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These past three decades have been the most paranoid, I can remember, historically out of all my readings, when combined with personal experience.

People don't trust the government, they don't trust each other. They have a million different hypothesis to describe why various powerful entities are out to get us, while simultaneously, these massive institutions are grasping at money and power, riding on the backs of poor citizens of the world.

It can be a bit much. I will say my least favorite part of this entire situation is when one receives confirmation that your paranoid neighbors may not be paranoid at all, and are in fact, just observant.

Yikes!

So here I am, miss bee lady, following that Colony Collapse Disorder like some people follow college football. Reading every bit of material that comes down the pike, and digging old stuff up to get perspective. Well today I came across something new. I say new, but really this has been discussed before by various people in the world and online.

It goes a little something like this:

Certain Companies make a pesticide that is causing Colony Collapse disorder in Honey Bees and Bumble Bees.

Bees are very important pollinators for our commercial food production and wild food sources, globally.

Why would anyone want to destroy our pollinators--that makes no sense! Unless of course they want to create GMO bees, or robot bees to take their place. For a profit of course.

Usually I back out of the conversation at that point, because it tends to delve in chem-trails or bigfoot or something, and even I have limits in pretending to suspend my disbelief of the ridiculous.

So you can imagine my surprise when I find an article about Robot Bees and AI bee brains on Science Daily. Chemtrail cocktail anyone?

Basically the project is for building tiny autonomous drones [pun intended]. Suddenly mechanical, squirrel spies don't seem so far fetched!

It is anticipated that the artificial brain could eventually be used in applications such as search and rescue missions, or even mechanical pollination of crops. Science Daily
This is where Science runs afoul of the regular people. For us mere mortals here on earth, who get to live through and with experimentation by our best and brightest, we tend to get grumpy about it when we [mere mortals] can spot a bad corporate ploy behind the child-like enthusiasm of a beautiful mind.

Yes we are very excited for you Mr and Ms Scientists! Oh it must be wonderful to get to play with such toys and further our understanding of robotics, and artificial intelligence, and bee behavior. See-look-ey, I jumped up and down while your back was turned in  a moment of unrestrained joy---Oh but now for the difficult part.

How will multinational corporations use this to screw with the lives and/or health regular people? How will this be used to erode our right to privacy? And will this technology be used as an excuse to not work, to save our "living" pollinators?

Why bother? We have robots to do that now!

Remember when GMOs were going to be used to solve global starvation? Only now these discoveries are used to create super bugs and super weeds while depleting our supply of genetic diversity.

Yea, stuff like that. No good comes from stuff like that.

Some aspects of this do sound cool! Check out this page devoted to the concept of the Robobees project.

The thought of recreating a super organism that can operate as both an aggregate and a whole is pretty awesome. What bothers is me, is how it might be potentially used. I think that sometimes Scientists do not think about how their products might be used against regular people.

"Isn't it cool we split an atom?"

vs.

"It was until we saw what the world would do with that knowledge!"

Another article goes on to say:

The MicroBees project is seeking to develop autonomous flying robots inspired by flying insects. Harvard researchers envision they can be used to pollinate crops because natural bee colonies have been dying in large numbers. The MicroBees could also be used for search and rescue missions, military surveillance, and weather and climate monitoring, according to Harvard. Cnet.
My reply is:

I know this will seem incredibly simple. But after all I am but a simple human being.

Might we consider ENDING the manufacture, distribution, and use of NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDES?

I realize that once again, this is an overly-simplistic answer in a complex world. Sort of like that patient that goes to the doctor with a sore elbow.

"Doctor, whenever I hit my elbow on the wall or table it hurts!" The doctor replies: "Then stop doing that!"

I especially appreciate how they follow the "search and rescue missions" with "Military Surveillance."

With our increasingly militarized world, that alone would make my sphincter clench. Like we will gush so hard about search and rescue, that we won't even notice that little mention of surveillance. As my eldest often says, "Skynet is pleased!"

And what's next? Robot Butterflies to replace the live ones that are dying, because we as a race, are too selfish to preserve forage and habitat?

We can live in an enchanted robot world, think of how much fun that will be! Robot lions hunt robot wildebeests, and robot birds shit on robot cars, and robot candidates preach to zombie hordes.

{If only that last part were factually erroneous!}

Call me old, but robots are meant to be a novelty. They should not be manufactured to replace the best parts of living in a mortal world. Will Robot Bees make honey? Will these robots be outfitted with a crop and multi-chambered stomach that houses special enzymes used to produce honey? Bee Bread? Will robot bees produce propolis, will we outfit them with a robot pharyngeal gland to produce royal jelly?

Or will living bees become a rich man's hobby in a dying world, where honey is sold by the pound for thousands of dollars due to it's rarity, while robot bees are eyes in the sky?

I think that GMOs and Robot Bees would be great for that time, when humans begin colonizing other planets and moons. Living in space on satellites, or establishing colonies while terraforming, such activities would call for robot-bees for pollination and genetically modified crops that can survive in special circumstances, limited environments, etc.,

But what makes NO sense to me whatsoever is why, we insist on screwing up a perfectly, grand biosphere, by making changes to interconnected systems that we don't even fully understand yet.

That is primarily why I object to the indiscriminate release of Genetically Modified Organisms into the world. And I see the potential use of Robobees to replace natural pollinators as an extention of this GMO as a Panacea mindset. Yes I know robots are not living organisms, but the outcome is similar. Let the natural systems fail under the pressure of a global culture that refuses to harmonize enough with the natural environment to sustain it, and then replace it with something artificial and inferior and potentially harmful to us and our environment.

And by GMO, I mean Gene Splicing. Anything that can cross pollinate in the wild produces sport, and that progeny is merely a hybrid in the classical sense. But mixing fish genes with tomato genes in a petri dish is another thing entirely--That is a chimeric organism.  A fish will never mate with a tomato in nature. And even if such a coupling were attempted, no progeny would result from that bizarre encounter.

Right now, I perceive this project to really be about two things: The anticipated, corporate murder of our pollinators, for profit, and the added benefit of surreptitious surveillance in an ever-expanding, corporate, police state. Whatever fun the gamers have with this project, is extraneous. Some good might come of it. But that good would require the developers of this technology to maintain some control over it's applications. And I don't see that happening. Randian amorality isn't just a problem with politics--it's everywhere.

So what do you think of my new tin foil hat? Did I find one that gives me a good fit?  

Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:33 AM PT: A little O/T but--this goes to the birth of Tin Foil Hat Conspiracy Theories:

http://www.cbsnews.com/...

"In the mid-1950s, and again a decade later, the Army used motorized blowers atop a low-income housing high-rise, at schools and from the backs of station wagons to send a potentially dangerous compound into the already-hazy air in predominantly black areas of St. Louis...But in 1994, the government said the tests were part of a biological weapons program and St. Louis was chosen because it bore some resemblance to Russian cities that the U.S. might attack. The material being sprayed was zinc cadmium sulfide, a fine fluorescent powder CBS."

Apparently there were also radioactive particles in the mix as well. It is cases like this that breed so much distrust, suspicion and hatred of the government. And this is what breeds conspiracy theories. Clearly this was a conspiracy. I can see how this will feed the Chem Trail conspiracies.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The paranoia was evident 30 years ago (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, grayday101, Gorette

    It was just less recognized by Americans.

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 08:17:53 AM PDT

  •  I understand your point (3+ / 0-)

    but if the bees fall below sustainable levels, then we kiss our asses goodbye or find a way to pollinate our crops.

    Fully mechanical bees might not be too bad.   But the world is changing faster than we can cope, because we changed technologies without understanding the impacts.   I wouldn't be in favor of any mechanical bees in any area with sustainable bee populations.

    And this isn't Terminator technology, this is War of the Copraphages territory.

  •  I have never built a bee. (3+ / 0-)

    But for a while I was mocking up cockroaches, playing around with exactly how complex a response needs to be before it looks like behavior. The roach model just appealed to my sense of humor.

    Turns out, not very complex at all- which makes ya wonder, how much of consciousness is used to explain to yourself what you've already done.

    But I assure you, my motives were NOT

    The anticipated, corporate murder of our pollinators, for profit, and the added benefit of surreptitious surveillance in an ever-expanding, corporate, police state.
    If it's profit driven, you'd be better off addicting your pollinator population to something than replacing them with robots. Way cheaper, and they still self-replicate.

    Just sayin'.

  •  If we didn't live in a plutocracy, we might have a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother

    chance on getting public opinion against this.....because after all, the idea of scientists building a new BEE, scientists playing GOD. You'd think they'd be against the very idea of it!

    Soon they'll be developing replacements for not just bee workers but human workers!

    I know what you mean, the paranoid idea seems so paranoid until it no longer is.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:08:25 AM PDT

    •  We have to some degree replaced human workers (0+ / 0-)

      That is why you have self checkouts at many large box stores like Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.,

      I have bitched about that vociferously, because those are important jobs in a community for people who want to work, but who might otherwise be considered, "Unskilled labor" which to me is an oxymoron.

      If the job requires you to follow instructions, then it's skilled. Run a cash register for 8 to 12 hours during the holidays and you will see what I mean.

      Sometimes it's good. Robots that diffuse bombs, or robots/computers that remove cancer in delicate operations.

      And other times it's good intentions gone wrong: Military drones, meant to keep soldiers out of harms way, but instead becomes a blank check for manslaughter.

      Or in the case of Facial recognition software, something that is very useful but now used to imply a long standing threat to people's privacy, employment status or just social standing in an increasingly fickle and shallow society.

  •  All hats look good at the right jaunty angle. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother

    The college advisor of a good friend was a former physicist who had become a philosopher of science.  I forget who under whom he had studied, but, while he didn't work on the Manhattan project himself, the other scientist did. Work he had done as a student contributed to the creation of the atom bomb. After the bomb was dropped he had to confront the fact that a scientist cannot control how his work is used. He decided to leave research and become a philosopher of science. Scientists are ultimately as powerless as the rest of us peons. That professor was comparatively lucky. For many people it's a choice between doing work whose ultimate use you cannot control and being unemployed.

    My usual take on most tin-foil hat stuff is to see if it can be explained without the conspiracy part ot the equation. Each one of us does what we think is best based on the input we get from the environment, both the literal environment that we see before us and the virtual environment that we percieve through what other people tell us. Frequently, patterns emerge. I like to think of it as being like the Game of Life. Each cell operates independently yet patterns emerge. A better example might be, coincidentally, bees. There's no real hive mind, but to a casual observer there appears to be, this despite the fact no individual bee has an overall understanding of what is happening. So, can the conspiracy be explained in terms of each human being, or other entities like corporations, responding without there being a coordinated effort. In the case of the pesticide companies and the computer scientists I think that this is a coincidence.

    However, that they're not executing a plan concieved by a small cadre a couple of decades ago doesn't make it any less alarming. The scientists persue their research and the corporations will utilize that research in pursuit of profit.

    Okay, now I'm going to try to embed a photo. I haven't mastered this yet, so pardon me if it doesn't display correctly.

    There are so many problems with the notion of mechanical bees replacing natural polinators, I hope no one thinks for a moment that they would be at all workable.

    I'm very ambivalent about much of the research regarding agriculture. I'm not against progress at all and I'm very aware that the earth couldn't support its current population using the agricultural methods of two hundred years ago. On the other hand, I don't trust the big corporations at all. They are profit seeking robots, not benevolent institutions. We need to keep an eye on what they do, and that's not tin foil hat stuff.

    Chimeric organism is a great term. Did you coin it?

    •  Coining the phrase: (0+ / 0-)

      I have used that phrase in various discussions. I came up with it myself, but I cannot say whether or not it has been used in that capacity before. And there may be a more precise phrase or term out there, waiting to be used. It was the most accurate term I could imagine to delineate between the abuse of other words like Hybrids, which in the common gardener's world is the product of cross pollination usually, or Grafting, or any of the other plant breeding techniques that can happen outside of gene splicing, in the small greenhouse or just in the garden itself.

      What made me think of the Chimera, was the use of the term to describe animals that had DNA placed in their code from other normally incompatible species.

      Goats that produce spider silk, pigs that glow from jelly fish genes, etc.,

      I don't believe that all such scientific study and experimentation is bad. I just don't care for the direction that the corporations have taken it in, in terms of our large scale agricultural issues.

      Bureaucracies, and Corporations are not people. They do not respond as an individual to an individual.

      Such entities have unlimited resources with which to hammer any given individual or small group. Unlimited legal time with big law firms for slapp suits, unlimited money, unlimited access to political powers--congressmen, senators, governors, and military and police powers as well.

      It is very difficult for a singular person to compete with that on any level for any length of time. And so these behemoths bury us in a sea of red tape, while dragging their feet knowing eventually you and I have to return to life, to work to children.

      A corporation or bureaucracy can put multiple workers on the issue, and it all occurs within normal working hours, whereas you and I must handle such things on our off time, in addition to our "real job" and family duties. And we are spending our own personal money, while they dip into slush funds and budgets.

      So no, it is impossible for them to respond as a person, to other individuals. This is why, even under the best of circumstances, such entities are amoral, disinterested, and unthinking.

      We desperately need a wall of separation between corporation and state. Otherwise we will loose this country forever. And such discussions like this one will be moot.

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