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Why can't everyone condemn Hamas?

Following Hamas' atrocities in Israel, the media are awash with commentary, so I will keep my comments short. I am shocked by the willin...

Sunday 10 December 2023

Here comes the micro nuclear reactor!

Right in time for COP28 we have new information on the development of 'micro-nuclear reactors'. This is not a totally new development, and indeed these reactors are not available today. Nevertheless, the recent article  (see Rolls Royce plans '120-inch-long' mini nuclear reactor for Moon outpost) sheds some light on the ongoing development of these very compact reactors. Measuring some 1.2m by 3 m they can generate 1-5 Megawatts of energy. This is much lower than the oft-discussed SMR generating 500-1000 MW.  

The reactors are being developed by Rolls-Royce who indicate they will be available in 2030. The development was driven largely by the need to provide power in space. Where they could provide long-term power in a small footprint in a hostile environment, eg the dark side of the moon. Of course once developed they are likely to be used more widely. Given they are portable they would suit remote environments. 

Given nuclear technology has now been accepted as 'Green', all types of nuclear technologies are likely to receive keen support. And not a minute too soon.

Thursday 7 December 2023

AI poetry!

I guess there are many possible examples of impressive AI capability. I have found it very useful for creating simple greeting card messages with poetry. It produces poems at lightning speed and they are surprisingly good.

Here is a simple example of what Bard produced. My prompt was simply; " Please write a poem about tea".  Here is Bard's response;

"In porcelain cup, a golden brew,
Steaming tendrils reaching you.
A gentle scent, a fragrant sigh,
Unfurling secrets from the sky.

Emerald leaves, once sun-kissed green,
Infuse their essence, calm and keen.
A touch of honey, sweet and pure,
Enhances flavors, ever sure.

The first sip warms, a comforting fire,
Chasing away life's worries and ire.
A moment stolen, just for you,
Peace and solace, calming hue.

With every cup, a journey starts,
Across vast lands and beating hearts.
From rolling hills to misty shores,
The taste of life, forever yours.

So raise your cup and take a sip,
Let troubles fade, your spirit trip.
In every drop, a whisper lies,
The magic of tea, beneath the skies."

Not bad, methinks.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

10 areas where AI will be able to make a contribution in coming years

AI , artificial intelligence burst into our consciousness suddenly this year with the latest release of ChatGPT. ChatGPT is the the brainchild, excuse the pun, of OpenAI a corporation formed by a consortium of the world's leading technology companies, including Google and Microsoft. It has been around for a while , say 18 months, but the versions released this year have demonstrated unexpected, unprecedented 'intelligence'. ChatGPT 3.5 is now available for free use, and it is impressive. It has also been incorporated into multiple search engines, including Google and Bing. 

I guess we have all heard about AI, mostly with a fear that it will replace our jobs, but what will it do to help humanity? 

I thought I would ask ChatGPT for 10 areas where 'it' thought AI would change the world in the future. I was tempted by an anthropomorphic pronoun, but am holding back, at least for now.

Here is Chat's response;

"Sure, here are ten possible areas where AI will be able to be used in the future that are not available today but will be available in the next few years: - 
  • Space exploration: AI will be able to assist humans in exploring and colonizing other planets, such as Mars, by performing tasks that require autonomy, adaptability, and resilience. AI will also be able to analyze astronomical data and discover new celestial objects and phenomena. ¹² 
  •  Artificial creativity: AI will be able to generate original and novel content, such as music, art, literature, and games, that can match or surpass human creativity. AI will also be able to collaborate with humans and other AIs in creative endeavours. ³⁴
  • Brain-computer interfaces: AI will be able to interface directly with human brains, allowing for enhanced communication, cognition, and perception. AI will also be able to augment or restore brain functions, such as memory, attention, and emotion. ⁵ 
  • Emotional intelligence: AI will be able to recognize, understand, and respond to human emotions, as well as to express its own emotions. AI will also be able to form emotional bonds with humans and other AIs, and to influence human behaviour and decision making.
  • Biotechnology: AI will be able to design and synthesize new biological molecules, such as proteins, enzymes, and drugs. AI will also be able to engineer and manipulate living organisms, such as bacteria, plants, and animals. 
  • Quantum computing: AI will be able to harness the power of quantum physics to perform computations that are beyond the reach of classical computers. AI will also be able to optimize and control quantum systems, such as qubits, sensors, and networks. 
  • Ethical reasoning: AI will be able to reason about moral values and principles, and to act accordingly. AI will also be able to explain its ethical decisions and actions, and to learn from human feedback and preferences. 
  • Social justice: AI will be able to detect and prevent bias, discrimination, and injustice in various domains, such as education, employment, health care, and law enforcement. AI will also be able to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity in society. 
  • Entertainment: AI will be able to create immersive and interactive experiences for humans, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. AI will also be able to personalize and adapt these experiences based on human preferences and emotions. 
  • Personal assistants: AI will be able to provide comprehensive and customized assistance for humans in various aspects of their lives, such as work, education, health, finance, travel, and leisure. AI will also be able to anticipate human needs and desires, and to proactively offer suggestions and solutions. 

 I hope this list gives you some ideas about the future applications of AI that might become available in the next few years.
😊 Source: Conversation with Bing, 25/10/2023 

 (2) The present and future of AI - Harvard John A. Paulson School of .... https://seas.harvard.edu/news/2021/10/present-and-future-ai
 (3) The future of Artificial Intelligence: Trends and applications - Educative. https://www.educative.io/blog/future-of-artificial-intelligence
 (4) Future of AI (Artificial Intelligence): What Lies Ahead? - Simplilearn. https://www.simplilearn.com/future-of-artificial-intelligence-article
 (5) The future of Artificial Intelligence: applications and possibilities. https://thehook.es/en/the-future-of-artificial-intelligence-applications-and-possibilities/."

Saturday 2 December 2023

How to fight back against antisemitism

There is an unprecedented, unacceptable and unrepresentative explosion of Pro Hamas, anti-Jewish demonstrations in Australia, and much of the Western world. I am not talking of a difference in opinion. Anyone is free to put forward anti-Israel arguments, and also promote Palestinians. 

But the recent marches screaming antisemitic tropes, "Gas the Jews" is not acceptable. Screaming mobs marching in Jewish areas outside synagogues to intimidate Jews, is not acceptable. Driving through Jewish suburbs in convoys with Palestinian flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans is not acceptable. Indoctrinating school children in anti-Israeli viewpoints is not acceptable. Journalists wanting to introduce bias into their reporting to provide a more sympathetic view to Hamas/Palestinians is not acceptable. Calls to boycott business owned by Jews or associated with Israel is not acceptable. 

Unthinkable though it may seem, all of these have occurred in Australia in the last 6 weeks. This is a serious issue for Australia and the West and will be hard to redress. 

Nevertheless, there is something we can all do.

By taking part in these demonstrations, and by putting their names on petitions these malicious antisemites expose themselves. It means they are no longer hidden. We can then choose not to employ them, refuse to buy their products, to boycott their companies. We can also go out of our way to support the businesses that these antisemites chose to boycott.

With this in mind here is a list of members of the MEAA (Media Entertainment and Art Alliance), the Union that represents a wide range of industries including journalists. 
They formed a pro-Palestine group and have also written a letter to urge MEAA journalists to provide better treatment of Palestine as opposed to Israel. Yes, Journalists want other journalists to be activists in pushing one point of view. 

The activists assume we will stand by while they harass, intimidate, indoctrinate our citizens. We do need to fight back.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Israel IS following rules of war

Widespread claims of war crimes against Israel have been made following Israel's military response to Hamas's unprecedenteed massacre of 1200 Israeli civilians and taking of 250 hostages on Oct 7. Even before Israel had organized any response Israel was being warned by Australia's foreign minister, Penny Wong to 'exercise restraint'. Everyone seems to accept that Israel has a right to self defense but they fall short of allowing Israel to do so unreservedly. Most often they add some qualification, warning Israel to follow the rules of war.  This is despite any evidence of Israel ever having not done so! And adespite Hamas , repeatedly, having broken the rules of war and perpetrating war crimes. 

Few commentators have clarified the rules of war to inform the public.  So any attempt is worth circulating. 
John Spencer is certainly well qualified to assess Israel's compliance with the 'rules of war;. See his bio below.

John Spencer is chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point, codirector of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project and host of the “Urban Warfare Project Podcast.” He served for 25 years as an infantry soldier, which included two combat tours in Iraq. He is the author of the book “Connected Soldiers: Life, Leadership, and Social Connection in Modern War” and co-author of “Understanding Urban Warfare.” 

In his article titled Opinion: I’m an expert in urban warfare. Israel is upholding the laws of war
published on CNN's Website, he covers the core issues.

War Realities:
  • All war involves killing and destruction, with civilians historically suffering the most in conflicts, especially in urban warfare.
  • Urban warfare presents unique challenges, impacting both soldiers and civilians, with noncombatants often constituting the majority of casualties.
  • Approximately 90% of casualties in modern urban wars involve civilians, even when led or supported by Western powers.
War Crimes and Legal Assessments:
  • Destruction and suffering in war don't automatically constitute war crimes; accusations must be assessed based on evidence and armed conflict standards.
  • Hamas violated multiple laws of war, including taking hostages, targeting civilians, and using human shields.
  • Israel's actions are subject to examination based on international humanitarian law principles, including military necessity, proportionality, distinction, humanity, and honour.
International Support for Israel:

President Joe Biden and European countries support Israel's self-defence, recognizing its right to immediate and unilateral self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Israel's Pledge to International Law:
  • Israel pledged to obey international law, with proportionality as a cornerstone, requiring consideration of civilian harm compared to military advantage.
  • Israel's actions, including targeting a senior Hamas commander, align with military necessity and proportionality principles.
  • IDF implements practices to minimize harm, such as warning civilians before strikes and providing evacuation routes.
Complex Principle of Distinction:
The principle of distinction requires Israel to differentiate between civilians and combatants, aiming to minimize civilian casualties.

Challenges in Urban Warfare:
Emptying a city of civilians before the urban battle is essentially impossible, posing challenges for minimizing harm.

Israel's Efforts and Cooperation:
Israel takes steps to constrain forces, provide safe areas, and cooperate with the US to facilitate humanitarian aid entry into Gaza.

Reality of Pursuing a Terrorist Organization:
Pursuing a terrorist organization in urban areas creates a nightmarish landscape, reminiscent of past campaigns against groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Evidence of Respect for Rules of War:
The visual impact of conflict in Gaza doesn't indicate indiscriminate bombing. Israel's restraint in using full military capacity suggests adherence to rules of war.

Defensive Campaign for Survival:
Israel's actions are framed as a defensive campaign to ensure its survival, challenging the characterization of revenge.

In summary ;

"Like all similar conflicts in modern times, a battle in Gaza will look like the entire city was purposely razed to the ground or indiscriminately carpet-bombed – but it wasn’t. Israel possesses the military capacity to do so, and the fact that it doesn’t employ such means is further evidence that it is respecting the rules of war. It is also a sign that this is not revenge – a gross mischaracterization of Israeli aims – but instead a careful defensive campaign to ensure Israel’s survival."