Issue 27: from doomsday ships to hellhole Mars
Killer robots, pandemic mistakes, Mars colonisation, tiny cars and atomic insanity
Welcome to this week’s issue of the Anti-Apocalyptus newsletter. Each week I send you five links about some of the most important challenges of our time such as climate change, weapons of mass destruction, emerging technologies, mass causes of death and great power wars. If you haven’t done so yet, feel free to subscribe at the button below, hit the heart button or share this email with anyone who could be interested.
Washington Post - Can Computer Algorithms Learn to Fight Wars Ethically?
An interesting overview over the US military’s programme to build autonomous, AI-based weaponry, and the ethical objections to it. It seems pretty clear the US military is going ahead with this, and putting billions of dollars behind autonomous weapons. At the same time, they don’t want to take anything off the table in the name of ethical standards. An arms race seems to be brewing.
The Atlantic - 5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating
Great column by Zeynep Tufekci about our mistakes in communicating and thinking about COVID-19. These mistakes include underestimating the virus in early 2020, but now also overcompensating in our strictness of certain measures, like when we shame people for going outside.
The Atlantic - Mars Is a Hellhole
Interesting essay by science journalist Shannon Stirone where she critiques Musk-esque ideas of using Mars as Earth 2.0. I can’t say I agree with her entirely, and she seems to mostly disagree with Musk’s style, rather than about the need for us to explore, and even place human habitats on Mars. Yet it’s still an interesting read.
Rest of World - The road to electric is filled with tiny cars
Cool article about small electric cars, about the size of a golf-cart, which are very popular in China. While carmakers like Tesla take a top-down view of electric cars, moving from luxury vehicles down, these cars move bottom up (and are disruptive in the sense Clayton Christensen meant it). They are cheap, and target sections of the market left aside by large automotive companies.
The Drive - There Were Doomsday Ships Ready To Ride Out Nuclear Armageddon Before There Were Doomsday Planes
Slightly scary article about historical plans of the US government to move the president aboard specifically equipped ‘doomsday ships’ once a nuclear war broke out. Right now this task is fulfilled by airplanes, but for a while ships were the vehicle of choice for US elites to survive a nuclear holocaust, and keep commanding the remainder of US forces once the country was flattened. A reminder of how crazy nuclear war really is.
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