Future of Healthcare, Digital Ethiopia+China & Global Technocracy
Aly Alexandra & Sebs Solomon — August 26, 2021
The healthcare system in the United States, thanks to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services or CMS, is pushing to continue moving towards Value-Based Healthcare, which is (insufficiently) described as a model where hospitals and physicians are paid based on patient health outcomes. Even in the current Medicare for All Act of 2021 (H.R.1976) endorsed by the “progressives” in Congress, Sec.501 states that “all standards and quality measures under this Act shall be performed by the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS].” And if CMS is in charge of measuring the quality of services, it will undoubtedly be a value-based healthcare system. While this push began in 2010 with the Obama Administration, it has recently come back into the spotlight under Joe Biden. For the record, this is not an endorsement of Trump’s solution to healthcare either because he had no qualms with CMS. In fact, according to the CMS administrator, Seema Verma, President Trump “made it clear that he [wanted] to protect and strengthen Medicare.” Furthermore, it was under the Trump administration when Seema Verma wrote an article exclaiming how committed she was to:
Using every tool at [her] disposal to move [the] healthcare system towards value-based care. This is not only a priority for CMS, but under the leadership of Secretary Azar and President Trump, the entire administration is aligned towards achieving this goal.
Given that millions of Americans are already on Medicare or Medicaid, it’s safe to assume that the Biden Administration has plans to salvage and expand what is left of Obamacare. While this might not be the most glamorous topic, it is one of vital importance because there are several issues at hand regarding reforming healthcare and many supporters of Medicare for All are silent or unaware of these problems. What are the measures and quality standards that frame the Medicare system? Who decides those quality measures? What will the roles of AI, technology, and data collection have in determining healthcare plans moving forward? What role does public health play in terms of managing population health and how will that play into patient-centered care? What are the metrics and measures that outline how someone is evaluated based on their health? There are many questions that need to be addressed before moving forward with any type of substantial healthcare reform. Only then can we truly understand how industries like healthcare and wellness actually work — and why the notion of Universal Health Care may not be as utopic as it appears.
In our current society, the ones who have the most to lose from actual social and structural change are the ones in charge of designing and implementing those very changes. Worse yet, the current leaders in government, healthcare, education, non-profits, and big business have taken the “value-based” approach and applied it to almost everything imaginable, while their motives remain the same: profit and control.
Harvard Business meets Healthcare
“Pay for Success” (PFS) models reward hospitals and doctors for their performance, rather than their services. While previous models of healthcare incentivized hospitals and doctors to provide “unnecessary procedures” in order to make as much money as possible from patients or Medicare/Medicaid, PFS models largely stemmed from the Affordable Care Act that passed in 2010 (also known as Obamacare). Rather than address the costs themselves, business consultants and financial gurus were brought into the Obama Administration to address the issue of healthcare costs. One of the leaders during this time, though not directly affiliated with Obama — was Harvard Business School Professor, Michael Porter. Together with Dr. Thomas Lee, Chief Medical Officer at Press Ganey (healthcare services company), they developed a new way to look at healthcare — through a business lens; which gave birth to Value-Based Healthcare: a restructured healthcare delivery model that is organized, measured, and reimbursed. You can read more about the general idea behind value agendas via McKinsey.
Similar to the ideas behind “Pay for Success” or impact investing, VBH (value-based healthcare) relies on multiple stakeholders for funding, implementation, and data collection. Utilizing “data-driven, evidence-based” approaches to healthcare confine the terms and conditions to a set of rules that are generally picked by the same people running the whole program. According to Michael Porter, VBH produces “better” outcomes because:
The way most health care systems are set up, the business model is to offer as much service as possible. That may foster inappropriate care and unnecessary and costly procedures. Concentrating on the best procedures based on clinical studies may be a better approach and one of the most powerful vehicles for lowering health care costs.
Moreover, this permits access and communication “among all involved parties, including with patients….architecture that allows easy extraction of outcome measures, process measures, and activity-based cost measures for each patient and medical condition.”
Porter, essentially, reduces the healthcare problem to merely cost. The general narrative is controlled by CMS or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who have their own agenda and are the same group who would be in charge of any future Medicare programs. The definition of “value,” in the sense of business, defines whether you are “worth” the value (or dollars) spent on you. Shouldn’t the only focus be the patient? Moreover, your value simply relies on how much you are worth (based on dollars spent and dollars expected to be spent on you in the future). Does anyone see an issue with this?
Value-based care models reimburse healthcare providers (or penalize them) based on quality and cost of care. For example, consider a hospital that works under HVBP. The CMS would evaluate the hospital based on numerous criteria, such as immunization rates for certain diseases, Medicare spending per beneficiary, and even patient feedback on their experience at the hospital. Then, depending on how the hospital scores for population health management, compared to established baselines, the CMS will either reimburse the hospital on top of their typical fee-for-service payments or penalize their Medicare revenue. This encourages doctors to merge with larger hospital systems rather than continuing with their own independent practices and incentivizes them to reduce services for patients who may end up needing those services in the long run; all in the name of staying in the good graces of the CMS. These networks then coordinate multiple systems of care, allowing them to access the benefits and bonuses given out by CMS.
As already established, the CMS is the single-largest advocate for all health programs to move to Value-Based Healthcare systems. Why? Because the problem is being defined by people, like Michael Porter, who believe that the root cause of illnesses is the lack of money preemptively spent on people who will be costly down the line. Under this structure, the determinants of patient satisfaction with their healthcare experience are not set by the patients or doctors, they are set by HHS, CMS, hospital executives, legacy universities, and public health professionals. Why does value-based care put “the quality of outcomes first…by tethering reimbursement to this metric” and will this really incentivize “healthcare providers to prioritize patients?” Let’s take a look at some clips from the CMS Physician Quality Program Strategy document. While this is updated every year, the 2015 version had the most comprehensive outline of what Value Based Care actually looks like and why “quality” measurements might not always be as ideal as they sound.
The core tenet of value-based care is that it places emphasis on the quality of care, rather than the quantity of care provided. And an increase in the quality of care necessitates an increase in patient satisfaction — an important benchmark for healthcare providers and administrators. A healthcare organization offering value-based care that comes with an increased rate of patient satisfaction is more likely to retain patients and achieve higher scoring metrics than its competitors. Furthermore, a healthcare organization with streamlined processes and reduced waste is more likely to retain higher quality talent.
Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, the Nazi Roots of Obamacare, and Social Determinants of Health
Remember the word “value” was pointed out at the beginning of the article? Well, who is deciding the value of people’s lives? Does all life not have value or only certain lives? What makes you “valuable” or worth the cost in terms of preserving and ensuring you have the best possible chance at living well? Let’s look at this article by Matthew Ehret on the issue of Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, Obama’s former health advisor from 2009–2011, who has re-emerged with the Biden Administration to advise on the future healthcare structure — implementing measures like the Complete Lives System. We may need to take another look at how people’s health is evaluated in terms of considering how to treat patients.
Matthew eloquently explains how Ezekiel Emmanuel’s fondness for the application of “Quality Adjusted Life Years” or QALYs metrics (originally pioneered by the British National Healthcare System or NHS) are morally unsound because those metrics would be used to justify who among the needy will or won’t receive care. In his article, Ehret includes an unsettling quote from an essay, written by Emmanuel, calledPrinciples for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions where Emmanuel asserts that:
The death of a 20-year-old young woman is intuitively worse than that of a 2-month-old girl, even though the baby has had less life. The 20-year-old has a much more developed personality than the infant, and has drawn upon the investment of others to begin as-yet-unfulfilled projects…adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investment that will be wasted without a complete life: infants by contrast, have not yet received these investments… it is terrible when an infant dies, but worse, most people think, when a three year old child dies, and worse still when an adolescent dies.
Ezekiel Emmanuel seems to have a Malthusian and cynical view on humanity. He sees human beings as “state investments” who are only as necessary as the labor they can provide. This line of thinking echoes the sentiments of Dr. Gerhard Wagner, a Reich Doctor’s Leader in the time of Nazi Germany, who (in a 1936 speech) declared:
The millions and billions that [Germany has] spent in the past, and the about one billion marks that [Germany will] sacrifice today for the care of the genetically ill, is a squandering of [Germany’s] national resources that [the] National Socialists cannot justify when [they] consider the needs of the healthy population…[thus] we have a good conscience before the world when we eliminate [lives] that [are] unworthy of life.
The similarities in the logic used by both Dr. Gerhard Wagner (a Nazi doctor from the 1930s) and Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, regarding human beings and how people’s “worth” or “value” should be calculated, is frightening. This is especially true, considering Dr. Emmanuel was one of the main architects of Obamacare AND is on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board. Dr. Emmanuel, more or less, said that the death of a baby is not as tragic as the death of a person in their twenties because the state has invested more money on the person in their twenties than a baby; therefore, it is less resources wasted. Similarly, Dr. Wagner believed that Germany should not use the already scarce materials and supplies on taking care of the “genetically ill” because that is a squandering of valuable resources which could have been used on “healthy” people.
The point is, a healthcare system that purposefully incentivizes meeting specific measures and metrics, designed by nefarious people who don’t seem concerned with ethics, is certainly worrisome. While the prior model of Pay for Service (PFS) had its own fair-share of problems, Value Based Care seems to be an equally alarming antidote to addressing the cost of healthcare, as well as the general well-being of patients. Given the current standards and measures available, healthcare with a more holistic approach does not receive much coverage from the mainstream or alternative media when talking about solutions — this is a problem. Below are a list of how quality measures are evaluated from a National Healthcare Quality and Disparities report from the US Department of Health and Human Services — do these seem extremely vague to you?
As if Value Based healthcare wasn’t already cause for concern in terms of who is prioritized when it comes to treatment, the data-focused and outcomes-driven payment system incentivizes providers to spend more time aggregating and sorting through data-metrics rather than spending time with patients. Lastly, when healthcare and business are infused into one strategic plan that is outcomes-based, it begs the question: are we determining factors prior to treatment that might influence the methods of treatment in the first place? Also, how can individual physicians afford to stay afloat when the emphasis on data collection (in order to get payments from Medicare or Medicaid) is steering the ship? Wouldn’t the best outcome for any patient be up to the PATIENT and DOCTOR to decide? Lately, there has been a push to include a more “holistic” approach to healthcare through CMS measures, which include mandates that use “social determinants of health” as part of the evaluation process. While this sounds wonderful on paper, let’s remember we’re dealing with profit-motivated entities.
The recent emphasis on the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) is concerning for a multitude of reasons. How will healthcare providers assume the roles required for the conditions listed above? Who is determining these standards and collecting this data based on racial, ethnic, religious, and gender-specific information? This type of data collection is also emphasized in the Medicare for All Act of 2021 which stresses that the Director of the Office of Health Equity must monitor, track, and make publicly available data on:
The disproportionate burden of disease and death among people of color, disaggregated by race, major ethnic group, Tribal affiliation, national origin, primary language use, English proficiency status, immigration status, length of stay in the United States age, disability, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), incarceration, homelessness, geography, and socioeconomic status.
Many academics and medical professionals (influenced by business consultants at Deloitte and McKinsey) believe that the serious health concerns of certain target populations take up 20% of healthcare spending. This framework requires more focus on people who may be “at-risk” in other areas of their lives — specifically, within population and social determinants of health. The emphasis on multiple stakeholders operating with the “patient first” mentality seems at odds with a program like this. Ultimately, these systems mirror “Pay for Success” models where initial investment is supposed to reduce the spending on someone down the line because when one controls the measures and metrics, then they can also control what qualifies as a good outcome.
If Pay for Success is described as an alternative “mechanism for funding social programs that allows government or other payers to pay for outcomes rather than just for services…[and the] end payer saves sufficient money when the outcomes are achieved to justify repayment to the investor” — it begs the question, if the goals aren’t being met through various mechanisms in use, what’s the point?
The Urban Institute even said on their own website that the programs, which are designed to improve overall health, symptoms, and well-being, often DO NOT translate into a reduction in use of healthcare services or cost of care. If this is the case, then why is there a focus on data collection and “social determinants of health” rather than addressing the root causes that lead to clinical illnesses? Perhaps, the data collection and SDOH have nothing to do with helping “vulnerable” populations.
Healthy People 2030
This program operates within the Office of Disease and Health Promotion and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2030 serves as the guidepost to promote “a society in which all people can achieve their full potential for health and well-being across the lifespan.”
Questions? Yes. Who comes up with the measurable health objectives? What are the broad global outcome measures? What is the outcome? Who determines what is qualified as “evidence-based?” What are evidence-based interventions? Will data collected have any influence over someone’s overall value, based on the projection of the quality of their life? Lastly, who will be making the overall decisions regarding how data is used? Will AI ultimately decide what data is extracted, depending on the scenario?
Worse yet — this study shows that Value Based Healthcare actually makes conditions worse for the same people it supposedly assists — like minorities and women. Yet even still, the CMS is pushing this type of healthcare payment system as the gold standard — data collection takes precedence over almost everything else within the healthcare system, which is not shocking given the players involved in the looming digital health ecosystem.
The Future of Healthcare
In Deloitte’s vision for Future of Health: 2040, they outline the general direction in which healthcare is headed and how data collected from users and patients will be shared with all stakeholders in a “patient-centered” process. In a short video on the website, they stress that radically interoperable data and open and secure platforms will allow:
Consumers to own their own journey of health by providing them with holistic, real-time view of themselves and their environment…[since] consumers are increasingly willing to share their personal data through wearable technology [and] smart appliances in the homes.
It sounds great, but again — who is determining what metrics are reason for social workers or public health officials to become involved in people’s personal lives? While everything they suggest in this video sounds nice — what is the true intention behind this type of personalized or precision healthcare and how can it be misused? Furthermore, according to Deloitte, with the collection of more interoperable and secure data, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare is likely “to be a critical engine behind analytics, insights, and the decision-making process.” Two physicians from Brown University Medical School, Dr. Vishal Khetpal and Dr. Nishant R. Shah, wrote an article about the negative implications of AI algorithms in hospitals.
They describe a clinical prediction tool called the Deterioration Index developed by Epic, a private “electronic health record” company and a key supplier of American health data. This prediction tool is now being deployed to different hospitals at an accelerated rate. According to Dr. Khetpal and Dr. Shah, although AI has the potential to improve inpatient care by highlighting new links between clinical data and outcomes, it could “also over-sensitize young physicians to the specific tests and health factors that the algorithm deems important; it could compromise trainees’ ability to hone their own clinical intuition. In essence, physicians in training would be learning medicine on Epic’s terms.” Furthermore, electronic health record giants like Epic seem happy to provide the data sets required to create a fully-functioning, automated healthcare system; which, ultimately, won’t rely on any human input.
Let’s do a thought experiment: what if someone (with a low “value” to society) is brought into the emergency room of a hospital with an AI system. Because the “value” of that person’s life is diminished, meaning their lifespan and conditions, then based on the algorithms, the person won’t be worth any extra investment and will likely be placed into a category of people who receive minimum treatment options. So, sure, you’re given the “best” quality of care, but ONLY in terms of the group or category to which you belong. These are the types of issues NOT being addressed in many discussions regarding Medicare for All.
Is holding an opposing view to the established narrative a crime?
What would happen if someone’s web browser history was tied to their health records? Let’s say someone is scared to take a vaccine and their health monitoring system makes a note of their vaccination status. What if they refuse? Who is to say they wouldn’t be considered a threat to society and/or public health? How did public health and domestic terrorism become intertwined?
Please watch this news segment about people who broke pandemic protocols in Australia; then decide for yourself if this is an appropriate reaction to people breaking pandemic measures. It might seem extreme — but if it can happen in Australia, it can happen in the United States. This isn’t a statement about whether or not someone wants to take a vaccine — it’s about the agency that someone has over their own body and healthcare. When all of these systems are connected, who is to say that someone who is nervous about vaccines wouldn’t one day be seen as a terrorist threat? Referring to groups of people as “terrorist threats” is quite serious. It might be best to judge people on an individual basis rather than make generalizations about the group or category to which they belong.
Now, let’s move on to some other developments in terms of how technology and humanity are merging together in an entirely new way. From digital twins and the spatial web to biometric digital IDs and geofencing; technology is going to fundamentally change the way we think about humanity and what it means to “live well.” If we’re not careful, we will become enslaved by technocratic overlords and forced to live in a prison-like surveillance state that we will have been fooled into coding ourselves.
Blockchain-Based Genomic Markets
The genomic market enables people to use blockchain (a digital decentralized public ledger) to share or even sell their genomic data. George Church is the founder of Nebula Genomics, a company which developed a blockchain-based genomic marketplace, “where users decide who gets access to their data and potentially receive compensation for sharing it.” Nebula’s goal is to pay people to get their genomes sequenced and then use encryption techniques to keep health record transactions totally anonymous.
Why would a company offer to pay you for your genetic information? Also, it should be noted that even though the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act protects “individuals when dealing with employers and health insurance companies,” it doesn’t apply to life insurance, disability insurance, education, and housing.
Nebula also offers its users an ability to “rent out their data” (with identifying information removed) to researchers and drug companies. Church has also expressed that he wants to make “genetic-matchmaking” a reality; it has been compared to eugenics. When George Church was asked about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly wanted to start a “baby ranch” and flood humanity with his DNA, Church said he may not have realized the enormity of Epstein’s transgressions. In addition to the iCog Labs in Ethiopia and Ben Goertzel’s SingularityNET mentioned in a previous piece, Nebula Genomics is, yet, another company involved in collecting personal data, via blockchain, to which Jeffrey Epstein is tangentially affiliated.
EncrypGen, another genomic data market mediated by blockchain founded by a bioethicist/attorney, David Koepsell, and pharmacogenomic scientist, Vanessa Gonzalez. They wanted to solve two problems: to obtain the mass quantities of genomic data that scientists require for research and to offer people the ability to make money from sharing their genetic data. Vanessa Gonzalez was formally the Director of Latino Leadership & Engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. David Koepsell is philosophy professor at the University at Buffalo and he teaches and writes about ethics, research ethics, applied ethics, and ethics in technology. He is co-founder of Blockchain in Healthcare Global, a company focused on mitigating “risks and barriers to adoption of blockchain and converging innovations [like] Artificial Intelligence or Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) in healthcare and the life and social sciences while advancing progress in scientific replicability, medical ethics, human rights, and global inclusion.” Basically, it is a company that tries to mitigate barriers to the healthcare sector adopting blockchain, AI, or IoMT — an interesting quest to take on for someone who is, supposedly, well versed in ethics.
Koepsell is also a Venture Partner of Impact Room, a company that provides support to small companies in Africa by connecting them with investors, opportunities, and partners around the globe. The Impact Room LinkedIn had this to say about Ethiopia:
With one of Africa’s largest populations, Ethiopia has access to a tremendous pool of prospective entrepreneurs and thanks to the government’s recent Start Up Act and Digital Ethiopia 2025 programme, maybe we will see the country join the standard SA, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt list in the near future.
In the Digital Ethiopia 2025 Program, mentioned on the Impact Room LinkedIn, Abby Ahmed noted that the world is witnessing a global transformation driven by “new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Nanotechnology, and Big Data, amongst many others that offer new models for production, communication, and lifestyle… children require new skills and knowledge.” Interestingly, on the Digital Ethiopia report introduction page, Prime Minister Abby Ahmed gave a special thanks to the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, Oxford University, MasterCard, the Tony Blair Institute, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Until recent developments, Ahmed was cozy with many elements of the banking and institutional oligarchy.
The document named “Four Pathways to Success” for Ethiopia — agriculture: utilizing Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain to advance this sector; manufacturing: enabling the adoption and creation of new communication technologies in industrial parks to expand access to global markets and enhance digitally enabled logistics management approaches to boost export; IT: expanding IT-enabled services — also called web enabled services or remote services or Tele-working; and digitally driving tourism: targeted digital marketing strategies and improving online presence and accepting digital payments. Additionally, Digital Ethiopia 2025 addressed the digital ecosystem as a whole and, specifically, digital IDs, digital payments, cybersecurity, and digital interactions among government, private sector, and citizens. So, it is no surprise that Cardano partnered with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education to put five-million children on the Cardano blockchain to track their education credentials for the rest of their lives. Charles Hoskinson, head of Cardano, said it is his intention “to compete amongst others for [Ethiopia’s] whole national ID system, which is about 110 million people.”
Digital China & Nanotechnology
Similar to what Ethiopia, Rwanda, and a few other “developing” countries are doing now to “advance” in science and technology (offering cheap labor and limited regulations to multinational corporations), China made similar moves decades ago. In 2003, a report released by The Stimson Center called Foreign High-Tech R&D in China showed that high-tech firms often find research and development (R&D) conducted in foreign countries can inspire new ideas and find interesting sources of innovation and, more importantly, conducting R&D abroad can:
Reduce labor costs where firms are able to tap into local, and increasingly high-skilled labor in the developing world…[and] in turn, this growing, global dispersion of skilled engineers, scientists, and researchers many…trained in American universities, has helped promote the rise of international research consortia.
The report went on to say that foreign investment was intended to play a critical role in China’s high-tech development strategy by increasing levels of investment in that sector. Furthermore, multinationals from around the world, like HP and IBM, established R&D centers, programs, and labs in China in the 1990’s. In China’s Tenth Five Year Plan, through 2005, China planned to invest over $120 billion on information technology (IT)to make headway in order to become a global competitor. In addition to the Tenth Five Year Plan, China also released The National Medium- and Long-Term Program for Science and Technology Development (2006- 2020) to highlight some of their advances in frontier technologies. Some of these developments are in biotechnology, target identification technology, gene manipulation and protein engineering, intelligent sensing, virtual reality, advanced and intelligent materials, and marine environment monitoring. Under the Nanometers Studies section, it was clear that research would be focused on:
Self-assembly nano-materials…nanomaterial structure…principles of nanoprocessing and associated integration…nanoelectronics, nanobiology, nanomedicine; optical, electronic, andmagnetic properties of molecular aggregates and biomolecules…single molecule behavior and associated manipulation; molecular machine design, assembly, and control; characterizing and measuring at a nanoscale…applications of nano-materials and nanotechnology in the fields of energy…environment, information, and medicine…digital medical technologies…individualized medical engineering technologies…in addition to studying nanotechnology-based biological drug release systems.
China, aided by large sums of foreign investment in science and technology R&D, has been heavily focused on nanotechnology since the early 2000s. Two years prior to China’s 2006–2020 report, The Royal Society, in 2004, published a document called Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: Opportunities and Uncertainties and it is eerily similar to China’s report that came two years after. This doesn’t seem like a mere coincidence.
It’s worth pointing out that some evidence suggests “at least some manufactured nanoparticles will be more toxic per unit of mass than larger particles of the same chemical…[and] nanoparticles will penetrate cells more readily than larger particles.” Furthermore, the convergence of nanotechnologies with “information technology, linking complex networks of remote sensing devices with significant computational power, could be used…for covert surveillance.” At this point, the rapid developments in the nanosphere are unsurprising considering 2D materials like graphene, (single layer of atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb-like structure — also used in biomedicine) nanosensors, and optogenetics, using light to control the brain (not to be mistaken with magnetogenetics: using magnetic nanoparticles to exert remote control of neurons)
are all listed as emerging technologies that will shape the world, by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2016. Similar to what is on the Digital Ethiopia 2025 document, the World Economic Forum also lists Blockchain, IoT, and Open AI systems as emerging technologies that will shape the future. Some people at the WEF view blockchain technology as a global infrastructure where individuals can exchange money or purchase insurance without a bank account. Why would they list “purchase insurance” as one of the things unbanked people would want to purchase? Not so strange, though, considering some of the largest insurance companies, like Allianz, are partnered with the WEF. Of course multinational insurance companies want to dive into an untapped market: the unbanked.
On the topic of China’s “rise to global dominance,” when analyzing science and technology development in China, it is important to remember that much of the advancements were made with foreign investment, as illustrated by the Stimson Center report. Additionally, the fact that the Royal Society released their Nanotechnology report two years before China was involved in nanotechnology and synthetic biology is peculiar timing and, perhaps, indicative of where marching orders are being devised (hint: it’s not China or any individual country — it seems like nation states will soon be relics of the past). Having said that, take a look at the major targets for China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–25);
Are are they not reminiscent of the hyper-specific (increase life expectancy of citizens by one year) yet vague (“promote green development”) and data-focused types of goals set by “industry leaders” and neoliberals at the UN? Then compare the core industry goals of China (as presented by a German think-tank called Merics) and the green industry goals of the UK in a Ministry of Defence report from March 2021 titled Defence in a Competitive Age. It all seems coordinated and planned years prior to release (which it probably is, to be honest); however, as always, one must stay open to being wrong as new information surfaces. That is not to be mistaken for sacrificing principles or ethics, those remain constant no matter what happens because morals are not contingent upon the restrictions imposed by time and space.
Closing remarks on China and US relations:
It seems rather odd that after so many years of encouraging foreign investment into China, the US would suddenly have a change of heart. According to a Chinese press account, from 1999 to 2004, nearly a hundred companies “listed among the Fortune 500…set up representative offices or research centers in major cities in China’s interior…and foreign telecom firms welcomed this new open door to investment in China’s inland provinces and the incentives and technology trials that accompanied the Western development campaign.” Incentives such as cheap labor and loose regulations; although, China is now starting to tighten rules on gene editing in humans.
China’s “Open Door” policy began in the late 1970’s, under Deng Xiaoping, and welcomed foreign investment in science and technology from all corners of the globe. Moreover, prominent universities in China developed a swift process for establishing and facilitating cooperative ventures and research contracts with foreign companies. Of course, none of these things happened in a vacuum, there were many factors (including the geopolitical climate) that led to China making these moves — it is difficult to be “isolationist” in an increasingly globalized world. Under Trump, the US did attempt to implement export control on certain technologies and sectors, even though China has been doing R&D (with aid of foreign investment) on all of these for almost two decades. Merics Institute for China Studies lists them below:
Demonizing China, the Chinese people, or any one nation is wrong. The anti-China narratives put out by self-proclaimed “conservative” commentators in “alternative” media, like Tim Pool, Jack Posobiec, or Candace Owens are extremely divisive, don’t actually help their viewers understand all of the factors at play in a comprehensive way, and do a disservice to their audience. More importantly, they do not provide the nuanced perspective that’s desperately needed in terms of understanding the bigger picture. The Yellow Brick Road breaks down a Tim and Jack interview in a video reaction, appropriately, titled Tim Pool and Jack Posobiec Sell War With China. This is not to absolve the “progressives” or “liberals” who push the same war narrative, but with Russia; such as Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian at TYT or even Andrew Yang, who went on the Joe Rogan Podcast and said that if Russia continues to interfere in American democracy, and he is elected president, he will “come down on them like a ton of bricks [even if] they are not quite sure because [he doesn’t] need 100% certainty.” Again, James and Jordan at The Yellow Brick Road made a video, titled Andrew Yang Should NOT Be President After His Russia Comments on JRE, analyzing Andrew Yang’s belligerent rhetoric. This type of Russia fear mongering by Ana, Cenk, and Andrew Yang is identical, in logic, to the China fear mongering espoused by the likes of Tim Pool, Jack Posobiec, and Candace Owens. China’s fate as a global leader in science and technology was determined long before the Belt and Road Initiative by the banking oligarchy and multinational corporations (hopefully that is obvious by now). One could argue that the political theater of “Trump vs. Xi” or “Biden vs. Putin” is purely for performative reasons; to keep people on different teams while the powers that be discreetly nudge us into building our own digital prisons. It’s easy to fall victim to this narrow and limited way of thinking, but remember: the truth usually exists within the dark corners of nuance.
The Metaverse, Digital Twins, & Surveillance
The mass rollouts of the higher G family networks and their convergence with non-biological intelligence (AI) and 30+ billion connected devices around the world (called IoT) will generate large amounts of real-world data every second of every day. The spatial internet refers to a computing atmosphere that exists in a 3D space. It is also referred to as the AR Cloud and is, essentially, the ‘digital twin’ of the physical world. It is a pairing of “real and virtual realities, enabled via billions of connected devices, and accessed through the interface of Virtual and Augmented Reality.” The Spatial Web enables users to build a twin of the physical reality in a virtual realm and bring the digital world into the real one. By laying digital information on top of physical surroundings, developers can make any environment smart.
Interaction with wearable technology, voice, and IoT devices is computed using 5G, AI, and Edge then the information is recorded on a distributed ledger or blockchain. This will accelerate the development of Web 3.0 or the Spatial Web. Edge computing is advertised as distributed of decentralized computing, which helps reduce latency by decreasing the distance between the device and a cloud-based processor because with the emerging 5G networks, “mobile edge computing (MEC) promises to [deploy] applications at the network edge closer to users.” To put it simply, the more of the higher G family towers go up, the better for edge computing (an integral part of developing the Spatial Web).
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will also play pivotal roles in Spatial Web computation because they allow machines and devices to understand the nondigital realm through computer vision and natural language processing. It will also drive “contextual, personalized experiences via AI’s ability to self-program, continuously learn, and make contextual decisions. This will be critical for Spatial Web maturity, and it will require immense amounts of processing power.” And since AR needs more computing power than most devices presently possess, blockchain technology is seen as a solution that can enable the computing power to be distributed. However, since cameras, sensors, and location data can integrate real-time data to create environments, Kevin Kelly of Wired has cautioned that:
Synchronizing the virtual twins of all places and all things with the real places and things, while rendering it visible to millions will require tracking people and things to a degree that can only be called a total surveillance state.
This should strike some fear in everyone because this is what some refer to as full spectrum dominance. This should also be understood as a militarized operation because most of this technology is coming straight out of defense departments around the world. Yes, the internet itself came out of the military and it is quite wonderful, but this is a little more personal than just being able to freely surf the web. Does anyone really want to be coerced into a hyper centralized structure designed by people who have little understanding of what it means to be human, let alone have respect for nature? Because that’s what the Spatial Web will be, a real-time digital duplicate of the physical world. And “digital twinning” is an integral part of the militarized surveillance that the ignorant and corrupt factions of the oligarchy and control freaks at Davos, The Trilateral Commission, Chatham House, and Council on Foreign Relations wish to bestow upon humanity and all of nature. Geospatial World describes Digital Twins as a:
Representation of a product or process that is built using real-time sensor data and algorithms. It can be used in product design, simulation, monitoring, optimization, and servicing. Digital twins can virtually predict everything that will happen in the physical world; thus providing valuable insights for future planning and development…digital twin technology is the future of designing and manufacturing.
Basically, a digital twin is a computer program that utilizes real world data to generate simulations (of the physical world) which can then speculate how a product or process will perform. Sounds a little bit like predictive policing, watch the movie Minority Report to see what the world could possibly resemble in the future. However, even some well-meaning individuals are advocating for this technology as a tool to liberate the masses by putting them in charge of their “identities” and allowing them to profit off of their own data, without mentioning the military roots and surveillance implications. How can people make informed decisions about opting into this if they are unaware of the potential dangers? The digital twin computer programs can “combine the Internet of Things or Industry 4.0, AI, and software analytics to enhance output.” Industry 4.0 will require the following:
By the way, “output” means the ability to put out more predictions based on the collected empirical data. If machines are predicting outcomes based on data gathered from observing human behavior and NOT taking into account people’s ability to change, even after making horrible mistakes, then this can have negative implications of epic proportions.
Given the recent emphasis on the big business inspired value-based precision healthcare, the spooky characters involved in creating these structures, the dangers of AI algorithms in hospitals, interoperable data collected from wearable technology and smart appliances, the emergence of conductive 2D materials like graphene, and the United States “new” domestic terror laws that are now expanding to target more groups outside of the demographics who have always been targeted by these laws;
the convergence of nanotechnologies with information technology and connecting the complex networks of remote sensing devices, via nanosensors and IoT; coupled with rapid computational power and advanced geospatial technology — could be used for covert surveillance on a global scale.
The last year-and-a-half has been a psychological, physical, and spiritual drain on so many people. What’s fascinating, while not surprising, is the corrupt factions of the elite continue to “reveal” the current rise in economic disparities, which they seem to believe were not as visible prior to the pandemic. These social and economic inequalities have existed for decades and were, directly or indirectly, caused by the same caliber of people in legacy institutions who are now claiming they want to “address” or “manage” these problems. It’s not far-fetched to say that we’re heading into a time that will fundamentally change the way humanity operates. Of course this is exciting — and it will, in some cases, improve the lives of people who did not previously have access to care prior to this digital revolution. However, given the information presented here, we can’t let our desperation for healthcare cloud our judgment in terms of understanding what is in the fine print of the Medicare for All bill and what it implies when viewed in a global context.
While legislation was brought forward in May regarding “algorithmic justice” with the Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act, it has yet to gain any real traction and, more importantly, seeks to establish a task force to manage the issue. Once again, Washington takes the position of developing another task force to deal with the issues as the solution, rather than delve into the ethical considerations at play here. While much of the problems we’re facing come from the private sector, we’ve now seen the “Build Back Better” agenda in action; the public and private sectors have never been more aligned than ever in terms of data aggregation and technological breakthroughs that ultimately benefit the same people who got us into this mess. Is it wrong to simply want cheaper healthcare and not have to mortgage your house to pay for medical treatments? Is it too much to ask that the food we eat isn’t full of artificial ingredients? What about the lifestyles we are conditioned to pursue from an early age that can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and in turn, diminish our quality of life? The beauty here, however, is that we have the power to fix all of this. That power lies within us. Only when we, first individually, then collectively choose to, non-violently, face the nefarious forces and their ill-conceived ideas head on, can we make real changes in terms of our overall wellness as individuals and as a society.
It is also necessary that all of the bad ideas in the ether be dispelled, not just the ones held by the 1% with whom most of us never have contact. Strictly focusing on the larger than life personalities of Klaus Schwab, Bill Gates, or Epstein, while interesting, does not do enough to expose the everyday toxic ideas that help create and facilitate the structure of our current society and the corruption that runs rampant because people are simply not informed enough to recognize it, let alone, call it out.
Come to conclusions through your own thinking and always verify things for yourself. Journalists and reporters should encourage their readers and viewers to challenge them and not automatically dismiss criticisms as “smears” or bad faith attacks. Lastly, the ability to recognize the humanity in every single person, compassion, and empathy are superpowers, not signs of weakness. Sounds corny and cliché, sure, but if it doesn’t start there, then what is the point of any of this? Why write or report about corruption and point out “evil,” if your motive or intention is not rooted in righteousness? No, not ONLY in a religious sense (although, that is ok, too) because the innate will to do and be “good” is a spiritual endeavor that is NOT strictly confined to any organized religion, creed, ethnicity, political party, or culture.
Until next time,
Sebs & Aly
PS: Make sure you subscribe to Sebs’ Medium page here for more of her work! ❤️