We all remember the well known fable told by the ancient Greek slave and storyteller, Aesop, about the shepherd boy drafted to keep watch over a flock of sheep, and who, out of boredom, decided it would be great fun to fool the nearby villagers by pretending that a wolf was attacking the sheep. After the villagers rushed out to save the sheep a number of times based upon the boys fabrications they refused to believe him when the wolf actually did show up and began to consume the sheep. The obvious declared moral of the story is generally expressed as “There is no believing a liar, even when he is telling the truth.” However, there is, I submit, a second, unstated moral to the story as well. In spite of the shepherd boys prevarications the wolf was real. And the wolf did, in the end, show up to devour the poor sheep.
Which brings us to the point of this article. For centuries various predictions have been made about the end of the world on certain dates by assorted means and on quite a number of occasions these predictions have been believed by a significant number of people. Obviously the world did not perish in late December of 2012, the most recent date proffered in a long tradition of doomsday predictions that failed to materialize.
There have been countless dozens of other such failed predictions stretching back through the centuries. I think we could say that the batting average of those prognosticators of world destruction has so far been about zero. All of which, however, raises an interesting question. Why are so many people so fearful of and ready to believe in an impending doomsday? I think the answer to that question brings us to the unstated moral of Aesops fable. In spite of all the false alarms the wolf turned out to be very real. And eventually the wolf showed up.
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Apocalypse to start on April 11 claims David Meade
Serial predictor David Meade, who previously claimed the world would end on September 23 and November 19 in 2017, says the new date of the apocalypse is now April 11.
Mr Meade begins an article on Planet X News by saying: “The fat lady is about to sing. It’s all over.”
Mr Meade gives a list of reasons as to why he believes this will be the date of the end of the world, also adding this will be the year the Antichrist finally reveals himself to usher in the apocalypse.
The conspiracy theorist said the Great American Eclipse which took place on August 21 last year, was a “harbinger of a seven-year Tribulation period”.
Mr Meade added the solar eclipse began in Oregon, the 33rd State, and ended in South Carolina, which is in the 33rd parallel – a circle of latitude which is 33 degrees north of the equatorial plane.
Mr Meade said: “The last eclipse of this nature was 99 years ago (33 x 3)”.
Three is significant in Biblical terms as it represents the Holy Trinity. Thirty three is how old Jesus was he died.
He goes on to say the “crazy people of the United Nations” declared on December 21 that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.
This was followed 42 days later by the blood red blue supermoon.
Following this, Mr Meade says “Ron Reese, a Bible scholar of many years … says the Tribulation begins on or around April 11, 2018.”
Mr Meade says the Antichrist will step out of the shadows following this date and “I think I know who it is but there is no way I’m releasing that information.”
He said North Korea will commence World War III later this year and that the fabled Planet X – a mythical planet that is allegedly heading towards our solar system and will knock Earth off its axis and cause widespread destruction – will appear.
Mr Meade said: “Halfway through the Tribulation the Antichrist declares himself in the rebuilt Hebrew temple in Jerusalem. There’s major trouble from that point forward. Everything escalates a hundredfold.
“The Antichrist’s time is brief (a full 3.5 years) but he wrecks havoc on the earth in that time. He creates nuclear wars and as a result there is famine and pestilence.”
Scientists think we all may be dead by 2050
According to research around the future of Artificial Intelligence, the human race could vanish within our lifetime.
At last, some good news, then.
Jeff Nesbit, former director of legislative and public affairs at the National Science Foundation and author of more than 24 books, has examined the latest thinking on AI capabilities.
He concludes that the human race could cease to exist by 2050 – or that we become immortal.
Nesbit explains the theory known as ASI, or ‘artificial super-intelligence’, which posits that AI will evolve into a supercomputer which learns so quickly that it surpasses human intelligence, and solves all problems.
On the one hand, you have the hopefuls like Ray Kurzweil imploring us not to fear artificial intelligence, pointing instead to the older and more pressing threats like bioterrorism or nuclear war.
In fact, Kurzweil argues that mental capabilities are enhanced by AI, and he points out that global rates of violence, war and murder have declined dramatically.
He also argues that AI has helped to find cures for diseases, developed renewable energy resources and, cared for the disabled, among other benefits to society.
Kurzweil puts the date of ‘human level AI’ at 2029, which gives us just enough time to “devise ethical standards”.
Then there’s Rollo Carpenter, creator of the Cleverbot software, which has gained high scores in the Turing test – that is to say, many people have mistaken it for human when communicating with it.
I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time, and the potential of it to solve many of the word problems will be realised.
He explains that the ability to develop algorithms necessary for achieving full artificial intelligence is still a few decades away, and explains:
We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it.
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, pioneer of digital money and electric cars, has told students in an interview that we are “summoning the demon” with AI.
Speaking at the AeroAstro Centennial Symposium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Musk made the following remarks:
If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that [artificial intelligence]. So we need to be very careful.
With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy wih the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.
In a 2015 open letter, Musk and Professor Stephen Hawking wrote on the idea that AI could allow development of autonomous weapons, which would revolutionise warfare – and not for the better.
Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilising nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group.
Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.
Hawking, who is able to communicate via a technology that uses a basic form of AI, also had this cheery proclamation for the BBC:
The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.
He, too, considers the possibility and potential dangers of ASI, explaining that AI could take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate.
Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.
But all of them agree on one thing – sometime in the next 30 years or so, a supercomputer will replicate the human brain and evolve into super-intelligence, or ASI.
Tim Urban, author of ‘Wait, But Why?’ blog, outlines the future:
While most scientists I’ve come across acknowledge that ASI would have the ability to send humans to extinction, many also believe that used beneficially, ASI’s abilities could be used to bring individual humans, and the species as a whole, to…species immortality.
The ‘World Health Organization’ Warns We’re Officially on The Path to a Global Pandemic
We have a problem. A serious one. At any moment, a life-threatening global pandemic could spring up and wipe out a significant amount of human life on this planet.
The death toll would be catastrophic; one disease could see as many as 100 million dead.
It sounds like a horrifying dream. It sounds like something that can’t possibly be true. But it is. The information comes from Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization.
He spoke today at the World Government Summit in Dubai, and according to his assessment, things are not looking good.
“This is not some future nightmare scenario,” said Tedros (as he prefers to be called by Ethiopian tradition).
“This is what happened exactly 100 years ago during the Spanish flu epidemic.” A hush fell across the audience as he noted that we could see such devastation again, perhaps as soon as today.
Tedros was equal parts emphatic and grave as he spoke: “A devastating epidemic could start in any country at any time and kill millions of people because we are still not prepared. The world remains vulnerable.”
What is the cause of this great vulnerability? Is it our inability to stave off Ebola? Rising incidents of rabies in animal populations? An increased number of HIV and AIDS cases?
No. According to Tedros, the threat of a global pandemic comes from our apathy, from our staunch refusal to act to save ourselves – a refusal that finds its heart in our indifference and our greed.
“The absence of universal health coverage is the greatest threat to global health,” Tedros proclaimed.
As the audience shifted in their seats uncomfortably, he noted that, despite the fact that universal health coverage is “within reach” for almost every nation in the world, 3.5 billion people still lack access to essential health services.
Almost 100 million are pushed into extreme poverty because of the cost of paying for care out of their own pockets.
The result? People don’t go to the doctor. They don’t seek treatment. They get sicker. They die. And thus, as Tedros explained, “the earliest signals of an outbreak are missed.”
Surveillance is one of the most vital forms of protection the world’s public health agencies can offer, but these agencies rely on the money of the governments they serve.
And in the United States, which is presently enduring a flu season of record-breaking severity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced they would be cutting their epidemic prevention programs back by 80 percent.
Programs for preventing infectious diseases, such as Ebola, are being scaled back in 39 of the 49 countries they’ve been employed in, according to The Washington Post.
The reason? Quite simply, governments are pulling money from these programs, and it’s not clear whether any more will ever be allocated – at least, not in the US during the current administration.
It might seem a bit obtuse. But, as Tedros pointed out, too often we “see health as a cost to be contained and not an investment to be nurtured.”
Aside from the obvious – avoiding a global pandemic that ravages humanity – healthy societies are advantageous for reasons that are more economic than epidemiological.
“The benefits of universal health coverage go far beyond health,” Tedros said. “Strong health systems are essential to strong economies.”
We know that the quality of pre- and post-natal care a person receives when a child is born has a direct impact on how soon they’re able to return to work (if they choose to).
If we want our children to grow up healthy enough to become functioning, contributing members of society, then the quality of care they receive from birth throughout childhood can’t be underestimated.
“We do not know where and when the next global pandemic will occur,” Tedros admitted, “but we know it will take a terrible toll both on human life and on the economy.”
While Tedros acknowledged there’s no guarantee we’ll one day create a completely pandemic-free world, what is within our reach – if we have the investment and support – is a world where humans, not pathogens, remain in control.
We can do better. And if most of us are to survive in the long term, we must.
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