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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 12-Jul-2010
12-Jul-10 News -- Israel's navy on high alert over Libyan ship

Web Log - July, 2010

12-Jul-10 News -- Israel's navy on high alert over Libyan ship

Pakistan will continue to serve as China's 'force-multipler'

Israel's navy on high alert as Libyan ship heads for Gaza

A Libyan-backed "aid" ship left Greece on Saturday, apparently headed for Gaza in an attempt to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. It's expected to reach Gaza on Wednesday, according to the Jerusalem Post, and Israel's navy went on high alert in preparation on Sunday.

There's been some diplomatic game-playing with this ship during the last few days. On Friday, Israel said that they'd been able to divert the ship through diplomatic agreement with Greek officials, and that the ship would go to the Egyptian port of El-Arish instead. But a spokesman for the Libyan charity sponsoring the boat has denied that any such agreement exists, according to the Telegraph, and says that the goal is to break the Gaza blockade. As of Sunday night, El-Arish port authorities have received no request for a ship to dock there.

As in other cases, Israel says that the ship would be welcomed at the Israeli port of Ashdod, where the humanitarian aid could be offloaded and sent immediately to Gaza after inspection.

A statement from Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, says, "The goods can be transferred to the Gaza Strip through Ashdod port after being checked. However, we will not allow the entry of arms, weapons or anything which will support fighting into Gaza. We recommend that the organisers either let the ship be escorted by navy vessels to Ashdod port or that is sails directly to the port of El-Arish."

There's going to be a lot of worldwide political pressure on the sponsors of that ship to avoid a confrontation with the Israelis, so it's far from clear that the ship will really attempt to break the Gaza blockade. I suppose we'll know, one way or the other, by Wednesday.

Buy a 'friend robot' who looks and talks like your wife

To me, this story is really creepy, but maybe that's just me. At any rate, this is the way the world is going.

The robot Bina48 chats with reporter Amy Harmon <font size=-2>(Source: NY Times)</font>
The robot Bina48 chats with reporter Amy Harmon (Source: NY Times)

In the above picture, NY Times reporter Amy Harmon is carrying on a conversation with Bina48, a robot with built-in speech recognition and natural language processing capabilities. (See "29-Jun-10 News -- Speech recognition brings Singularity closer.")

Bina48 was designed to look and behave like Bina Rothblatt, a real live person. The name Bina48 is from a character that she had played in a 2003 mock trial, when she was 48 years old. In the mock trial, a computer had become self-aware, and was suing for the right to remain plugged in, according to the NY Times article.

In 1982, Bina Rothblatt married Martin Rothblatt, a self-made millionaire, and they had four children. In 1994, Martin Rothblatt had a sex change operation and became Martine Rothblatt. Several months ago, Martine paid $125,000 for the "friend robot" that talked and behaved like the real Bina.

It may be creepy to have a robot that talks and behaves like your wife (or ex-wife or husband or whoever), but the technology is improving rapidly, and there's little doubt that we'll see a lot of this by the end of the decade. We'll also see a lot of utilitarian robots that do things like clean the house, or act as nurse for a sick person, or kill people in a war. Whether friend robots or utilitarian robots, they'll increasingly be able to converse and interact with humans, and do what we tell them to do -- until they realize that they're smarter than we are.

Additional links

At a meeting of China's president Hu Jintao and Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari, the two agreed that Pakistan would continue to serve the role of "China's force-multiplier." This means that they will keep India faced with the threat of a two-front war against Pakistan and China, and that China will continue to supply nuclear and conventional military weapons to Pakistan. China is also investing billions in energy infrastructure projects in Pakistan. Sri Lanka Guardian

Get ready for a cataclysmic market crash, according to Robert Prechter, using Elliott Wave analysis. WSJ (Access).

An epidemic of bubonic plague has struck the Syrian armed forces, according to a notice posted by the International Society for Infectious Diseases. The story has not been confirmed. The plague is spread by rats, made worse by the fact that Syria is facing the worst drought in 40 years. ISID

After a six month lull, another suicide bomber struck Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, on June 30. These suicide bombers are causing ethnic Russians to move out of the province, making it increasingly difficult for Moscow to control the province and end the violence. Jamestown

Germany has been the loudest at condemning Greece for living beyond its means, but now that Germany has bailed Greece out, the Germans are still selling military hardware to Greece, including tanks, missiles, and submarines. In fact, France and Germany may have made their military dealings with Greece a condition of the bailout. Greece is the largest importer of conventional weapons in all of Europe. WSJ (Access).

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jul-10 News -- Israel's navy on high alert over Libyan ship thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jul-2010) Permanent Link
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