Al Jazeera


Tech leaders call for autonomous weapons ban

Al Jazeera

Thousands of the world's pre-eminent technology experts called for a global ban on the development of lethal autonomous weapons, warning they could become instruments of "violence and oppression". More than 2,400 individuals and 150 companies from 90 different countries vowed to play no part in the construction, trade, or use of autonomous weapons in a pledge signed on Wednesday at the 2018 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Stockholm, Sweden. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, and representatives of Google's DeepMind subsidiary were among supporters of the pledge. "The decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine," a statement said. "Lethal autonomous weapons - selecting and engaging targets without human intervention - would be dangerously destabilising for every country and individual."


Drone footage and aerial maps of cities in Palestine

Al Jazeera

To find out more, click here. With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests. How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity. Kombo Yannick is one of the many African asylum seekers braving the longer Latin America route to the US. Answer as many correct questions in 90 seconds to win the World Cup with your favourite team.


Syrian girl who used tuna cans for legs receives prosthetic limbs

Al Jazeera

An eight-year-old Syrian girl whose plight touched the world after she was photographed using tuna cans to walk has received prosthetic limbs in Turkey. Maya Merhi, who was born with no legs because of a rare congenital condition, had been living with her father at a refugee camp after fighting forced them from their home in Aleppo province. After fleeing to the northwestern region of Idlib, Maya was photographed struggling to move on homemade prosthetics made from tubes and old tins of tuna. Designed by her father Mohammad, who suffers from the same congenital disorder, the improvised legs were created to protect her from the hot, dirty and dusty ground. With the impromptu prosthetics, Maya was able to walk outside of her tent and could even attend the camp's school.


Australia to use drones to help rescue stranded swimmers

Al Jazeera

Every day in Australia, 30 people are rescued from drowning. And saving lives is about to get easier. Later this year, during the Southern Hemisphere summer, drones will be used to help rescue stranded swimmers and to spot sharks that might be getting a little too close for comfort.


Facebook ends initiative to provide wireless internet via drones

Al Jazeera

Facebook has cancelled its Project Aquila, a programme to develop drones to deliver high-speed internet to remote areas currently not connected to the internet. According to Facebook, which started its development on the high-altitude platform station (HAPS) technology in 2014, many other companies have started to develop similar technologies, which has led to Facebook deciding not to continue the project. Since the start of the programme, Facebook has been working on technology and policy to help the four billion people currently not connected to the internet gain access. Facebook wanted to do this by flying drones over remote areas currently lacking in internet infrastructure. Those drones were to use beam down high-speed wireless internet connections while using solar power to stay airborne for extended amounts of time.


Gaming addiction: Are we asking the right questions?

Al Jazeera

The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to include "gaming disorders" in its 11th revision of internationally recognised diseases. This addiction is described by the WHO as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" that may become so extensive that it "takes precedence over other life interests". It is quite a dystopian future where AI is used to trick us and convince us to use more money. The announcement has been met by criticisms from within both the gaming industry and experts within the field of psychology, with counterclaims stating that the addiction outlines put forth by the WHO are simply not aligned with the nature of addiction. However, as those within gaming are still set to see billions of dollars roll into the industry this year, exclusive gaming addiction programmes are also providing healthcare providers and insurance companies with an unexpected niche now that gaming addiction is classed as a mental health disorder.


Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah 'killed in drone attack'

Al Jazeera

The leader of Pakistan's Taliban armed group has been killed in neighbouring Afghanistan's Kunar province, the Afghan defence ministry said on Friday. "I confirm that Mullah Fazlullah, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed in an joint air operation [with the US] in the border area of Marawera district of Kunar province," Mohammad Radmanish, spokesman for Afghan defence ministry, told Reuters news agency, adding the air attack was carried out at about 9am local time on Thursday. In a separate statement to the Associated Press news agency, Radmanish said that two other armed fighters were killed alongside Fazlullah. Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (known by the acronym TTP) acknowledged that its leader had been killed, according to Turkey's Anadolu Agency. TTP accused the Afghan intelligence service NDS, which has long been suspected by Pakistan of harbouring Fazlullah, of providing information for the drone attack.


NASA robot finds 'building blocks for life' on Mars

Al Jazeera

A NASA robot has found more building blocks for life on Mars, the most complex organic matter yet from 3.5 billion-year-old rocks on the surface of the red planet, the US space agency said on Thursday. The unmanned Curiosity rover has also found increasing evidence for seasonal variations of methane on Mars, indicating the source of the gas is likely the planet itself, or possibly its subsurface water. The data, collected through drilling into the lowest point of the red planet's Gale crater, is part of the US space agency's newly widened search for organic molecules that could indicate past life on the surface of Mars. Additional data from the robotic probe confirms the detection of "seasonal patterns" in methane levels, NASA geophysicist Ashwin Vasvada said in the live-streamed announcement. NASA scientist Chris Webster confirmed that water has been found on the martian surface and has been present for "a very long time," which points strongly toward a "habitable environment".


Why science should respect the BDS picket line

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A week after the May 14 tragic events in Gaza, an email sent through an international mailing list for researchers in statistical sciences landed in my inbox. It was inviting mailing list members to attend a conference to be held in Jerusalem. Normally I don't engage in mailing list discussions, and they, in fact, tend to be rare on this mailing list. But this time I decided to "reply to all". As someone who supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, I took the opportunity to appeal for a boycott of all academic events in Israel including the one mentioned in the email.


How a Bernie Sanders resolution is normalising the war on terror

Al Jazeera

Donald Trump launched his presidency with the killing of nine children. Only a week after taking office, the reality star turned commander-in-chief ordered a made-for-TV raid in the dead of night that saw Navy SEALs storming a rural village in Yemen. "A fierce gunfight turned into an intense aerial bombardment," the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported. By dawn, 14 militants had been killed - along with 25 civilians, among them the 8-year-old daughter of extremist preacher Anwar al-Awlaqi. Awlaqi and his 16-year-old son had already been killed in separate US drone strikes in 2011.