Generals Warn That U.S. Security Is at Stake In Race for New Energy Superiority

Failure to adopt new energy technologies will hurt America’s chances to help slow climate change. It may also jeopardize U.S. global power and security.

“If we don’t want to necessarily repeat a lot of the tough lessons of the last 40 to 50 years,” said retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Richard Zilmer. “Better to plan now and get ahead of that—and control the process—than react to it.”

The quest for cleaner and more efficient energy systems is already forging new trade ties and, consequently, political relationships, according to a report by Zilmer and 14 other former high-ranking military officials. Ultimately, those ties will bring “dramatic changes in global spheres of influence,” they wrote. China and European Union members are steering their economies into “the vanguard of manufacturing” and commerce, with the U.S. showing little competitive vision.

“Ceding U.S. leadership here has inherent national security risk,” the authors, part of the CNA Military Advisory Board, warn, “including loss of global influence and diplomatic leverage, as well as forgone economic opportunities.”

Dismissing multiple decades of research into manmade climate change has been a common theme among Republicans who control Congress and now the White House. Dismissing market forces that push nations and industries to clean up while becoming more energy efficient, however, is another thing. The CNA report doesn’t mention “climate change” or “global warming,” but it makes clear that ignoring these market signals carries ominous implications for U.S. economic and national security.

The report, called Advanced Energy and U.S. National Security [pdf], is the seventh analysis put out in 10 years by the nonprofit research group’s advisory board. Initiated in 2015, the study was led by 14 U.S. generals and admirals and a retired British Royal Navy rear admiral.

By “advanced energy,” the authors mean technologies that make energy more accessible, cleaner, and safer—namely renewables, batteries, nuclear, hydropower, and efficiency. Coined in 2011 with the launch of the clean-energy U.S. business network Advanced Energy Economy, the phrase has a euphemistic quality that shields the analysis from sounding like a clean-energy scouting report.

Leading researchers on whether AI is near or far… great read
Artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly, and its impact on our daily lives will only increase. Today, there are still many things humans can do that computers can’t. But will it always be that way? Should we worry about a future in which the capabilities of machines rival those of humans across the board? For IEEE Spectrum’s June 2017 special issue, we asked a range of technologists and visionaries to weigh in on what the future holds for AI and brainlike computing.

Deep thinking…
Garry Kasparov is arguably the greatest chess player of all time. From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, he was ranked world No 1. He is also a leading human rights activist and is probably close to the top of Vladimir Putin’s hitlist, not least because he tried to run against him for the Russian presidency in 2007. But for people who are interested only in technology, Kasparov is probably best known as the first world champion to be beaten by a machine. In 1997, in a famous six-game match with the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue, he lost 3½-2½.

The passage of time has mellowed Kasparov and his reflections on the match and its outcome are more thoughtful, measured and insightful than I had expected from the opening chapters of the book. His initial thoughts about the implications of AI seemed banal and predictable. “Romanticising the loss of jobs to technology,” he writes on page 42, “is little better than complaining that antibiotics put too many gravediggers out of work.” The transfer of labour from humans to our inventions “is nothing less than the history of civilisation”. And the early Kasparov sounds like a technological determinist on steroids. “Even if it were possible to mandate slowing down the development and implementation of intelligent machines,” he writes, “it would only ease the pain for a few for a little while and make the situations worse for everyone in the long run.” And so on.

Yet by the end of the book, he has arrived at a more enlightened view of machine intelligence than most people in the tech industry, who are obsessed with machines that will replace people. Kasparov was an early enthusiast for chess-playing computers and indeed did much to foster the technology that enables every child nowadays to learn to play against a grandmaster-level virtual opponent. In the end, the technology he inspired defeated him. But the message he bears is that the really intelligent approach is not to rail against the machine for being better than we are at some things, but to celebrate its capacity to augment our human capabilities. And therein lies the beginning of wisdom in these matters.
• Deep Thinking by Garry Kasparov is published by John Murray (£20). To order a copy for £17 go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99

Disruptions to come. More study…
We are on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions of transportation in history. By 2030, within 10 years of regulatory approval of autonomous vehicles (AVs), 95% of U.S. passenger miles traveled will be served by on-demand autonomous electric vehicles owned by eets, not individuals, in a new business model we call “transport- as-a-service” (TaaS). The TaaS disruption will have enormous implications across the transportation and oil industries, decimating entire portions
of their value chains, causing oil demand and prices to plummet, and destroying trillions of dollars in investor value — but also creating trillions of dollars in new business opportunities, consumer surplus and GDP growth.
The disruption will be driven by economics. Using TaaS, the average American family will save more than $5,600 per year in transportation costs, equivalent to a wage raise of 10%. This will keep an additional $1 trillion
per year in Americans’ pockets by 2030, potentially generating the largest infusion of consumer spending in history.

Technology is making the world more unequal. Only technology can fix thisCory Doctorow (so good)

Designing systems on the assumption they’ll never fail doesn’t give you good systems, it gives you the Titanic. Smart engineers know entropy isn’t just a good idea, it’s the (second) law (of thermodynamics) and plan accordingly, designing systems that glide to a graceful halt when they go wrong – rather than exploding in a cloud of white-hot shrapnel.

Should we fear AI?

Great read!
AI has the special property that it’s easy to imagine scary science fiction scenarios in which artificial minds grab control of all the machines on Earth, and enslave its pitiful human population. That’s not very likely, but there is a real concern that AI’s will gain the ability to perform certain tasks without we humans having any real idea how they are doing them. … That raises the prospect of unintended consequences in a serious way.
It is absolutely right to think very carefully and thoroughly about what those consequences might be, and how we might guard against them, without preventing real progress on improved artificial intelligence. — Sean Carroll, cosmology and physics professor, the California Institute of Technology

AI will likely get rid of a lot of jobs
I am worried about the impact on employment as more and more niches are filled by technology. (I don’t see AI as fundamentally different from so many other technologies — the borders are arbitrary.) Will we be able to adapt by inventing new jobs, particularly in the service sector and in the human face of bureaucracy? Or will we have to pay people to not work? — Julian Togelius, computer science professor, New York University

AI is not going to kill us or enslave us. It will eliminate some jobs rather more rapidly than we know how to deal with. Some of the pinch will be coming to white-collar workers too. Eventually we’ll adjust, but the transitions resulting from major technological changes are typically not as easy as we would like. — Tyler Cowen, economics professor, George Mason University
How to get ready for AI
There are issues society needs to prepare for. One key issue is how to prepare for significantly reduced employment due to future AI technology being able to handle much of routine work. In addition, instead of concerns about AI being “too smart” for us, the initial rollout of AI technologies more likely poses a concern in terms of not being as smart as people think such technology will be.

Early autonomous AI systems will likely make mistakes that most humans would not make. It’s therefore important for society to be educated about the limits and implicit hidden biases of AI and machine learning methods. — Bart Selman, computer science professor, Cornell University

Robotics and developing countries job loss

 There is a lot of work being done on this right now. Undoubtedly our economic future will be changed by robotics and AI. Jobs will be lost and created.  My question is this:  The google AI that recently won the Go tournament, while an apparent genius at the ancient game, did it know it was playing a game called Go?  

Sentience is what it does not have. A chainsaw is much better at cutting things than a human –but does the chainsaw know it is cutting anything? It is my contention that until AI are sentient they will create more jobs than they destroy. 

Big read. Huge implications. 

This is fantastic work. It is worth reading because it’s wrestling with issues that most of the economics profession is too vain/conservative to acknowledge. I fear the author makes $100 worth of arguments out of $80 worth of theory and $50 worth of data. But we know that technology is deflationary, we just do not know to what extent.
The accelerating pace and diffusion of technological change has taken control of an ever-growing fraction of the world economy. This fraction is being assimilated into a different set of economic fundamentals, such as the rapid and exponential price deflation inherent to technology. The effect of this was insignificant until recently, but is now beginning to create conspicuous distortions in many economic metrics, and is just years from being the dominant force across the entire economy. 

In response to technological deflation, the central banks of the world will have to create new money in perpetuity, increasing the stream at an exponentially rising rate much higher than is currently assumed. This now-permanent need for monetary expansion, if embraced, can fund government spending more directly. This in turn creates a very robust, dynamic, and efficient safety net for citizens, while simultaneously reducing and even eliminating most forms of taxation by 2025. 
Failure to recognize that technological deflation mandates permanent and ever-rising central bank monetary expansion that can and should gradually become the primary source of government spending will precipitate a major financial crisis starting as soon as 2017. 

The nature of current worldwide technology is to link various disruptions with each other, consume monetary liquidity to generate deflation, and lower the effective prices of most goods and services over time. Therefore, the entirety of worldwide technology has to be seen as a holistic economic entity, and can be defined as the ‘Accelerating TechnOnomic Medium’, or ‘ATOM’.
13. Conclusion
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.

– Plato

When a wise man points to the stars, an imbecile criticizes the finger.

– Confucius (modified)

This book is the culmination of years of observations in combination with some proprietary research across different fields. The process of shaping these ideas involved deep immersion on both ends of the political spectrum, as well as in many alternative ideologies across fragmented parts of the Internet. I have had to adopt various online personas and wade through swamps of fanatics and mentally ill people, pretending for years to have views that I actually do not hold in real life, to find the occasional genius who delivers one profound sentence after another. Then the same had to be done in the opposing ideological camp. The process of creating transformative new knowledge is a messy one, full of many dead ends, distractions, and dances with lunatics. From this process, I hope this research has given rise to material that starts a trickle that grows into a stream, and later into a mighty river.


The accelerating rate of technological change, while previously a topic of interest only to futurists and related technophiles, is now at a stage where insufficient awareness has tangible costs to individuals.
Economic growth, which has always been closely pegged to technological progress, has similarly been accelerating through centuries of data, and we are now entering a steep trajectory for the trendline, indeed the ‘knee of the curve’.

The world economy has been underperforming for years, with growth rates continuing to register well below the aforementioned trendline rates. This is due to the silent suppressive effect of some outdated policies and macroeconomic assumptions.

Technological deflation, while easily accepted when one is a shopper for a new computer, is almost entirely ignored by macroeconomists, even as effects of this deflation on economic data are pervasive and rising.

Technological disruptions across disparate areas are all interconnected with each other, and mutually reinforcing. There is a fixed but rising amount of aggregate disruption that is underway at any given time, in accordance with the accelerating rate of technological change. These first five bullet points effectively describe what we define as the ‘ATOM’.

Monetary expansion by central banks has served to merely offset the accelerating deflation that technology is generating across the economy. This deflation is international in nature, and so is most monetary expansion, no matter which country originates a particular expansion program.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be able to move many types of productive output into tax-free locations, eroding the tax base of high-tax locations. The borderless and untaxable nature of AI will effectively tighten the screws on nations and jurisdictions that tax productive output excessively.

Excessive fear of inflation, and assuming that even 3% inflation is high, has led to a chronic decline in Nominal GDP. This is a source of many types of malaise in the economies of wealthy countries that ‘Real’ GDP will not detect, and is constricting the rate of technological progress and productivity gains.

The ATOM will react to ensure technological progress reverts to the trendline rate, bypassing or toppling obstacles such as inadequate fiscal, monetary, and regulatory policies in the process. This will begin to happen in around 2017 or so, and may be at a speed far too rapid for many governments to react to.

Barring the pre-emptive adoption of the technology-friendly monetary policies recommended here, another major financial crisis and deep recession will commence by around 2017. Existing methods of monetary expansion will prove ineffective, causing great fear and doom-centric commentary. In reality, the solution to the problem is elegant, simple, and ushers in a new era of rapid growth.

Central bank monetary expansion has to be made permanent as a policy, and openly declared as such. There can no longer be one-off programs tied to an assumption that each one is the final round of Quantitative Easing. Assets stored on central bank balance sheets can never be sold back into the market, so the balance sheets themselves are moot.

Monetary expansion has to be of a direct, diffuse nature. Current methods of bond-buying used by the US Federal Reserve are well into the point of diminishing returns, and end up concentrating the QE in very few hands. The only real discussion and analysis should be about the rate of annual increases. The US Federal Reserve has not yet been granted this power by the US Congress, which restricts the Fed’s ability to do what is necessary.

Monetary expansion has to rise at a compounded rate of 16-24% a year, possibly higher, to offset technological deflation and keep the Wu-Xia Shadow Rate in step with the size of the deflationary force. Current patterns of monetary expansion and the absence of inflation already supply the data to support this conclusion.

Since most government spending in the US and similarly advanced nations constitutes direct payments to individuals, these payments should be formalized into a Direct Universal Exponential Stipend (DUES) that is paid equally to all citizens, and is funded by this central bank monetary expansion.

This DUES constitutes a dynamic and rapidly strengthening safety net, as well as a catalyst for entrepreneurship. Unlike negative interest rates, this does not punish savers, and is more scalable in accordance with accelerating technological deflation.

Federal income taxes can be phased out gradually and systematically, with all Federal government spending covered by monetary expansion, which itself is mostly the DUES.

This sort of reform taking current levels of technological progress and the associated deflation into account to create tax, monetary, and regulatory policies far more favorable to entrepreneurship transcends both socialism and capitalism. It is also the only way to harness disruptive technologies, such as AI, into a vehicle of broadly increased human prosperity.

The US is not going to be the first nation to transition to such a new policy era, and certainly not before the next crisis. Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, and Switzerland are more suitable candidates to be the first countries to reform in favor of 21st century economic forces.

Few individuals, even if they work in the technology industry, have trained themselves to think like an active part of the ATOM. This mindset can be very profitable once adopted, and will become one of the core skillsets that an adult needs to have in order to prosper.

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