Collaborating Authors


What Buddhism can do for AI ethics

MIT Technology Review

The explosive growth of artificial intelligence has fostered hope that it will help us solve many of the world's most intractable problems. However, there's also much concern about the power of AI, and growing agreement that its use should be guided to avoid infringing upon our rights. Many groups have discussed and proposed ethical guidelines for how AI should be developed or deployed: IEEE, a global professional organization for engineers, has issued a 280-page document on the subject (to which I contributed), and the European Union has published its own framework. The AI Ethics Guidelines Global Inventory has compiled more than 160 such guidelines from around the world. Unfortunately, most of these guidelines are developed by groups or organizations concentrated in North America and Europe: a survey published by social scientist Anna Jobin and her colleagues found 21 in the US, 19 in the EU, 13 in the UK, four in Japan, and one each from the United Arab Emirates, India, Singapore, and South Korea.

Iran plans 20 percent uranium enrichment 'as soon as possible'

FOX News

Center for Security Policy CEO Fred Fleitz provides insight on'America's News HQ.' DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Iran said Saturday it plans to enrich uranium up to 20% at its underground Fordo nuclear facility "as soon as possible," pushing its program a technical step away from weapons-grade levels as it increases pressure on the West over the tattered atomic deal. The move comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the waning days of the administration of President Donald Trump, who unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal in 2018. That set in motion an escalating series of incidents capped by a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad a year ago, an anniversary coming Sunday that has American officials now worried about possible retaliation by Iran. Iran's decision to begin enriching to 20% a decade ago nearly brought an Israeli strike targeting its nuclear facilities, tensions that only abated with the 2015 atomic deal. A resumption of 20% enrichment could see that brinksmanship return.

U.S. nuclear submarine crosses Strait of Hormuz amid tensions

The Japan Times

Dubai/Washington – An American nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine traversed the strategically vital waterway between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula on Monday, the U.S. Navy said, in a rare announcement that comes amid rising tensions with Iran. The Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia, accompanied by two other warships, passed through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passageway through which a fifth of the world's oil supplies travel. The unusual transit in the Persian Gulf's shallow waters, aimed at underscoring American military might in the region, follows the killing last month of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist named by the West as the leader of the Islamic Republic's disbanded military nuclear program. It also comes some two weeks before the anniversary of the American drone strike near Baghdad airport in Iraq that killed top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3. Iran has promised to seek revenge for both killings. The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine's presence in Mideast waterways signals the U.S. Navy's "commitment to regional partners and maritime security with a full spectrum of capabilities," the Navy said, demonstrating its readiness "to defend against any threat at any time."

KSA signs AI agreement with Dell Technologies


RIYADH: The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) signed an agreement with the American multinational computer company Dell Technologies, combining the two organizations' expertise in emerging technologies to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the Kingdom. As Saudi Arabia aims to diversify its economy away from oil under Saudi Vision 2030, it is stepping up efforts to drive innovation and the use of AI. As part of this agreement, SDAIA will be provided with consulting services that will help them leverage solutions within AI, cloud, data analytics and enterprise storage, as part of the Kingdom's digital transformation. "This strategic collaboration will also witness an exchange of industry best practices and expertise needed to develop integrated projects that will serve the needs of public sector entities' technology across Saudi Arabia," SDAIA and Dell said in a joint statement. The agreement was signed last week during GITEX Technology Week 2020 in Dubai between Dr. Esam Al-Wagait, director of Saudi Arabia's National Information Center (NIC), and Mohammed Amin, senior vice president of Dell's Middle East wing.

AI-powered tutors in schools to make learning fun in UAE


A new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform is set to supplement school education with live and inclusive learning opportunities for students, not only in the UAE but even across the world. Launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, Online Learning World (OLW) comes after extensive market research in the country revealed that the percentage of students taking private classes rose through the grades – and in Grade 12, around 37 per cent of all Emirati and 35 per cent of all non-Emirati students sought online learning. OLW aims to break down complicated chapters into simple and interesting lesson plans which clarify and enhance concept-based learning as per a specific board's curriculum. Subjects like Maths, English, Science, Coding, Arabic, Hindi and French, will be taught in a fun and interactive way with masterclasses for well being, including fitness, culinary, life skills and other short certificate courses also being high on the agenda. "This is a phenomenal platform that empowers the students seeking support to learn complex subjects in a simple and efficient manner. This is also revolutionary because it is on-demand – thereby empowering students and parents to select specific and tailored tutoring and plan their learning days," said Amreesh Chandra, president of OLW.

Microsoft at GITEX: Tech titan cultivates interest in AI-powered agricultural innovation


How to boost agriculture to ensure food security in a country where deserts cover 80% of the land? Sounds like a tough task, but planting seeds of tech-based innovation and a data-driven future, can unlock growth. The Emirates has already witnessed tremendous progress in strengthening healthcare and tourism, via apps and digital platforms. Emerging as a regional tech-hub, Dubai is now hosting tech giants like Microsoft at the GITEX tech week. On its part, Microsoft is demonstrating how AI and cloud storage can engineer an agricultural revolution in the desert.

Forward Investments Backs Nozomi Networks


Dubai-based Forward Investments announced it has invested in Nozomi Networks, a global market leader in Operational Technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT) security, headquartered in San Francisco, USA. This investment represents the strong relationship forged between the two entities and plays a role in fueling innovation in the delivery of Information Technology (IT), OT and IoT cybersecurity services to enterprises across the public and private sectors in the UAE and broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Nozomi Networks helps clients fulfill their vision to deliver digital utilities using autonomous systems for renewable energy, storage, and expansion in artificial intelligence (AI) adoption by providing digital services," said H.E. Saeed Al Tayer, Chairman of Forward Investments. "Given escalating cyber risks to ICS and control networks, advanced monitoring and threat detection systems play an increasingly critical role. It seems fitting that the pioneering investment for Forward Investments is with Nozomi Networks, itself a pioneer in securing the modernization of critical industrial infrastructure in the region and around the globe."

News at a glance


SCI COMMUN### Infectious diseases The 11th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is officially over, giving the country respite from the disease for the first time in more than 2 years. On 18 November, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that no new cases had been identified for 42 days, twice the incubation period for the deadly virus. The outbreak, in the western Équateur province, started in late May, just as a bigger one in the eastern DRC was coming to an end. (That outbreak had killed 2200 people.) The Équateur outbreak sickened 130 and killed 55; a campaign that vaccinated more than 40,000 people is credited with helping end it. Special portable coolers that keep the vaccine at −80°C for up to 1 week allowed health workers to administer the shots in communities deep in the rainforest, accessible only by boat or helicopter. The same technology will be useful in efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, says Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director. The coronavirus pandemic complicated the fight against Ebola, WHO says, but the expertise gained by local health workers in earlier outbreaks in the region was a major advantage. They will remain on the lookout for potential flare-ups. $1,000,000 —Gift from entertainer Dolly Parton in April to support development of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine, which the company last week said showed an efficacy of 94.5%. “I felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money,” Parton told BBC. ### Marine ecology The Allen Coral Atlas, a project to map the world's shallow coral reefs with high-resolution satellites, last week launched a monitoring system to detect coral bleaching events as they occur. When corals face extreme heat, they expel their algal symbionts, leaving them bone white and vulnerable to stress; repeated bleaching episodes, growing more common with global warming, can cause massive die-offs. The system detects the whitening using imagery from the privately owned Planet satellite constellation, processed with machine learning. A pilot has begun in Hawaii to use the data as an early warning system for researchers, to help them identify and study species both vulnerable and resistant to warming extremes. The monitoring of bleaching is expected to expand next year to shallow reefs globally. ### Diagnostics The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its first emergency use authorization last week for an at-home diagnostic test that can detect the pandemic coronavirus in just minutes. However, the test might not be widely available until spring 2021. Produced by Lucira Health, a biotech company, it is expected to cost less than $50 and require a doctor's prescription. The company says it will soon distribute tests in parts of California and Florida; it says it needs time to scale up manufacturing for national distribution. Lucira's test amplifies viral genetic material, making it nearly as accurate as laboratory tests that use the polymerase chain reaction, the current gold standard. FDA previously approved at-home tests that must be mailed to a laboratory for analysis. Several other companies are working on rapid antigen tests, which detect viral particles, for home use. But concerns remain about antigen tests' reliability. Still, some public health specialists consider widely available, low-cost, at-home testing vital for controlling the pandemic. ### Funding A new U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) award will allow early-career investigators who want to shift research directions when applying for their first independent award to submit a proposal without first generating preliminary data to support their idea. Reviewers will instead assess the soundness of the project's approach. The Katz award is named for Stephen Katz, a longtime champion of young researchers who was director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases when he died in 2018. The grant will build on an NIH policy that prioritizes proposals from early-stage investigators—those no more than 10 years from completing their training who are applying for their first research grant. The policy has been credited with raising their numbers from fewer than 600 supported in 2013 to more than 1300 last year. Applications for the first Katz awards are due on 26 January 2021. ### Leadership Democrats in Congress say a political appointee given a senior post at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is unfit for the job because he lacks technical skills and holds pseudoscientific views about racial differences on IQ tests. On 9 November, Jason Richwine, an independent public policy analyst, took up the new position of deputy undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross subsequently issued an order that would put Richwine in charge of the $1 billion research agency if NIST Director Walter Copan leaves or is fired. On 17 November, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), who leads the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, asked Ross to justify the moves. Richwine has advocated for more restrictive immigration policies, and his 2009 doctoral thesis argued that lower IQ scores by Mexican and Hispanic immigrants suggest a genetic component to intelligence that is “likely to persist over several generations.” ### Diversity The editors of Nature Communications say they are reviewing a paper that drew scalding criticism after it suggested that encouraging female junior scientists to work with female mentors could “hinder the careers of women.” The 17 November study, led by data scientist Bedoor AlShebli of New York University, Abu Dhabi, examined 3 million mentor-protégé pairs and how gender influenced the impact of papers later published by the protégés. Female protégés, it concluded, did better if they worked with male mentors. Critics pounced, noting the authors ignored reviewer complaints about the study's methods and arguing the journal was promoting a harmful and unfounded message. The article's authors said they welcome the review. ### Animal diseases European authorities reported on 19 November they have detected highly pathogenic avian influenza in 302 birds in eight countries. Only 18 cases were in poultry; most of the rest were in wild birds, the European Food Safety Authority and its partners said. The number of infected birds is expected to rise with winter migrations. Several flu strains were identified, but no people were reported to be infected, and the risk of that occurring is considered low; researchers studying the viruses found no genetic markers indicating they had adapted to infect mammals. But the threat to poultry is high, and the report's authors recommended bird producers increase precautions against infections. VACCINE APPLICATION Days after making public the final analysis of their 40,000-person COVID-19 vaccine trial, which found 95% efficacy, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech filed for emergency authorization of the messenger RNA vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—the first such request for a vaccine during the pandemic. They plan to seek additional approvals in other countries soon. Pfizer hopes to supply up to 50 million doses this year. REMDESIVIR PANNED A World Health Organization panel recommended against using the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat most hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Its review of four studies of 7000 people found that the drug, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved last month for hospitalized patients, did not reduce mortality or speed recovery. But the panel encouraged further study of it. AMMO BAN Denmark has become the first nation to ban all lead-based hunting ammunition, including bullets and shotgun pellets, to protect wildlife. Hunters annually release about 2 tons of lead into Denmark's environment; waterbirds and other species eat the toxic material and die. European regulators are considering a ban like Denmark's.

Siemens providing long-term gas-fired turbine AI and machine learning upgrades for Jebel Ali power plant in Dubai


Siemens Energy will supply new controllers and other major upgrades as part of an extended service agreement for a Dubai power plant. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) signed Siemens to a new, 20-year long-term service agreement. The service term calls for a wide array of upgrades and supply of new technologies. Among those, Siemens Energy will supply an intelligent controller for each of the four SGT5-4000F gas-fired turbines at the Jebel Ali L2 power and water station. This includes the SPPA-T3000 control system, as well as services for the plant's generators and tools to improve operational flexibility and reduce outage times.

Watch: Facial recognition at Dubai Metro stations to identify wanted criminals


He said the technology will be rolled out in the coming months across all Metro stations in the emirate. Dubai Police's smart glasses called Rokid T1, and the smart helmets that were used during the COVID-19 pandemic to scan commuters' temperatures, will have more advanced technology in the future like facial recognition to identify wanted people. "Usually, it takes at least five hours to identify a suspect, but with facial recognition technology, it takes less than a minute."