Al Jazeera


Tertulias: Talking heads on Spain's airwaves

Al Jazeera

Television programming in Spain has undergone a transformation over the past decade - changes driven partly by economics and partly by politics. Ever since the banking crisis of 2008, the country has been in a semi-constant state of political upheaval. A series of corruption scandals, inconclusive general elections and, more recently, Catalonia's run at independence have kept Spaniards glued to their televisions and pundits talking 24/7. That has given rise to a wave of political talk shows that the Spanish call tertulias. These programmes meet two important criteria, they provide political flashpoints that audiences seem to like and they're cheap to produce.


When algorithms discriminate: Robotics, AI and ethics

Al Jazeera

We live in an age of rapid technological advances where artificial intelligence (AI) is a reality, not a science fiction fantasy. Every day we rely on algorithms to communicate, do our banking online, book a holiday - even introduce us to potential partners. Driverless cars and robots may be the headline makers, but AI is being used for everything from diagnosing illnesses to helping police predict crime hot spots. As machines become more advanced, how does society keep pace when deciding the ethics and regulations governing technology? Al Jazeera talks to Stephen Roberts, professor of Machine Learning at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, on the role machine learning plays in our lives today - and in the future.


Hamas: Mossad assassinated Tunisian drone-maker member

Al Jazeera

Hamas has blamed the Israeli national intelligence agency Mossad for the assassination of one of its Tunisian members after conducting an 11-month-long investigation. The Palestinian group said Mohammed al-Zawari, a commander of its armed wing the Qassam Brigades since 2006, was fatally shot outside his home multiple times while in his car near Sfax, 270km southeast of Tunis, on December 15, 2016. Hamas had set up an investigative committee in the immediate aftermath of the assassination. Speaking at a press conference in Beirut on Thursday, Mohammed Nazzal, Hamas politburo member, called the Mossad operation a "terrorist act". "Mossad is officially accused of being behind the assassination, which is not only a terrorist act, but a violation of state sovereignty," he said.


China 2.0: Xi Jinping and the PRC's economic future

Al Jazeera

At the 19th Communist Party Congress, Chinese President Xi Jinping is stamping his authority by mapping out his vision for China for the next 30 years. "The banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics is flying high for the world to see. It will be an era that sees China move closer to the centre stage," Xi said. He aims for the "the rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation" and wants to build a "digital and smart society", a "country of innovators". At the heart of his strategy is an economy built on homemade innovation - with a particular emphasis on robotics, electric cars and artificial intelligence.


Waiting in the wings: Dubai's autonomous flying taxis

Al Jazeera

The recent unmanned flight by the German-made electric Volocopter represents the latest step in Dubai's pursuit of flying taxis. Dubai already has invested in another model of a flying, autonomous taxi, and is working to design regulations for their use. Unpiloted passenger flights represent a new frontier for regulators. Dubai's Road and Transportation Authority (RTA), which has invested an undisclosed sum in Volocopter, says it will work the next five years to come up with laws and develop safety procedures.


'Trump looking to loosen Obama limits on drone strikes'

Al Jazeera

The officials added that proposed drone attacks and raids would no longer undergo high-level vetting. NBC News cited officials at intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, Congress and the White House, who all requested anonymity to discuss the classified programme. The international human rights organisation Reprieve has found that since Trump took office in January this year, at least 30 civilians have been killed in ground raids and drone strikes in Yemen, where the US is not formally at war. In one week in March, the Trump administration conducted some 40 strikes in Yemen, including 25 on a single day.


The decline of Chinantec whistled speech in Mexico

Al Jazeera

Oaxaca, Mexico - The small village of San Pedro Sochiapam, deep in the mountainous region of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, is home to the Chinantec people. "Chinantec whistled speech is a form of communication where people can really whistle whatever they can say in the spoken language, even though there's more ambiguity in the whistled channel," explains Mark Sicoli, a linguistics professor at the University of Virginia, noting that the presence and absence of glottal stops, tones, and stress patterns make it a particularly productive form of communication. "Prior to the introduction of walkie-talkies, the morning air would be filled with whistles across the town as men made their plans for the day," Foris adds, noting that local women understand whistled Chinantec, but usually do not use it. Back in San Pedro Sochiapam, villagers like Marcos Dominguez, remain highly attuned to whistled speech.


Cryptocurrencies: Another digital gold rush?

Al Jazeera

Cryptocurrencies, unlike loose currency, are created using digital technology called blockchain, a borderless, anonymous way of using and creating online money. I don't think [digital currencies] will ever replace the system, but I do think it will give us the option of holding our monetary authorities to a higher standard than just being able to do what they want with our money. Asked about bitcoin's soaring prices, Claasen says that "while there's certainly enough evidence to suggest that bitcoin is worth $4,000 ... it's still a high-risk asset to have ... By the end of the year, we're expecting bitcoin to go up to about $5,000 and high volatility to continue. "So, I don't think it'll ever replace the system, but I do think it will give us the option of holding our monetary authorities to a higher standard than just being able to do what they want with our money."


UK: Palestine activists face prison over Elbit protest

Al Jazeera

A group of Palestinian activists in the UK could be imprisoned after a protest outside a factory owned by a subsidiary of Israeli drone manufacturer, Elbit Systems. Operations at the UAV Engines Ltd plant were shutdown for two days starting July 6 with protesters laying out mock coffins outside the factory and laying on the ground outside its gates. Defence lawyer Mike Schwarz said: "An issue at trial is likely to be the lawfulness of [Elbit and UAV Engine's] activity in its factory." The company's customers include the Israeli army, US Air Force, and the British Royal Air Force.


'Trumponomics': Making America great again?

Al Jazeera

But Trump's tax cuts are months behind schedule. Asked about Trump's so-called economic nationalism and protectionist stance, Jones says, "what we know from history is that periods of major restraints on trade have been pretty damaging, not just for the country that imposes those restraints but for the global economy more generally. Qatar Gulf Crisis: Qatar's national carrier, Qatar Airways, is expected get approval for three new international flying routes. Artificial Intelligence: US technology firms are now at the forefront when it comes to our digital economy.