Should Your Mylar Bags Contract?

It’s been a while since I did a too-long post, so this one’s been cooking for a while.  Being more active in Facebook groups has made me start to re-examine every bit of advice I’ve both given and received as ‘conventional wisdom’ over the years.  I’ve put up over a hundred bags of food recently, and I’ve gone back over my thousand+ other bags and it’s made me change my thoughts on one bit of advice I’ve been reading recently. 

The question I’m posing today is an easy one: should your Mylar bags contract when using an oxygen absorber?   The reason I felt the need to write this is to clarify some information I see people giving out on this subject.  Additionally, there was a gentleman in one of my earlier threads that said essentially none of his bags contracted and he thought it was OK because of what people were saying, and that started to worry me.  We (as a community) may have let the contraction issue slide too easily, and here’s why.  One of the most common answers to the question is a variation of : ‘they don’t have to, as air is only 20% oxygen, and that’s all that’d being absorbed.’  While true, that’s not nearly a complete answer.

TL; DR:  My new concise answer to this question is now:  Barring powders, yes, your Mylar bags should contract if using an oxygen absorber.  If they don’t (or haven’t), I suggest you start checking your food.  Of the dozens of food types, both dry goods and freeze dried foods I have stored (a partial listing at the bottom), the only ones where you can’t see some contraction are powders:  mainly flour and eggs.  There are a couple of other food types that show less contraction, such as bread. Food in 7 Mil bags show less contraction than in 5 Mil bags, due to higher tensile strength and less ‘printing’ (This is where you can run your nail down a Mylar bag and see a line).

My concern is that some of the food storage supply companies may be deflecting from the fact that their absorbers are under-weighted (see experiment in a few paragraphs) by saying that its OK for your food to not contract.  And some of the freeze dry and prepper user base has picked up on that and there’s very little concern over bags not contracting.

So I did an experiment with samples I recently purchased from one of the most popular food storage companies.  I’m not going to name names, because I’d rather have folks reproduce this on their own than take my word for it if they feel my methodology has some holes.

Experiment Part A:

1:  2 brands of Oxygen Absorber, Brand A and Brand B; the Brand A oxygen absorbers are rated 300cc, and the Brand B oxygen absorbers are rated 400cc.  Generally speaking, 300cc is considered the right amount to clear a 1 gallon bag filled with food. The 300cc Brand A absorbers weigh approximately .303 ounce per packet; the 400cc Brand B absorbers weigh approximately .094 ounce per unit.

Oxygen Absorbers Oxyfree on Left, Wallaby On right
Oxygen Absorbers – Brand A on Left, Brand B on Right

2:  20 8”x12”x4” 9 Cup 5 Mil (2.25 quart) Mylar Bags; both absorbers should have 0 issues with clearing this size bag, and this experiment should have ended here.

3:  Half the Bags are filled with Macaroni (approx. 2.75 lbs), and half with Quick Oats (approx. 2 lbs, they are way less dense).  Each Brand of Oxygen Absorber was used in 5 bags of Macaroni, and 5 Bags of Quick Oats.

I thought the initial part of the experiment would be a 1 and done.  Either all of the bags would contract or all of the pasta bags would contract (but not the oats, because I’ve heard for 15 years they often won’t, and it’s not something I’ve added to my storage until just recently) and that would be the end of the experiment.  However, when I came in the next day to check, something I didn’t expect had occurred.  All 10 bags of the Brand A oxygen absorbers (the ones I generally use) had fully contracted, all 5 of the brand B pasta bags had contracted, but all 5 brand B oats bags had either not contracted or ran out of capacity before they fully contracted.  A few of the brand B oat bags had the beginning stages of contraction, but not completely.

Contracted Mylar Bags for Long Term Food Storage
Brand A Contracted Bags

What does this tell us?  My thought is that the Brand B absorbers, which you can tell from the pictures are very small compared to the ones I normally use, had enough capacity to clear the Pasta, but not enough capacity to clear the Oats.  So what does THAT tell us?  A 300cc rated absorber, at exactly its rating, should clear 1.5 liters of air of oxygen.  A 400cc rated absorber, at exactly its rating, should clear 2 liters of air of oxygen.  The 2.25 quart bags I was using = 2.13 liters of air.  Meaning, both absorbers should be able to almost clear the bags with NOTHING IN THEM.  The fact that the 400cc absorber struggled to clear full bags of oats is a strong indication that its given capacity rating is suspect. (and potentially dangerous if people are relying on them in  2 quart+ bags) 

Wallaby Absorbers Uncontracted bags
Brand B, Half the Bags Contracted, Half Didn’t (or didn’t complete)

I don’t know if any math geniuses out there want to help me with this, but even if the full bags of oats had 50% internal airspace, the absorbers would only have had to clear 1.07 liters of air, well below the 2.0 liters 400cc absorbers SHOULD clear.  The pasta bags specific density WAS high enough for them to clear, so we know the actual capacity of those 400cc absorbers is somewhere between the Food Density (my made up word to describe how much internal airspace a particular food has) of Oats x 2.13 liters and the Food Density of Pasta x 2.13 liters.  In any case, I think I can state with certainty that those 400cc absorbers don’t actually rate 400cc. Yes, that sentence is hard to read, but I think it says what I want it to.=)

BUT, this made me need to add an extra step to this process.  Because the Brand B absorbers did work on Pasta, I decided to re-test using 1 gallon bags, the size that both absorbers should be able to clear, assuming a Food Density of 60% or higher (meaning a 300cc is supposed to clear 1.5 liters in a 3.7 liter bag, or about 40%).

Part of me didn’t want to do this test, because I knew the likely result and I hate rebagging food.=)  But its ‘For Science!’  If the Brand B absorbers had trouble clearing a 2.25 quart bag, they weren’t going to clear a 4 quart bag.  And I know the Brand A 300cc absorbers have an actual rating north of 1000cc, or 4.0 liters, which is greater than the size of the bag empty, so I knew it wouldn’t be an issue clearing even a much bigger bag.

Experiment Part B:  I was running out of food to put up and the gallon bags are way bigger, so this is more ad hoc.

1:  Same absorbers as in Part A

2:  12 10”x14” 5 Mil 1 gallon (4 quart, 16 cups) Mylar bags.

3:  The bags are filled with either Flour (another food I’ve always heard won’t contract) or various kinds of pasta (Medium shells, Penne, Macaroni, all of which should have a bit of different Density).

Contracted Oxyfree Absorbers in Mylar Bags
Brand A 1 Gallon Test, all Bags Contracted

Results:  The results were exactly as expected.  All of the Brand A absorber bags were fully contracted, and none of the Brand B absorbers contracted at all.  Note about flour:  flour doesn’t have any ‘kernels’ or anything to contract around and show a nice pattern, but you call tell they contracted based on the little ‘bubble’ of air that sits at the top of the bag.  The Mylar on both sides of the bubble pulled together; its hard to see from the photo, but if you do it yourself you’ll see what I mean.  So yeah, the wisdom that says flour won’t contract seems accurate enough from a visual standpoint; you actually have to feel the bag to know it worked.

Wallaby 400cc not contracting 1 Gallon Mylar Bags
Brand B Absorbers did not contract any of the 1 gallon bags.

So what’s the verdict? 

  1. Almost every food I’ve ever done other than powders (flour and eggs) have visibly contracted.  Some were much milder than others (grilled cheese in small bags, for example)
  2. Even though the Pasta bags for the Brand B absorber contracted, I’m not confident they have enough capacity left to last 30 years to continue removing the very minor bit of oxygen passing through yearly.
  3. The 5 mil bags handled all the kinds of pasta just fine, even though I’d consider some of it ‘pokey’.  Another win for quality 5 mil bags.

I’m updating my documentation and FAQ’s to more clearly represent that in almost all cases, yes, your food should be contracting, with these addendums:

7 mil bags ‘print’ less than 5 mil bags, so your contraction won’t be as deep and noticeable as with 5 mil bags.

Flour will not look contracted when complete, you’ll need to examine the bags closely to know for sure, especially the ‘bubble’ at the top of the bag.

Oats have more internal airspace than macaroni.  This one surprised me considering macaroni is kind of hollow.=)

Smaller bags show contraction less, but it should still be noticeable. 

This is the list of foods I’ve done that have shown contraction, stored in 5x8x3 and larger bags:

Dry Goods: Rice, Beans, Oats, Pasta, Wheat

A small sampling of my Freeze dried foods:  Chili, chicken and rice, turkey pepperoni, shredded cheese, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, turkey kielbasa, turkey sausage, breakfast sausage, hash browns, tater rounds, sliced chicken, chunked chicken, apple fries, lasagna, strawberries, Skittles. And many more. My totes are all stacked and sealed, but looking into them I don’t see ANY that AREN’T contracted other than eggs.

Complete list of foods that don’t look contracted when properly sealed: Eggs (freeze dried), Flour (My assumption is other powders will show the same)

If you have food that’s not a powder you are confident is sealed correctly with a properly sized oxygen absorber and doesn’t show contraction, please let me know and I’ll do some testing.

Finally, and I stress this. These are my results. They have been consistent for these two brands of absorbers every time I’ve tested them (which is often), but that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your own testing. If you would like to test the Brand A absorber, this link will let you purchase 1 pack (including shipping) for $6 (basically my cost and shipping, so I’m not making anything here) so you can test for yourself. And then please send me a note with your results!

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or complaints! Thanks!


06 2024

Food Storage Calculator Updates

So as I mentioned last time, I’m trying to update the LDS Food Storage Calculators of old into something that fits my family (and hopefully many other families) better.

To show you where I’m starting from, and where most of the other Food Storage Calculators are basing their numbers, here is an example: LDS Food Storage Calculator

Now, if you are a good cook and are prepared to use those ingredients, more power to you! But right off the bat, in the grains section half of it is devoted to Wheat. First, at least in our family, we have multiple Celiacs and gluten sensitive folks. Those sensitivities are also growing in the general population. So having that high a percentage of wheat is a likely recipe for requiring 2 extra outhouses. Plus, if its a grid-down situation, grinding wheat is a labor-intensive process, and you’ll be burning a good bunch of the calories you’ll get by baking bread.

The legumes is another minor challenge. Again, most families aren’t regularly cooking split peas or soybeans, so I’m adding more of what we eat, and removing things we don’t. As an example, I’m bumping the Peanut Butter up by a factor of 10. It’s easily portable and stores for a couple of years (if you don’t get the organic). One jar of peanut butter (1lb) is basically the equivalent of 1 short day’s worth of calories; you could live on it. Again, Peanuts and Peanut butter are both good storage foods, though like wheat, there’s a lot more people who are allergic to peanuts today than their were 40 years ago, so plan accordingly.

At the end, I hope to have a more usable point to start a conversation on food storage with a bunch of y’all!

If you have a favorite shelf stable (at least 1 year) food you’d like to consider us putting in the new calculator, please let me know!

As always, if you need anything, hit us up at Discount Mylar Bags.

Links: https://www.happypreppers.com/Pioneers.html This is an interesting link to a pioneer crossing the US in the 1800’s, and what they would take with them for a 6 month journey.

https://grandpappy.org/hfoodaff.htm He was the one who came up with the original ‘year’s worth of food’ recipe back in 2008 or so, and updated in for inflation for about 5 years. I can’t find the original list, but I’ve seen in online. You can find his new more modest lists here now. This list is also an inspiration for our new updated FSC. He has an older looking site, but it has a lot of cool stuff available.


03 2024

Updating the Food Storage 1 Year Plan for a New Generation

There are a lot of great preparedness resources out there in a world. There are hundreds of awesome blogs, Youtube channels, Instagram feeds, etc related to prepping. However, I’ve been looking around at the Food Storage Supply ecosystem (the sellers of food storage products), and I realize that even though there are some slick new brands out there, almost all of them are regurgitating products and information that’s been around for years. Some of them have taken information directly from my websites and passed them off as their own. (including one of my own suppliers lol, that was a shock!) A couple have based their entire bag size lines on what we’ve done. They do say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so I guess we’re doing something right!

No company other than Discount Mylar Bags (us) has really added anything new to the space (Such as SteelPak Bags, foil-packed desiccant, slow-acting oxygen absorbers and heat and serve meal pouches) in years, and it doesn’t look like any of them care to. Sure, they’ve got great photos, beautiful packaging and awesome marketing, but that’s what many of the modern companies are…marketing outfits who picked a product that did well over the past few years. Not 2 decade preppers who really want folks storing food. (I apologize if I sound a little frustrated! I am in fact jealous of their marketing talents!=))

One of the most egregious copy and paste jobs I’ve been examining are the Food Storage Calculators that have popped up on some competitors’ pages. The original source of info, the LDS, put together a recommended food storage list based on their average congregant. So yes, I think its a great starting point for a discussion on food storage, and I based my original food storage on it…in 2007. But almost 20 years prepping now and I recognize that for my average customer, these guides are outdated or unrealistic, recommending foods most folks have never cooked with. I would never make these recommendations to beginning preppers. I also think it’s funny that the folks copying these Food Storage Calculators to their websites have the original mis-spellings that have now been copied for multiple generations.=) These competitors aren’t actually looking at them, its just another widget for their website. However, the main problem is the original guide was intended for a group of people who practice homesteading, farming, and being self-sufficient. In 2024, that’s not most preppers.

Now, if that IS you, that’s amazing! But from the beginning, I have been trying to get anyone and everyone prepping. Urban young adults, rural octagenerians, suburban moms…everyone! A week at a time, a month at a time. Just something so that when something bad happens, you have a little to fall back on. Sure, I still think a full year’s worth of food for each person is the gold standard, but if you have an a 20-lb bag of rice, an 18-pack of Kraft Mac and Cheese and 3 boxes of Pop-Tarts put back, you are literally doing better than most of America.

Over the last 5 years I’ve revamped my food storage to more closely match my very picky, not homesteady family…because that’s who we are. Not folks who are prepared to grind hundreds of pounds of wheat when the power goes out, or folks who are going to forage my 30 acres of miserable scrubland looking for herbs. In other words, we’re #preppernormal, not #prepperhardcore. I respect and honor you if you have a homestead and survival skills, it’s just not something that fits our lifestyle. I have enough on my plate trying to keep several small businesses going, helping to home school 4 kids, and find the time to pursue a couple of my own dreams (writing a book, publishing a board game). And somewhere in there I’m trying to squeeze time in to make videos, write a blog, and read some good books.=) So I prep where I can (which mainly means putting stuff back), but I’ll never be Les Stroud. And I long ago came to the conclusion, that’s OK. It’s possible the world may not end, at least not in the post-apocalyptic manner many talk about. It’s possible we go through a long, slow decline a la many empires, where who’s in charge is less important than making sure our families are fed.

So while I wish more folks were super preppers (including myself in a universe where there are 95 hours in a day), from my conversations with 100’s of preppers over more than a dozen years, most are more like my family. Folks putting stuff aside to give a little leg up in an emergency or grid down situation…but we’re not the folks overhauling our entire lifestyle.

So over the next little bit, I am going to revamp and unveil a new, more up-to-date food storage recommendation guide. Yes, it’ll be a little less healthy than the original LDS guide, it’ll have a bit more focus on long shelf-life processed foods, but for many families, it will match our current diets and lifestyles more. And of course, you should always add or subtract foods that fit your family, but I’ll also have the reasons for recommending each food based on my family and experiences.

Next blog, I will let you know what I am using as my starting point, my criteria for including a product on my storage list, and the specifics of how many calories I’m aiming for.


03 2024

Living Free in Tennessee and More

Hey y’all, I know its been a while! God blessed us with an amazing new opportunity, and we’ve been pouring a lot of time and energy into that. One of the things that Discount Mylar Bags has taught us over the years is how to ship things. Since we started, we’ve shipped out over a million packages. Through a combination of providence and coincidence, we are now leveraging that skill set and shipping packages for a great local board game company. That includes their day to day shipments as well as their sometimes $2,000,000 Kickstarters.

Over the years, we’ve always believed in diversification as a form of prepping, because we’ve slowly been pushed off of Amazon by our lack of ‘Amazon Knowledge’. And nowadays, Amazon Knowledge is way more important than actually having a quality product. That’s why my wife and I live frugally, and her most common shopping trip is to Goodwill (This was also true in 2005, long before starting our businesses) . Our focus is our family and serving our community. We’ve opened a game store, started several online businesses dealing with collectibles or gaming accessories, and constantly look out for untapped value in the marketplace. (I found another amazing product, a patent coming off its 20 years, that I hope we’ll be offering before the end of the year!)

So what’s the problem with Amazon, you may ask? Well, the main thing is that the best products can very easily be overshadowed by slick-looking, well marketed products. A few years back, Amazon had to start protecting Name Brand items such as Revlon, Norelco, or Samsung, because no-name white-labelers were just better at marketing than even long-running, ultra-quality name brands, and the good products would be buried 10 pages back. You may remember those days. Nowadays, you’ll usually find a Name Brand on page 1, but you’ll still also find 900 knockoffs from Alibaba also with tens of thousands of positive reviews.

I constantly tell my friends who have their own businesses, or want to start one, that the product you are selling isn’t that important to whether your business is successful or not. Success in many fields today is about whether you can market yourself and your product successfully. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been only modestly successful at my marketing efforts. Whether its our local game store or drive-in, an ecommerce store, a podcast, a blog, or a board game, having a great product is only the very first step in having a successful business. BUT…and this is the crux…if you learn how to drive eyeballs and sales, you can make ANY product successful. Just take a look online and you’ll see the proof of this every day.

My anecdotal story to go with this: for about 2 years I tried 5 different electric razors off of Amazon. This was back in 2016 or so, a few years before the absolute wave of knock-off brands. All 5 razors sucked. I got so fed up because I couldn’t find a decent razor on Amazon, even though every one I bought had thousands of positive reviews. Finally, I went to my local Walgreens and bought a bright-yellow Norelco, the only one they had. 7 years later, and that’s still the one I’m using. Sometimes the name brands got their brand name because they were just good, and reliable. I bought a 15 year old hose off of eBay, because the new generation of stretchy hoses I kept getting from Amazon are just terrible.

This is the place where we’ve found ourselves. My company has the highest rated absorbers and strongest bags (and that’s not just advertising, that’s tested), and we’re back on page 20 behind products that are measurably worse in every way. Many of our competitors have given away thousands of products in exchange for 5 star reviews so it looks like they are much better products than they are, and that’s just something I’m not going to participate in. Now, we’re not folks to dwell on things, so we still do the best we can via our website (Discount Mylar Bags), but the writing is on the wall at least when it comes to the retail market which is dominated by Amazon. We’re doing OK on the wholesale side, selling to companies who use our products to package everything from jerky and horse supplements to freeze-dried foods and archival documents, but even that is a long way from the Halcyon days of COVID when we tripled our staff and moved an insane amount of product (ironically, it was that year of sales that triggered all the computer programs to tell people to start selling prepper supplies).

That was a pretty long intro to say this: if you want the best, highest-rated Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, you won’t find them on Amazon without digging down to page 20. Take a look at this chart (click it to see a larger version):

Now, if you’ve spent some time on Amazon, you’ll recognize most or all of these brands. One of these brands, whose absorbers don’t even absorb their rated capacity of 300cc, has thousands of 5 star reviews, and most of their products are rated 4.5 stars or above overall. The highest rated product (ours), which beats the number 2 brand by almost 35%, can barely be found. That’s the world we’re living in now. Yes, this chart shows what you think it does: our 300cc absorbers tested at 1103cc actual absorption, or nearly 400% their rated capacity. I’m convinced that one of the companies testing under 300cc actual absorption has been selling the wrong sized absorbers, FOR THREE YEARS. And they still have thousands of great reviews. Of course, they’ll never admit that, and they rabidly attack folks on Youtube who suggest that their products are terrible (which they are).

That’s the thing, many of these companies have no idea what Mylar bags or oxygen absorbers are or what they do…they found them via a computer program that told them ‘these things sell good on Amazon, you should buy a bunch and make a listing’. Many of them are simply choosing the least expensive bags and absorbers they can find, relabeling it with their name, and marketing the crap out of it. And sadly, it works. The next chart is for Mylar Bags. Same story, ours are better by a long way. I’ve got MOCON permeation testing (OTR and MVTR) in the works, and I fully expect those results to be consistent as well.

But this is my commitment: I’ll keep showing the charts and information, and hope that a few make the choice to buy Just Better Bags. We’ve been here 13 years, which is 7 years longer than any other company on these lists except Harvest Right, and 10 years longer than several. I hope we’ll be here 13 more and one of my daughters takes it over and runs it better than I do.

So that’s that, but what about the name of this post? Living Free in Tennessee is the name of my friend Nicole’s podcast and media empire! She has a 800+ episode podcast, roasts her own coffee, and has an amazing homestead. Her and a friend company are putting on an awesome event this weekend (the Self Reliance Festival, Oct 14-15, Camden, TN), and that’s where we’ll be!

Thanks y’all, I love you, and am very grateful for the crazy awesome life y’all have helped make possible!


10 2023

AI Risks for Preppers – Part II – ChatGPT and Friends

End of the World Listening: Operation Mindcrime

Slow-motion EOTW: South Korea fertility rate is .84

I’m putting this one at the top; it just came out today. OpenAI creates team to manage superintelligent AI (you know, Skynet) “The company said it believes superintelligence could arrive this decade. It said it would dedicate 20% of the already secured compute power to the effort” (of figuring out how to keep it from killing us)

Humanity just can’t help ourselves, can we? “The vast power of superintelligence could…lead to the disempowerment of humanity or even human extinction,” OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever and head of alignment Jan Leike wrote in a blog post. “Currently, we don’t have a solution for steering or controlling a potentially superintelligent AI, and preventing it from going rogue.”

One thing I think is so funny (in a dark Terminator kind of way) is that even as we plow full speed ahead on AI, there is this insane belief that we will be able to ‘manage and control’ whatever entities we create (assuming we create any). Maybe for the first 15 minutes they exist; after that, we should prepare to serve our new robot overlords. Here is a company that literally says it is trying to create an entity which in their own words ‘could…lead to human extinction’…and we all think…eh, what are the odds?

Even if the worst-case never comes to pass, the Internet needs to prepare for a day when the vast majority of content is generated by AI, not humans. Sorting signal from noise will be nearly impossible. I saw this a month ago when the art sites started getting overwhelmed by AI content. Perhaps this will force us back to communicating in the real world? One can hope!

AI News and Information Links:

ChatGPT passes medical board exam

ChatGPT passes law and business exams

ChatGPT passes Bar exam, better this time (2 months later) in the 90th percentile of test takers

Schools and Colleges ban use of AI (January)

Some Schools and Colleges telling kids and teachers to capitalize on AI (May)

Something I said last post: we won’t be able to know reality online “”When anything can be faked, everything can be fake,” McGregor told CNN. “Knowing that generative AI has reached this tipping point in quality and accessibility, we no longer know what reality is when we’re online.”

Lawyer sanctioned for citing fake cases generated by AI (we laugh, but most of us are going to fall for AI generated content at some point or another)

AI better at diagnosing your medical condition better than a general practitioner

More of that

AI provides more compassionate care

AI Debates Expert Debater (IBM’s Project Debater)

Old Article (2017), but Important: AI creates a better AI to do a task, outperforms similarly created Human software (this is what I consider one of the core concerns about AI…the ability to replicate easily with a focus on new instruction sets)

Large Language Model AI’s sometimes make stuff up (Bonus creepiness: “The model at times tries to respond or reflect in the tone in which it is being asked to provide responses that can lead to a style we didn’t intend,”; I can’t wait for my Emo daughters to start conversing with Bing)

Coders trick ChatGPT into creating sophisticated Malware (This is one part of getting us to a properly Cyberpunk dystopia)

Novice creates end-to-end computer virus using ChatGPT (Deckers, unite!)

AI is going to destroy the dopamine response among humans (IE. 90% of porn will be generated by AI within 5 years, and you will have access to personalized videos that can be altered on the fly) (The Screwfly Solution)

General AI thoughts (and the 10-20% chance of humanity surviving cite)

3900 Tech Jobs lost in May to AI; Hiring Going Forward to Focus on those with AI Skills – I’ve been telling every teen and young person I know to get interested in AI if they want to have a real career path. Either that, or learn a trade, any of them, which are all in desperate need of employees.

Restraining AI with AI (This suggests our only hope lies in giving AI the same competitive natures that caused all the wars and blood in history. This article does touch on something else important; regulation won’t work because it works at a humans/snails pace compared to algorithmically improving AI. The big challenge I see to this article’s approach is the same we have if Aliens have ever truly visited earth…one generation of AI (or one single AI) would likely get light-years ahead in terms of ‘power’ (and it could happen in time frames we can’t even monitor), similar to the big bad in the Boys, to where no one and nothing could hold it accountable)

Chat-Powered Toys – And you thought Teddy Ruxpin was creepy.

China has AI goals too – one thing we know for certain is that even if the western world comes up with a smart regulatory regime (unlikely, IMO), our enemies won’t feel bound to do the same.

Military Examining AI Use – What could go wrong?

Hollywood worried about AI (Boo hoo?) – Most think AI will hurt entertainment quality….HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – I’d say 1 in 100 shows coming out of Hollywood is worth watching

AI Robots as Caregivers – This seems pretty useful!


One trend I’ve noticed while reading about emerging AI risks/rewards is the tendency to be in the Doomsday-is-Around-The-Corner camp (though not so straightforwardly put, also here) or the ‘this can’t possibly go wrong camp.’ One erroneous line of thinking by the 2nd group goes like this ‘hey, you were wrong about X terrible scenario (One example here) so AI is safe and full of sunshine and rainbows.’

I think discernment is going to be important going forward…most of the media simply can’t be trusted on AI reporting, as they don’t have any reasonable expertise on the subject. (As usual, they’ll put a lot of words on paper though.) I’ll be the first to admit, neither do I, and so I take everything I read with a grain of salt, and advise you do too also (hence all the links so you can catch up yourself!). For example, the folks at Less Wrong seem both knowledgeable and sane, and seem to cover a broad range of AI subjects. However, this article sounds sane, and still puts ‘humanity’s chance of surviving the next 50 years at 10-20%.’ I wonder if I am so conditioned, even subconsciously, that I want to believe that’s a crazy thing to say, but in the totality of my research, I’m not so sure. (And yes, I’ve implied the same on occasion, but I know I’m crazy, and much of what I say is tongue-in-cheek)

I think my increasing cynicism (as compared to my earlier writings on preparedness) has to do with ‘guardrails’. I used to feel that between the media, the government, and benevolent corporations, while not always worthy of ‘trust’ exactly, would have their interests aligned with the people enough to force them to protect us whether they really felt like it or not. I no longer believe that’s the case. I do believe we are at the beginning of our Cyberpunk moment, and we will look back and say, this is when it all started.

How can I say that? It looks very likely that 2 governments (ours and China’s) are responsible for 7 million COVID deaths, and there is not a peep about folks being fired or responsibility being accepted for that. Folks, that’s a death toll greater than all but a dozen or so conflicts in history. Are we so inured to numbers that large we don’t even register it anymore? The combined regime of government, media and social media companies are responsible for trillions in economic damage, millions of lost businesses and jobs, and untold damage to the social fabric. And yet we move on with our lives in a haze of, ‘whatevs, let’s just get on with it’. I know, I know, what else are we supposed to do?

So as I mentioned last time when talking about reasons why I prep, I am more concerned with the entities created to protect us being the bad actors in nearly any scenario, including an AI-doomsday one. In that case, who is left to provide the guardrails? A media that doesn’t understand it? A science corps that relies on government largess for their livelihoods? Just like there was a little button on the CDC’s desk that said ‘I think experimenting with making a virus more potent and more transmissible is a good idea…such a good idea that while we can’t get away with it in America, we’ll just send some cash to our communist friends in Asia, and they’ll help us out. What can go wrong?’ These are the people we’ve put in charge. It is such a ridiculous combination of incompetence and malevolence, that I have to blame our social-media soma-endorphin-haze that we haven’t marched on DC with torches and pitchforks.

Even (and especially) when the government means well, very few want to call out the negligence and failure of the powers that be, for fear that we’d claw back some of the untold responsibilities we’ve given it. Take the original Food Pyramid. Now, for those of us who read Gary Taubes life-changing ‘Why We Get Fat‘, we see immediately what is wrong with this government created and approved guide to living our lives. The entire bottom of the pyramid are the foods we should be eating the least of: pure carbs. And the fats and oils we should be eating more of? At the top. And yet this is what we were told to eat to be healthy, going back to bad advice given by bad science as early as the 1920’s. (I seriously can’t recommend Gary’s book enough; I have bought and given away many copies, that’s how important it is) How many people have died due to Diabetes, Heart Disease and the occasional correlation to any number of other ‘western’ diseases because of it? If we put together a list of deaths caused by advice, experiments, and ‘good intentions’ by government, I wonder how many people it would be? 8 figures surely.

The reason I keep going down this particular rabbit hole and relating it to prepping is that there simply aren’t enough bodies looking out for threats against the populace. Combine that with the many actors worldwide who are actively pursuing the worst AI can do, and you don’t just have 1 potential black-swan scenario, you have hundreds or thousands.

Similar to the question above, do you really believe there isn’t some bureaucrat somewhere asking ChatGPT, ‘How do I make a worse COVID?’ or ‘How do I use AI to perpetuate my own power?’

If you have any good articles on AI you’ve read, good or bad or examples of either, send it my way and we’ll add it to this list if needed!

Food, water, fire, shelter, light. In triplicate if possible. Do a little every day to make yourself and your household more resilient. Once you have that down, think about what rebuilding an agrarian society looks like.

Love y’all, peace!


07 2023