From CNet/Future of Life Institute: Autonomous weapons use Artificial Intelligence to select and engage targets without human intervention. Now, a think tank backed by scientist Stephen Hawking and entrepreneur Elon Musk, among others, offers a graphic warning against machines that decide whom to kill. This fictional video underscores how seriously these experts view the issue.
Richard Eckersley writes: The core flaw in the dominant model of progress arises from the equation of progress with modernisation, especially the processes of cultural Westernisation and material progress (measured as economic growth). Global politics is based on this outmoded and increasingly destructive model of human progress and development. Can science change a dire situation?
Atul Sood writes: Why are we not talking about the facts on the ground amidst the cacophonic discourse of the success of the Gujarat model? The need to impose Section 144 every time the Vibrant Gujarat Submit is organized symbolizes one pillar of ‘managing’ support for the model. The cultural narrative is the other pillar.
From The Transnational Institute: Women everywhere are leading struggles against corporate crimes and defending their communities and the dignity of all people, risking their lives in the process. To introduce our 2018 report on counter-power, we interviewed three women activists who have displayed incredible courage, determination and creativity to confront corporate power and state violence.
India’s income inequality in 2017 may be worse than what it was during the British Raj. According to a new paper titled ‘Indian income inequality, 1922-2014: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj?’ penned by renowned economists Thomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel, India witnessed a sharp rise in the incomes of top 1 per cent post 1980s.
From The Hindu: From a severely critical stand against Aadhaar in 2014, the Modi-led BJP in power has made a sharp U-turn to bulldoze its way into having every Indian scanned, tagged and labelled. As the Supreme Court begins hearing of petitions that challenge Aadhaar, a timeline of the country’s chequered date with the project.
Shelley Kasli writes: Recent changes in India’s foreign direct investment policy allows 100 percent FDI (from current 49%) for single brand retail trading and construction, among others, paving the way for global players. In reality, India is being drawn into the spiral of debt economics to protect the American Dream from turning into a Nightmare.
From WSWS/Automatic Earth: Bitcoin has been hailed as the currency of the future; and dismissed as a bubble at best, or a tool for organised crime at worst. But one thing is clear; its soaring demand is a direct result of a broken global financial system trusted by nobody and on the verge of breakdown.
From Newsclick: Prof. Tejal Kanitkar, who heads the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies at TISS, says that while the government’s National Energy Policy claims it will provide 24×7 electricity to the entire nation by 2022, this lies in contradiction with the mode through which they plan ensure its distribution; that is, the market.
Displacing pastoralists, displacing smallholder farmers, arresting and charging them as terrorists if they protest–and the land is given away to foreign investors to grow what? Sugar and cotton. Imagine trucks full of food aid coming into Ethiopia, while trucks full of cotton and sugar are leaving the country. Hunger in Africa is a political problem.
Devinder Sharma writes: In the 12-year period between 2004-05 and 2015-16, total tax concessions given by the Indian government to industry almost equals a whopping Rs 50-lakh crore. If these tax concessions were eliminated and the additional revenue generated was instead used effectively for social betterment programmes, India could have made hunger and poverty history.
Recently, a powerful feature by The Guardian reported on the US’ accelerating farmer suicide crisis, part of a global farmer suicide crisis, which most acutely manifests in India. Layton Ehmke, farmer-turned-journalist, writes on how there’s no way to make a living growing food in America, and how poverty and shame are driving some to suicide.
Alberto Villarreal writes: Trade deals affect people’s everyday lives from the food we eat to the energy we use, and should not be discussed behind closed doors. And yet, this is exactly what is happening at this year’s upcoming World Trade Organization meeting in Buenos Aires from 10-13 December. Also, Noam Chomsky on the WTO.
Whoever wins the Gujarat elections, its clear that as a political idea, the Gujarat development model is floundering, and may never be revived. It may have been a textbook case of what development should not be like, but given the powerful interests it serves, it’s still likely to haunt India’s policies for years to come.
From Down to Earth: GDP does not reveal the ground truth about progress in development. The top 10% of Indians control the wealth basket while the common people—more than one billion—slide down along ‘Hunger Index’. While the government flaunts a surging economy, prevalence of hunger in India is at the “high end of serious category”.
Recent studies show that those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not. Why? Because, environmental awareness is higher among wealthy people. It’s not attitudes that govern our impacts on the planet, but income. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions.
The world’s top 1 percent held 45.5 percent of all household wealth in 2000. Now, they hold 50.1 percent, according to research by Credit Suisse. The Mukesh Ambani family, the only Indian family in Asia’s top 10 families, is also the richest in the continent, as its net worth rose $19 billion to $44.8 billion.
With the Bonn climate talks currently underway, a new report reveals how big business has been actively undermining these crucial negotiations. The most shocking revelation is that since the beginning of United Nations-led climate change talks they have been funded by exactly the same companies that depend for their existence on the burning of fossil fuels.
India has just climbed an unprecedented 30 spots on the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” ranking, which’s being celebrated as a historic moment by the mainstream media. This Down to Earth report shows how this ‘achievement’ has come at a possibly permanent damage to the environment, thanks to a steady dilution of regulatory norms.