Date: January 10 (overlapping till wednesday in some timezones)
Time: 2300-0000 CET, 2200-2300 GMT, 1400-1500 SLT (please always doublecheck!) (I am timezone dyslexic d’urrr)
SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/delinquent/30/185/87, Please don’t fall down after teleporting in, it’s a long fall.
Format: This is an RvB event. Make sure you understand the premises. This will be a non-voice event. I will be presenting a series of text-chat items and statements and may show slides. The format today is a presentation on my views and insights, and will be a bit less in the usual “versus” format.
Synopsis: In 2002, scientists at Stony Brook University recreated the polio virus from scratch based on its published genetic sequence. This was argued to be bad, because it would allow “bad people” (i.e. terrorists) to recombine the polio virus in “acts of terror”. Essentially, a terrorist these days is someone who uses these technologies for an opague, and often religious reason. Now when “hackers” want to place a satellite in a permanent orbit nobody wonders how this might have dangerous consequences. Now I am personally (even) less worried about satellites dumping lethal toxins or viruses on humanity from orbit, and us needing Roger Moore to save us, any more than I would be overly concerned for Nano-plagues of similar “Techno-escalatory” disasteres. Frankly, looking at the track record, mosquitoes cause more deaths than the one thing governments spend all the money on off late – terrorism. By a factor of thousand last time I checked, and they have for most of the Holocene. So humanity misattributes its priorities. But other than natural threats, the one thing causing a lot of deaths is by and large industrial corporate greed and governmental force projection itself.
In history there has always been once constant guarantee – when there is a power vacuum, someone will fill that vacuum first chance they get. In other words, when a party has a chance to develop an atom bomb (and soon after an H bomb) they will, because there is strategical benefit. And is clear from the ludicrous situation surrounding Iran; powers that have these weapons will do anything they can to disallow strategical competitors access to these weapons.
Since the 1950s humanity has had the ability to launch rockets in space. Since the 1960s we had the ability to put structures on the moon. So in essence the technological capability exists now to place structures in mostly unaccountable orbits and use these as threats against the planetary surface. This has been a main staple in lots of science fiction and detailed in many articles. There have been very detailed studies; Essentially the idea is such that if a force places large structures in a high orbit in space (preferably beyond the lagrange points), all programmed on automatic to attack surface targets by raining down from the sky – you wouldn’t even need nuclear weapons to cause considerable destruction.
In fact, a point can be made that the first ideological group, the first corporate faction or kartel, or the first national or transnational entity that enters space and creates a permanent industrial presence there can in theory dictate to the rest of the planet in pretty much unaccountable terms what to do, or face destruction, without the added side effect of radioactive contamination. In fact – an orbital bombardment with dense massive payloads (several ton balls of iron) could be directed very precisely, would have considerable bunker-busting capability, and would be able top destroy cities, decapacitate governments, flatten large or big areas (a rain of impactors or one bigger impactor). In fact, it only needs a stunningly modest space infrastructure to come to such threat.
This is essentially not much different from the threat exerted by nuclear weapons, with one added difference – such attacks would be a perfect force to spearhead an invasion and enslavement (total Japan WW2 style surrender or we keep bombarding) and it would also allow the most ruthless strategies of decimation – just annihilate any foreign population and occupy their land. Not much the people of Africa or South America or the Middle East can do about it if a unilateral space force of whatever origins bombarded these places for a few weeks. The destruction would be surgical, and eradication would be well in the 95% ranges or more.
We know from history that compassion has never been a very solid argument to keep invaders out. Power allows conquest, retaliation disallows it. In fact I can argue that the last decades the US has been projecting an absurd and out of bounds force over the world (sans over Russia, Europe and China, i.e. other nuclear powers) and has unmercifully exploited that power. You don’t even need to use the nuclear sword; the vague allusion of threat is far sufficient to bring everyone in to compliance. Nobody on the other side wants to risk their genetic line utterly eradicated by such indiscriminate destruction.
With orbital bombardment there will not be a symmetric retaliation. Like in the Dystopian Cyberpunk novel Hardwired, the setting assumes that some shady criminal and corporate entities band together and get in space first – and then proceed to bomb the shit out of the utterly clueless planetary surface. As in “we didn’t see that coming“.
Right now we are in a geopolitical, industrial, military and demographic stalemate the likes has never been seen before on this planet. This stalemate WILL be broken eventually, a few decades down the road by a whole range of negative developments, of which resource depletion, ageing populations, climate collapse, overpopulation, technological unemployment, and a host of other issues will be on the list; But also artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, genetic recombination, ubiquitous robotization, and a host of other technologies will topple existing power balances.
But today I argue that if the current powers in charge want to completely change the geopolitical landscape, only one needs to put the industrial capacity in space to construct a few dozen massive large impactors, and a few hundred smaller impactors. I believe that such an undertaking is well within the range of the United States and Russia to do within several years, and it is possible for China to do in a decade. And if they can, they can do it fairly suddenly – just start launching rockets in a secret program, one after another, construct the HEO facilities and once the structure is in place, bam, there is a new geopolitical order. If China would be there first it would have a credible first, middle and last strike capability far beyond any nuclear deterrent the US can ever hope to launch. A ran of steel bolts from the sky wipe away nuclear submarines as surely as ICBMs as surely as the chain of lifeblood oil tankers.
Or as George H. Bush would have said, waving up in to the sky, a new world order, with “a thousand points of light”.
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