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Category : Transhumanism

Groping toward appropriate regulation of AI. Data regulation and its offensive potential. – The CyberWire

At a glance.

Wired traces the influences shaping the EUs proposed Artificial Intelligence Act, which is expected to impact policy internationally, as has the GDPR. The legislation would categorize AI applications by risk level and more closely control high risk systems.

Critiques of the bill fall along predictable lines. Some human rights groups want stricter controls and worry about law enforcement, education, health care, public surveillance, border security, social scoring, insurance, transhumanism, and subliminal manipulation applications. They point to the power disparity between those wielding the tools and those on the receiving end, and highlight existing abuses.

Some industry groups describe the law as overbroad, fearing it will impose unmanageable costs, interfere with basic business functions, squash innovation, and drive away talent. Competing studies put total compliance costs between 1.6 and 10 billion yearly.

The EU hopes the bill will level the playing field and spur growth while promoting principled business decisions. Meanwhile, the US is developing its own guidelines and regulations, including a National Institute of Standards and Technology tool and an Algorithmic Accountability Act. In the background, as always, looms Chinese innovation, and what strategic advantages authoritarian rivals will achieve while the West puzzles out competing interests and ethical dilemmasexercising a soft advantage of its own.

Breaking Defense reiterates concerns that the vulnerability disclosure component of Beijings Data Security Law (DSL) will help the CCP stockpile zero days for use against state and private sector targets. As weve seen, the legislation directs researchers, companies, and foreign firms with local offices to disclose to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology within forty-eight hours uncovered zero days, and restricts their further distribution. Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, both of which contract with the US Defense Department, are covered by the regulation.

Heritage Foundation China scholar Dean Cheng sees the move as an instance of lawfare, or legal warfare, and says Beijing is 100 percent likely to weaponize the disclosed vulnerabilities. Georgetown University security researcher Dakota Cary observed that theyve effectively co-opted a pipeline of research, which costs a great deal of money to do, in order to increase their own offensive and defensive hacking capabilities.

The DSL, Fortune notes, also prohibits unapproved cross-border data transfers. The law took effect yesterday.

SWI reports that Switzerland is working to establish a rapid reaction cyber defense command center staffed by roughly six-hundred military personnel with new capacities to protect private sector and critical infrastructure assets. The center will deliver informational, logistical, and technical capabilities.

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Groping toward appropriate regulation of AI. Data regulation and its offensive potential. - The CyberWire

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

12 Bytes by Jeanette Winterson review how we got here and where we might go next – The Guardian

In Mary Shelleys 1818 novel Frankenstein, a scientist creates life and is horrified by what he has done. Two centuries on, synthetic life, albeit in a far simpler form, has been created in a dish. What Shelley imagined has only now become possible. But as Jeanette Winterson points out in this essay collection, the achievements of science and technology always start out as fiction. Not everything that can be imagined can be realised, but nothing can be realised if it hasnt been imagined first.

Take artificial intelligence. For now AI is a tool that we train to address specific tasks such as predicting the next Covid wave, but plenty of people have imagined that it could be something categorically different: a multitasking problem-solver whose capacity to understand and learn is equal or superior to ours. Many labs are working on this concept, which is called artificial general intelligence (AGI), and it could be a reality within decades. Thats how far imagination in technology has brought us. What can the artistic imagination add?

Perhaps meaning. How will our relationships change when we share the planet with an intelligence that is on a par with ours, but that doesnt weep or get drunk or ejaculate? How will that non-biological being relate to the rest of nature? Will it solve the problems that we have failed to solve, or create new ones? Should we fear it, fall in love with it, pray to it or all three?

Winterson is excited about the future of AI. She reads the tech heads journals, rummages in their algorithms, attends their conferences (By the afternoon I am sweating under the mental pressure of translating non-language). In a debate about transhumanism the idea that humanity can break through its biological limits, for example by merging with AI shes the one defending it against the doom-mongers. What worries her is that well drag our toxic old baggage into this brave new world, and put the technology to the wrong uses give it the wrong meaning. 12 Bytes is her attempt to warn us off that, by examining where weve come from, and asking where were going.

Her starting point is the first industrial revolution, the one that gave us steam and mass production but also black cities and a miserable, sickly underclass. The inequality was exacerbated by the enclosure of the common land, which from 1800 became easier for large landowners than for smaller fry. Fast forward 200 years. Now were the means of production, as tech companies spin our data into gold, and those same companies are busy carving up outer space once also considered a common good. The Luddites of the early 19th century werent against progress, they were against exploitation, which was only reined in through hard-fought campaigns and legislation.

There is a strong feminist slant here, as you might expect from the author of Sexing the Cherry and Written on the Body. The 19th-century industrialists paid women (and children) less than men for the same work, setting up a corrosive competition that has echoed down the decades. Winterson draws a direct line from that, through the forgotten female computer programmers of the post-second world war era, to todays female undergraduates who are occasionally lectured by male computer scientists that they dont have the brains to enter the field. Garbage in, garbage out: no wonder the algorithms that instruct AI show a strong male bias. Winterson wants to know why we are still dealing in fixed gender categories. Fuck the binary is the title of one of these essays.

Transhumanism is about transcending categories, and as such it has a natural appeal for the gender-fluid, who never felt at home in any body. That was a theme of her 2019 novel Frankissstein, a reimagining of Frankenstein, and she returns to it here. As soon as a human can have a relationship with an intelligent, non-biological life form, preconceptions about gender and sexuality will explode in ways they havent yet, despite a thriving sex robot industry. In fact, sex bots pander to some of the most retrograde of these preconceptions. Sex doll Harmony from RealBotix isnt equipped with the female pleasure organ, the clitoris or if she is, it isnt well advertised but her AI-enabled head does have 18 mood settings, including gentle, jealous, teasing and chatty. Scrolling down through the comments on the RealBotix website, Winterson found several urging the company to retire the chatty mode.

But robots may only be a transitional stage for AI, on the way to a disembodied, pure AGI that would be all around us as well as inside us. And what would be novel about that? Our ancestors were forever being jostled by angels and ghosts. The harassment didnt stop when they went to heaven, but at that point they jettisoned their own bodies. We are more wedded to our own physicality now than we ever were in the past.

The best of these essays are the most personal, the ones in which Wintersons life allows her to spot connections that others might miss. Having grown up in an evangelical household, she is fascinated by the religious echoes she hears in the debate around AI. It has its believers and its sceptics, its high priests and its creed: You know the basics: This world is not my home. Im just passing through. My Self/Soul is separate from the Body. After death there is another life.

As the boundary between human and nonhuman becomes blurred, well have to reassess what we mean by human, but thats nothing to worry about, she thinks. You might balk at the idea of an AI personal assistant with whom you communicate via an implant rather than an earpiece, but the real problem is not the implant, its the fact that the AI is reporting back to Mr Zuckerberg and thats a problem now. In the struggles ahead, one of the things we should fight for is that our inner lives are off limits.

All of this is thought-provoking and necessary and sometimes very funny but theres no scenario here that someone hasnt already imagined; no Shelleyan leap. I am not sure what that leap would look like, but one way to stimulate it might be to think about how we define intelligence. Intelligence doesnt have to be biological, as Winterson says, and yet ours is very much embodied, and very much embrained. So why is our test of artificial intelligence that emerges from non-biological matte still the Turing test that is, fooling a (human) interlocutor into thinking the AI is human? Why are we the benchmark?

Ironically, Alan Turing devised his test 70 years ago as a way of proving that computers were capable of original thought. It was his response to Ada Lovelace, who is sometimes called the first computer programmer and who, more than a century earlier, had said she didnt think they would ever acquire leap capacity. Lovelaces own leap was to realise that the first computer, the analytical engine that Charles Babbage designed but never built, would be capable of more than just calculation. But working with the little she had, she couldnt imagine it ever doing what her father, the poet Lord Byron, excelled at.

Perhaps there is some mathematical formula that describes how far we can leap, imaginatively, given the reality we start from. At any rate, it seems to have its limits for scientists and artists alike. Sixty years ago the word alien conjured up creatures that were small and green but otherwise exceedingly familiar. Now scientists agree that if extra-terrestrial life exists, its likely to be simpler and stranger more like the single-celled organisms that constituted the first life on Earth.

Given the trouble weve had defining human intelligence witness the long-running controversy over IQ tests could we ever imagine what intelligence might mean for a humming web of connections, an internet of things? Science fiction writers have had a go, but they still tend to ask the question from the human perspective: what would it mean for us to live with such a mind? The nature of that mind, any goals and values it might have, are either humanised or left obscure.

Then again, Winterson might be on to something when she suggests that in a future defined by connectivity and hybridity, love will be more meaningful than intelligence. Could love actually be intelligence, in a disembodied world? Maybe thats romantic flim-flam. Maybe its a pointless question since it leads to another: what is love? But it has a certain appeal not least because it could launch us on a new imaginative journey, and because in imagining something, we make it possible.

12 Bytes is published by Vintage (16.99). To support the Guardian and the Observer buy a copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.

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12 Bytes by Jeanette Winterson review how we got here and where we might go next - The Guardian

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

REPLACED Interview: Devs Talk About the Upcoming Cyberpunk Game That Lit Up E3 2021 – Twinfinite

REPLACED made a big splash at E3 2021, and for good reason the upcoming cinematic platformer oozes cool, from its gorgeous 2.5D pixelated art aesthetic to the promise of a thrilling cyberpunk story set in a grim dystopia. The brilliantly directed trailer depicted a tantalizing and mysterious gaming experience that we here at Twinfinite have been making a song and dance over ever since.

Naturally, the opportunity to speak with developer Sad Cat Studios was one we are hugely excited about. Already this week weve published a feature titled REPLACED Aims to Deliver a Cinematic But Thought-Provoking Cyberpunk Experience, which is based around some of the most interesting takeaways from my discussion with game director Yura Zhdanovich, and studio co-founder Igor Gritsay. But with so much ground to cover I could hardly include everything, and that, dear reader, is something we considered such a crying shame that weve decided to publish the entire Q&A for those who are as interested to hear from the pair as we are.

Senior editor Alex Gibson: The reception to REPLACEDs trailer has been so immensely positive. How did that feel, and has that added pressure to the team, or is it something youre drawing motivation from?

Game director Yura Zhdanovich: The trailer was deemed by a lot of people very high quality, and so we are now a bit stressed because we need to deliver everything on this kind of level of expectations. We cant go and do a section of the game that looks subpar in terms of quality compared to what weve shown.

And yeah, this is something that we have been discussing with our artists because they were definitely humbled by the reception, but there is so much more to show, so much more interesting things that we want people to see, either in-game itself or in any other media or going to release later down the line.

Its just a start and we have definitely not shown the greatest things quite yet. Its exciting for us its stressful and exciting for us to see how people will react to things we show in the future.

Alex: Could you give me a little background on the games development? How long have you actually been working on REPLACED?

Studio co-founder Igor Gritsay: Weve been in development since mid-2018, though back then it was merely an idea when we were searching for things that we could actually do. Before us there was this trailer for Atomic Heart, and its also made by the new studio, and of course, we could not tackle that as our debut project even though our guys come from game development, most of their work is on mobile. So we thought such kind of project was out of our reach and basically, we thought, okay, we should do something of that quality, but at the same time, something within our possibilities. So, we are thinking about what we can do, and when we were looking through our backlog of ideas, we thought that, okay, cinematic platformer is the way to go for us because while it isnt simple to make, it was something we were capable of.

Then we had this idea we wanted to investigate how could an AI integrate with a human? This was like the core idea that we wanted to develop and base our script around. So this was the starting point, and during the first six months or so we were just working on a prototype. I dont even think that we have those things in the project anymore. But yeah, it was quite a view, just grey blocks and, say, a 1010 area with characters walking around. But, hey, look where we are now!

Anyway, this was our initial idea to make a cinematic platformer with beautiful visuals because if we cant deliver, for example, a cool-looking third-person shooter, for example, I think that its within our capabilities to make quality looking and great looking cinematic platformer.

So we were looking at the games we love, the games we adore. Our first iteration of the game was much more, much closer to the classics, like Flashback or Out of this World.We made our first demo in 2019, and we went to several trade shows with this demo and they put the overall reception was really positive.

And its very stressful when youre standing right next to an overheating laptop, and you look at maybe 100 people playing, and some of them just stop mid-session. And youre so frustrated and they just go and dont tell you anything. And you think what was the problem? Whats wrong with it? Even though 90 + % of people actually finished the demo and said that it was great, a negative reaction always has this effect.

Later, after those several trade shows, we thought to ourselves, all right, that was cool, but we dont think that we will be able to create a whole game based on this gameplay because, well, in a classic cinematic platformer its all about content. And with the modern quality of content, the modern price for creating visual content, we understood that we just cannot allow ourselves to create a whole game without any substantial gameplay. So, we went back to the lab and thought, okay, how we can iterate upon this? And we were sitting with our favorite games, and looking at whats cool there and what we can implement in ours and refine as our own thing.

What were the design inspirations behind the project that helped to shape its aesthetic, style, and gameplay?

Studio co-founder Igor Gritsay: So regarding the combat system, we were heavily inspired by the Batman series. I finished all of those games and theyre really perfect, and I really like the combat within those games. So we took inspiration there because of this fluid sense of flow and, you know, it just feels that everything is right and the combat feels natural. So, this is what we were trying to achieve. We werent looking for hardcore 2D games, like Hollow or Salt and Sanctuary.

We were looking for a more, not casual, but, you know, a cool-feeling experience that you have to master, but you dont have to cry and blood and sweat while youre playing. On the other side, we also implemented traversing which was inspired by games such as Prince of Persia, the Ubisoft ones, which were made trilogy which was made in the 2000s, including a Sands of Time. Also, the Uncharted series.

Basically, for us, platforming is there not so much as a challenge but a way to give an exposition for beautiful locations; and since Im really proud of our division, they deserve that their creation has great exposition and that players can have a proper taste of what weve done and what we are, what our artists made.

In terms of aesthetics, our initial inspirations were more movie-oriented, such as Blade Runner, and 2049.

Game director Yura Zhdanovich: A lot of cyberpunk games or sci-fi games that tackle the more grounded type of action will be inspired by Blade Runner, but in our case, the gameplay was actually inspired a lot by the movie Upgrade, which was a really interesting take on especially the combat sequences. It is a really interesting take on a mechanical thing in a human body how it will behave, how it would look like. I was very inspired by it; Ive watched it like 10 times or so, and I watched it like a lot when we were looking for inspiration for combat moves or something. It really was a breakthrough for us in terms of how we should tackle combat and a more grounded game.

Speaking about combat, as Igor mentioned, we were inspired by the Batman series, but one of the key things we wanted to do was to implement interesting gameplay without ruining the whole seriousness of whats going on there are no triple jumps or plunging attacks, for example. And at the same time, it was quite a natural way for us because were so much into animation. And as you have seen in the trailer we are trying to do this combat as much physical as possible. As much animated as possible, and contextual as possible.

So everything you do in the game we try to make it physical, so you feel this kind of interaction. Its one of the key things were trying to achieve with it being very grounded but at the same time still fun to play.

Alex: There are a lot of side-scrolling indie games these days, so do you think its important for an indie game to stick out these days? What challenges have you faced trying to make such a complex style work?

Studio co-founder Igor Gritsay: When we were thinking about what should we do and how we should present it, the obvious choice for us was to do pixel art because, in addition to the lower cost, the general consensus is that indie titles are adored by people who love pixel art and vice versa. But then we thought that the usual pixel art wouldnt be enough and that we wanted to do something more interesting with it.

And when I started experimenting with some other things, then came along the trailer for The Last Night which was really great, and it showed off a really interesting type of art direction how one can make modern tweaks on the 2.5D formula, which has actually been around for years. Many people, for example, dont remember, but there was a great game Disneys Hercules for PS1. Right now there are a lot of games trying to go back to this kind of 2.5D aesthetic.

It was very interesting for us to do it ourselves and to make some adjustments, some of the tweaks, some stylistic choices we want to create because as you have seen in the trailer our game is not classic, super futuristic cars kind of cyberpunk. It is more on the Retro side.

Its really a no-brainer that when you want to make a story about artificial intelligence, you definitely go sci-fi, but we want wanted to give some kind of a unique spin on it. When we were young there was a lot of like cult following in the 90s here, especially in the post-USSR, with the retro sci-fi movies, like RoboCop, for example, and we had this feeling, you know, that we want to do a homage to this because we really like those aesthetics of how the future was depicted back then and not right now. We wanted to go in a little bit of a different direction, more on of the side of a futurist of that time who was like designer thinking about how things would be like ten and twenty years.

Alex: So traditionally, stories told within a dystopian and particularly cyberpunk aesthetic are typically centered around a political message of some sort this was one of the criticisms of CDPRs Cyberpunk 2077 was that it looked like a very pretty cyberpunk game but it didnt feel like one, it wasnt saying anything in particular about modern culture and maybe capitalist society, transhumanism, artificial intelligence, etc. Does REPLACED have some sort of message political or otherwise that it is trying to convey?

Studio co-founder Igor Gritsay: Lots of things that happened in the world of our game is alternate history. Basically, modified events that actually happened in the real world, such as the Trinity test for the nuclear bomb, and stuff like this. In our world, the U.S. gets much more dystopian than it actually is in reality. I think that we definitely have a political message in our game because, well, living in a sort of half dictatorship (in Belarus) has inevitably had an impact on us.

We have our post-Soviet heritage and things happening in our country right now. Of course, in our game we are not talking about Belarus, but, you know, [people who live in] the post-soviet are somehow attracted to dystopia in pop culture (laughs), which is really strange as if we dont have enough of it in reality! The most popular book here is 1984.

One of our main world-building themes REPLACED is that everything is based on bio-engineering and organ transplantation. This is how good deeds eventually become something horrific and we will discuss this topic in the game. I think the main point of our game is still the thing that we are trying to discuss is can artificial intelligence be human? And if so then what is the outcome of it?

Game director Yura Zhdanovich: I would say there are two core themes: one is artificial intelligence and what would artificial intelligence do when it is in the context of a living being, rather than a supercomputer that has learned to be moral when it faces humanitys downsides and having to make hard choices that we ultimately always destroyed for, as we have seen in films such as Terminator.

The second one is, when were talking about the political situation, when you design a dystopia you usually go to roots, youre either going to go with Orwell or Huxley. So we decided to go with Orwell, because, as Igor has said, we are somewhat attracted to him. And as we have been talking about with our narrative team about this, one of the core themes is what would happen and this is actually very applicable to what is happening in the world today if you start to give out your freedom piece by piece for somewhat of a better life or protection or anything else that makes you more comfortable and more controlled?

In our world, it is bio-transportation that is kind of a main threat throughout the alternate history of our game started out as a good thing before people realized the potential money involved, and so they pulled the dont be evil trick, but then became evil.

I think thats the main political point of our game. It definitely will touch a lot of other aspects and issues that are sensitive topics in modern media and modern discussions around those things, but I think it is subtle. It will be good enough [for us] if people play the games and decide for themselves on some of those complex topics we want to explore because there are definitely some that are very empathetic to things that are happening right now. Were really interested to how people will react to this.

Alex: And lastly, I wanted to ask about your decision to go with Xbox Game Pass as a platform, how did the relationship with Microsoft come about. What did you consider the pros and cons of going with them rather than trying to sell individual copies across multiple platforms? Is the deal a timed exclusive?

Studio co-founder Igor Gritsay: We dont have plans at the moment for other platforms other than Xbox and PC.

The biggest part of the partnership for us is that Microsoft actually cares about the indie market. Otherwise, well, there would be much fewer games on all platforms. They really give a chance to small studios to actually produce something and provide marketing awareness to people. I would say that for indie studios, I cant even think of a con (with partnering with Microsoft) because they provide funding and marketing reach.

As for Game Pass, it allows more people to learn about the game, and actually play the game! Because there is frequently this situation for many players where they will see a game in the store and they want it, but at the same time it is $30, $60, or even more, and so you maybe Wishlist it, and then you usually forget.

However, with Game Pass you just press a button and install. Of course, sometimes the possible con of this is that, you know, people might be too overflowing with games and so each game gets less attention. Still, equally, it is a chance for those games to shine. In other situations they might otherwise be drowned by thousands of other games.

Game Pass allows us and many other developers to actually deliver our project to people. Also, from what I heard, Game Pass also boosts sales, but well see about that! To summarize, its a win, win situation for us.

REPLACED is set to launch in 2022 on Xbox and PC platforms. Keep an eye on the games official website here, and check out the E3 2021 trailer if you havent already.

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REPLACED Interview: Devs Talk About the Upcoming Cyberpunk Game That Lit Up E3 2021 - Twinfinite

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

The Chronicles of Covid, or why we must kill the Great Reset Witch – The Conservative Woman

A snowy scene, Narnia

We must go as quietly as we can, said Mr Tumnus. The whole wood is full ofherspies. Even some of the trees are on her side.

Another snowy scene, a popular hillside in Somerset, January 2021

Its a Sunday and families living under lockdown are having fun near a remote car park, parents building snowmen with their children. Then a police car arrives and parks for a while. Similar scenes happen elsewhere in Britain. Why?

Since the end of the first lockdown in March 2020, this Somerset hillside has never been busier. It has become the go-to place to find some sort of normality.

The local hunt, for example, held a memorial gathering in one of the hills car parks before Christmas for a young lad killed in a car accident. They knew that such a gathering would not be allowed elsewhere.

Why are we all being forced to live like this? Why is the constabulary now becoming such a powerful presence throughout the land? (We couldnt summon any police when we needed them to stop an illegal rave on the same hillside years ago.)

Is it because there is a realisation that the public is losing respect for authority and more coercion will be needed to implement the global Build Back Better agenda?

Maybe the penny has begun to drop that there is insufficient support for fascism, even if it is re-labelled stakeholder capitalism?

Certainly in continental Europe there is growing resistance to Planet Lockdown, often of a violent nature. In Europe they have a better understanding of the nature of fascism, unlike in Britain where we lack historical experience of mass arrests, deportations and arbitrary shootings.

The parallels with the 1930s are, however, becoming obvious to the extent that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, used his contribution to the World Economic Forums annual Davos meeting last month to warn the world. In his view, the situation could develop in an unpredictable and uncontrolled manner and risks a fight of all against all.

Meanwhile, the WEF is trying to distance itself from any accusations that its Great Reset is a conspiracy that is masking some nefarious plan for world domination (?!)

But then its plans are hardly nefarious, given that the WEF is so blatant about its role in bringing together global leaders and mega-corporations to rebuild the world along sustainable lines.

Sadly for the WEF, its own benign belief in its motives is not shared universally. Of the 200,000-plus views of its latest YouTube video, it could muster only 1,500 likes compared with 19,000 dislikes and openly hostile messages in the comments below. Not exactly a good indicator of widespread support. The UK government would do well to take note.

While there might not be agreement about return to pre-Covid ways of living were it possible or whether change is necessary, neither is there any consensus on what form that change should take.

In particular, there is increasing cynicism about an elite group of globalists lecturing us on how to collectively improve life on the planet without destroying it. It does not sit well with the public that the same billionaires who form the WEF are those who have profiteered from their misery during the pandemic.

Mega-corporations and their supporters politicians, financiers, non-governmental organisations, etc also have zero credibility as eco-warriors.

They are more closely associated in the public mind with creating problems rather than solving them. Pollution and destructive business as usual have continued unabated under a cover story of environmentalism.

The examples of cobalt and lithium alone reveal the empty virtue-signalling in the pious rush for the windmills and solar panels that are the basis for the WEFs Build Back Better campaign.

Cobalt and lithium are widely used in electronics for energy storage, whether a solar panel or a mobile phone. Yet the way cobalt is mined (using child labour) is never discussed, nor is the damage to Chiles Atacama desert, where lithium extraction displaces the flamingos. The billionaires have failed so far to provide viable alternatives.

There is also nothing remotely sustainable about increasing our reliance on electricity. It would take only a coronal mass ejection a gigantic release of plasma and magnetic field from the sun to wipe out the National Grid, as Sir Oliver Letwin so eloquently pointed out in his March 2020 bookApocalypse How?It makes no sense that a British government continues to take us on the doomed path that WEF promotes.

History will not judge kindly a government that abandons its people in favour of the diktats of a foreign entity. Our government needs to learn the lesson of Brexit. The British people want their independence. It is the reason we as a nation have been willing to fight wars.

Now is the time for the Government to abandon Build Back Better, and focus instead on building back without the WEFs fake sustainability and its Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is synonymous only with yet more unemployment and misery.

A useful first step would be for the Government to restore hope, at the very least, to the lost generation. The traumatising of the young, and their consequent despair, is one of the most distressing aspects of the mishandling of the pandemic.

The lack of support for the most disadvantaged white working-class boys is nothing short of a scandal. The Government is sending a clear message that these children have no future in the technocratic world.

This attitude toward the disadvantaged speaks to C S Lewiss grim prophecies of the 1940s. In his novelThat Hideous Strength,he blames advances in technology for the reductions in industrial and agricultural workforces, with no mention of retraining.

Instead, a large, unintelligent population is now a deadweight. In his view the masses are therefore to disappear the human race is to become all technology.

In 1945, George Orwell wrote a review in theManchester Guardianof Lewiss novel. The title of the review was The Scientists Take Over.

He believed that Lewiss dystopian vision was realisable and that there could be a time when the common people are to be used as slaves and vivisection subjects by the ruling caste of scientists Man, in short, is to storm the heavens and overthrow the gods, or even become a god himself.In effect, he was predicting transhumanism, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

At some point it will become obvious in the UK if the oppression we currently face is about keeping us safe from a virus, or about preparing us for life under the WEF reset.

The pandemic itself is likely to fade. Covid has now replaced seasonal flu in the official statistics, thus suggesting that it is no more deadly than a flu. Cases are on the decline. With Covid gone, what will be the excuse to bully us?

The narrative has already begun to change in the US. No sooner was it clear that Donald Trump would leave the White House, than theNew York Timesran an article suggesting that coronavirus will come to resemble the common cold and be no more than a minor annoyance,and the most draconian governors in California, New York and elsewhere began to lift restrictions.

It would seem that the pandemic had done its job: it left Trumps economy in ruins, and provided the perfect pretext for mail-in ballots and for keeping poll watchers at bay during the election count.

So, when can we expect a similar shift in the UK? Liberation cannot come quickly enough. We are fast turning into a nation of zombies. Nothing is working properly. People cant think straight. They demand vaccines in the hope of a return to normality, but fail to hear the Government telling them that nothing will change. The sunny uplands continue to recede.

We are now facing an unholy mess with a shrunken economy, no shiny new Fourth Industrial Revolution to fill the gap, and the potential for hordes of disaffected and disturbed masses to threaten us all.

Is this what is anticipated for us? We can only hope that there is no significance in the evidence coming from one part of Somerset, where an abandoned quarry is used for training police marksmen.

Locals tell me that the police have recently increased their use of the quarry and the barrage of shots can be heard more frequently over a wide distance. What hope is there?

Maybe, once it has sorted itself out, the US will once again help rescue us from fascism, as it did in the 1940s. My great-grandfather certainly believed in June 1940 that the US would rise to the occasion when he wrote to my grandmother from his hotel in Liverpool before setting sail for the States.

We were pleased to see the Americans when they did finally arrive. But more than 80 years later, perhaps such thoughts of rescue are more fiction than fact. Like Mr Tumnus, we may have to wait instead for The Last Battle for freedom to return, and who knows when that will be?

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The Chronicles of Covid, or why we must kill the Great Reset Witch - The Conservative Woman

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Cloudpunk is an exceptional cyberpunk game that keeps getting better – PC Gamer

GOTY 2020

(Image credit: Future)

In addition to our team-selected Game of the Year Awards 2020, individual members of the PC Gamer team each select one of their own favourite games of the year. We'll post new personal picks, alongside the main awards, throughout the rest of the month.

Cloudpunk's transformation has been a pleasure to watch. The version that launched in April was greata cyberpunk courier romp that saw you exploring the dystopian city of Nivalis in your flying car and on foot. Massive voxel spires tearing through the clouds below you; walkways filled with street vendors, dealers and corporate security; everywhere you look something eye-catching and unusual. It's a game you can wrap up in 10 hours, but one that beckons you to explore it for days. Weeks.

If developer Ion Lands had left it that, I'd still probably be writing about Cloudpunk here. I'd still be gushing about Rainia, a rare cyberpunk protagonist who isn't dying from cynicism, who's cool because she absolutely isn't trying to be. And of course I wouldn't forget about Camus, her constant companion. He was an AI dog in a former life, and now he's a car. He's the best boy. The pair meet a lot of fascinating people during their first night on the job, and through them Cloudpunk explores transhumanism, terrorism, AI rights and all sorts of topics, both speculative and relevant now.

Cloudpunk is dense with worldbuilding, but it's not bogged down in it. Nivalis itself is huge and ancient, the sort of thing you can't really know, but you'll come to understand it pretty well, and the greater world around it, just by driving around. In a few hours, you'll have the kind of strong sense of place that a lot of games fail to produce after 50 hours. And like us, Rainia is a newcomer to the city, encountering its oddities for the first time. She doesn't just accept that "this is how it is". She's frequently stunned by it, but also very critical. It's an incredible place that also happens to be deeply fucked up and broken.

So yeah, it was fantastic. Then the first-person mode appeared, initially for the on-foot sections. Previously, these were presented side-on with a fixed camera, and while the ability to explore the city outside of the car was very welcome, I always found myself aching to return to my boxy, banged-up vehicle. The first-person mode changed that straight away. Walking around became a delight. Wizardry must have been involved. The game wasn't designed with a first-person perspective in mind, but it works so damn well. Now I can't imagine playing it any other way. And it only took Ion Lands a month to implement. As I said: wizardry.

Viewing the city up close really lets you admire the impressive voxel art and so many little details that were hard to pick out when it kept you at a distance. It's so much larger and intimidating and lively, but simultaneously intimate. An unlocked third-person camera was also added, and most recently a first-person driving mode, letting you experience the whole game from Rainia's eyes. It's the best way to see the city, but I'm just as enamoured with the inside of my car, which includes a diegetic display that puts your fuel meter, bank balance, minimap and other helpful details on the dashboard.

Cloudpunk could have just let me fly my car around a weird city in the distant future and I would have absolutely been content, but it reeled me in with its intriguing, understated story and then catapulted itself to the top of my favourite games list thanks to the extra attention it's received from Ion Lands. Jumping back in to grab some screenshots, I was reminded just how seductive Nivalis is, and while the story is behind me, I don't think I'm quite done being a tourist.

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Cloudpunk is an exceptional cyberpunk game that keeps getting better - PC Gamer

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Game On: Cyberpunk 2077 is everything I like in a role-playing video game – The Spokesman-Review

After three delays dating back to April, the long-awaited Cyberpunk 2077 was unleashed upon the gaming world on Dec. 10. Its the latest effort by CD Projekt Red, the Polish development team best-known for The Witcher series that catapulted a little-known book series into stardom. This time, the team exercised its open-world, role-playing game muscles to produce an adaptation of the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG dating back to 1988.

When most people think of RPGs, their mind pictures high fantasy settings wizards, dragons and medieval times. Or perhaps they think of science-fiction space operas with alien species and bombastic spaceship battles. Cyberpunk is closer to sci-fi, but instead of space travel you get an Earth-grounded, near-future dystopian setting fueled by transhumanism, debauchery and twisted political systems.

I found myself easily engrossed in the gritty and immersive setting. Some reviewers have accused Cyberpunk 2077 of being gratuitous or edgy for the sake of being edgy, but Id argue compared to the other narrative-driven hit of 2020 The Last of Us Part II this one pales in comparison. Its a dirty city full of dirty deeds, but the game rarely dwells on its bleakness. Beneath its rough exterior are heartfelt stories and characters who, despite their cybernetic body modifications, are still very much a reflection of the human experience.

Working as an opportunistic gunslinging outlaw, the player character, who goes by V, soon finds itself inadvertently entangled in political upheaval. Ive always appreciated the right place at the right time approach to storytelling more than the chosen one clich. Nothing makes V particularly special, and you can even choose from three backgrounds nomad, street kid or corporate. Each backstory changes how V is initially brought into the story and adds a variety of dialogue options specific to your character.

The dialogue is engaging, even mesmerizing. The games themes and narrative are communicated entirely through conversations instead of the boring and all-too-common video game trope of third-person narration. V can chime in frequently, and Cyberpunk 2077 even denotes which dialogue choices will drive the plot forward and which will not. This benefits gamers who want to rush through, as well as people who enjoy role-playing their characters, and its a brilliant mechanic that other dialogue-driven games would do well to emulate.

Open-world games arent my cup of tea. They are often too vast for their own good, relying on bland, repetitive environments and pointless side missions to pad out the run time. Cyberpunk 2077 takes place entirely within the confines of Night City, which is densely populated and appropriately packed full of activities. Its the exact opposite approach of Fallout: New Vegas and The Elder Scrolls series, where players can wander around desolate landscapes for many minutes before encountering anything noteworthy.

That said, Cyberpunk 2077 is not above every time-sucking RPG staple. While many of the side quests assist the narrative and add depth to its eclectic cast, there are occasional fetch quests and other uninspiring activities. If you spend any time scavenging the environment or looting fallen enemies, youll have to waste a lot of time in menus managing your inventory. The issue is mitigated somewhat by a handy sell junk button for selling found commodities, but its hardly a perfect solution.

Cyberpunk 2077 sold 8 million copies via pre-orders alone, which doesnt include sales made on release day. Fifty-nine percent of those purchases were for the PC version, making it the fastest-selling PC game of all time. It attracted more than 1 million active players on Steam hours after its release, the highest concurrent player count for any single-player game.

Despite the sales, CD Projekt Red also has created a scandal. While Cyberpunk 2077 runs like a dream on a good PC or even via Google Stadia with a good internet connection, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 ports leave a lot to be desired. Framerates regularly dip below 30 frames per second, characters randomly pop in and out of existence, objects fail to render, and some players save files have become corrupted, forcing them to restart the game from the beginning.

In response, the developer has promised refunds for dissatisfied players. But video game refunds typically land on the hardware manufacturer in this case, Sony or Microsoft and not the developer. A publicized CD Projekt Red conference call has cast doubt on whether its even possible for the company to give out direct refunds, and its stock recently plummeted by 29%.

The game is so cutting-edge that CD Projekt Red shouldnt have even bothered with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, which came out in 2013 it shouldve instead prioritized getting Cyberpunk 2077 running on Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5. The game will be ported to those consoles in due time, and the upgrade will be free, but many gamers are adamant the damage is already done.

Regardless, Cyberpunk 2077 is my favorite open-world game by far, and I highly recommend it for fans of RPGs, shooters and science fiction. If youre unable to play it on a PC, Id hold off until the dust settles. CD Projekt Red has promised to rigorously update the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 ports to improve performance, but only time will tell if those fixes are sufficient.

Riordan Zentler can be reached at riordanzentler@gmail.com

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Game On: Cyberpunk 2077 is everything I like in a role-playing video game - The Spokesman-Review

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Cyberpunk 2077 Guide Tips and Tricks to Survive Night City – Wccftech

Cyberpunk 2077 makes it pretty clear that Night City is a dangerous place. In early sequences of the game, youll be threatened and shot at by just about everyone. But you can be the apex predator of the city if you want to be. There is a load of different ways you can go about it, and like the tabletop RPG CP77 is based on, it can get a little complicated.

This guide will give you some hints and tips on how to stay alive and rise through the ranks to become a legend, rather than die alone.

Cyberpunk 2077 Guide Leveling Up, Experience, and Attributes Explained

You arent going to be able to talk or sneak your way out of every potential fight in Cyberpunk 2077. Whether you get caught up in street violence or spotted by some server room guards, sometimes you are going to have to fight.

So, make sure youre ready. Keep track of your weapons and make sure youve put some skill points into improving their damage and accuracy. If you want to swing a sword around, make sure youve got enough strength to inflict damage. Youll be picking up more weapons and mods than you realise as you explore Night City, so spend a few minutes before big missions getting familiar with your arsenal and equipping the right tools for the job.

Enemies are also more bullet spongy than you might expect to start with too, so even if you are playing stealthy, dont think a silenced sniper rifle is going to get you past enemies undetected, it's probably just going to alert them.

If you want to play stealth, you have to do more than point your points into Cool. Once youve got a bit of scrip to spend, get to a ripper doc, and get the Nervous System upgrade. It can be expensive if youve found a nice rare one, but it's totally worth it.

With this piece of transhumanism in your noggin, time slows down as you're about to be seen. A staple of the stealth genre, this allows you to either get out the way or get the first several shots in, which is completely lifesaving in Night City.

Cyberpunk 2077 1.05 Hotfix Now Live On PlayStation 4, Xbox One [UPDATE Out on PC, Too]

Obviously, you should also get points in Cool too, as a lot of skills there can help you stay stealthy, but this piece of tech is the thing that changes stealth from a temporary balm to a viable playstyle.

And just to reiterate from the last point, if you are being stealthy, dont use your guns to dispatch enemies. Grab and kill them that way. It's quicker and much more effective. Be careful grabbing enemies that out-level you though. Youll see who they are by the red skull besides their health bar. If you grab these enemies they will immediately escape the grapple and probably kill you.

While it can obviously be incredibly helpful, and perhaps even more fun, to specialise in one or two skills in Cyberpunk 2077, it's very useful early on to have a few options. Spreading the skills you have at least five in Technical Ability, Cool, Body, and Intelligence will unlock several new routes for you to explore either through conversation, unlocking doors, or accessing panels. As you get further into the game five points wont be enough to do much, but that shouldnt matter as you start to discover what you enjoy the most and begin to specialise in that.

Cool is most often used in conversations, which allows you to get more information from a client or target, which sometimes comes in the form of information about secret entrances or paths through otherwise inaccessible areas. Intelligence and Technical Ability are more hands-on, allowing you to access computers and hardware to open doors, turn security systems off, or otherwise approach a situation smarter. Body, on the other hand, lets you rip locked doors from their hinges and intimidate fleshy meat bags into not attacking you.

When leveling up in Cyberpunk 2077, youll be allowed to put points into skills that are broken down by the attributes. Even if you dont want to put any points into Body, make sure you check out the skills from the body tab. These are often general-purpose and well worth investing in whether youre a netrunner or corpo goon.

Stuff like improving your stamina, health, and carry capacity is obviously really useful, especially when youre carrying around enough weapons to nuke Arasaka Towers. These are also great skills to buy early on if youre a little overwhelmed by all the options on offer and dont know how youll play the game long-term.

Youll have a lovely introduction to ripper docs in the game's prologue, and this section will explain how they work, and what kind of upgrades they can offer to your body. But you dont see many options until you go back later, on your own time, with more credits to spend. When you do go back, youll be so overwhelmed with options, it can be hard to see what they all are.

And while improving the brain and arms is fantastic, dont forget to look at leg upgrades as well. Some of them can improve your jumping ability that really opens up the verticality of Night City, giving you new routes and places to explore that otherwise would pass you by. Its actually surprising how much of the game is hidden above where you can normally reach, and the game doesnt really ever tell you to find it.

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Cyberpunk 2077 Guide Tips and Tricks to Survive Night City - Wccftech

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

The Small Dong In Cyberpunk Is Way Too Big | TheGamer – TheGamer

Is it just me, or is the small package in Cyberpunk 2077 way too big?

Is it just me, oris the small penisin Cyberpunk 2077way too big?

That was a rhetorical question - of courseit's too big. That's is why everyone's talking about it. If you fancy a V with a massive hammer, you're in luck but if you were planning on rolling a V with a tiny bird, you're probably going to be disappointed.

RELATED:Digital Goodies, In-Game Rewards, And The Best Place To Buy Cyberpunk 2077 (Sponsored)

Cyberpunk wiener customization is limited to two styles cut or uncut and three sizes. The size options are small, default, and large, but I think they'd be better labelled as "decent hog," "nice package," and "magnum dong." The problem with these sizes, astutely noted by the r/smalldickproblems subreddit, is that even "small" is over five inches long.

Yes, the Cyberpunk penis options are making people very self-conscious about their willies. It seems like the small one should really be the default. According to Healthline (and conventional wisdom), the average penis size is 5.16 inches. So why does Cyberpunk 2077 call a five-inch dick small?

Cyberpunk is not a game that concerns itself with realism. Bodymodification is core to the transhumanism philosophy and to the themes and gameplay of Cyberpunk itself. An argument can be made that all of these dangles come pre-enhanced. After all, if you can replace your hands with gorillafists, it's probably not much of a stretch to imagine that everyoneeventually makes a stop to the Ripperdoc just to add a little more girth to their git. The problem with this theory is that it assumes everyone would want a bigger unit, and that just doesn't ring true.

RELATED:Naked T-Posing While Driving Is The New Best Bug In Cyberpunk 2077

If you ask me, the small option should be a certified micro-penis - maybe even bordering on inverted. Small members-onlycommunities liker/smalldickproblems make it pretty clear that a lot of people with modest pee-pees walks around with a huge chip on their shoulder. That kind of perpetual angstis prime real estate for strong RP. It wouldn't necessarily be a shameful thing though. I imagine there are probably folks with tiny d's that wear it proudly la Short Kings. The point is a small hammercould be an important part of your V's identity, but unfortunately the only size choices we have are big, bigger, and biggest.

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The Small Dong In Cyberpunk Is Way Too Big | TheGamer - TheGamer

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Conspiracy Theorists Believe Jeffrey Epstein, Who Died in 2019, Is Alive at His New Mexico Ranch. He Is Not. – Inside Edition

Convicted sex offender and multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in his Manhattan jail cell more than a year ago, but according to conspiracy theorists he is alive and well and at his ranch in New Mexico, the New York Post reported.

The YouTube channel ABQ Raw told viewers that Epstein could be seen in a red truck, near the fence line of the property of his ranch. The driver of the truck is said to have had a striking resemblance to the recently deceased Jeffrey Epstein. The poster says Epstein must have rode off into the sunset after faking his death, the New York Post reported.

Epstein, 66, did not fake his own death, but instead took his own life after beingcharged in July 2019 with the sexual trafficking of girls as young as 14.

Epstein conned people about his wealth, his financial stature and personal accomplishments, and deceived people in his pursuit to form valuable relationships with political and global leaders, scientists and other titans ofindustry, officials said. Epstein also hada fascination with transhumanism, the science of improving the human population through genetic engineering and artificial intelligence, The New York Times reported. Before hisdeath, Epstein hoped to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating womenat his New Mexico ranch, the Times reported.

On Aug. 10, 2019, Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell in the Special Housing Unit of Manhattan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan around 6:30 a.m. Jail staff tried to revive him, and then called for an ambulance.

He was taken to New York Downtown Hospital around 7:30 a.m. anddeclared dead a short time later. The city Medical Examiners office took Epsteins body from the hospital to the city morgue at Bellevue Medical Center Saturday afternoon to determine the cause of death, the Post reported.

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Conspiracy Theorists Believe Jeffrey Epstein, Who Died in 2019, Is Alive at His New Mexico Ranch. He Is Not. - Inside Edition

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

UTC Professor Blends Together Philosophical Concepts And Filmmaking – The Chattanoogan

When Zuriel Hampton-Coffin learned he would have to make a horror film for his Popular Culture and Religion and Philosophy course, he wasnt horrified.

I was very excited and became more interested in the class, said the freshman in entrepreneurship. Knowing that it was a horror film didnt really make a difference, I was just excited to make a movie.

I really enjoyed the filmmaking process. It was much harder than I thought it would be, but it was very enjoyable.

Getting students to think outside the boxor in this case, inside the movie theateris one reason Ethan Mills, associate professor of philosophy and religion, assigns a three- to five-minute horror film as one of the assignments each semester in the course. Students reactions vary.

Usually, they are a little surprised, and theres a whole history of that because the name of the classes are pretty generic title: Popular Culture and Religion and Philosophy, he said. Some people go, Cool. Im really excited. This is going to be awesome. And sometimes I get the reaction, Well, Im not really a horror fan. I dont really want to make movies, but, you know, maybe itll be interesting.

What I hope they get out of it is theyll be able to appreciate popular culture at a deeper level, more thoughtfully, he said. You can think philosophically about anything.

Dr. Mills has used filmmaking technique in the class three times, including this semester. The latest batch will debut on Nov. 18. One will be selected as the best and win prizes.

The films must illustrate one of the philosophical tenets that have been discussed in class, including existentialism, denial of death, authenticity, absurdity, transhumanism and others. Students must explain, in writing, the concept they are highlighting in their script.

When youre making a film, you cant just say, So-and-so is feeling sad. You have to think about: How do you show that that character is sad? How do you show some of these abstract philosophical ideas? How would you take these ideas and put them in a visual medium?

Mr. Hoffman-Coffin said representing the philosophical concepts was easier than he thought.

You would think that writing scripts addressing philosophical concepts would be hard, but it really wasnt. Professor Mills provided us with many different concepts, which made it extremely easy to create a film addressing those, he said.

Breaking off into groups, students write the screenplay and design the filmmaking process from figuring out the camera shots, the lighting, the pacing and choosing the actors. Working with Wes Smith, who is in charge of the recording and filmmaking studio in the UTC Library, they use professional-grade cameras for filming and computer software and equipment to edit, create the music and add special effects their films. Some students use their smartphones to film.

Actually, especially some of the newer phones, have pretty decent video capabilities, so theyre actually not bad, Dr. Mills said.

Along with discussing the philosophical writings of Jennifer McMahon, Albert Camus, and W.E.B. DuBois, his students have read books and short stories and watched films of horror, then connected the two. Theyve discussed books such as the original Frankenstein, in which the monster is very intelligent but reviled. In doing so, the novel examines xenophobia and the nature of what it means to be human.

Theyve watched Get Out!, the 2017 horror film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar which tackles racism and transhumanism, the idea of using science to improve humans. Theyve read novels by Stephen King and the short stories of H.P. Lovecraft, whose writings conclude that the universe doesnt make any sense and we are simply specks on an infinite canvas.

Thinking about something like Frankenstein, which is still part of the popular culture 200 years after the novel was published, I find it kind of interesting to go back to the original source and see where it all came from, Dr. Mills said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, though, certain changes had to be made

I have to remind them that when theyre filming to be careful interacting with other people. So Ive really been stressing the safety, especially on the filming aspect, Dr. Mills said.

Group discussions can be done over Zoom, he noted, and social distancing and masks are used by students when actual filming takes place, except for the actors who have to speak the lines, of course.

One of his suggestions for safety-first is to create a found-footage filmthink The Blair Witch Project or the Paranormal Activity movies. Those can be made using Zoom, reducing the amount of time students spend in face-to-face groups.

Whatever the style, students hopefully will discover new ways to enjoy what they read and see, Dr. Mills said.

When were watching films or reading the short stories and novels that we cover, what Im trying to train them to do is to find the philosophical content, getting those works. But when theyre making the films, its kind of from the other side. Theyre putting that content into their own work, so they see it from both sides. I think thats a really unique learning experience.

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UTC Professor Blends Together Philosophical Concepts And Filmmaking - The Chattanoogan

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson


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