Posted by: Dr Churchill | August 25, 2021

Whistleblower going Crypto…

Five years ago, from her prison cell, trans whistleblower Chelsea Manning sketched out a new way to protect online privacy. Now, she is helping an MIT-affiliated cryptographer bring the next generation of privacy software online.


Chelsea Manning’s long blonde hair catches in a cool summer breeze as she turns the corner into Brooklyn’s Starr Bar, a dimly lit counter-cultural haunt in the heart of the hipster enclave of Bushwick. The 33-year-old best known for leaking hundreds of thousands of top-secret government documents to Julian Assange in 2010, then coming out as a transgender woman, walks past a poster depicting sea turtles, humans and geese merging to form the outline of a dove. Beside the image are the words, “Your Nations Cannot Contain Us.”

Dressed in a black suit and wearing a silver Omega watch, she makes her way to a small wooden table illuminated by a shaft of sunlight. She orders a Coke. Contrary to what one might expect, this whistleblower turned trans icon looks uncomfortable in the hip surroundings. A fan reverently approaches her and welcomes her back. “This is my life,” she says after he leaves, expressing gratitude for the well wishes and lamenting the loss of her privacy. “I’m not just famous—I’m in the history books.

While serving the longest sentence ever doled out to a whistleblower after she used the privacy-protecting Tor Network to anonymously leak 700,000 government documents, she used her time in incarceration to devise a better way to cover the tracks of other online users. Knowing that the nonprofit Tor Project she used to send files to Wikileaks had become increasingly vulnerable to the prying eyes of intelligence agencies and law enforcement, she sketched out a new way to hide internet traffic using blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin, to build a similar network, without troublesome government funding. The entire plan was hatched in a military prison, on paper.

The privacy network industry, including the virtual private networks (VPNs) familiar to many corporate users, generated $29 billion in revenue in 2019 and expected to triple to $75 billion by 2027. Fixing the known weaknesses of these networks is about more than just protecting future whistleblowers and criminals. Private networks are also vital for big businesses who want to protect trade secrets. Manning thinks that not-for-profit efforts like Tor, which relies on U.S. government funding and a worldwide network of volunteers to run its anonymous servers, aren’t robust enough. “Nonprofits are unsustainable,” says Manning casually, sipping from her Coke. “They require constant upholding by large capital funds, by large governments.”

20210621_162555
Nym Technologies founder Harry Halpin sips on a “homojito” at Brooklyn’s LGBTQ-friendly Starr Bar, as he and Chelsea Manning discuss their nascent partnership, formalized in July. MICHAEL DEL CASTILLO FOR FORBES

By January 2017, she was 7 years into a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, home to the likes of former Army Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 14 fellow soldiers in 2009. As President Barack Obama prepared to leave office, he granted Manning an unconditional commutation of her sentence. Newly tasting freedom, she was contacted by Harry Halpin, the 41-year-old mathematician who worked for World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee at MIT from 2013 to 2016 helping standardize the use of cryptography across Web browsers.

Halpin asked Manning to look for security weaknesses in his new privacy project, which eventually became Nym, a Neuchâtel, Switzerland-based crypto startup. Halprin founded Nym in 2018 to send data anonymously around the Internet using the same blockchain technology underlying Bitcoin. To date, Nym has raised some $8.5 million from a group of crypto investors including Binance, Polychain Capital and NGC Ventures. The firm now employs ten people and is using its latest round of capital to double its team size.

Halpin was impressed by Manning’s technical knowledge. More than just a famous leaker who happened to have access to secret documents, Manning struck Halpin as someone with a deep technological understanding of how governments and big business seek to spy on private messages.

“We’ve very rarely had access to people who really were inside the machine, who can explain what they believe the actual capabilities of these kinds of adversaries are, what kinds of attacks are more likely,” says Halpin. “She’ll help us fix holes in our design.”


Born in Oklahoma on December 17, 1987, Manning had her first exposure to what’s called network traffic analysis in high school. She and her Welsh mother, Susan, had moved to Haverfordwest, Wales, in 2001, when Manning was 13. In a computer class there, in 2003, she first learned to circumvent blocks put in place by the school to prevent students downloading certain files—and got caught pirating music by Linkin Park, Jay-Z and others. The headmaster had been watching remotely. “It was the first moment where it dawned on me, ‘Oh, this is a thing. You can do this.’”

By 2008 Manning’s interest in network traffic analysis first brought her to The Onion Router (Tor), a volunteer network of computers that sits on top of the internet and helps hide a user’s identity. The nonprofit organization leveraged something called “onion routing,” which hides messages beneath layers of encryption. Each message is only decipherable by a different member of the network, which routes the message to the next router, ensuring that only the sender and receiver can decipher it all. Ironically, the network colloquially known as the “Dark Web,” used by Manning to send classified documents to WikiLeaks, was developed by the U.S. government to protect spies and other government agents operating online.

Chelsea MAnning by Jamel Toppin for Forbes_DSC7733
Much of Manning’s consulting work comes with mutually binding non-disclosure agreements that make it difficult for her to market her business. JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

At around the same time Manning discovered Tor, she joined the U.S. Army. As a young intelligence analyst her job was to sort through classified databases in search of tactical patterns. After becoming disillusioned with what she learned about the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, she plugged into her computer, put in her headphones, and loaded a CD with music from another of her favorite musicians, Lady Gaga. Instead of listening to the album, though, she erased it and downloaded what would eventually be known as the largest single leak in U.S. history, ranging from sensitive diplomatic cables to video showing U.S. soldiers killing civilians, including two Reuters journalists.

In prison she studied carpentry, but she never stopped exploring her earlier vocation. “I’m a certified carpenter,” she says. “But when I wasn’t doing that, I would read a lot of cryptography papers.” In 2016, she was visited in prison by Yan Zhu, a physicist from MIT who would later go on to become chief security officer of Brave, a privacy-protecting internet browser that pays users in cryptocurrency in exchange for agreeing to see ads.

She and Zhu were concerned with vulnerabilities they saw in Tor, including its dependence on the goodwill of governments and academic institutions. In 2020 53% of its $5 million funding came from the U.S. government and 27% came from other Western governments, tax-subsidized nonprofits, foundations and companies. Worse, in their opinion, the technology being developed to break privacy was being funded at a higher rate than the technology to protect it.

“As the Dark Web, or Tor and VPN and all these other services became more prolific, the tools to do traffic analysis had dramatically improved,” says Manning. “And there’s sort of been a cold war that’s been going on between the Tor project developers, and a number of state actors and large internet service providers.” In 2014, the FBI learned how to decipher Tor data. By 2020 a single user reportedly controlled enough Tor nodes to steal bitcoin transactions initiated over the network.

Using two lined pieces of composition paper from the prison commissary, Manning drew a schematic for Zhu of what she called Tor Plus. Instead of just encrypting the data she proposed to inject the information equivalent of noise into network communications. In the margins of the document she even postulated that blockchain, the technology popularized by bitcoin, could play a role. In the notes below she wrote the words: “New Hope.”

Diagram
Manning was prohibited from having guests she didn’t know prior to her imprisonment. Fortunately, she’d met MIT physicist Yan Zhu at a party shortly before being locked up and drew up these documents during a visit in 2016. PERSONAL ARCHIVIST LISA REIN, GETTY IMAGES

Then, this February Halpin woke her up late one night with an encrypted text message asking her to take a look at a paper describing Nym. Developed completely separately from Manning’s jailhouse sketch, the paper detailed an almost identical system disguising real messages with white noise. A hybrid of the decentralized Tor that relies on donor support and a corporate-owned VPN that requires trusting a company, this network promised the best of both worlds. Organized as a for-profit enterprise, Nym would pay people and organizations running the network in cryptocurrency. “The next day I cleared my schedule,” she says. By July she’d signed a contract with Nym to run a security audit that could eventually include a closer look at the code, the math and the defensive scenarios against government attacks.

Unlike Tor, which uses the onion router to obscure data sent on a shared network, Nym uses what’s called a mix network, or mixnet, that not only shuffles the data, but also alternates the methods by which the data is shuffled, making it nearly impossible to reassemble.

“Imagine you have a deck of cards,” says Manning. “What’s really unique here is that what’s being done is that you are taking essentially a deck of cards, and you are taking a bunch of other decks of cards, and you are shuffling those decks of cards as well.”

And, as it, turns out, not every government is comfortable using a privacy network largely funded by the U.S. government. Despite Halpin’s commitment to build a network that doesn’t require government funding to operate, in July Nym accepted a €200,000 grant from the European Commission to help get it off the ground.


“Knowing that Wikileaks had become increasingly vulnerable to prying eyes from intelligence agencies and law enforcement, she sketched out a new way to hide internet traffic using blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin.”


“The problem is that there was never a financial model that made any sense to build this technology,” says Halpin. “There was no interest from users, venture capital and big companies. And now you’re seeing what we consider a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of the stars, where there’s interest in privacy from venture capital. There’s an interest in privacy for users. There’s interest in privacy from companies. And most of the interest from the venture capital side and the company side and the user side has been driven by cryptocurrency. And this was not the case even five years ago.”

Even Tor itself is exploring how to use blockchain to create the next generation of its software. After receiving 26% of its total donations in cryptocurrency last year, the Tor Project received a $670,000 grant from advocates of the Zcash cryptocurrency and sold a non-fungible token (NFT) representing the first .onion address for $2 million in May, 2021. Now, Tor cofounder Nick Mathewson says the Seattle-based nonprofit is exploring some of the same techniques developed by cryptocurrency companies to create Tor credentials that let users develop a reputation without revealing their identity. What he calls an “anonymous blacklistable credential.”

“If you’ve got a website, and somebody does something you don’t like, you can ban them,” says Mathewson. “You can ban the person who did that activity without ever finding out what other activities they did or figuring out whom you banned.”

Though Mathewson is interested in the possibility of using blockchain to upgrade Tor itself, he warns that making for-profit privacy infrastructure could lead to more money being spent on marketing than product development. “Our mission is to encourage the use of privacy technology,” says Mathewson. “I don’t really care whether that privacy tool is the one I made or not.”

Ironically, the same cryptocurrency culture Halpin says brought so much attention from investors, deterred Manning from getting involved earlier. Though she counts herself among the earliest bitcoin adopters, claiming to have mined cryptocurrency shortly after Satoshi Nakomoto activated it in 2009, she sold her bitcoin last year for decidedly nonmonetary reasons.

“I am not a fan of the culture around blockchain and cryptocurrency,” she says. “There’s a lot of large personalities that are very out there, like your Elon Musks and whatnot,” she says. “And it‘s very, like, ‘Oh, we’re going to get rich off of blockchain.’ It’s very nouveau riche. Like a new-yuppies-bro-culture that’s surrounded it. It has gotten a little bit better in some corners. But I think that culture is what I’m talking about. It’s like Gordon Gekko, but blockchain.”

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

This is an excerpt from the Forbes article by Michael Del Castillo written on the 25th of August 2021


To be a person living in Liberty is to be a conduit for Joy in the universe by just showing up openly, wholeheartedly and truthfully in who you are.

And if you choose to live that way openly and also align yourself with Love and the Universe each and every day, this simple act of deliverance is what we could even call Love…

And that practice can easily become our Destiny as People of the World and Citizens of America and Full Human Beings.

And yes there is an exceptionalism about all this as you can imagine — but that is only a small part of the story of our great nation, because our manifest destiny can only be seen through the lens of what defines each and every one of us.

Now, in America the Statue of Liberty is a defining monument that speaks of our Civilization as an example of Love towards all the immigrants and the huddled masses as seen in the way that was represented through this gift from France to America, commemorating the two nations’ amity, comradeship in the Revolutionary war, and the constant friendship as well as our shared love of freedom.

And long after Lafayette saved the life of George Washington in the battlefield — Lady Liberty was inaugurated in 1886, a year and two decades after Lincoln’s assassination, the successful conclusion of the Civil War and the Great Emancipation proclamation that ended slavery in these United States of America…

Because it was when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war, when he signed the proclamation and declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” This was successfully passed by the United States Senate and ratified the very next year, when eventually, the Emancipation Proclamation led to the proposal and ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which formally abolished slavery throughout the land.

The Thirteenth Amendment, was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864; by the House on January 31, 1865; and was ratified by the states on December 6, 1865. It abolished slavery “within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Congress required former Confederate states to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment as a condition of regaining federal representation.

As you can imagine Lady Liberty was revolutionary in more ways than one, since it also marked in stone and in a stately & magnificent statue the END OF SLAVERY, the END OF OPPRESSION, and the END OF THE INHUMAN TREATMENT OF ONE MAN OVER ANOTHER.

And by the way — it also marked one of the world’s first, successful crowdfunding projects for a public monument, when through the assistance of the famous poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” that was written for the fundraising campaign, and helped raise over $100,000 in those difficult times.

The money was raised from more than 120,000 donors, including schoolchildren and liberty minded American as well as French citizens who collected their pennies and gave them to cover the cost of a great cause in the name of Liberty, Emancipation and Freedom from the bondage of one man from another in the New World…

At long last Lady Liberty was created & built in Paris. She was then disassembled, crated and shipped to America. She was subsequently installed on a small island from where she has been towering over New York’s harbour and all the millions of immigrants who passed by her, for 135 solid years of liberty advancing all over the world as it towers over Americans’ and of all Peoples’ view of themselves as a Free People the world over, yesterday, today, and God willing tomorrow too.

And as she is presiding over our lives, she witnesses the reverses of progress and the loss of freedom all over the world — yet she gives us all great hope now and forever more so that we can gird ourselves and move our spirit forth in Free Will and Self Determination because that is the only future that humanity deserves to obtain, not just for ourselves, but for our children and for our children’s children as well as for the children of the whole world’s huddled masses of despairing humanity.

Indeed, the statue of Lady Liberty could never have happened without the passage of America from Slavery to Freedom, because she is a symbolic representation of the country’s foremost ideal. The ideal of individual freedom and personal liberty. And it is the premiere value of America, since the value of freedom undergirds many a newspaper article, a church sermon and even a street demonstration, and that has been the case since time immemorial, same as it was the case in ancient Athens and Rome in the past. Yet these ancient freedom loving Republics did not survive the test of time, and were brought down by their failure of imagination to perceive the future and deal with it successfully.

Yet, here in America today — we are able to see the future clearly because of these legendary eclipses of Liberty and the failures of Republican Democratic powers in these ancient Democracies due to the clear lack of responsible Citizenship of the ancient Athenians and the ancient Romans.

And today it is also seen as a clear lack of responsible citizenship when the ideal of Liberty is sometimes invoked whenever someone refuses to wear a face mask during a pandemic and it is used when one refuses to accept a vaccine in the public and personal interest.

And that is OK — yet what most people don’t know that is also important to adhere to the common cause that Liberty comes with Responsibility and that is the sum total of American Citizenship.

That was the mission of America in Afghanistan for the last twenty years where it should have been seen as a sign to the whole world as we built up a nation where we had organized elections, we trained and stood up a brand-new national army, we freed girls to go to school and also freed women to go to the market alone, freed them to go to work and also work in the healing professions within the hospitals that we had built over these last two decades — and yet we foreshook our responsibility to the ideal of Liberty and lost our Courage by letting down our people, our allies and all of the Afghans as we descended into the chaos and vitriol of our own belligerent parties and fratricide that shuttered ancient Roman Republic and let the barbarians rule over her and the known world thus ending Freedom and Citizenship for a thousand years…

Our letting go of our responsibility and courage in maintaining the mission in Afghanistan is of an equal measure to that…

Lack of responsible leadership is the root of all Failures at the international and national landscape amongst nations and geopolitical empires today and tomorrow as it was surely the case yesterday and in the long lens of History.

Responsibility is a great & powerful tool of Human Intelligence, but without courage it is a simple wishing well…

So it comes to me as no surprise that about 75 years after the statue of Lady Liberty was inaugurated, another statue was proposed, as its “twin” to be erected on the other side of the country, on the Pacific ocean harbor of America in one of the islands of the San Francisco Bay.

It would be created as the thinking person’s statue and called the Statue of Responsibility, as it would symbolise the other and yet equally important side of America’s prized virtue — the inherent responsibility and the obvious obligations that come with a free society and a mindful citizenship.

The idea was the brainchild of Viktor Frankl. In 1942 at the age of 37, Frankl, a psychologist, was deported from Vienna to the first of four concentration camps, where his father died of pneumonia, his mother and brother were gassed and his wife died of typhus. He ended up in Auschwitz. Within months of his liberation, over a nine-day period, he wrote the book that became “Man’s Search for Meaning”. In it, he tried to make sense of the evil he experienced and articulated the importance of having a goal to live for.

In 1962, when he revised the book for an American edition and, with the passage of time, had reflected more on the experience, he wrote the following:

“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”

Since then, his vision has been taken up by two nonprofit groups, The Responsibility Foundation and the Statue Of Responsibility Foundation, both with the blessing of his second wife, Elly Frankl. Among the latter group’s backers was the late Stephen Covey, a business professor and author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Covey commissioned a sculptor, Gary Lee Price, who designed a 300-foot statue of two arms clasping each other by the wrist—a bond among individuals unshakably gripped together.

Several locations have been suggested. One is on Alcatraz Island (which as a former maximum-security prison probably provides the wrong symbolism). A more inspiring choice is Angel Island, which sits around four miles off of San Francisco and served as an immigration-processing centre for more than half a million new residents between 1910 and 1940. So far, both projects have stalled.

Mrs Frankl, at 95 and living in Vienna, notes that her husband’s idea for a statue was meant as a thought experiment. “He was surprised and flattered when he heard of the project. I don’t think he ever expected to be taken literally,” she said in an interview, conducted through Alex Vesely, their grandson and a board director of the Viktor Frankl Institute. “Many people talk for hours and say very little, but he had this gift of speaking the truth with a few simple words. He coined this phrase to make a point,” she said.

What makes Viktor Frankl’s idea so appropriate is that, as he understood, liberty begets responsibility; that with freedom comes the need for self-control and an obligation to think of others, not just oneself. That is what Frankl alluded to when he wrote that freedom is “only part of the story and half of the truth”.

The pandemic—with its ludicrous protests against face masks and vaccines in the name of freedom—has been a painful illustration of the costs to society when people fail to understand liberty’s flipside.

We don’t have a freedom problem: we have a responsibility problem.

What does it mean to be responsible?

It means understanding yourself as belonging to something larger than yourself.
it means accepting a duty to do right regardless of the cost.

To the Stoics, the branch of classical Greek and Roman philosophy that I study — our responsibility was to our character and to the common good, a dual loyalty very much similar to the way Victor Frankl wanted the two American statues on the East and the West from New York harbor to San Francisco bay, to commemorate two concomitant values.

Statues are totems to our values. We erect them not just to honour the past but to remind the present. The great Athenian orator Demosthenes once reminded an audience that previous generations did not put up monuments to recognise their own achievements but to spur people to greater deeds in the future. Yet sometimes the past and present collide.

Around the world, people have begun to look uneasily at the statues in their cities, parks and campuses. In Belgium, some monuments to Leopold II, the coloniser king, have been removed. In Britain a heavy, bronze statue of Edward Colston, merchant, philanthropist & slave trader, was pulled down and pushed into Bristol Harbour. In New Orleans enormous cranes removed the statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, which stood near the entrance to the French Quarter.

Although many of us can agree that statues of colonisers, murderers and traitors should go, it has long struck me as peculiar that we have little sense of what should be there instead. America in particular has struggled to put up any new statues lately… It took more than 20 years to plan and erect the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, a set of bronzes in Washington, DC. The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, in a park next to the National Mall, is not even ten years old; yet plans for it began shortly after his assassination in 1968.

Likewise, when it comes to a Statue of Responsibility, somehow no one is willing to be responsible. It is preposterous, because there are more than enough tech entrepreneurs on a single block in downtown San Francisco capable of funding such a project through their own pocketbook…

Methinks that what is needed is a sense of urgency and the sense of responsibility to do this for future generations, and for this one as well.

Because we ought to be mindful of what the French Humanist Author and freedom loving writer André Malraux once said:

“You can judge a society by the monuments it puts up.”

Yet it seems to me that we are lacking in that respect and as we are hurrying along to “built back better” — we best reflect and choose some new ideals to go with it…

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

You ought to know by now that the actual Lady Liberty is depicted in motion, taking a step forward now and forever…

Indeed most of us have seen the statue many times, but never noticed that her feet are not stationary but striding forth, because Lady Liberty is on the move, since she uses her freedom and there’s no time for standing still, or waiting.

She’s got work to do.

So too the Statue of Responsibility should be active, symbolising what we ought do, individually and collectively, to act co-operatively on the major challenges of our time. “We are humans, given a heart and a brain. This makes us responsible,” says Mrs Frankl. “There are tasks waiting for us.”

Amid covid-19, some people ran away from their responsibilities while others ran toward them—selflessly, courageously. Millions did their duty quietly and without complaint and never ended up in the news. We should celebrate and immortalise the values that create a responsible society. We should bind it to our cultural consciousness as we did liberty. Those who proclaim their freedom but ignore their responsibility aren’t being heroic but self-centred and irresponsible. They are misusing the gift they have been given.

That is what lies behind Viktor Frankl’s observation that “freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.” Imagine how different the response to the pandemic might have been if the value that Americans looked up to wasn’t just liberty for themselves but responsibility for each other.

Posted by: Dr Churchill | August 17, 2021

Divine Intelligence

Einstein’s view of the World and the Divine Intelligence hiding in plain sight behind the Universe is seen here in his own words:

“From the age of twelve I began to suspect authority and distrust teachers. I learned mostly at home, first from my uncle and then from a student who came to eat with us once a week. He would give me books on physics and astronomy.

The more I read, the more puzzled I was by the order of the universe and the disorder of the human mind, by the scientists who didn’t agree on the how, the when, or the why of creation.

Then one day this student brought me Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Reading Kant, I began to suspect everything I was taught.

I no longer believed in the known God of the Bible, but rather in the mysterious God expressed in nature.The basic laws of the Universe are simple, but because our senses are limited, we can’t grasp them.

There is a pattern in creation.

If we look at this tree outside whose roots search beneath the pavement for water, or a flower which sends its sweet smell to the pollinating bees, or even our own selves and the inner forces that drive us to act, we can see that we all dance to a mysterious tune, and the piper who plays this melody from an inscrutable distance — whatever name we give him — Creative Force, Divine Intelligence, Creator or God, escapes all book knowledge.

I like to experience the Universe as one harmonious whole, because every cell has life; matter, too has life; it is energy solidified…

The whole of Nature is life, and life, as I observe it, rejects a God resembling man.Man has infinite dimensions and finds God in his conscience. A cosmic religion has no dogma other than teaching man that the Universe is rational and that his highest destiny is to ponder it and co-create with its laws.

The genuine scientist is not moved by praise or blame, nor does he preach. He unveils the universe and people come eagerly, without being pushed, to behold a new revelation: the order, the harmony, the magnificence of creation!

If we want to improve the world we cannot do it with scientific knowledge but with ideals.

Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Gandhi have done more for humanity than science has done. We must begin with the heart of man — with his conscience — and the values of conscience can only be manifested by selfless service to mankind.

Religion and science go together.

Because Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind. They are interdependent and have a common goal—the search for truth.”

~Albert Einstein

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

This is what Albert said about his early schooling career:

“School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like Feldwebel (sergeants). I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam.

What I hated most was the competitive system there, and especially sports. Because of this, I wasn’t worth anything, and several times they suggested I leave.

This was a Catholic School in Munich. I felt that my thirst for knowledge was being strangled by my teachers; grades were their only measurement.

How can a teacher understand youth with such a system?”

PPS:

‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.’-Albert Einstein, advice to his son Eduard, 5 Feb. 1930.

Photo: Albert Einstein riding a beach bike in Santa Barbara, California, 1933.

–Caltech Archives

Posted by: Dr Churchill | August 13, 2021

Follow your dreams…

The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a new Global Warming report that shows that the warming of 1.5 ºC is being surpassed as we speak (IPCC Report) and that has woken up government officials around the world who have sounded the alarm on Monday over this harrowing new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that is urging immediate action to limit global heating, with markedly hostile tones towards rich countries setting the stage for tense negotiations at the global climate summit in November…  

1,000 Ice Figures For Global Warming
The IPCC report said drastic and immediate cuts to carbon emissions were needed to stop the world … [+] GETTY IMAGES

Human activities are responsible for “unprecedented” and possibly irreversible changes to the climate and have made extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding more likely, the IPCC panel warned Monday, though drastic and immediate cuts to greenhouse gas emissions could help stave off catastrophic temperature increases.

Former Sec. of State John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate, said the report “underscores the overwhelming urgency of this moment” and called for the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow to be a “turning point in this crisis,” with energy secretary Jennifer Granholm telling the world to “move faster to deploy, deploy, deploy clean energy.”   

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the “sobering” report makes it clear the world must “consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the frontline.” 

Officials across Europe echoed the sentiments and German development minister Gerd Mueller said the report underscored the need for a “global green deal,” a strategy that does not leave less-wealthy countries behind and the need to ensure hundreds of new coal fired power stations — or, as Mueller calls them, “climate killers” — never go online.      

Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, who is ambassador for the climate vulnerable forum representing 48 of the most at-risk nations from climate change, took a different tone, calling the report “devastating news” for those “on the front lines” of the climate crisis and confirming the need to “urgently shift focus” to ensuring those facing “climate-driven disasters” today survive. 

India’s environment minister Bhupender Yadav also took aim at wealthier countries and said the report “reaffirms” India’s position that they are responsible for the climate crisis, adding that the report should serve as a “clarion call for the developed countries to undertake immediate, deep emission cuts.”

U.N. secretary general Antonio Guterres described the report as “code red for humanity” and a “death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”  

Nasheed said it is important the world “never forget the fundamental injustice at the heart of the climate emergency… We are paying with our lives for the carbon someone else emitted.” 

The IPCC report released Monday is the most up-to-date assessment of climate science today based on more than 14,000 papers examined by a group of international experts. It shows greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for 1.1C of warming since the second half of the 19th century that are an “unequivocal” result of human actions. The strong and precise wording is a departure from previous reports by the group—this is the sixth—which were more cautious in blaming human actions. Previous IPCC reports have been tied to major policy developments—including the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1990, the Kyoto Protocol in 1995 and the Paris Agreement in 2013-14 — and this report will lay the foundations for a conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. 

Fairness has often taken center-stage in negotiations. Heavy polluting nations like India and China are often criticized by wealthier nations for not doing enough to rein in emissions, as the former President Trump did so frequently. This is often used as an excuse to justify avoiding action to address their own heavy emissions.

However, looking at just emissions ignores consumption patterns of the wealthy (with production often outsourced, along with the associated carbon footprint, to less affluent nations), the uneven size of different nations (on a per capita basis, India and China’s emissions are far lower than totals suggest) and the historic carbon footprint many richer nations racked driving their development from the time of the industrial revolution on to this day… 

The United States is now actually the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and has the largest cumulative carbon footprint by far, and yet President Joe Biden has set ambitious targets to fulfill his climate goals, including halving all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reaching a net-zero economy by 2050

China and Russia, the first and fourth largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world in 2019, have not yet commented on the report (the U.S. and India are second and third, respectively) and will be key players in upcoming negotiations. China has vowed to reach peak emissions by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2060, though no plan for achieving these goals has been made public and coal-fueled power plants—one of the most polluting forms of energy generation—are being built and even reopened across the country. Russia, though a signatory to the Paris Agreement, has few policies in place to meet climate goals. 

Many G20 nations have climate targets that would lead to disastrous warming, such as China, Russia, Brazil and Australia — since all have energy policies that would lead to catastrophic temperature rises of 5C and runaway climate change with disastrous sea level rises, extreme deforestation and desertification throughout the Globe…    

MAYBE IT IS NOW HIGH TIME TO ACT.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

Some further reading follows as needed:

‘Code Red For Humanity’: Humans Driving ‘Unprecedented’ Climate Change, U.N. Report Finds (Forbes)

Diagnosing Earth: the science behind the IPCC’s upcoming climate report (Nature)

Major Atlantic Current May Be On The Verge Of Collapse, Scientists Warn (Forbes)

 Global Warming of 1.5 ºC (IPCC Report)

Posted by: Dr Churchill | August 10, 2021

Socratic wisdom is dialogue…

Socratic wisdom refers to Socrates’ understanding of the limits of his knowledge in that he only knows that which he knows and makes no assumption of knowing anything more or less. Although never directly penned by Socrates’ as a theory or treatise, our understanding of his philosophies as they relate to wisdom derives from Plato’s writings on the subject. In works like “Apology,” Plato describes the life and trials Socrates that influence our understanding of the truest element of “Socratic wisdom:” We are only as wise as our awareness of our ignorance.

Although attributed to Socrates, the now famous “I know that I know nothing” really refers to an interpretation of Plato’s account of Socrates’ life, though is never directly stated. In fact, Socrates often highly asserts his intelligence in Plato’s work, even going so far as to say he would die for it. Still, the sentiment of the phrase echoes some of Socrates’ most famous quotes on wisdom.

For instance, Socrates’ once said: “I do not think that I know what I do not know.”

In the context of this quote, Socrates is explaining that he does not claim to possess the knowledge of artisans or scholars on subjects he has not studied, that he bears no false pretense to understanding those.

In another quote on the same topic of expertise, Socrates once said, “I know very well that I possess no knowledge worth speaking of” on the topic of building a home.

What’s actually true of Socrates is that he has said quite the opposite of “I know that I know nothing.” His routine discussion of intellect and understanding hinges upon his own intelligence. In fact, he does not fear death because he says “to fear death is to think that we know what we do not,” and he is absent of this delusion of understanding what death could mean without ever seeing it.

In “Apology,” Plato describes Socrates at his trial in 399 B.C.E. where Socrates tells the court how his friend Chaerephon asked the Delphic Oracle if anyone was wiser than himself. The oracle’s answer — that no human was wiser than Socrates — left him bewildered, so he embarked on a quest to find someone wiser than himself in order to prove the oracle wrong.

What Socrates found, though, was that although many people had particular skills and areas of expertise, they all tended to think they were wise about other matters too — such as what policies the government should pursue — when they clearly were not. He concluded that the oracle was right in a certain limited sense: he, Socrates, was wiser than others in this one respect: that he was aware of his own ignorance.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

This awareness goes by two names that seem virtually opposed to one another:

“Socratic ignorance” and “Socratic wisdom.”

But there is no real contradiction here. Socratic wisdom is a sort of humility — and as such, it simply means being aware of how little one really knows; how uncertain one’s beliefs are; and how likely it is that many of them may turn out to be mistaken.

In his “Apologia” his testimonial defense during his trial where his very life was at stake — Socrates doesn’t deny that true wisdom, as a real insight into the nature of reality is possible — yet he seems to think that it is to be enjoyed only by the gods and those amongst us who elevate themselves to the highest degree of knowledge of our own self; but not by mere human beings enjoying the simple pleasures of life while mired in the sea of desires.

You see … old Socrates, was a real Stoic, and he lived the talk as he walked the walk and he willingly drank the conium as his last act of forbearance, freedom and masterful self determination.

Socrates had real brass balls….

Now, that a baller of a philosopher.

Live the life, walk the walk, mouth the talk and drink the poison if need be.

Because,

Memento Mori…

Are you worried about overpopulation and overcrowding?

Please don’t.

You ought not be concerned about overpopulation, but rather about the opposite effects, because although the original estimates by the United Nations had the world’s population peaking at 10.9 billion people by 2100 — the Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, recently challenged the UN demographers’ forecast sharply downwards.

Indeed, they projected that the global population will peak at 9.7 billion by 2064 and decline to 8.8 billion by 2100 and continue declining sharply thereafter. 

That’s four decades earlier and several billion fewer people. 

And in my humble opinion — that also is an overestimation because we are going to be at a total of 7.9 Billion people tops before the beginning of the slide towards underpopulation…

With improved standard of living and declining reproductive rates, the problem is going to be global underpopulation

And this could be disastrous. Fewer people overall mean fewer workers. The population will shift towards the elderly, creating a heavier burden on the working population. 

The good news? The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities.

In this blog, we’ll look at the data and details driving the underpopulation conclusion and the case for age reversal, extending the healthy human lifespan

Let’s dive in…

THE TREND TOWARDS UNDERPOPULATION

In the 1980s, Paul Ehrlich released a book, The Population Bomb, that incited a worldwide fear of overpopulation. He said that too many people, packed into too-tight spaces, would take too much from the Earth. Unless humanity cut down its numbers, all of us would face “mass starvation” on “a dying planet.”

Now, let’s take a closer look at the UN Population Division and disprove that.

Total fertility rate (TFR) is a metric that demographers use to measure the number of offspring per parent. The population replacement rate, which is the average number of children per family for each generation to exactly replace itself, is roughly 2.1.

It was different 70 years ago: As you can see in the above chart, the global average fertility rate was 5.05. Several countries, such as Rwanda, Kenya, and the Philippines, had a fertility rate higher than 7 children per woman. China had a fertility rate just over 6, while India was just below 6. Only one country in the world had a fertility rate below 2: Luxembourg. The United States had a TFR of 3.03 in 1950, which increased to a maximum of 3.6 in 1957. 

But a lot has changed since then.

Today is VERY different: As of 2020, the global average fertility rate has more than halved to 2.44.  

What is the reason for this unprecedented decline? In short, there are three major reasons: the empowerment of women, declining child mortality, and a rising cost of raising children.

Today, roughly 80% of the world’s population lives in countries with a fertility rate below 3. Only 10% live in countries where women, on average, have more than 5 children.  

For example, while China and India previously had total fertility rates above 5, each country has sharply declined rates around 2 today.

Africa, on average, remains high but has more recently begun to rapidly decline.

Several countries now have a fertility rate that is significantly below the replacement level.

The TFR in the United States is currently 1.77. And women in countries such as Iran and Thailand have just 1.6 children on average.

And the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have accelerated this trend toward underpopulation. Historically, there’s been a spike in births nine months after disasters and some people are wondering whether there will be a COVID baby boom. 

But it’s more complicated than that.

Many people are now more unsure of their financial safety. Childcare during the pandemic has been difficult. Parents are cut off from extended family, who would have been part of a newborn’s upbringing.

And the numbers reflect these trends. Clinics are reporting an increase in requests for birth control prescriptions and abortion medications. The pandemic has changed the way the world thinks about having children—it might even bring the world closer to underpopulation sooner than we think.

Back in April 2021, when I interviewed Elon Musk for the launch of the $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal, I asked him about his concern of underpopulation. He shook his head and said, “Earth is going to face a massive population collapse over the next 20 to 30 years… this would be civilization’s way of dying with a whimper.”

AGE REVERSAL AND LONGEVITY

When I speak publicly about longevity and age reversal, one of the routine arguments against this work is public concern for “overpopulation”. As demonstrated above, the reality is that the world is facing a threat of underpopulation, and increasing healthspan by a decade or two may be a critical step in maintaining increased abundance for humanity.  

More than ever, we need to increase our productive and healthy lifespan. Not only will this allow us to spend more time with loved ones and fulfill our bucket list dreams—it also has the potential for enormous economic value.

Researchers from Harvard, Oxford, and London Business School recently demonstrated just how much increasing healthy lifespan is worth in dollars.

Slowing aging by only one year is worth +$38 trillion to the global economy. 

That is just one year.

Imagine the societal benefits and economic value of increasing healthy lifespan by 10-20 years.

Here are some of the technologies that will get us there:

(1) Improvements in diagnostic medicine will change “sick-care” to healthcare. We practice reactive medicine, when it should be preventive medicine. This is crucial to increasing longevity.

Cancer is still one of the most feared words in medicine. But what if we could diagnose cancer early? A stage I cancer is infinitely easier to treat than a metastatic stage IV. The number one thing you can do to fight and survive cancer is to find it early. 

GRAIL is one of the most promising diagnostic breakthroughs of the decade. It’s a liquid biopsy––a blood test that can detect most major types of cancer at an early stage. It searches for tiny fragments of DNA and RNA that have been released into the bloodstream by a tumor that reflect the tumor’s genomic features. It’s so sensitive it can detect even a faint signal that an early tumor exists. Its ultimate mission is to offer one test that can simultaneously scan for every type of cancer.

(2) CRISPR and gene therapy. Single point gene mutations make up roughly two-thirds of known human genetic variants associated with disease. This is where the revolutionary gene-editing technology CRISPR comes in. Its “molecular scissors” are able to snip a stretch of DNA and either disable the affected sequence or replace it with a new, correct one. The allure of this kind of therapy is that it’s a one-time treatment that cures the disease. The possibilities that CRISPR have opened up are endless. The most recent landmark CRISPR trial from June 2021 showed its effectiveness against a form of amyloidosis, an incurable disease that involves misfolded proteins depositing in and destroying organs. 

These advancements in genome editing can also be used to increase your healthy lifespan. Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School has engineered a virus to deliver a combination of three Yamanaka genes. These genes are responsible for creating induced pluripotent stem cells. When these viruses were injected into the eyes of mice, their eyes became younger. In the case of glaucoma and aging, all the mice got their vision back. The hypothesis is that this technology can be applied to other parts of the body. Imagine a rejuvenation of our aging bodies.

(3) Organ regeneration. As our organs begin to tire and age, finding a way to regenerate them will be vital to increasing healthy lifespan. Dr. Deepak Srivastava, President of the Gladstone Institutes, is using gene therapy to repair heart damage with an approach we personally like to call cellular alchemy. He’s reprogramming scar tissue to become a new heart cell. After injecting these genes into the heart after a heart attack, they were able to change the fate of the scar cells, turning them into beating hearts. No need to GATTACA clone humans to provide an extra set of organs. We can regrow our own organs from within us.

CONCLUSION

Contrary to popular belief, the world is facing the threat of underpopulation as a result of the sharp decline in global reproductive rates. 

On top of that, an increasing proportion of our world is likely to face one of the most crippling and major causes of physical suffering: a disease called aging.  

This calls for increasing not just lifespan, but healthy and productive lifespan.

Thankfully, due to the convergence of AI and medically related exponential technologies, advancements in age reversal are already happening at an accelerated rate. 

There is a reason the longevity industry has been named the biggest and most complex industry in human history. On the bright side, this has become a massive opportunity for innovation.

In the meantime, our goal (yours, mine, and everyone in our global community) should be to live long enough to intercept the next bridge of technology, and the next one, and so on. 

While it sounds next to impossible and almost too sci-fi for our imaginations to grasp, I ensure you that many brilliant minds are working to crack this challenge. And, without question, age reversal will be one of the biggest business opportunities on Earth and economic benefits for humanity.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

Then there is the XPRIZE, where my friend Peter Diamandis, and his mates are working to fund and launch a $100M Age Reversal XPRIZE with the goal of demonstrating a 25% lifespan “age reversal” and that might be a game changer of sorts for this type of innovation.

More details on this as the guidelines and funding are solidified in the next months…

Posted by: Dr Churchill | July 31, 2021

What does the Future look like in your eyes?

Pray-tell, what do you think of the future?

Maybe you are scared of what is coming down the pike…

Or maybe you are not.

And that is how we can tell that the later crowd might even have a different attitude thatn the former — because they believe in an Abundant Future.

Indeed, these optimistic super-people might have a unique mindset… that we euphemistically call it; an Abundance mindset.

But what is an Abundant Mindset, and what are the benefits of it — is not an opaque subject, and certainly not one that is only reserved for some mystics and for the secret societies of the Masons, the MENSA, the Mormons, or even for those that are part of the Super Successful elite of the 1 of the 1% of the people out there…

And that ought to be our focus because despite our inherent “scarcity mindset,” the world today is rapidly moving towards abundance — and if we don’t see that we are bound to fall behind further and further…

Because today’s exponential technologies are advancing life as never before.

And those are in all fields from Governance, to Life Science, from Biohacking to life extension, from AI to quantum Computer science, from Quantum computing, to living microprocessor advances, from living and organic microchips to Robotics, and from VR to autonomous vehicles…

Indeed all of these technologies are quickly dematerializingdemonetizing, and democratizing products and services.

Things that used to only be available to the richest and most elite members of our societies — are now available to all, or at least to almost anyone, anywhere in our developed and developing world.

Think of it, because today, a child in Zimbabwe can reach any subject, person or information they wish to engage with, and they can even video conference with anyone on the other side of the world. And they can do all of that almost for free
Indeed, much too many things that we used to pay millions of dollars for — just a few years ago — are now available on our smartphones at no cost.

But there’s still a residual mental attitude problem with our humans…

Our minds evolved during a world of scarcity hundreds of thousands of years ago, and most people remain trapped in an unhealthy “Scarcity Mindset.” In a world of scarcity, there’s a limited pie. If your neighbor gets a slice, then you get a smaller slice.

This is a world of limited resources and zero-sum competition.But when you have an Abundance Mindset, rather than slicing the pie into thinner and thinner slices, you create more pies.This is the future that exponential tech enables. And this trend is true across nearly every sector—whether people realize it or not.

Please do remember, that creating a world of abundance isn’t about creating a world of luxury, it’s about creating a world of possibility.

Are you ready to upgrade your perspective? 

Let me know about that, because I believe that an Abundance Mindset is one of the critical mindsets for any entrepreneur or leader to master in the decade ahead, since good honest to greatness civil rights leaders, community proud and entrepreneurial folks need to rely on an Abundance Mindset because it is the key ingredient for Success.

And that is why You ought to consider developing an Abundance Mindset, because of the present and future benefits to your life.

And since you understand that the world is becoming more abundant, and this allows you to maintain a hopeful and compelling vision for the future. Having such a positive mindset sets you apart from your competitors and helps you attract the best team to your mission — you don’t resent missed opportunities because you understand that you are living in a world of ever-increasing opportunities.

We all agree that the next year holds many more exciting, fulfilling, and profitable opportunities for you to pursue… 

We can almost agree that you don’t need to fear the future, because better days are ahead…

Instead of fear — you need to embrace the future and anticipate the efforts that you ought to invest in this future if you wish to be rewarded with success and to be able to woo victory.

Because indeed, you need to be excited and curious in order to learn all you can towards creating the future you desire to see implemented in this world.
Be the change…

So now you must start seeing your competitors as potential collaborators and your collaborators as a thriving community in a world of ever-increasing opportunities.

So, why worry unnecessarily about your competitors when you can create another, larger pie? You focus your time, attention, and resources on pursuing Moonshots that are 10x (1,000%), versus fighting in the trenches for 10% improvements.

A million times better to never fear for lack of want, but instead believe that we have a total and God given abundance of all resources and means at our disposal.

Cheers and God Speed.

Yours,
Dr Churchill

PS:

That is the way forward by reinventing your business through a digital lens—constantly dematerializing, demonetizing, and democratizing your products and services, making them available to a larger and larger customer base at a lower and lower cost.

And if you can accomplish this as a leader — you can surely convey to all of your tribe, organization, community, people, and even your nation and the world — a hopeful and compelling future that inspires and guides all of your Peoples, employees and also customers.

And because people inherently want good news, your data-driven optimism, rather than a continuous dribble of negative, crisis-oriented, amygdala-energizing banter — will bring them all to your doorstep wishing to carry you forth in their own hands.

So now answer me this:

How would your life or business change if you had an Abundance Mindset?

Posted by: Dr Churchill | July 31, 2021

Come, love and leave…

Pray-tell, how do you think that you can become a real loving true to yourself and to your own God, person that is ready at all times to meet your maker?

How can you become a markedly better person?

How can you become a more open person?

How can you become a far more fun character than what you are at the present moment?

And how can you become a deeper person?

Or in other words — how can you become someone real who really & truthfully APPRECIATES life?

This is my Socratic dialogue soic question and answer period here and here is the explanation behind it all:

We come naked into this World…

And we also tend to go away from here, naked as well…

Indeed we all arrived here as a weak little human — and we shall leave in that weakened state as well.

We all came here without any money or things.

And Yes — we will also leave without money and things.

Do you even remember your first breath?

Nahhh — I thought so, because someone else, like a midwife, a parent or a good Doctor beat it out of you.

How about your first sponge bath?

Do you remember that?

Someone washed you…

Same like your last bath, when someone you might not even know will wash your lifeless body.

That’s it. This is what is life my friends…

Love on arrival and love on departure.

So perhaps it is that love, the quotidien of our existence, that we should return to all others ten-fold, if not hundred-fold during our modicum of proper living and prayerfully paying our “Rent” for living in this wondrous planet we call HOME — living like a butterfly inexorably moving from her state of a cocooned worm, to a chrysalis and on to a most beautiful flying butterfly — sharing her beauty and her Love while living for the briefest of times here with us.

Cheers to you Love, because you get that love is the only thing that matters.

Cheers…

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

And because I am certain that you all grasp this truth intimately and truly — that I have to ask You a few questions:

Why do you carry forth so much malice?

Why do you have so much envy?

Why do you have so much hate?

Why do you carry so much resentment?

Why do you have so much selfishness?

Why do you feel such pride?

Why?

Why, all of this nonsense?

Why — when we have to leave this earth empty handed without any possessions that might define us?

Because of all that — methinks that we should BE really KIND to each other… and to ourselves as well.

And perhaps now is incumbent upon you to go all out and spread the Love.

Spread Love and absolutely nothing else is needed.

Not because we have limited time on this Earth — but because we don’t want to waste the time that we have…

And that is why we choose Love.

Posted by: Dr Churchill | July 28, 2021

Antisemitism inside our society…

Yesterday, the hated symbol of a NAZI swastika was found etched into the wall of an elevator in the U.S. State Department on Tuesday, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken said ” … was a painful reminder that antisemitism isn’t a relic of the past.”

“It’s still a force in the world, including close to home. “

“And it’s abhorrent…”

Secretary Blinken wrote in an email distributed to State Department employees:

“It has no place in the United States, at the State Department, or anywhere else. And we must be relentless in standing up and rejecting it.”

Ok now, we heard that before, but what is really happening here?

Why has the culprit not been found and charged?

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

As indeed, the most hateful and also the most difficult thing with Anti-Semitism is the lack of Holocaust education amongst the schools and universities in America so that the young people learn the truth about the past and why we should not go there to repeat it…

Secondary reason for this pervasive anti-Semitism is the tacit approval of all systemically racist security services, police departments, and even parts of the military, towards all the variances of fascism and thus when the swastikas are found — nobody really cares to investigate the “Hate Crime” because as I have found out the Police departments are rife with haters and neo-nazi anti-Semites, as is the Seattle Police Department which intentionally failed to investigate the Hate Crime and the Swastikas painted in the walls of my own home in West Seattle this past year — even though they know full well who is the culprit.

What a bloody shame on this systemically racist Seattle Police Department and its officers. Mind you the leader of the SW precinct of Seattle Police Department is a well known Neo-Nazi named — wait for the German nazi name — Chief Grossmann.

So much for tolerant and compassionate Seattle…

Need I say anything more?

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: