Seeking to outsmart US, China races ahead on artificial intelligence

Chinese students work on the Ares, a humanoid bipedal robot designed by them with funding from a Shanghai investment company, displayed during the World Robot Conference in Beijing on Oct. 21, 2016. China’s goal is to transform the country into a global leader in artificial intelligence in just over a decade. (Ng Han Guan AP)

 

When a Google computer program beat the world’s best player of an ancient Chinese board game last May, it might have seemed like an incremental milestone.

But for some, the success of the program known as AlphaGo marked more than a man vs. machine clash. It set up a broader race between China and the United States over artificial intelligence, a competition that could mold the future of humankind just as the widespread arrival of electricity did in the last century.

The Go tournament took place in Wuzhen, a city of canals that is more than 1,300 years old, a fitting venue for a competition involving the strategy board game Go that has been played for several thousand years. Go is renowned for its complexity, and it is said that there are more variations to the game than there are atoms in the universe.

Perhaps it was a coincidence of timing, but the AlphaGo competition kicked off events that demonstrated China’s resolve to close the gap with — and quickly surpass — the United States in deploying artificial intelligence, or AI. Goals Chinese authorities announced last July are ambitious: Reach parity with the United States by 2020, achieve major breakthroughs by 2025, and “occupy the commanding heights of AI technology by 2030” as the world’s undisputed leader.

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SPAIN ON THE BRINK: Deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont ‘refuses to be fired’ and vows to fight Madrid direct rule

Carles Puigdemont delivered a speech to say he would not acknowledge his dismissal (Image: AP: Associated Press)

 

Spain remains on a knife-edge as tensions between both sides continue to grow, with brawls already having broken out in Barcelona last night

As the Spanish government held its first meeting to discuss their new roles since imposing direct rule over Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont instead promised to continue to build a “free country”, and called for “democratic opposition” to Madrid.

In the pre-recorded, televised message, Puigdemont urged people to continue pushing for independence, saying: “We do not deviate: we continue persevering in the only attitude that can make us winners.

“Without violence, without insults, in an inclusive way, respecting people and symbols, opinions, and also respecting the protests of the Catalans who do not agree with what has decided the parliamentary majority.” Continue reading

Trump Takes On The Deep State

This is an article that merits a lot of attention. It explains what Donald Trump is really up against: A renegade “Deep State” that does what it wants, regardless of who is President, and can outlast many presidencies.

For archiving purposes, the article will remain in full here.

 

The tweet heard ’round the intelligence world.

 

 

  • Donald Trump engages in war of words with outgoing CIA head
  • Trump policies on trade, foreign policy depart from longstanding norms
  • Past events point to policymaking powers beyond elected officials
  • Russian relations a major sticking point between Trump, much of gov’t
  • Aggressive stance towards China could result in enormous market volatility

Last Sunday, US president-elect Donald Trump launched one of his now-trademark series of broadsides against the CIA, claiming that the latest series of leaks concerning his alleged misuse of a Moscow hotel suite previously occupied by president Barack Obama was a “complete fraud”.

Trump then compared the US intelligence regime to Nazi Germany in a tweet that called the leak, which alleged various colourful activities involving prostitutes, “fake news […] one last shot at me”. Continue reading

Greece debt crisis: PM Alexis Tsipras faces Syriza mutiny after capitulating to demands

As was said just yesterday.

 

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras returned to face a mutiny within his coalition after he surrendered to European demands for action to qualify for up to 86 billion euros ($127.8 billion) of aid Greece needs to stay in the euro.

With two factions in his government already saying they won’t support the deal, Tsipras met with his closest aides as he tries to stop the revolt from spreading before a vote in parliament on Wednesday. Creditors’ demands include an overhaul of sales tax, a broadening of the tax base and a clampdown on pension costs.

Tsipras will “have to change his administration and clear out hardliners and radicals from his party,” as well as rely on opposition support to pass the necessary measures, said Eurasia Group analysts Mujtaba Rahman and Federico Santi. “But it is a tough call to determine how Tsipras will go about doing this.” Continue reading

Report: ‘Geopolitics Is Back’ for 2015

The year 2015 will be rife with conflict and turmoil to a degree not seen in decades. That’s the forecast from Eurasia Group, a consulting and research firm based in the United States that focuses on examining the affects of political events and trends on international markets.

“Geopolitics is back,” says the firm’s Top Risks 2015 report, published on January 5. “As 2015 begins, political conflict among the world’s great powers is in play more than at any time since the end of the Cold War,” the report noted. “Russia is lashing out, the Middle East is fragmenting, Islamic radicalism is expanding, and Europe faces challenges on all of these fronts.” Continue reading

Saudi Arabia may seek IMF sway in exchange for riches

Saudi Arabia, which has more than $500bn in foreign assets, may demand a greater share of voting rights at the International Monetary Fund in exchange for providing the lender with more money.

Saudi Arabia’s reserve position at the Washington-based fund more than doubled to SR18.2bn ($4.9bn) last year from SR7.4bn in 2010, according to Saudi central bank data. In 2007, it had a SR2.7bn position with the IMF, the data showed. The cost to insure Saudi debt on Jan 31 was less than half the Middle East sovereign average, according to data provider CMA.

The IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who visits the kingdom’s capital on Feb 4, has urged members states to contribute $500bn in new lending resources to avoid a 1930s-style global depression. Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf last week said that the world’s top oil exporter may be willing to raise its contribution to the fund.

“The Saudi government will be looking for a greater say in the disbursement and that is where the more difficult negotiations will take place,” Crispin B. Hawes, director for the Middle East and North Africa at the Eurasia Group, said by telephone from London.

The IMF is pushing China, Brazil, Russia, India, Japan and oil-exporting nations to be the top contributors, according to a G-20 official, who spoke on condition of anonymity last month because the talks are private. The fund wants a deal struck at the Feb 25- 26 meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bankers in Mexico City, the official said.

Full article: Saudi Arabia may seek IMF sway in exchange for riches (Arabian Business)