Al Jazeera


Iran's Rouhani: We will not wait for approval to produce weapons

Al Jazeera

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has declared that Tehran will not wait for any permission to produce the weapons it needs to defend the country. In a speech marking Iran's Army Day on Wednesday, Rouhani said a strong military is an effective deterrence against foreign threats. "If there is any weapon we need, we will develop it for the most part, or procure it if necessary," Rouhani was quoted by Iran's Mehr news agency as saying. "We will not wait for approval from the world." Rouhani said countries that rely on their domestic capabilities "feel the true sense of sovereignty and power".


Should we be worried about 'killer robots'?

Al Jazeera

Campaigners are renewing calls for a pre-emptive ban on so-called "killer robots" as representatives of more than 80 countries meet to discuss the autonomous weapons systems. The use of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) is "a step too far", said Mary Wareham, the global coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. "They cross a moral line, because we would see machines taking human lives on the battlefield or in law enforcement. "We want weapon systems and the use of force to remain under human control," Wareham said. Wareham spoke to Al Jazeera before Monday's meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on a possible ban on LAWS.


Local and foreign teams face off at RoboCup Iran Open

Al Jazeera

At least 24 teams from 11 countries, including Germany, Turkey, China, Singapore and South Korea, have competed with local teams for the 2018 robotics football cup in Tehran, Iran. The 13th RoboCup Iran Open included a number of robotic football leagues, as well as teams focused on rescue and de-mining simulations, home applications and unmanned aerial vehicle operation. A team from Leipzig University of Applied Sciences won in the football standard league championship, while a team from Iran's Qazvin Islamic Azad University won the overall trophy by winning in seven categories. RoboCup is an international research and education initiative that researches artificial intelligence and its utility for future applications while fostering interest among young students in robotics. At the opening of the event last week, Sourena Sattari, Iran's vice president for science and technology, called for an overhaul in policy to help young robotics experts find jobs and outlets for their work.


China imposes 25 percent tariffs on key US exports

Al Jazeera

China has retaliated quickly against proposed United States penalties on Chinese goods and announced 25 percent tariffs on critical American exports, including soya beans, aeroplanes and cars. On Tuesday, the administration of President Donald Trump threatened to slap tariffs on $50bn in Chinese imports across 1,300 categories of products, ranging from industrial robots to locomotives. Beijing's response came hours after the US revealed its plans, with China's foreign ministry saying in a statement that "America's measures to impose tariffs have violated the rules of the World Trade Organisation, and have seriously violated China's legal rights". Soya beans are the top US agricultural export to China and were among the 106 products on which China intends to impose the additional tariffs. The US is the second-biggest soya bean supplier to China, after Brazil.


Tesla acknowledges Autopilot was on during crash

Al Jazeera

Electric carmaker Tesla has confirmed its "Autopilot" feature was engaged during a fatal crash last week, a development set to exacerbate concerns over the safety of futuristic vehicles. Autopilot is still far from a completely autonomous driving system, which would not require any involvement by a human. Autopilot is considered part of the second of five levels of autonomous driving, with the fifth being fully autonomous - something once featured in futuristic cartoons but which has moved closer to reality. A Tesla Model X - the latest model - collided with a highway barrier near the town of Mountain View in California on March 23, catching fire before two other cars struck it. The driver was identified by The Mercury News as a 38-year-old man, Wei Huang, an engineer for Apple.


Building Wakanda: Africa's search for the next Einstein

Al Jazeera

More than 1,600 people have gathered in the Rwandan capital of Kigali for the second edition of the Next Einstein Forum (NEF), a three-day science and technology event. Rwanda has been lauded for its educational reform over the past 20 years, having invested heavily in becoming a knowledge-based economy in which information and communication technology (ICT) play a big role. "When we started investing in ICT around the year 2000, many people thought it was a joke. They would say'how can you start investing in ICT when people have no food, no education, no access to hospitals?'," Rwandan President Paul Kagame said during his keynote speech on Wednesday.


Whistle-blower: Brexit vote part of Facebook data scandal

Al Jazeera

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is to testify before Congress over his social network's role in the harvesting millions of users' data without their knowledge. Zuckerberg turned down a similar request from British MPs to answer questions on the role of the data firm Cambridge Analytica in the US presidential election campaign. But the whistle-blower behind the scandal did agree to give evidence and, in doing so, revealed that the Brexit vote was also subject to manipulation by the firm.


Steven Pinker on Trump, violence, and religion

Al Jazeera

In the book, Pinker argues that war and poverty are in decline and that humanity's progress can be attributed to reason and science, central aspects of the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement in the 17th and 18th century. However, critics accuse Pinker of cherry-picking data. They point out that the statistics he uses to support declining death rates begin from 1945, thus excluding the millions killed the decades before, including during World War I and II. "The claim about the Enlightenment is not that it instantaneously brought an end to war, but the Enlightenment did bring the first ideas on how to reduce war out in the open," says Pinker. "The decline in war is really a post-1945 phenomenon."


iPhone: Designed in California but imported from China

Al Jazeera

US President Donald Trump often tweets from his iPhone about pressuring China to address its $375bn trade surplus with the United States. But a closer look at the Apple smartphone reveals how the headline figure is distorted. The big trade imbalance - at the heart of a potential trade war, with Trump expected to impose tariffs on Chinese imports this week - exists in large part because of electrical goods and tech, the biggest US import item from China. Apple Inc's iPhone, however, illustrates how a big portion of that imbalance is due to imports of American-branded products - many of which use global suppliers for parts, but are put together in China and shipped around the world. Take a look at the iPhone X. IHS Markit estimates its components cost a total of $370.25.


"What will be in your heart? Won't there be hate?"

Al Jazeera

Karim Khan is suing the CIA for the deaths of his son and brother in a drone strike. Pakistani journalist Karim Khan's son Zahinullah Khan and brother Asif Iqbal were killed when a CIA drone attacked Karim's home in December 2009.