Connect with us

Science & Technology

Sputnik V in the International Arena

Avatar photo

Published

on

Over a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic in March 2020, the disease is far from under control. Although global case rates on the whole have declined, 15 countries remain near or at the peak of their infection curve. Even countries well below their peak daily infection rates – such as the United Kingdom and Morocco – recently have witnessed an uptick in cases. Just this summer, the virus’ global death toll surpassed 4 million. Fortunately, scientists’ efforts to develop vaccines against COVID-19 have been fruitful: 16 vaccines have been either authorized for emergency use or fully approved. Russia’s Sputnik V is one of the most effective of them, yet one of the most controversial as well.

An important tool in humankind’s fight against the pandemic, Sputnik V is being overlooked by western powers on political grounds.

Sputnik V: controversy and advantages

Much of the controversy surrounding the Gamaleya Institute’s vaccine in western media and political discourse stems from the details surrounding Sputnik V’s approval. Russia’s Ministry of Health issued a registration certificate for the vaccine on August 11, 2020, thus making Sputnik V the world’s first vaccine to be granted regulatory approval for use against COVID-19. Instead of igniting international celebration, this development was met largely with skepticism as many considered the move premature. Typically, vaccines undergo extensive Phase 3 trials before government authorization for use. Sputnik V’s Phase 3 trials, however, did not begin until September 2020, after the vaccine had been registered. Since then, the Russian Ministry of Health’s unorthodox approach to approving the vaccine has been weaponized against Sputnik V.

Western media has also repeatedly called into question Sputnik V’s efficacy and safety. A study in the respected, peer-reviewed medical journal the Lancet, however, found that Sputnik V has an efficacy rate of 91.6% and is low-risk. Although a group of scientists raised concerns about the study’s integrity citing lack of transparency, no major scientific studies demonstrating that Sputnik V’s efficacy is significantly lower than reported have been published to date. Respected western media sources, such as the New York Times and the BBC, cite the Lancet’s figure when reporting on Sputnik V’s efficacy. Meanwhile, a report by the Argentinian Ministry of Health found that Sputnik V is one of the safest vaccines widely used in Argentina. As summarized in the Lancet: “the development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticised for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency. But the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated, which means another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.”

Regardless of such controversy, the vaccine has several key advantages – namely its efficacy, affordability, and transportability. Sputnik V is one of only three vaccines globally with an efficacy of over 90% – the other two being Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Running at less than $10 per dose on international markets, Sputnik V is the cheapest vaccine in this efficacy range. For comparison, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine runs between $14.50 and $20.00 on international markets, while Moderna’s vaccine sells for between $18.00 and $33.00 a dose. Sputnik V is also much easier to transport than its U.S./German counterparts. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines must be stored at -70.0°C and -20.0°C respectively, whereas Sputnik V must be kept at a temperature range from 2 to 8°C, meaning that it can be stored in conventional refrigerators. This makes delivering the vaccine notably easier, especially to remote areas. Thus, Sputnik V is poised to make an important contribution to the global inoculation campaign.

Hurdles and victories in the international arena

Russia’s frontrunner vaccine has experienced a mix of hurdles and victories in the international arena. The biggest hurdles are regulatory in nature. For example, one major obstacle preventing the vaccine’s distribution is that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – the EU agency responsible for authorizing and evaluating medicines – has not yet approved Sputnik V. The EMA is still undergoing its rolling revue of the vaccine, and it appears that approval is unlikely to be granted until September at the earliest. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi recently raised the possibility that Sputnik may never get the EMA’s approval, casting further doubt on the vaccine’s future in Europe. The EMA’s regulatory hesitancy towards Sputnik V has prevented major EU players, such as Germany and France, from buying millions of doses of the vaccine.

Sputnik V similarly has not yet been cleared for Emergency Use Listing by the WHO. The UN agency found production violations at the Sputnik V manufacturing site in Ufa during a June examination. Although the WHO’s concerns have since been addressed according to Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, the incident has further put on hold the Russian Direct Investment Fund’s (RDIF) commitment to supply the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund with 220 million doses of Sputnik V. In a similar vein, the RDIF applied for Sputnik V to participate in COVID-19 vaccine access program COVAX earlier this year. Discussions with the Vaccine Alliance Gavi regarding Sputnik V’s inclusion in the COVAX Facility’s Portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines, however, are still ongoing.

Although Sputnik V’s lack of EMA and WHO approval has hampered its international rollout, the ongoing authorization process has not eliminated the vaccine’s global relevance. In fact, the Russian vaccine is currently authorized for emergency use in nearly 70 countries and being used in 45. Two EU member states, Hungary and Slovakia, even have begun inoculating their citizens with Sputnik V without a greenlight from the EMA. Meanwhile, India and Turkey have ordered 250 million and 50 million doses of the vaccine, respectively. One thing is clear: Sputnik V is in high demand internationally despite the regulatory hurdles and controversies it faces. Trust in the Russian vaccine also remains markedly high notwithstanding these challenges. A poll conducted by British market research firm YouGov during February and March of this year found that, of participants who had a preference, 54.0% trusted Russia to produce a vaccine and 33.2% preferred to be vaccinated with Sputnik V. According to the survey, Russia and the United States are tied for the most trusted vaccine producing country, and Sputnik V is the second most preferred vaccine after Pfizer-BioNTech, which 36.6% of respondents favored. The survey featured respondents from the following 9 countries, collectively accounting for 25% of the global population: India; Brazil; Mexico; the Philippines; Vietnam; Argentina; Algeria; the UAE; and Serbia.

Sputnik V has been particularly successful in Latin America, a core region of the United States’ sphere of influence. Repeated polling has shown that Sputnik V enjoys high levels of confidence in Latin American countries, especially Argentina and Peru. The Russian vaccine got an early start in the region when on December 29, 2020, Argentina became the first Latin American country to administer the Sputnik V vaccine to its citizens. Mexico followed suit on February 24 and Nicaragua on March 2, 2021. To the surprise of many observers, on June 4 Brazil joined the list of countries that have approved Sputnik V.

Unfortunately, alongside the success Sputnik V has experienced in Latin America, the vaccine has also encountered a substantial challenge: supply shortages. Both Mexico and Argentina are currently facing shortages of Sputnik V’s second dose – and the problem is not confined to the region. Luckily, Russia’s strategy for eliminating supply shortages not only promises to see more people vaccinated, but also provides an opportunity for Russia to collaborate with its international partners: the country will manufacture vaccines abroad. Starting in July, 5 to 6 million doses of Sputnik V are set to be produced outside of Russia per month. Manufacturing countries include India, South Korea, and Brazil. The Argentine laboratory Richmond produced its first half million doses on June 18. The data sharing and collaboration necessary to manufacture Sputnik V abroad have the potential to increase Russia’s soft power in partner countries.

The other major players

It is crucial to note that Russia’s Sputnik V is only one piece in the puzzle of fighting COVID-19. Although an in-depth review of every country’s current approach to vaccine policy is beyond the scope of this article, a brief overview of the major vaccine providers’ – the United States, the United Kingdom, and China – global vaccine distribution is in store.

Unlike Russia, whose approach to vaccine distribution has been global facing since Sputnik V’s development, the United States initially favored domestic distribution and stockpiling of American vaccines. The Biden Administration has since turned course. The U.S. recently pledged to share 80 million U.S. vaccine doses by the end of June and to purchase 500 million additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for lower-income countries over the next year. Pfizer-BioNTech is currently being distributed in 105 countries, Moderna in 55, and Johnson&Johnson in 27.

The United Kingdom’s Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is currently being used in 178 countries, making it the most widely-used COVID-19 vaccine to date. Although evidence that the vaccine is linked to blood clots put a rut in its distribution, the vaccine is performing well internationally. Meanwhile, China’s Sinopharm-Beijing and Sinovac vaccines are being used in 40 and 32 countries, respectively. China has favored international distribution of its vaccines since the beginning of the pandemic and has shipped more vaccines abroad than any other country. The vaccines referenced in this article – among others – have collectively led to 22.2% of the world’s population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Conclusion

Western, especially American, media has portrayed Sputnik V in an overwhelmingly negative light. The Russian vaccine is represented more as a political tool than a health solution. Hiccups in the road to Sputnik V distribution are cited as evidence that the vaccine is not to be trusted. This approach to Sputnik V is fundamentally flawed. Regulation and safety inspections are crucial to safe vaccination efforts; finger-pointing and name-calling are not. Ultimately, vaccination should take precedence over politics. Alongside other vaccines, Sputnik V will propel us into a post-pandemic world.

Above all else, Sputnik V is a highly efficacious vaccine against COVID-19. When Sputnik V successfully performs its function – safely preventing vaccinated people from contracting and dying from the virus – a growth in vaccinated individuals’ trust of Russia will organically follow. This happy side effect undoubtedly has the potential to promote Russia’s image abroad and increase the country’s soft power. But even if Russia’s political gains from Sputnik V turn out to be small, humankind’s gains in lives saved will be immeasurable.

From our partner RIAC

Continue Reading
Comments

Science & Technology

Kissinger and the current situation considering the development of Artificial Intelligence and the Ukrainian crisis

Avatar photo

Published

on

Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)

Kissinger has recently published some reflections on the course of world politics in recent decades, with references to the return of the 20th century conflicts brought to light by the development of new weaponry and strategic scenarios mediated by Artificial Intelligence. Kissinger has also referred to the situation in Ukraine and the equilibria between the United States, Russia and China.

Kissinger has stated that instant communication and the technological revolution have combined to provide new meaning and urgency to two crucial issues that leaders must address:

1) what is essential for national security?

2) what is necessary for peaceful international coexistence?

Although a plethora of empires existed, aspirations for world order were confined by geography and technology to specific regions. This was also true for the Roman and Chinese empires, which encompassed a wide range of societies and cultures. These were regional orders that co-evolved as world orders.

From the 16th century onwards, the development of technology, medicine and economic and political organisation expanded Europe’s ability to project its power and government systems around the world. From the mid-17th century, the Westphalian system was based on respect for sovereignty and international law. Later that system took root throughout the world and, after the end of traditional colonialism, it led to the emergence of States which – largely formally abandoned by the former motherlands – insisted on defining, and even defying, the rules of the established world order – at least the countries that really got rid of imperialistic domination, such as the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, etc.

Since the end of World War II, mankind has lived in a delicate balance between relative security and legitimacy. In no previous period of history would the consequences of an error in this balance have been more severe or catastrophic. The contemporary age has introduced a level of destructiveness that potentially enables mankind to self-destruct. Advanced systems of mutual destruction were aimed at pursuing not ultimate victory but rather at preventing others’ attack.

This is the reason why shortly after the Japanese nuclear tragedy of 1945, the deployment of nuclear weapons began to become incalculable, unconstrained by consequences and based on the certainty of security systems.

For seventy-six years (1946-2022) while advanced weapons grew in power, complexity and accuracy, no country was convinced to actually use them, even in conflict with non-nuclear countries. Both the United States of America and the Soviet Union that accepted defeat at the hands of non-nuclear countries without resorting to their own most lethal weapons: as in the case of the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan (both the Soviets and the Americans in that case).

To this day, such nuclear dilemmas have not disappeared, but have instead changed as more States have developed more refined weapons than the “nuclear bomb” and the essentially bipolar distribution of destructive capabilities of the former Cold War has been replaced by very high-tech options – a topic addressed in my various articles.

Cyber weapons and artificial intelligence applications (such as autonomous weapon systems) greatly complicate the current dangerous war prospects. Unlike nuclear weapons, cyber weapons and artificial intelligence are ubiquitous, relatively inexpensive to develop and easy to use.

Cyber weapons combine the capacity for massive impact with the ability to obscure the attribution of attacks, which is crucial when the attacker is no longer a precise reference but becomes a “quiz”.

As we have often pointed out, artificial intelligence can also overcome the need for human operators, and enable weapons to launch themselves based on their own calculations and their ability to choose targets with almost absolute precision and accuracy.

Because the threshold for their use is so low and their destructive ability so great, the use of such weapons – or even their mere threat – can turn a crisis into a war or turn a limited war into a nuclear war through unintentional or uncontrollable escalation. To put it in simple terms, there will no longer be the need to drop the “bomb” first, as it would be downgraded to a weapon of retaliation against possible and not certain enemies. On the contrary, with the help of artificial intelligence, third parties could make sure that the first cyber-attack is attributed to those who have never attacked.

The impact of this technology makes its application a cataclysm, thus making its use so limited that it becomes unmanageable.

No diplomacy has yet been invented to explicitly threaten its use without the risk of an anticipated response. So much so that arms control Summits seem to have been played down by these uncontrollable novelties, ranging from unmarked drone attacks to cyberattacks from the depths of the Net.

Technological developments are currently accompanied by a political transformation. Today we are witnessing the resurgence of rivalry between the great powers, amplified by the spread and advancement of surprising technologies. When in the early 1970s the People’s Republic of China embarked on its re-entry into the international diplomatic system at the initiative of Zhou Enlai and, at the end of that decade, on its full re-entry into the international arena thanks to Deng Xiaoping, its human and economic potential was vast, but its technology and actual power were relatively limited.

Meanwhile, China’s growing economic and strategic capabilities have forced the United States of America to confront –

for the first time in its history – a geopolitical competitor whose resources are potentially comparable to its own.

Each side sees itself as a unicum, but in a different way. The United States of America acts on the assumption that its values are universally applicable and will eventually be adopted everywhere. The People’s Republic of China, instead, expects that the uniqueness of its ultra-millennial civilisation and the impressive economic leap forward will inspire other countries to emulate it to break free from imperialist domination and show respect for Chinese priorities.

Both the US “manifest destiny” missionary impulse and the Chinese sense of grandeur and cultural eminence – of China as such, including Taiwan – imply a kind of subordination-fear of each other. Due to the nature of their economies and high technology, each country is affecting what the other has so far considered its core interests.

In the 21st century China seems to have embarked on playing an international role to which it considers itself entitled by its achievements over the millennia. The United States of America, on the other hand, is taking action to project power, purpose, and diplomacy around the world to maintain a global equilibrium established in its post-war experience, responding to tangible and imagined challenges to this world order.

For the leadership on both sides, these security requirements seem self-evident. They are supported by their respective citizens. Yet security is only part of the wide picture. The fundamental issue for the planet’s existence is whether the two giants can learn to combine the inevitable strategic rivalry with a concept and practice of coexistence.

Russia – unlike the United States of America and China –  lacks the market power, demographic clout and diversified industrial base.

Spanning eleven time zones and enjoying few natural defensive demarcations, Russia has acted according to its own geographical and historical imperatives. Russia’s foreign policy represents a mystical patriotism in a Third Rome-style imperial law, with a lingering perception of insecurity essentially stemming from the country’s long-standing vulnerability to invasion across the plains of Eastern Europe.

For centuries, its leaders from Peter the Great to Stalin – who, by the way, was not even Russian, but felt he was so in the internationalist spirit that led to the creation of the USSR on 30 December 1922 – have sought to isolate Russia’s vast territory with a safety belt imposed around its diffuse border. Today Kissinger tells us that the same priority is manifested once again in the attack on Ukraine – and we add that few people understand and many others pretend not to understand this.

The mutual impact of these societies has been shaped by their strategic assessments, which stem from their history. The Ukrainian conflict is a case in point. After the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the turning of its Member States (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, German Democratic Republic, Poland, Romania, Hungary) into “Western” countries, the whole territory – from the security line established in central Europe up to Russia’s national border – has opened up to a new strategic design. Stability depended on the fact that the Warsaw Pact in itself – especially after the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe held in Helsinki in 1975 – allayed Europe’s traditional fears of Russian domination (indeed, Soviet domination, at the time), and assuaged Russia’s traditional concerns about Western offensives – from the Swedes to Napoleon until Hitler. Hence, the strategic geography of Ukraine embodies these concerns emerging again in Russia. If Ukraine were to join NATO, the security line between Russia and the West would be placed within just over 500 kilometres of Moscow, actually eliminating the traditional buffer that saved Russia when Sweden, France and Germany tried to occupy it in previous centuries.

If the security border were to be established on the Western side of Ukraine, Russian forces would be within easy reach of Budapest and Warsaw. The February 2022 invasion of Ukraine is a flagrant violation of the international law mentioned above, and is thus largely a consequence of a failed or otherwise inadequately undertaken strategic dialogue. The experience of two nuclear entities confronting each other militarily – although not resorting to their destructive weapons – underlines the urgency of the fundamental problem, as Ukraine is only a tool of the West. Dario Fo once said that China was an invention of Albania to scare the Soviet Union. We can say that Ukraine is currently an invention of the West to scare Russia – and this is not a joke. An invention for which Ukrainians and Russians are paying with their blood.

Hence the triangular relationship between the United States of America, the People’s Republic of China, and the Russian Federation will eventually resume, even if Russia will be weakened by the demonstration of its intended military limitations in Ukraine, the widespread rejection of its conduct, and the scope and impact of sanctions against it. But it will retain nuclear and cyber capabilities for doomsday scenarios.

In the US-Chinese relationship, instead, the conundrum is whether two different concepts of national greatness can learn to peacefully coexist side by side and how. In the case of Russia, the challenge is whether the country can reconcile its vision of itself with the self-determination and security of the countries in what it has long called its “near abroad” (mainly Central Asia and Eastern Europe), and do so as part of an international system rather than through domination.

It now seems possible that an order based on universal rules, however worthy in its conception, will be replaced in practice, for an indefinite period of time, by an at least partially decoupled world. Such a division encourages a search at its margins for spheres of influence. In such a case, how will countries that do not agree on global rules of conduct be able to operate within an agreed equilibrium design? Will the quest for domination overwhelm the analysis of coexistence?

In a world of increasingly formidable technology that can either elevate or dismantle human civilisation, there is no definitive solution to the competition between great powers, let alone a military one. An unbridled technological race, justified by the foreign policy ideology in which each side is convinced of the other’s malicious intent, risks creating a catastrophic cycle of mutual suspicion like the one that triggered World War I, but with incomparably greater consequences.

All sides are therefore now obliged to re-examine their first principles of international behaviour and relate them to the possibilities of coexistence. For the leaders of high-tech companies, there is a moral and strategic imperative to pursue – both within their own countries and with potential adversary countries – an ongoing discussion on the implications of technology and how its military applications could be limited.

The topic is too important to be neglected until crises arise. The arms control dialogues that helped toning down and showing restraint during the nuclear age, as well as the high-level research on the consequences of emerging technologies, could prompt reflection and promote habits of mutual strategic self-restraint.

An irony of the current world is that one of its glories – the revolutionary explosion of technology – has emerged so quickly, and with such optimism, that it has outgrown its dangers, and inadequate systematic efforts have been made to understand its capabilities.

Technologists develop amazing devices, but have had few opportunities to explore and evaluate their comparative implications within a historical framework. As I pointed out in a previous article, political leaders too often lack adequate understanding of the strategic and philosophical implications of the machines and algorithms available to them. At the same time, the technological revolution is eroding human consciousness and perceptions of the nature of reality. The last great transformation – the Enlightenment – replaced the age of faith with repeatable experiments and logical deductions. Now it is supplanted by dependence on algorithms, which work in the opposite direction, offering results in search of an explanation. Exploring these new frontiers will require considerable efforts on the part of national leaders to reduce, and ideally bridge, the gaps between the worlds of technology, politics, history and philosophy.

The leaders of current great powers need not immediately develop a detailed vision of how to solve the dilemmas described here. Kissinger warns that, however, they must be clear about what is to be avoided and what cannot be tolerated. The wise must anticipate challenges before they manifest themselves as crises. Lacking a moral and strategic vision, the current era is unbridled. The extent of our future still defies understanding not so much of what will happen but of what has already happened.

Continue Reading

Science & Technology

The non-limits of Artificial Intelligence and moral and survival issues

Avatar photo

Published

on

The man-made artificial brain is autonomous because it is capable of emotional expressiveness and self-consciousness. Efforts to develop a strong Artificial Intelligence have also made considerable progress in the field of neural engineering, as well as in our understanding of the human brain. But while some focus on the still distant dream of a thinking computer, some believe that the journey is more important than the destination. The priority is to use scientists’ opportunities and discoveries to develop new methods for the early detection of cancer and in the hope of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease: in short, to save lives.

If mankind is to survive and advance to higher levels, a new kind of thinking is essential: Albert Einstein said as much over seventy years ago and the idea could not be more relevant and topical today. Controlled intelligent machines will soon enable us to overcome our toughest challenges, not only to cure diseases, but to eradicate poverty and hunger, to heal the planet and to build a better future for all of us: for that future to become a reality for our children. We have always wanted to change the world, but for the time being we should be content to understand it first.

For as many as 130,000 years, our ability for reasoning has remained unchanged. All the intelligence of neuroscientists, mathematical engineers and hackers pales in comparison to the most basic artificial intelligence. Once activated, a sentient machine would soon surpass the limits of biology, and in a short time its analytical power would exceed the collective intelligence of all human beings in the history of the world.

Just imagine such an entity with a full range of human emotions, including self-consciousness. Some scientists call it singularity, others supernaturality. This means that the path to building such a super-intelligence requires us to unlock the most fundamental secrets of the universe. What is the nature of consciousness? Will a machine soul with artificial intelligence exist? And if so, where will it reside? Some might ask whether we want to create a god through artificial intelligence: the question is fundamental, since wanting to create a god or replace it – as in the case of cloning – is what man has always done.

Many scientists, however, do not understand the way in which the problem struggles in the tension between the potential of technology and its dangers. They only tend to the goal of doing something never achieved, of surpassing their colleagues, of being better: this is what used to be called “championism” aimed solely at individual selfishness detached from the true needs of the group, of the community, of mankind.

In recent years, the United States of America, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the G20, the OECD, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Google, Microsoft, the Partnership on AI (a non-profit coalition committed to the responsible use of Artificial Intelligence), and other institutions, governments, and companies have proposed ethical standards, principles, and framework constraints in various dimensions, as well as the establishment of a corresponding ethics or advisory committee on Artificial Intelligence. The development of Artificial Intelligence is inseparable from the consideration and supervision of ethics and moral considerations.

It is not yet known what kind of capabilities the development of Artificial Intelligence will achieve in the future and in what form it will coexist with humans. After all, the current Artificial Intelligence is still in the early stage of development, but the general direction is clear, i.e. “reliable Artificial Intelligence”, “technology for the good of people”, etc. – in short, to induce Artificial Intelligence to build a better life for human beings.

It should be said, however, that, at this stage, Artificial Intelligence is mainly limited to military objectives, such as the Maven project contract between the US Department of Defence (DoD) and Google. The background is to use Artificial Intelligence to interpret video images so as to enable drones to attack specific targets more accurately. After all, Google plans not to renew the DoD-Maven project under citizens’ pressure. The medium- and long-term constraints, instead, must be to steer the development of human-guided machines so that they use Artificial Intelligence technology to serve humans and not military purposes of mutual destruction.

The body structure of humans and that of machines are both the union of atoms and molecules, but the quantity and combination are very different. The transmission of biological information is mainly in the form of chemical and electrical synapses, i.e. the interchange of electrical and chemical signals, which can also be achieved in the future in machines by technical means. Nevertheless, including all the matter and material structures around us, machines can be guided and constructed by special invisible and intangible frequencies. Our bodies and external matter itself are only the gaols to be guided and manifested. As mentioned above, only human consciousness is so far impossible to recreate as the source is generated, or is guided and controlled by a hidden form, which could also be the quantum entanglement. In this regard, gravitational waves from a black hole are thought to alter people’s consciousness. Hawking radiation is a real phenomenon. It is the radiation that is released outside the event horizon of a black hole due to relativistic quantum effects: it has been observed and measured. If consciousness is related to quantum entanglement, then those same electrons could be related to those in the nucleus of our brain cells. Gravitational waves can project consciousness into another space-time. This is a further reason why for sidereal travels in the vicinity of black holes, it is not recommended to send human crews, but rather machines that do not suffer the loss of a consciousness that it is good they should not actually have.

Consciousness has completely different definitions in philosophy, psychology and biology. It is generally believed to be people’s ability to recognise the environment and themselves. At the current level of technology, we can only surmise what controls consciousness. Some studies have shown that the claustrum is the switch of brain consciousness, but this is currently only at the stage of experimental speculation. The claustrum is a thin layer of grey matter, a bilateral collection of neurons and supporting glial cells that connects to cortical regions (e.g. the pre-frontal cortex), or to subcortical regions (e.g. the thalamus) of the brain. It is located between the insula medially and the putamen laterally, separated by the extreme and external capsules, respectively.

Consciousness is assumed to be the effect of the magnetic field of the human mind. In quantum mechanics, scientists believe that pure magnetic fields (and pure electric fields) are the effects caused by virtual photons that, however, are photons the reality of which cannot be directly observed.

The conclusions of a study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, show that human DNA is a channel for the reception of energy, which enables human beings to proceed normally. Energy reception mainly refers to the acquisition and transfer of photons, which make the water molecules around the DNA full of energy and strengthen the helical structure. The human body is composed of organs and organs are made up of hundreds of millions of cells.

Each cell is thought to have a certain magnetic field and human organs composed of cells also have an additional magnetic field. The magnetic field of the mind interferes with the magnetic field of each cell, thus affecting and conditioning the development of bodily functions and the behaviour of the human being.

Today, it is more reliable to say that consciousness is the connection of neuronal synapses formed after synaptic growth in childhood. It gradually begins to form and has the ability of immediate memory, which is activated by the bodily functions themselves. Since birth, each of us is destined to evolve, and hence see the “real world” that we perceive as limited by the functional characteristics of our body, which makes us accept the reality in front of us as a summation of habits (established experience) and unforeseen events to be resolved (intelligence). From childhood to adulthood, from birth to death, human thoughts, choices, basic senses and personality are all limited by the inherited structures and ways of thinking existing in the brain. All this is directed by the so-called consciousness. All decisions are the result of “self-awareness”, a further synonym for consciousness.

Everything around us is a function of a huge cosmic Brownian motion, which appears to be regular but is actually irregular. Brownian motion is a natural phenomenon whose mathematical representation describes the time course of a very broad class of random phenomena that have a rationally determined outcome, what we mistakenly call “coincidence”. When analysed, it is actually just a progressive series of daily interactions that lead to a certain climax. Let me give a tragic example.

A lady leaves her house in Paris, stops to feed her cat: it takes her 20 seconds. She gets into her car, crosses the city, stops at a crossroads. The car following her skids and swerves, the headlights blind the view of the driver coming in the other direction, and… bang… Princess Diana crashes into a tunnel and Elton John sells a lot of records for millions of pounds and other related profitable activities. The simplest things make a huge difference, and coincidences do not exist except in the limited view of our mental perception accustomed to “rational” habit.

Bats use ultrasonic waves to identify the world; snakes use infrared beams to find their prey, and humpback whales can communicate hundreds of kilometres away. The world in their eyes is completely different from that of humans. What we see, hear and smell is only what we think, as what our senses perceive is only a fraction of what is happening around us. This means that we cannot prove that the world seen by some animals may not be the real world.

If humans have the ability to control the formation and development of consciousness and inject such a structure of consciousness into a humanoid machine driven by the same neuronal function, there could be a situation in which neither the machine nor the humans can distinguish whether or not the other is a machine or a human: this is ontology.

In terms of composition of the elements: biological and physiological characteristics; methods for transmitting information; ideology and other characteristics. There is no absolutely correct difference – hence how can there be an ethics for humans as seen by a machine that has consciousness?

It is just that – no matter how hard humans try – they may not be able to discover or control the generation of consciousness in a machine, including hidden existences such as dark matter (a hypothetical component of matter that, unlike known matter, would not emit electromagnetic radiation and would currently be detectable only indirectly through its gravitational effects) and dark energy (a form of energy that cannot be directly detected and is homogeneously spread throughout the space), which cannot be identified.

Apart from the unique sense of freedom that human beings regard as such, what component has not the characteristics that correspond to the periodic table of elements? Our consciousness can also be the result of the seemingly natural but irregular movements of various hormones, cells and synapses in the body guided by hidden substances. In turn, the wisdom and skill of Artificial Intelligence may one day surpass the limits of human beings, but even so, it is unlikely that among human beings the fittest will survive on the basis of a Darwinistic approach. For example, in ancient times, the savage phase was prone to cannibalism due to problems of survival and, above all, of intelligence related to brain development.

In modern society, after solving the problem of food and clothing, humans have started to pay attention to the earth, the environment, ecology and respect for animals. Animals instinctively understand that in order to satisfy their needs, they need to live in harmony with their whole and the environment. If human beings really are the basis of the wisdom of the entire planet, will highly intelligent machines also take care of us as small animals and pets, on par with our dog or the aforementioned cat in Paris?

It is therefore our duty to be ethically concerned about issues arising from Artificial Intelligence: it is the justified fear of being overwhelmed by those we now think we control.

Continue Reading

Science & Technology

«Chip war» against China threatens to undermine America

Published

on

The Biden Administration has been expanding sanctions against the electronic industry of China. In turn, Silicon Valley companies are being increasingly viewed as a major instrument of big politics. However, the “geopoliticization” of the IT industry on the part of Washington threatens to further undermine the international positions of the United States in this significant sector of the economy.

China’s progress in IT technologies has been a point of Washington’s concern for years. Unlike before, when they talked mostly about the “threat to the economic positions” of the USA and the West as a whole, now they are signaling concern over “security issues”. A number of  new restrictions introduced early in October were designed, as western observers say, to slow down the development of the Chinese IT industry to such an extent that would guarantee the United States supremacy in applying cutting-edge IT technologies for military purposes. Among other measures, Biden has substantially limited the participation of US residents in developing technologies for the Chinese IT sector.

As Bloomberg reported a few days ago, “the United States intends to restrict China’s  access to AI and quantum computing technologies”. The White House has been elaborating administrative measures with a view to establish tough limitations and control of western investments in a number of critically important technology-related sectors of China. Quantum computers and AI are among top-priority issues. In case of implementation, the new restrictions will enhance the earlier adopted ones.

It looks like that Biden Administration has been trying to revive the practice introduced by Trump. In 2018 the Trump Administration imposed a wide range of sanctions against China’s IT giant Huawei, which was accused, without any proof, of assisting in “espionage schemes and secret surveillance projects conducted by the Chinese authorities”. They slapped a complete ban on the supplies of American parts which were critical for Huawei products to be competitive on the global market. At present, western sources are signaling content, though not over the cessation of “secret espionage” but over the fact that Huawei’s export revenues have decreased considerably, along with the range of products.

Meanwhile, according to The Economist, Trump’s «success» had a negative side. The Republican Administration overtly ignored the interests of the allies and partners. As a result, western investors began to invest in businesses and supply chains of components that were exempt from the control of the American supervisory bodies. Japanese companies offered a full range of electronic components as produce that was free from technological restrictions imposed by the United States. Some US leading companies, which supplied billions of dollars’  worth of products to the Chinese market annually, started to open branches and representative offices in foreign jurisdictions, thereby bypassing Washington’s restrictions.

By early 2022, having acknowledged a limited range of the existing sanctions, the Biden Administration introduced a new variant of export control, which envisaged tough restrictions on the export to China of components whose characteristics go beyond a certain technological level. At the beginning of October, the ban was expanded to include chips which were produced less than 14 nanometers, or, in some cases, less than 16 nanometers. Such harsh restrictions, along with the unilateral measures taken by Washington, continue to trigger discontent among many nominal allies of the United States.

Biden has also been taking steps to encourage the return of microelectronics production facilities to the United States. In spring, the White House presented a bill on chips and science, The CHIPS and Science Act, which provides for the allocation of at least 52 billion dollars as subsidies for the construction of new “factories” to produce state-of-the-art processors on the territory of the United States. Also in spring, Biden spoke at a ceremony on the site of a future enterprise to be built by Intel – a top processor manufacturer in the US. Plans to build a new “factory” in the US have been voiced by Taiwanese TSMC – a major and the most technologically advanced microprocessor producer in the world.

However, America is facing a lot of “opposition”. According to Foreign Affairs, the CHIPS and Science Act, which came into force at the end of August, is not enough to restore US leading positions in microelectronics. An influx of financial resources will not settle all the problems. What is needed is a breakthrough in the managerial and technological culture and a clear understanding on the part of Washington politicians of all the subtleties and issues the contemporary microelectronics industry is confronted with.

By now, most Silicon Valley companies have lost the spirit of technological “iron” innovations. A wide variety of new “high-tech” companies founded in the USA in the 2000s do not produce products that can be touched with hands. The lion’s share of profit comes from advertising in apps or search systems. The hype over trendy software novelties, which spread across America, enabled the competitors from Asia to break forward in designs, particularly in the production of sophisticated microchips. In addition, globalization in its current shape, aimed at outsourcing the productions of end products to where they are the most cost-effective, has played an evil joke on America. «De-industrilization» covered not only a large number of American industries – it spread on to affect the thinking patterns of their managers and engineers.

At the same time, even American experts admit that the harder they try to “contain” China, the harder it becomes for Washington to persuade its allies in Europe and Asia to follow suit. Active assistance from other countries in restricting the export of indispensable parts, machines and technologies to China is vital, for without it the Unites States risks inflicting irreparable damage to its own electronics sector, in the first place. Investors will surely opt for areas where they can avoid draconian US restrictions and where they can continue to develop mutually profitable business ties with China.

America is “stuck” having to choose between the less tough approach towards restrictions in the exchange of technologies, which can  yield a greater effect, on the one hand, and the attempts to “suppress” the advanced Chinese microelectronics over a short period of time, on the other, risking inflicting substantial damage to its own IT potential.

Firstly, many American producers of semi-conductors depend heavily on the supplies to the Chinese market, one of the world’s biggest. As The Financial Times reports, the share of supplies to China makes up one third in the portfolio of orders of Applied Materials, a California-based company, which produces machinery for the processing of silicon wafers. 27 percent belongs to Intel. And 31 percent – to Lam Research, one of the leading suppliers of processor manufacturing equipment.

Secondly, the slowdown of American and global economy may lead to a decrease in sales in the microelectronics sector, which is bound to produce a negative impact on the prospects for new investments. The IT industry is thus facing a slowing down, if not a recession, time. According to The Economist, about 30 major American microchip producers signal an 11-billion-dollar reduction in cumulative revenue prospects for the third quarter since July. The combined capitalization of US-based chip producers has dropped by more than 1.5 trillion dollars this year.

Political pressure has been building up as well, as Washington requires the microelectronics industry to reduce its dependence on China at an early date. Thus, the deteriorating situation on the market is being worsened further by yet more administrative and political restrictions.

Meanwhile, leaders of US companies fear that Beijing may impose measures in response, introducing yet more limitations on the access of American producers to its vast domestic market. As reported by The Financial Times, Europe  is concerned that a further expansion of sanction restrictions on the part of the United States will inflict ever more damage to companies and consumers in the Old World. The Chinese producers may find themselves without so-much-needed parts and components. A decrease in supplies will also affect European aerospace enterprises, car manufacturers, producers of medical equipment, and the cloud-based computing sector. The producers of electronic parts from Taiwan, including the key player TSMC, and their counterparts from South Korea, are likely to run into difficulties supplying their businesses in China, which account for dozens of percent of the total output. Japanese companies have been holding heated debates on the middle-and long-term consequences of the restrictions on the use of American components while dealing with Chinese counteragents.

Finally, the severance of scientific ties with China will ruin the innovative potential of American designers. Chinese researchers are already demonstrating a much higher citation index in a whole range of research and technology areas, compared to their American colleagues. According to Beijing Review, during the Trump presidency they launched the so-called “Chinese Initiative” – a set of administrative measures aimed at tracking down potential spies among scientists and engineers of Chinese descent. As the anti-Chinese sentiments gain momentum, throwing America into an atmosphere of hostility and suspicion towards Chinese scientists and experts, thousands of researchers and engineers, including from the microelectronics industry, have left or are planning to leave the USA and move to China, the Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) said.

Washington’s “efforts” could sadly result in a further decrease of the share of American producers on the global market and an overall drop in the global influence of the US technological sector. All these are happening amid a decrease in demand, caused by an oncoming recession.  In the past, the United States repeatedly and successfully forced the destructive dilemma “security or development” on their opponents. Now, America itself risk being trapped by its own hopelessly outdated logic of the past.  

From our partner International Affairs

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Economy31 mins ago

Why the burden on business women to ‘do it all’ must stop

Glorifying multi-tasking by women is something we are all guilty of – across the globe we celebrate women who have...

Energy3 hours ago

Analyzing China Solar Energy for Poverty Alleviation (SEPAP) Program

In 2014, China deployed a large-scale initiative named as Solar Energy Poverty Alleviation Program (SEPAP) to systematically alleviate poverty in...

Europe5 hours ago

Significance of first EU-Bangladesh political dialogue

The European Union (EU) and Bangladesh held their first “political dialogue” on Thursday (November 24) in Dhaka to “elevate” their...

Energy8 hours ago

USA-KSA Energy War and Global Energy Crisis

The response of the USA to OPEC and its partner’s plan to reduce output by two million barrels per day...

Eastern Europe13 hours ago

Is a Marshall Plan for Ukraine possible?

Reflecting on Ukraine’s future beyond the current conflict, many politicians and experts speculate about the expediency of a new Marshall...

International Law16 hours ago

Why International Institutions Survive: An Afterword to the G20 Summit

We, of course, are extremely critical of the very idea of global institutions and the prospects for their survival amid the emergence of a qualitatively...

Terrorism Terrorism
Defense18 hours ago

America Produces Biological Weapons; Does Russia? Does China?

On November 26th, Russia’s RT News bannered “US ‘military biological activities’ a threat to the world – Russia”, and reported...

Trending