History is replete with circumstances that have forced decision-makers at every level to balance the conflicting pressures of military necessity on the one hand and military ethics on the other. In this century, however, western powers that have participated in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations have witnessed an alignment of strategic and ethical demands. In fact, the strategic demands in such operations have often been more stringent than the ethical ones. The proportionality requirements in just war theory and in international law do not prohibit foreseeable civilian casualties, but only those foreseeable civilian casualties that “would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” In recent conflicts, however, civilian casualties have carried tremendous strategic significance in addition to their moral significance.
A good longread.
While I was pregnant with Fiona, I watched mothers around me strain equally hard for perfect pregnancies. During a trip to California, I stayed at the apartment of married friends who were out of town. Upon entering their home, I saw a note on the table, written by the husband. Please take your shoes off whenever you enter the door. Heavy metals found outside aren’t good for our developing baby’s brain. Another friend forced herself to huff and puff up and down her employer’s steps immediately after lunch because she’d been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and doctors told her if she exercised for twenty minutes after every meal, she’d stay off insulin. This same woman had lost her father a few months prior, and her mother blamed her gestational diabetes on grief. “You’re killing that baby!” her mom said.
They do this with the knowledge that, if somehow they do find an intervention to extend the human lifespan, it will almost certainly be too expensive for the average person to afford, which would create two entirely different classes of humans — one group with money that can see 150, and another that just has to take whatever small insights trickle down from the top.
“The disparity of wealth in the United States will create a “class of immortal overlords,” former Facebook President Sean Parker said at a cancer innovation event last November. “Because I’m a billionaire, I’m going to have access to better healthcare so… I’m going to be, like, 160 and I’m going to be part of this class of immortal overlords.”
These breaches keep happening. One day in not so distant future, one of the breaches would end up being the final straw.
Over a long enough time span, all data is liable to be breached. It’s why some security researchers call on companies to store as little data about their customers as possible, to minimize the damage when the inevitable happens. As an advertising company, Facebook cannot easily adopt such an approach. But it could modulate the other ways in which it asks us for our trust — perhaps deciding, as Google did, to leave the camera out of its home speaker; or not to put on stage an executive soliciting our most personal information, however well anonymized, while the investigation into a data breach affecting millions is still underway.
Instead, it’s full speed ahead.
Disruptive innovation is causing social polarization through the decimation of jobs, mass surveillance, and algorithmic confusion. It facilitates the fragmentation of societies by creating antisocial tech monopolies that spread bubbled resentment, change cities, magnify shade, and maximize poorly paid freelance work. The effects of these social and technological disruptions include nationalist, sometimes
nativist, fascist, or ultra-religious mass movements. Creative disruption, fueled by automation and cybernetic control, runs in parallel with an age of political fragmentation. The forces of extreme capital, turbocharged with tribal and fundamentalist hatred, reorganize within financials and filter bubbles.
In the times we are in, we have to redefine “emergency.” It is not about freedom of expression. It is about institutions collapsing and political power capturing everything. I actually had an opportunity to observe the state’s media monitoring intimately from a young age, because my father worked in the Indian Information Service (a cadre of government officers). In fact, during the Emergency, Gandhi gave him the task of keeping an eye on how much space the media gave to opposition figures, in particular JP (Jayaprakash Narayan, a popular opposition leader). And there was pressure (on the media) in subsequent administrations, too. In the concluding years of the Manmohan Singh government (2012 to 2014), his ministers would hand out advisories. Now there is pressure, plus threats to channel management, and action on those threats. When the government stoops to such levels, what do you do?
Once I got to death row, I thought I’d get executed right away, or at least within months. But then the years started passing. My mind cleared. People said, “You shouldn’t be here forever for a fist fight.” I started reading. I read that the law requires you get an “impartial tribunal” that “preserves both the appearance and reality of fairness.” I read that some courts have ruled that two guys who start a deadly fight are equally guilty, so then why did Schoolboy get manslaughter? I was meeting guys on death row with two or three bodies in their past.
J.T. KIRKSEY as told to MAURICE CHAMMAH — The Marshall Project