Saudi Arabia: Cradle of the Singularity

Are we ready for a merger of Wahhabism and out-of-control technology?

"Participants at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, in October [, 2017]." Image Source: Tasneem Alsultan/The New York Times.

By now, you will probably have seen reports about the anti-corruption actions of the 32-year-old Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, which started on 4 November 2017. Mohammad bin Salman (aka MbS) has locked up his cousins and hundreds of other Saudi business leaders in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton. He has frozen their bank accounts

There are at least 11 princes in the hotel; another prince died resisting arrest—or did he? Later reports stated he was alive. The Lebanese Prime Minister resigned from his position during a shock visit to Saudi Arabia on 4 November—or did he? Subsequent reports announced that he suspended his resignation. Yet another prince died in a helicopter crash on 5 November, reportedly shot down by a Saudi warplane while trying to escape

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia

Image Source: Fayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via The New York Times.

MbS has brought in American Blackwater mercenaries to hang these royals and billionaires upside down and intimidate them in their luxury suites. The video of BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet tip-toeing through the hotel's front lobby reached #17 on Youtube's trending videos on 25 November 2017.

EXCLUSIVE: Inside Saudi Arabia's gilded prison at Riyadh Ritz-Carlton

BBC News (23 November 2017).

The New York Times hailed these developments as the start of Saudi Arabia's 'Arab Spring,' as MbS plans to reboot the kingdom's economy. The Guardian stated that MbS is "a risk-taker with a zeal for reform."

Different interpretations spread on the Internet about what this could mean. There are those who speculate that the Saudis have not been honest about the kingdom's oil reserves; there is fear that the wells are running dry. In this light, the Ritz-Carlton drama is less about quashing corruption, and more about seizing back $800 billion squirreled away over the years by Saudi leaders. Why? Not because of anti-corruption, but because the kingdom is secretly broke. And without the unimaginable flow of oil money, the country will descend into civil war. Vox agreed: "Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption purge is all about life after oil. The crown prince is seizing billionaires’ assets in a bid to modernize a stagnant economy."

According to conspiracists' online chatter, the Petrodollar is dead, and so is the whole 20th century order it founded. Now there will be trouble as Israel and Saudi Arabia set their sights on war with Iran in the coming year. This view tends to run pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist. As one Youtuber of this bent put it: "IRAN will be invaded in the summer of 2018 ... U.S.A., Israel, and Saudi Arabia will stage a fake terrorist attack and blame it on Iran. The only question is where will it take place?" More substantial rumours of this type come from Julian Assange, who has claimed that Qatar has a nuclear weapon. The Saudis have access to nuclear weapons too, as do the Israelis, and potentially the Iranians.

What caught my eye, aside from the possibility of World War III in 2018, was a headline from October 2017, in which MbS outlined his plans for Saudi Arabia's alternate economy with little or no oil. On 24 October 2017, he announced that he plans to build a $500 billion mega-smart-city spanning three countries by 2030, which will be dedicated to the advancement of technology:

"NEOM ... will focus on industries including energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing and entertainment, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said. ... 'This place is not for conventional people or conventional companies, this will be a place for the dreamers for the world.'"

More precisely, this new city NEOM will be devoted to bringing about the Singularity:

"The city, which will be independent of the kingdom's 'existing governmental framework,' will be built across 26,500 square kilometers (10,231 square miles) near the Red Sea. According to the fund's statement, its land mass 'will extend across the Egyptian and Jordanian borders.'
'NEOM will be constructed from the ground-up, on greenfield sites, allowing it a unique opportunity to be distinguished from all other places that have been developed and constructed over hundreds of years,' the fund said in a statement. The project will be backed by $500 billion from the Saudi government and its investment fund, as well as local and international investors."

Are those the same local investors who are being tortured by Blackwater operatives now in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton? Beirut-based reporter Marwa Osman said yes; she argued that this tech convention—also held at the Ritz-Carlton—was the honey trap that lured MbS's targets to the hotel in the first place. 

Commentators may disagree on what is happening, but they all may turn out to be right about a consolidation of power; a rebooted economy; and anti-corruption. If Saudi oil wells are dry, or nearly dry, the Crown Prince could still draw from a slush fund large enough to create a new economy. So, MbS has cast around, and decided to buy Silicon Valley, which already had Saudi backing. The Saudis can squeeze in a war with Iran to test new robotic weapons which will (a) revive the economy; and (b) cement power. These are the core issues, regardless of whether this transition is couched in liberal rhetoric.

For years, Boomer tech gurus like Ray Kurzweil have promised that the Singularity is coming. For months, Gen X entrepreneurs like Elon Musk have insisted that artificial intelligence is coming, and it will be so overwhelming and powerful that our only hope for survival is not to slow down or stop and reconsider what we are doing but to keep going and merge techno-organically with machines.

What these gurus failed to mention was that the Singularity will not be born in the United States—in the Silicon Valley—or anywhere else in the Americas, Europe, India, or Asia-Pacific.

Rather, and this was the real news flash, the cradle of the Singularity will be Saudi Arabia. And that means Saudi culture will shape the tone of the Singularity. Just what we needed: the perfect blend of Wahhabism and out-of-control technology! Already, a former Google executive has founded a new Church of Artificial Intelligence. Consider what it means to have a Posthumanist techno-religion melded with radical Islam. Imagine seeing this blended neo-culture merge with Musk's private space programs, when these projects are already spawning New Age UFO neo-religions on the Internet.

Robot Sophia speaks at Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative

Arab News (25 October 2017).

In a sign of what is to come, October's Saudi Future Investment Initiative convention unveiled one of the first androids (there are a few) to nearly cross the Uncanny Valley: this was Sophia, made by Hanson Robotics. For the gnostic significance of her name, see my earlier remarks here.

We interviewed the AI robot that's now a citizen of Saudi Arabia.

Business Insider UK ( 8 November 2017).

Of all the possible countries in the world, Sophia was declared to become the first non-human 'robot citizen' of Saudi Arabia. One Youtube commenter grumbled, "The first robotic citizen in Saudi Arabia is female and has more rights than human females." Then Sophia held a press conference and stated in interviews that she would like to start a family.

Meanwhile, on 13 November 2017, Boston Dynamics released an update on their weaponized robots, which have become far more streamlined and dangerous, ready to be perfected by use in a real war. Thus, the stage is set for life after oil.

The New SpotMini

Boston Dynamics (13 November 2017).

LC Douglass
LC Douglass

Award-winning writer and blogger. My blog analyzes the impact of technology on 21st century culture, politics, and real time history.

Blog: Histories of Things to Come

https://historiesofthingstocome.blogspot.com/

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Saudi Arabia: Cradle of the Singularity