Stanislav Petrov

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Who Rules the World? by Noam Chomsky


Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, corporate governance, corporate personhood, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden,, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, invisible hand, Malacca Straits, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, precariat, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, Stanislav Petrov, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, union organizing, uranium enrichment, wage slave, WikiLeaks, working-age population

The exercises “almost became a prelude to a preventative nuclear strike,” according to an account in the Journal of Strategic Studies.10 It was even more dangerous than that, as we learned in the fall of 2013, when the BBC reported that right in the midst of these world-threatening developments, Russia’s early-warning systems detected an incoming missile strike from the United States, sending its nuclear system onto the highest-level alert. The protocol for the Soviet military was to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own. Fortunately, the officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov, decided to disobey orders and not report the warnings to his superiors. He received an official reprimand. And thanks to his dereliction of duty, we’re still alive to talk about it.11 The security of the population was no more a high priority for Reagan administration planners than for their predecessors. And so it continues to the present, even putting aside the numerous near-catastrophic nuclear accidents that have occurred over the years, many reviewed in Eric Schlosser’s chilling study Command and Control.12 In other words, it is hard to contest General Butler’s conclusions.

The Pentagon’s risky measures included sending U.S. strategic bombers over the North Pole to test Soviet radar, and naval exercises in wartime approaches to the USSR where U.S. warships had previously not entered. Additional secret operations simulated surprise naval attacks on Soviet targets.”11 We now know that the world was saved from likely nuclear destruction in those frightening days by the decision of a Russian officer, Stanislav Petrov, not to transmit to higher authorities the report of automated detection systems that the USSR was under missile attack. Accordingly, Petrov takes his place alongside Russian submarine commander Vasili Arkhipov, who, at a dangerous moment of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, refused to authorize the launching of nuclear torpedoes when the subs were under attack by U.S. destroyers enforcing a quarantine.

Fischer, “A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare,” Center for the Study of Intelligence, 7 July 2008,; Dmitry Dima Adamsky, “The 1983 Nuclear Crisis—Lessons for Deterrence Theory and Practice,” Journal of Strategic Studies 36, no.1 (2013): 4–41. 11. Pavel Aksenov, “Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who May Have Saved the World,” BBC News Europe, 26 September 2013, 12. Eric Schlosser, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety (New York: Penguin, 2013). 13. President Bill Clinton, Speech before the UN General Assembly, 27 September 1993,; Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Annual Report to the President and Congress: 1999 (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 1999) 14.


pages: 719 words: 209,224

The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David Hoffman


anti-communist, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, failed state, joint-stock company, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Silicon Valley, Stanislav Petrov, Thomas L Friedman, uranium enrichment, Vladimir Vetrov: Farewell Dossier

Nunn and Lugar, interviews with author after visit to the facility, Aug. 31, 2007. 10 The Cooperative Threat Reduction programs were a mere .07 percent of the Defense Department's overall budget request for fiscal year 2009, 3.86 percent of the Energy Department's request and .8 percent of the State Department's request. See Bunn, p. 116. 11 Valentin Yevstigneev, interview, Feb. 10, 2005. Yevstigneev's comment repeated the claim made in an article published May 23, 2001, in the Russian newspaper Nezavisamaya Gazeta. Stanislav Petrov, the general in charge of chemical weapons, was a coauthor. The piece claimed the Sverdlovsk anthrax outbreak was the result of "subversive activity" against the Soviet Union. Stanislav Petrov et al., "Biologicheskaya Diversia Na Urale" [Biological Sabotage in the Urals], NG, May 23, 1001. 12 The closed military facilities are: the Scientific-Research Institute of Microbiology of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Kirov, which is the main biological weapons facility of the military; the Virology Center of the Scientific-Research Institute of Microbiology of the Ministry of Defense, Sergiev Posad; and the Department of Military Epidemiology of the Scientific Research Institute of Microbiology of the Ministry of Defense, Yekaterinburg. 13 When the United States and Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997 they promised to destroy stocks of chemical weapons by 2012.

In public, he was an official of the state, and loyal to the official story. But he also gave the pathologists a private signal to hide and protect their evidence. Nikiforov later died of a heart attack. "We are certain that he knew the truth," Grinberg said.9 But the people of the Soviet Union and the outside world did not. II. Night Watch for Nuclear War The shift change began at 7 P.M. on September 26, 1983. Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel, arrived at Serpukhov-15, south of Moscow, a top-secret missile attack early-warning station, which received signals from satellites. Petrov changed from street clothes into the soft uniform of the military space troops of the Soviet Union. Over the next hour, he and a dozen other specialists asked questions of the outgoing officers. Then his men lined up two rows deep and reported for duty to Petrov.

Little is known about the disposition in Russia of the thousands of tactical nuclear weapons removed from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics after the 1991 Bush-Gorbachev initiative. They may be in storage or deployed; they have never been covered by any treaty, nor any verification regime, and the loss of just one could be catastrophic.2 Another step would be to take the remaining strategic nuclear weapons off launch-ready alert. When Stanislav Petrov faced the false alarm in 1983, launch decisions had to be made in just minutes. Today, Russia is no longer the ideological or military threat the Soviet Union once was; nor does the United States pose such a threat to Russia. Americans invested much time and effort to assist Russia's leap to capitalism in the 1990s--should we aim our missiles now at the very stock markets in Moscow we helped design?


On Power and Ideology by Chomsky, Noam


anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, feminist movement, imperial preference, land reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Stanislav Petrov, union organizing

A very detailed recent study based on extensive U.S. and Russian intelligence records concludes that “the War Scare Was for Real,” and that U.S. intelligence may have underestimated Russian concerns and the threat of a Russian preventive nuclear strike. In September 2013, the BBC reported that during this dangerous period, Russia’s early-warning systems detected an incoming missile strike from the United States, sending the highest-level alert. The protocol for the Soviet military was to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own. The officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov, decided to disobey orders and not report the warnings to his superiors. Thanks to his dereliction of duty, we are alive to reflect on the black swan we prefer not to see. Other studies reveal a shocking array of close calls, even apart from the “most dangerous moment in history” during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. An enormous gap in these lectures, not appreciated at the time, was that another and even more ominous threat was inexorably advancing: environmental catastrophe.


pages: 144 words: 43,356

Surviving AI: The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence by Calum Chace


3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, discovery of the americas, disintermediation, don't be evil, Elon Musk,, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, life extension, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mutually assured destruction, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technological singularity, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E

Most people are aware that the world came close to this annihilation during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962; fewer know that we have also come close to a similar fate another four times since then, in 1979, 1980, 1983 and 1995. (52) In 1962 and 1983 we were saved by individual Soviet military officers who decided not to follow prescribed procedure. Today, while the world hangs on every utterance of Justin Bieber and the Kardashian family, relatively few of us even know the names of Vasili Arkhipov and Stanislav Petrov, two men who quite literally saved the world. Perhaps this survival illustrates our ingenuity. There was an ingenious logic in the repellent but effective doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD). More likely we have simply been lucky. We have time to rise to the challenge of superintelligence – probably a few decades. However, it would be unwise to rely on that period of grace: a sudden breakthrough in machine learning or cognitive neuroscience could telescope the timing dramatically, and it is worth bearing in mind the powerful effect of exponential growth in the computing resource which underpins AI research and a lot of research in other fields too. 9.7 – It’s time to talk What we need now is a serious, reasoned debate about superintelligence – a debate which avoids the twin perils of complacency and despair.


Because We Say So by Noam Chomsky


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Chelsea Manning, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Malacca Straits, Martin Wolf, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Slavoj Žižek, Stanislav Petrov, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks

The NATO exercise “almost became a prelude to a preventative [Russian] nuclear strike,” according to an account last year by Dmitry Adamsky in the JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES. Nor was this the only close call. In September 1983, Russia’s early-warning systems registered an incoming missile strike from the United States and sent the highest-level alert. The Soviet military protocol was to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own. The Soviet officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov, intuiting a false alarm, decided not to report the warnings to his superiors. Thanks to his dereliction of duty, we’re alive to talk about the incident. Security of the population was no more a high priority for Reagan planners than for their predecessors. Such heedlessness continues to the present, even putting aside the numerous near-catastrophic accidents, reviewed in a chilling new book, COMMAND AND CONTROL: NUCLEAR WEAPONS, THE DAMASCUS ACCIDENT, AND THE ILLUSION OF SAFETY, by Eric Schlosser.


pages: 293 words: 81,183

Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference by William MacAskill


barriers to entry, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Cal Newport, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, effective altruism,, experimental subject, follow your passion, food miles, immigration reform, income inequality, index fund, Isaac Newton, job automation, job satisfaction, labour mobility, Lean Startup, M-Pesa, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Nate Silver, Peter Singer: altruism, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, randomized controlled trial, self-driving car, Skype, Stanislav Petrov, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, universal basic income, women in the workforce

HM1146.M33 2015 171'.8—dc23 2015000705 While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers, Internet addresses, and other contact information at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. Version_1 To Toby Ord, Peter Singer, and Stanislav Petrov, without whom this book would not have been written CONTENTS PRAISE FOR DOING GOOD BETTER TITLE PAGE COPYRIGHT DEDICATION INTRODUCTION Worms and Water Pumps: How can you do the most good? ONE You Are the 1 Percent: Just how much can you achieve? PART ONE THE FIVE KEY QUESTIONS OF EFFECTIVE ALTRUISM TWO Hard Trade-offs: Question #1: How many people benefit, and by how much?


pages: 574 words: 164,509

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom


agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, brain emulation, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, cosmological constant, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk,, epigenetics, fear of failure, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, iterative process, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Netflix Prize, new economy, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, nuclear winter, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, prediction markets, price stability, principal–agent problem, race to the bottom, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, social graph, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, Turing machine, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, World Values Survey

On November 9, 1979, a computer problem led NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) to make a false report of an incoming full-scale Soviet attack on the United States. The USA made emergency retaliation preparations before data from early-warning radar systems showed that no attack had been launched (McLean and Stewart 1979). On September 26, 1983, the malfunctioning Soviet Oko nuclear early-warning system reported an incoming US missile strike. The report was correctly identified as a false alarm by the duty officer at the command center, Stanislav Petrov: a decision that has been credited with preventing thermonuclear war (Lebedev 2004). It appears that a war would probably have fallen short of causing human extinction, even if it had been fought with the combined arsenals held by all the nuclear powers at the height of the Cold War, though it would have ruined civilization and caused unimaginable death and suffering (Gaddis 1982; Parrington 1997).


pages: 546 words: 176,169

The Cold War by Robert Cowley


anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doomsday Clock, friendly fire, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, RAND corporation, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, Stanislav Petrov, transcontinental railway

There Goes Brussels … WILLIAMSON MURRAY Let us play a counterfactual game, and suppose for a moment that the one-sided crisis of 1983 had gotten out of control. What if, for example, on the night of September 26, a Soviet officer in a bunker outside Moscow had not had doubts about what he was seeing on a computer screen—first one incoming missile, and then another, five in all. Had Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov followed regulations, he would have telephoned his superiors to warn them that the Soviet Union was only minutes away from a nuclear attack. Petrov hesitated, convinced that something had gone awry in the computer system. The minutes passed. Nothing did happen. That night one man's hunch may have averted World War III. “The terrible ifs accumulate,” as Winston Churchill said of the opening moves of World War I.


pages: 956 words: 267,746

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion ofSafety by Eric Schlosser


Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Haight Ashbury, impulse control, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, life extension, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, packet switching, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Stanislav Petrov, Stewart Brand, too big to fail, uranium enrichment

The Kremlin denied that it had anything to do with the tragedy—until the United States released audio recordings of Soviet pilots being ordered to shoot down the plane. President Reagan called the attack “an act of barbarism” and a “crime against humanity [that] must never be forgotten.” A few weeks later alarms went off in an air defense bunker south of Moscow. A Soviet early-warning satellite had detected five Minuteman missiles approaching from the United States. The commanding officer on duty, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, tried to make sense of the warning. An American first strike would surely involve more than five missiles—but perhaps this was merely the first wave. The Soviet general staff was alerted, and it was Petrov’s job to advise them whether the missile attack was real. Any retaliation would have to be ordered soon. Petrov decided it was a false alarm. An investigation later found that the missile launches spotted by the Soviet satellite were actually rays of sunlight reflected off clouds.