Robobees, What’s Next By Brian Simpson

     Sure, technology will solve every problem, because, well, humans don’t have original sin (and even if they did technology, especially IT would solve that one). Don’t you believe one word of it. With bee populations continuing to collapse from Colony collapse disorder, scientists have done what scientists do best, not attempt to solve the root cause of the problem, but give a high tech duct tape solution:

“Fleets of robobees could now be deployed if natural populations continue to collapse. A leading expert told the world’s biggest science conference the technology is now here to programme bee-sized drones to pollinate crops. Japanese scientists have developed a remotely controlled drone the size of a dragonfly which was able to pollinate lilies. US scientists have also joined the technology race developing a robobee about half the size and able to flat 120 times a second. Prof Shashi Shekhar is one of the world’s leading experts in state-of-the-art mapping and said robotic swarms could be the answer to catastrophic food shortages.”

     So, rather than take the warning signal that there is something drastically wrong with Big Agri’s use of chemicals, the idea will be to simply replace segments of the ecosystem with machines. Bees drop out, use drones. Birds die, use drones. People die, use robots. This cannot end well. Science and technology have become sacred cows, modern forms of magic, uncritically used to deliver the goods for capitalism. In terms of a cost benefit analysis, which is never conducted, there is a strong case that the modern Dr Frankenstein’s are set to destroy us. Certainly there is no democratic control of science and technology, and as the late philosopher Paul Feyerabend argued, and given the dangers of science and technology, this needs to be so: 

     Just imagine if all of these flying robot bees suddenly developed an IT version of colony collapse disorder, and started attacking everything. Sounds like science fiction, but that is the world our techno-utopians have given us.

     This is the “paradox of progress,” as  Brett Stevens has recently observed: 

     He illustrates this “paradox” with the example of diesel fumes:

“Thousands of people die prematurely each year in Germany from the harmful effects of nitrogen dioxide, a gas that’s produced by diesel engines, according to a government-sponsored report published Thursday.
The study commissioned by the Federal Office for the Environment concluded that almost 6,000 people died prematurely in 2014 from illnesses that are known to be caused or aggravated by nitrogen dioxide, or NO2.
…Still, it found the disease burden was up to 50 percent higher in areas with significant NO2 levels than in those areas where emissions were below the study threshold. We cannot criticize diesel because, after all, the goodies that we consume show up on diesel trucks.

If we were to abandon diesel, much of our economy would collapse. Everything would get more difficult. And yet, diesel exhaust seems to be carcinogenic among other things: In studies of cells done in lab dishes, diesel exhaust (as soot or chemical extracts) has been found to cause changes in the cells’ DNA. These types of changes are usually needed for cancer to develop, although not all substances that cause DNA changes also cause cancer. Several studies have found that long-term, heavy exposure to diesel exhaust can cause lung cancer in lab animals such as rats. When popularity rules, only false causes become public enemies. The actual threats are concealed and ignored because they are unpopular. And so we waste our energy on fake dangers, and when the time comes to act on the real ones, we are exhausted and do nothing.”

     Add that one to our list of woes as well.

China and African Colonialism By James Reed
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