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Showing posts from May 16, 2021

The worsening security situation between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan deserves more international attention

The worsening security situation between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan deserves more international attention The tensions between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are on the rise, as the two countries are - once again - clashing over access to land and water. The latest incident took place in late April and early May, when 50 people died and almost 280 were wounded in a conflict that escalated into heaviest fighting in years. The majority of casualties were civilians, and most of the damage occurred on the Kyrgyz side of the border. In the latest FIIA Comment, Research Fellow Kristiina Silvan notes that despite the quickly negotiated ceasefire between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the worst may be yet to come. The escalation of the conflict can be explained by short-term factors, such as the nationalist rhetoric of the leaders of the two countries. As the countries appear incapable of resolving their border issues on their own, no ceasefire can be deemed permanent. According to Silvan, the situation

Why are humans so bad at predicting the future?

NASA AMES RESEARCH CENTER. A view of our space-bound future from the 1970s. FROM OUR SPECIAL PROJECT The World in 50 Years By  Alexandra Ossola Deputy membership editor November 20, 2019 If you have a few thousand dollars to spare and tire of investing in index funds, you might try something a bit more speculative: the futures market. Here, investors can use their money to buy a commodity (say, gold or coffee) at a future date at a pre-arranged price. If the price goes up between the initial investment and that date, the investor keeps the profits; if it goes down, they lose the money they started with. Simple, right? Except for one big factor: Humans are terrible at predicting the future. Futures markets exist (and  have existed for millennia ) because it helps producers gauge the price of their commodities and to stabilize the market that could otherwise be turned upside down by random events like  weather  or the  discovery of a new vein  of a desirable mineral. But for investors, p

The disinformation threat from text-generating AI

AXIOS FUTURE Bryan Walsh , author of  Future Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios A  new report  lays out the ways that cutting-edge text-generating AI models could be used to aid disinformation campaigns. Why it matters:  In the wrong hands text-generating systems could be used to scale up state-sponsored disinformation efforts — and humans would struggle to know when they're being lied to. How it works:  Text-generating models like OpenAI's leading GPT-3 are trained on vast volumes of internet data, and  learn to write eerily life-like text  off human prompts. In their new report released this morning, researchers from Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) examined how GPT-3 might be used to turbocharge disinformation campaigns like the one  carried out by Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA)  during the 2016 election. What they found:  While "no currently existing autonomous system could replace the entirety of the IRA,"   algori

INDIA: The real problem is of unequal opportunities --Maitreesh Ghatak

It leads to an uneven distribution of gains, of growth and limited upward mobility. The thrust of our development policy initiatives should focus on how to deal with that, Indian economist and a professor of economics at the London School of Economics, writes   BY  MAITREESH GHATAK 9 min read PUBLISHED: May 18, 2021 04:16:46 PM IST UPDATED: May 18, 2021 04:22:29 PM IST Illustration: Sameer Pawar Does India have an inequality problem? It would appear so. India’s economy experienced the largest contraction (8 percent) in the post-Independence period due to the Covid-19 crisis and its economic fallout last year. Yet, the stock market has recovered from the initial dip and is up by 75 percent from a year ago. The total number of Indian billionaires rose to 140 from 102 last year; their combined wealth has nearly doubled to $596 billion. India has the third highest number of billionaires in the world after the US and China. Yet, if we look at poverty, India’s share of the world’s extreme po

China’s Digital Yuan: Development Status and Possible Impact for Businesses

 May 12, 2021 Posted by China Briefing Written by Zoey Zhang Reading Time: 6   minutes This article was originally posted on December 7, 2020, and last updated on May 12, 2021.  Latest updates Alibaba’s online grocery service and food delivery units, including food delivery system, Tmall supermarket, and Hema grocery stores, are included in China’s digital yuan pilot program, Caixin has  reported  on May 11, 2021. Users of these platforms may find a “digital yuan” option in their payment options. This allows the sovereign digital currency to access the internet giant’s one billion users. China’s digital yuan pilot program now also includes a private bank. Zhejiang E-Commerce Bank, based in Hangzhou of Zhejiang province, became the seventh bank, along with six state-owned banks, in China to offer the testing of digital yuan, according to reporting by national paper,  China Daily . The Ant Group, Alibaba’s financial technology arm, has the largest share in the Zhejiang E-Commerce

The China-Central Asia Conference: Analysis

 May 14, 2021 Posted by Silk Road Briefing Written by Chris Devonshire-Ellis C+C5 forum takes shape with n u mer o u s regional  initiatives   By Chris Devonshire-Ellis China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called on China and Central Asian countries to explore a new style of regional cooperation and build a community with a shared future between China and Central Asia. Wang made the remarks at the second China plus Central Asia (C+C5) foreign ministers’ meeting in Xi’an, capital city of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, and was  attended by Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, and Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov. Wang also held separate discussions with four of these Ministers, with China’s Foreign Ministry issuing these reports as follows:  Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan Turkmenistan Uzbekistan Backg

Debt time bomb: Only 20 borrowers owed more than 16% of India's total loan portfolio

Debt time bomb: Only 20 borrowers owed more than 16% of India's total loan portfolio | Exclusive RBI data obtained by India Today through RTI reveals that the tiny number of borrowers owed Rs 14 lakh crore exposure in the financial year 2019 - about 16 per cent of the total loan exposure of the Indian banking system. ADVERTISEMENT Dipu Rai   November 28, 2019 UPDATED: November 28, 2019 11:05 IST The high loan concentration may lead to crisis because economic slowdown may hit net revenue and debt service may come under pressure. (Image for representation: Reuters) Debt service is becoming riskier with deteriorating economy, though banks are still taking the risk of debt concentration, as India's top 20 borrowers have managed to get about Rs 16 of every Rs 100 loan amount of the Indian banking system. RBI data obtained by India Today through RTI reveals that the tiny number of borrowers owed Rs 14 lakh crore exposure in the financial year 2019 - about 16 per cent of the total loa

The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

AXIOS Future The Wuhan Institute of Virology. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images   A group of high-profile scientists  published a letter calling for renewed investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including the theory that it spilled out of a virology lab. Why it matters:  The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab and accidentally escaped — rather than emerging naturally from an animal — was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. But the letter shows a potential   lab leak is increasingly being taken seriously. Driving the news:  In the letter  published  Thursday in the journal  Science , a group of prominent epidemiologists and biologists wrote "theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable." Flashback:  A World Health Organization-led investigation in China earlier this year  concluded  a zoonotic spillover from an animal was "likely to very likely," while a lab leak of a human-made virus

America's slowing population growth puts limits on its future

AXIOS Future The U.S.' sharply declining rate  of population growth threatens to put an expiration date on a country built around a vision of endless reinvention. The big picture:  Fewer people means fewer workers to support an aging population, fewer innovators with new ideas, less economic growth — and more of one thing: political fights over a shrinking pie. By the numbers:  At the end of April, the Census Bureau  reported  that between 2010 and 2020, the U.S. population grew at its slowest rate since the Great Depression and the second-slowest rate in any decade since the country's founding. The fertility rate — defined as the number of live births per 1,000 women aged 15–44 —  fell from  64.1 in 2010 to 55.8 in 2020. That’s in part a result of positive changes, like the  sharp drop in teen pregnancies , but it also means Americans are not having enough babies to keep the country's population growing by births alone. The impact:  Countries with falling population growth