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Brit-at-Stanford Niall Ferguson Says AI Means We Can Destroy China as Well as Russia

Jan. 4, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—British “historian” Niall Ferguson of the Hoover Institution at Stanford had an op-ed on Bloomberg at midnight Jan. 1, 2023 “All Is Not Quiet on the Eastern Front” in which he leans on Stanford’s Peter Thiel’s Palantir Corporation to assert that artificial intelligence is the new nuclear weapons monopoly, and that NATO can destroy both Russia and China in the current conflict, so long as it is careful [!] not to start World War III.

Ferguson’s extraordinarily lengthy piece, filled with hedges and one-hand/other-hands, may take longer to read than the Ukraine conflict will last. It leads with a bow to Henry Kissinger’s Dec. 17, 2022 Spectator commentary warning of the danger of nuclear world war and advocating some kind of negotiations. But its real message is pretty clear, starting with the words of Palantir’s CEO Alex Karp to CIA mouthpiece David Ignatius of the Washington Post Dec. 19 (“How the Algorithm Tipped the Balance in Ukraine”):

“ ‘The power of advanced algorithmic warfare systems is now so great that it equates to having tactical nuclear weapons against an adversary with only conventional ones,’ explains Alex Karp, chief executive of Palantir, in an email message. ‘The general public tends to underestimate this. Our adversaries no longer do.’ ”

This is Bertrand Russell, in 1946, proclaiming that what he thought was the U.S.-U.K. sole possession of nuclear weapons made preventive war to destroy the Soviet Union, feasible and desirable. What Niall Ferguson makes of it here, is that with superiority in semiconductor supercomputing and artificial intelligence applied to warfare, NATO can destroy China while it is defeating Russia. NATO’s destruction of Russia effectively strengthens China by making Russia its protectorate and making Russian energy and mineral riches available to China at discounted price. But with AI superiority, NATO can and should destroy China anyway; but it must be careful not to provoke China, in order not to be destroyed, into pre-emptive war with nuclear weapons, etc.

The fact that Ignatius—who essentially claimed that Palantir was winning the war in Ukraine—had also been able to quote U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to the effect that Palantir’s “wizard war” was “the way wars will be fought, and won, for years to come,” indicates the reach of this utopian insanity. China’s rapid advances in fusion power and plasma technologies, its “stunning progress” in space which so worries U.S. military officials, mean that soon enough, it will be at NATO-nation levels of advanced semiconductor applications as well. It has neither need nor desire for “pre-emptive nuclear war” but rather proposes the cooperation of equals in scientific and economic development.

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