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This Week in the New Normal #77

This Week in the New Normal #77

Our successor to This Week in the Guardian, This Week in the New Normal is our weekly chart of the progress of autocracy, authoritarianism and economic restructuring around the world.

1. The NHS’s AI health surveillance

The UK’s National Health Service launched three pilot schemes in different parts of England this week, all focused on utilizing artificial intelligence to monitor people and automatically report potential problems to health care workers.

In Somerset, GP practices are trialing an AI system to “highlight registered patients with complex health needs, at risk of hospital admission or who rarely contact their GP and reach out to them for conversations about their health.”

A trial in Birmingham em>”uses an algorithm to predict the top 5% at risk of potential hospital attendances or admissions”, healthcare centers then send out assessment teams to pre-emptively address potential problems.

Finally – and most concerningly – in Buckinghamshire, AI is monitoring electrical devices like kettles and refrigerators to “spot changes in patients’ eating and drinking habits”.

No matter what outlet is covering the story, they repeat the line that waiting lists numbers are reportedly up to 7.7 million, and that increased surveillance will help decrease “preventable” or “unnecessary” hospital visits.

Currently, this is being sold as monitoring the old or otherwise vulnerable, but once the precedent is set it’s not hard to see where it goes. The implications for privacy and healthcare – not to mention potential “social credit” systems – are immense.

2. Turkey’s Green Fund

Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek announced Wednesday the establishment of a new fund called the “Türkiye Green Fund” (TGF).

The Daily Sabah reports:

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), the minister stated that they continue to develop new projects in close collaboration with the World Bank. In this context, Şimşek pointed out that a loan worth $155 million (TL 4.44 billion) would be channeled to the Industrial Development Bank of Türkiye (TSKB) for the Green Finance Project, which the World Bank has approved.

Yet another blow to the multipolar narrative. No matter where you go, “climate change” is the name of the game and the World Bank is handing out the monopoly money.

3. “Grasshoppers Are More Valuable than Caviar”

The regular task of monotonously pushing humans to eat insects fell on the shoulders of Der Spiegel this week, never to be outdone in pushing the agenda, they decided to double-dip.

Firstly in the form of a podcast episode – “The Climate Report” – pushing meal worms instead of steak:

grasshoppers, grain mold beetles or mealworms can make our diet more sustainable and healthier.

Then in framing a story about grasshopper farms in Thailand with the subhead:

Insects could be the climate-friendly solution for providing the global population the protein it needs without destroying the environment. Business is already booming in Thailand. Is it possible it could become a trend in Europe, too?

Before ending with an unintentional warning, or subtle threat…

…a lot will change over the next 10 years, and that consumers will slowly get used to insects. Even in Europe, where the European Food Safety Authority approved mealworms, darkling beetles and the house cricket for consumption a few years ago. It’s quite possible that many more insects will follow.

BONUS: Nonchalant tyranny of the week

It’s a sign of the times that the London police now regularly wheel out facial recognition technology to monitor ordinary people going about their day, and barely anyone seems to notice.

…and, of course – thanks to the “pro-Hamas hate march” furor – dozens of pundits and celebrities who would have lambasted this use of technology for anti-lockdown protests will now predictably rue the fact it’s too late or not effective enough.

A potential silver lining here is that the only reason to warn people you’re going to use technology like that is that it doesn’t actually work. Maybe it’s all a bluff.

It’s not all bad…

We haven’t shared a Bob Moran in a while, but his always-on-target work was especially good this week. First celebrating the birthday of His Royal Majesty…

And then with a sweet reminder of how we win…

You can read an excellent interview with Bob here, and a detailed account of his most recent brush with censorship here.

Also, of note to anyone interested, November 23rd is the premiere of independent film Gods of Their Own Religion, brilliantly reviewed for us by Joanna Sharp. You can still get tickets online.


All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention Canada’s bizarrely racist art exhibition or California papering over its crackheads for the cameras before the APEC summit.


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