Dear Technocrats, Leave Us Alone

Dear Technocrats, Leave Us Alone

Editor’s note: We arrive in a time where technocrats are taking the reigns over the conditions of life, in the age of the machine. Or at least they aim to, but Mother Earth won’t accept a submission under dead things invented by coldhearted people. With her wild and fierce force she will collapse human techno-phantasies like a house of cards.

We as beings connected to ecosystems can stop partaking as well and not let ourselves put microchips under the skin or use a digital passport. The more we refuse technology the more independent we stay in our minds. And the saner our minds the better we’re able to struggle side by side with Mother Earth.

Technology is a substitute for a deep spiritual and embodied connection that homo sapiens once had with the planet. Believing in the miracles of the machine makes us feel void and useless. That’s why it’s crucial to build resilient eco-communitites that give us back the need for belonging, where we can make peace with the natural world and fellow humans.

In this article it says: “We are humanity […] on a continuum of all genders […]”, that is the opinion of the author and DGR realizes that gender is a social construct. We seek to destroy it. Also DGR does want to ravage human civilization, that is to say cities. We want to replace farmlands with wilderness.


By Koohan Paik-Mander/Counterpunch

Barbarians of the Eurocene, whose shackles are forged in economies of algorithms and war, you nuclear monsters who anger at the beauty of flesh and Mother Earth, I come from the ancestors of abundance and the descendants of the future. I ask you techno-savages to leave us alone. You and your disruptions are not welcome among us. We don’t want chip-implants in our brains. We don’t want to move to Mars. You are alien to our embodied existence. We are of the Earth.No formal government represents us, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which wilderness always speaks.

We are proud members of the ancient tribe, joyous in its unenclosed riot of spontaneous diversity. I hereby declare that the exquisite ecologies of Nature, of which we are a part, be independent of the tyrannical disruption you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us through ideology or algorithmic pseudo-science nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.You have neither solicited nor received our free and informed consent.

Your User Agreements are cryptic shams of extortion, within which gangsters have hidden dead bodies. Your transactional mind does not know our relational way of being with each other and with Nature. Your insolent topologies flout the very currency of the natural world — those boundaries of time and space, geographies and seasons, ebb and flow, systole and diastole, and carrying capacity.

You are a cancerous rib pulled from capitalism’s side, ceaselessly demanding unending growth, as if metasticization were a good thing. Artificial intelligence will never affirm life, no matter how many 3-D facsimiles it prints. Your singular motive is profit. Your reductive logic is an insult and a danger to Life itself.You have never engaged in our great nuanced languages, yet you profit from the extraction of our wealth — ore, minerals, human bodies and oil — and the enclosure of Earth, moon, and genomes.

Now, you dare to stake claim on our self-determination. You will never succeed, as long as our existence and relationships remain in the embodied world. You cannot digitize and monetize our agency. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that provide more order than could ever be obtained by any of your disruptions.people with cell phones

Digital technologies are capitalism’s greatest “triumph.” Trillions of algorithms work ceaselessly 24/7 to buy and sell on world stock markets, to secure deals to cut down forests, extract commodities on all continents and seabeds, to set up factory farms, and to displace traditional sustainable communities, which have survived for millennia precisely because of their respect for cycles and geographies. And still, you endlessly claim to be the provider of “solutions”! You use this assertion to lure us into your precincts.

You invent problems that don’t exist. Stop! We cannot accept the ravaging of the Earth and human civilization that you present as “solutions.” You are the problem. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We have our own Social Contract. This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours.

Ours is a world that values the interconnectedness of all beings. Priority is given to mutual support, human scale of space, Nature’s scale of time, body joy, diversity of contexts, and sustaining our vital relationship to all forms of life — past, present, and future. This is the path to real, lasting wealth, but it is invisible to you.We are humanity of all ages, on a continuum of all genders, and in a plurality of all shades, like those of the Earth, from the dark hues of rich humus to iron-rich red clay to the chalky Dover cliffs — and everything in-between. There are no disabilities. Every person is a song.Out of wisdom will emerge post-capitalist governance, just as it spontaneously sprang in Zuccotti Park, atop Mauna Kea, on urban farms, and in other places where people are valued over profit. Our embodied connection to place is a sacred one.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on coercion, manipulation, deception, extraction and accelerating inequity — all cruel ruses that have been imposed for the last 500 years in a multitude of forms: colonialism, capitalism, and militarism, now culminating as insidious techno-feudalism.

Now, you target us as the next wave of raw material! You wring your greedy hands, with reveries of extracting all the data in the world and more, to fill your large-language maw. You dream of replacing forests and farmlands with endless computer gulags and nuclear reactors to process your data hoards. You plot to channel infinite computations into glorious palaces, prisons and genocides.

But you are powerless over the mortal coil that inspires in you loathing and disgust.

You are terrified of your own children, for they are reminders of the apocalyptic loan you over-borrowed against their future. Because you fear their reality, you work desperately to devote your brief time on Earth to a fool’s search for a way to ship humanity to Mars. You’re a joke.

By contrast, what great fortune to be born into this embodied world! Imagine, to share an existence with mitochondria of a nudibranch, lenticular clouds, slender-toed geckos, and all the sentiments and expressions imaginable in an awe-inspiring intricate web of life! We honor her seasons, the wane and wax of the moon, the ebb and flow of tides, sunrise and sunset, and countless other rhythms. Sacred cycles and places are our scripture, instructing when and how to plant, to fish, to harvest, to give birth, to bury one’s dead. But your new technologies erase, in one fell swoop, these ancient guideposts, to the peril of a livable future.

Your increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same predicament as all those who have also struggled historically for liberation. We must declare ourselves immune to your delusions of omnipotence. You cannot algorithm us into silence and conformity.

Our small communities are spread across the Planet, determined to dismantle capitalism and return to joy, love, beauty, and wonder, connecting with nature, our bodies, and each other. It has happened before, and it shall happen again.


Title photo by MR1805 from Getty Images via Canva.com

People photo by cottonbro studio from Pexels via Canva.com

Effective Activism Requires Honest Conversations

Effective Activism Requires Honest Conversations

Editor’s Note: Civilization is killing the planet. DGR believes that nature must be protected from civilization. Nature can come back from the damage that people have done but first the destruction must stop. While people can not survive without nature, nature does not need people to survive, but it could use some help to repair the damage done. That requires activism from ordinary people to counter the extractive greed of the profit motive. This is why we must organize and survive to fight another day.

Although DGR agrees with much of this article we make note that the opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deep Green Resistance, the News Service or its staff.


 

Climate activist Clover Hogan says environmental activists face growing challenges not just from outside their movements, but also from within.
She shares how the prevalence of unpaid labor can make young activists’ lives even more difficult in the present while they advocate for a more livable future.
Add to that criticism for perceived imperfections over lifestyle choices and infighting between colleagues that can lead some to choose not to identify as activists at all, or leave movements altogether, she says.

On this episode of the podcast, Hogan discusses these challenges in addition to direct and existential threats that environmental defenders face worldwide, and how she thinks more inclusive and effective activism can be fostered.
There’s “this myth [of] perfection within activism and I think that’s something that sort of barricades lots of people, whether they consider themselves activists or not, from even engaging in the issues,” says Clover Hogan, a climate activist and founder of the youth-led nonprofit Force of Nature.

In addition to increased criminalization of protests worldwide, environmental activists face a wide range of difficult social, financial and physical risks to their lives and careers. These are challenges Hogan speaks about on this latest episode of the Mongabay Newscast.

Listen here:

 

Hogan also speaks candidly with fellow activists about the challenges activists face both outside and within environmental spaces on the third season of her Force of Nature Podcast, Confessions of a Climate Activist, highlighting the paradoxical standards that activists are held to, when the systems upon which societies are structured make alternative lifestyle choices a near impossibility.

“It’s no accident that we spend so much of our time thinking about our individual lifestyles and not thinking about how do we actually hold these systems accountable,” she says. “One of the ways that we’ve tackled that and addressed it in the podcast is with climate confessions [to] point at how silly it is that we feel guilty about [our] individual actions … against the scale of the problem that is, frankly, being driven by these huge organizations.”

Subscribe to or follow the Mongabay Newscast wherever you listen to podcasts, from Apple to Spotify, and you can also listen to all episodes here on the Mongabay website, or download our free app for Apple and Android devices to gain instant access to our latest episodes and all of our previous ones.

Banner image: Clover Hogan (center) speaking in Paris, France. Photo courtesy of Clover Hogan.

Mike DiGirolamo is a host & associate producer for Mongabay based in Sydney. He co-hosts and edits the Mongabay Newscast. Find him on LinkedIn, Bluesky and Instagram.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Film Review: Ecosophia

Film Review: Ecosophia

Ecosophia by Peter Charles Downey – Film Review

By Elisabeth Robson

The film Ecosophia is a tour through many of the issues facing humanity: our addiction to growth, energy, and materials, and our devastating use of “surplus energy” to extract and consume—and thus destroy—the very system that sustains us. The narrative of the film is told through a series of short interviews, interspersed with reflections by the filmmaker, Peter Charles Downey.

Each interviewee brings a slightly different perspective on the predicament we are in: a completely unsustainable industrial civilization that is causing ongoing collapse of the living Earth; a global civilization that will soon collapse under its own weight.

The film begins by describing the fundamental problem: infinite growth on a finite planet. Tim Garrett describes what exponential growth means—the doubling over the next 30 years of the total energy and raw materials used by humanity in the past 10,000 years. Sid Smith explains that, no, renewables will not save us. Ian Lowe reminds us that we are right on track to match the predictions of the Limits To Growth—that is, collapse somewhere between 2030-2050 of civilization as we know it now. Climate change is highlighted but correctly understood and described as just one symptom of the overarching problem we’ve created for ourselves.

A little history: as soon as we learned how to store surplus, we were in trouble. This “storing of surplus” is often associated with the beginning of agriculture, but as John Gowdy describes, it actually happened before agriculture. Just one example: Pacific Northwest Native Americans learned how to smoke salmon and store it over the winter. This led to hierarchy and inequality, the inevitable outcomes of stored surplus, as the tribe who could best store salmon would gain priority over the best salmon runs, just like kings and emperors created hierarchy and inequality by storing surplus grain, thus creating slavery and the need for soldiers to protect the grain. The ability to store surplus is what allowed us to grow far beyond the carrying capacity of Earth to sustain us.

We are torn between Stone Age instincts and space age technology and we don’t know how to cope. As Bill Rees describes, we now have the capacity via fossil fuels and technology to grow exponentially, breaking the bounds of the constraints most species face—disease, resource shortages, etc.— which kept our population in control until about 10,000 years ago.

We learn about one third of the way into the film that Ecosophia means the passing on of knowledge over many generations about the specifics of place; of how to live well in a place, deeply understanding the climate, soil, and natural communities of that place. This localized knowledge is what allowed us to live sustainably on the land as a species for thousands of years before we went astray.

From here, the film moves from describing the problem into describing how we got here: a fundamental disconnection with ourselves, with the natural world, with that localized knowledge and respect for place. The interviews cover this disconnection well; Stuart Hill, a permaculturist, describes how our theistic religions come with spiritual beliefs that are limitless, but that nature has limits, and this spiritual disconnection from the reality of the natural world is a crisis for us as a species because we are utterly dependent on that natural world.

My favorite part of the film is perhaps the interview with Stephen Jenkinson, who is known for his work on Orphan Wisdom. “Exercising dominion is a surrogate for belonging,” he says, which is such a wonderfully concise and precise way to describe what we are doing to the Earth. We are orphans from the natural world, he says, not in the sense that our parents are dead, but rather that we cannot get to our parents (the natural world), and so, we don’t know how to belong. He says, “This is not a recipe for shame or class action guilt, despite the regime for social justice.” I strongly resonated with this, because of the extreme shame and guilt that are so pervasive in the critical social justice movement that is currently sweeping the Western world, and which seems so wrong-headed.

We orphans—and all of us who watch the film and read this review are orphans—will have to do the work to reconnect because we no longer inherit belonging through our ancestors, the ones who knew how to live well in a place. We are orphans because we can no longer access that generational knowledge in a modern culture that has all but destroyed it; we must do the work to recreate it ourselves. That is a multi-generational task. Are we up to it? As Stephen asks in the film, “How bad does it have to get before we question the utility of persisting?”

It’s clear in the film that the filmmaker recognizes the narcissism of focusing on self-improvement over taking responsibility for what we have done, what we are doing. Interviewee Alnoor Ladha describes this as “retreat consciousness.” He identifies that our loss of belonging makes us feel victimized, because we are “brought into a world that doesn’t belong to us” and our coping mechanism is to try to get as much as we can “on the sinking ship, to have a first-class cabin on the Titanic.”

Yet the message we are left with at the end of the film is profoundly disempowering. The last interviewee, John Seed, who is in the deep ecology movement, concludes that if we—humanity—are destroying the Earth, then we are the Earth destroying herself, because there is no separation between us and the Earth.

On the one hand, yes, that is true. We humans are nature. And on the other hand, to describe the cruelty and psychopathy of what humans are doing to the Earth as “the Earth destroying herself” is to utterly misunderstand the Earth and at once assign too much, and too little agency to the natural world.

The film has laid out the problem of the physical and spiritual crises we face, encouraged us to do the first steps—the work on ourselves to understand the problem and cultivate the desire to do something about it, and to relearn and recreate the wisdom for how to live well in a place—and then completely diffuses any energy and passion this might have inspired in the viewer by giving us an out.

At the very end of the film, the filmmaker moves into full-on human supremacy mode, saying that we humans are perhaps “special” and “unique,” because we haven’t found evidence of “any other intelligent life-form in the universe.” He says that what makes us special is that we evolved a passion to learn about ourselves, and that if we are indeed unique in the universe, that we might want to “keep this going.”

What’s shocking about this conclusion—that we are unique and rare and special, that we are the only “intelligent life-form in the universe”—is that it is so obviously untrue. Throughout the film, I enjoyed the many wonderful clips of animals and natural communities. Why is the filmmaker not able to see that this is the intelligence he thinks is missing out there in the Universe? It’s right here with us.

The Earth may indeed be unique in all of the universe in her capacity to support life, but we humans are not alone: we are surrounded by intelligence and love in the ecosystems and many species with whom we share this amazing planet. To listen to all of these interviews, to be able to appreciate the many life-forms on Earth, and yet conclude that humanity’s utter destruction of what might be the only planet capable of sustaining life in the entire universe is “the Earth destroying herself” and that this is part of nature is disappointing, to say the least.

In conclusion, I recommend the film, but caution viewers: there is another, better ending to envision. Yes, we must understand the problem. Yes, we must do the work on ourselves. Yes, we must listen to people who still understand ecosophia: that living well in a place with humility and respect for the natural world is the only way for us to live sustainably on the Earth.

And then we can take action. We can fight back against the forces that push us further into disconnection from reality each and every day. This is what the Earth herself wants us to do, if we’d only listen. Fight back!

Thank you to Peter Charles Downey for access to the preview of the film Ecosophia.

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Greenwashing the Blue Economy

Greenwashing the Blue Economy

Editor’s Note: After exploiting almost every land on Earth, the industrial economy has now moved on to exploit the sea. Exploiters do not view the sea as many of us do: a deep body of water that is home to unimaginably large number of creatures. They see the sea as they view any other place on Earth: a huge reservoir of resources that might profit them. These profits come in many forms: greater wealth, which in turn is control over even more resources, and an ability to surround oneself with and have power over more people to do their bidding. It is for this that they are destroying life on Earth.

But, of course, that is not something they could publicly acknowledge. They have to create a more “righteous” justification for their not-so-righteous action. This is why they, in a cruel twist of words, claim to exploit the sea to protect the environment. In the following piece, Julia Barnes explains how the blue economy is just another form of greenwashing. Julia Barnes is the director of the award-winning documentaries Sea of Life and Bright Green Lies. She is a co-founder of Deep Sea Defenders, a campaign dedicated to protecting the marine environment from seabed mining. deepseadefenders.org


The Blue Economy and Greenwashing

By Julia Barnes

The term “blue economy” was first introduced in 2012, at the United Nations climate change conference in Qatar, COP18.

It has become a buzzword used by ocean conservationists and industry alike. But what does this term actually mean? And more importantly, what are the implications for the ocean?

Definitions vary. For some, the term simply describes economic activities taking place at sea. However, most interpretations include language around sustainability, conservation, or better stewardship.

According to Google/Oxford Languages, the blue economy is defined as:

blue economy

noun

an economic system or sector that seeks to conserve marine and freshwater environments while using them in a sustainable way to develop economic growth and produce resources such as energy and food.

Embedded in this definition are the values and assumptions of the dominant culture: the idea that economic growth is desirable, that the ocean consists of resources to be exploited, and that these resources can be “developed” in a sustainable way.

Sustainable has become perhaps the most meaningless word in the English language. It has been pasted in front of nearly every destructive activity imaginable; used as a rhetorical shield to deflect criticism. We now have sustainable mining, sustainable forestry, sustainable fisheries, and sustainable energy. Yet, the real world effects of these activities remain the same: they are destroying the planet.

Some examples of sectors within the blue economy include: industrial fishing, aquaculture, shipping, coastal and marine tourism, energy (wind, waves, tidal, biofuel, offshore oil and gas), ocean-based carbon credits, mineral resources (deep sea mining, dredging, sand mining), and biotechnology (marine genetic resources, industrial enzymes) – all of which the ocean would be better off without.

The problem isn’t that these industries are being done in an unsustainable way and can somehow be tweaked to become sustainable; unsustainability is inherent to what they are, and to the economic model under which they operate – a model that demands infinite extractive growth despite the fact that our planet is finite and has already been largely denuded of life, a model that objectifies the ocean and values it only for the profit humans can extract from it.

The notion of a sustainable blue economy provides the illusion of protection. Meanwhile, industry and corporations are doubling down on their efforts to exploit the sea, extracting living organisms faster than the rate at which they can reproduce, destroying habitat, wiping out vulnerable species, and pushing new frontiers of extraction. Carbon capture schemes are popping up, abusing the sea in a shell game that legitimises continued emissions through supposed carbon “offsets”. Genetic prospecting threatens to privatize and commodify the very DNA of our nonhuman kin. Deep sea mining threatens to disrupt the ocean on a scale not previously seen. Offshore energy projects (for fossil fuels and so-called renewables) impose damage on the sea while providing power to the system that is at the root of the problem.

At a time when we should be pulling back, reducing our impact, and allowing the ocean to regenerate, the blue economy offers instead to continue business as usual, only rebranded.

As with so many of the things that have been marketed to us as “green”, the blue economy is primarily about sustaining a gluttonous way of life at the expense of life on the planet.

What if instead of defining the ocean as a resource, we valued it for what it really is? A living community vital to the functioning of our planet. The foundation of life on Earth. An entity with volition of its own. A force much older, larger, and wiser than we are. Something so powerful, beautiful, and magical, it cannot be described in words but can certainly be felt. Something sacred and deserving of respect.

The ocean is already collapsing under the many assaults of the global industrial economy. Further commodifying it under a vague claim of sustainability will not solve the problem.

What Will Be Left To Carry Forward?

What Will Be Left To Carry Forward?

Editor’s note: DGR believes that it is necessary for organizers to be strategic and efficient in organizing against ecocide. This also includes using technology as a tool for organizing. Therefore, we do not engage in “virtue signalling” and individual lifestyle choices by avoiding the use of technology. However, we are also aware of the harmful effects of these technologies. The following piece is a delving into the impacts of all actions we take and asks “what will be left to carry forward?”

Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) writes, small press publishes, and is the author of 17 books. He travels a holistic mystic Kaballah-rooted pathway staying in touch with Turtle Island and the cycles of the Seasons. His website: www.allbook-books.com


By Mankh

On a day when i am out and about carrying something that has taken a lot of effort to produce, a chunk of notes and written bits for the next book in the works, yet they haven’t been typed into the computer file yet, carrying that little stack of papers, i suddenly become extra cautious, telling myself: Don’t spill coffee, remember where you put it, don’t lose it!… And later on i realize that every day is truly like this, if you think about it and put it into practice, but not ‘practice’ rather deep appreciation and caring for everything and everyone that has brought ‘the item’ to this moment, your own efforts and all those who have helped you along the way, as well as all the experiences and stories of your life thus far written in your heart and feet and hands and organs and mind and soul . . . creating a kind of humanuscript or living story that you are virtually forever editing.

All those who have helped along the way includes, to name a few, the Sun and Earth that have been there and will continue being every day. How much is pre-scripted and how much you write your story is up for discussion . . . i think it’s a bit of both.

Yet the script cuts both ways, literally: “script” from “skrībh-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to cut, separate, sift;” an extended form of root sker- (1) “to cut”, also sker- (2) ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to turn, bend”, Latin scribere “to write” (to carve marks in wood, stone, clay, etc.); Lettish, skripat “scratch, write;” Old Norse, hrifa “scratch.”” (etymonline.net)

On the one hand we can’t help making our marks, leaving footprints, scratching books and such like, yet on the other hand why are we so obsessed with making marks, scratching books, carving into wood and stone, too-often literally defacing the Earth, blowing up mountains, and we’ve all seen the photos of scars due to extractive mining, the faded-brown swaths of deforested Amazon reflecting a scorched Earth policy, not simply a military policy, while the Amazon delivery trucks grow in numbers in the neighborhood.

No matter whether you are carrying your new-born child, a crystal vase, your magnum opus or simply a loaf of bread from the store, every living thing carries within it and emanating from it an immense amount of history and effort and hopefully joy to get it there to you where you are now holding it or perhaps ingesting it. In the long haul, seems to this scratcher that we are here so as to simply carry it forward, whatever “it” is — and that includes water and land.

i have no idea who planted the forsythia and azalea in the backyard of the house before i started living here but i thank them b/c every year like clockwork, just as the forsythia’s bright yellow is mostly turned to green is when the azalea begins opening up its neon red.

Aside from a literary manuscript, etymologically a manuscript is a mark/scratch/cut you make with your hands. Literally it cuts both ways: You could cut up the forest (destroy), or you could carve a piece of art, scratch some letters into a book (create). Then again, even by writing a book, you’re cutting into the forests for more paper. Is there such thing as a win-win situation anymore?

The Kogi (Original People of the Sierra Nevada mountains of Colombia) have no famous authors because they have no books. However, they can ‘read’ water. Think about that! . . . And from what i know, they are in the category of Peoples least likely to cut up the Earth, rather carry Her forward.

To further follow the word-roots, “to turn, bend” suggests another flavor of “script” accentuating the need for adaptability rather than cutting, and, like a Taoist, unassumingly going with the flow . . . “A skillful woodsman leaves neither tracks nor traces.” Now that’s something that would have archaeologists declaring ‘No Taoists lived here’; and they’d be inaccurate.

Everyone experiences cuts in life, some of them heal and some scar. Yet the continued scarring of our consciousnesses and of the Earth reflects the regurgitating of outdated “scripts” and taglines such as “progress” “faster downloading speeds” “you gotta upgrade” “trust the science” “the bottom line” “best seller” “the customer is always right” “education is the key to success” “and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

If the humanuscript continues to cut up the Earth at the current pace and subdue or lord it over others it considers inferior, what will be left to carry forward?


Truck photo by renaissancegal/Getty Images Signature/Canva

Title photo by eleonimages/Canva

How AI Impacts Child Pornography: Editorial

How AI Impacts Child Pornography: Editorial

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday I logged into Chat GPT for the first time, a chatbot driven by artificial intelligence technology. With search engines like Google showing mostly affiliate marketing links, it seems as there’s less and less non-commercial information to utilize for researching. I asked Chat GPT and voilá; got a valuable answer, which of course I still had to verify as any editor needs to with information found on the internet. And it – the AI machine – was even friendly to me. It is spooky how delighted I was as if I’d been chatting to a real person.

When it comes to AI it’s not all chatty though. There are many dangers with AI, that we will deal with in a series of articles starting today.

The one that concerns us the most is its relation with deepfake intimate images, particularly how AI is impacting child pornography (CP). Here, we bring to you a few articles on this topic, along with our commentary. We have only published small parts of the articles, obliging to fair share policy. You can click on the link to get to the original article.


Child Sexual Abuse Images Found in AI Training Material

Despite it’s much confusing name, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not, in fact, intelligence. As a matter of fact, it is a series of highly complex amalgation of data. The individual data are intricately related to each other through an equally complex set of algorithms. In other words, whatever output AI produces, it is actually based on those complex links that is stored in a large set of data that it can quickly and easily access to.

Therefore, the greater the dataset that any AI program can access, the more “intelligent” it appears. In other words, for AI to appear intelligent, there needs to be a constant expansion of dataset. (Un)fortunately, there are different datasets committed to just that.

LAION is one such dataset that creates the dataset of images, linking it to the titles and alternative texts that the uploaders give. About two months ago, Stanford Internet Observatory discovered over thousand of AI-generated child pornography images on LAION. What it means is that AI is now getting trained to create child pornographic images, resulting in an increased likelihood to present similar images in the future.

Stanford Report Uncovers Child Pornography in AI Training Data

barbed-wire woman

By Editah Patrick/MSN

Stanford Internet Observatory has made a distressing discovery: over 1,000 fake child sexual abuse images in LAION-5B, a dataset used for training AI image generators. This finding, made public in April, has raised serious concerns about the sources and methods used for compiling AI training materials.

The Stanford researchers, in their quest to identify these images, did not view the abusive content directly. Instead, they utilized Microsoft’s PhotoDNA technology, a tool designed to detect child abuse imagery by matching hashed images with known abusive content from various databases. Read more…


Dangers of sharing pictures online

Two cases of using AI to create child pornography has urged AI and child experts to warn parents about the harms of AI-generated child pornography. They have warned parents against posting children’s images online, as they can be used to create new images of child pornography.

Expert warns parents of dangers with AI child pornography

AI

By Naomi Kowles/WBTV
New AI technology is being used to turn normal pictures into pornography, including child pornography. It’s a phenomenon that has touched at least two recent criminal cases in Charlotte.The FBI said agents found hundreds of AI-generated child pornography images on the digital devices for a former American Airlines flight attendant, arrested in Charlotte last month for secretly recording young girls on planes. Read more…

A Flood of AI-Generated Child Pornography Confusing Police

AI opens a Pandora’s box related to child pornography. While it can help detect CSAM (child sex abuse materials) through Microsoft’s PhotoDNA technology, it gives criminals an easy yet exploitative tool with which they can flood the web with fake AI-generated child pornography images. This makes prosecuting real crimes more complex and diverts the already understaffed police away from genuine cases.

Surge in AI Generated Child Exploitation Images

mobilephone

By Ashley Belanger/ARS Technica

Law enforcement is continuing to warn that a “flood” of AI generated fake child sex images is making it harder to investigate real crimes against abused children, The New York Times reported.

“Creating sexually explicit images of children through the use of artificial intelligence is a particularly heinous form of online exploitation,” Steve Grocki, the chief of the Justice Department’s child exploitation and obscenity section, told The Times. Experts told The Washington Post in 2023 that risks of realistic but fake images spreading included normalizing child sexual exploitation, luring more children into harm’s way and making it harder for law enforcement to find actual children being harmed.

Currently, there aren’t many cases involving AI-generated child sex abuse materials (CSAM), The NYT reported, but experts expect that number will “grow exponentially,” raising “novel and complex questions of whether existing federal and state laws are adequate to prosecute these crimes.” Read more…


Lack of legislation around AI-Generated Child Pornography

While child pornography is an abhorrent crime that is being sidelined by AI generated flooding of CP images, even AI use of CP should be a crime. Child safety experts are increasingly worried about the “explosion” of “AI-generated child sex images” which pedophiles share easily through their dark web forums. After all, it would be naive to assume that the person creating and distributing AI-generated CP would not engage in CP if given the chance.

However, creating and sharing these violent images is not a definite crime. It takes time for the legal system to recognize any new crime as a crime. The same is true for AI-generated CP.

In addition common people cannot control what the future of technology holds, AI is in a constant development by self-declared specialists whose knowledge is kept under wraps. There will be technological conditions under which perpetrators could hide anonymously and keep on doing more children harm.

Senate sends two AI child porn bills to House

By David Beard/The Dominion Post

The Senate advanced two bills to the House on Tuesday, both aimed at combating AI era child pornography.

SB 740 criminalizes altering a photograph, image, video clip, movie, or recording containing sexually explicit conduct by inserting the image of an actual minor so it appears that the minor is engaged in the sexually explicit conduct.

The vote was 34-0. SB 741 also passed unanimously.

Where SB 740 involves using real victims in artificially generated porn, this bill concerns entirely digitally or AI-generated porn where the image appears to be a minor. Read more…


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