On Tuesday, 80 artificial intelligence scientists and more than 200 “other notable figures” signed a statement that says “mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”
The one-sentence warning from the diverse group of scientists, engineers, corporate executives, academics, and other concerned individuals doesn’t go into detail about the existential threats posed by AI. Instead, it seeks to “open up discussion” and “create common knowledge of the growing number of experts and public figures who also take some of advanced AI’s most severe risks seriously,” according to the Center for AI Safety, a U.S.-based nonprofit whose website hosts the statement.
Reports that Iran is constructing a very large, deep bunker as part of its nuclear programme mean there is a renewed risk of an upsurge in tension, and the potential for conflict, most likely involving Israel but always with risk of it spreading much wider.
Context here is important.
During Barack Obama’s second term in the White House, countries including the UK, France and Germany, worked hard with the US to forge an agreement with the Iranian regime to avoid Iran developing nuclear weapons. A powerful motivation was the risk of Israel otherwise taking unilateral action.
“Energy security can only be achieved by rapidly and equitably phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy, not locking in deadly fossil fuels and lining the pockets of oil and gas executives,” said one critic.
Since Group of Seven leaders on Saturday put out a wide-ranging communiqué from a Japan-hosted summit in Hiroshima, climate action advocates from G7 countries and beyond have blasted the statement’s support for future investments in planet-heating gas.
The statement comes after G7 climate, energy, and environment ministers were criticized for their communiqué from a meeting in Sapporo last month as well as protests around the world this week pressuring the summit’s attendees to ditch fossil fuels and “deliver a clear and just renewable energy agenda for a peaceful world.”
Human rights defenders on Tuesday condemned an intense Israeli aerial bombardment of densely populated areas of Gaza that killed at least 13 Palestinians—including at least 10 civilians and three leaders of a militant resistance group—while wounding more than 20 others.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF)—which is calling the airstrikes Operation Shield and Arrow—said it “targeted three senior Islamic Jihad commanders responsible for launching rockets toward Israel over the last month and planning further terror attacks,” as well as “weapons manufacturing sites and military compounds.”
For the past two weeks, international news in much of the European media has been dominated by efforts to extract nationals from the violence in Sudan. Coverage is likely to fade as the evacuation slows down and the media moves on to other conflicts. There may, in fact, be a far greater movement of Sudanese refugees desperate to get out of the country, but this will attract minimal international attention.
The focus on the evacuation has sidelined the much longer-term issues facing Sudan, and foreign states and sub-state actors will be watching developments with a keen interest, especially if the disorder persists until one of the two generals vying for control finally succeeds.
The United States’ counterterrorism efforts in Somalia, which were ramped up after the emergence of the armed group al-Shabab in 2006, are worsening the East African country’s instability, according to a new analysis released Thursday as progressives in Congress voted for a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the nation.
As the Costs of War project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University said in the new report, the U.S. has spent at least $2.5 billion on counterterrorism operations in Somalia since 2007, including funding for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army. This figure does not include the undisclosed amount of money the government has poured into intelligence and military operations there.
In the name of “protecting future generations from potentially devastating consequences,” a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation meant to prevent artificial intelligence from launching nuclear weapons without meaningful human control.
“The parties to the conflict must immediately stop using explosive weapons with wide area effects in the vicinity of concentrations of civilians,” said Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southern Africa.
As an armed conflict between Sudan’s military and a paramilitary group intensifies in the capital Khartoum and surrounding areas, Amnesty International on Monday implored the warring factions to protect civilians and ensure access to humanitarian aid.
Since fighting erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on Saturday, more than 180 people have been killed and over 1,800 people have been wounded, U.N Newsreported Monday, citing United Nations envoy Volker Perthes.
Four days into the war in Ukraine, with the Russian advance slowed by unexpected Ukrainian resistance, Vladimir Putin made his first threat of escalation, implying the use of tactical nuclear weapons if NATO became heavily involved in supporting Ukraine. Since then, the threat of escalation has always been in the background – and has occasionally come to the fore.
The most recent example of this is the announcement from Moscow that Russian nuclear weapons will be forward-based in Belarus. These will mainly be nuclear-armed versions of the Iskander missile, which will be placed close to Belarus’s western border with NATO states. Russia will also train Belarusian pilots in flying planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons.