Weaponized AI propaganda threatens a new global war

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By Daniel Pinchbeck

Travelling through Europe, promoting my new book How Soon Is Now, it has been fascinating to absorb people’s reactions to the political turmoil in the United States. For older people here, the parallels to the rise of Fascism are obvious. Hitler was also thought to be an absurd and ludicrous figure when he took power. As commentators in the mainstream media have noted, following the authoritarian playbook, we must be concerned that some form of domestic terrorist attack in the near future will be used as pretext for a suspension of civil rights and imposition of martial law. War is also a likelihood. It is great to see the development of a mass movement of resistance, yet many worry this won’t be sustainable over the gruelling months and years ahead.

Donald Trump’s top strategist Steve Bannon (C) hailed Satan (L), Darth Vader (R) and Dick Cheney as standard bearers of power

As this article reveals, the Extreme Right won the election by using sophisticated psychological profiling to target messages to people via Facebook, Google, and other Internet platforms. On Facebook, I have been startled to encounter many people who seem suddenly possessed by an extremist mindset. It feels as if the United States has been taken over by a collective psychosis, caught under a sorcerer’s spell. Steve Bannon – aka “Darth Vader,” “Satan” – seems to be one mastermind behind this. They are using data mining, AI and bots to exploit gaps in individual psychologies and in the collective Psyche, sowing fear, doubt, hate, and confusion. This is likely to get much worse, quickly, without an equally powerful media opposition that applies the same tools for different ends. So far, I don’t see the progressive community uniting in opposition and defining a strategy.

As all of this unfolds, I find it an extraordinary moment for my book to be coming out. The US publication date is one month after Trump’s inauguration. How Soon Is Now? offers a systemic alternative to the current direction of our global civilization. As I explore in the book, reforms to the political and economic systems would not have been enough, in any case, to deal with the ecological mega-crisis we have unleashed. We need a new vision, a new myth, and a new operating system for human society. I believe this can happen in a peaceful way – by superseding the current system with a better one – and there are many efforts and experiments being made in this direction.

You can read excerpts from How Soon Is Now? in EcoHustlerUpliftConnect, and Reality Sandwich. Please also buy a copy – preferably at your local independent bookstore, or via Amazon. I also launched a new How Soon Is Now? podcast on iTunes. In March, I will be touring across the US. You can check out the schedule at howsoonisnow.info. I hope to see you on the road!

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