We are back in the fifties. We discuss cluelessly how to counter Putin´s nuclear threat. We notice that we do not know how to survive as a species under the nuclear threat. We never figured it out.
Maybe, in 2022, this is more a European concern than a US concern. The Ukraine war is closer to us.
Arguing over nuclear threat on social media
I am unexpectedly a pro-Putin shill and apologist
That was for mentioning, in a comment on a public blog, that we underestimate the risk of nuclear escalation in the Ukraine war. My warning was also immediately countered with attacks such as "don´t play your concerned grandfather schtick", or even "bedwetter".
Did I really mind? No. My last employer taught me to instinctively respond with "Thank you for your interesting contribution!". And only then will I reply politely, stressing our common goals. I am very grateful for this European institution's skill!
Let´s bomb back - we will all die anyway
Another comment was: "If Putin detonates a tactical bomb over Ukraine, I hope the US President will do the same to him".
When I pointed out that a nuclear counter-attack might escalate to the end of civilization, this was met by the philosophical argument "We will all die anyway, so what!". I understand, that this is the argument of last resort.
The argument "we will all die" is true. But here is the thing. If we destroy humanity now, by accident, we do not only kill our life. We "kill" possibly billions of years of future life on this planet. Do we have the right to do so? I once calculated that the remaining life of only my descendants is c a 500-600 years. My own life expectancy is only 20-30 years. Who cares about 20!. But 500? And that´s only my own living descendants.
Generals do it, too
One finds the same arguments in serious debates between strategists and military hardlines.
Here is one example. At some point, they too get heated and interrupt each other. But at least they don't call each other names.
The older guys are more afraid
There seems to be a split between those who grew up as children and as youth in the 1950s and 1960s, and those born later.
Duck and Cover, 1952
Two years before I was born, this old governmental TV advert shows how Americans grew up. It explains well the US kids´ bad dreams.
The impact of Duck and Cover: Shinzen Young
For example, below you see the meditation teacher and scientist Shinzen Young. as he remembers his childhood fears. His memories are similar to mine, although I did not participate in duck-and-cover drills.
"I expected to be bombed. It was terrible".
I too vividly remember, at 67, a specific nightmare where a nuclear mushroom unfolds in the distance, and I know that this is the end. It was terrible, and I awoke with a racing heart I must have been 10. This is my memory of what we learned at school.
What a nuclear attack would look like today
Hiroshima, in comparison to today´s weapons, was a water pistol compared to a submachine gun.
It´s worth making sure that one understands the true impact of a nuclear bomb.
This podcast is a summary of our situation, with vivid descriptions.
Ukraine and beyond
Putin´s nuclear threat has re-ignited a discussion (too little yet) about the reality of the nuclear threat.
Apparently, even the most reckless US planner consider the risk of nuclear escalation too high, so they decided to not provide wide-ranging weapons to Ukraine.
In this podcast, which assess the risk of nuclear war through the Ukraine conflict in grim terms, one finds the graphic description of the impact of a single nuclear bomb detonated in a large city at ca min 37:30.
Henry Kissinger - a potential war criminal turned warner
In the following video, you see Henry Kissinger and his controversial statements about how to deal with the Ukraine. He advocates for negotiations, given the new threats and the risks . And of course, he immediately drew flak by Zelinsky.
Spycast - Sean Maloney and the nuclear doomsday machine: I do not know whether we can contain the risk of nuclear escalation
The Russians obviously didn´t like what Sean Maloney had to say on his website "Atomic Express".
Atomic Express” was a Cold War pop culture website I ran for several years. It was taken down hard by Russian hackers once the latest iteration of unpleasantness in the Ukraine started and I was too busy to restore the thing. I am working now to bridge its remains onto this site.
Sean Maloney was asked: "can we stop nuclear escalation when the genie is out of the bottle?" His reply: "I don´t really have the answer to that" (at minute 49:12). No one has, indeed. If anyone should have an answer, it is he.
The nuclear Doomsday machine
What´s coming down the line
"What´s coming down the line is really scary" (Sean Malone)
Nuclear and AI
Henry Kissinger recently co-authored a book on Artificial Intelligence. One of the two co-authors is Eric Schmid, ex Google CEO. The book takes up, among other things, the new threat level that arises through uncontrolled growth of AI, in particular in combination with nuclear arms. When do we hand over? And then, do we have any control? What will an AI decide?
Already today, the inventors of AI engines often do not know how the AI arrives at its results. How can one test such a device? One cannot, is the answer.
Hypersonic missiles at Mach 25
One of the reasons that mankind has to take a species approach to AI is the new threat of hypersonic missiles. These are carrier systems that fly at Mach 25, reducing the already short warning time to nearly no time at all. Of course, there is a temptation to let AI control the situation.
China recently successfully launched a hypersonic missile that circled the world and dropped a (fake) bomb at the end of its flight. The US do not know how to do this. I do not assume that China will start a war intentionally. But now the US is frantically trying to catch up. We ratch up the risks every day.
Apart from throwing a bomb on a city, another scenario are electromagnetic impulses. What happens to the sewage system if a city when the circuits fuse and don´t defuse? What to do with the waste water?
This scenario had been used, in another context (hacker attack) in the book "Black Out". It is based on actual EU planning scenarios. The result of these scenarios: civilisation as we know it survives for perhaps two weeks. That´s it.