My essay about our Senate discusess, what came to mind as, some major threats to the well-being of our society. Topping the list:

      • Climate change,
      • Artificial intelligence,
      • Nuclear warfare,

but not to be overlooked:

      • The destabilizing effect of black money and hidden financial assets, and
      • Popular judgment and a psychology of avoidance.

All of which begs the question: What are we going to do about them?  171107-1

My Senate essay emphasizes a need to expand the Senate's investigative role to an an investigative, anticipating, and critical problem-solving role. Writing the essay made it clear to me that any attempt to find solutions to the global—and some internal— threats calls for a wide variety of experts to cooperate in developing an integrated approach. In the meantime, I shall be attempting here to show what such an approach might lead to, but, please, keep bearing in mind that what follows are not outright recommendations.  171108-1

I did make a little foray of sorts: "Artificial intelligence, so as to bring benefit to all, shall not be left in the hands of some 0.01 percent of the world's population. Consequently, I perceive a transition period during which ownership of the devices should be with the people, that is in the custody of government one way or another, to be rented back to entrepreneurs as we now know them. It is that rent, properly apportioned, that can serve as part of the income for the other 99.99 percent of us.  171115-1

What part of our government would be the custodian? I am inclined to think that our Senate would be the most appropriate candidate provided it has gained the trust of all and the capability to assume that role by advising the elected government of what actions to take.  171115-2

With "a transition period" I mean a period for our state economy to accomodate changes called for in protecting Canadians living under circumstances that currently threaten us all.  171115-3

It has been suggested to me that instead of taking ownership and renting back robots and other A.I. devices, the government might simply put a high tax on them, a tax prorated to the number of jobs replaced. My main objection to this alternative is that I think it wise to have the custodian Senate employ the right kind of people to keep a close eye on things, etc.  171115-4

As said, the people must trust the Senate and that is a subject I am trying to explore along my other exploratory excursions, Moral compass—the government's moral compass, to be more precise. And then there is capability. Our Senate must be a highly capable body, the best it can reasonably be, which is the subject of my principal essay, On guard in a global environment.  171115-5

Inflicting increased cost on people and enterprises would cause a flight of capital (as evidenced by the so-called Paradise Papers) and a relocating head offices to jurisdictions perceived as more favourable. Traditionally, such flight would be countered by international agreements. In the meantime one might hope for a better, more stable approach.  171115-6

I imagine that those with assets in tax havens will have to part with some of their wealth for the common good. But if they wish to be part of the Canadian fabric then they better be a truly conscientious part of it. Tax havens may be legal, but are they legitimate, i.e. are they socially acceptable? Not pulling one's financial weight is hardly legitimate in the eyes of those who pay the ordinarily required taxes on their entire income. Elsewhere I quoted some harsh words by U.S. senator Bernie Sanders about that practice. Of course, if some of that money had been stashed away to be invested in enterprises that earn income for hired personnel, well, aren't there always circumstances to be given consideration to?  171115-7

There are also contributions the commercial establishment as well as salaried personnel will need to make. We need to seek an end to unnecessary damage to the environmet and to peoples' physical and mental health. To begin with, people will need to restrict their expenditures that are of no value. Right now we are entering the season during which, with the unrelenting propaganda of advertisers with strong emotional appeal, gifts are purchased that have no value by themselves or are not even desired by the intended recipients. All that is adding to the pollution of our lands and driving further climate change. Retailers and advertising firms will not be pleased with this kind of thinking. But, please remember, it is your offspring who are the victims of climate change as well!  171115-8

All of what I have written thus far calls for a huge financial safety net, a net to be created and maintained. An imperative for human survival. And now I am stuck. There are sums to be done and I am simply not in a position to do those sums. That's why we need the best of relevant expertise to put their heads together and think along paths not yet trodden. But it clearly can be done for right now we employ resources to maintain a living—unequal as it still is—for the world's population whereas all we are talking about here is reallocations for a hoped-for survival and improved life in general. You might say that what we are talking about is rearrangement of affairs going on in some black box that keeps the same overal input and overall output. Let no selfish person argue against that. Let no person afraid of unconventional thinking and themselves expressing accordingly turn away from contributing to solving humanity's life-threatening problems. And then claim to be a hardheaded "man of the world" or some devout follower of a spiritual creed.  171115-9

Believe me, I too like to rest on my comfortable pew, avoiding stepping out of conventional line, avoiding ridicule. I am not a revolutionary at heart! And I certainly hope that some will come up with better ideas so that I may can this exploration.  171115-10

There can be little doubt that those affected by such measures as discussed in the previous paragraphs will pull out all stops to erect legal roadblocks and delaying tactics. Courts of justice move slowly. However, we do have on the books an Emergency Act. Part I of the Act deals with Public Welface Emergency, which is interpreted as "an emergency that is caused by a real or imminent
      • (a) fire, flood, drought, storm, earthquake or other natural phenomenon,
      • (b) disease in human beings, animals or plants, or
      • (c) accident or pollution
and that results or may result in a danger to life or property, social disruption or a breakdown in the flow of essential goods, services or resources, so serious as to be a national emergency."  171116-1

Nevertheless, justice shall not be simply put aside. To ameliorate any claim by Canada on assets sheltered by tax havens, those should be placed in some form of trust under the auspices of, say, the Canadian Revenue Agency. And while in trust, investigations would be undertaken what component, if any, of such assets are ill-begotten or of which the owner cannot or will not reveal their source. Such components would be confiscated and appropriate taxes and penalties levied against the remaining parts. One could elaborate further, but there does not seem to be any need for that in this sketch.  171116-2

Recent years have seen sharp rises in the price of real estate, beginning in Vancouver. This began, as far as I know with the inflow of money from China. Black money, I presume. China has the second largest supply of black money and, I would suspect, that with the crackdown on corruption, black money is squeezed out to other jurisdictions. It follows a pattern that followed the transition of communist Russia to a, say, democratic Russia. What happened to thye previously state-owned assets? Where did Russian oligarchs get their sudden wealth, much of which flowed out of that country? And why this sudden quick rise in the stock market? Are my suspicions unwarranted? But foreign investors should be held accountable about the source of their wealth and whenever those sources are murkey, their Canadian assets should be sequestered. Again, we could further expand on these thoughts; for example, what about the real-estate agents involved?  171116-3

Turning to people's wherewithal, I found in Wikipedia three relevant articles: One, about Guaranteed minimum income, also called minimum income. It entails a social welfare provision that guarantees that all citizens or families have an income sufficient to live on, provided they meet certain conditions. Eligibility is typically determined by citizenship, a means test, and either availability for the labour market or a willingness to perform community services.  171116-4

Two: an article is about basic income, a system of unconditional income to every citizen. This is a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, independent of any other income.  171116-5

Three: about social dividend, which is the return on the capital assets and natural resources owned by society in a socialist economy.  171116-6

Considering how politics is conducted—reference my main essay's chapters about our democracy in peril and the paragraphs about popular judgment—I perceive a drift toward a non-partisan way of conducting our country's affairs. (Let's strive to avoid some absolute dictatorship, though!) It strikes me that the guaranteed minimum income provision is—initially—the most relevant in this exploration of finding ways of coping with global threats, notably climate change, artificial intelligence, and the destabilizing effect of black money and hidden financial assets. Tax revenues and the recouping of illigitimally acquired assets would make this possible, but the question remains: for how long before financial resources run dry? It seems reasonable to expect a major upheaval in the way we conduct our economic affairs. In the meantime, again repeating myself, sums need to be done.  171116-7

Canada is not the United States, but our neighbour's practices cannot but influence the going-ons in our country. Here is an outrageous example of how U.S. super-wealthy corrupt their government.  171117-1

It is about President Trump and his attempt lower taxing the rich. Quoting from a newspaper article, "No agenda items mattered more to the conservative Koch network than the GOP's promise to overhaul the nation's tax code and repeal and replace President Barack Obama's health care law. At the moment, however, both are bogged down by GOP infighting that jeopardizes their fate.

"At least one Koch official warned that the Republican Party's House majority could be in jeopardy if the GOP-led Congress doesn't follow through.

"'If they don't make good on these promises ... there are going to be consequences, and quite frankly there should be,' said Sean Lansing, chief operating officer for the Koch network's political arm, Americans For Prosperity.  171117-2

In Canada, quoting The Canadian Encyclopedia, "Election laws regulate most aspects of federal political party financing, both during and outside of election periods. The purpose of such regulation is to encourage greater transparency of political party activities and ensure a fair electoral arena that limits the advantages enjoyed by those with more money. Election finance laws govern the manner by which political parties and candidates are funded, and the ways in which parties and candidates can spend money."  171117-3

As for political corruption and influence peddling, these are issues addressed by the criminal code. Nevertheless, quoting the encyclopedia again, "pork-barrelling are rampant at almost every election and it is not likely to become illegal, since it would be extremely difficult to decide fairly which campaign promises were pork-barrelling and which were not."  171117-4

With all that said, there is still that little matter of legally hiding, presumably, income-earning wealth from taxation as evidenced by last year's Panama Papers and the recent Paradise Papers. It looks obvious that our political establishment is still influenced by the wealthy and, given the existing national debt and the urgent needs of many Canadians, this shall no longer be tolerated. On top of which there are other influences hanging over our heads, influences through the use of digital media and A.I., influences that suggest that the use of digital devices should not be simply taxed according to the number of employees rendered obsolete, but be put under the control of some government agency watched over by our Senate. This, of course, presumes that our senators themselves are not influenced to forego objective judgment. Given the Senate scandals and senators serving as bagmen, this is a legitimate concern—a concern reinforced by techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci:  171117-5

"What we need to fear most is not what artificial intelligence will do to us on its own, but how the people in power will use artificial intelligence to control us and to manipulate us in novel, sometimes hidden, subtle and unexpected ways. Much of the technology that threatens our freedom and our dignity in the near-term future is being developed by companies in the business of capturing and selling our data and our attention to advertisers and others: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent." (From her TED talk.)  171117-6

Experiments show that certain proprietary A.I. algorithms can be used to affect people's emotions as well as their political behavior, that is political election outcomes, Ms Tufekci explains. And that I surmize may well override the concerns I started out this section with: the old-fashioned buying and influencing politicians by the direct use of money.  171117-7

During the 2015 election campaign, Susan Omiston wrote an article for CBC News: "Federal election 2015: How data mining is changing political campaigns" with the kickerhead "Parties collect data on voting intentions to target their message." Again, that is why we need direct appropriate government oversight over A.I. devices and their use. On behalf of the population at large. And that oversight should not be simply in the hands of the elected politicians. That is where a thoroughly trusted, and competent, Senate should come in.  171117-8

The next three paragraphs may not be about an imminent threat, but caution is in order. Especially where some dictator enters the picture.  171118-4

Bryan Johnson is a 40-year-old American entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He is founder and CEO of, among other enterprises, Kernel, a company developing a neuroprosthetic device to improve brain function. Johnson started Kernel in 2016, making a personal investment of $100 million. The company's seeks to build an implantable device to improve brain function in humans, such as memory, while interfacing with artificial intelligence. Initially, the company is focusing on applications for patients with neurodegeneration such as memory loss. For details, see Wired.  171118-1

Patients with epilepsy are among the first to test the technology, which relies on algorithms that mimic the brain's natural electrical signals to improve communication between brain cells. Kernel refers to itself as a "human intelligence (HI) company." Johnson, who has written that the combination of HI and AI will prove to be of great importance for the future of humanity, says his longterm objective is to improve both intelligence and quality of life as human lifespans grow longer. Johnson's big idea: "If the root problems of humanity begin in the human mind, let's change our minds."  171118-2

Johnson is not the only one thinking along these lines. Elon Musk of Neuralink and Mark Zuckerberg—who dreams of a person typing 100 words a minute by merely thinking—are weeks (today is Nov.18, 2017) from announcing their own brain-hacking projects. The military research group known as DARPA already has ten similar projects under way, and there's no doubt that China and other countries are pursuing their own. Canadians will be living in another world altogether. And where will this leave our Senate? And, indeed, our entire government? Isn't it high time our Senate includes members with a proper insight in issues such as these?  171118-3

It's the season to be jolly and lots of stuff is being bought that is hardly needed or desired by those receiving gifts. All unnecessarily contributing to pollution from their manufacture, packaging materials, transportation, and, eventual from being discarded. Early this month, huge lineups of people formed outside Apple stores to get their hands on some super-expensive iPhone X, a device that features face recognition. They couldn't wait, they wanted it right now! It all seems insane to me, but then, I don't even have a mobile phone because there already are different ways to reach me. So, who am I to judge? But still ...  171118-4

But still, all that apparently unnecessary pollution figures in the consumption and pipelining of oil, the pollution of land and waters, to putting greenhouse gas in the atmosphere thereby contributing to ever rapid global climate change. In short, buying things of little use is causing harm above the harm already caused by the production of things we take for granted as being truly desirable: food containers, clothing, homes, furniture, means of transportation, etc. and so on. I believe that there is some grey area between what is necessary and what is not. And things that seem unnecessay may well serve as boosts to one's self-esteem; to be "with it." Which, it seems, makes them necessary. And so members of a species named homo sapiens sapiens shell out some $5000 to $10,000 for one of the five most affordable Rolex watches (to be sure, Rolex does have available a $35,000 watch!) when a $30 Timex will do just fine. How come?  171118-5

People are under all kinds of social pressures, subtle and not-s-subtle. Much of it comes from commercial advertising, which is primarily designed for people to want things for themselves, for their children, for relatives and friends. I feel that that kind of advertising should come to an immediate stop. Of course, advertising agents will use all their propaganda skills to convince the public what an idiotic notion this is. They'll convince you that it is a hindrance to societal progress, a hindrance to economic development, to throw people out of work, etc.; the whole catastrophy. And our media depend on advertising.  171118-6

Our CBC vehemently objects, see here. "Without advertising revenues and no replacement in CBC/Radio-Canada's budget, the effect on the public broadcaster would be devastating.
      • "The elimination of all advertising would have a $533M financial impact on CBC/Radio-Canada. Not only would it lose advertising revenue of $368 million, but it would face some $190 million in additional costs in order to fill the airtime freed-up by the loss of ads and sports programming. In other words, the loss of advertising revenue would actually be compounded by incremental programming costs.
      • "The elimination of advertising revenues would make it exceedingly difficult for CBC/Radio-Canada to fulfill its existing mandate and, of course, severely compromise the Corporation's ability to roll-out the "Everyone, Every way" initiatives planned by 2015.  171118-7

Further: "There would be significant negative implications for Canadian programming, independent producers and indeed for the Canadian economy as a whole.
      • "The elimination of advertising on CBC/Radio-Canada would see Canadian programming expenditures decrease by $160M annually, and lead to a $150M overall decrease in independent production activity.
      • "Private broadcasters would attract much, but not all, of TV advertising formerly on CBC/Radio-Canada. There would be leakages out of the Canadian economy resulting in a net loss in GDP of $165 million - which translates into more than 3,600 job losses.
      • "The loss of CBC/Radio-Canada as an advertising vehicle would also be negatively perceived by advertisers who see considerable value in the audiences CBC/Radio-Canada is able to deliver. With reduced inventory, TV ad rates would be pushed up, especially in smaller markets."  

Some things they did not say are that
      • The CBC has been doing quite well for a long time without advertising, only having government funding to pick up the tab.
      • Ultimately it is the public who pay for advertising anyway because it figures in the advertisers' operating costs that enter into setting the prices for their products or services. So, let's not fool ourselves.
      • Advertising contributes greatly to damaging our global environment, as already brought up in my Senate essay. And it harms the critical sense of those being swayed by watching their lure.  

Therefore, for the greater good, as the phrase goes. Provide public funding for the CBC and put controls on what advertising in other media is permitted, purely informational advertising that is. A public oversight board would be the arbiter. And as for other media, they may carry informational ads, they may charge users for their services, they may have publicly funded support.  171118-10

An item by Barry Kiefl in last year's Huffington Post advocates that "CBC must abandon ads and find new sources of funding," see. The author is a former research director of the CBC (1983–2001). Anyone coming up wih a better approach is most welcome.  171118-11

"A new congressional report contends that a North Korean electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the U.S. would ultimately wipe out 90% of the population.  171118-12

"To date, most discussion concerning the North Korean threat has been on whether the rogue state can accurately hit U.S. cities with its ICBMs. But in an EMP attack, such accuracy is not necessary, says Peter Vincent Pry, who recently testified about the EMP threat before a congressional Homeland Security subcommittee. His conclusions are that such an EMP attack would wreak havoc across the whole of the continental U.S."  171118-13

Those two paragraphs were copied from Forbes of October 23, 2017. Moreover, I understand that North Korea could even rig the warhead to detonate in the event that it was intercepted by our own missile defenses.hat such an EMP attack would wreak havoc across the whole of the continental U.S."  171118-14

Unlike the immediately occurring large number of casualties from a direct nuclear hit, the situation is quite different when an EMP attack occurs. Quoting the Forbes article further, "'The U.S. can sustain a population of 320 million people only because of modern technology,' said Pry. 'An EMP that blacks-out the electric grid for a year would [decimate] the critical infrastructure necessary to support such a large population.'  171119-1

"In three days, the food supply in local grocery stores would be consumed and the 30-day national food supply in regional warehouses would begin to spoil, says Pry. In one year, he contends that up to 90% of the population could perish from starvation, disease and societal collapse.  171119-2

Canada would not be immune. To the contrary and I am inclined to think that Canadians need to be evacuated to other shores, ref. this image:  171119-3

EMP effect
My source is a rendering of images in Appendix D: "Electromagnetic environment and effect" of this 1994 report.  171119-7

The mechanism for a 400 km high-altitude burst EMP: gamma rays hit the atmosphere between 20–40 km altitude, ejecting electrons which are then deflected sideways by the Earth's magnetic field. This makes the electrons radiate EMP over a massive area. Because of the curvature and downward tilt of Earth's magnetic field over the USA, the maximum EMP occurs south of the detonation and the minimum occurs to the north. Typical EMP intensity is in the order of tens of thousands of volts/meter. This compares with the order of 200 volts/meter for 10 volts/meter for communication equipment, and 0.01 volts/meter for typical metropolitan area ambient. It calls for expertise to properly evaluate the information in that 1994 U.S. Army report. I do not know what, if any, updated information is available.  171119-8

An April-2008 report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. "This report presents the results of the Commission’s assessment of the effects of a high altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on our critical national infrastructures and provides recommendations for their mitigation.  171118-15

"The electromagnetic pulse generated by a high altitude nuclear explosion is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. The increasingly pervasive use of electronics of all forms represents the greatest source of vulnerability to attack by EMP. Electronics are used to control, communicate, compute, store, manage, and implement nearly every aspect of United States (U.S.) civilian systems. When a nuclear explosion occurs at high altitude, the EMP signal it produces will cover the wide geographic region within the line of sight of the detonation.1 This broad band, high amplitude EMP, when coupled into sensitive electronics, has the capability to produce widespread and long lasting disruption and damage to the critical infrastructures that underpin the fabric of U.S. society.  171118-16

"Because of the ubiquitous dependence of U.S. society on the electrical power system, its vulnerability to an EMP attack, coupled with the EMP's particular damage mechanisms, creates the possibility of long-term, catastrophic consequences. The implicit invitation to take advantage of this vulnerability, when coupled with increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, is a serious concern. A single EMP attack may seriously degrade or shut down a large part of the electric power grid in the geographic area of EMP exposure effectively instantaneously. There is also a possibility of functional collapse of grids beyond the exposed area, as electrical effects propagate from one region to another."  171118-17

The Committee offers copious recommendations for the following areas of interest:
      • Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) which is a control system architecture that uses computers, networked data communications and graphical user interfaces for high-level process supervisory management.
      • Electric power.
      • Telecommunications.
      • Banking and finance.
      • Petroleum and natural gas.
      • Transportation infrastructure.
      • Food infrastructure.
      • Water infrastructure.
      • Emergency services.
      • Space systems.
      • Government.
      • Keeping the citizenry informed: Effects on people.

I should add to this list public security, shelter, attending to injuries (or health services more generally), and financial wherewithal. Should not a guadian Senate assure itself whether or not the rest of our government is taking care of things? And, if necessary, provide much needed direction? Even if an EMP attack wipes out 90 percent of our population.  

How well is our government prepared to deal with things? Reading an article by Anthony Furey in a fairly recent issue of the Toronto Star (September 17, 2017), not at all. North Korea claims to have an H-bomb that can be used either for direct hits or for an EMP attack, depending on their strategic goals. An EMP attack makes it unlikely that the U.S. military can unleash massive retaliation because of fried electronics. The author's research and access to information requests revealed that our government is almost entirely ignorant of the subject even though now-retired senator Daniel Lang put pressure on the government in 2016 to give it attention. Our Senate better begin pushing harder!  171119-4

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Having touched upon a guaranteed minimum income, such would not mean that able Canadians can simply sit on their buns. It should be evident that our preparedness to cope with major threats calls for much of work to be done. And learning to be done. If the systems we have become accustomed to are caused to fail, be it by climate change or by a nuclear attack (even if directed toward the U.S.), we have to live a more primitive life. I imagine that our native fellow citizens can teach us a thing or two about that. We need much redundancy as well, especially in the domains of food production, shelter, and health services. Much of that work will need to be undertaken immediately for, like it or not, we are caught upin a state of emergency, whether officially declared or not. That work deserves compensation as work generally does. Therefore, any minimum income would be supplemented to stimulate citizens' desire to participate in attemption to cope with the threats imposed on us. This is a subject, the Senate's Standing Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce might well get involved in.  171119-5

This exploration ends here, but it is far from complete. Notably not touched upon are such topics as the fight against drug abuse and criminality as well as proper citizenship education. To be doubly sure, I have not made much in the way of recommendations; those need to be left to well-qualified teams of people within qualified instigators serving as senators. That's all.  171119-6

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