologise to neighbours about the extended noise, dirt and inconvenience. The argument against such developments is that its everyone elses sanity and that neighbourhoods and social cohesion rely on shared interests and some level of civility and cooperation. If people start to build private cinemas with giant digital screens in basements this means they arent frequenting public spaces such as local cinemas, which in turn impacts on the vitality of the area. In other words, an absence of reasonable restraint and humility by a handful of self-centred vulgarians limits the choices enjoyed by the broader community. This isnt totally the fault of digitalisation, far from it, but the idea that an individual can and should be left alone to do or say what they like is being amplified by digital technology. This is similar, in some respects, to the way in which being seated securely inside a car seems to bring out the worst in some drivers behaviour toward other road users. Access to technology, especially technology thats personal and mobile, facilitates remoteness, which in turn reduces the need to interact physically or consider the feelings of other human beings. Remote access, in particular, can destroy human intimacy and connection, although on the plus side such technology can be used to expose or shame individuals that do wrong in the eyes of the broader community.

In ancient Rome there was a law called Lex Sumptuaria that restrained public displays of wealth and curbed the purchasing of luxury goods. Similar sumptuary laws aimed at superficiality and excess have existed in ancient Greece, China, Japan and Britain. Perhaps its time to bring these laws back or at least to levy different rates of tax or opprobrium on immodest or socially divisive consumption or on digital products that damage the cohesiveness of the broader physical community. Income polarisation and inequality arent new. Emile Zola, the French writer, referred to rivers of money: Corrupting everyone in a fever of speculation in mid-19th Century Paris. But could it be that a fever of digital activity is similarly corrupting? Could virtualisation and personalisation be fraying the physical bonds that make us human and ultimately hold society together? Whats especially worrying here is that studies suggest that wealth beyond a certain level erodes empathy for other human beings. Perhaps the shift from physical to digital interaction and exchange is doing much the same thing. But its not just the wealthy that are withdrawing physically. Various apps are leading to what some commentators are calling the shut in economy. This is a spin-off from the on-demand economy, whereby busy people, including those that work from home, are not burdened by household chores. But perhaps hardly ever venturing outside is as damaging as physically shutting others out. As one food delivery service, Door Dash, cryptically says: Never leave home again. Where have all the jobs gone? Id like to move on to consider some other aspects of digital exchange, but before I do Id like to dig a little deeper into the question of whether computers and automated systems are creating or destroying wealth and what happens to any humans that become irrelevant to the needs of the on-demand digital economy.

The digitally networked nature of markets is making some people rich, but also spreading wealth around far more than you might think. Globally, the level of inequality between nations is lessening and so too is extreme poverty. In 1990, for example, 43 per cent of people in emerging markets lived in extreme poverty, defined as existing on less than $1 per day. By 2010, this figure had shrunk to 21 per cent. Or consider China. In 2000, around 4 per cent of Chinese households were defined as middle class. By 2012, this had increased to two-thirds and by 2022, its predicted that almost half (45%) of the Chinese population will be middle class, defined as having annual household incomes of between US $9,000 and $16,000. This has more to do with demographics and deregulation than digitalisation, but by accident or design global poverty has been reduced by half in 20 years. Nevertheless, the gap between the highest and lowest earning members of society is growing and is set to continue with the onward march of digital networks. As the novelist Jonathan Franzen says: The internet itself is in an incredibly elitist concentrator of wealth in the hands of the few while giving the appearance of voice and the appearance of democracy to people who are in fact being exploited by the technologies. If you have something that the world feels it needs right now its now possible to make an awful lot of money very quickly, especially if the need can be transmitted digitally. However, the spoils of regulatory and technological change are largely being accrued by people who are highly educated and internationally minded. If you are neither of these things then you are potentially destined for low-paid, insecure work, although at least youll have instant access to free music, movie downloads and computer games to pass the time until you die. Theres been much discussion about new jobs being invented, including jobs we cant currently comprehend, but most current jobs are fairly routine and repetitive and therefore ripe for automation. Furthermore, its unrealistic to expect that millions of people can be quickly retrained and reassigned to do jobs that are beyond the reach of robots, virtualisation and automation. Losing a few thousand jobs in car manufacturing to industrial robots or Amazon wiping out a bookshop is one thing, but what happens if automation removes vast swathes of employment across the globe? What if half of all jobs were to disappear? Moreover, if machines do most of the work how will most people acquire enough money to pay for the things that the machines make, thereby keeping the machines in employment? Maybe we should tax robots instead of people?

In theory the internet should be creating jobs. In the US between 1996 and 2005 it looked like it might. Productivity increased by around 3 per cent and unemployment fell. But by 2005 (i.e. before the global recession) this started to reverse. Why might this be so? According to McKinsey & Company, a firm of consultants, computers and related electronics, information industries and manufacturing contributed about 50 per cent of US productivity increases since 2000 but reduced (US) employment by 4,500,000 jobs. Perhaps productivity gains will take time to come. This is a common claim of techno-optimists and the authors of the book, Race Against the Machine. Looking at the first industrial revolution, especially the upheavals brought about by the great inventions of the Victorian era, they could have a point. But it could be that new technology, for all its power, cant compete with simple demographics and sovereign debt. Perhaps, for all its glitz, computing just isnt as transformative as stream power, railroads, electricity, postage stamps, the telegraph or the automobile. Yes weve got Facebook, Snapchat and Rich Cats of Instagram, but we havent set foot on the moon since 1969 and traffic in many cities moves no faster today than it did 100 years ago. It is certainly difficult to argue against certain aspects of technological change. Between 1988 and 2003, for example, the effectiveness of computers increased a staggering 43,000,000-fold. Exponentials of this nature must be creating tectonic shifts somewhere, but where exactly?

Is efficiency a good measure of value? In its heyday, in 1955, General Motors employed 600,000 people. Today, Google, a similarly iconic American company, employs around 50,000. Facebook employs about 6,000. More dramatically, when Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, Instagram had 30,000,000 users, but employed just 13 people full time. At the time of writing, Whatsapp had just 55 employees, but a market value exceeding that of the entire Sony Corporation. This forced Robert Reich, a former US treasury Secretary, to describe Whatsapp as: everything thats wrong with the US economy. This isnt because the company is bad its because it doesnt create jobs. Another example is Amazon. For each million dollars of revenue that Amazon makes it employs roughly one person. This is undoubtedly efficient, but is it desirable? Is it progress? These are all examples of the dematerialisation of the global economy, where we dont need as many people to produce things, especially when digital products and services have a near zero marginal cost and where customers can be co-opted as free click-workers that dont appear on any balance sheet. A handful of people are making lots of money from this and when regulatory frameworks are weak or almost non-existent and geography becomes irrelevant these sums tend to multiply. For multinational firms making money is becoming easier too, not only because markets are growing, but because huge amounts of money can be saved by using information technology to co-ordinate production and people across geographies. Technology vs. psychology If a society can be judged by how it treats those with the least then things are not looking good. Five minutes walk from the solitary shark and winner takes all mentality you can find families that havent worked in three generations. Many of them have given up hope of ever doing so. They are irrelevant to a digital economy or, more specifically, what Manuel Castells, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, calls informational capitalism. Similarly, Japan is not far off a situation where some people will retire without ever having worked and without having moved out of the parental home. In some ways Japan is unique, for instance its resistance to immigration. But in other ways Japan offers a glimpse of what can happen when a demographic double-whammy of rapid ageing and falling fertility means that workforces shrink, pensions become unaffordable and younger generations dont enjoy the same dreams, disposable incomes or standards of living as their parents. Economic uncertainty and geo-political volatility, caused partly by a shift from analogue to digital platforms, can mean that careers are delayed, which delays marriage, which feeds through to low birth rates, which lowers GDP, which fuels more economic uncertainty. This is all deeply theoretical, but the results can be hugely human. If people dont enjoy secure employment, housing or relationships, what does this do to their physical and especially psychological state? I expect that a negative psychological shift could be the next big thing we experience unless a coherent we emerges to challenge some of the more negative aspects of not only income inequality, but the lack of secure and meaningful work for the less talented, the less skilled and less fortunate. A few decades ago people worked in a wide range of manufacturing and service industries and collected a secure salary and benefits. But now, according to Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School, the on-demand digital economy is efficiently connecting people selling certain skills to others looking to buy. This sounds good. It sounds entrepreneurial. It sounds efficient and flexible and is perhaps an example of labour starting to develop its own capital. But its also, potentially, an example of mass consumption decoupling from large-scale employment and of the fact that unrestrained free-markets can be savagely uncompromising. Of course, unlike machines, people can vote and they can revolt too, although I think that passive disaffection and disenfranchisement are more likely. One of the great benefits of the internet has been the ease with which ideas can be transmitted across the globe, but ideas dont always turn into actions. The transmission of too much data or what might be termed too much truth is also resulting in what Castells calls: informed bewilderment. This may sound mild, but if bewilderment turns into despair and isolation theres a chance this could feed into fundamentalism, especially when the internet is so efficient at hosting communities of anger and transmitting hatred. There is also evidence emerging that enduring physical hardship and mental anguish not only create premature ageing, which compromises the immune and cardiovascular system, but that this has a lasting legacy for those people having children. This is partly because poorer individuals are more attuned to injustice, which feeds through to ill health and premature ageing, and partly because many of the subsequent diseases can be passed on genetically. But perhaps its not relative income levels per se that so offend, but the fact that its now so easy to see what you havent got. Social media spreads images of excess abundantly and exuberantly. Sites such as Instagram elicit envy and distribute depression by allowing selfies to scream: look at me! (and my oh so perfect life). Its all a lie, of course, but we dont really notice this because the internet so easily becomes a prison of belief.

A narrowing of focus In the Victorian era, when wealth was polarised, there was at least a shared moral code, broad sense of civic duty and collective responsibility. People, you might say, remained human. Nowadays, increasingly, individuals are looking out for themselves and digitalisation, true to form, is oiling the wheels of efficiency here too. Individualism has created a culture thats becoming increasingly venal, vindictive and avaricious. This isnt just true in the West. In China there is anguished discussion about individual callousness and an emergent culture of compensation. The debate was initiated back in 2011 when a toddler, Yue Yue, was hit by several vehicles in Foshan, a rapidly growing city in Guangdong province, and a video of the event was posted online. Despite being clearly hurt no vehicles stopped and nobody bothered to help until a rubbish collector picked the child up. Yue Yue later died in hospital. Another incident, also in China, saw two boys attempting to save two girls from drowning. The boys failed and were made to pay compensation of around 50,000 Yuan (about 5,000) each to the parents for not saving them. Such incidents are rare, but they are not unknown and do perhaps point toward a world that is becoming more interested in money than mankind a world that is grasping and litigious, where trust and the principle of moral reciprocity are under threat. You can argue that we are only aware of such events due to digital connectivity, which is probably true, and that both sharing and volunteering are in good health. But you can also argue that the transparency conjured up by connectivity and social media is making people more nervous about sticking their necks out. In a word with no secrets, ubiquitous monitoring and perfect remembering people have a tendency to conform. Hence we click on petitions online rather than actually doing anything. I was innocently eating my breakfast recently when I noticed that Kelloggs were in partnership with Chime for Change, an organisation committed to raise funds and awareness for girls education and empowerment through projects promoting education, health and justice. How were Kelloggs supporting this? By asking people to share a selfie to show your support. To me this is an example of internet impatience and faux familiarity. It personifies the way that the internet encourages ephemeral acts of belonging that are actually nothing of the sort. As for philanthropy, theres a lot of it around, but much of it has become, as one Museum director rather succinctly put it: money laundering for the soul. Philanthropy is becoming an offshoot of personal branding. It is buildings as giant selfies, rather than the selfless or anonymous love of humanity. One pleasing development that may offset this trend is crowd-funding, whereby individuals fund specific ideas with micro-donations. At the moment this is largely confined to inventions and the odd artistic endeavour, but theres no reason why crowds of people with small donations cant fund political or altruistic ideas or even interesting individuals with a promising future. I sometimes wonder why we havent seen a new round of revolutions in the West. Due to digital media we all know all about the haves and the have yachts. Its even easy to find out where the yachts are moored thanks to free tracking apps. Then again, we barely know our own neighbours these days, living, as we increasingly do, in digital bubbles where friends and news stories are filtered according to pre-selected criteria. The result is that we know more and more about the people and things we like, but less and less about anything, or anyone, outside of our existing preferences and prejudices. Putting aside cognitative biases such as inattentional blindness, which means we are often blissfully unaware of whats happening in front of our own eyes, theres also the thought that weve become so focussed on ourselves that focusing anger on a stranger five minutes up the road or on a distant yacht is a bit of stretch. This is especially true if you are addicted to 140 character updates of your daily existence or looking at photographs of cute cats online. Mugged by reality Is anyone out there thinking about how Marxs theory of alienation might be linked to social stratification and an erosion of humanity? I doubt it, but the fall of Communism can be connected with the dominance of individualism and the emergence of self-obsession. This is because before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 there was an alternative ideology and economic system that acted as a counter-weight to the excesses of capitalism, free markets and individualism. Similarly, in many countries, an agile and attentive left took the sting out of any political right hooks. Then in the 1990s there was a dream called the internet. But the internet is fast becoming another ad-riddled venue for capitalism where, according to an early Facebook engineer (quoted by Ashlee Vance in his biography of Elon Musk) the best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. The early dream of digital democracy has also soured because it turns out that a complete democracy of expression attracts voices that are stupid, angry and have a lot of time on their hands. This is a Jonathan Franzen again, although he reminds me of another writer, Terry Prachett, who pointed out that: real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. To get back to the story in hand, the point here is that if you take away any balancing forces you not only end up with tax shy billionaires, but income polarisation and casino banking. You can also end up with systemic financial crashes, another of which will undoubtedly be along shortly, thanks to our stratospheric levels of debt, the globally connected nature of risk and the corruption and villainy endemic in emerging markets. Its possible that connectivity will create calm rather than continued volatility, but I doubt it. More likely a relatively insignificant event, such as a modest rise in US interest rates, will spread panic and emotional contagion at which point anyone still living in a digital bubble will get mugged by reality. Coming back to some good news, a significant economic trend is the growth of global incomes. This sounds at odds with declining real wages, but I am talking about emerging not developed markets. According to Ernst & Young, the accountancy firm, an additional 3 billion individuals are being added to the global middle class. Thats 3 billion more smart-phone using, FitBit wearing, Linked-in profiled, Apple iCar driving, Instagram obsessives. In China, living standards have risen by an astonishing 10,000 per cent in a single generation. In terms of per capita GDP in China and India this has doubled in 16 and 12 years respectively. In the UK this took 153 years. This is pleasing, although the definition of middle class includes people earning as little as $10 a day. Many of these people also live behind the Great Firewall of China, so we shouldnt get too carried away with trickle down economics or the opening up of democracy. What globalisation giveth to jobs automation may soon be taketh away too and many may find themselves sinking downward towards working class or neo-feudal status rather than effervescently rising upward. According to Pew Research, the percentage of people in the US that think of themselves as middle class fell from 53 per cent in 2008 to 44 per cent in 2014, with 40 per cent now defining themselves as lower class compared to 25 per cent in 2008. Teachers, for example, that have studied hard, worked relentlessly and benefit society as a whole find themselves priced out of real-estate and various socio-economic classifications by the relentless rise of financial speculators. Deeper automation and virtualisation could make things worse. Martin Wolf, a Financial Times columnist, comments that intelligent machines could hollow out middle class jobs and compound inequality. Even if the newfound global wealth isnt temporary theres plenty of research to suggest that as people grow richer they focus more attention on their own needs at the expense of others. So a wealthier world may turn out to be one thats less caring. Of course, its not numbers that matter. What counts are feelings, especially feelings related to the direction of travel. The perception in the West generally is that we are mostly moving in the wrong direction. This can be seen in areas such as education and health and its not too hard to imagine a future world split into two halves, a thin, rich, well-educated, mobile elite and an overweight, poorly educated, anchored underclass. This is reminiscent of HG Wells intellectual, surface dwelling Eloi and downtrodden, subterranean Morlocks in The Time Machine and Tolkiens Mines of Moria. The only difference this time might be that its the global rich that end up living underground, cocooned from the outside world in deep basement developments. An upside to the downside Its obviously possible that this outcome is re-written. Its entirely possible that we will experience a reversal where honour, spiritual service or courage to country are valued far above commerce. This is a situation that existed in Britain and elsewhere not that long ago. Its possible that grace, humility, public spiritedness and contempt for vulgar displays of wealth could become dominant social values. Or perhaps a modest desire to leave as small a footprint as possible could become a key driving force. On the other hand, perhaps a dark dose of gloom and doom is exactly what the world needs. Perhaps the era of cheap money is coming to an end and an extended period of slow growth will do us all a world a good. A study led by Heejung Park at UCLA found that the trend towards greater materialism and reduced empathy had been partly reversed due to the 2008-2010 economic downturn. In comparison with a similar study looking at the period 20042006, US adolescents were less concerned with owning expensive items, while the importance of having a job thats worthwhile to society rose. Whether this is just cyclical or part of a permanent shift is currently impossible to say. These studies partly link with previous research suggesting that a decline in economic wealth promotes collectivism and perhaps with the idea that we only truly appreciate things when we are faced with their loss. There arent too many upsides to global pandemics, rogue asteroids and financial meltdowns, but the threat of impending death or disaster does focus the long lens of perspective, as Steve Jobs pointed out in his commencement speech at Stamford University. Digital Vs Physical trust Thats enough about the economy. How might the digitalisation of money impact our everyday behaviour in the future? I think it is still too early to make any definitive statements about particular technologies or applications, but I do believe that the extinction of cash is inevitable because digital transactions are faster and more convenient, especially for companies. Cash can be cumbersome too. Its also because governments and bureaucracies would like to reduce illegal economic activity and collect the largest amount of tax possible thereby increasing their power. In the US, for instance, its been estimated that cash costs the American economy $200 billion a year, not just due to tax evasion and theft, but also due to time wasting. A study, by Tufts University says that the average American spends 28 minutes per month traveling to ATMs, to which my reaction is so what? What are people not doing by wasting 28 minutes going to an ATM? Writing sonnets? Inventing a cure for cancer? But a wholly cashless society, or global e-currency, wont happen for a long time, partly because physical money, especially banknotes, is so tied up with notions of national identity (just look at the Euro to see how that can go wrong!). Physical money tells a rich story. It symbolises a nations heritage in a way that digital payments cannot. People in recent years have also tended to trust cash more. The physical presence of cash is deeply reassuring, especially in times of economic turmoil. In the UK, in 2012, more than half of all transactions were cash and the use of banknotes and coins rose slightly from the previous year. Why? The answer is probably that in 2012 the UK was still belt-tightening and people felt they could control their spending more easily using cash. Or perhaps people didnt trust the banks or each other. Similarly, in most rich countries, more than 90 per cent of all retail is still in physical rather than digital stores. We should also be careful not to assume that everyone is like ourselves. The people most likely to use cash are elderly, poor or vulnerable, so it would be a huge banking error, in my view, if everyone stopped accepting physical money. Its also a useful Plan B to have a stash of cash in case the economy melts down or your phone battery dies leaving you with no way to pay for dinner. This is probably swimming against the tide though and I suspect there is huge pent-up demand for mobile and automated payments. Globally cash is still king (85% of all transactions are still cash according to one recent study) but in developed economies this tends not to be the case. In the US about 60% of transactions are now digital, while in the UK non-cash payments have now overtaken physical cash. Money will clearly be made trying to get rid of physical money. According to the UK payments council the use of cash is expected to fall by a third by 2022. Nevertheless, circumstances do change and I suspect that any uptake of new payment technologies is scenario dependent. I was on the Greek island of Hydra in 2014 and much to my surprise the entire economy had reverted to physical money. This was slightly annoying, because I had just written a blog post about the death of cash based on my experience of visiting the island two years earlier. On this visit almost everywhere accepted electronic payments, but things had dramatically changed. Again, why? I initially thought the reason was Greeks attempting to avoid tax. Cash is anonymous. But it transpired that the real reason was trust. If you are a small business supplying meat to a taverna and youre worried about getting paid, you ask for cash. This is one reason why cash might endure longer than some e-evangelists tell us. Cash is a hugely convenient method to store and exchange value and has the distinct advantage of keeping our purchasing private. If we exchange physical cash for digital currency this makes it easier for companies and governments to spy on what were doing.

Countless types of cashless transactions There are many varieties of digital money. Weve had credit cards for a very long time. Transactions using cards have been digital for ages and contactless for a while. Weve grown used to private currencies, virtual currencies, micro-payments, embedded value cards, micro-payments and contactless (NFC) payments. Weve also learnt to trust PayPal and various Peer-to-Peer lending sites such as Zopa and Prosper, although one suspects that, like ATMs, we are happier taking money out than putting money in. Were also slowly getting used to the idea of payments using mobile phones. There are even a few e-exhibitionists with currency chips embedded in their own bodies and while this might take a while to catch on I can see the value in carrying around money in our bodies. A chip inserted in your jaw or arm is a bit extreme, but how about a tiny e-pill loaded with digital cash that, once swallowed, is good for $500 or about a week? Theres even digital gold, but to be honest I cant get my head around that at all. The key point here is that all of these methods of transaction are more or less unseen. They are also fast and convenient, which, I would suggest, means that spending will be more impulsive and less considered. We will have regular statements detailing our digital transactions, of course, but these will also be digital, delivered to our screens amid a deluge of other digital distractions and therefore widely ignored or not properly read.

Really thinking or mindlessly consuming? What interests me most here is whether or not attitudes and behaviours change in the presence of invisible money. There is surprisingly little research on this subject, but what does exist, along with my own experience, suggests that once we shift from physical to digital money things do change. With physical money (paper money, metal coins and cheques) we are more likely to buy into the illusion that money has inherent value. We are therefore more vigilant. In many cases, certainly my own, we are more careful. In short we think. Physical money feels real so our purchasing (and debt) is more considered. With digital money (everything from credit and debit cards to PayPal, Apple Money, iTunes vouchers, loyalty points and so forth) our spending is more impulsive. And as I said, earlier, when money is digital and belongs to someone else any careless behaviour is amplified. Quantitative Easing (QE) is perhaps a similar story. If instead of pressing a key on a computer and sending digital money to a secondary market to buy financial assets including bonds we saw fleets of trucks outside central banks being loaded with piles of real money to do the same I suspect that our reaction would be wholly different. We might even question whether a government monetising (buying) its own debt is a sensible idea given that the 2008 financial meltdown was caused by the transmission and obfuscation of debt. Of course, pumping money into assets via QE circles back to create inequality. If you own hard assets, such as real estate, then any price increases created by QE can be a good thing because it increases the value of your assets (often bought with debt, which is reduced via inflation). In contrast savers holding cash, or anyone without assets, is penalised. Its a bit of a stretch to link QE to the Arab Spring, but some people have, pointing out that food price inflation was a contributory factor, which can be indirectly linked to QEs effects on commodities. If one was a conspiracy theorist one might even suggest that QEs real aim was to drive down the value of the dollar, the pound and the Euro at the expense of spiralling hard currency debt and emerging economy currencies. Im getting back into macro-economics, which I dont want to do, but its worth pointing out that in The Downfall of Money, the author Frederick Taylor notes that Germanys hyperinflation not only destroyed the middle class, but democracy itself. As he writes, by the time inflation reached its zenith: everyone wanted a dictatorship. The cause of Germanys hyperinflation was initially Germany failing to keep up with payments due to France after WW1. But it was also caused by too much money chasing too few goods, which has shades of asset bubbles created by QE. It was depression, not inflation per se, that pushed voters toward Hitler, but this has a familiar ring. Across Europe we are seeing a significant rightwards shift and one of the main reasons why Germany wont boost the EU economy is because of the lasting trauma caused by inflation ninety years ago. If a lasting legacy of QE, debt, networked risk and a lack of financial restraint by individuals and institutions, all accentuated by digitalisation, is either high inflation or continued depression things could get nasty, in which case we might all long for the return of cash as a relatively safe and private way to endure the storm. Crypto-currency accounts The idea of a global digital economy thats free from dishonest banks, avaricious speculators and regulation-fixated governments is becoming increasingly popular, especially, as youd expect, online. Currencies around the world are still largely anchored to the idea of geographical boundaries and economies in which physical goods and services are exchanged. But what if someone invented a decentralised digital currency that operated independently of central banks? And what if that currency were to use encryption techniques, not only to ensure security and avoid confiscation or taxation, but to control the production of the currency? A crypto-currency like BitCoin perhaps?

In one scenario, BitCoin could become not only an alternative currency, but a stateless alternative payments infrastructure, competing against the like of Apple Pay and PayPal and against alternative currencies like airline miles. But theres a more radical possibility. What if a country got into trouble (Greece? Italy? Argentina?) and trust in the national currency collapsed. People might seek alternative ways to make payments or keep their money safe. If enough people flocked to something like BitCoin a government might be forced to follow suit and wed end up with a crytocurrency being used for exports, with its value tied to a particular economy or set of economies. More radically, how about a currency that rewarded certain kinds of behaviour? We have this already, in a sense, with loyalty cards, but Im thinking of something more consequential. What if the underlying infrastructure of BitCoin was used to create a currency that was distributed to people behaving in a virtuous manner? What if, for instance, money could be earned by putting more energy or water into a local network than was taken out? Or how about earning money by abstaining from the development of triple sub-basements or by visiting an elderly person that lives alone and asking them how they are? We could even pay people who smiled at strangers using eye-tracking and facial recognition technology on Apple smart glasses or Google eye-contact lenses. Given what governments would potentially be able to see and do if cash does disappear, such alternative currencies along with old-fashioned bartering could prove popular. At the moment, central banks use interest rates as the main weapon to control or stimulate the economy. But if people hoard cash because interest rates are low or because they dont trust banks then the economy is stunted. But with a cashless society the government has another weapon in its arsenal. What if banks not only charged people for holding money (negative interest rates) but governments imposed an additional levy for not spending it? This is making my head spin so we should move on to explore the brave new world of healthcare and medicine, of which money is an enabler. But before we do Id like to take a brief look at pensions and taxation and then end on considering whether the likes of Mark Zuckerberg might actually be OK really. If economic conditions are good, Id imagine that money and payments will continue to migrate toward digital formats. Alternatives to banks will spring up and governments will loosen their tax-take. However, if austerity persists, or returns, then governments will do everything they can to get hold of more of your money but they will be less inclined to spend it, especially on services. Taxation based upon income and expenditure will continue, but I expect that it will also shift towards assets and wealth and to a very real extent individual behaviour. One of the effects of moving toward digital payments and connectivity is transparency. Governments will, in theory, be able to see what youre spending your money on, but also how youre living in a broader sense. Hence stealth taxation. Have you put the wrong type of plastic in the recycling bin again? Thats a fine (tax). Kids late for school again? Fine (tax). Burger and large fries again? You get the idea Governments will seek to not only maximise revenue, but nudge people toward certain allegedly virtuous behaviours and people will be forced to pay for the tiniest transgressions. This, no doubt, will spark rage and rebellion, but theyll be a tax for that too. As for pensions, there are several plausible scenarios, but business as usual doesnt appear to be one of them. The system is a pyramid-selling scheme thats largely bust and needs to be reinvented in many countries. 1 in 7 people in the UK has no retirement savings whatsoever, for instance, and the culture of instant digital gratification would suggest that trying to get people to save a little for later wont meet with much success. What comes next largely depends on whether the culture of now persists and whether or not responsibility for the future is shared individually or collectively. If the culture of individualism and instant rewards holds firm, well end up with a very low safety net or a situation where people never fully retire. If we are able to delay gratification, well end up either with a return to a savings culture or one where the state provides significant support in return for significant contributions. The bottom line here is that pensions are set firmly in the future and while we like thinking about the future we dont like paying for it. So what might happen that could change the world for the better and make things slightly more sustainable?

An economy if people still matter In 1973, the economist EF Schumachers book Small is Beautiful warned against the dangers of gigantism. On one level the book was a pessimistic polemic about modernity in general and globalisation in particular. On the other hand it was possibly prescient and predictive. Schumacher foresaw the problem of resource constraints and foreshadowed the issue of human happiness, which he believed could not be sated by material possessions. He also argued for human satisfaction and pleasure to be central to all work, mirroring the thoughts of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement. They argued that since consumer demand was such a central driver of the economy, then one way to change the world for the better would be to change what the majority of people want, which links directly back into money and our current voracious appetite for material possessions. On one level Schumachers book is still an idealistic hippy homily. On another it manages to describe our enduring desire for human scale, human relationships and technology that is appropriate, controllable and above all understandable. Physical money encourages the physical interaction of people, whereas digital cash is more hands off and remote. Digital transactions require energy and while any desire for green computing wont exactly stop the idea of a cashless society in its tracks it may yet restrain it. There are already some weak signals around this, which Schumacher may have approved of. Our desire for neo-Victorian computing (Steam Punk), craft sites like Etsy, the popularity of live music events and literature festivals and digital detoxing all point to a desire for balance and a world where humans are allowed to focus on what they do best. The partly generational shift toward temporary digital access rather than full physical ownership is also an encouraging development against what might be termed stuffocation. Schumacher also warned against the concentration of economic and political power, which he believed would lead to dehumanisation. Decisions should therefore be made on the basis of human needs rather than the revenue requirements of distantly accountable corporations and governments. In this respect the internet could go either way. It could bring people together and enable a more locally focussed and sustainable way or living or it could facilitate the growth of autocratic governments and monopolistic transnational corporations. But remember that the dematerialisation of the global economy the analogue to digital switch if you will is largely unseen and therefore mostly out of mind so very few people are discussing this at the moment. To some extent digital payments are a technology in search of a problem. Cash is easy to carry, easy to use and doesnt require a power source except to retrieve it from an ATM. Meanwhile credit and debit cards are widely accepted worldwide and online, so why do we need additional channels or formats? Maybe we dont. Maybe we dont even need money as much as we think. One of the problems with the digital economy from an economics standpoint is that digital companies dont produce many jobs. But maybe this isnt a problem. Once weve achieved shelter and security and managed to feed ourselves, the things that make us happy tend to be invisible to economists. The things that fulfil our deepest human needs are not to be physical things, but nebulous notions like love, belonging and compassion. This is reminiscent of Abraham Maslows hierarchy of needs, but unfortunately self-esteem, altruism, purpose and spirituality dont directly contribute to GDP or mass employment. Perhaps they should. It pains me to say it, but maybe the digital dreamers are onto something after all. Maybe the digital economy will change our frame of reference and focus our attention on non-monetary value and human exchange even if this goes a little crazy at times. What would Schumacher make our current economic situation? Maybe hed see the present day as the start of something nasty. Maybe hed see it as the start of something beautiful. What I suspect he would point out is that many people feel that they have lost control of their lives, especially financially. Job insecurity, austerity, debt and a lack of secure saving and pensions make people anxious. This can have physical effects. According to a study published in the medical magazine The Lancet, economic conditions can make people and their genetic dependants sick. Putting to one side the increased risk of suicide, mental health is a major casualty of volatile economic and geopolitical conditions. Psychological stress means that our bodies are flooded with stress hormones and these can make us ill. Turbulent economic conditions can also make long lasting changes to our genes, which can be a catalyst for heart disease, cancer and depression in later generations. Another study, co-led by George Slavich at the University of California at Los Angeles, says that there is historical evidence for such claims and cites the fact that generations born during recessions tend to have unusually short lifespans. Research by Jenny Tung at Duke University in North Carolina also suggests that if animals perceive they have a lower social rank, the more active their pro-inflammatory genes become. This may be applicable to humans perceiving that they are becoming digital-serfs. Even the anticipation of bad news or negative events may trigger such changes, which might explain why I recently heard that the shark in Notting Hill is now on medication.

The rest is here:

What’s Next: Top Trends | Diary of an accidental futurist …

Luigi Russolo, Futurist – Luciano Chessa – Paperback …

Chapter 1

Futurism as a Metaphysical Science

It is surprising how little the common perception of futurism has changed since 1967, when Maurizio Calvesi complained about the “reductive general idea of Italian futurism as a simple exaltation of the machine and superficial reproduction of movement.”1 Although the futurists did not always agree among themselves on a definition of the movement, they certainly would not have shared a view that reduces futurism to merely materialistic terms.2 If a similarly reductive attitude can already be found in Varse as early as 1917, the reduction of futurism to a materialistic movement within post-World War II art criticism was likely determined, as noted in the introduction, by a need to downplay the uneasy relationship between futurism and fascism.3

Yet futurism was a movement animated by contradictory ideas, constantly oscillating between science and art, the rational and the irrational, future and past, mechanical and spiritual. Indeed, it may well have been these very tensions and frictions that gave futurism its dynamic force.

Defining the futurist movement and analyzing its aesthetic is not an easy task. To the casual observer the futurists seem to present a united front, unified by the charismatic personality of Marinetti, but analysis shows them to have been highly diverse intellectual personalities, each with slightly different opinions and conceptions of life and art and sometimes in open and violent opposition to one another. They may have found themselves (for reasons of convenience, if nothing else, and perhaps sometimes opportunism) under one ideological roof, but individually they maintained autonomous physiognomies and attitudes and peculiarities of their own. It seems, then, impossible to hope to find coherence inside the different poetic positions of the futurists, let alone to formulate an organic presentation with which they would have been satisfied.

Marinetti’s work and personality succeeded in maintaining a certain order, at least in the beginning. It is well documented that Marinetti initially subsidized all the initiatives of the movement (including publications and exhibitions), and, like a good impresario, he reserved the right to supervise the work of the other artists of the group, to the point that all the first futurist manifestos unquestionably ran the gauntlet of Marinetti’s censorship; this explains their similar tone.4 But in the privacy of living-room discussions or personal correspondence-or anywhere outside Marinetti’s public control-the futurists’ aesthetic visions diverged synchronically and diachronically; they were in continual growth and in a restless state of becoming, changing along with the shifting alliances within the movement.

Critically the most lucid figure among them was probably Umberto Boccioni. Perhaps for a predisposition of spirit, perhaps because his career lasted for only a brief moment and almost did not leave him time to conclude a cycle of thought, Boccioni was one of the very few futurists to produce a volume that presented his poetics systematically.5

The other exception was Luigi Russolo. Although he was not as socially exuberant as Boccioni was, his thought was characterized by a surprising coherence of themes-many so extraordinarily close to those of his friend Boccioni as to suggest a sort of intersecting pollination between the two. Russolo was to repeat these early themes, unchanged in their substance, for the rest of his life; being spiritual in character, they corresponded well with futurism’s occult side.

To summarize all the instances that show connections between futurism and esoteric preoccupations at various levels-ranging from spirituality to interest in and practice of the occult arts, and also including black and red magic and spiritualism-would be an ambitious undertaking. Here I shall simply create a backdrop against which to project the fruit of research on Russolo’s interest in the occult and my reinterpretation of his sound-related activities in the context of this interest.

I am not the first to mention the influence of the occult arts on the futurist movement. Sporadic references to this influence can be found in volumes, catalogs, and essays on futurism and the visual arts edited by Calvesi and Maurizio Fagiolo dell’Arco. Until a few years ago the only contributing monographs available were a brief article by Germano Celant titled “Futurismo esoterico,” published in Il Verri in 1970, and Calvesi’s very brief article “L’criture mdiumnique comme source de l’automatisme futuriste et surraliste,” published in Europe in 1975, in which Calvesi shows connections between mediumistic phenomena and the poetics of the automatic writing adopted first by Marinetti and then by the Surrealists. To these should certainly be added Calvesi’s above-mentioned 1967 classic Il futurismo: La fusione della vita nell’arte, in which occult and spiritualist themes, however eccentric, occasionally color the overall discussion.

Renewed interest in the topic began first with the extensive catalog of a 1995 Frankfurt exhibition titled Okkultismus und Avantgarde, which devoted much space to the futurists; this was followed by Flavia Matitti’s writing on Balla and theosophy, as well as by the handsome volume by Simona Cigliana (Futurismo esoterico), which takes its title from Celant’s essay and is the most complete contribution to the topic to date. In contrast to the earlier sources cited, some of which are limited to a list of facts, Cigliana’s book offers a convincing in-depth analysis of the futurists’ occult frequentations, albeit primarily limited to the field of literature.

The futurists’ interest in the occult can be attributed to their full immersion in the culture of their period, principally inspired by French symbolism, which was in turn a reaction to Comte’s mid-nineteenth-century positivism and absolute materialism. In Italy, critiques of positivism and materialism also attacked idealism, and not just in rational and dialectic Hegelian formulations but also in idealism’s mainstream Italian dissemination through the writings of the philosopher Benedetto Croce.

It has been maintained that interest in the occult arts and metapsychics can be attributed to the futurists’ attraction to the then current understanding of science. There were those who, considering the future of scientific research, maintained that science should include among its fields of inquiry the study of paranormal phenomena and confer legitimacy upon it, since this was the natural direction toward which science was already tending. This view may be true, but it offers only a partial picture of futurism, and it bears the further defect of again putting science and technology at the center of the futurist poetic meditation, as if they were the end of this meditation instead of, as we will see, the means.

Already at this stage, however, it is clear that these occult interests were poles apart from an aesthetic conception preoccupied exclusively with the “simple exaltation of the machine and exterior reproduction of movement.” The futurists’ interest in science was not always exclusive or absolute, and it was not always blind idolatry. Calvesi addresses this point when he writes, “Boccioni did not want a scientific aesthetics, that is, definable into scientific rules, but only an aesthetics that took the acquisitions of science into account: which is very different.”6 For Marinetti the situation was entirely similar: “Art assimilates science intuitively, analogically, by parallelism and also by benefiting from science’s technical discoveries, but never by a substitution of methodologies.”7 For the futurists, science was above all a means; it was not the end of their aesthetic vision.

The present chapter considers the movement’s interest in occultism-alongside its interest in science and technology and its greatly underexplored interest in altered states of consciousness-as a means to achieve out-of-body experiences. Such experiences, in turn, would permit the futurists to observe reality from a hyperreal point of view, as well as to re-create reality through a new, spiritual mode of artistic creation. Subsequent chapters add Russolo’s musical activity to those expressions of futurism that are indebted to the occult tradition.

Science and the Occult at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Interest in the occult would seem to contradict the attention the futurists gave to the latest discoveries of the science and technology of the period. 8 But from the middle of the nineteenth century on, interest in the occult was increasingly shared by scientists and occultists alike, generating such terms as “scientific occultism,” which further muddied the waters.9 Increasingly spreading an image of the universe as an organism animated by mysterious and supernatural forces, new scientific discoveries made between the second half of the nineteenth century and the first years of the twentieth showed that idealism, positivism, and materialism gave too restricted a vision of natural phenomena and the cosmos.10

A more dynamic conception of experimental science led various intellectuals of the time to consider occult manifestations as phenomena not yet known because of imperfect human senses and the limitations of human research tools; sooner or later, however, the scientific community was expected to be in a position to measure, understand, and explain. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle would eventually limit, if not altogether undermine, this hope for accurate measurements.

Exhortations to avoid reducing existence (and so the world) exclusively to what human senses can perceive came from all sides, as exemplified by the famous astronomer Camille Flammarion’s comment that X-rays were a further proof that “sensation and reality are two very different things.”11

Among the many attempts to systematize ways of understanding, ranging from alchemy to metapsychics to spiritualism, and drawn from sources as diverse as the Corpus Hermeticum, medieval mysticism, the neoplatonism of the Renaissance, freemasonry, and Eastern philosophies, was the philosophy of the Rose+Croix, which is worth citing for its direct influence on artistic disciplines.12 But even more relevant was the influence of theosophy.

Blavatsky’s theosophy, with its comparativist and encyclopedic popularizing approach, which embraced Eastern philosophical thought as well as having numerous points of contact with scientific research, found fertile ground in the cultural context of the epoch. In fact, it became fashionable in those end-of-the-century artistic circles that still believed in romantic philosophical ideas or had aligned with the new symbolist trend. Theosophy famously called for systematic research of parascientific phenomena that would apply the same criteria used by scientific method to investigate other natural phenomena. Such spiritual research was never intended for utilitarian purposes but only for the spiritual advancement of humanity.

In Italy theosophy paid particular attention to the study of the human psyche. In fact, perhaps because of the charismatic presence of the celebrated Turinese psychiatrist and anthropologist Cesare Lombroso, psychiatry and neurology were in Italy the first disciplines to take an interest in various forms of the occult. Among these forms were parapsychology and parascience (telepathy, clairvoyance, possession, psychokinesis, ideoplastic), as well as correlated mediumistic phenomena.13 The need to push beyond the appearance of things to understand the world and the belief that mediums and artists were gifted with more highly developed spiritual faculties-both principles that betrayed connections with romantic aesthetics-were propositions that futurists maintained on several occasions.

In this “sounding out” of reality the new frontiers of science were certainly helpful. Among the scientific discoveries of the age, that of Rntgen’s X-rays in 1895 was one of the most suggestive, because its application implied a complete revolution of the perceptive act itself. Unlike the theories on the fourth dimension or the study of non-Euclidean geometries that affected the representation of the perceptive act, X-rays revolutionized the very act of seeing. This discovery was fundamentally important in the development of theories of the pictorial avant-garde in the first years of the century-and not only for the futurists.14

X-rays bore a metaphoric weight: they encouraged one to view things profoundly rather than occupy oneself with the surface perceptible via the five senses. And an even closer relationship with mediumistic phenomena circulates in the scientific literature of the time: Lombroso, Flammarion, Ochorowicz, and Zoellner all drew a direct connection between Rntgen’s research on the vibration of ether waves and the phenomena of ectoplastic condensation.15 It is not surprising, then, to learn that X-rays profoundly fascinated Boccioni, Balla, and Russolo, and that they offered a concrete way of achieving (through the extension of human senses of perception) the futurist interpenetration of planes they promoted in the manifestos of futurist painting.

The futurists’ fascination with this new technology is first documented in a passage in the technical manifesto of futurist painting of April 11, 1910: “Who can still believe in the opacity of bodies, while our acuity and multiplied sensitivity makes us intuit the obscure manifestations of mediumistic phenomena? Why must one continue to create without taking account of our visual power that can give results analogous to those of X-rays?”16

The futurists were convinced that X-rays and X-ray-like clairvoyance could help to register otherwise invisible aspects of reality, such as the residual traces of the movement of bodies or the luminous emanations produced by the brain and projected in the surrounding aura-emanations that theosophists called “thought-forms.” This protocol of perception based on light and movement permitted one to grasp the spiritual level of reality. The technical manifesto claimed that “by the persistence of the image in the retina, objects in motion multiply, deform, following one another, as vibrations, in the space that they pass through [i.e., of their trajectory] [. . .]. To paint a figure one does not need to make the figure: one needs to render its atmosphere. [. . .] Motion and light destroy the materiality of bodies.”17

These convictions would be summarized at the end of the manifesto in the concept of complementarismo congenito (congenital complementarism), a notion that the art historian Marianne Martin, in her Futurist Art and Theory, considered “an occult spiritual experience bringing the artist in closer touch with the universal forces.”18 The term complementarismo congenito readily promotes a union of opposites that rings distinctively alchemical, and thus occult.

Space and Time Tamed: Marinetti’s Ectoplasm

An examination of the critical texts of Calvesi, Fagiolo dell’Arco, and Celant reveals that all of the most representative futurist artists were to varying degrees concerned with the occult.19 This is certainly true of Marinetti. By celebrating action and movement-a celebration clearly intoxicated with Nietzschianism-his aesthetics celebrated the energy manifested in every vibration of the cosmos, that is, energy itself.

Far from being a proposition of materialistic thrust, Marinetti’s obsessive celebration of movement and vibration reflects an occult, symbolist-derived substratum.20 Central to this view is the idea that matter is constituted by condensation of waves vibrating at different intensities; as such, through movement, matter either vanishes or better reveals its implicit spirituality. Basing his ideas on Nietzsche’s theory of action, his personal reading of Bergson’s vitalism, and Einstein’s theory of relativity (which Marinetti probably encountered by way of the popularizing work of Minkowsky), the founder of futurism derived a conception of the world in which, if only because we lack absolute parameters to show stasis, all is perpetual movement.21

According to Marinetti, “absolute space and time do not preexist, nor do any absolutely immovable points nor any objects in absolute movement, because there is no absolute term of reference: object and subject are, always, correlatively but discontinuously mobile.”22 According to Calvesi, futurists did not regard “spirit and matter (and therefore [. . .] intuition and intellect)” as separate; they saw them as a unity, under the “same principle of energy.”23 As is also true of Boccioni, Marinetti overcame Bergson’s dualism of matter versus movement. Matter never exists as absolute inertia: “Matter and movement, rather than contradictory ends, became ends that could be brought back to one single principle.”24

Behind this theory of energy we find not only the influence of Nietzsche’s interpretations and Einstein’s suggestions but also one of the core propositions of alchemy that futurists may have derived from pre-Socratic philosophies: the belief in a universe that may be synthesizable into a single generating principle, a primal matter, existing in various levels of density and from which all things derive.25 This primal matter, a wave vibrating at different frequency, was often referred to as the ether.

The interest in waves and vibrations, and in their relationship to occult themes, is a constant in Marinetti’s prose. In his Manifesto della declamazione dinamica e sinottica he writes that the futurist poet/performer will have the task of “metallizing, liquefying, vegetalizing, petrifying, and electrifying the voice, fusing it with the vibrations of matter, themselves expressed by Words-in-Freedom,”26 and in La grande Milano tradizionale e futurista Marinetti recognized in Russolo’s enterprise the capacity to “organize spiritually and fantastically our acoustic vibrations.”27

A similar transformative approach is found in the manifesto La radia, published with Pino Masnata in 1933. Among other things, the radio set (Marinetti and Masnata have recourse to the feminine gender for the word, radia) is here considered to be:

4. Reception amplification and transformation of vibrations emitted by living beings by living or dead spirits noisy dramas of states of mind without words.

5. Reception amplification and transformation of vibrations emitted by matter Just as today we listen to the song of the woods and of the sea tomorrow we will be seduced by the vibrations of a diamond or of a flower.28

It is, furthermore:

6. Pure organism of radiophonic sensations

7. An art without time or space without yesterday or tomorrow [. . .] The reception and amplification, through thermionic valves, of light and of the voices of the past will destroy time [. . .]

9. Human art, universal and cosmic, that is like a voice with a true psychology-spirituality of the noises, of the voices and of the silence.29

In these passages points of contact with panpsychism are evident. The idea that everything is vibration is an eminently occultist one, as it implies that all phenomena occurring in the world are in some way secretly linked. Once the corpuscular theory of light, inspired by Democritus and upheld by Newton, was put aside in favor of the theory of waves traveling through ether, which lasted until Einstein, it was as if the scientific community implicitly validated the long esoteric tradition that had always included a belief in the correlation between light and sound. The discovery of electromagnetic waves, X-rays, and, shortly after, radioactivity, confirmed this occultist proposition.30 In fact, the theory of waves propagating themselves in the ether reinforced and essentially confirmed an alchemical/synesthetic conception of art, because both sound and light are, according to this vision of physics, waves that only differ in frequency or wavelength-a difference of degree, not of kind.

Futurism was always characterized by a strong synesthetic component, and synesthesia has traditionally been an indicator of the occult (by way of the vibrational tradition).31 This connection was a remnant of the connection between futurism and French symbolism in the latter’s most occultist (and psychedelic) moments-one may think of the Baudelaire of Correspondances or the Rimbaud of Voyelles-but also of the Italian version of that same symbolism, alcoholic and brilliant, that we call Milanese scapigliatura, an antibourgeois art movement surely characterized, just as futurism is, by an overlap of scientific and occult interests.32

The debate about synesthesia was widespread at the opening of the twentieth century.33 Marinetti’s interest in the relationship between the arti sorelle (sister arts) and the different senses was ever present, even when not taking center stage as it does in his manifesto “Tactilism” (1921, revised in 1924).

Tactilism, Marinetti maintains, could be considered the result of the mortification of the other four senses, producing an empowered sense of touch; this would occur following a deviation of the sun from its proper orbit that would cause its unusual distancing from the earth.34 But, Marinetti maintained, the phenomenon was instead created by “an act of futurist caprice/faith/will.” In fact, in an extreme situation such as a planetary catastrophe, the five senses would be reduced to only one. Marinetti wrote, “Everybody can feel that sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste are modifications of a single, highly perceptive sense: the sense of touch, which splits into different ways and organizes into different points.”35

In this manifesto, tactilism is a provisional term for a new art form that merges all of the five traditional senses as well as a series of new senses that Marinetti lists. He chooses to give “the name of Tactilism to all the senses that are not specified,” since he believes that the perceptive senses are in fact “more or less arbitrary localizations of that confused total of intertwined senses that constitute the typical forces of the human machine”; these forces could in his opinion “be better observed on the epidermal frontiers of our body.” Notwithstanding this, the attention here is obviously on the sense of touch; as Marinetti describes it, to arrive at a tactile art, other stimuli (including the visual) must be sacrificed or neutralized.36

Marinetti therefore contemplates a synesthetic emotion-which by definition links different senses by means of association-that is evoked and activated by use of specially made implements that he calls tactile tables (tavole tattili). In tactile art it is exclusively through touch that the perceiver reconstructs, by association, stimuli that, while similar, belong to other expressive fields such as music or painting; this kind of reconstruction is encouraged in the tactile tables. Marinetti chose not to integrate the expressive protocol of the tactile tables with expressive modalities derived from other art forms (like painting or sculpture)-a choice made not to prevent a dialogue between the arts but to protect the newborn art form tactilism and permit it, at least in the beginnings of its journey, to develop autonomously.

Marinetti believed that the sense of touch, when empowered, permits seeing beyond the physical-permits seeing even inside objects, as if by a sort of tactile X-ray vision: “A visual sense is born, at the fingertips. Interscopia is developed, and some individuals are able to see inside their own bodies. Others can shadowy make out the shadowy insides of nearby bodies.” The connection with Boccioni’s interpenetration of planes, and of its occult and scientific matrices (or implications), could not be clearer.

At its core, Marinetti’s tactilism aimed at the perfecting of “spiritual communications between human beings, through the epidermis.” Often read as merely an erotic proclamation, this statement was, rather, the testimony of Marinetti’s spiritual and occult attitude, perhaps even traceable to the conversations with his father, who was an enthusiastic reader of Eastern philosophy.37 With Tactilism, Marinetti proposed to “penetrate better and outside of scientific methods the true essence of matter” and to promote the type of spiritual experience that could reach the point of “negating the distinction between spirit and matter,” an affirmation that in substance overcomes, as stated above, Bergson’s dualism of movementversusmatter. Marinetti believed that comprehension of the essence of matter could be obtained by eliminating the mediation of the brain (i.e., of human reason), which is guilty of polluting the virgin, immediate perfection of the tactile experience. As he wrote: “Perhaps there is more thought in the fingertips than in the brain that has the pride of observing the phenomenon [the act of touching].”

According to Marinetti, the new art had more relations with spiritualism and could better demonstrate the validity of theories of reincarnation than other arts: “The futurist Balla declares that by means of Tactilism everyone can enjoy again with freshness and absolute surprise the sensations of his past life, that he could not enjoy again with equal surprise by means of music nor by means of painting.”38

Only a few years after this manifesto, the Manifesto della fotografia futurista, a collaboration between Marinetti and Tato published on April 11, 1930, proposed updating Anton Giulio Bragaglia’s fotodinamica (photodynamics) by taking advantage of the new technological possibilities. The aesthetic coordinates of this book however are not that distant from Bragaglia’s, who was from the beginning of his career interested in phenomena of mediumistic materialization.

The goals of futurist photography in 1930 included, among other things:

4. The spectralizing of some parts of the human or animal body isolated or joined nonlogically; [. . .]

11. The transparent and semitransparent superimposition of concrete persons and objects and of their semiabstract phantasms with simultaneity of memory/dream; [. . .]

14. The composition of absolutely extraterrestrial landscapes, astral or mediumistic by means of thicknesses, elasticity, turbid depths, clear transparencies, algebraic or geometric values, and with nothing human, vegetable, or geologic;39

But in L’uomo moltiplicato e il regno della macchina, part of Guerra sola igiene del mondo of 1915 (and originally in Le futurisme of 1911, perhaps even drafted as early as 1910), Marinetti aspired to a structural modification of man that in future would, thanks to the materialization of wings produced with the force of thought, allow man to fly.40

In L’uomo moltiplicato, Marinetti wrote: “The day it is possible for man to exteriorize his will such that it extends outside of him like an immense invisible arm-on that day Dream and Desire, which today are vain words, will rule sovereign over tamed Space and Time.”41 Having lost the reader in this forest of his postsymbolist prose, Marinetti then showed us the way. He believed that this prophecy, which he himself recognized as paradoxical, could be more easily understood by “studying the phenomena of exteriorized will that constantly manifest themselves in sances.”

This uomo moltiplicato, a metallic alter egothat would duplicate man without duplicating his defects, would even have the gift of clairvoyance and, in addition to being a “non-human and mechanical type, constructed for an omnipresent velocity, it will be naturally cruel, omniscient and combative.” The figure of the multiplied man shows interesting similarities with the metallic animal of the subsequent manifesto, “Ricostruzione futurista dell’universo” by Balla and Depero, the aggressiveness of which would unquestionably have been inebriated with the spirit of World War I interventionism.

For Marinetti, the man of the future was not so much the product of Darwinian evolution as, rather, the transformist hypothesis of Lamarck (whom, indeed he cited in his essay): not an evolution of man but his alchemical transformation into a more perfect being created by the futurists, a “non-human type in whom moral pain, kindness, affection and love, i.e., the only corrosive poisons of inexhaustible vital energy, will be abolished”-in short, a man aiming for a suspended, ataractic, beyond-good-and-evil spiritual state.

These scientific-alchemical themes never disappeared from Marinetti’s repertoire. In his 1933 manifesto La radia, he again announced the “overcoming of death” through futurism “with a metallizing of the human body and the appropriating of the vital spirit as machine force.”42 In this proclamation, Marinetti reelaborated his 1915 position, according to which the futurists had the power to reawaken mummies with the charismatic electricity of their hand movements. In a passage of “Guerra sola igiene del mondo,” Marinetti recounts some of the brawls after the futurist evenings of the first years: “Everywhere, we saw growing in a few hours the courage and the number of men that are truly young, and [we saw] the galvanized mummies that our gesture had extracted from the ancient sarcophagi, becoming bizarrely agitated.”43 By now it should be clear that Marinetti’s will futuristically to abolish death is a trope, a trope that will recur frequently in Marinetti’s writings (e.g., the closing of the manifesto “La matematica futurista immaginativa qualitativa”). 44

Painting the Invisible: Boccioni’s Sixth Sense

Contro ogni materialismo.

Umberto Boccioni, “Note per il libro”45

At the intersection of romantic impetuousness and Bergsonian critique of materialism, the personality of Umberto Boccioni stands out dramatically. Departing from a type of formation close to Marinetti’s but influenced by Marinetti’s theories, Boccioni too demonstrated a strong interest in the occult. Drawn to symbolism, Nietzsche, and Bergson, familiar with the ideas of Einstein, admirer of Wagner, and more generally attracted to the titanic and romantic aesthetic, Boccioni had the vocation and the presumption of the demiurge, the creator of worlds, the materializer.

Boccioni, like Marinetti, overcame the Bergsonian dualism of matter and movement by wedding himself to Einstein’s vision (and perhaps to that of Steiner, if one substitutes the term energy for spirit).46 Everything moves, everything vibrates(all bodies are “persistent symbols of the universal vibration,” can be read in the technical manifesto of futurist painting), all creation is energy, existing in the form of waves that organize the primal matter, the ether, into different levels of density or, as Boccioni puts it, of intensity. There is no separation between one body and another: in Boccioni’s thought, continuity is preferred. In fact, in his article “Fondamento plastico della scultura e pittura futuriste,” which appeared in the periodical Lacerba on March 15, 1913, Boccioni writes that “distances between one object and another are not of the empty spaces, but of the continuities of matter of different intensity,” immediately adding that in the paintings of the futurists one does not have “the object and the emptiness, but only a greater or lesser intensity and solidity of spaces.”47

And he adds, further advocating for continuity,

They accuse us of doing “cinematography, which is an accusation that really makes us laugh, so much it is vulgarly moronic. We do not subdivide visual images: we search for a shape, or, better, a single form [forma unica] that would substitute the new concept of continuity to the old concept of (sub)division.

Every subdivision of motion is completely arbitrary, as it is completely arbitrary every subdivision of matter.48

In confirmation of this proposition, Boccioni presents two quotes form Bergson.

This passage can be better understood after reading the futurist Ardengo Soffici’s restatement of this principle of continuity, since he returns the concept to what would have been its original theosophical coordinates. In his article “Raggio,” published in Lacerba on July 1, 1914, and republished not by chance a few months later in the Roman theosophical periodical Ultra with the eloquent title “La teosofia nel futurismo,” Soffici wrote that bodies are not separated from one another but that “the entire universe therefore is a single whole without interruption of continuity,” and that, moreover, “the world is not a molecular aggregate, but a flux of energy with varied rhythms, from granite to thought.”49

Soffici goes on to maintain that “a privileged organism, a center of extra-powerful vital force, can in a certain moment and under certain circumstances attract and concentrate within itself its distant parts, the peripheral waves of its energies, making them concrete,” and that “an artist can live and make concrete in a work the life of another being, of things, of places that he has not visited. A prophet [can] see and reveal future events-future for sensibilities less acute than his own.” In a crescendo of self-centered hubris, Soffici maintains that his consciousness is “a globe of light that shoots its rays all around in accordance with its force,” and he concludes, “I am the point of confluence of history and of the world. I am one with eternity and with the infinite.”50

Soffici’s claim that the psychic energy of the artist could not simply reproduce but must re-create reality was shared by all futurists. I shall investigate how determinative this proposition is in analyzing the work of Russolo. This idea led to the futurists’ interest in the creation of ectoplasmic forms by sensitive subjects in a mediumistic trance. In “Fondamento plastico della scultura e pittura futuriste,” Boccioni wrote:

When, through the works, one understands the truth of futurist sculpture, one will see the form of atmosphere where before one saw emptiness and then with the impressionists a fog. This fog was already a first step toward atmospheric plasticity, toward our physical transcendentalism which is then another step toward the perception of analogous phenomena until now occult to our obtuse sensitivity, such as the perceptions of the luminous emanations of our body of which I spoke in my first lecture in Rome and which the photographic plate already reproduces.51

A year later, at the close of his volume Pittura, scultura futuriste, Boccioni wrote: “For us the biological mystery of mediumistic materialization is a certainty, a clarity in the intuition of psychic transcendentalism and of plastic states of mind.”52 In his preparatory notes for the book, which were published posthumously, Boccioni formulated yet anothereloquent phrase: “Our painting is esoteric.”53

In the passage from “Fondamento plastico della scultura e pittura futuriste” quoted above, Maurizio Fagiolo dell’Arco read an allusion to the photographs of ectoplasms produced at the beginning of the century by the notorious Neapolitan medium Eusapia Palladino.54 Both Marinetti and Boccioni were fascinated by Palladino’s sances.55 These sances had became still better known after the director of the Corriere della sera tried to discredit them.56

Palladino based her credibility on the fact that she had agreed to repeat her mediumistic sances in the presence of neurologists and psychologists, and she was defended fiercely by the anthropologist Lombroso. Celant records that Lombroso, along with a Turinese group of faithful followers, was in those years investigating the study of phenomena of psychic condensation and materialization. Lombroso’s theories would have been fairly widespread in the artistic circles of the time. Kandinsky, for example, was well informed about the studies on spiritualism that Lombroso conducted in Palladino’s mediumistic sances,57 and the young Balla in his early years in Turin took Lombroso’s classes.58

Materialization phenomena were also the point of departure for the work of Anton Giulio Bragaglia, the author of that “futurist photodynamism” that incited Boccioni’s wrath. In two articles from 1913 titled “I fantasmi dei vivi e dei morti” and “La fotografia dell’invisibile,” Bragaglia published photos of fake ectoplasms; in doing so he was following a well-established international trend.59 But the year before, influenced by mediumistic photos and those theories of chronophotography of Muybridge or Maray on which Giacomo Balla based his 1912 paintings of the frame-based breakdown of movement (scomposizione del movimento), Bragaglia had already produced the first works of photodynamism.60 In these works he retraced blurs and trajectories of bodies in movement, aiming to reveal that spiritual essence that is lost as a result of the limitations of the human eye: “In motion, things, dematerializing, become idealized,” he declared in his Fotodinamismo futurista.61 Calvesi, considering this phrase to be a departure from Bergsonian ideas, linked it to one of the key phrases of the technical manifesto of futurist painting of 1910: “Movement and light destroy the materiality of bodies.” Bragaglia’s interest in the supernatural did not exhaust itself in this first phase, as testified by his 1932 photograph Alchimia musicale.

But the passage from Lacerba of March 15, 1913, in which Boccioni talked about “perceptions of the luminous emanations of our body,” seems actually to refer to the particular metapsychics phenomena that Annie Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater called “thought-forms.” Their book Thought-forms of 1901 was read assiduously in the early twentieth century by artists who were interested in abstract painting. In fact, it exerted great influence over the work of Kandinsky, Kupka, Malevich, and Mondrian.

The book’s central proposition is that all thoughts and emotions create corresponding forms and colors in the aura that surrounds the physical body of every human being. These forms and colors are directly determined by the vibrations of the aura, which only clairvoyants can perceive. According to Besant and Leadbeater, the aura of an individual is composed of the union of different “bodies,” among which are the astral body, generated by the passions, and the mental body, generated by the thoughts. The vibrations of the astral and mental bodies have the power to produce special psychic forms, both concrete and abstract, which they called thought-forms. Thought-forms can move freely, and they can distance themselves from the body if the energy of the mind that produced them is sufficient. Their color is based on the quality of the thought, their form on its nature, and their sharpness on its clarity.62

Besant’s and Leadbeater’s book contain a famous series of color plates painted by various artists on indications furnished by the authors after experiencing trances. Their indications were intended to document scientifically, down to the smallest detail, the thought-forms produced by subjects while feeling emotions ranging from devotion to fear and rage that were collected on specific occasions, at specific times of the day. The largely abstract plates attracted the interest of artists of the time, as did the illustrations of Leadbeater’s Man Visible and Invisible of 1902. Thought-forms was quickly translated into a number of languages; in Italy it was first disseminated in the 1905 French translation, in which version it was read by Luigi Pirandello and influenced his poetics from the writing of Il fu Mattia Pascal onward.63

It is useful, however, to remember that Boccioni first expressed interest in the occult in that Roman lecture of 1911 that he referred to in his Lacerba article of March 15, 1913, a lecture in which his spirituality is clearly revealed. The text of the lecture, which remained unpublished for a long time, represents one of the high points of Boccioni’s poetics. Conscious of its relevance, he referred to it often in his subsequent works. His familiarity with the books of Leadbeater and Besant, particularly Thought-forms, emerges from the very opening lines of the lecture, where, in prophesizing the art of the future, Boccioni affirms:

There will come a time when a painting will no longer be enough. Its immobility will be an archaism when compared with the vertiginous movement of human life. The eye of man will perceive colors like feelings in themselves. Multiplied colors will have no need of forms to be understood, and pictorial works will be whirling musical compositions of enormous colored gases, which on the scene of a free horizon, will move and electrify the complex soul of a crowd that we cannot yet imagine.64

The reference to the use of colors as “feelings in themselves,” the use of “colored gases” that can electrify the soul, and the synesthetic link between colors and musical composition are all concepts from Thought-forms. In that same year, 1911, Luigi Russolo exhibited perhaps his most ambitious canvas, on which he had worked for many years.65 Titled La musica, it represents a whirling azure wave that unfolds in the air while the protagonist of the painting, a pianist, executes equally whirling musical figurations on a keyboard. Russolo’s painting probably inspired Boccioni’s visionary remarks above; and it certainly inspired some elements of Citt che sale, Boccioni’s masterpiece of 1910-1911 (fig. 3).B66[fig.3]/B

The synesthetic hypothesis returned in the closing words of Boccioni’s 1911 lecture, where Boccioni clarified that by painting the sensation, the futurists stop “the idea before it can be localized in any one sense and be determined either as music, poetry, painting, architecture, that way capturing without any mediation the primal universal sensation.”67 Moreover, because futurists live in the absolute, Boccioni maintained that it was necessary for those wishing to understand their works to be not only extremely intelligent but also ready “to enter into contact with pure intuition,” which is possible only “after a long and religious preparation.”68

Thanks to this spiritual preparation, we are endowed with a new sensitivity that, through new perceptive and psychic means, guides us in the search for the absolute, Boccioni writes:

We painters [. . .] feel that this sensitivity is a psychic divining force that gives the senses the power to perceive that which never until now was perceived.69 We think that if everything tends toward Unity, that which man until today has sought to perceive in unity is still a miserable blind infantile decomposition of things.70

Boccioni believed that the artist must aspire to re-create this unity from the “chaos that envelops things.” Sensation is the synthesis, the essence of things, their transfiguration. It is the “subjective impression of Nature.”

Moving from the more spiritual aspects of the artistic currents that had gone before (divisionism, impressionism, symbolism), Boccioni arrived at a definition of futurism as the culmination and overcoming of these previous artistic currents. Divisionism represents for Boccioni the achievement of a “symphonic and polychromatic unity of the painting that will become more and more a universal synthesis.” With the impressionists, figures and objects, although still in a fairly embryonic way, “are already the nucleus of an atmospheric vibration.” But the impressionists exchanged “appearance for reality.” It was their limit, and as a result they were trapped in a superficial representation of nature.

Boccioni considered the painting style of the Italian symbolist Gaetano Previati, in which he noted contacts with the “Rosa Croce,” which was the direct predecessor of futurist painting. In Previati, “forms begin to speak like music, bodies aspire to make themselves atmosphere, spirit, and the subject is ready to transform itself into a state of mind.”

Boccioni perceived futurism as a new kind of impressionism: “Our impressionism is absolutely spiritual since more than the optical and analytical impression, it wishes to give the psychic and synthetic impression of reality.” The spiritual role of futurist painting and the psychic force that it develops exhibits far loftier ambitions than French impressionism. In Boccioni’s words, it “hypnotizes, grasps, envelops and drags the soul to the infinite.” Boccioni had already defined this psychic synthesis as “simultaneity of state of mind.”It was a mnemonic-optical representation of what is remembered and what is seen; in substance, it was a spiritualization of the perceptive experience. As if it were an X-ray view, this psychic synthesis offered possibilities of “penetrating the opacity of bodies.”

The influence of X-rays and the mythology that the futurists developed around them returns with Boccioni’s mention of X-rays in a catalog note for the painting La risata (also painted in the year 1911), which was prepared for the program of the 1912 London exhibition: “The scene is round the table of a restaurant where all are gay. The personages are studied from all sides and both the objects in front and those at the back are to be seen, all those being present in the painter’s memory, so that the principle of the Roentgen rays is applied to the picture.”71

This quote shows similarities with his affirmations in the Roman lecture. For Boccioni the model of the modern artist was the “clairvoyant painter,” capable of “painting not only the visible but that which until now was held to be invisible.”72 He believed that the modern painter “can only paint the invisible, clothing it with lights and shadows that emanate from his own soul.” Thanks to the progress-spiritual and technological-of the modern age, the five senses can be transcended: “It is our futurist hypersensitivity that guides us and makes us already possess that sixth sense that science strains in vain to catalog and define.”73

This perceptive sensitivity permitted the futurist artist to understand the spiritual essence of the movement of bodies. Everything is perennially in motion, all is composed of the same waves that have various grades of density and that vibrate at different intensities. “Bodies are but condensed atmosphere,” Boccioni wrote, and minerals, plants, and animals are composed of “identical nature.” This new sensitivity is a true and real “psychic divining force” that allows one to grasp that substantial “Unity” of everything that Boccioni considered-as he phrases it in his lecture notes in a crossed-out line-the symbol of the “universal vibration.” 74 Futurist painting aspired to reproduce a more profound reality as it is perceived by the subject and as it produced states of mind in the subject: “If bodies provoke states of mind through vibrations of forms, it is those that we will draw.”

The following excerpt from the closing paragraph of the Roman lecture is both the most visionary passage of that document and the one where Boccioni’s familiarity with Leadbeater is most evident:

There is a space of vibrations between the physical body and the invisible that determines the nature of its action and that will dictate the artistic sensation. In short, if around us spirits wander and are observed and studied; if from our bodies emanate fluids of power, of antipathy, of love; if deaths are foreseen at a distance of hundreds of kilometers; if premonitions give us sudden joy or annihilate us with sadness; if all this impalpable, this invisible, this inaudible becomes more and more the object of investigation and observation: all of this happens because in us some marvelous sense is awakening thanks to the light of our consciousness. Sensation is the material garment of the spirit and now it appears to our clairvoyant eyes. And with this the artist feels himself in everything. By creating he does not look, does not observe, does not measure; he feels and the sensations that envelop him dictates him the lines and colors that will arouse the emotions that caused him to act.

The Craft of Light: Balla’s Occult Signature

In Balla one finds again the confluence of two streams common among many of his futurist comrades: the scientific/positivist and the spiritualist.75 The merging of these two tendencies into a sort of metaphysical rationality would constitute, toward the end of the nineteenth century, one of the aims of theosophy. As Linda Henderson maintains, the preferred meeting place between science and spirituality is the theory of vibrations.76 In the light of this convergence of ends, it is no surprise that Balla, literally obsessed with vibrations, was involved with theosophy for many years, and that an understanding of his relations with it are crucial to reconstructing his artistic journey.

During his formative years in Turin, Balla studied with Cesare Lombroso (whose contacts with spiritualism have been mentioned by Germano Celant, among others).77 But the encounter first with freemasonry and occultism, and later with theosophy, occurred only in 1895, once Balla had moved to Rome. In the first years of the century, Balla furthered his interest in psychiatry by reading Hoepli’s popular compendia and manuals.78 His interest in X-rays may have been piqued by his acquaintance with Professor Ghilarducci, an expert on radiology, psychology, and electrotherapy, whose portrait Balla painted in 1903.79 This is indicated in an undated entry in his notebooks: “Roentgen rays and their applications.”80 I believe he made this entry to remind himself to look into Ignazio Schincaglia’s popular 1911 book Radiografia e radioscopia: Storia dei raggi Roentgen e loro applicazioni piu importanti.

The supernatural element is already present in some of Balla’s first Roman works, both in the impressive dimensions of Ritratto della madre from 1901 and in the metaphysical angle and hyperrealism of the formidable Fallimento of 1902.81 As early as 1904 he maintained a friendship with Ernesto Nathan, an occultist and freemason (he was grand master of the Grande Oriente d’Italia in 1899 and again in 1917), who in 1907 became the first anticlerical mayor to take office in the Campidoglio. Nathan acquired nine canvases from Balla and commissioned a portrait in 1910, and Balla even taught painting to Nathan’s daughter, Annie.82 Notwithstanding his contact with Nathan, Balla apparently never affiliated himself with a lodge.83

Information about Balla’s first contact with theosophy comes from Balla’s daughter Elica: “In 1916 Balla is also interested in psychic phenomena and attends the meetings of a society of theosophists presided over by General Ballatore; they hold, in said society, sances. […] Inspired by this interest, […] he outlines some sketches on this subject and then a larger painting, aptly titled Trasformazione forme spiriti” (fig. 4).B84[fig.4]/B

Flavia Matitti has reconstructed the history of the circle around Generale Ballatore, the “Gruppo Teosofico Roma,” and Balla’s relationship with that circle. Gruppo Roma was founded in 1897 and recognized as a theosophical association in 1907. In the same year, the first issues of the periodical Ultra came out; in it Ballatore published articles on hyperspace and the fourth dimension; later he wrote on radioactivity. Ultra was the official organ of Gruppo Roma until 1930. In October 1914, Ardengo Soffici published his article “La Teosofia nel futurismo” in Ultra.85

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Luigi Russolo, Futurist – Luciano Chessa – Paperback …

Are We Smart Enough to Control Artificial Intelligence? | MIT …

Years ago I had coffee with a friend who ran a startup. He had just turned 40. His father was ill, his back was sore, and he found himself overwhelmed by life. Dont laugh at me, he said, but I was counting on the singularity.

My friend worked in technology; hed seen the changes that faster microprocessors and networks had wrought. It wasnt that much of a step for him to believe that before he was beset by middle age, the intelligence of machines would exceed that of humansa moment that futurists call the singularity. A benevolent superintelligence might analyze the human genetic code at great speed and unlock the secret to eternal youth. At the very least, it might know how to fix your back.

But what if it wasnt so benevolent? Nick Bostrom, a philosopher who directs the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, describes the following scenario in his book Superintelligence, which has prompted a great deal of debate about the future of artificial intelligence. Imagine a machine that we might call a paper-clip maximizerthat is, a machine programmed to make as many paper clips as possible. Now imagine that this machine somehow became incredibly intelligent. Given its goals, it might then decide to create new, more efficient paper-clip-manufacturing machinesuntil, King Midas style, it had converted essentially everything to paper clips.

No worries, you might say: you could just program it to make exactly a million paper clips and halt. But what if it makes the paper clips and then decides to check its work? Has it counted correctly? It needs to become smarter to be sure. The superintelligent machine manufactures some as-yet-uninvented raw-computing material (call it computronium) and uses that to check each doubt. But each new doubt yields further digital doubts, and so on, until the entire earth is converted to computronium. Except for the million paper clips.

Bostrom does not believe that the paper-clip maximizer will come to be, exactly; its a thought experiment, one designed to show how even careful system design can fail to restrain extreme machine intelligence. But he does believe that superintelligence could emerge, and while it could be great, he thinks it could also decide it doesnt need humans around. Or do any number of other things that destroy the world. The title of chapter 8 is: Is the default outcome doom?

If this sounds absurd to you, youre not alone. Critics such as the robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks say that people who fear a runaway AI misunderstand what computers are doing when we say theyre thinking or getting smart. From this perspective, the putative superintelligence Bostrom describes is far in the future and perhaps impossible.

Yet a lot of smart, thoughtful people agree with Bostrom and are worried now. Why?


The question Can a machine think? has shadowed computer science from its beginnings. Alan Turing proposed in 1950 that a machine could be taught like a child; John McCarthy, inventor of the programming language LISP, coined the term artificial intelligence in 1955. As AI researchers in the 1960s and 1970s began to use computers to recognize images, translate between languages, and understand instructions in normal language and not just code, the idea that computers would eventually develop the ability to speak and thinkand thus to do evilbubbled into mainstream culture. Even beyond the oft-referenced HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1970 movie Colossus: The Forbin Project featured a large blinking mainframe computer that brings the world to the brink of nuclear destruction; a similar theme was explored 13 years later in WarGames. The androids of 1973s Westworld went crazy and started killing.

Extreme AI predictions are comparable to seeing more efficient internal combustion engines and jumping to the conclusion that the warp drives are just around the corner, Rodney Brooks writes.

When AI research fell far short of its lofty goals, funding dried up to a trickle, beginning long AI winters. Even so, the torch of the intelligent machine was carried forth in the 1980s and 90s by sci-fi authors like Vernor Vinge, who popularized the concept of the singularity; researchers like the roboticist Hans Moravec, an expert in computer vision; and the engineer/entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil, author of the 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines. Whereas Turing had posited a humanlike intelligence, Vinge, Moravec, and Kurzweil were thinking bigger: when a computer became capable of independently devising ways to achieve goals, it would very likely be capable of introspectionand thus able to modify its software and make itself more intelligent. In short order, such a computer would be able to design its own hardware.

As Kurzweil described it, this would begin a beautiful new era. Such machines would have the insight and patience (measured in picoseconds) to solve the outstanding problems of nanotechnology and spaceflight; they would improve the human condition and let us upload our consciousness into an immortal digital form. Intelligence would spread throughout the cosmos.

You can also find the exact opposite of such sunny optimism. Stephen Hawking has warned that because people would be unable to compete with an advanced AI, it could spell the end of the human race. Upon reading Superintelligence, the entrepreneur Elon Musk tweeted: Hope were not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable. Musk then followed with a $10 million grant to the Future of Life Institute. Not to be confused with Bostroms center, this is an organization that says it is working to mitigate existential risks facing humanity, the ones that could arise from the development of human-level artificial intelligence.

No one is suggesting that anything like superintelligence exists now. In fact, we still have nothing approaching a general-purpose artificial intelligence or even a clear path to how it could be achieved. Recent advances in AI, from automated assistants such as Apples Siri to Googles driverless cars, also reveal the technologys severe limitations; both can be thrown off by situations that they havent encountered before. Artificial neural networks can learn for themselves to recognize cats in photos. But they must be shown hundreds of thousands of examples and still end up much less accurate at spotting cats than a child.

This is where skeptics such as Brooks, a founder of iRobot and Rethink Robotics, come in. Even if its impressiverelative to what earlier computers could managefor a computer to recognize a picture of a cat, the machine has no volition, no sense of what cat-ness is or what else is happening in the picture, and none of the countless other insights that humans have. In this view, AI could possibly lead to intelligent machines, but it would take much more work than people like Bostrom imagine. And even if it could happen, intelligence will not necessarily lead to sentience. Extrapolating from the state of AI today to suggest that superintelligence is looming is comparable to seeing more efficient internal combustion engines appearing and jumping to the conclusion that warp drives are just around the corner, Brooks wrote recently on Malevolent AI is nothing to worry about, he says, for a few hundred years at least.

Insurance policy

Even if the odds of a superintelligence arising are very long, perhaps its irresponsible to take the chance. One person who shares Bostroms concerns is Stuart J. Russell, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. Russell is the author, with Peter Norvig (a peer of Kurzweils at Google), of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, which has been the standard AI textbook for two decades.

There are a lot of supposedly smart public intellectuals who just havent a clue, Russell told me. He pointed out that AI has advanced tremendously in the last decade, and that while the public might understand progress in terms of Moores Law (faster computers are doing more), in fact recent AI work has been fundamental, with techniques like deep learning laying the groundwork for computers that can automatically increase their understanding of the world around them.

Bostroms book proposes ways to align computers with human needs. Were basically telling a god how wed like to be treated.

Because Google, Facebook, and other companies are actively looking to create an intelligent, learning machine, he reasons, I would say that one of the things we ought not to do is to press full steam ahead on building superintelligence without giving thought to the potential risks. It just seems a bit daft. Russell made an analogy: Its like fusion research. If you ask a fusion researcher what they do, they say they work on containment. If you want unlimited energy youd better contain the fusion reaction. Similarly, he says, if you want unlimited intelligence, youd better figure out how to align computers with human needs.

Bostroms book is a research proposal for doing so. A superintelligence would be godlike, but would it be animated by wrath or by love? Its up to us (that is, the engineers). Like any parent, we must give our child a set of values. And not just any values, but those that are in the best interest of humanity. Were basically telling a god how wed like to be treated. How to proceed?

Bostrom draws heavily on an idea from a thinker named Eliezer Yudkowsky, who talks about coherent extrapolated volitionthe consensus-derived best self of all people. AI would, we hope, wish to give us rich, happy, fulfilling lives: fix our sore backs and show us how to get to Mars. And since humans will never fully agree on anything, well sometimes need it to decide for usto make the best decisions for humanity as a whole. How, then, do we program those values into our (potential) superintelligences? What sort of mathematics can define them? These are the problems, Bostrom believes, that researchers should be solving now. Bostrom says it is the essential task of our age.

For the civilian, theres no reason to lose sleep over scary robots. We have no technology that is remotely close to superintelligence. Then again, many of the largest corporations in the world are deeply invested in making their computers more intelligent; a true AI would give any one of these companies an unbelievable advantage. They also should be attuned to its potential downsides and figuring out how to avoid them.

This somewhat more nuanced suggestionwithout any claims of a looming AI-mageddonis the basis of an open letter on the website of the Future of Life Institute, the group that got Musks donation. Rather than warning of existential disaster, the letter calls for more research into reaping the benefits of AI while avoiding potential pitfalls. This letter is signed not just by AI outsiders such as Hawking, Musk, and Bostrom but also by prominent computer scientists (including Demis Hassabis, a top AI researcher). You can see where theyre coming from. After all, if they develop an artificial intelligence that doesnt share the best human values, it will mean they werent smart enough to control their own creations.

Paul Ford, a freelance writer in New York, wrote about Bitcoin in March/April 2014.

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Moore’s Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley’s Quiet …

Moores Law is an engaging biography and a definitive account of the man behind the famous prediction. The authors are Arnold Thackray, David C. Brock and Rachel Jones a chemist, a historian and a journalist whose varied expertise makes for an informed, thorough and readable chronicle…. Gordon Moores forecast was spectacularly right. Yet, as this compelling biography proves, even if he had never hazarded it, he would remain a legend in Silicon Valley. Wall Street Journal

Arnold Thackray, David Brock and Rachel Jones transform Moore from a man doing something inscrutable in the margins to a comprehensible, fiercely driven technophile who shaped history from the inside out. Nature

Thackray, Brock, and Jones run through Moores multifaceted life with a refreshing lack of tech talk or science jargon, revealing a man who realized his dreams while maintaining a stable, affirming personal life. Publishers Weekly

[An] admiring, richly detailed book…. [T]echies will be delighted with its full treatment of an important figure often overshadowed by such luminaries as Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison. Kirkus Reviews

Finally, Gordon Moore gets the biography he deserves! One of the foremost pioneers of the digital revolution, he is a visionary, engineer, and revered leader. His ‘law’ defined and guided the growth of computing power, and his business acumen helped to create Silicon Valley. This is an inspiring and instructive tale of how brilliance and leadership can coexist with humility and decency in a truly extraordinary person. Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

Moore’s Law is not only a definitive biography of a legendary figure in computing, but a fascinating account of the forces that triggeredand sustainthe digital revolution that has changed life for all of us. Steven Levy, author of Hackers and In the Plex

“Gordon Moores story is one of disruptive innovation on the grandest scale, practiced by a brilliant technologist. Now at last we have the book that tells the story. Moores Law offers a compelling, absorbing account of Silicon Valley, and its role in human progress.” Clayton Christensen, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and author of The Innovators Dilemma

If you think you know Moores Law, prepare to be enlightened. If you think you know Gordon Moore, prepare to be enthralled. And if all of this is new to you, prepare for the ride of your life. This is the definitive story of the central theorem of the digital age, the man behind it, and its ongoing impact on us all. John Hollar, President & CEO, Computer History Museum

With care and color, Moores Law tells us how Gordon Moore, at the center of the IT revolution, applied his knowledge and insight in a quiet and effective way. When Gordon talked, everyone listened. George P. Shultz, former U. S. Secretary of State and Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

A remarkable book about a remarkable man, told with great style and refreshing candor. Carver Mead, the Gordon and Betty Moore Professor Emeritus of Engineering and Applied Science, Caltech and winner of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Arnold Thackray and his co-authors integrate business history with the history of science and technology with great success, rendering this biography of Silicon Valleys most important revolutionary a captivating and deeply illuminating read. Moores Law is also a signal contribution to the study of California history, showing how the social and cultural circumstances of the Bay Area enabled Gordon Moores creativity. David A. Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor of History, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

“I can remember when a transistor radio had one transistor in itand now a giveaway bottle opener containing 8 billion of them is sitting on my desk. Gordon Moore and a small circle of accomplices, inseparable from the California landscape in which their story took form, were at the center of the most radical transformation in the history of technology. This is a definitive chronicle: authoritative, detailed, and well told.” George Dyson, author of Turing’s Cathedral and Darwin Among the Machines

Almost everyone knows Moores Law. Almost no one knows the Moore behind this law. Finally a book describing the quiet, unassuming technology godfather of Silicon Valley. A great read about a great man whose work truly changed the world. Craig R. Barrett, Former CEO & Chairman, Intel Corporation

This marvelous and well-written book about Gordon Moore captures his seminal role not only in Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel Corp, but also in the saga of Silicon Valley. The authors tell how Intel was managed into one of the great successes of all time. Gordon Moore in his quiet, non-threatening, and brainy manner created an atmosphere in which new ideas flourished and growth was encouraged. Moore’s Law, his remarkable insight, has proved prescient. Woven into this story is the modest and loving relationship between Gordon and Betty, his wife of 65 years. Arthur Rock, Co-Founder of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Davis & Rock and original investor of Fairchild Semiconductor

A remarkable insight into the man who did so much to make Silicon Valley. David Morgenthaler, founder of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Morgenthaler Ventures

Arnold Thackray, active in the public life of scholarship, is a distinguished academic and the founding CEO of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. David C. Brock is a recognized authority on electronics, and Rachel Jones is a London journalist specializing in technology and entrepreneurship.

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Freedom (Franzen novel) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Freedom is a novel by American author Jonathan Franzen. It was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and released on August 31, 2010.

Freedom received general acclaim from book critics, and was ranked one of the best books of 2010 by several publications.

Freedom follows several members of an American family, the Berglunds, as well as their close friends and lovers, as complex and troubled relationships unfold over many years. The book follows them through the last decades of the twentieth century and concludes near the beginning of the Obama administration.

Freedom opens with a short history of the Berglund family from the perspective of their nosy neighbors. The Berglunds are portrayed as the most ideal liberal middle-class family, and they are among the first families to move back into urban St. Paul, Minnesota, after years of white flight to the suburbs. Patty Berglund is an unusually young and pretty homemaker with a self-deprecating sense of humor; her husband Walter is a mild-mannered lawyer with strong environmentalist leanings.

They have one daughter, Jessica, and a son, Joey, who early on displays an independent streak and an interest in making money. Joey becomes sexually involved with a neighborhood teen named Connie and begins to rebel against his mother, going so far as to move in with Connie, her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend Blake, making Patty and Walter increasingly unstable. After several unhappy years, the family relocates to Washington, D.C., abandoning the neighborhood and house they worked so hard to improve. Walter takes a job with an unorthodox environmental project, tied to big coal.

The second portion of the book takes the form of an autobiography of Patty Berglund, composed at the suggestion of her therapist. The autobiography tells of Patty’s youth as a star basketball player, and her increasing alienation from her artistically inclined parents and sisters. Instead of attending an East Coast elite college like her siblings, she gets a basketball scholarship to the University of Minnesota and adopts the life of the athlete. She meets an attractive but unattainable indie rock musician named Richard Katz, and his nerdy but kind roommate, Walter Berglund. After her basketball career-ending knee injury, Patty suddenly becomes desperate for male affection, and after failing to woo Richard, she settles down with Walter, who had been patiently courting her for more than a year. We learn that Patty retained her desire for Richard and eventually had a brief affair with him at the Berglunds’ lakeside cabin.

The novel then jumps ahead to New York City in 2004 and shifts to the story of Walter and Patty’s friend Richard, who has finally succeeded in becoming a minor indie rock star in his middle age. His hit album Nameless Lake tells the story of his brief love affair with Patty at the Berglunds’ lakeside cabin in Minnesota. Richard is uncomfortable with commercial success, throws away his new-found money, and returns to building roof decks for wealthy people in Manhattan. Walter calls him out of the blue to enlist his help as a celebrity spokesman for an environmental campaign. Walter has taken a job in Washington, D.C. working for a coal mining magnate who wants to strip mine a section of West Virginia forest before turning it into a songbird preserve of future environmental value. Walter hopes to use some of this project’s funding to hold a concert to combat overpopulation, the common factor behind all his environmental concerns, and he believes that Richard will be able to rally well-known musicians to his cause. Meanwhile, Walter’s marriage to Patty has been deteriorating steadily, and his pretty young assistant Lalitha has fallen deeply in love with him.

In parallel, the Berglunds’ estranged, Republican son Joey attempts to finance his college life at the University of Virginia by taking on a dubious subcontract to provide spare parts for outdated supply trucks during the Iraq War. While at college, he marries his childhood sweetheart but dares not tell his parents. After visiting his roommate’s family in the DC suburbs, he also pursues his friend’s beautiful sister Jenna and is exposed to her father’s Zionist, neoconservative politics. After months of pursuing Jenna, when she finally wants him to have sex with her, he cannot maintain an erection. Later he becomes conflicted after making $850,000 selling defective truck parts to military suppliers in Iraq. In the end Joey gives away the excess proceeds of his profiteering, reconciles with his parents, settles down with Connie, and moves into a sustainable coffee business with the help of his father Walter.

Now, Richard’s re-appearance destroys Walter and Patty’s weakening marriage. Richard tries to convince Patty to leave Walter, but she shows Richard the autobiography she wrote as “therapy”, trying to convince him that she’s still in love with Walter. Richard deliberately leaves the autobiography on Walter’s desk, and Walter reads Patty’s true thoughts. Walter kicks Patty out of the house, and she moves to Jersey City to be with Richard, but the relationship only lasts six months. Later, she moves to Brooklyn alone and takes a job at a private school, discovering her skill for teaching younger children. When Patty leaves him, Walter has a catharsis on live television, revealing his contempt for the displaced West Virginian families and his various commercial backers. Local rednecks respond by dragging him from the platform and beating him up. He is promptly fired by the environmental trust, but his TV debacle makes him a viral video hero to radical youth across the nation. He and his assistant Lalitha become lovers and continue their plans to combat overpopulation through a concert to rally young people in the hills of West Virginia. Lalitha is killed in a suspicious car accident a few days before the concert is due to take place. Shattered, and having lost both of the women who loved him, Walter retreats to his family’s lakeside vacation house back in Minnesota. He becomes known to a new street of neighbors as a cranky old recluse, obsessed with house cats killing birds nesting on his property.

After a few years living in Brooklyn, Patty’s father dies and she is forced to settle the fight that erupts within her family of spoiled bohemians as they attempt to split up the much-diminished family fortune. This experience helps Patty to mature. After a few years of living alone, she appraises the emptiness of her life and honestly faces her advancing age. She decides to hunt down Walter, the only man who had ever really loved her. She drives to the lakeside cabin in Minnesota, and despite his rage and confusion, he eventually agrees to take her back. The book ends in 2008 as they leave as a couple to return to Patty’s job in New York City, after turning their old lakeside vacation home into a cat-proof fenced bird sanctuary, named in memory of Lalitha.

After the critical acclaim and popular success of his third novel The Corrections in 2001, Franzen began work on his fourth full-length novel. When asked during an October 30, 2002 interview on Charlie Rose how far he was into writing the new novel, Franzen replied:

I’m about a year of frustration and confusion into it…Y’know, I’m kind of down at the bottom of the submerged iceberg peering up for the surface of the water…I don’t have doubt about my ability to write a good book, but I have lots of doubt about what it’s going to look like.[1]

Franzen went on to suggest that a basic story outline was in place, and that his writing of the new novel was like a “guerilla war” approaching different aspects of the novel (alluding to characters, dialogue, plot development etc.).[1] Franzen also agreed that he would avoid public appearances, saying that “…getting some work done is the vacation” from the promotional work surrounding The Corrections and How To Be Alone.[1]

An excerpt entitled “Good Neighbors” appeared in the June 8 and June 15, 2009 issues of The New Yorker.[2] The magazine published a second extract entitled “Agreeable” in the May 31, 2010 edition.[3]

On October 16, 2009, Franzen made an appearance alongside David Bezmozgis at the New Yorker Festival at the Cedar Lake Theatre to read a portion of his forthcoming novel.[4][5] Sam Allard, writing for North By Northwestern website covering the event, said that the “…material from his new (reportedly massive) novel” was “as buoyant and compelling as ever” and “marked by his familiar undercurrent of tragedy”.[5] Franzen read “an extended clip from the second chapter.”[5]

On March 12, 2010, details about the plot and content of Freedom were published in the Macmillan fall catalogue for 2010.[6]

In an interview with Dave Haslam on October 3, 2010 Franzen discussed why he had called the book Freedom:

The reason I slapped the word on the book proposal I sold three years ago without any clear idea of what kind of book it was going to be is that I wanted to write a book that would free me in some way. And I will say this about the abstract concept of ‘freedom’; it’s possible you are freer if you accept what you are and just get on with being the person you are, than if you maintain this kind of uncommitted I’m free-to-be-this, free-to-be-that, faux freedom.[7]

Freedom received general acclaim from book critics, particularly for its writing and characterization. Shortly after the book’s release, the front cover of a TIME magazine issue showed a picture of Franzen above the words “Great American Novelist,” making him the first author to appear on the front cover in a decade.

Sam Tanenhaus of The New York Times and Benjamin Alsup of Esquire believed it measured up to Franzen’s previous novel, The Corrections. Tanenhaus called it a “masterpiece of American fiction,” writing that it “[told] an engrossing story” and “[illuminated], through the steady radiance of its authors profound moral intelligence, the world we thought we knew.”[8] Alsup called it a great American novel. “[9] In The Millions, Garth Risk Hallberg argued that readers who enjoyed The Corrections would enjoy Freedom. He also wrote that they’re “likely to come away from this novel moved in harder-to-fathom waysand grateful for it.”[10] An editor for Publishers Weekly wrote that it stood apart from most modern fiction because “Franzen tries to account for his often stridently unlikable characters and find where they (and we) went wrong, arriving atincrediblygenuine hope.”[11]

Benjamin Secher of The Telegraph called Franzen one of America’s best living novelists, and Freedom the first great American novel of the “post-Obama era.”[12] In The Guardian, Jonathan Jones called him “a literary genius” and wrote that Freedom stood on “a different plane from other contemporary fiction.”[13]

Michiko Kakutani called the book “galvanic” and wrote that it showcased Franzen’s talent as a storyteller and “his ability to throw open a big, Updikean picture window on American middle-class life.” Kakutani also praised the novel’s characterization, going on to call it a “compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times.”[14]The Economist wrote that the novel contained “fully imagined characters in a powerful narrative.” The reviewer went on to say that it had “all its predecessor’s power and none of its faults.”[15]

Not all reviews were raving. Most lukewarm reviews praised the novel’s prose, but believed the author’s left-wing political stance was too obvious. Sam Anderson, in a review for New York magazine, thought the characterization was strong, but perceived the politics as sometimes too heavy-handed: “Franzen the crankmighty detester of Twitter, ATVs, and housing developments” occasionally “overpower[s] Franzen the artist […] but if crankiness is the motor that powers Franzen’s art, I’m perfectly willing to sit through some speeches.”[16]Ron Charles of The Washington Post also felt less favorably, remarking that it lacked the wit and “[freshness]” of The Corrections. Charles praised Franzen’s prose and called him “an extraordinary stylist,” but questioned how many readers would settle for good writing as “sufficient compensation for what is sometimes a misanthropic slog.”[17] In addition, Ruth Franklin of The New Republic believed the novel resembled a “soap opera” more than it did an epic, and that Franzen had forgotten “the greatest novels must […] offer […] profundity and pleasure.”[18]

Alexander Nazaryan criticized its familiarity in the New York Daily News remarking that the author “can write about a gentrifying family in St. Paul. Or maybe in St. Louis. But that’s about it. Nazaryan also didn’t believe Franzen was joking when he suggested “being doomed as a novelist never to do anything but stories of Midwestern families.”[19]Alan Cheuse of National Public Radio found the novel “[brilliant]” but not enjoyable, suggesting that “every line, every insight, seems covered with a light film of disdain. Franzen seems never to have met a normal, decent, struggling human being whom he didn’t want to make us feel ever so slightly superior to. His book just has too much brightness and not enough color.”[20]

Ross Douthat of First Things praised the “stretches of Freedom that read like a master class in how to write sympathetically about the kind of characters” with an abundance of freedom. Yet, Douthat concluded the novel was overlong, feeling the “impression that Franzen’s talents are being wasted on his characters.”[21]

Freedom won the John Gardner Fiction Award. Additionally, it was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. The American Library Association also named it a notable fiction of the 2010 publishing year.

Oprah Winfrey made Freedom her first book club selection of 2010, saying, “this book is a masterpiece.”[22][23] US President Barack Obama called it “terrific” after reading it over the summer.[24]

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USS Liberty incident – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a United States Navy technical research ship, USSLiberty, by Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy motor torpedo boats, on 8 June 1967, during the Six-Day War.[3] The combined air and sea attack killed 34 crew members (naval officers, seamen, two Marines, and one civilian), wounded 171 crew members, and severely damaged the ship.[4] At the time, the ship was in international waters north of the Sinai Peninsula, about 25.5nmi (29.3mi; 47.2km) northwest from the Egyptian city of Arish.[1][5]

Israel apologized for the attack, saying that the USS Liberty had been attacked in error after being mistaken for an Egyptian ship.[6] Both the Israeli and U.S. governments conducted inquiries and issued reports that concluded the attack was a mistake due to Israeli confusion about the ship’s identity,[2] though others, including survivors of the attack, have rejected these conclusions and maintain that the attack was deliberate.[7]

In May 1968, the Israeli government paid US$3,323,500 (US$22.5 million 2015) in compensation to the families of the 34 men killed in the attack. In March 1969, Israel paid a further $3,566,457 to the men who had been wounded. On 18 December 1980, it agreed to pay $6 million as settlement for the final U.S. bill of $17,132,709 for material damage to Liberty herself plus 13 years’ interest.[8]

USSLiberty was originally the 7,725 long tons (7,849t) (light) civilian cargo vessel Simmons Victory, a mass-produced, standard-design Victory Ship, the follow-on series to the famous Liberty Ships, which supplied the United Kingdom and Allied troops with cargo. it was acquired by the United States Navy, converted to an Auxiliary Technical Research Ship (AGTR),[9] and began her first deployment in 1965, to waters off the west coast of Africa. it carried out several more operations during the next two years.

During the Six-Day War between Israel and several Arab nations, the United States of America maintained a neutral country status.[10] Several days before the war began, the USS Liberty was ordered to proceed to the eastern Mediterranean area to perform a signals intelligence collection mission in international waters near the north coast of Sinai, Egypt.[11] After the war erupted, due to concerns about her safety as she approached her patrol area, several messages were sent to Liberty to increase her allowable closest point of approach (CPA) to Egypt’s and Israel’s coasts from 12.5 and 6.5nmi (14.4 and 7.5mi; 23.2 and 12.0km), respectively, to 20 and 15nmi (23 and 17mi; 37 and 28km), and then later to 100nmi (120mi; 190km) for both countries.[12] Unfortunately, due to ineffective message handling and routing, the CPA change messages were not received until after the attack.[12]

According to Israeli sources, at the start of the war on 5 June, General Yitzhak Rabin (then IDF Chief of Staff) informed Commander Ernest Carl Castle, the American Naval Attach in Tel Aviv, that Israel would defend its coast with every means at its disposal, including sinking unidentified ships. Also, he asked the U.S. to keep its ships away from Israel’s shore or at least inform Israel of their exact position.[13][14]

American sources said that no inquiry about ships in the area was made until after the Liberty attack ended. In a message sent from U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk to U.S. Ambassador Walworth Barbour, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Rusk asked for “urgent confirmation” of Israel’s statement. Barbour responded: “No request for info on U.S. ships operating off Sinai was made until after Liberty incident.” Further, Barbour stated: “Had Israelis made such an inquiry it would have been forwarded immediately to the chief of naval operations and other high naval commands and repeated to dept [Department of State].”[15]

With the outbreak of war, Captain William L. McGonagle of Liberty immediately asked Vice Admiral William I. Martin at the United States Sixth Fleet headquarters to send a destroyer to accompany Liberty and serve as its armed escort and as an auxiliary communications center. The following day, 6 June, Admiral Martin replied: “Liberty is a clearly marked United States ship in international waters, not a participant in the conflict and not a reasonable subject for attack by any nation. Request denied.”[16] He promised, however, that in the unlikely event of an inadvertent attack, jet fighters from the Sixth Fleet would be overhead in ten minutes.

Meanwhile, on 6 June, at the United Nations, in response to United Arab Republic complaints that the United States was supporting Israel in the conflict, U.S. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg said to the Security Council that aircraft of the Sixth Fleet were several hundred miles from the conflict,[12] indicating that elements of the Sixth Fleet itself were far from the conflict. When the statement was made this was the case, since Liberty, now assigned to the Sixth Fleet, was in the central Mediterranean Sea, passing between Libya and Crete;[17] but she would ultimately steam to about 13nmi (15mi; 24km) north of the Sinai Peninsula.[18]

On the night of 7 June Washington time, early morning on 8 June, 01:10Z or 3:10am local time, the Pentagon issued an order to Sixth Fleet headquarters to tell Liberty to come no closer than 100nmi (120mi; 190km) to Israel, Syria, or the Sinai coast (Oren, p.263).[19]:5, 58 (Exhibit N)

According to the Naval Court of Inquiry[20]:23 ff, 111 ff and National Security Agency official history,[21] the order to withdraw was not sent on the radio frequency that Liberty monitored for her orders until 15:25 Zulu, several hours after the attack, due to a long series of administrative and message routing problems. The Navy said a large volume of unrelated high-precedence traffic, including intelligence intercepts related to the conflict, were being handled at the time; and that this combined with a shortage of qualified Radiomen contributed to delayed sending of the withdrawal message.[20]:111 ff

Official testimony combined with Liberty’s deck log say that throughout the morning of the attack, 8 June, the ship was overflown, at various times and locations, by Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft.[18] The primary aircraft type was the Nord Noratlas; there were also two unidentified delta-wing jets at about 9:00am Sinai time (GMT+2).[18]Liberty crewmembers say that one of the Noratlas aircraft flew so close to Liberty that noise from its propellers rattled the ship’s deck plating, and that the pilots and crewmembers waved to each other.[22] It was later reported, based on information from Israel Defense Forces sources, that the over-flights were coincidental, and that the aircraft were hunting for Egyptian submarines that had been spotted near the coast.[23]

At about 5:45am Sinai time, a ship-sighting report was received at Israeli Central Coastal Command (CCC) about Liberty, identified by an aerial naval observer as “apparently a destroyer, sailing 70 miles [110km] west of Gaza.”[24] The vessel’s location was marked on a CCC Control Table, using a red marker, indicating an unidentified vessel.[25] At about 6:00am, the aerial naval observer reported that the ship appeared like a U.S. Navy supply ship; the red marker was replaced with a green marker to indicate a neutral vessel, at about 9:00am.[25] At that same time, an Israeli jet fighter pilot reported that a ship 20 miles (32km) north of Arish had fired at his aircraft after he tried to identify the vessel.[25] Israeli naval command dispatched two destroyers to investigate, but they were returned to their previous positions at 9:40am after doubts emerged during the pilot’s debriefing.[25] After the naval observer’s Noratlas landed and he was debriefed, the ship he saw was further identified as the USS Liberty, based on its “GTR-5” hull markings.[26] USS Liberty’s marker was removed from CCC’s Control Table at 11:00am, due to its positional information being considered stale.[27]

At 11:24am, Israeli Chief of Naval Operations received a report that Arish was being shelled from the sea.[27] An inquiry into the source of the report was ordered to determine its validity.[27] The report came from an Air Support Officer in Arish.[28] Additionally, at 11:27am Israeli Supreme Command Head of Operations received a report stating that a ship had been shelling Arish, but the shells had fallen short.[28] (Investigative journalist James Bamford points out that Liberty had only four .50 caliber machine guns mounted on her decks and, thus, could not have shelled the coast.[29] ) The Head of Operations ordered that the report be verified, and determine whether or not Israeli Navy vessels were off the coast of Arish.[28] At 11:45am, another report arrived at Supreme Command saying two ships were approaching the Arish coast.[28]

The shelling and ships reports were passed from Supreme Command to Fleet Operations Control Center.[28] The Chief of Naval Operations took them seriously, and at 12:05pm torpedo boat Division 914 was ordered to patrol in the direction of Arish.[28]

Division 914, codenamed “Pagoda”, was under the command of Commander Moshe Oren.[28] It consisted of three torpedo boats numbered: T-203, T-204 and T-206.[28] At 12:15pm, Division 914 received orders to patrol a position 20 miles (32km) north of Arish.[28] As Commander Oren headed toward Arish, he was informed by Naval Operations of the reported shelling of Arish and told that IAF aircraft would be dispatched to the area after the target had been detected.[28]

Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin was concerned that the supposed Egyptian shelling was the prelude to an amphibious landing that could outflank Israeli forces. Rabin reiterated the standing order to sink any unidentified ships in the area, but advised caution, as Soviet vessels were reportedly operating nearby.[23]

At 1:41pm, the torpedo boats detected an unknown vessel 20 miles northwest of Arish and 14 miles (23km) off the coast of Bardawil.[1][30] The ship’s speed was estimated on their radars.[30] The Combat Information Center officer on T-204, Ensign Aharon Yifrah, reported to the boat’s captain, Commander Moshe Oren, that the target had been detected at a range of 22 miles (35km), that her speed had been tracked for a few minutes, after which he had determined that the target was moving westward at a speed of 30 knots (56km/h; 35mph). These data were forwarded to the Fleet Operations Control Center.[30]

The speed of the target was significant because it indicated that the target was a combat vessel.[30] Moreover, Israeli forces had standing orders to fire on any unknown vessels sailing in the area at over 20 knots (37km/h; 23mph), a speed which, at the time, could only be attained by warships. The Chief of Naval Operations asked the torpedo boats to double-check their calculations. Yifrah twice recalculated and confirmed his assessment.[23][30] A few minutes later, Commander Oren reported that the target, now 17 miles (27km) from his position, was moving at a speed of 28 knots (52km/h; 32mph) on a different heading.[31] Bamford, however, points out that Liberty’s top speed was far below 28 knots. His sources say that at the time of the attack Liberty was following her signal-intercept mission course along the northern Sinai coast, at about 5 knots (9.3km/h; 5.8mph) speed.[29]

The data on the ship’s speed, together with its direction, indicated that it was an Egyptian destroyer fleeing toward port after shelling Arish. The torpedo boats gave chase, but did not expect to overtake their target before it reached Egypt. Commander Oren requested that the Israeli Air Force dispatch aircraft to intercept.[23][30] At 1:48pm, the Chief of Naval Operations requested dispatch of fighter aircraft to the ship’s location.[32]

The IAF dispatched two Mirage III fighter jets that arrived at Liberty at about 2:00 pm.[33] The formation leader, Captain Iftach Spector, attempted to identify the ship.[33] He communicated via radio to one of the torpedo boats his observation that the ship appeared like a military ship with one smokestack and one mast.[34] Also, he communicated, in effect, that the ship appeared to him like a destroyer or another type of small ship.[34] In a post-attack statement, the pilots said they saw no distinguishable markings or flag on the ship.[34]

At this point, a recorded exchange took place between a command headquarters weapons systems officer, one of the air controllers, and the chief air controller questioning a possible American presence. Immediately after the exchange, at 1:57pm, the chief air controller, Lieutenant-Colonel Shmuel Kislev, cleared the Mirages to attack.[23][35]

After being cleared to attack, the Mirages dived on the ship and attacked with 30-mm cannons and rockets.[36] The attack came a few minutes after the crew completed a chemical attack drill, with Captain McGonagle on the command bridge.[37] The crew was in “stand-down mode”, with their helmets and life jackets removed,[23] except battle readiness “modified condition three” was set which meant that the ship’s four .50 caliber machine guns were manned and ammunition ready for loading and firing.[38][39] Eight crewmen were either killed immediately or died later, and 75 were wounded.[40] Among the wounded was McGonagle, who was hit in the right thigh and arm.[41] During the attack, antennas were severed, gas drums caught fire, and the ship’s flag was knocked down. McGonagle sent an urgent request for help to the Sixth Fleet, “Under attack by unidentified jet aircraft, require immediate assistance.”

The Mirages left after expending their ammunition, and were replaced by two Dassault Mysteres armed with napalm bombs. The Mysteres released their payloads over the ship and strafed it with their cannons. Much of the ship’s superstructure caught fire.[23][33] The Mysteres were readying to attack again when the Israeli Navy, alerted by the absence of return fire, warned Kislev that the target could be Israeli. Kislev told the pilots not to attack if there was any doubt about identification, and the Israeli Navy quickly contacted all of its vessels in the area. The Israeli Navy found that none of its vessels were under fire, and the aircraft were cleared to attack. However, Kislev was still disturbed by a lack of return fire, and requested one last attempt to identify the ship. Captain Yossi Zuk, leader of the Mystere formation, made an attempt at identification while strafing the ship. He reported seeing no flag, but saw the ship’s GTR-5 marking. Kislev immediately ordered the attack stopped. Kislev guessed that the ship was American.[23]

The fact that the ship had Latin alphabet markings led Chief of Staff Rabin to fear that the ship was Soviet. Though Egyptian warships were known to disguise their identities with Western markings, they usually displayed Arabic letters and numbers only. Rabin ordered the torpedo boats to remain at a safe distance from the ship, and sent in two Hornet (Arospatiale Super Frelon) helicopters to search for survivors. These radio communications were recorded by Israel. The order also was recorded in the torpedo boat’s log, although Commander Oren alleged not to have received it. The order to cease fire was given at 2:20pm, twenty-four minutes before the torpedo boats arrived at the Liberty’s position.[42] At 2:35pm, Liberty was hit by a torpedo launched from one of the torpedo boats.[43]

During the interval, crewmen aboard Liberty hoisted a large American flag. During the early part of the air attack and before the torpedo boats were sighted, Liberty sent a distress message that was received by Sixth Fleet aircraft carrier USS Saratoga.[40] Aircraft carrier USS America dispatched eight aircraft. The carrier had been in the middle of strategic exercises. Vice-Admiral William I. Martin recalled the aircraft minutes later.[23]

McGonagle testified at the naval court of inquiry that during “the latter moments of the air attack, it was noted that three high speed boats were approaching the ship from the northeast on a relative bearing of approximately 135 [degrees] at a distance of about 15 [nautical] miles. The ship at the time was still on [westward] course 283 [degrees] true, speed unknown, but believed to be in excess of five knots.”[20]:38 McGonagle testified that he “believed that the time of initial sighting of the torpedo boats … was about 14:20 [2:20 pm]”, and that the “boats appeared to be in a wedge type formation with the center boat the lead point of the wedge. Estimated speed of the boats was about 27 to 30 knots [50 to 56km/h],” and that it “appeared that they were approaching the ship in a torpedo launch attitude.”[20]:38

When the torpedo boats arrived, Commander Oren could see that the ship could not be the destroyer that had supposedly shelled Arish or any ship capable of 30 knots (56km/h) speed. Oren believed it was a slower-moving vessel that had either serviced the destroyer or evacuated enemy soldiers from the beach.[citation needed] He ordered the squadron not to attack pending better identification “although this was difficult due to the billowing clouds of smoke that enveloped the vessel; only her bow, part of her bridge and the tip of her mast could be discerned.”[citation needed] At 6,000 meters (20,000ft), T-204 paused and signalled “AA” “identify yourself.”[citation needed] Due to damaged equipment, McGonagle could only reply with “AA” using a handheld Aldis lamp.[citation needed] Oren recalled receiving a similar response from the Ibrahim el Awal, an Egyptian destroyer captured by Israel during the Suez Crisis, and was convinced that he was facing an enemy ship.[citation needed]

He consulted an Israeli identification guide to Arab fleets and concluded the ship was the Egyptian supply ship El Quseir, based on observing its deckline, midship bridge and smokestack. The captain of boat T203 reached the same conclusion independently. The boats organized into battle formation, but did not attack.[42][44]

As the torpedo boats rapidly approached, Captain McGonagle ordered a sailor to proceed to machine gun Mount 51 and open fire.[20]:38 However, he noticed that the boats appeared to be flying an Israeli flag, and “realized that there was a possibility of the aircraft having been Israeli and the attack had been conducted in error.”[20]:39 Captain McGonagle ordered the man at gun mount 51 to hold fire, but a short burst was fired at the torpedo boats before the man was able to understand the order.[20]:39 McGonagle observed that machine gun Mount 53 began firing at the center torpedo boat at about the same time gun mount 51 fired, and that its fire was “extremely effective and blanketed the area and the center torpedo boat.”[20]:39 Machine gun mount 53 was located on the starboard amidships side, behind the pilot house.[20]:16 McGonagle could not see or “get to mount 53 from the starboard wing of the bridge.”[20]:39 So, he “sent Mr. Lucas around the port side of the bridge, around to the skylights, to see if he could tell [Seaman] Quintero, whom [he] believed to be the gunner on Machine gun 53, to hold fire.”[20]:39

Ensign Lucas “reported back in a few minutes in effect that he saw no one at mount 53.”[20]:39 Lucas, who had left the command bridge during the air attack and returned to assist Captain McGonagle immediately before a torpedo hit the ship,[20]:14 believed that the gunfire sound was likely from ammunition cooking off, due to a nearby fire.[20]:16 Prior to this time, after a torpedo hit the ship, Lucas had granted a request from Quintero to fire at the torpedo boats before heat from a nearby fire chased him from gun mount 53.[20]:26,27 (McGonagle later testified, at the Court of Inquiry, that this was likely the “extremely effective” firing event he had observed.[20]:49)

After coming under fire, Commander Oren repeatedly requested permission from naval headquarters to return fire, and chief naval controller Izzy Rahav finally approved.[citation needed] Shelling by the torpedo boats killed Liberty’s helmsman.[43] The torpedo boats then launched five torpedoes at the Liberty.[45] At 1235Z (2:35 local time)[43] a torpedo hit Liberty on the starboard side forward of the superstructure, creating a 40ft (12m) wide hole in what had been a former cargo hold converted to the ship’s research spaces and killing 25 servicemen, almost all of them from the intelligence section, and wounding dozens.[23][46] It has been said the torpedo hit a major hull frame that absorbed much of the energy; crew members reported that if the torpedo had missed the frame the Liberty would have split in two. Russian linguist and U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Bryce Lockwood later commented: “I would never deny that it was God that kept the Liberty afloat!”.[7] The other four torpedoes missed the ship.

The torpedo boats then closed in and strafed the ship’s hull with their cannons and machine guns.[citation needed] According to some crewmen, the torpedo boats fired at damage control parties and sailors preparing life rafts for launch. (See disputed details below.) A life raft which floated from the ship was picked up by T-203 and found to bear US Navy markings. T-204 then circled Liberty, and Oren spotted the designation GTR-5, but saw no flag.[citation needed] It took until 3:30pm to establish the ship’s identity. Shortly before the Liberty’s identity was confirmed, the Saratoga launched eight aircraft armed with conventional weapons towards Liberty. After the ship’s identity was confirmed, the General Staff was notified and an apology was sent to naval attach Castle. The aircraft approaching Liberty were recalled to the Saratoga.[23]

According to transcripts of intercepted radio communications, published by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), at about 2:30pm, near the beginning of the torpedo boat attack, two IAF helicopters were dispatched to Liberty’s location. The helicopters arrived at about 3:10pm, about 35 minutes after a torpedo hit the ship. After arriving, one of the helicopter pilots was asked, by his ground-based controller, to verify that the ship was flying an American flag. The helicopters conducted a brief search for crew members of the ship who may have fallen overboard during the air attack. No one was found. The helicopters left the ship at about 3:20pm.

At about 4pm, two hours after the attack began, Israel informed the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv that its military forces had mistakenly attacked a U.S. Navy ship. When the ship was “confirmed to be American” the torpedo boats returned at about 4:40pm to offer help;[47] it was refused by the Liberty. Later, Israel provided a helicopter to fly U.S. naval attach Commander Castle to the ship.[48] (pp.32,34)

In Washington, President Lyndon B. Johnson had received word from the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Liberty had been torpedoed by an unknown vessel at 9:50am eastern time. Johnson assumed that the Soviets were involved, and hotlined Moscow with news of the attack and the dispatch of jets from Saratoga. He chose not to make any public statements and delegated this task to Phil G. Goulding, who was an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs at a time.[49]

Soon afterward, the Israelis said that they had mistakenly attacked the ship. The Johnson administration conveyed “strong dismay” to Israeli ambassador Avraham Harman. Meanwhile, apologies were soon sent by Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Foreign Minister Abba Eban, and charg d’affaires Efraim Evron. Within 48 hours, Israel offered to compensate the victims and their families.[42]

Though Liberty was severely damaged, with a 39ft wide by 24ft high (12 m x 7.3 m) hole and a twisted keel, her crew kept her afloat, and she was able to leave the area under her own power. Liberty was later met by the destroyers USS Davis and USS Massey, and the cruiser USS Little Rock. Medical personnel were transferred to Liberty, and she was escorted to Malta, where she was given interim repairs. After these were completed in July 1967, Liberty returned to the U.S. She was decommissioned in June 1968 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register. Liberty was transferred to United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) in December 1970 and sold for scrap in 1973.

From the start, the response to Israeli statements of mistaken identity ranged between frank disbelief and unquestioning acceptance within the administration in Washington. A communication to the Israeli Ambassador on 10 June, by Secretary Rusk stated, among other things: “At the time of the attack, the USS Liberty was flying the American flag and its identification was clearly indicated in large white letters and numerals on its hull. … Experience demonstrates that both the flag and the identification number of the vessel were readily visible from the air…. Accordingly, there is every reason to believe that the USS Liberty was identified, or at least her nationality determined, by Israeli aircraft approximately one hour before the attack. … The subsequent attack by the torpedo boats, substantially after the vessel was or should have been identified by Israeli military forces, manifests the same reckless disregard for human life.”[50]

George Lenczowski notes: “It was significant that, in contrast to his secretary of state, President Johnson fully accepted the Israeli version of the tragic incident.” He notes that Johnson himself only included one small paragraph about the Liberty in his autobiography,[51] in which he accepted the Israeli explanation of “error”, but also minimized the whole affair and distorted the actual number of dead and wounded, by lowering them from 34 to 10 and 171 to 100, respectively. Lenczowski further states: It seems Johnson was more interested in avoiding a possible confrontation with the Soviet Union, …than in restraining Israel.[52]

McGonagle received the Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. medal, for his actions.[53][54] The Medal of Honor is generally presented by the President of the United States in the White House,[54][55] but this time it was awarded at the Washington Navy Yard by the Secretary of the Navy in an unpublicized ceremony, breaking with established tradition.[54]

Other Liberty sailors received decorations for their actions during and after the attack, but most of the award citations omitted mention of Israel as the perpetrator. In 2009, however, a Silver Star awarded to crewmember Terry Halbardier, who braved machine-gun and cannon fire to repair a damaged antenna that restored the ship’s communications, in the award citation named Israel as the attacker.[56]

American inquiries, memoranda, records of testimony, and various reports involving or mentioning the Liberty attack include, but are not limited to, the following:

The U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry record contains testimony by fourteen Liberty crew members and five subject matter experts; exhibits of attack damage photographs, various messages and memoranda; and findings of fact. The testimony record reveals “a shallow investigation, plagued by myriad disagreements between the captain and his crew.”[57] As to culpability, “It was not the responsibility of the court to rule on the culpability of the attackers, and no evidence was heard from the attacking nation”, the court concluded that “available evidence combines to indicate … (that the attack was) a case of mistaken identity.” Additionally, the Court found that “heroism displayed by the Commanding Officer, officers and men of the Liberty was exceptional.”

The Joint Chief of Staff’s Report contains findings of fact related only to communication system failures associated with the Liberty attack. It was not concerned with matters of culpability, nor does it contain statements thereof.

The CIA Memoranda consist of two documents: one dated June 13, 1967, and the other dated June 21, 1967. The June 13 memorandum is an “account of circumstances of the attack … compiled from all available sources.” The June 21 memorandum is a point-by-point analysis of Israeli inquiry findings of fact. It concludes: “The attack was not made in malice toward the U.S. and was by mistake, but the failure of the IDF Headquarters and the attacking aircraft to identify the Liberty and the subsequent attack by torpedo boats were both incongruous and indicative of gross negligence.”

The Clark Clifford Report consists of a review of “all available information on the subject” and “deals with the question of Israeli culpability”, according to its transmittal memorandum. The report concludes: “The unprovoked attack on the Liberty constitutes a flagrant act of gross negligence for which the Israeli Government should be held completely responsible, and the Israeli military personnel involved should be punished.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony contains, as an aside matter during hearings concerning a foreign aid authorization bill, questions and statements from several senators and responses from then Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, about the Liberty attack. For the most part, the senators were dismayed about the attack, as expressed by Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper: “From what I have read I can’t tolerate for one minute that this [attack] was an accident.” Also, there was concern about obtaining more information about the attack, as expressed by Committee chairman J. William Fulbright: “We asked for [the attack investigation report] about two weeks ago and have not received it yet from Secretary Rusk. … By the time we get to it we will be on some other subject.” Secretary McNamara promised fast delivery of the investigation report (“…you will have it in four hours.”), and concluded his remarks by saying: “I simply want to emphasize that the investigative report does not show any evidence of a conscious intent to attack a U.S. vessel.”[58]

The House Armed Services Committee investigation report is titled, “Review of Department of Defense Worldwide Communications”. It was not an investigation focused on the Liberty attack; although, the committee’s report contains a section that describes communications flow involved with the Liberty incident.

The NSA History Report is, as its name connotes, a historical report that cited the U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry record, various military and government messages and memorandum, and personal interviews for its content. The report ends with a section entitled, “Unanswered Questions”, and provides no conclusion regarding culpability.

The Liberty Veterans Association (composed of veterans from the ship) states that U.S. congressional investigations and other U.S. investigations were not actually investigations into the attack, but rather reports using evidence only from the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, or investigations unrelated to culpability that involved issues such as communications. In their view, the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry is the only actual investigation on the incident to date. They say it was hastily conducted, in only 10 days, even though the court’s president, Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, said that it would take six months to conduct properly. The inquiry’s terms of reference were limited to whether any shortcomings on the part of the Liberty’s crew had contributed to the injuries and deaths that resulted from the attack.[59] According to the Navy Court of Inquiry’s record of proceedings, four days were spent hearing testimony: two days for fourteen survivors of the attack and several U.S. Navy expert witnesses, and two partial days for two expert U.S. Navy witnesses. No testimony was heard from Israeli personnel involved.

The National Archives in College Park, Maryland includes in its files on casualties from the Liberty copies of the original telegrams the Navy sent out to family members. The telegrams called the attack accidental. The telegrams were sent out June 9, the day before the Navy Court of Inquiry convened.

Two subsequent Israeli inquiry reports and an historical report concluded the attack was conducted because Liberty was confused with an Egyptian vessel and because of failures in communications between Israel and the U.S. The three Israeli reports were:

In the historical report, it was acknowledged that IDF naval headquarters knew at least three hours before the attack that the ship was “an electromagnetic audio-surveillance ship of the U.S. Navy” but concluded that this information had simply “gotten lost, never passed along to the ground controllers who directed the air attack nor to the crews of the three Israeli torpedo boats.”

The Israeli government said that three crucial errors were made: the refreshing of the status board (removing the ship’s classification as American, so that the later shift did not see it identified), the erroneous identification of the ship as an Egyptian vessel, and the lack of notification from the returning aircraft informing Israeli headquarters of markings on the front of the hull (markings that would not be found on an Egyptian ship). As a common root of these problems, Israel blamed the combination of alarm and fatigue experienced by the Israeli forces at that point of the war when pilots were severely overworked.

After conducting his own fact-finding inquiry and reviewing evidence, Judge Yerushalmi’s decision was: “I have not discovered any deviation from the standard of reasonable conduct which would justify committal of anyone for trial.” In other words, he found no negligence by any IDF member associated with the attack.

Some intelligence and military officials dispute Israel’s explanation.[63]

Dean Rusk, U.S. Secretary of State at the time of the incident, wrote:

I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.[64]

Retired naval Lieutenant Commander James Ennes, a junior officer (and off-going Officer of the Deck) on Liberty’s bridge at the time of the attack, authored a book titled Assault on the Liberty describing the incident during the Six Day War in June 1967 and saying, among other things, that the attack was deliberate.[65] Ennes and Joe Meadors, also survivors of the attack, run a website about the incident.[66] Meadors states that the classification of the attack as deliberate is the official policy of the USS Liberty Veterans Association,[67] to which survivors and other former crew members belong. Other survivors run several additional websites. Citing Ennes’s book, Lenczowski notes: Liberty’s personnel received firm orders not to say anything to anybody about the attack, and the naval inquiry was conducted in such a way as to earn it the name of “coverup”.[52]

In 2002, Captain Ward Boston, JAGC, U.S. Navy, senior counsel for the Court of Inquiry, said that the Court of Inquiry’s findings were intended to cover up what was a deliberate attack by Israel on a ship that the Israelis knew to be American. In 2004, in response to the publication of A. Jay Cristol’s book The Liberty Incident, which Boston said was an “insidious attempt to whitewash the facts”, Boston prepared and signed an affidavit in which he said that Admiral Kidd had told him that the government ordered Kidd to falsely report that the attack was a mistake, and that Boston and Kidd both believed the attack was deliberate.[68] On the issue Boston wrote, in part:

The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others, was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew. Each evening, after hearing testimony all day, we often spoke our private thoughts concerning what we had seen and heard. I recall Admiral Kidd repeatedly referring to the Israeli forces responsible for the attack as ‘murderous bastards.’ It was our shared belief, based on the documentary evidence and testimony we received first hand, that the Israeli attack was planned and deliberate, and could not possibly have been an accident.

Cristol wrote about Boston’s professional qualifications and integrity, on page 149 of his book:

Boston brought two special assets in addition to his skill as a Navy lawyer. He had been a naval aviator in World War II and therefore had insight beyond that of one qualified only in the law. Also, Kidd knew him as a man of integrity. On an earlier matter Boston had been willing to bump heads with Kidd when Boston felt it was more important to do the right thing than to curry favor with the senior who would write his fitness report.

Cristol believes that Boston is not telling the truth about Kidd’s views and any pressure from the U.S. government.[69] Cristol, who also served as an officer of the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General, suggests that Boston was responsible in part for the original conclusions of the Court of Inquiry and, that by later declaring that they were false, Boston has admitted to “lying under oath.” Cristol also notes that Boston’s statements about pressure on Kidd were hearsay, and that Kidd was not alive to confirm or deny them. He also notes that Boston did not maintain, prior to his affidavit and comments related to it, that Kidd spoke of such instructions to Boston or to others. Finally, Cristol provides a handwritten 1991 letter from Admiral Kidd[70] that, according to Cristol, “suggest that Ward Boston has either a faulty memory or a vivid imagination”.

The Anti-Defamation League supports Cristol’s opinion:

… according to his own account, Boston’s evidence of a cover-up derives not from his own part in the investigation but solely on alleged conversations with Admiral Kidd, who purportedly told him he was forced to find that the attack was unintentional. Kidd died in 1999 and there is no way to verify Boston’s statements. However, Cristol argues that the ‘documentary record’ strongly indicated that Kidd ‘supported the validity of the findings of the Court of Inquiry to his dying day.'[71]

According to James Ennes, however, Admiral Kidd urged Ennes and his group to keep pressing for an open congressional probe.[72]

The following arguments, found in official reports or other sources, were published to support that the attack was due to mistaken identity:

Several books and the BBC documentary USS Liberty: Dead in the Water argued that Liberty was attacked in order to prevent the U.S. from knowing about the forthcoming attack in the Golan Heights, which would violate a cease-fire to which Israel’s government had agreed.[75] However, Syria did not accept the cease fire until 9 June, after the attack on Liberty.[76] Russian author Joseph Daichman, in his book History of the Mossad, states Israel was justified in attacking the Liberty.[77] Israel knew that American radio signals were intercepted by the Soviet Union and that the Soviets would certainly inform Egypt of the fact that, by moving troops to the Golan Heights, Israel had left the Egyptian border undefended.[78]

Lenczowski notes that while the Israeli decision to “attack and destroy” the ship “may appear puzzling”, the explanation seems to be found in Liberty’s nature and its task to monitor communications on both sides in the war zone. He writes, “Israel clearly did not want the U.S. government to know too much about its dispositions for attacking Syria, initially planned for 8 June, but postponed for 24 hours. It should be pointed out that the attack on Liberty occurred on 8 June, whereas on 9 June at 3am, Syria announced its acceptance of the cease-fire. Despite this, at 7am, that is, four hours later, Israel’s minister of defense, Moshe Dayan, “gave the order to go into action against Syria.”[79] He further writes that timely knowledge of this decision and preparatory moves toward it “might have frustrated Israeli designs for the conquest of Syria’s Golan Heights” and, in the sense of Ennes’s accusations, provides “a plausible thesis that Israel deliberately decided to incapacitate the signals-collecting American ship and leave no one alive to tell the story of the attack.”[80]

U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Barbour, had reported on the day of the Liberty attack that he “would not be surprised” by an Israeli attack on Syria, and the IDF Intelligence chief told a White House aide then in Israel that “there still remained the Syria problem and perhaps it would be necessary to give Syria a blow.”[81]

The 1981 book Weapons by Russell Warren Howe says that Liberty was accompanied by the Polaris ballistic missile-armed Lafayette-class submarine USSAndrew Jackson, which filmed the entire episode through its periscope but was unable to provide assistance. According to Howe: “Two hundred feet below the ship, on a parallel course, was its ‘shadow’the Polaris strategic submarine Andrew Jackson, whose job was to take out all the Israeli long-range missile sites in the Negev if Tel Aviv decided to attack Cairo, Damascus or Baghdad. This was in order that Moscow would not have to perform this task itself and thus trigger World War Three.”[82]

James Bamford, a former ABC News producer, in his 2001 book Body of Secrets,[83] says Israel deliberately attacked Liberty to prevent the discovery of what he described as war crimes, including the killing of Egyptian prisoners of war by the IDF that he alleges was taking place around the same time in the nearby town of El-Arish.[84] However according to CAMERA his claim that 400 were executed has been cast into doubt since reporters present in the town claimed that there had in fact been a large battle and this was the main cause of casualties.[85] Bamford also claimed that eyewitness Gabi Bron had claimed he saw 150 people executed by Israeli troops at El-Arish.[83] However Gabi Bron claimed to have only seen 5 people executed by Israeli troops.[86][87]

The press release for the BBC documentary film Dead in the Water states that new recorded and other evidence suggests the attack was a “daring ploy by Israel to fake an Egyptian attack” to give America a reason to enter the war against Egypt. Convinced that the attack was real, President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson launched allegedly nuclear-armed aircraft targeted against Cairo from a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. The aircraft were recalled only just in time, when it was clear the Liberty had not sunk and that Israel had carried out the attack. An information source for the aircraft being nuclear-armed, James Ennes, later stated:

Although America could not send conventionally armed jets, reports still come in that four jet bombers were catapulted from the carrier America with nuclear bombs aboard. Even today there is no official confirmation of that launch and much high-level denial. A nuclear launch has been strongly denied by Secretary McNamara, Admiral Martin (now deceased), Admiral Geis (deceased), Admiral Moorer, and Americas skipper, Admiral David Engen (deceased) and others. Yet eyewitness reports persist. Clearly no such launch could have been intended for offensive purposes. Surely nuclear weapons would not have been used in defense of the USS Liberty.

It is clear that I was mistaken about the aircraft involved, as F4s do not carry nuclear weapons. Others tell me that the aircraft that were launched carried Bullpup missiles, which might easily be mistaken for nuclear bombs. And we learned much later that the USS America was involved in a nuclear weapons loading drill at the very time the ship learned of the attack on the Liberty and that this drill is one factor that delayed America’s response to our call for help. It is also possible that those were the weapons seen by our sources.

Also confusing this issue is an oral history report from the American Embassy in Cairo, now in the LBJ Library, which notes that the Embassy received an urgent message from Washington warning that Cairo was about to be bombed by US forces, presumably in mistaken retaliation for the USS Liberty attack. That strange message was never explained or cancelled.[88]

The video also provides hearsay evidence of a covert alliance of U.S. and Israel intelligence agencies.[89]

Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a critic of the official United States Government version of events, chaired a non-governmental investigation into the attack on the USS Liberty in 2003. The committee, which included former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia James E. Akins, held Israel to be culpable and suggested several theories for Israel’s possible motives, including the desire to blame Egypt and bring the U.S. into the Six Day War.[90]

According to John Loftus and Mark Aarons in their book, The Secret War Against the Jews, USS Liberty was attacked because the Israelis knew that Liberty’s mission was to monitor radio signals from Israeli troops and pass troop movement information to the Egyptians.[91][unreliable source?]

Within an hour of learning that the Liberty had been torpedoed, the director of the U.S. National Security Agency, LTG Marshall S. Carter, sent a message to all intercept sites requesting a special search of all communications that might reflect the attack or reaction. No communications were available. However, one of the airborne platforms, a U.S. Navy EC-121 aircraft that flew near the attacks from 2:30pm to 3:27pm, Sinai time (1230 to 1327 Z), had collected voice conversations between two Israeli helicopter pilots and the control tower at Hatzor Airfield following the attack on the Liberty.[92]

On 2 July 2003, the NSA released copies of the recordings made by the EC-121 and the resultant translations and summaries.[93] These revelations were elicited as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Florida bankruptcy judge and retired naval aviator Jay Cristol. Two linguists who were aboard the EC-121 when the recordings were made, however, said separately that at least two additional tapes were made that have been excluded from the NSA releases up to and including a 8 June 2007, release.[7]

English transcripts of the released tapes indicate that Israel still spoke of hitting an Egyptian supply ship even after the attack had stopped.[94][95] After the attack, the rescue helicopters are heard relaying several urgent requests that the rescuers ask the first survivor pulled out of the water what his nationality is, and discussing whether the survivors from the attacked ship will speak Arabic.[96]

A summary report of the NSA-translated tapes[97] indicates that at 1234Z Hatzor air control began directing two Israeli Air Force helicopters to an Egyptian warship, to rescue its crew: “This ship has now been identified as Egyptian.” The helicopters arrived near the ship at about 1303Z: “I see a big vessel, near it are three small vessels…” At 1308Z, Hatzor air control indicated concern about the nationality of the ship’s crew: “The first matter to clarify is to find out what their nationality is.” At 1310Z, one of the helicopter pilots asked the nearby torpedo boats’ Division Commander about the meaning of the ship’s hull number: “GTR5 is written on it. Does this mean something?” The response was: “Negative, it doesn’t mean anything.” At 1312Z, one of the helicopter pilots was asked by air control: “Did you clearly identify an American flag?” No answer appears in the transcript, but the air controller then says: “We request that you make another pass and check once more if this is really an American flag.” Again, no response appears in the transcript. At about 1314Z, the helicopters were directed to return home.

The NSA reported that there had been no radio intercepts of the attack made by the Liberty herself, nor had there been any radio intercepts made by the U.S. submarine USSAmberjack.

On 10 October 2003, The Jerusalem Post ran an interview with Yiftah Spector, one of the pilots who participated in the attack,[98] and thought to be the lead pilot of the first wave of aircraft. Spector said the ship was assumed to be Egyptian, stating that: “I circled it twice and it did not fire on me. My assumption was that it was likely to open fire at me and nevertheless I slowed down and I looked and there was positively no flag.” The interview also contains the transcripts of the Israeli communications about the Liberty. The journalist who transcribed the tapes for that article, Arieh O’Sullivan, later confirmed that “the Israeli Air Force tapes he listened to contained blank spaces.”[7]

The Liberty’s survivors contradict Spector. According to subsequently declassified NSA documents: “Every official interview of numerous Liberty crewmen gave consistent evidence that indeed the Liberty was flying an American flagand, further, the weather conditions were ideal to ensure its easy observance and identification.”[99]

On 8 June 2005, the USS Liberty Veterans Association filed a “Report of War Crimes Committed Against the U.S. Military, June 8, 1967” with the Department of Defense (DoD). They say Department of Defense Directive 2311.01E requires the Department of Defense to conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations contained in their report. DoD has responded that a new investigation will not be conducted since a Navy Court of Inquiry already investigated the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack.

As of 2006, the NSA has yet to declassify “boxes and boxes” of Liberty documents. Numerous requests under both declassification directives and the Freedom of Information Act are pending in various agencies including the NSA, Central Intelligence Agency, and Defense Intelligence Agency. “On 8 June 2007, the National Security Agency released hundreds of additional declassified documents on the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, a communications interception vessel, on 8 June 1967.”[100]

On 2 October 2007, The Chicago Tribune published a special report[7] into the attack, containing numerous previously unreported quotes from former military personnel with first-hand knowledge of the incident. Many of these quotes directly contradict the NSA’s position that it never intercepted the communications of the attacking Israeli pilots, saying that not only did transcripts of those communications exist, but also that it showed the Israelis knew they were attacking an American naval vessel.

Two diplomatic cables written by Avraham Harman, Israel’s ambassador in Washington, to Abba Eban Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, have been declassified by Israel and obtained from the Israel State Archive. The first cable, sent five days after the attack, informs Eban that a U.S. informant told him (Harman) that there was “clear proof that from a certain stage the pilot discovered the identity of the ship and continued the attack anyway.”[15] The second cable, sent three days later, added that the White House is “very angry” because “the Americans probably have findings showing that our pilots indeed knew that the ship was American.”[7]

Documents of the Israeli General Staff meetings, declassified in October 2008, show no discussion of a planned attack on an American ship.[101]

On 30 October 2014, Al Jazeera English broadcast a documentary film containing recent first-hand accounts by several survivors of the incident.[102]

Many of the events surrounding the attack are the subject of controversy:

We learned that the ship had been attacked in error by Israeli gunboats and aircraft. Ten men of the Liberty crew were killed and a hundred were wounded. This heartbreaking episode grieved the Israelis deeply, as it did us.

Survivors of the attack

Sources other than survivors

Coordinates: 312324N 332248E / 31.3900N 33.3800E / 31.3900; 33.3800


USS Liberty incident – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia