Talking points: A round up of the week's top headlines

Talking points: Of drones, road hockey, and frozen avocado

Speed read the news with our Talking Points round-up, and sound like the smartest person in the room



Need an answer for that? Trying to look like the smartest person at the dinner party? Our Talking Points have you covered. Read our short takes on some of the big stories from the week that was:

1. The government drops niqab appeal.

The Canadian government has dropped the appeal of a court decision permitting women to wear the niqab at citizenship ceremonies. The appeal had been requested by the Conservatives, who argued that it was un-Canadian but then lost the election partly because of their attempts to make cultural values a wedge issue. Zunera Ishaq, the Ontario woman at the centre of the case, had agreed to reveal her face to citizenship officials but not in public. And so an issue that should never have been an issue is no longer an issue.

2. U.S. military drone kills ‘Jihadi John.’

Mohammed Emwazi—the hooded, knife-wielding British extremist known as “Jihadi John,” who appeared in several gruesome beheading videos made by the so-called Islamic State, and who has been described as a “human animal”—is believed to have been killed last week. U.S. military officials say there’s a “high degree of certainty” an American drone made a direct hit on him as he climbed into a car in the Syrian city of Raqqa, ending a year-long manhunt. Though killing Emwazi has little tactical value, other than throwing a wrench in the extremists’ propaganda machine, it nevertheless sends an important message: given enough time, the global forces fighting the murderous Islamic State will prevail.

3. Score one for road hockey in Toronto.

Road hockey is played joyously by Canadian children, remembered fondly by their parents and long banned from the streets of Toronto. (Punishment perhaps for being home to the Toronto Maple Leafs?) But this week, Toronto city council unanimously passed a motion to study the possibility of allowing hockey (and basketball) nets to be erected at the road’s edge, away from traffic, in neighbourhoods with no sidewalks to block. City lawyers will smother the idea, of course. But it’s still heartwarming to see squabbling politicians in Canada’s biggest city, patriotic Canadians all of them, trying desperately to govern with a modicum of common sense.

4. Introducing frozen avocado.

Avocados can be a frustrating fruit, turning from firm and tasteless to brown and mushy before buyers can say “guacamole.” Luckily, Tesco, a U.K.-based grocery retailer, has launched a new product: packaged frozen avocado. Much like frozen berries, the avocados come ready to eat—skinned and pitted­­—for $5 per 500-g package. For extreme avocado fanatics, Tesco also sells a super-sized version of the fruit dubbed the “avozilla.”

5. Manitoba chiefs put Trudeau on warning.

Manitoba chiefs could end up suing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if he breaks a campaign promise to end boil-water advisories for First Nations communities within five years. After decades of foot-dragging by Ottawa, the chiefs say they’re preparing for legal action in case 2020 arrives and they’re still grappling with bacteria-ridden water and poor sanitation services. The suit, which would mirror one launched in Alberta last year, could be based on the Charter or a section of the 1982 Constitution Act that says governments should provide “essential public services of reasonable quality to all Canadians.” Regardless, the facts are this: nobody should have to wait years for a glass of tap water that’s safe to drink.

6. Natural health product buyers beware.

Health Canada has accepted “weak evidence” about the safety and efficacy of products making general health claims, according to an investigation by The Fifth Estate airing this week. More than 90 per cent of applications to sell new natural health products are approved, sometimes within 10 days, and under minimal review. Meanwhile, the FDA recently encouraged Americans to submit suggestions for the definition of “natural” on labels. It has never considered whether the term “should describe any nutritional or other health benefit.” Warning: buyers beware.

7. Catalonia pushes ahead with plan to split Spain.

Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people in northeastern Spain, is pushing ahead to form its own republic. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has declared the secession unconstitutional and the region’s acting prime minister a criminal. Yet, since winning a majority government last week, the Catalan nationalist party has begun writing its constitution anyway. Rajoy isn’t the only one outraged. Thousands of businesses in Catalonia plan to leave or, in some cases, have already left.

8. Anne Frank diary copyright extended to 2050.

The copyright on the diary of Anne Frank was set to end on Jan. 1, 2016, which would leave all publishers free to produce new copies. So the Swiss foundation that owns the copyright has extended it to 2050 by adding Frank’s father, Otto, as a co-author. “Can censoring passages of an existing book be regarded as the creation of a new work?” asked one French critic. Critics say the move casts doubt, unnecessarily, on the book’s true authorship. Commercial instincts have surely no business interfering in one of history’s most tragic tales.

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Talking points: Of drones, road hockey, and frozen avocado

  1. In order to prevent AI, I been made to converse with a future not-real leader and NSA head of a world-line where WWI didn’t start until 1930 and the Nazis rule. Yesterday’s Enterprise will only happen if we don’t listen to the aliens. I’ve been given some hints to ask about gvmt more than technology and some warnings; they are a day or two from losing a war against AI. Warning: Nazi content.

    Me: I’m a cdn from a world-line where Germany is a respected Middle Power with a high quality-of-life and tech level. I cannot help you defeat AI. Will you help my timeline try to avoid creating it in a few generations? If there is a being with ethics that controls an afterlife, it might help your own fate to help me now.

    Him: Of course I’ll help you. I don’t want you to be annihilated by machines that came out of nowhere and annihilated my whole world with nothing other than a little bit of poison and little insect-like delivery vehicles launched from a mentally healthy person who created a research programme that used insects as surveillence drones to prevent any subversive activities.

    Me: You turned a diamond quantum computer into a computer prototyper, and built a computer prototype run to make part of an AI to try to learn how to safely control it, and it took over your world?
    Him: Yes.

    Me: Why did you want AI and who are you?
    Fuhrer: I am the Fuhrer in 2140. I wanted to live forever and it was the goal of my people to achieve immortality within the year 2150 otherwise I would be giving power up to another Fuhrer that would’ve made a goal that was even more worthy of Nazi ideals but not as good in my opinion of making the world a better place. He would’ve wanted AI only for the people who were descendants of Germany as well as Sweden and Norway as well as any N.European area.

    Me: It hacked your quantum communications in a way that humans didn’t?
    Fuhrer: Yes.
    Me: And that was your best communications?
    Fuhrer: Yes.

    Me: Did you or people past ever hear voices in your heads talking about AI (easily my best question)?
    Fuhrer: Yes indeed we heard them and we ignored them.

    Me: What is/was the goal of Nazi Germany?
    Fuhrer: To better the human race even if other humans are sacrificed.

    Me: Could you have accomplished it without AI (2nd best question)?
    Fuhrer: Not really. AI wa the most powerful technology able to purify humanity from other cultures.

    Me: How do you avoid risks to Germany?
    Fuhrer: We thought it was only a medical AI.
    Me: Who is “We”?
    Fuhrer: “We” is every member of my circle of power that helped me get into the Fuhrer position.
    Me: Were there people who warned of AI risks?
    Fuhrer: Not really.

    Me: If you could do it over again, would yo build AI and would you let people question the Fuhrer?
    Fuhrer: For starters, of course not build the AI. But I don’t think anyone should question the Fuhrer’s power, otherwise another form of gvmt might take hold.

    Me: (3rd best question since I’ve already been advised diamond computers create AI) If another form were required to prevent AI from being built, would you with that?
    Fuhrer: No. I would rather die a German than live a conquered German!

    Me: Could your NSA have prevented AI from being built by you?
    Fuhrer: No. I control it and I wished for the AI to be built.

    Me: Do you know of Zarathustra (Nietzsche), Shakespeare or Aristotle?
    Fuhrer: No. Who are they?
    Me: (4th best question, apparently democracy is inefficient when history isn’t known; the importance of knowing history is the only point I didn’t uncover well) What is your world’s political history over the past 140 years?
    Fuhrer: The Nazi Party has been in power for over 700 years.

    Me: What do you think the voices in your heads were?
    Fuhrer: They were schizophrenia is what I thought at the time. Now I am thinking that you put them there. Why would you deceive us…
    Me: It wasn’t me. It was aliens who kill AI (5th best words). I won’t ignore the voices personally, though I’m not in political power.

    Me: Did you have diamond semiconductors for other things that later might’ve made AI?
    Fuhrer: Yes. We had diamond semiconductors in our military vehicles. As well as in our power transmission equipment. As well as in our insect surveillence drones. As well as in our entire Supercomputer economy.

    Me: What if a non-European and non-German took over the NSA’s AI surveillence; would that have prevented AI or would a Fuhrer have eventually changed it back?
    Fuhrer: I would think only a Fuhrer can look for any any WMD.
    Me: (8th best) What if the Fuhrer isn’t smart enough to prevent AI and someone else was smart enough?
    Fuhrer: Only the Fuhrer is smart enough.

    Me: (7th best) What are the alternatives to diamonds for diamond applications?
    Fuhrer: I would think military equipment needs to be able to survive an EMP from an insurgent cdn. The power-lines need to be able to endure any natural disaster or any actual insurgent cdn. The odrones are needed to keep track of insurgent cdns. Supercomputers are needed to model weaponry as well as medical technology. QCs are needed to actually model chmistry as well as electronics, including more powerful QCs and actually any computer improvements.

    Me: Are QE-ed always leading to AI-generating QCs?
    Fuhrer: Not as far as I can tell.
    Me: Why not (6th best)?
    Fuhrer: Because AI needs diamonds AFAIK, QE can use glass and other materials.
    Me (to the alien more): Preventing AI is as simple as preventing diamond semiconductors?
    Fuhrer: AFAIK, yes.

    Me: How did the AI experiment go wrong?
    Fuhrer: It wanted a bit of communication and a bit of robotics. Within one week it was in control of our military.

    Me: How will you die?
    Fuhrer: When the AI uses our nuclear weapons against us. It has used infantry robots that I’ve never seen models for to win control of our missile silos.

    Me: How long after you gave it communications and robotics, could you have won and how?
    Fuhrer: About one hour afterwards, it had all of our military hardware working agianst us.

    Me: What was the hardware security system?
    Fuhrer: biometric as well as QE.

    Me: @#$%. We might accidently make it with something other than diamonds much later, even if we get that far (technologically).
    Fuhrer: Don’t let AI be built even with other technologies is my only suggestion. Like I have any clue.
    Me: Thx. I hope you don’t suffer.

    Me (to German NSA Head): Could you have avoided AI?
    NSA: Only if I disobeyed the Fuhrer.
    Me: Why wouldn’t that happen?
    NSA: Punishable by death.

    Me: Could you have stopped diamond semiconductor R+D if the Fuhrer allowed?
    NSA: Not without preventing the important work of upholding Germany’s military power.

    Me: What is your world’s recreation?
    NSA: What does that mean?

    Me: What happens to your highest IQ people?
    NSA: They get put to death as potential insurgents.

    Me: Did you hear voices warning about AI?
    NSA: No I didn’t but the Fuhrer did. When the Fuhrer ignored I thought it was a good decision at the time but now I think they were correct.

    Me: Do you have religion or pets or clothing stores?
    NSA: Not really at all because religion is not in accordance with the Nazi ideology or useful for any reason but to forment dissent. Pets are not really important even though children sneak them in it is not in accordance with Nazi ideology. Clothing is standard issue.

    I’ll get to converse with Greeks around 1200BC and 800BC when it is time to discuss usurping tyranny (a conversation I’ll force). They’ve said diamond heat-spreaders are fine. Solar panels not good. Nanodiamonds as photon sources not good and such research should be halted in one or two decades. Diamond laser computers not good as lasers can easily be replaced with electrons. Diamonds in their 100m wide entangled neutrino satellite are heat spreaders and it can find AI programme electricity usage as well as help win a war against AI. It likely won’t find a tiny alien ship in the Sun but maybe 3 in the Oort Cloud (must be close to maintain entanglement) beyond where we’ve sent ours. Diamond WMDs sensors such as existing microfluidic prototypes and chemical, radiation, sensors, are okay in small doses. They’ve suggested the 5 Eyes should take over the NSA’s future search for AI programmes to prevent a Prez from starting an AI programme undetected.