by Justin Gardner
The developer of the world’s largest search engine is joining forces with the world’s largest military machine. It was announced this week that former Google CEO Eric Schmidt will be heading the Pentagon’s new Innovation Advisory Board.
“The Pentagon said the board would advise it on such Google-y topics as rapid prototyping, iterative product development, business analytics, mobile apps, and the cloud. In effect, the DoD seems to be asking Schmidt to help it become more streamlined, efficient, and, well, innovative.
Since its meteoric rise in the internet age, Google has reached technological capabilities that seem almost science-fiction. Their latest is a neural network with a “superhuman” ability to determine the location of almost any image. It has been argued that Google could rig the 2016 election just by adjusting their search algorithms.
The search giant’s immense collection of personal data amounts to its own surveillance network that likely rivals the best government spy program. The data sweep is not only online; Google’s Street View cars were caught collecting information from wi-fi hubs ranging from “people’s medical histories to their sexual preference to marital infidelity.”
Google has said that their collection of data, when used properly, advances the public well-being. This sounds eerily familiar to the propaganda campaign of intelligence officials defending the NSA’s domestic spying program and other intrusions of privacy revealed by Edward Snowden.
All of this makes the partnership between Schmidt and the U.S. military rather creepy. The Pentagon was given carte blanche after 9/11 to grow its own spy program and to kill anyone in the world at any time, including U.S. citizens. Can there be any expectation of restraint with this Innovation Advisory Board serving the interests of the military?
Julian Assange provided some perspective on the Google-Pentagon relationship:
“Wikileaks founder Julian Assange suggested that Google’s cozy relationship with both the US Defense and State Departments represents an existential threat to the utility of the Internet to the ordinary user.
Assange observed that “Google’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly enmeshed with the foreign policy agenda of the United States,” and he stated that, as Google’s monopolistic control of the Internet grows, the company will increasingly influence choices and behavior to steer outcomes in the favor of US and corporate interests.”
The 12-member Innovation Advisory Board will be handpicked by Schmidt and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Before this partnership was announced, Google had been dabbling in robotics and artificial intelligence on behalf of the Pentagon through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Google’s autonomous car is a result of this initiative.
If Eric Schmidt was serious when Google coined the slogan “Don’t be evil,” then his hookup with the Pentagon—the largest purveyor of violence in the world—may win the award for biggest example of hypocrisy.
In other news:
Legal weed proving to be far more effective at destroying cartels than the war on drugs
by Claire Bernish
The State’s War on Drugs has failed miserably on numerous levels — and one of the more obvious breakdowns has been its empowerment and enrichment of Mexican drug cartels. But there is good news: as cannabis slowly attains legal status in the United States, it’s killing the violent drug cartels’ business.
Marijuana seizures by the U.S. Border Patrol in the Southwest plummeted significantly, just in the past seven years — from 4 million pounds in 2009, to just 1.5 million pounds last year. This is also the lowest seizure total in a decade, according to Border Patrol statistics cited by the Washington Post.
Cannabis stands as one of the most medically beneficial — and recreationally harmless — plants in existence. Simply put, legal weed realistically only harms the illicit weed business.
Beginning with California’s implementation of medical marijuana law in 1996, an increasing number of states have seen the medicinal and profit-generating benefits legalization can create. Twenty-two states have allowed medical cannabis legalization to some degree, and Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington made the leap to allow recreational use and cultivation, with stunningly positive results.
This has severely curtailed the profitability of illicit Mexican cartel weed, which is largely considered lesser quality than cannabis grown in the U.S. and Canada.
“Mexican marijuana is deemed lowest on the totem pole and very few people who consider themselves aficionados or connoisseurs would admit to smoking it,” explained journalist Danny Vinkovetsky (pen name Danny Danko) of High Times to the Los Angeles Times. “It’s typically brown, pressed tightly together for transport, and full of seeds.
“Access to better quality American cannabis has led many to turn their backs on imports from Mexico and beyond.”
Indeed, as the legal U.S. market exploded from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion the following year, the cartel’s profit suffered corresponding losses.
“Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90,” explained a grower from the Mexican state of Sinaloa to NPR. “But now they’re paying us $30 to $4 0 a kilo. It’s a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they’ll run us into the ground.”
Interestingly, and perhaps in contradiction to mainstream narrative, Mexican cartels have begun smuggling cannabis from the United States into Mexico in an attempt to eke out the profits to which they are accustomed.
Mexico’s government followed the U.S.’ lead in the pernicious and notorious War on Drugs, which ultimately proved to be an all-out War on People from both sides of the border — as well as those around the world.
Those who continue to press for a war on arbitrary substances are slowly, but surely, being exposed as the negligent criminals they are.