Thursday, 27 July 2017
Tensions over nuclear weapons have been raised further after North Korea claimed to have successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile.
This latest move comes amid increasing concern over North Korea's military capabilities, with the new US administration upping its rhetoric in response.
While the Pyongyang regime increases the frequency with which it is conducting missile tests, Donald Trump's defence secretary Jim 'Mad Dog' Mattis has warned North Korea of an "effective and overwhelming" response if Pyongyang used nuclear weapons.
Elsewhere, rhetoric hints at a return of the expansion of nuclear arsenals across the world. In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of defence chiefs that strengthening nuclear capability should be a key objective for 2017. Donald Trump then took to Twitter to respond, vowing to do the same.
Such rhetoric has led to concerns about the world's nuclear capacity and the unpredictability of those in charge of the warheads.
It seems the world is a long way from "coming to its senses" - with millions of kilotons already in military service around the world.
Between them, the world's nuclear-armed states have around 15,000 warheads - the majority of which belong to the US and Russia.
It is estimated that just under 10,000 of these are in military service, with the rest awaiting dismantlement, according to the Arms Control Association.
Which countries have nuclear weapons?
There are five nuclear-weapon states in the world: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States. These are officially recognized as possessing such weapons by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
This treaty acknowledges and legitimizes their arsenals, but they are not supposed to build or maintain them forever. Indeed, they have committed to eliminate them.
There are also four other countries that have nuclear weapons: Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea. These countries didn't sign the Treaty, and together possess an estimated 340 nuclear weapons.
But it's Russia and the US that have by far the most in the world - dominating all other countries by collectively sharing 88 per cent of the world's arsenal of stockpiled nukes. This figure increases to 93 per cent when we consider retired nukes.
How deadly could these nuclear weapons be?
The world's current collection of 14,900 nuclear weapons possesses enough power to kill millions of people and flatten dozens of cities.
According to Telegraph research, it is estimated that the US and Russian arsenals combined have power equating to 6,600 megatons. This is a tenth of the total solar energy received by Earth every minute.
According to the NukeMap website, the dropping of the B-83, the largest bomb in the current US arsenal, would kill 1.4m people in the first 24 hours. A further 3.7m people would be injured, as the thermal radiation radius reached 13.km.
Likewise, the "Tsar Bomba" is the largest USSR bomb tested. If this bomb was dropped on New York, it is estimated that it could kill 7.6m people and injure 4.2m more. The nuclear fallout could reach an approximate area of 7,880km on a 15mph wind, impacting millions more people.
Both America and Russia's arsenals are regulated by several treaties that place limits on the numbers and kinds of warheads and delivery systems they have.
If either country were to expand their nuclear capacity even further, as Trump and Putin have hinted at, it could shatter these agreements and plunge the world into a new Cold War.
The figures on nuclear weapons, based on statistics from the Arms Control Association, are mainly estimates because of the secretive nature with which most governments treat information about their arsenals.
Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla (TSLA) and Space X, recently sounded the alarm that murderous artificial intelligence-powered robots could one day rampage through American neighborhoods. And the only way to stop them, he said, is to begin regulating AI before it destroys us all.
Musk’s warnings that AI poses an “existential threat” may have been a bit dramatic, but he’s not the only expert hoping for some kind of government regulation of AI. And as companies from Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) to Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) continue pouring money into the field, those regulations may be needed sooner than later.
AI on the market
Carnegie Mellon’s Manuela Veloso, an expert on AI, doesn’t believe we’re even close to the point where an army of T-1000s will march down Broadway and demand our fealty.
But we should have regulations of any AI-created products that reach the mass market to ensure the safety of consumers, according to Veloso, department head of the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science.
“I believe there should be regulation [of AI] the same way if you and I would create some kind of milk in a factory,” Veloso said, noting that the Food and Drug Administration, for example, would have to approve a “new kind of milk” before it reached the general public.
Veloso, however, draws the line at regulating AI research. Instead, she believes scientists should be able to push the limits of AI as far as they can in the safety of their labs.
“I think the research, before it becomes a product, you can experiment, you can research or anything, otherwise we’ll never advance the discoveries of AI,” she said.
Regulating AI like people
Bain & Company’s Chris Brahm, meanwhile, believes AI should be regulated not just when it serves the mass market, but also when it’s tasked with performing the same jobs we regulate humans — jobs like banking.
“Today, as a society we have clearly decided that certain types of human decision making need to be regulated in order to protect citizens and consumers. Why then would we not, if machines start making those decisions … regulate the decision making in some form or fashion?” he said.
Who regulates the AI?
So researchers and experts agree that there should be regulations put into place. The big question, though, is who will create those rules.
The government doesn’t have a regulatory body dedicated to ensuring that AI is properly vetted, and while it may not be able to stomp around crushing cars, the technology is already beginning to permeate our society from our smartphones to our hospitals.
It doesn’t look like such a body will take shape and begin offering rules anytime soon, either. A House panel only recently began discussing regulations for self-driving cars, and those, in some states, are already on highways and residential streets.
“Generating and enforcing such regulations can be very hard, but we can take it as a challenge,” Veloso said.
So while Musk’s fear that the robot apocalypse is nearly upon us might be farfetched, his concerns over whether the government can implement any kind of regulations in a timely fashion are very real.
Sunday, 23 July 2017
Anya Shrubsole bowled England to a dramatic nine-run win over India in the Women's World Cup final at Lord's on Sunday.
India, set 229 to win, were well on course for victory at 191 for three in front of a full hose of more than 26,000.
But the dismissal of opener Punam Raut, who made a fine 86, lbw to Shrubsole, sparked a stunning collapse.
Shrubsole took five wickets for 11 runs in 19 deliveries as India, bidding for a first World Cup title on the ground where their men's side won an inaugural World Cup crown in 1983, slumped to 219 all out.
Pace bowler Shrubsole finished with stunning figures of six for 46 in 9.4 overs as England won a fourth World Cup title and third on home soil, by gaining revenge for their opening group stage loss to India.
Opener Smriti Mandhana -- who made 90 in that match -- was bowled for a duck by Shrubsole.
But fellow opener Raut hit Shrubsole back over her head for six.
Meanwhile India captain Mithali Raj, in what was, together with fellow 34-year-old Jhulan Goswami, likely to be her last chance to win a World Cup after being on the losing side in 2005, struck several fine boundaries.
But the all-time leading run-scorer in women's one-day internationals, effectively ran herself out for just 17.
Her exit brought in the big-hitting Harmanpreet Kaur, whose stunning 171 not out had set up India's semi-final win over reigning champions Australia.
Kaur lofted and swept left-arm spinner Alex Hartley for two huge sixes.
Raut went to fifty in 78 balls and Kaur got there in 80 balls.
But the duo were separated when Kaur swept Harley straight to Tammy Beaumont at deep backward square to end a stand of 95.
Sarah Taylor, arguably the best wicket-keeper in the women's game, then missed a chance to stump Raut, on 65 off spinner Laura Marsh.
Another chance went begging when Veda Krishnamurthy (10) was dropped by England captain Heather Knight at extra cover off pace bowler Jenny Gunn.
India's target was now under a run a ball and Veda Krishnamurthy raised a fifty stand with Raut off just 54 balls when she cut Shrubsole over point and drove her over mid-off for two fours in as many balls.
Raut's fine innings ended when she was lbw to Shrubsole, having faced 115 balls including four fours and a six.
It was the start of a cascade of wickets as panic set in.
Krishnamurthy made a fine 35 before she holed out off Shrubsole before Goswami was yorked by Shrubsole for a duck.
Shika Pandey was run out before Shrusbole, after Jenny Gunn had dropped a simple catch, ended the match by bowling Rajeshwari Gayakwad for a duck as England won yet another close game this World Cup.
Earlier pace bowler Goswami took three for 23 in 10 overs as India held England to 228 for seven.
Goswami's haul, which saw her take two wickets in two balls, included the dismissals of star batsman Taylor (45) and top-scorer Nat Sciver (51).
England started steadily after Knight won the toss.
But from 47 for none, they lost three wickets in quick succession to be 63 for three, with leg-spinner Poonam Yadav (two for 36) having Knight lbw for just one on the sweep.
Taylor and Sciver put on 83 before Goswami, the all-time leading wicket-taker in women's ODIs, struck in her second spell.
Taylor was caught down the legside by wicket-keeper Sushma Verma.
And 146 for four became 146 for five when Fran Wilson was lbw for a golden duck next ball.
But England's tail, with Katherine Brunt making 34, took them past 200 and those runs proved vital in the end.