The world examined – Ethics of AI, the Arrival Fallacy and ongoing devastation

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This series scans the latest research and developments in the realms of science, academia, technology and geopolitics, providing a glance at the ever changing world

GEOPOLITICS

India: Ongoing devastation

The recent riots in New Delhi, India have seen dozens killed and at least 150 injured. The Muslim-Hindu battleground in the capital was described by the BBC as “the deadliest violence the Indian capital has seen in decades” and both Muslims and Hindus have been murdered.

However, this time, mosques and the Muslim populace have been hurt more so. These riots emerged as President Trump toured the capital. “The violence is connected to the continuing protests against India’s divisive citizenship law, but this was the first time that the protests have set off major bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims”, the New York Times reported (nytimes.com, 25 February 2020).

The fundamental issue was reported by the paper as being “the citizenship law” issued by Prime Minister Modi’s government that revoked the autonomy of Muslim areas of Kashmir and enforced a citizenship test in northeastern India, that has potentially made millions stateless, most of them Muslim.

The New York Times also noted that the citizen law “makes it easier for migrants of every significant South Asian religion except Islam to become Indian citizens. Hundreds of thousands of Indian Muslims have protested, joined by students, academics, human rights activists and those worried about the country’s direction. Many of them say the new law is a grave threat to India’s traditions as a secular and inclusive nation.” The riots and tensions are far from over, and further Hindu-Muslim tensions are feared.

GOOD TO KNOW

The Arrival Fallacy

Celebrities, sports stars and the famous are known to commit, at surprise, suicide. The natural question is, why? After all, they had all the wealth they could imagine and the fame to go with it. One reason presented by psychologists relates to the “Arrival Fallacy”. This notion states that human beings, when striving for a goal, feel empty and unfulfilled when they finally achieve the “goal”. Harvard Psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar in his book Happier: Learn The Secrets To Daily Joy And Lasting Fulfillment described the arrival fallacy as the belief that when one arrives at a certain destination, they’ll “be happier”; however there is always another hill to climb. Achieving a goal may bring temporary happiness but “then the same stress and pressure and emptiness” returns, according to Tal. Others, like George Parsons and Richard Pascale have called this the Summit Syndrome. Humans believe that once they “make it” they’ll be “happy”. But this, according to psychologists, is just a fallacy as there is no real end.

HEALTH

Coronavirus far from over

The Coronavirus continues to expand its web and now infects countries outside of China more than inside it for the first time, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Up to date, it has spread across the Middle East and Europe with particularly worrying levels in Italy and Iran. Brazil became the first Latin American country to confirm the coronavirus infection in Brazil. South Korea has also failed to stop the virus from entering its borders despite a desperate try. American health officials have said that it was a matter of “when, not if, the virus would invade American shores” according to the New York Times. We highly encourage all to begin and continue to take the homeopathic medicine Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, may Allah be his Helper, has prescribed (details of the whole prescription can be found in Al Hakam, 7 February, 2020).

BIOLOGY

Humans and bees have similar brains Bees provide the foundation of diversity on earth, without them, plants cannot reproduce and there are more than 20,000 species of bees across the world. In a recent discovery “that could open new avenues for understanding of the brain”, scientists have drawn similarities between the brain activity of honey bees and humans. “The research revealed that alpha oscillations in bees (the wave-like electrical activity brains generate) have similar properties as in our human brains” (Phys.org, 26 February, 2020) Paul Szyszka, Lecturer in the University of Otago’s Department of Zoology, said “…as alpha oscillations are associated with brain functions such as; attention, memory, and consciousness, bee brains may provide new avenues to understanding how our own brains work.” He further explained that “…bees can learn to associate odors with food in a similar way to humans. What we want to do now is examine how these alpha oscillations change in different situations. As a neuroethologist, I’m interested in how bees’ alpha oscillations change during natural behaviors, for example when a bee forages or sleeps…” The Lecturer also pointed out the benefits of this study, “By studying the brains of bees we can overcome these limitations and apply that knowledge to research, and eventually perhaps even to treatment, of human brains.” (phys.com, 26 February, 2020)

TECH

Ethical worries about AI and tech

As humans begin to closely brush shoulders with Artificial Technology at an astonishing speed, researchers from Imperial College London have suggested setting up regulating frameworks “with which governments can minimise unintended consequences of our relationship with technology.” Their suggestions were published in Nature Machine Intelligence. Currently there is no internationally accepted regulation of who has (or does not have) access to certain information, for example, data from voice enabled personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa etc. “The proposed framework, known as the Human Impact Assessment for Technology (HIAT), would be designed to predict and evaluate the impact that new digital technologies have on society and individual wellbeing. This, they argue, should focus on ethical considerations like individual privacy, wellbeing and autonomy…” wrote Caroline Brogan from Imperial College London. (techexplore.com, 26 February, 2020)

Heart-breaking pain in Syria

Millions of innocent Syrians continue to experience atrocities with planes blindly dropping bombs on women, children and men. This war has continued for the last nine years. “Many are living in tents or sleeping out in the open in the freezing cold. Iman Leila was just one of nine children who died of exposure in recent weeks … The exodus is the largest of a war that has displaced 13 million people and taken hundreds of thousands of lives, and ranks among the largest in recent history, second only to the flight of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar in 2017. With about three million residents trapped between a sealed Turkish border to the north and bombs and shells thundering up from the south and east, the crisis has the potential to grow far worse as the government battles to reclaim all of Syria.” Wrote Vivian Yee and Hwaida Saad for the New York Times (nytimes.com, 26 February, 2020) We pray for the world to come to its senses and for absolute justice to prevail.

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