Symbolic Disconnection from the Stars and the Universe?
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 30 Dec 2019
30 Dec 2019 – Surreptitious Global Implementation of Full-Spectrum Dominance and Shielding
Produced in Anticipation of the Imminent Launch of a Vast Array of Communications Satellites
Connecting the dots — recognizing the pattern
This is an exercise in noting a pattern to very recent events and their implications for the immediate future.
Unilateral mass launching of thousands of satellites: The Starlink satellite constellation is a formation by SpaceX, purportedly to provide global broadband Internet service. In June 2015 the company requested the US regulatory authorities for permission to begin testing for a project that aimed to build a constellation of 4,425 satellites in 1,100 km orbits capable of beaming the Internet to the entire globe, including the remotest currently lacking Internet access. As of March 2017, plans were filed with those authorities to field a constellation of an additional 7,518 “V-band satellites in non-geosynchronous orbits to provide communications services” in an electromagnetic spectrum that had not previously been heavily employed for commercial communications services. As of November 2019, some 122 satellites had been launched, with the ultimate goal of deploying some 12,000 satellites by the mid-2020s.
- Stephen Clark: SpaceX poised to accelerate launch cadence with series of Starlink missions (Spaceflight Now, 20 December 2019)
- Tim Fernholz: SpaceX builds out satellite network with a milestone launch (Quartz, 11 November 2019)
- Why SpaceX and Amazon plan to drastically increase the number of satellites orbiting Earth (CNBC News, 15 December 2019)
- SpaceX wants to triple the number of satellites in our skies (World Economic Forum, 5 January 2017)
Amazon is planning a constellation of 3,200 satellites. OneWeb (a UK company) is aiming to launch 650 satellites — potentially to be increased to 2,000 if there is enough customer demand. As of the beginning of 2019, some 8,950 satellites had already been placed into orbit – and while 5,000 of those were still in space, only about 1,950 were still functioning.
These initiatives promise to sharply accelerate the physical presence of human technology in space. There is no requirement or facility for seeking global consensus on such unconstrained use of outer space or of effectively considering its potential implications.
Establishment of space war forces: A space force is a military branch that conducts space warfare of which 8 have been variously constituted. These are a feature of the progressive militarisation of space.
The only nation which currently has an independent space force is the United States, which established the United States Space Force in December 2019. In 1992 the Russian Space Forces were established as a separate service branch within the Russian Armed Forces, becoming the first independent space force in the world — subsequently merged with other military forces from which it has since been variously independent. In 2015 China established the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force as an independent service branch of the People’s Liberation Army, responsible for space, cyber, and electronic warfare.
As argued by Michael Nayak (Fighting a War in Space: The Case for a Space Innovation Force, Astropolitics: The International Journal of Space Politics and Policy, 16, 2018, 2):
Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) is gearing up to face the challenge of a contested, degraded space environment that may degenerate into a full-on battleground. The U.S. space enterprise needs to be ready to not just respond, but dominate…. To win a war in space, AFSPC must build rapid breakaway capabilities that can asymmetrically rearrange the Space Order of Battle. This work proposes the formation of a top-down “Space Innovation Force” (SIF) to complement the bottom-up SMF. If appropriately empowered, this autonomous flat-management cadre of SIF warriors provides revolutionary technological capabilities that an enemy will be unable to counter in the near term.
Systematic disruption of astronomical observation: This has been of increasing concern in relation to light pollution (as discussed below) and the potential degrading of the space environment (noted above), now exacerbated by the mass launching of near orbit satellites as variously noted:
- Rebecca Morelle: Satellite Constellations: astronomers warn of threat to view of Universe (BBC News, 27 December 2019) — including indicative images
- Ethan Siegel: Latest Starlink Plans Unveiled By Elon Musk And SpaceX Could Create An Astronomical Emergency (Forbes, 11 December 2019)
- Henry Samuel: Astronomers around the world warn massive satellite build-up could ‘cut us off from the cosmos’ forever (The Telegraph, 12 November 2019)
- Rhiannon Williams: Elon Musk’s internet satellites risk destroying the night sky (INews, 2 December 2019)
- Charlotte Edwards: Elon Musk’s Starlink ‘internet satellites’ caught ruining footage of last week’s rare Unicorn meteor shower (The Sun, 27 November 2019)
- Miriam Kramer: 1 big thing: Hunting for asteroids is about to get harder (Axios Space, 3 December 2019)
- Michael J. I. Brown: Lights in the sky from Elon Musk’s new satellite network have stargazers worried (The Conversation, 28 May 2019)
- What satellites will do to our view of the night sky (World Economic Forum, 22 November 2019)
- SpaceX plans to launch thousands of satellites: Is this the end of dark skies? (ABC News , 12 December 2019)
- As SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites, Scientists See Threat to ‘Astronomy Itself’ (The New York Times, 11 November 2019)
Unchallenged accumulation of orbital debris: Space debris (also known as space junk, space waste, space trash, or space garbage) is a term for defunct human-made objects in space — principally in Earth orbit — which no longer serve a useful function. This can include nonfunctional spacecraft, abandoned launch vehicle stages, mission-related debris and fragmentation debris. Examples of space debris include derelict satellites and spent rocket stages as well as the fragments from their disintegration, erosion and collisions, such as paint flecks, solidified liquids from spacecraft breakups, unburned particles from solid rocket motors, etc. Space debris represents a risk to spacecraft
Various estimates include the following:
- as of January 2019, there are estimated to be over 128 million pieces of debris smaller than 1 cm. There are approximately 900,000 pieces from one to ten cm. The current count of large debris (defined as 10 cm across or larger) is 34,000.
- as of October 2019, nearly 20,000 artificial objects in orbit above the Earth including 2,218 operational satellites
- as of July 2016, nearly 18,000 artificial objects are orbiting above Earth, including 1,419 operational satellites.
- as of July 2013, estimates of more than 170 million debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in), about 670,000 debris 1–10 cm, and approximately 29,000 larger pieces of debris are in orbit,
- as of 2009, 19,000 debris over 5 cm (2 in) were tracked.
In systemic terms, as a symbol of the concrete outcome of human endeavour, this curiously parallels the unchallenged accumulation of waste in the Great Pacific garbage patch — for which none assumes responsibility or is able to organize an effective remedy.
Intensification of permanent cyberwarfare: Cyberwarfare is the use of technology to attack government agencies, corporations or other electronic facilities, causing comparable harm to actual warfare. Many states including the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, India, China, Israel, Iran, and North Korea have active cyber operations for offensive and defensive operations.
The processes involved are in many respects indistinguishable from invasive marketing and surveillance — as these may relate to foreign disruption of democratic electoral processes, now the focus of increasing concern following the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of 2018.
Deployment of 5G: As the fifth generation wireless technology for digital cellular networks, 5G has begun wide deployment in 2019. Like previous standards the covered areas are divided into regions (called cells), serviced by individual antennas. Virtually every major telecommunication service provider in the developed world is deploying appropriate antennas or intends to deploy them soon.
Various concerns have been raised by that deployment:
- Interference issues: The spectrum used by various 5G proposals will be near that of passive remote sensing such as by weather and Earth observation satellites, particularly for water vapor monitoring. Interference will occur and will potentially be significant without effective controls.
- Surveillance concerns: Due to fears of potential espionage of foreign users by equipment vendors, several countries have taken actions to restrict or eliminate the use of equipment in their respective 5G networks (Concerns over Chinese involvement in 5G wireless networks). Chinese vendors and the Chinese government have denied these claims.
- Health concerns: Health concerns related to radiation from cell telephone towers and cell telephones are not new (Mobile phone radiation and health). Although electromagnetic hypersensitivity is not scientifically recognized, diffuse symptoms such as headache and tiredness have been claimed to result from exposure to electromagnetic fields such as those that carry 5G and Wi-Fi. The further development of the technology has elicited a range of responses regarding concerns that 5G radiation could have adverse health effects. It has been noted that complete scientific research regarding its effects has not been conducted and that there could be health risks
- Security concerns: It has been asserted that 5G technology could open the possibility of a new era of security threats. The technology has been described as immature and insufficiently tested, enabling the movement and access of vastly higher quantities of data, and thus broadening vulnerability to attack (Criticism of Huawei — Espionage and security concerns).
- Marketing of non-5G services: The deployment of 5G is recognized as liable to cause customer confusion with respect to other development of wireless technology.
Uncontrolled dependence on artificial intelligence: There are various indications of the increased dependence on artificial intelligence and the associated algorithms, some intimately related to past and emerging crises, as previously discussed (Uncritical Strategic Dependence on Little-known Metrics: the Gaussian Copula, the Kaya Identity, and what else? 2009). More recent indications include:
- Rebecca Heilweil: New York City couldn’t pry open its own black box algorithms. (Recode, 18 Dec 2019) — raising the question: So now what? From policing to schools, algorithms impact the lives of nearly 9 million New Yorkers. Nobody seems to really understand how, though.
- New York City: Automated Decision Systems Task Force Report (November 2019)
- Rashida Richardson (Ed.): Confronting Black Boxes: A Shadow Report of the New York City Automated Decision System Task Force (AI Now Institute, 4 December 2019)
- Neil C. Renic: Death of efforts to regulate autonomous weapons has been greatly exaggerated (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 18 December 2019)
- Brad Allenby: 5G, AI, and big data: We’re building a new cognitive infrastructure and don’t even know it (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 19 December 2019)
- Matt Field: As the US, China, and Russia build new nuclear weapons systems, how will AI be built in? (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 20 December 2019)
Of particular relevance are the assumptions relating to initiatives whereby the massive flows of “intelligence” are correlated intelligently — potentially through what has been framed metaphorically as a “global brain”. A particular instance is the highly secretive Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center (Bluffdale, Utah), namely the primary facility for the United States Intelligence Community.
Further indications are offered in a report of a presentation on “Enterprise Disruption” on behalf of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) at the 2019 Space Symposium in Colorado Springs regarding the soon-to-be implemented facility named Sentient:
… “geospatial intelligence” no longer simply means pictures from satellites. It means anything with a timestamp and a location stamp, and the attempt to integrate all that sundry data…: When would that translate to near-instantaneous understanding and strategy development?… Sentient is (or at least aims to be) an omnivorous analysis tool… A product of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Sentient is (or at least aims to be) an omnivorous analysis tool, capable of devouring data of all sorts, making sense of the past and present, anticipating the future, and pointing satellites toward what it determines will be the most interesting parts of that future. That, ideally, makes things simpler downstream for human analysts at other organizations, like the NGA, with which the satellite-centric NRO partners. (Sarah Scoles, It’s Sentient: Meet the classified artificial brain being developed by US intelligence programs, Verge, 31 July 2019).
Intensification of invasive global surveillance: Global mass surveillance refers to the mass surveillance of entire populations across national borders, potentially with a view to influencing (if not manipulating) public opinion. Its roots can be traced back to the middle of the 20th century with an agreement jointly enacted by the United Kingdom and the United States, and later expanded to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This created the present Five Eyes alliance. That alliance has developed cooperative arrangements with several “third-party” nations, eventually resulting in the establishment of a global surveillance network, code-named ECHELON. The extent and nature of its operations have become the subject of widespread debate following the global surveillance disclosures of 2013 and thereafter.
The various technologies described above are recognized as increasing the probability and degree of such invasive surveillance and the vulnerability of populations to it.
Psycho-social and symbolic implications? There is an inevitability to such ill-considered developments, as with other unconstrained dynamics now engendering global crises. The focus here is on the subtler implications which are so readily ignored in the unchallenged promotion of technology by which they are so effectively disguised.
It can however be readily recognized that there is a symbolic drama to configuring a constellation of satellites around the Earth. This is the stuff of legend — reminiscent of tales of deities and mythical figures of the past. It is the fulfillment of dreams envisaged in the imaginings of the science fiction by which so many have been nourished. However it can also be recognized as devious exploitation of those dreams in the service of darkly dubious agendas.
The following notes how the technology constituting that constellation will be seen as a precursor for shading the Sun as a means of fixing climate change. This is effectively blaming the Sun for global warming, with all that implies, given the significance of the Sun for the human psyche over millennia. And will the pattern of satellites be recognized as a form of “graffiti” scrawled across the starscape? Will it be considered, by some, as a kind of “electromagnetic contraceptive” — a “global condom” reducing the risk of infectious inspiration from the stars? This is reminiscent of efforts by artists to wrap monuments in plastic — and the extent to which the proliferation of plastic now separates humanity from nature.
Most intriguing in symbolic terms is the extent to which any such constellation can be understood as a form of “crown” — beyond any acknowledgement as a crowning achievement of technology. As a pattern, such a global configuration recalls the significance of both the Omphalos of Ancient Greece and that attributed to the crown chakra of Asian traditions. Given the strategic strife between the “heartless heads” and the “headless hearts” at this time, a crown of some kind may herald the emergence of a form of wisdom transcending such conflict. Beyond the imaginings of its proponents, and any criticism, would such an “electromagnetic crown” enable more fruitful engagement with the Universe — a reconnection?
Anthony Judge is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and mainly known for his career at the Union of International Associations (UIA), where he has been Director of Communications and Research, as well as Assistant Secretary-General. He was responsible at the UIA for the development of interlinked databases and for publications based on those databases, mainly the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, the Yearbook of International Organizations, and the International Congress Calendar. Judge has also personally authored a collection of over 1,600 documents of relevance to governance and strategy-making. All these papers are freely available on his personal website Laetus in Praesens. Now retired from the UIA, he is continuing his research within the context of an initiative called Union of Imaginable Associations. Judge is an Australian born in Egypt, a thinker, an author, and lives in Brussels. His TMS articles may be accessed HERE. (Wikipedia)
Tags: 5G wireless, Astronomy, Cyberwar, Military, Nuclear Arms in Space, Satellites, Space Debris, Space Weapons, Space science, Surveillance
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