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Volume 24, Number 6 – 3/15/21




  • The first mass-produced solar powered car may be available this year.
  • The emergence of cybercrime-as-a-service means that nation states increasingly have the option of hiring others to carry out attacks for them.
  • Over the last 12 months, more than 60 countries have experimented with national digital currencies, up from just over 40 a year earlier.
  • A lab-grown black hole behaved just as Stephen Hawking predicted.


The Practical Process of Preparation for the Coming Changes

You’ve noticed, of course, that everything is coming unglued. Almost all of the institutions, relationships and supports that we have all developed to sustain ourselves emotionally – to say nothing of economically and socially – are moving and being called into question. We’ve entered a time of rapidly increasing fluidity where it’s becoming harder and harder to know what is really REAL, and what the future might hold. The world is becoming “surreal-er and surreal-er.”

Futurist John Petersen returns to TransitionTalks on the 17th of April to specifically address what he has discovered from extracting the characteristics and options available to us all at this leading edge of change. John will present an integrated approach to surfing the great shift that offers the best ideas from conventional assessors of change management coupled with big-picture understandings of this evolutionary jump, where it may be going and . . . how we can all begin to change how we live to be able to ride this wave rather than be battered on the rocks of personal chaos that will confront many around us.

This will be an unusual – and special – opportunity to begin to both understand what is headed this way and to learn of specific, practical ways in which prepare for and navigate the turbulent times ahead.


April 17, 2021

Coolfont Resort, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia


Karen Sokel interviews John Petersen prior to his presentation in December.
John is returning in April — you’ll not want to miss it!





Lockdowns Have Killed Millions – (Sebastian Rushworth – March 1, 2021)
Two researchers at the Karolinska Instituet just outside Stockholm, Sweden, professor Anna-Mia Ekström and professor Stefan Swartling Peterson, have gone through the data from UNICEF and UNAIDS, and come to the conclusion that least as many people have died as a result of the restrictions to fight covid as have died of covid directly. And while almost all the people who have died of covid have died in rich countries and been old, the vast majority of people who have died of lockdown have died in poor countries and been young. This means that the number of years of life lost to lockdown is many times greater than the number of years of life lost to covid-19. The specific causes of death are malnutrition, caused by shutting down the global economy, lack of vaccination, caused by shutting down childhood vaccination programs, and treatable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV, that have been prioritized down as a result of efforts to fight covid-19. These unintended consequences of the efforts to fight covid have caused the rate of childhood deaths to increase in 2020 for the first time in decades. The two professors also note that rates of childhood marriage and of teen pregnancy and abortion have increased significantly as a result of taking children out of school. The documentary clearly shows that covid-19 is nowhere near as deadly as the 1918 Spanish flu, and is in fact very much in line with the flu pandemics of 1957 and 1968. And they note that more people died of smoking last year than of covid. But we haven’t made smoking illegal. And they also note that anti-democratic governments in many countries have taken advantage of the pandemic to move forward their positions, get rid of opposition, and limit human rights. Lockdowns are inherently racist and elitist, with unclear benefits but proven harms. We all need to stand up and tell our governments that we don’t support what they are doing, and we will not vote for any politician or party promoting continued lockdowns and restrictions as a solution to covid-19, unless they can clearly show that the benefit to society as a whole is greater than the harm.

COVID-19 Fatalities 16.7 Times Too High Due to ‘Illegal’ Inflation – (Green Med Info – February 1, 2020)
In March 2020, the CDC changed the way COVID-19 deaths are reported on death certificates, resulting in a dramatic — and possibly illegal — inflation of fatalities that drove restrictive public health policies threatening health freedom. Only 6% of COVID-19 deaths include only COVID-19 as the cause on the death certificate, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means for the other 94%, additional causes are listed, with an average of 2.9 additional conditions or causes of death included. “This is the most important statistical revelation of this crisis,” according to a study by the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge (IPAK), as it reveals that many “COVID-19 deaths” may have been due to other causes. In fact, the CDC published new guidelines on March 24, 2020, which alter the way deaths are recorded exclusively in cases of COVID-19. The guidelines were published without peer-review or opportunity for public comment, and resulted in a dramatic and misleading inflation in “COVID-19” deaths, which would have been deemed due to other causes using the CDC’s longstanding system of data collection and reporting established in 2003.


Scientists Show Neanderthals Could Produce Human-Like Speech – (Science Alert – March 1, 2021)
Our Neanderthal cousins had the capacity to both hear and produce the speech sounds of modern humans, a new study has found. Based on a detailed analysis and digital reconstruction of the structure of the bones in their skulls, the study settles one aspect of a decades-long debate over the linguistic capabilities of Neanderthals. “This is one of the most important studies I have been involved in during my career,” said paleoanthropologist Rolf Quam of Binghamton University. “The results are solid and clearly show the Neanderthals had the capacity to perceive and produce human speech. This is one of the very few current, ongoing research lines relying on fossil evidence to study the evolution of language, a notoriously tricky subject in anthropology.” The notion that Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalis) were much more primitive than modern humans (Homo sapiens) is outdated, and in recent years a growing body of evidence demonstrates that they were much more intelligent than we once assumed. They developed technology, crafted tools, created art and held funerals for their dead. Whether they actually spoke with each other, however, has remained a mystery. Their complex behaviors seem to suggest that they would have had to be able to communicate, but some scientists have contended that only modern humans have ever had the mental capacity for complex linguistic processes. Whether that’s the case is going to be very difficult to prove one way or another, but the first step would be to determine if Neanderthals could produce and perceive sounds in the optimal range for speech-based communication. “Our results,” they wrote in their paper, “together with recent discoveries indicating symbolic behaviors in Neanderthals, reinforce the idea that they possessed a type of human language, one that was very different in its complexity and efficiency from any other oral communication system used by non-human organisms on the planet.”

Scientists Observe First-ever ‘Space Hurricane’ Swirling above the North Pole – (WSLS – March 5, 2021)
Scientists have suspected conditions in space could create storm-like conditions above Earth for some time, but there’s now photographic evidence of what researchers are calling a plasma space hurricane. The authors of a new paper published in Nature Communications say they have the first observations of a swirling mass of plasma above the North Pole resembling a hurricane. Using satellite imagery in 2014, the teams at the University of Reading and Shandong University were able to create a 3D image of the 1,000 km-wide mass that rains down electrons instead of water. The space storms above Earth are created when solar wind from the sun smacks into Earth’s atmosphere. “Tropical storms are associated with huge amounts of energy, and these space hurricanes must be created by unusually large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles into the Earth’s upper atmosphere,” said Professor Mike Lockwood, space scientist at the University of Reading. Lockwood and his team believe these space hurricanes could also be created beyond our solar system. “Plasma and magnetic fields in the atmosphere of planets exist throughout the universe, so the findings suggest space hurricanes should be a widespread phenomena,” Lockwood said. What makes this new discovery special is that hurricanes have also been observed in the lower atmospheres of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn but the existence of space hurricanes in the upper atmosphere of planets has not been detected before.

Scientists Detect Signs of a Hidden Structure Inside Earth’s Core – (Science Alert – March 4, 2021)
Researchers have found more evidence for a whole new chapter deep within Earth’s past – Earth’s inner core appears to have another even more inner core within it. “Traditionally we’ve been taught the Earth has four main layers: the crust, the mantle, the outer core and the inner core,” explained Australian National University geophysicist Joanne Stephenson. The presence of an innermost layer has been suspected for some time now, with hints that iron crystals which compose the inner core have different structural alignments. Now Stephenson and colleagues have found more evidence Earth’s inner core may have two distinct layers. The team used a search algorithm to trawl through and match thousands of models of the inner core with observed data across many decades about how long seismic waves take to travel through Earth, gathered by the International Seismological Center. The team looked at some models of the inner core’s anisotropy – how differences in the make-up of its material alters the properties of seismic waves – and found some were more likely than others. This study failed to show much variation with depth in the inner core, but did find there was a change in the slow direction to a 54 degree angle, with the faster direction of waves running parallel to the axis. “We found evidence that may indicate a change in the structure of iron, which suggests perhaps two separate cooling events in Earth’s history,” Stephenson said. These new findings may explain why some experimental evidence has been inconsistent with our current models of Earth’s structure.

A Cephalopod Has Passed a Cognitive Test Designed For Human Children – (Science Alert – March 3, 2021)
Cuttlefish have been put to a new version of the marshmallow test, and the results appear to demonstrate that there’s more going on in their strange little brains than we knew. Their ability to learn and adapt, the researchers said, could have evolved to give cuttlefish an edge in the cutthroat eat-or-be-eaten marine world they live in. The marshmallow test, or Stanford marshmallow experiment, is pretty straightforward. A child is placed in a room with a marshmallow. They are told if they can manage not to eat the marshmallow for 15 minutes, they’ll get a second marshmallow, and be allowed to eat both. This ability to delay gratification demonstrates cognitive abilities such as future planning, and it was originally conducted to study how human cognition develops; specifically, at what age a human is smart enough to delay gratification if it means a better outcome later. Obviously you can’t tell an animal they’ll get a better reward if they wait, but you can train them to understand that better food is coming if they don’t eat the food in front of them straight away. Some primates can delay gratification, along with dogs, albeit inconsistently. Corvids, too, have passed the marshmallow test. Article explains design of experiment. The researchers found that all of the cuttlefish in the test condition decided to wait for their preferred food (the live shrimp), but didn’t bother to do so in the control group, where they couldn’t access it. “Cuttlefish in the present study were all able to wait for the better reward and tolerated delays for up to 50-130 seconds, which is comparable to what we see in large-brained vertebrates such as chimpanzees, crows and parrots,” Schnell said. What is not clear is why this cognitive ability was evolved in cuttlefish – what benefit it conferred. Lead researcher behavioral ecologist Alexandra Schnell of the University of Cambridge, said, “They break camouflage when they forage, so they are exposed to every predator in the ocean that wants to eat them. We speculate that delayed gratification may have evolved as a byproduct of this, so the cuttlefish can optimize foraging by waiting to choose better quality food.”


New Immunotherapy Drugs Target Two Evasive Cancer-driving Proteins – (Science – March 1, 2021)
Researchers have shown in mice that designer antibodies can curb the growth of tumors by targeting two of cancer’s most infamous offenders—the proteins RAS and p53, which are mutated in many tumors but have largely defied drug development efforts. If their promise holds up in clinical trials, such drugs could make it possible to unleash the body’s immune system on hard-to-treat cancers including pancreatic and ovarian. P53 is a tumor suppressor, and the intact protein helps healthy cells repair DNA—or self-destruct if the damage can’t be fixed. When p53 is turned off in tumors, they can grow unchecked. But targeting p53 with drugs is difficult, because restoring its activity is much harder than inhibiting its activity or turning off its production—more typical drug strategies against misbehaving proteins. RAS, which signals cells to grow uncontrollably when mutated, has been hard to target with inhibitors because of its smooth shape and lack of obvious binding sites. And both proteins function inside cells, making them hard to fight with engineered antibodies, versions of the Y-shaped proteins our immune system uses to tag foreign invaders for destruction. Antibodies can’t easily get inside cells, so drugs based on them work best against cancer proteins that poke out from a tumor cell’s surface. But even though RAS and p53 stay inside tumor cells, the cell’s surface carries traces of them, snippets that can be sensed by the immune system. To target these fragments of mutant p53 and RAS, known as neoantigens, cancer geneticist Bert Vogelstein’s lab at Johns Hopkins University turned to bispecific antibodies. Standard antibodies have two identical arms, but bispecifics are crafted to have one arm that binds to immune soldiers called T cells, and another that links to a cancer cell surface protein, bridging the cells and activating the immune cell to attack its new, cancerous partner.

New Brain Imaging Research Sheds Light on the Neural Underpinnings of Emotional Intelligence – (PsyPost – March 6, 2021)
Although interest in emotional intelligence has been steadily growing since the 1990s, the underlying neural mechanisms behind it have yet to be clearly established. The new study is part of a process to begin to fill in this gap in scientific knowledge. Lead researcher Sahil Bajaj, the director of the Multimodal Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory at Boys Town National Research Hospital, explained, “For the last 11 years, I have been using some cutting-edge neuroimaging techniques, including directed functional (e.g., Granger causality) and effective (e.g., dynamic causal modeling) brain connectivity, which allow estimation of directional information flow among brain regions. While most of the existing studies have focused on small-scale functional brain connectivity correlates of emotional intelligence, to my knowledge, no work (prior to this work) has ever been published that talked about the association between strength of directional information flow among brain regions and emotional intelligence.” Article describes methodology of the study. “We found that directed interactions among several brain regions and networks (i.e., frontal, parietal, cingulate and insular regions within the control-execution and salience networks) provide important neural underpinnings of emotional intelligence. These brain connections appear to form key building blocks of emotional intelligence,” said Bajaj. “Simply put, we found that measures of directional (or effective) connectivity may potentially be utilized as important biomarkers to understand the complex neural interactions underlying emotional intelligence and may prove useful for assessing the outcomes of interventions aimed at strengthening emotional intelligence abilities.”


This Wood Grown in a Lab Could Cut Deforestation, with Furniture Made From Plant Cells – (Good News Network – March 2, 2021)
According to MIT researcher Velásquez-García and team, using a leaf from a zinnia, they were able to grow plant like tissues selectively, free from unnecessary organs. The researchers described in their corresponding paper how plant cells respond well to “tunability,” and that the scalable, land-free cultivation of plant material like wood for use in furniture making, for example, is very possible—and even easier than what other scientists are doing with cell-cultured meat, the correct jargon for “lab-grown meat.” “Despite considerable and early resource investment, (imagine the cost of buying, fueling, and operating logging trucks and roads alone) only a small fraction of the cultivated (tree) crop may be economically valuable at harvest,” write the authors in their paper, noting also that for the production of some natural fibers, as little as 2% to 4% of the harvested plant matter will be used. Ashley Beckwith, an engineering Ph.D. student and co-author of the paper, explains the inefficiencies of relying on forested trees for lumber production. “Trees grow in tall cylindrical poles, and we rarely use tall cylindrical poles in industrial applications,” she says. “So you end up shaving off a bunch of material that you spent 20 years growing and that ends up being a waste product.” What if instead you could spend that 20 years growing only furniture- or clothing-applicable fibers and shapes? The scientists haven’t yet grown a table from a petri dish, but their work is an important proof-of-concept that, if widely adopted, could lead to huge reductions in CO2 emissions from a number of sources.

What Are Sperm Telling Us? – (New York Times – February 20, 2021)
Sperm counts have been dropping; infant boys are developing more genital abnormalities; more girls are experiencing early puberty; and adult women appear to be suffering declining egg quality and more miscarriages. It’s not just humans. Scientists report genital anomalies in a range of species, including unusually small penises in alligators, otters and minks. In some areas, significant numbers of fish, frogs and turtles have exhibited both male and female organs. Four years ago, a leading scholar of reproductive health, Shanna H. Swan, calculated that from 1973 to 2011, the sperm count of average men in Western countries had fallen by 59%. Swan and other experts say the problem is a class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors, which mimic the body’s hormones and thus fool our cells. This is a particular problem for fetuses as they sexually differentiate early in pregnancy. Endocrine disruptors can wreak reproductive havoc. These endocrine disruptors are everywhere: plastics, shampoos, cosmetics, cushions, pesticides, canned foods and A.T.M. receipts. They often aren’t on labels and can be difficult to avoid. Patricia Ann Hunt, a reproductive geneticist at Washington State University, has conducted experiments on mice showing that the impact of endocrine disruptors is cumulative, generation after generation. When infant mice were exposed for just a few days to endocrine disrupting chemicals, their testes as adults produced fewer sperm, and this incapacity was transmitted to their offspring. While findings from animal studies can’t necessarily be extended to humans, after three generations of these exposures, one-fifth of the male mice were infertile. “I find this particularly troubling,” said Professor Hunt. “From the standpoint of human exposures, you could argue we are hitting the third generation just about now.” What if anything does all this mean for the future of humanity? “I do not see humans becoming extinct, but I do see family lines ending for a subset of people who are infertile,” Andrea Gore, a professor of neuroendocrinology at the University of Texas at Austin. However, there are competing theories about whether the sperm count decline is real and what might cause it and about why girls appear to be reaching puberty earlier, and it’s sometimes unclear whether an increase in male genital abnormalities reflects actual rising numbers or just better reporting.


Massive Camera Hack Exposes the Growing Reach and Intimacy of American Surveillance – (Washington Post – March 10, 2021)
In one video, a woman in a hospital room watches over someone sleeping in an intensive-care-unit bed. In another, a man and three young children celebrate one Sunday afternoon over a completed puzzle in a carpeted playroom. The private moments would have, in some other time, been constrained to memory. But something else had been watching: An Internet-connected camera managed by the security start-up Verkada, which sells cameras and software that customers can use to watch live video from anywhere across the Web. With a single breach, those scenes — and glimpses from more than 149,000 security cameras — were suddenly revealed to hackers, who had used high-level log-in credentials to access and plunder Verkada’s vast camera network. The cache includes real-world images and videos as well as the company’s voluminous client list of more than 24,000 organizations including schools, offices, gyms, banks, health clinics, county jails, churches, volunteer fire departments, hotels, sports bars, rehabilitation centers and children’s foster-care homes, as well as major tech companies such as Cloudflare. The breach highlighted a central vulnerability undermining the modern Web: As more companies race to amass vast stores of sensitive data, they are also becoming more fruitful targets for attack and making it that much easier for thousands of unaware people to be suddenly exposed. But it also revealed a sweeping change to the way America now watches itself, through the increasingly ubiquitous eyes of cheap, Internet-connected cameras that capture our lives in ways many people may not realize — and etch them onto a Web that never forgets. “This breach should be a wake-up call to the dangers of self-surveillance,” said Andrew G. Ferguson, a law professor at American University Washington College of Law. “Our desire for some fake sense of security is its own security threat.” Founded in 2016, Verkada sells everything from indoor and outdoor cameras to door access controls and sensors for temperature, motion and noise. Verkada’s “People Analytics” software lets customers automatically search for a person across the building or campus — by the look of their face, the color of their clothes, whether they’re wearing a backpack, or their “apparent sex” — then track that person’s movement from room to room. Verkada high-resolution cameras start at $599; annual cloud licenses start at $199. The company also sells a dedicated $1,999 “viewing station” that can stream up to 36 cameras at one time.


This House Is Made from Coffee – (Fast Company – February 12, 2021)
Coffee husks—the papery natural material around coffee beans that comes off when the beans are roasted—normally become waste, dumped in piles that release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. But a company in Colombia has found a new use for them, combining the husks with recycled plastic to create a new material. The company, Bogota-based Woodpecker, uses the lightweight, strong material to make the walls of its prefab houses, which cost as little as $4,500. The company started developing the solution a decade ago. “We saw that there was a huge necessity for a lightweight construction system for housing and classrooms in rural and isolated places where traditional construction systems cannot go—like bricks, cement, and concrete,” says CEO Alejandro Franco. The startup needed to find materials light enough to move in a small boat, a helicopter, or on the back of a burro. It tested combining different natural fibers, from sawdust and rice to grass and palm fiber, with different types of recycled plastic. “Coffee husk was selected because it’s stronger and drier than the other fibers,” he says. It’s also widely available in Colombia, one of the largest coffee-producing countries in the world. The final material is fireproof, durable, and resists insects. The company makes Lego-like kits that can easily be assembled on-site, with a steel frame and coffee husk boards that click together easily with minimal tools. While the company builds most homes itself, some customers buy the kits and put them together themselves. Construction typically takes less than a week. For photographs of completed projects, see Woodpecker’s website.


The Hottest Amenity from Developers? A Power Plant Made of Batteries – (New York Times – March 3, 2021)
Advances in battery storage and solar technology, coupled with the desire of utilities to expand renewable power, mean virtual power plants are fast becoming valuable tools for commercial and residential properties. Demand for more resilient power systems, recently highlighted by the failure of the Texas power grid and the rolling blackouts imposed in California to decrease wildfire risks, has also made such technology more desirable. As more drivers switch to electric cars, property owners could increasingly see value in generating and storing energy, especially at sites such as apartment complexes, where dozens of cars may need to be charged at the same time. Many firms, especially in the energy industry, see potential in virtual power plants, (VPP). OhmConnect, a California start-up, plans to build a massive system with $100 million in funding from Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (which lists Alphabet, Google’s parent company, as an anchor partner), and Swell Energy in Los Angeles raised $450 million for home virtual power plants to help the grid. In Utah, Soleil Lofts signed a first-of-its-kind deal with Rocky Mountain Power, which can tap the batteries as a power source. This arrangement helps the utility save generating costs while helping the developer save money, according to the Wasatch Group, the Utah developer that built and manages the apartments. “The V.P.P. provides an income stream and makes this a more attractive property to rent,” said Ryan Peterson, president of Wasatch Guaranty Capital, the firm’s real estate and investment unit. “One of the reasons we’re looking at renewables and solar is that it reduces operating expenses and increases cash flow, a big deal to real estate owners.” The Soleil project arrives at the intersection of several trends: a transition toward cleaner, renewable power; the rapidly shrinking cost for batteries and energy storage, which dropped nearly 80% in the last decade, according to the Boston Consulting Group; and a push by developers to reduce their environmental footprint. Battery energy storage in the United States grew substantially last year, adding 476 megawatts of storage in the third quarter, a 240% increase from the previous quarter, according to the U.S. Energy Storage Monitor. Since the partial opening of Soleil last fall, the battery storage project has met all expectations. The $34 million battery system, underwritten with roughly $3.3 million in grants from Rocky Mountain Power, sells energy back to the utility to cover periods of peak energy use and residents save roughly 30 – 40% on their energy bills.


It Looks Like the Batmobile, Works on Solar Energy, and Could Be the Future of Cars – (Washington Post – February 24, 2021)
Aptera Motors, a California company whose name comes from the ancient Greek for “wingless,” is rolling out the first mass-produced solar car this year. It’s a three-wheel, ultra-aerodynamic electric vehicle covered in 34 square feet of solar cells. The car is so efficient that, on a clear day, those cells alone could provide enough energy to drive about 40 miles — more than twice the distance of the average American’s commute. The Aptera must undergo safety tests before the company can begin distribution, which it hopes to do by the end of this year. Even then, it’s not clear that consumers will want to buy something that looks like a cross between the Batmobile and a beetle. From top to wheels, the Aptera is designed to eliminate as much waste as possible. Its creators say the car is 13 times more efficient than a gas-powered pickup truck and four times more efficient than the average electric vehicle. At least 90% of the power produced by the Aptera’s solar panels goes toward making the vehicle move, the company says. Because lighter cars require less energy to move, the Aptera is built with ultra-light carbon composites and fiberglass. Its arched shape, which mimics the physics of an eggshell, keeps it strong as steel. Some of its parts can be produced on a 3D printer, lowering costs. The Aptera uses just 100 watt hours of energy per mile — about as much as a desktop computer consumes in 30 minutes. The Aptera can be recharged the same way a standard electric vehicle is fueled — by simply plugging it into an outlet. Its extreme efficiency means the car can go 150 miles after just 15 minutes at an ordinary charging station. The vehicle can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and hit top speeds of 110 mph. Starting price is expected to be around $25,900.


Farms Are Going to Need Different Kinds of Robots – (BBC News – March 1, 2021)
In Australia’s Queensland, some cows are a bit more high-tech than normal. Behind one ear, each carries a device roughly the size of a matchbox – a tamper-proof, solar-powered, satellite-connected smart “tag” that is constantly transmitting real-time data back to the farmer. “It tells us where the animal is with GPS, and also what condition the animal is in,” explains David Smith, the chief executive of Ceres Tag, the Brisbane-based firm behind the technology. “We have a very sophisticated algorithm for things like pasture feed intake, so we know what the feed efficiency of the animal is. From that, we can start making some genetic selections.” These tags – which also monitor rumination, or re-chewing, levels, and other health and fitness factors – are just one way in which the latest technologies are finding their way into agriculture. On the other side of the world, Irish firm Moocall produces a smartphone-connected sensor that fits to the tail of a pregnant cow, and sends the farmer a text message when the animal is approaching calving. From autonomous harvesting robots and drones that can spray crops, to artificial intelligence, and the use of “big data”, farmers around the world are turning to high-tech solutions to address issues ranging from food insecurity, to climate change, and pandemic-induced staff cuts. Collectively, this increased use of technology in agriculture is known as “precision farming”, and it is a booming industry. One report suggests that its global value will reach $12.9bn by 2027, with average annual growth of 13% between now and then. Among those at the forefront of studying the impact of increased technology on the future of farming is Prof Girish Chowdhary, the director of the Distributed Autonomous Systems Laboratory (Daslab) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He says that largely autonomous farms are just over the horizon. Already, many emerging technologies, such as robots that can monitor the health of crops, are being put to use at Daslab’s research fields. Proponents of technology in agriculture also note that these innovations can be used for the benefit of the developing world. TechnoServe, for example, is a US international development, not-for-profit organization that uses remote sensing, drone mapping, machine learning, and satellite data, in a bid to boost cashew nut production in the West African nation of Benin.

Flink, the Berlin-based, On Demand Grocery Delivery Startup That Operates Its Own “Dark” Stores – (Tech Crunch – March 1, 2021)
The on demand grocery delivery industry in Europe (and beyond) continues to heat up amidst the pandemic, including a plethora of startups taking a vertical approach by operating their own delivery only — or “dark” — stores. The latest one is Berlin-based Flink, which has just raised a hefty $52 million in seed financing. Officially launched just six weeks ago, Flink, which means “quick” in German, claims to deliver groceries from its own network of fulfillment centers in less than 10 minutes. That puts it up against dark-store competitors including Berlin’s much-hyped Gorillas and London’s Dija and Weezy, and France’s Cajoo, all of which also claim to focus on fresh food and groceries. There’s also the likes of Zapp, which is still in stealth and more focused on a potentially higher-margin convenience store offering similar to U.S. unicorn goPuff. As noted, Flink is pitching itself very much as a grocery solution, similar to Dija and Gorillas, for example, meaning that the real competition — in the short to mid-term, at least — is traditional supermarkets that do scheduled delivery but aren’t typically on-demand. However, delivering just-in-time fresh food poses many logistical challenges, such as supply chain details and ensuring you actually stock the products customers want when they want them. Jessica Schultz, general partner at Northzone and previously a co-founder of HelloFresh, also argues that existing supermarket infrastructure can’t deliver on express grocery shopping and that large incumbents don’t have the skillset or agility to build on-demand grocery. “Instant delivery requires the build out of new infrastructure (micro-warehouses, hub & spoke) as well as a fully vertically integrated approach,” she adds. (Editor’s note: Much of this article is devoted to the recent investor funding of Flink which is probably not of much interest to FE readers. What is useful here is a look at the future of grocery stores in a consumer environment where a lot of people want on demand delivery of everything.)


Cybercrime Groups Are Selling Their Hacking Skills. Some Countries Are Buying – (ZDNet – February 26, 2021)
A report by cybersecurity researchers at BlackBerry warns that the emergence of sophisticated cybercrime-as-a-service schemes means that nation states increasingly have the option of working with groups that can carry out attacks for them. This cyber-criminal operation provides malicious hacking operations, such as phishing, malware or breaching networks, and gets paid for their actions, while the nation state that ordered the operation receives the information or access it requires. “The emergence, sophistication, and anonymity of crimeware-as-a-service means that nation states can mask their efforts behind third-party contractors and an almost impenetrable wall of plausible deniability,” warns the BlackBery 2021 Threat Report. Researchers point to the existence of extensive hacking operations like Bahamut as an example of how sophisticated cyber-criminal campaigns have become. Originally detailed by BlackBerry last year, Bahamut uses phishing, social engineering, malicious apps, custom malware and zero-day attacks in campaigns targeting governments, private industry and individuals around the world – and had been doing so for years before being uncovered. Researchers note that “the profiles and geography of their victims are far too diverse to be aligned with a single bad actor’s interests,” suggesting that Bahamut is performing operations for different clients.

Humanity Is Spending Nearly $3 Trillion on Weapons Annually – (National Interest – February 8, 2021)
That’s the estimate of the U.S. government. The State Department’s World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers (WMEAT) report examined global military spending for 2007 to 2017. “From 2007 through 2017, in constant 2017 U.S. dollar terms, the annual value of world military expenditures appears to have risen about 11% to 33%, from about $1.51 trillion to $2.15 trillion in 2007 to about $1.77 trillion to $2.88 trillion in 2017, and to have averaged between $1.72 trillion and $2.61 trillion for the 11-year period,” according to the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, which compiled the report. The huge gap between the high and low range of each number is because converting foreign military spending into U.S. dollars is a difficult process. The study used five different methods to make the conversion. Nonetheless, overall global military spending appears to have risen sharply since 2007. On the other hand, fewer people are serving in the military, no surprise given that drones and automation are increasingly replacing human soldiers. “The number of people serving in the world’s armed forces appears to have fallen about 3% in absolute terms, from about 21.0 million in 2007 to about 20.4 million in 2017, peaking at about 21.3 million in 2008,” the study found. Interestingly, while global military spending has risen, the amount of money spent per soldier has risen even more, again pointing to the trend of replacing people with drones, robots and highly automated platforms such as warships designed to require fewer sailors.


Reuters and BBC Caught Taking Money for Propaganda Campaign – (Mercola – March 10, 2021)
Leaked documents reveal Reuters and BBC News have been involved in a covert program by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to weaken Russia’s influence on its neighbors. In his extensive February 20, 2021, GrayZone article, Max Blumenthal writes: “Working through a shadowy department within the UK FCO known as the Counter Disinformation & Media Development (CDMD), the media organizations operated alongside a collection of intelligence contractors in a secret entity known simply as ‘the Consortium.’ Through training programs of Russian journalists overseen by Reuters, the British Foreign Office sought to produce an ‘attitudinal change in the participants,’ promoting a ‘positive impact’ on their ‘perception of the UK’ … In effect, the British government was seeking to infiltrate Russian media and propagate its own narrative through an influence network of Russian journalists trained in the UK.” The BBC and Reuters portray themselves as an unimpeachable, impartial, and authoritative source of world news,’ Williamson continued, ‘but both are now hugely compromised by these disclosures. Double standards like this just bring establishment politicians and corporate media hacks into further disrepute.’” The leaked documents show both Reuters and the BBC received “multimillion-dollar contracts to advance the British state’s interventionist aims.” The FCO funded: the cultivation of Russian journalists; the establishment of “influence networks” in and around Russia; and the promotion of pro-NATO narratives in Russian-speaking regions. In its proposals, Reuters stated it has 15,000 journalists and staff within its global network, including 400 journalists within Russia. Reuters and BBC carried out their covert influencing mission in partnership with other high-profile media companies, including Bellingcat, Meduza and Mediazona. This isn’t the first time Reuters and the BBC have been implicated in a Mockingbird-type media influencing operation. Documents declassified in January 2020 showed the British government funded Reuters “throughout the 1960s and 1970s to assist an anti-Soviet propaganda organization run by the MI6 intelligence agency,” Blumenthal writes. The BBC, meanwhile, was used as “a pass-through to conceal payments” to Reuters. Article includes extensive footnotes giving links to its sources and references.

In Battle with U.S., China to Focus on 7 ‘Frontier’ Technologies from Chips to Brain-computer Fusion – (CNBC – March 5, 2021)
China plans to boost research into what it calls “frontier technology” including quantum computing and semiconductors, as it competes with the U.S. for supremacy in the latest innovations. In its most recent five-year development plan, the 14th of its kind, Beijing said it would make “science and technology self-reliance and self-improvement a strategic pillar for national development.” Premier Li Keqiang has said that China will increase research and development spending by more than 7% per year between 2021 and 2025, in pursuit of “major breakthroughs” in technology. As such, China has concentrated on boosting its domestic expertise in areas it sees as strategically important, such as semiconductors. And now it has laid out seven “frontier technologies” that it will prioritize not just for the next five years, but beyond too. They are: Artificial intelligence; Quantum information; Integrated circuits or semiconductors; Brain science; Genomics and biotechnology; Clinical medicine and health; and Deep space, deep earth, deep sea and polar research. Article goes into each area in slightly more depth.

China Needs a Baby Boom to Avert a Demographic Crisis. Small Steps Won’t Be Enough. – (Washington Post – March 5, 2021)
China faces a shrinking labor force, a skewed sex ratio and one of the world’s fastest-aging populations. Data released by the Ministry of Public Security in February showed a 15% drop in registered new births in 2020. As thousands of parliamentary delegates, advisers and officials meet in Beijing to endorse preapproved legislation, citizens are watching for changes to China’s stringent rules that limit family size and access to reproductive technology for those outside state-approved family structures. Bleak demographic predictions have fanned fears that the country will grow old before it grows rich, as decades of restricting family size compound the effects of urbanization and growing wealth in curbing birthrates. China’s population could begin shrinking as early as 2027, according to an estimate from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and citizens over the age of 65 will account for 20% of the population by 2025. But it is not clear how open any new policy will be. Access to assisted reproductive technologies is only available to married heterosexual couples. Single women are barred from treatments such as in vitro fertilization or freezing one’s eggs. The Health Commission said last month that it would maintain its ban on single women freezing their eggs, citing health risks and the “controversial” use of egg freezing for delaying childbirth. But even if leaders do away with birth limits, demographers say the impact on population trends will be minimal. Urban couples especially, daunted by the cost and pressure of raising a child in China’s hypercompetitive cities, are increasingly forgoing parenthood. Others worry that easing or doing way with the restrictions will exacerbate workplace discrimination against women of childbearing age, a phenomenon previously mitigated by the birth limits. Employers often prefer to recruit women who have already had their second child as they are unlikely to have another and require maternity leave. Experts say improving fertility and birthrates also requires better support for young families, more maternity pay and employment security. “It’s an all-around security net that needs to be built before we can talk about birthrates. If we only talk about lifting the birth limits, it’s empty. It doesn’t work,” said Ye Liu, a senior lecturer in international development at King’s College in London, focusing on China’s family planning policies.

China Charges Ahead with a National Digital Currency – (New York Times – March 1, 2021)
China has charged ahead with a bold effort to remake the way that government-backed money works, rolling out its own digital currency with different qualities than cash or digital deposits. The country’s central bank, which began testing eCNY last year in four cities, recently expanded those trials to bigger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, according to government presentations. The effort is one of several by central banks around the world to try new forms of digital money that can move faster and give even the most disadvantaged people access to online financial tools. Many countries have taken action as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which has recently soared in value, have become more popular. But while Bitcoin was designed to be decentralized so that no company or government could control it, digital currencies created by central banks give governments more of a financial grip. These currencies can enable direct handouts of money that expire if not used by a particular date and can make it easier for governments to track financial transactions to stamp out tax evasion and crack down on dissidents. Over the last 12 months, more than 60 countries have experimented with national digital currencies, up from just over 40 a year earlier, according to the Bank for International Settlements. The countries include Sweden, which is conducting real-world trials of a digital krona, and the Bahamas, which has made a digital currency, the Sand Dollar, available to all citizens. No other major power is as far along as China. Its early moves could signal where the rest of the world goes with digital currencies. “This is about more than just money,” said Yaya Fanusie, a fellow at the Center on Economic and Financial Power, a think tank, and an author of a recent paper on the Chinese currency. “It’s about developing new tools to collect data and leverage that data so that the Chinese economy is more intelligent and based on real-time information.” “The right to issue and control digital currencies will become a ‘new battlefield’ of competition between sovereign states,” read an article in China Finance, the magazine of the central bank, in September.


Californians on Universal Basic Income Paid Off Debt and Got Full-time Jobs – (Guardian – March 4, 2021)
After receiving $500 per month for two years without rules on how to spend it, 125 people in California paid off debt, got full-time jobs and had “statistically significant improvements” in emotional health, according to a newly released study. The program was the nation’s highest-profile experiment in decades of universal basic income (UBI), an idea that gained national attention when it became a major part of Andrew Yang’s 2020 campaign for president. The central idea behind UBI is to lift people out of poverty with a guaranteed monthly income. Supporters say it gives people needed financial security to find good jobs and avoid debt. But critics have argued free money would eliminate the incentive to work, creating a society dependent on the state. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration sought to test those claims. Run by the not-for-profit organization Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, founded by Michael Tubbs, the former mayor of Stockton, California, the program included people who lived in census tracts at or below the city’s median household income of $46,033. The program did not use tax dollars, but was financed by private donations, including a not-for-profit led by the Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. When the program started in February 2019, 28% of the people slated to get the free money had full-time jobs. One year later, 40% of those people had full-time jobs. A control group of people who did not get the money saw a five percentage point increase in full-time employment over that same time period, from 32% to 37%. The researchers said that the extra $500 per month was enough for people with part-time jobs to take time off so they could interview for full-time jobs that offered better pay. They also said the money could have helped people who weren’t working at all find jobs by allowing them to pay for transportation to interviews.

A QR Code on Your Gravestone? It’s Dead Serious – (ZDNet – October 20, 2020)
Scan to see who I really was. Or, at least, how I’d like to be remembered. Many people would like their life’s work to live long beyond them. They believe they have a legacy that others should respect, or at least know about. Here was a gravestone adorned with a QR code, (article includes a photo). The QR code didn’t link to a list of the dead man’s exciting life exploits or, perhaps, secrets he wanted told from the grave. It linked to a list of the dead man’s publications and citation metrics. Was this an act of wit or an academic’s desperate plea for recognition? Was this a scream to say: “You didn’t know me, but here, take a look! My life meant something!”? As long ago as 2012, enterprising tech companies were creating whole websites for the living to link to, from one little QR code in a cemetery. There’s a deep humanity to the idea. When we walk through graveyards, we see names and dates. Occasionally, we read the names of loved ones left behind. Rarely, however, do we know who these people were, how they lived, and what their lives truly meant to others. This way, we can pull out our cellphones as if we were in a museum, see the face beneath the gravestone and learn, perhaps, about their passions, their loves, their achievements, and even their disappointments. I (the author of this piece) wonder, though, how many people would wish to present a truly unvarnished exposition of themselves rather than a Hollywoodesque tribute to a life (allegedly) well lived. Don’t many of us look back and mutter to ourselves: “I was such a fool, wasn’t I?”


Lab-grown Black Hole Behaves Just Like Stephen Hawking Said It Would – (Live Science – march 2, 2021)
In 1974, Stephen Hawking theorized that the universe’s darkest gravitational behemoths, black holes, were not the pitch-black star swallowers astronomers imagined, but they spontaneously emitted light — a phenomenon now dubbed Hawking radiation. Hawking showed that although nothing that crosses the event horizon can escape, black holes can still spontaneously emit light from the boundary, thanks to quantum mechanics and something called “virtual particles.” The problem is, no astronomer has ever observed Hawking’s mysterious radiation, and because it is predicted to be very dim, they may never observe it . Which is why scientists today are creating their own black holes. Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology did just that. They created a black hole analog out of a few thousand atoms. They were trying to confirm two of Hawking’s most important predictions, that Hawking radiation arises from nothing and that it does not change in intensity over time, meaning it’s stationary. Article explains the experimental process.

Russia, China Agree to Build Lunar Station Together – (DW – March 9, 2021)
Russia has signed a memorandum of understanding with China to construct a joint lunar space station, the national space agency, Roscosmos, has announced. The station is envisioned as a “complex of experimental research facilities created on the surface and/or in the orbit of the moon,” according to the statement. In July 2020, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin had reportedly said his agency was in talks with China about potentially developing a joint lunar base. The project would involve developing a space monitoring system and should also help with deep space exploration, Rogozin said. He hinted at cooperation on asteroid and comet security. “The Chinese have grown a lot in recent years, we respect their results, and in principle they are a worthy partner for us,” Rogozin was quoted as saying by Interfax. The announcement came hours after France’s space studies organization, CNES, reported that Paris and Beijing were committed to cooperating in the space exploration field, according to Reuters. Russia also cooperates with the US when it comes to space exploration. NASA is currently planning to build a lunar station in cooperation with Japan, Canada and Europe.

4.6-billion-year-old Meteorite Belongs to Earth’s Long-lost Baby Cousin – (Live Science – March 8, 2021)
A meteorite that landed in the Sahara Desert in 2020 is older than Earth. The primeval space rock is about 4.6 billion years old, and is the oldest known example of magma from space. Its age and mineral content hint that the rock originated in our early solar system from the crust of a protoplanet — a large, rocky body in the process of developing into a planet, according to a new study. The meteorite, called Erg Chech 002 (EC 002), is likely a rare surviving chunk of a baby planet that was destroyed or absorbed by bigger rocky planets during our solar system’s formation. Radioactive versions, or isotopes, of aluminum and magnesium indicated that the meteorite’s parent was an ancient body dating to 4.566 billion years ago, and EC 002’s chemical composition revealed that it emerged from a partly-melted magma reservoir in the parent body’s crust. Most rocky meteorites come from sources with basaltic crusts — rapidly cooled lava that is rich in iron and magnesium — but EC 002’s composition showed that its parent’s crust was made of andesite, which is rich in silica. Where are all the protoplanets with andesite crusts today? During our solar system’s volatile period of planetary birth, most of these protoplanets likely didn’t make it past infancy, according to the study. Either they were smashed to bits in collisions with other rocky bodies, or they were absorbed by bigger and more successful rocky planets, such as Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury, leaving few traces behind to spawn meteorites such as EC 002.

Gravity Portals Could Morph Dark Matter into Ordinary Matter, Astrophysicists Propose – (Live Science – March 4, 2021)
Astrophysicists have an idea that could help to solve two mysteries: the reason for the bizarre abundance of super-high-energy radiation shooting from the center of our galaxy and the identity of invisible stuff called dark matter that has perplexed the world since its discovery some 50 years ago. And the idea has been named gravity portals. The basic idea is that when two dark matter particles (whatever they are) get sucked into one of these portals, they obliterate each other and spit out shockingly strong gamma rays. This line of thinking can potentially explain why the galactic center — where dense clusters of dark matter are thought to lurk — is full of gamma rays; and it could shed light on how the dark matter behaves and might occasionally interact with the normal matter of our universe. Article goes on to discuss this theory in greater depth.


Want to Sanitize a Baseball Stadium? Send in the Drones – (New York Times – February 26, 2021)
Four days before spring training games began and fans returned across Major League Baseball, a six-foot-wide drone flew throughout a 10,500-seat stadium in Surprise, Ariz., the preseason home of the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers. The drone sprayed a cleaning solution that, according to its manufacturer, will protect surfaces from germs, including the coronavirus, for more than 30 days. The spraying took 90 minutes with a drone named Paul. The person behind this sanitizing operation was Don Wakamatsu, the Rangers’ bench coach. He already knew how to spray crops using drones, so the transition to sanitizing stadium surfaces and seats was not much of a stretch. “Can we make fans feel comfortable to come back?” he said. “We’re tired of playing with no fans. It was only natural, with the relationships I had at that ballpark, to say, ‘Let us come in and help.’”

Alphabet’s Moonshot Lab Is Working on a Device to Give People Superhuman Hearing – (The Verge – March 4, 2021)
Alphabet’s X lab is working on a device that could give people superhuman hearing. The project, codenamed “Wolverine,” is exploring the future of hearing through sensor-packed hardware. Team members say they’re currently trying to figure out how to isolate people’s voices in a crowded room or make it easier to focus on one person when overlapping conversations are happening around you. They’ve already iterated on the device multiple times, including devices that covered the whole ear and others that protruded from above the ear. These iterations have been large because the team incorporates lots of microphones into the build, but newer versions are smaller. Multiple people from hearing technology companies have joined the team, including talent from Starkey Hearing Technologies and Eargo. Wolverine team’s goals most closely align to that of Whisper, a company that came out of stealth last year. That team has managed to isolate sounds through a “sound separation engine,” which adapts to wearers’ environments. This suggests the lab’s goal isn’t to just create a device everyone would want, but rather an enhanced hearing aid.

Don’t Swat This Bug. It Might Be a Robot on a Rescue Mission – (NPR – March 4, 2021)
The reason it’s so hard to kill a mosquito is that they move really well. Scientists are trying to build a robot with that kind of agility. And these tiny but mighty flying robots could be used in life-and-death situations, such as finding people in a collapsed building. Kevin Chen, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, leads a team that’s invented a new microdrone — not quite as tiny as a mosquito. “The weight of this robot and the physical size looks pretty much like a dragonfly,” he says. The tiny drone weighs just 0.02 ounces — about as much as a paper clip. But like a dragonfly, it’s resilient. It has a soft, muscular mechanism called an “actuator” that powers the wings for flight, that can flap nearly 500 times per second. Its actuators are made of thin rubber cylinders coated in carbon nanotubes. When voltage is applied to the nanotubes, an MIT news release explains, “they produce an electrostatic force that squeezes and elongates the rubber cylinder. Repeated elongation and contraction causes the drone’s wings to beat — fast.” The drones have other possible uses. For example, they could potentially artificially pollinate crops or carry small cameras to inspect turbine engines.

Rare ‘Locked’ Letter Sealed 300 Years Ago Is Finally Opened Virtually – (CNN – March 2, 2021)
Three hundred years ago, before envelopes, passwords and security codes, writers often struggled to keep thoughts, cares and dreams expressed in their letters private. One popular way was to use a technique called letter locking — intricately folding a flat sheet of paper to become its own envelope. This security strategy presented a challenge when 577 locked letters delivered to The Hague in the Netherlands between 1689 and 1706 were found in a trunk of undelivered mail. Conservationists didn’t want to open and damage them. Instead, a team has found a way to read one of the letters without breaking its seal or unfolding it in any way. Using a highly sensitive X-ray scanner and computer algorithms, researchers virtually unfolded the unopened letter. Article includes a computer-generated unfolding sequence of a sealed letter from 17th-century Europe and the text of the letter (the sender needed a copy of a relative’s death certificate). Virtual unfolding was used to read the letter’s contents without physically opening it. The trunk of correspondence belonged to a postmaster called Simon de Brienne and his wife, postmistress Marie Germain. It was acquired by the Museum voor Communicatie in The Hague in 1926. The X-ray scanners were originally designed to map the mineral content of teeth and have been used in dental research. “The scanning technology is similar to medical CT scanners, but using much more intense X-rays which allow us to see the minute traces of metal in the ink used to write these letters. The rest of the team were then able to take our scan images and turn them into letters they could open virtually and read for the first time in over 300 years,” said study author David Mills, a researcher at Queen Mary University of London.


How Do Influencers Get Jobs? It’s Changing – (New York Times – March 1, 2021)
The business of influence is professionalizing. Content creators are signing to major talent agencies. In February, SAG-AFTRA, the largest union in the entertainment industry, expanded coverage to people who make sponsored content. And now, a new service wants to make it easier for creators to apply to work with brands, and for companies to hire them. “We’ve created a simple way for brands to create what is essentially a careers page for influencers,” said James Nord, 36, who is the founder and chief executive of Fohr. “It allows people to apply, pull in data from their social platforms and gives brands an easy way to recruit, analyze and work with influencers.” More than 50 brands, including Dyson, Costco, American Eagle, Lilly Pulitzer and Sephora, are using Fohr’s Ambassador Management Platform (AMP) to scout talent. “At American Eagle, influencer marketing is arguably the most important thing we do,” said Craig Brommers, the company’s chief marketing officer. “We have a young demo, 15 to 25 years old. Social media is their oxygen and even more so during the pandemic.” Mr. Nord said he hopes AMP can make it easier for any creator to land a partnership, regardless of their background or connections. “The industry now is way too dependent on relationships,” he said. “You get jobs because you know somebody who works for a brand. That’s not a fair way to organize the industry. By brands starting these pages and having centralized places for influencers to apply, it’s going to make it a lot more fair for anyone with a following to raise their hand and say I want to work with you.” Mr. Nord said, “I don’t see a world where a couple years from now every brand doesn’t have a tab where people can apply to work with them.”

The Robots Are Coming for Phil in Accounting – (New York Times – March 6, 2021)
Robots are now merging purchase orders into columns J and K of next quarter’s revenue forecast, and transfering customer data from the invoicing software to the Oracle database. They are unassuming software programs with names like “Auxiliobits — DataTable To Json String,” and they are becoming the star employees at many American companies. Some of these tools are simple apps, downloaded from online stores and installed by corporate I.T. departments, that do the dull-but-critical tasks that someone named Phil in Accounting used to do: reconciling bank statements, approving expense reports, reviewing tax forms. Others are expensive, custom-built software packages, armed with more sophisticated types of artificial intelligence, that are capable of doing the kinds of cognitive work that once required teams of highly-paid humans. White-collar workers, armed with college degrees and specialized training, once felt relatively safe from automation. But recent advances in A.I. and machine learning have created algorithms capable of outperforming doctors, lawyers and bankers at certain parts of their jobs. The trend — quietly building for years, but accelerating to warp speed since the pandemic — goes by the sleepy moniker “robotic process automation”, (RPA). And it is transforming workplaces at a pace that few outsiders appreciate. Nearly 8 in 10 corporate executives (80%) surveyed by Deloitte last year said they had implemented some form of R.P.A. Another 16% said they planned to do so within three years. “It’s not a moonshot project like a lot of A.I., so companies are doing it like crazy,” said Craig Le Clair, an analyst with Forrester Research who studies the corporate automation market said, “With R.P.A., you can build a bot that costs $10,000 a year and take out two to four humans.” Sales of automation software are expected to rise by 20% this year, after increasing by 12% last year, according to the research firm Gartner. In a series of recent studies, Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University, two well-respected economists who have researched the history of automation, found that since the late 1980s, tasks have been disappearing to automation faster than new ones are appearing. And the consulting firm McKinsey, which predicted before the pandemic that 37 million U.S. workers would be displaced by automation by 2030, recently increased its projection to 45 million.


If You Transplant a Human Head, Does Its Consciousness Follow? – (Wired – March 3, 2021)
Brandy Schillace sometimes writes fiction, but her new book is not that. Schillace, a medical historian, promises that her Cold War-era tale of a surgeon, neuroscientist, and father of 10 obsessed with transplanting heads is true from start to finish. Schillace came across the story behind her book, Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher, somewhat serendipitously: One day, her friend, Cleveland neurologist Michael DeGeorgia, called her to his office. He quietly slid a battered shoebox toward her, inviting her to open it. Schillace obliged, half-worried it might contain a brain. She pulled out a notebook—perhaps from the ‘50s or ‘60s, she says—and started to leaf through it. The notebook belonged to Robert White, a neurosurgeon who spent decades performing head transplants on monkeys, hoping to eventually use the procedure to give human brains new bodies. White conducted brain experiments on mice and dogs, before “perfecting” the head transplant surgery through his work on hundreds of monkeys. White, who spoke to Wired two decades ago for this vintage piece, and whose ambitions have recently been revived, never used the surgery on a human. But he did invent brain-cooling procedures that are still in use today to save heart attack patients; he inspired an X-Files character; and he nearly won a Nobel Prize. His true quest, Schillace finds, was spurred by his belief that you are your brain—that rescuing a brain by giving it a full new body and set of organs meant saving the soul. The rest of the article is the text a broad ranging interview with Schillace. And speaking of new bodies for old heads, see: These Slugs Cut Off Their Own Heads When They Want a New Body.


How a 10-second Video Clip Sold for $6.6 Million – (Reuters – March 1, 2021)
In October 2020, Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile spent almost $67,000 on a 10-second video artwork that he could have watched for free online. Recently, he sold it for $6.6 million. The video by digital artist Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, was authenticated by blockchain, which serves as a digital signature to certify who owns it and that it is the original work. It’s a new type of digital asset – known as a non-fungible token (NFT) – that has exploded in popularity during the pandemic as enthusiasts and investors scramble to spend enormous sums of money on items that only exist online. Blockchain technology allows the items to be publicly authenticated as one-of-a-kind, unlike traditional online objects which can be endlessly reproduced. “You can go in the Louvre and take a picture of the Mona Lisa and you can have it there, but it doesn’t have any value because it doesn’t have the provenance or the history of the work,” said Rodriguez-Fraile, who said he first bought Beeple’s piece because of his knowledge of the U.S.-based artist’s work. “The reality here is that this is very, very valuable because of who is behind it.” “Non-fungible” refers to items that cannot be exchanged on a like-for-like basis, as each one is unique – in contrast to “fungible” assets like dollars, stocks or bars of gold. Examples of NFTs range from digital artworks and sports cards to pieces of land in virtual environments or exclusive use of a cryptocurrency wallet name, akin to the scramble for domain names in the early days of the internet. OpenSea, a marketplace for NFTs, said it has seen monthly sales volume grow to $86.3 million so far in February, as of Friday, from $8 million in January, citing blockchain data. Monthly sales were at $1.5 million a year ago. “If you spend 10 hours a day on the computer, or eight hours a day in the digital realm, then art in the digital realm makes tonnes of sense – because it is the world,” said OpenSea’s co-founder Alex Atallah. Investors caution, however, that while big money is flowing into NFTs, the market could represent a price bubble. For a further look into the market for crypto collectibles, what it is and how it works, see also: Here Are the Biggest NFT Crypto Collectible Sales in the Last Month.


Drone.Globe – (Instagram – no date)
Drone.globe is an Instagram page—a “Drone Photography Showcase”—that features striking stills and video footage from all over the world. Bet you can’t click on just one.


Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.
— Dwight D. Eisenhower


A special thanks to: Ken Dabkowski, Chas Freeman, Martin Fransson, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.




Edited by John L. Petersen

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Joni Patry

Joni Patry is one of the most recognized teachers and Vedic astrologers in the world. She was a faculty member for ACVA, CVA and Instructor for online certification programs, published many books, journals and appeared on national and international television shows. As the keynote speaker for international conferences, she has a Japanese website, and teaches in Austria, Turkey and India. She has been awarded the 2015 Jyotish Star of the year and Dr B. V. Raman’s Janma Shatamanothsava Award Jyotisha Choodamani. She publishes an online astrological magazine, Astrologic Magazine and has an online University for certification, the University of Vedic Astrology.

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Lee Carrol a.k.a. Kryon

Lee Carroll, Ph.D. has channeled Kryon for 25 years worldwide and is the author of the Kryon Series of 16 books in 24 languages. Well known in metaphysics, Kryon books have made the top seller’s list within months of their release. Having presented seven times at the United Nations in New York, as well as in 33 different countries overseas, Lee attracts audiences in the thousands.

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Dennis McKenna

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Paul H. Smith

Paul H. Smith is the longest-serving controlled remote viewing (CRV) teacher active today, having begun his career as an instructor in 1984. He served for seven years in the government’s Star Gate remote viewing program at Ft. Meade, MD (from September 1983 to August 1990). Starting 1984, he became one of only five Star Gate personnel to be personally trained as remote viewers by the legendary founders of remote viewing, Ingo Swann and Dr. Harold E. Puthoff at SRI-International.

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Charles Eisenstein

Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. His on-line writings have generated a vast following; he speaks frequently at conferences and other events and gives numerous interviews on radio and podcasts.

Jim McCarty

In 1980, Jim McCarty joined L/L Research where Don Elkins and Carla L. Rueckert were researching the field of the paranormal in general, and contact with extraterrestrial intelligence in particular. Soon later the Ra Contact began, producing 106 sessions with the social memory complex of Ra. Five books of The Law of One series were published documenting this contact.

Michael Waters

Michael Waters is an advanced technology consultant, researcher, inventor, and sustainable recovery strategist. His automated disaster recovery and library preservation systems are used worldwide. Michael has researched cutting edge science and technologies that redefine current understandings in mainstream physics. He is currently on the board of a number of organizations involved in advanced energy, mining, agriculture, and finance.

Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson’s amazing ability to dream about the future in terms that can be reliably translated into people, times, places, and activities has been the subject of books, major university scientific studies, films, articles, TV shows, and just about all forms of media. He has taught many people how to dream about the future and, through his advanced intuitive capabilities, helped thousands to understand how to deal with seemingly impossible personal situations. He is also a healer, having on numerous occasions led people with supposedly terminal conditions to eliminate those issues and return to a healthy life. There is no one else in the world that has Chris’s fascinating background (undercover police work, etc.), coupled with these amazing personal gifts.

Alain Nu

Las Vegas headliner, Alain Nu – “The Man Who Knows”, brings us his mind-bending mental and metaphysical abilities. His highly entertaining and most provocative show intermingles feats of mind-reading and spoon bending with other baffling demonstrations that defy explanation.

Joni Patry

Joni Patry is one of the most recognized teachers and Vedic astrologers in the world. She was a faculty member for ACVA, CVA and Instructor for online certification programs, published many books, journals and appeared on national and international television shows. As the keynote speaker for international conferences, she has a Japanese website, and teaches in Austria, Turkey and India. She has been awarded the 2015 Jyotish Star of the year and Dr B. V. Raman’s Janma Shatamanothsava Award Jyotisha Choodamani. She publishes an online astrological magazine, Astrologic Magazine and has an online University for certification, the University of Vedic Astrology.

Regina Meredith

As Regina’s career progressed, so did her decades long exploration into the world of esoteric and hidden sciences – the reality beyond the 5 sense world. Guidance from these realms suggested it was time to bring her skill set to the world of video/televised media, so in late 2004, along with her husband Scott, she co-created ‘Conscious Media Network’, the first online network to feature full length original video interviews with authors and experts in the realms of the meta-physical, healing arts and alternative theories, opening up a world that many had experienced but never had access to on this scale.

Gaia: In 2012, Conscious Media Network merged with Gaiam TV in 2012, with Regina serving as anchor in their new media division on Open Minds and Healing Matrix. The demand for Regina’s unique perspective on a variety of subjects has drawn attention from conference organizers, moving her into the public as a presenter at conferences. In addition, Regina offers retreats and workshops for those who wish to ‘Dive Deep’ into a new understanding of the nature of reality and life itself. In this venue she shares her exclusive approach to meditation and regression work for a greater understanding of life’s challenges and identifying the innate joys.

Dr. Harold Puthoff

Although nominated for a Nobel Prize in physics for his breakthrough theoretical work on zero-point energy, Dr. Harold Puthoff, is most recognized for having been a co-founder of the secret US government “remote viewing” program that successfully used psychics to spy on the Soviet Union and China.

Now a principal and science advisor in a leading-edge effort by former senior military and intelligence managers to disclose the many decades of interest that the US has had in UFOs, he comes to Berkeley Springs on the 8th of February to give a TransitionTalk about his work in making sense out of the UFO phenomena.

Dr. Puthoff’s presentation will include a summary of his current activities with To The Stars Academy, which is on the forefront of bringing into the open formerly highly classified efforts by the government to track, record and understand the meaning of hundreds of encounters that the military has had with UFOs over the past years.

This is an extraordinary opportunity to learn from and question one of the foremost thinkers and leaders of the rapidly accelerating global effort to both make the public aware of what was previously unacknowledged about UFO and alien interaction with humans and also to address the deep questions about what is happening and what it might mean for the future of humanity.

Gregg Braden

Gregg Braden is a five-time New York Times best-selling author, and is internationally renowned as a pioneer in bridging science, spirituality and human potential! His discoveries have led to 12 award-winning books now published in over 40 languages. The UK’s Watkins Journal lists Gregg among the top 100 of “the world’s most spiritually influential living people” for the 5th consecutive year, and he is a 2017 nominee for the prestigious Templeton Award.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Rosemary Ellen Guiley is a leading expert on the paranormal and supernatural. With more than 50 books – including 10 encyclopedias – and hundreds of articles in print on a wide range of paranormal, spiritual and mystical topics, she possesses exceptional knowledge of the field. Her present work focuses on inter-dimensional entity contact experiences and communication.

John L. Petersen

John L. Petersen is considered by many to be one of the most informed futurists in the world. He is best-known for writing and thinking about high impact surprises (wild cards) and the process of surprise anticipation. His current professional involvements include the development of sophisticated tools for anticipatory analysis and surprise anticipation, long-range strategic planning and helping leadership design new approaches for dealing with the future.


He has led national non-profit organizations, worked in sales, manufacturing, real estate development, and marketing and advertising, mostly for companies he founded. A graduate electrical engineer, he has also promoted rock concerts; produced conventions; and worked as a disc jockey, among other things.

Mr. Petersens government and political experience include stints at the National War College, the Institute for National Security Studies, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council staff at the White House. He was a naval flight officer in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve and is a decorated veteran of both the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. He has served in senior positions for a number of presidential political campaigns and was an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1984. He was twice the runner-up to be Secretary of the Navy.

In 1989, Petersen founded The Arlington Institute (TAI), a non-profit, future-oriented research institute. TAI operates on the premise that effective thinking about the future is impossible without casting a very wide net. The “think tank” serves as a global agent for change by developing new concepts, processes and tools for anticipating the future and translating that knowledge into better present-day decisions. Using advanced information technology, a core group of bright thinkers and an international network of exceptionally curious people along with simulations, modeling, scenario building, polling and analysis, Arlington helps equip leaders and organizations from many disciplines with tools and actionable perspectives for dealing with uncertain times.

An award-winning writer, Petersens first book, The Road to 2015: Profiles of the Future was awarded Outstanding Academic Book of 1995 by CHOICE Academic Review, and remained on The World Future Societys best-seller list for more than a year. His Out of the Blue: How to Anticipate Wild Cards and Big Future Surprises book was also a WFS best-seller. His latest book is a Vision of 2012: Planning for Extraordinary Change. His coauthored article, (The Year 2000: Social Chaos or Social Transformation?) was one of the most highly acclaimed writings on Y2K. His 1988 book-length report (The Diffusion of Power: An Era of Realignment) was used at the highest levels of American government as a basis for strategic planning. He has also written papers on the future of national security and the military, the future of energy and the future of the media.

Petersen is a past board member of the World Future Society, writes on the future of aviation for Professional Pilot magazine and is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation. He is a former network member of the Global Business Network and a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. A provocative public speaker, he addresses a wide array of audiences around the world on a variety of future subjects. When he is not writing or speaking, Petersen invests in and develops resources for large, international projects and advanced technology start-up companies. He lives in the Washington, D.C. area in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Speaking Inquiries: Email

Thomas Drake

Thomas Drake is a former senior executive at the National Security Agency where he blew the whistle on massive multi-billion dollar fraud, waste and abuse; the widespread violations of the rights of citizens through secret mass surveillance programs after 9/11; and critical 9/11 intelligence failures. He is the recipient of the 2011 Ridenhour Truth Telling Prize, a joint recipient with Jesselyn Radack of the 2011 Sam Adams Associates Integrity in Intelligence Award and the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. He is now dedicated to the defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

Dr. John McMichael

John McMichael, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Beach Tree Labs, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and early development of new therapeutic agents targeting unmet medical needs. These disorders range from herpes infections to chronic fatigue syndrome to urinary incontinence. His PhD is in virology and immunology from Oregon State University. He headed up the labs at one of the largest private veterinary research practices in the country, was a college professor for more than a decade, and now works out of a small lab on his form in New York state and a larger, more sophisticated lab in Providence, Rhode Island. He holds over 200 patents, has published in books and peer-reviewed journals, and is currently working with his team to begin formal FDA trials for product candidates for chronic traumatic brain injury and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes.

Good health is dependent on the appropriate transfer of information within and between cells. The informational and molecular disharmonies associated with disease can be reversed using appropriate therapeutic signals that stimulate the return to the normal state without adverse effects. One such signal molecule, SLO, has demonstrated clinical utility in a broad spectrum of indications that would at first glance appear to be unrelated. The underlying common thread that links these disorders is representative of the targets to which resonant molecular signals are directed.

William Henry

William Henry is a Nashville-based author, investigative mythologist, art historian, and TV presenter. He is an internationally recognized authority on human spiritual potential, transformation and ascension. He has a unique ability to incorporate historical, religious, spiritual, scientific, archaeological and other forms of such knowledge into factually-based theories and conclusions that provide the layperson with a more in-depth understanding of the profound shift we are actually experiencing in our lifetime.

The spiritual voice and Consulting Producer of the global hit History Channel program, Ancient Aliens, and host of the Gaia TV series The Awakened Soul: The Lost Science of Ascension, and Arcanum, along with his wife, Clare, William Henry is your guide into the transformative sacred science of human ascension. By bringing to life the ancient stories of ascension through art and gnostic texts, he teaches the secrets of soul transfiguration or metamorphosis and connects people to one another across cultures, time and space. With over 30 years of research distilled into 18 books and numerous video presentations, William’s work will guide you to next level of human consciousness and our expanding reality.

William’s present work has taken him into the area of transhumanism, which he first began writing about in his 2002 bestseller, Cloak of the Illuminati. His latest book, The Singularity Is Near: The Next Human, the Perfect Rainbow Light Body and the Technology of Human Transcendence is a primer and a warning for the looming potential transformation of humanity as we speed closer to meshing computer technology with human flesh. William discusses transhumanism as the fulfillment of an ancient impulse to transcend our human bodies. His work has propelled him into the role of human rights activist and advisor on the biopolitics of human enhancement as he informs audiences of the unparalleled perils and potentials of Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism.

Freddy Silva

Freddy Silva is a best-selling author, and leading researcher of ancient civilizations, restricted history, sacred sites and their interaction with consciousness. He has published six books in six languages, and produced eleven documentaries. Described by one CEO as “perhaps the best metaphysical speaker in the world right now,” for two decades he has been an international keynote speaker, with notable appearances at the International Science and Consciousness Conference, the International Society For The Study Of Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine, and the Association for Research and Enlightenment, in addition to appearances on Gaia TV, History Channel, BBC, and radio shows such as Coast To Coast. He also leads private sell-out tours to ancient temples worldwide.

Pierre Dubois

Pierre Richard Dubois is Registered Architect and holds two advanced degrees from Columbia University. He has been on a life quest to satisfy his inner and intuitive knowing about consciousness-expanding technologies and wisdom. He is an author, life coach, healer, ascension teacher, and a minister. Pierre has travelled the world and studied many religions and belief systems and found that we are all seeking the same thing: merger back with the uncreated Source of all. An insightful listener and counselor, Pierre deeply aspires to share with others his wisdom and has helped countless people on their journey of healing, expansion, and ascension over the past 20 years.

Frank DeMarco

FRANK DeMARCO has been reporting on his conversations with non-physical beings for more than two decades, in magazine articles, talks, and in a dozen non-fiction books and two novels.

FRANK DeMARCO is the author of 14 books rooted in more than 25 years of psychic exploration, including It’s All One World, Awakening from the 3D World, Rita’s World (two volumes), The Cosmic Internet, The Sphere and the Hologram, and Imagine Yourself Well. Since 2005, he has been actively engaged in an on-going series of conversations with various non-physical beings, including historical individuals, “past lives,” aspects of personal guidance, and a generalized group he calls “the guys upstairs.”

He is also the author of three novels, Messenger, That Phenomenal Background (originally published as Babe in the Woods) and Dark Fire.

William Buhlman

William Buhlman is a recognized expert on the subject of out-of-body experiences. The author’s forty years of extensive personal out-of-body explorations give him a unique and thought provoking insight into this subject. His first book, Adventures beyond the Body chronicles his personal journey of self-discovery through out-of-body travel, and provides the reader with the preparation and techniques that can be used for their own adventure. He has conducted an international out-of-body experience survey that includes over 16,000 participants from forty-two countries. The provocative results of this survey are presented in his book, The Secret of the Soul. This cutting edge book explores the unique opportunities for personal growth and profound spiritual awakenings that are reported during out-of-body experiences.

Over the past two decades William has developed an effective system to experience safe, self initiated out-of-body adventures. He conducts an in-depth six-day workshop titled, Out-of-Body Exploration Intensive at the renowned Monroe Institute in Virginia. As a certified hypnotherapist, William incorporates various methods, including hypnosis, visualization and meditation techniques in his workshops to explore the profound nature of out-of-body experiences and the benefits of accelerated personal development. Through lectures, workshops and his books the author teaches the preparation and techniques of astral projection and spiritual exploration.

The author brings a refreshing look to how we can use out-of-body experiences to explore our spiritual identity and enhance our intellectual and physical lives. William is best known for his ability to teach people how to have profound spiritual adventures through the use of out-of-body experiences. In addition, he has developed an extensive series of audio programs that are designed to expand awareness and assist in the exploration of consciousness. William has appeared on numerous television and radio shows worldwide. William’s books are currently available in twelve languages. The author lives in Delaware, USA. For more information visit his web site,

Joe McMoneagle

Joe was the longest operational psychic spy in the US government’s very highly classified Stargate program where they used psychics and intuitives to look into installations and people around the world that were of interest to government intelligence agencies. They called the process remote viewing.

As it turned out, the remote viewers discovered that they were – not limited by either time or space and produced drawings and assessments that could not have been obtained in any other way. The Soviets had an active remote viewing program at the same time and it is rumored that Russia, China and the U.S. still have initiatives of this kind that are operational.

Joe’s stories are fascinating, like the time he mentally got inside a Chinese nuclear weapon and saw how the triggering mechanism worked . . . and then went out and bought the parts at Radio Shack to show the scientists in the intelligence agency exactly how it was done. The remote viewers could find submarines at the bottom of the ocean and crashed aircraft in the middle of African jungles.

Dr. Joe Dispenza

Dr Joe Dispenza is an international lecturer, researcher, corporate consultant, author, and educator who has been invited to speak in more than 33 countries on six continents. As a lecturer and educator, he is driven by the conviction that each of us has the potential for greatness and unlimited abilities. In his easy-to-understand, encouraging, and compassionate style, he has educated thousands of people, detailing how they can rewire their brains and recondition their bodies to make lasting changes.

Dr. Joe is also a faculty member at Quantum University in Honolulu, Hawaii; the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York; and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He’s also an invited chair of the research committee at Life University in Atlanta, Georgia.

As a researcher, Dr. Joe’s passion can be found at the intersection of the latest findings from the fields of neuroscience, epigenetics, and quantum physics to explore the science behind spontaneous remissions. He uses that knowledge to help people heal themselves of illnesses, chronic conditions, and even terminal diseases so they can enjoy a more fulfilled and happy life, as well as evolve their consciousness. At his advanced workshops around the world, he has partnered with other scientists to perform extensive research on the effects of meditation, including epigenetic testing, brain mapping with electroencephalograms (EEGs), and individual energy field testing with a gas discharge visualization (GDV) machine. His research also includes measuring both heart coherence with HeartMath monitors and the energy present in the workshop environment before, during, and after events with a GDV Sputnik sensor.

As a NY Times best-selling author, Dr. Joe has written Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon(Hay House, 2017), which draws on research conducted at his advanced workshops since 2012 to explore how common people are doing the uncommon to transform themselves and their lives; You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter (Hay House, 2014), which explores our ability to heal without drugs or surgery, but rather by thought alone; Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One (Hay House, 2012) and Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind (2007), both of which detail the neuroscience of change and epigenetics. His film appearances include Transcendence: Live Life Beyond the Ordinary (2018); HEAL (2017); E-Motion (2014); Sacred Journey of the Heart (2012); People v. the State of Illusion (2011); What IF – The Movie (2010); Unleashing Creativity (2009); and What the #$*! Do We Know? & Down the Rabbit Hole, extended DVD version (2005).

Dr. Todd Ovokaitys

After two years at Northwestern, he was accepted into an accelerated combined graduate/undergraduate program at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, which conferred both B.A. and M.D. degrees. Advanced training was at Georgetown University Hospital, with a Residency and Chief Residency in Internal Medicine followed by a Fellowship in Pulmonary and Intensive Care Medicine.

During his Pulmonary Fellowship, the specialty that concerns the lungs, Dr. Todd began his research with cells of the immune system. Many procedures were done on AIDS patients to diagnose their lung problems. Observing this dire disease firsthand and the toxic results of early medical treatments, Dr. Todd developed a passion for finding better solutions. Towards the end of his Fellowship, he became aware of the benefits of Holistic Medicine for improving the function of the immune system while building rather than impairing the function of other systems.

Inspired to learn more, he moved to Southern California to study with practitioners of Complementary Medicine. In the context of these studies, he had an experience so radical that the course of his life and work were forever transformed.

During a meditation class in the summer of 1989, Dr. Todd paired with another student for an exercise. The process was profound and they took turns, one in the process while the other scribed to record any breakthroughs of awareness. Much as in the Jodie Foster movie “Contact,” the usual anchor points dissolved with the feeling of instant transport to a different dimension of being. There was a doorway or portal to traverse, with a message of the responsibility taken on through the choice to go further.

Instantly upon walking through this doorway, a living form was seen that filled a room – and had the shape of a DNA strand enlarged millions of times. This form communicated that science only partly understood how DNA worked. The linear understanding of DNA as an enormous data string was correct but incomplete. In addition, DNA was a structure of coils within coils in an environment of moving charges that permitted DNA to send electromagnetic signals much as a radio transmitter. Further, DNA could receive and be conditioned by electromagnetic signals. Most significantly, if it were possible to determine and transmit the correct resonant signals, that it was possible to switch the activity of a sick cell to that of a healthy cell, an old cell to that of a young cell.

This experience brought with it a certainty that solutions were possible. After intensive review of the previous work showing the effects of electromagnetic energy patterns on cellular health and function, Dr. Todd located a colleague with the technical expertise to build the desired invention.

Mary Rodwell

Mary Rodwell is a professional counsellor, hypnotherapist, researcher, metaphysician, and founder and principal of ACERN (Australian Close Encounter Resource Network). She is internationally known for her work with ET experiencers and star children. She offers regressions and support for contactees and has organized a buddy system to help those who have had close encounters. Mary has spoken at conferences in Australia, USA, UK, Scandinavia, Hawaii and New Zealand. She is a regular guest on international radio and online shows and writes article for international publications like the UFO Truth Magazine. Mary is co-founder of FREE, a non-profit organization aimed at researching close encounters.

She is the author of, Awakening – How extra-terrestrial contact can transform your life. Mary is working on her second book, The New Human, due for release this year.

Dr. Larry Dossey

Dr. Larry Dossey is a physician of internal medicine and former Chief of Staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital. He received his M. D. degree from Southwestern Medical School (Dallas), and trained in internal medicine at Parkland and the VA hospitals in Dallas. Dossey has lectured at medical schools and hospitals throughout the United States and abroad. In 1988 he delivered the annual Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, India, the only physician ever invited to do so. He is the author of twelve books dealing with consciousness, spirituality, and healing, including the New York Times bestseller HEALING WORDS: THE POWER OF PRAYER AND THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE, and most recently One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters. His books have been translated into languages around the world. Dr. Dossey is the former co-chairman of the Panel on Mind/Body Interventions, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health. He is the executive editor of the peer-reviewed journal EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing. Dr. Dossey lectures around the world. He lives in Santa Fe with his wife Barbara, a nurse-consultant and the author of several award-winning books.

Kingsley L. Dennis Phd.

Kingsley L. Dennis, PhD, is a sociologist, researcher, and writer. He previously worked in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University, UK. Kingsley is the author of numerous articles on social futures; technology and new media communications; global affairs; and conscious evolution. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books including Healing the Wounded Mind, The Sacred Revival, The Phoenix Generation, New Consciousness for a New World, Struggle for Your Mind, After the Car, and the celebrated Dawn of the Akashic Age (with Ervin Laszlo). He has traveled extensively and lived in various countries. He currently lives in Andalusia, Spain.


His homepage is

Sharry Edwards

Sharry Edwards has been accused of being too scientific by some, too esoteric by others. In actuality, she is a bridge between both fields of inquiry. Sharry is the acknowledged pioneer in the emerging field of Vocal Profiling using BioAcoustic Biology. For many years she has provided the leading-edge research to show the voice as a holographic representation of the body that can be used to change the face of medicine.

Sharry asks that we imagine a future in which we can be individually identified and maintained through the use of frequency based biomarkers that keep us healthy and emotionally balanced. Her work at the Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has shown that we can each have dominion over those frequencies by individual mind management or a simple remote control that is completely programmable. Using the unique techniques of Vocal Profiling and evaluation, emotional as well as physiological issues can be revealed and addressed.

Her work with the human voice reveals that people who share similar traumas, stresses, diseases, toxicities…share similar, if not identical, vocal anomalies. She brings together ancient knowledge with modern ideas of harmonics and frequency relationship theories to show that math can be used as a form of predictive, diagnostic and curative foundation for wellness. Through entrainment of the frequency grids of the brain, the body can be programmed to support its own optimal form and function.

Dr. Carrie Hempel & Brian Sanderoff

Integrative Physician Dr. Carrie Hempel and Holistic Pharmacist Brian Sanderoffare both experts in the medicinal use of cannabis in Maryland.

Dr. Hempel is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2002. As an Osteopathic Physician, she has embraced a holistic approach to patient care, providing loving attention to the relationship between mind, body, and spirit. For the past 11 years she has received specialist training, Board Certification and expertise in several fields including Internal Medicine, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, and Hospice & Palliative Medicine, along with many Integrative modalities. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Association of Cannabis Specialists, and is registered with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

Over the course of her career she has seen the consistent struggle of patients dealing with chronic, progressive, debilitating illness, and witnessed the challenges and limitations of the current pharmaceutical options for pain and symptom managment. Her passion for this population has grown, along with her desire to advocate for patients to have access to non-opioid, holistic options to enhance quality of life and optimize function.

Trained as a pharmacist, Brian Sanderoff has integrated 25 years of experience with his traditional medical training and herbalism, nutrition and numerous other holistic modalities to help clients devise practical, common-sense, safe solutions to most any health issue.

His clients appreciate how he embraces a complementary approach to health and how his holistic “compass” brings them new solutions to their unique health concerns – especially chronic diseases.

Mary Rodwell

Mary Rodwell is a professional counsellor, hypnotherapist, researcher, metaphysician, and founder and principal of ACERN (Australian Close Encounter Resource Network). She is internationally known for her work with ET experiencers and star children. She offers regressions and support for contactees and has organised a buddy system to help those who have had close encounters. Mary has spoken at conferences in Australia, USA, UK, Scandinavia, Hawaii and New Zealand. She is a regular guest on international radio and online shows and writes article for international publications like the UFO Truth Magazine. Mary is co-founder of FREE, a non-profit organisation aimed at researching close encounters.

Steve McDonald

Steve McDonald is an extraordinary Australian thinker and researcher who arguably knows as much about the structure of the global planetary transition that we are experiencing as anyone on the planet. He draws coherent pictures from the deep insights of Clair W. Graves and paints clear, explanatory images of not only how humanity has evolved to this point, but what is inevitably on our horizon . . . and how this epic transition will continue to play out.

He is currently writing a book about the global paradigm shift that’s taking us beyond the scientific-industrial era. Steve served with the Australian Army for 15 years, including war service as an infantry company commander in Somalia, 1993. He is also a qualified military helicopter pilot and on leaving the army he flew a rescue helicopter in the tropical Mackay-Whitsunday region of Queensland. Building upon his extensive experience in unpredictable environments, after retiring from flying Steve specialized as a change management consultant. He consequently studied the developmental psychology research of Dr Clare W Graves and became one of the first Australians qualified to teach Dr Graves’ theory under the banner of Spiral Dynamics Integral. A long-term struggle with posttraumatic stress has driven Steve’s deep interest in human nature and consciousness. He is a founder of Psychedelic Research in Science & Medicine, an Australian non-profit association. He is also a founder of AADII, a non-profit company created to support worldwide transformational change.

Robert Coxon

Although Robert Coxon had been studying and composing music for many years, it was after taking the Silva Mind Control course that he realized how powerful sound could be in relaxing the body and opening the consciousness. He then decided to write his first album.

Cristal Silence quickly became a major hit throughout Canada, staying on top of the charts for many years. This was the beginning of his continuing phenomenal success as composer and solo artist. For the last 29 years he has performed only his original compositions in concert. Robert has been nominated four times for the prestigious “Felix” award (French Canada equivalent to the Grammy), and became Canada’s best-selling New Age artist. His international breakthrough came after composing The Silent Path in 1995. This album was an instant hit in Canada, the USA and France. After hearing The Silent Path, Lee Carroll, internationally renowned author of 15 bestselling Kryon and Indigo books, contacted Robert and asked him to join his team on tour. Through the years this has given Robert the opportunity to experience different cultures and inspires him to write music honoring these many countries he performs in.

Robert offers us nine albums, the latest three being The Infinite, essence of life, Goddess -The Power of Woman and Passion Compassion Alegeria.

Joe Dispenza

needs bio…

Gary Sycalik

Gary Sycalik has been described as an entrepreneur, businessman, project developer/manager, consultant/advisor, organizational troubleshooter, strategic planner, facilitator, futurist, business and social architect, complex problematic game designer (policy, strategic, tactic levels) and writer. Gary brings a robust horizontal and vertical functional capability to any project from the conceptual to operational stage.

Penny Kelly

Penny Kelly is an author, teacher, speaker, publisher, personal and spiritual consultant, and Naturopathic physician. She travels, lectures, and teaches a variety of classes and workshops, and maintains a large consulting practice. She has been involved in scientific research and investigations into consciousness at Pinelandia Laboratory near Ann Arbor, MI.