Hopes and fears of an AI future

In these summer months, lunchtime walks have become a near-daily event for me. Even when it isn’t sunny it’s at least warm. While I walk I tend to listen to something stimulating – a radio 4 program or podcast – but I’m fast exhausting my familiar listening material.

This week I’m giving Sinica a go. It’s a podcast broadly about China, where the hosts invite a special guest to help them cover one specific issue each episode. Yesterday lunchtime I listened to an episode from June, Kai-Fu Lee on Artificial Intelligence in China, and I include below a ~6 minute segment from the end of the episode, which is the focus of this post.

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Stealing independence

It’s Independence Day in America. The declaration on this day, July 4th, in 1776 was the culmination of many decades of becoming a distinct nation, apart from and opposed to the British crown. But how did the America of 1776, this brand new nation out of nothing, come to be, and how did those 13 precarious colonies turn into the continental superpower of today?

In this post I’m going to look at just one specific facet of the development of the United States of America, and it’s relevance to us all and the unjust capitalist system we endure.

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The Qatar question – a primer

I don’t know an awful lot about contemporary Middle Eastern politics, but this week’s panellists on the Talking Politics podcast clearly do.

Qatar have until tomorrow to agree to all 13 of the very exacting demands set by four neighbouring Arab states – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – on June 23rd. After this time, they will face economic and political sanctions; blockades and diplomatic isolation. This is a sudden and dramatic action that wildly destabilises the Middle East, and we should be under no illusions as to its potential future impact on us all.

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Different lives, different values

After opening the nation’s wallet to the tune of a billion pounds for the DUP, in their desperate attempt to cling to power, the Conservatives were feeling generous this week. It was reported on Tuesday that they’ve awarded the Queen a juicy 8% pay rise, increasing her taxpayers’ grant by a cool £6 million a year to £82.2 million.

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Another summer lunchtime walk

After getting back to back punctures (arrghhhh!!!), my bike is waiting for a new tyre to arrive, so the only option for me to enjoy the sun at lunch is to walk. The upside of this is that I’ve got some new photos for my blog!

You can see in a couple of these the rapid pace of development all over Exeter’s eastern suburbs. While I’m sad to see the inexorable spread of concrete, steel and cement over our green hills, it’s still nothing against what is happening to China, and I would also like a house of my own to live in.

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