This is not what environmentalists dream of

To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, the RegenVillage is not a concept to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. Or put differently, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The RegenVillages are not at all what they would like you to believe, and the people and institutions behind it are the same people who think that technology will save us from ourselves. People like Ray Kurzweil, who has already given the project his blessing. He’s the guy with the giant ego who has decided he will, literally, live forever, and meanwhile, devotes his life to making sure that humans will, in future, be ruled by their technical inventions ‘the singularity’. He has written books about this vile and amoral concept; there’s even a very bad docudrama about The Singularity. It should serve as a warning to all technocrats: don’t attempt art; you’re hopeless at it. But back to where I left off with the previous blog:
Figuring out what and who is behind the RegenVillage concept seemed fairly innocent, at first. Let me lay it out for you: I became slightly suspicious because their clinical website doesn’t tell you anything about who and what is driving what appears to be this utopian concept. After I sent them an email, I got an immediate reply from the founder, one James Ehrlich, whose day job seems to be located at Standford Univerisity, with the H-STAR Institute. They are a globally connected, interdisciplinary group and according to their website, “H-STAR is a crossroads for people, expertise, projects and programs that connect Stanford resources in human sciences with research and innovation about information technology. The social problems found at this intersection are significant, challenging, and in flux, in part because there is no social equivalent to Moore’s Law — technological capabilities are expanding far more rapidly than social and cultural adaptations to their properties and prospects.”

Okay. That sounds as if they would like us all to just go with the techno-flow. Adapt more quickly to the fact that we’re all being spied on by our governments and their henchmen, GOOGLE, et al. As we know from WikiLeaks, that company has a very cozy relationship with the US State Department. What could go wrong?

Ehrlich is also a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, in addition to being a senior fellow with Opus Novum, an organization embedded with NASA. Ehrlich (whose name means ‘honest’ in German), was quite forthcoming. He shared that he had recently been appointed to the ‘White House / State Department Joint Task Force on the Nexus of Food, Water, Energy + Waste. Also, “For the record, NASA is not involved in ReGen Villages – I am a Senior Fellow at a consortium of scientists and technologists called Opus Novum which convenes as part of a larger NASA Ames group focused more on non-terrestrial topics.”
Yes, indeed. It got even more fascinating when I followed up with more research on who is involved with Opus Novum, rather like stepping from the light into darkness. The Director of ON, Dr. Khalid Al-Ali, turned out to be the CEO of Senseta, , a company engaged in ‘big data capture’ that, among many other things, supplies ‘actionable intelligence’, a favourite phrase used by the military, the police and the CIA.

Here is Bloomberg Business on Mr. Khalid:

Dr. Khalid Al-Ali serves as the Principal Investigator, Project Lead and Program Visionary for key projects funded by the NASA Ames Research Center and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL). Dr. Al-Ali serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Senseta. Dr. Al-Ali is the Founder and Chairman of Opus Novum. Dr. Al-Ali’s expertise is projects involving advanced spacecraft control systems, intelligent avionics, novel power systems, planetary rovers and robots.

Dr. Khalid is also, amazingly, a test pilot for drones.

Senseta’s tagline is Capture and Analyze. Has a nice ring to it. Oh, and they mean to do nothing but good. Here are their honest aspirations, taken from their landing page, and the only thing missing is ‘do no evil’, made famous by GOOGLE.

We follow the Opus Novum Principles
  • Place trust and loyalty first
  • Give before you take
  • Honor the mentor-apprentice tradition
  • Seek collaborative unity
  • Apply social norms over market norms
  • Favor wealth creation over wealth collection
  • Be an agent for positive change

Okay, I admit that I suddenly felt cold all over. But I decided to risk becoming more aggressive with the friendly Dr Ehrlich: I asked him to tell me who funds the RegenVillages project. And at that point, he bailed. He hasn’t returned. I could try to call him, at Stanford. But that’s futile. He would never tell me what I suspect; he may even be quite innocent of all wrong doing: after all, technological control of everything, especially Humans and Nature, is beneficial, right?

Who are we, the great unwashed and confused, to question what our elite techno masters have in mind for us? They’re just trying to save us. We do seem to be in dire need of saving. The question is, should we accept, without question, the technological gifts they are bearing?

Stay tuned.

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