Middle East


NASA pinpoints four landing spots where it will capture a piece of 'apocalypse asteroid' Bennu

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The team leading NASA's first mission to take a rock sample from the asteroid Bennu has selected four sites for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to'tag'. The spacecraft has already mapped the entire Bennu meteor - dubbed the'apocalypse asteroid' - in order to identify the safest and most accessible spots to retrieve a chunk of its surface. Now, the four locations will be studied before the final two sites – a primary and backup – are selected in December, this year. The OSIRIS-REx sample collection is scheduled for the latter half of 2020, and the spacecraft will return the asteroid samples to Earth on September 24, 2023. Osprey is set in a small crater, 66 feet (20 m) in diameter, which is also located in Bennu's equatorial region at 11 degrees north latitude, while Sandpiper is located in the meteor's southern hemisphere, at 47 degrees south latitude Sites: Nightingale is the northern-most site, situated at 56 degrees north latitude on Bennu, while Kingfisher is located in a small crater near Bennu's equator at 11 degrees north latitude The four candidate sample sites on Bennu are designated Nightingale, Kingfisher, Osprey, and Sandpiper – all birds native to Egypt.


Drone strike by Khalifa Hifter's forces on south Libyan town kills at least 43, official says

The Japan Times

TRIPOLI – A drone airstrike by eastern Libyan forces on the southern Libyan town of Murzuq has killed at least 43 people, a local official said on Monday. The attack is the second major airstrike blamed on the eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces loyal to Khalifa Hifter after at least 44 migrants were killed in June when a detention center in a suburb of the capital Tripoli was hit. The LNA confirmed a strike late on Sunday on Murzuq, but denied it had targeted any civilians. The LNA had also denied it had hit the detention center but acknowledged increased air strikes on the capital. The internationally recognized government based in Tripoli opposing Hifter said dozens were killed and wounded in Murzuq.


The Algorithmic Colonization of Africa -- Real Life

#artificialintelligence

The second annual CyFyAfrica 2019 -- the Conference on Technology, Innovation, and Society -- took place in Tangier, Morocco, in June. It was a vibrant, diverse and dynamic gathering attended by various policymakers, UN delegates, ministers, governments, diplomats, media, tech company representatives, and academics from over 65 nations, mostly African and Asian countries. The conference's central aim, stated unapologetically, was to bring forth the continent's voices in the global discourse. The president of Observer Research Foundation (one of the co-hosts of the conference) in their opening message emphasized that the voices of Africa's youth need to be put front and center as the continent increasingly comes to rely on technology to address its social, educational, health, economic, and financial issues. The conference was intended in part to provide a platform for those young people, and they were afforded that opportunity, along with many Western scholars from various universities and tech developers from industrial and commercial sectors.


The future of AI research is in Africa

#artificialintelligence

Sitting in a hotel lobby in Tangier, Morocco, Charity Wayua laughs as she recounts her journey to the city for a conference on technology and innovation. After starting her trip in Nairobi, Kenya, where she leads one of IBM's two research centers in Africa, she had to fly past her destination for a layover in Dubai, double back to Casablanca, and then take a three-and-a-half-hour drive to Tangier. What would have been a seven- to eight-hour direct flight was instead a nearly 24-hour odyssey. This is not unusual, she says. The hassle of traveling within the region isn't the only thing making things difficult for Africa's research community: the difficulty of traveling out of the region has often left its researchers out of the international conversation.


Artificial Intelligence School to Open in Fez

#artificialintelligence

With artificial intelligence expected to generate more than 2.3 million jobs by 2020, Morocco has begun to prepare its students for the future by opening a school dedicated to AI training. Rabat – As technology continues to be central in the world's vision for the future, the development of artificial intelligence (AI), the simulation of human intelligence by computers and machines, has become an increasingly important field in science. Meanwhile, Morocco, along with the rest of Africa, has largely failed to capitalize on this demand for AI research and development. However, all of this will change in the future, with the opening of a new school dedicated towards AI in Fez. In September, the Euromed University of Fez (UEMF) will open its doors to the Euromed School of Digital Engineering and Artificial Intelligence (EIDIA), a brand new center dedicated towards AI research, development, and education.


Great Learning Expands to Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East

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Great Learning, India's leading Ed-tech platform for working professionals today announced that it is expanding its geographic footprint globally to Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. The company will offer three of its most popular programs in Data Science & Business Analytics (PGP-DSBA - a special international variant of its business analytics program PGP-BABI ranked #1 in India for the last 4 years), Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning (PGP-AIML) and Cyber Security (SACSP - Stanford Advanced Computer Security Program) in these geographies. Offered in association with two of the top universities of the world, Stanford University and The University of Texas, Austin, these online programs have already attracted learners from 17 countries including the UK, Singapore, South Africa, UAE, etc. These programs, designed and developed by the top-notch faculty of UT Austin and Stanford, are delivered online by Great Learning, utilizing its unique mentored-learning model where personalized mentorship is provided by expert instructors from Great Learning's 750 Global Guru network. The mentors include industry veterans from companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Walmart.


Prediction of Construction Cost for Field Canals Improvement Projects in Egypt

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Field canals improvement projects (FCIPs) are one of the ambitious projects constructed to save fresh water. To finance this project, Conceptual cost models are important to accurately predict preliminary costs at the early stages of the project. The first step is to develop a conceptual cost model to identify key cost drivers affecting the project. Therefore, input variables selection remains an important part of model development, as the poor variables selection can decrease model precision. The study discovered the most important drivers of FCIPs based on a qualitative approach and a quantitative approach. Subsequently, the study has developed a parametric cost model based on machine learning methods such as regression methods, artificial neural networks, fuzzy model and case-based reasoning.


Contextual Aware Joint Probability Model Towards Question Answering System

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

In this paper, we address the question answering challenge with the SQuAD 2.0 dataset. We design a model architecture which leverages BERT's capability of context-aware word embeddings and BiDAF's context interactive exploration mechanism. By integrating these two state-of-the-art architectures, our system tries to extract the contextual word representation at word and character levels, for better comprehension of both question and context and their correlations. We also propose our original joint posterior probability predictor module and its associated loss functions. Our best model so far obtains F1 score of 75.842% and EM score of 72.24% on the test PCE leaderboad.


Global Rules-Based Order Clearly Under Threat: EU's Tusk

U.S. News

"Multilateral solutions remain the best way to address threats to international peace and security. This is true when we talk about the situation in Syria, Libya, Yemen or the Middle East peace process."


Machine learning in action for the humanitarian sector

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Governments across the world came together in Marrakesh this past December to ratify a pact to improve cooperation on international migration. Among other objectives, the Global Compact for Migration seeks to use "accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies." How can machine learning technologies help with deeply polarizing societal issues like migration? In early 2018, with support from IBM Corporate Citizenship and the Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, IBM and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) embarked on a partnership aimed squarely at the need to better understand migration drivers and evidence-based policy guidance for a range of stakeholders. At the recent THINK Copenhagen keynote, the Secretary General of the DRC, Christian Friis Bach, presented the first results of this effort.