Egypt's Future

Egypt held a presidential election this week. The official results will be announced on Monday. Spoiler alert: incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will be declared the winner.


Sisi has solved the near-term problem of how to hold onto power. Imprison thousands of potential troublemakers. Handpick your election opponent. Drive all credible challengers out of the race. To ensure turnout, pay people to vote and threaten fines on those who don’t. Count the votes. Declare victory.

But this won’t solve the longer-term problems facing Egypt, for which Sisi will now be held responsible. Nearly a third of the country’s 90 million people lives in poverty, a percentage that has grown over the past 20 years. More than half that population is under twenty-five.

In November 2016, to try to get its financial house in order, the government devalued Egypt’s currency and cut fuel subsidies. Angry protests followed. This time last year, bread riots erupted in many Egyptian cities following news that the state had reduced the number of subsidized bread loaves it allows each family to buy.

Egypt’s population is projected to reach 120 million by 2030, and 150 million by 2050. Population growth creates urban sprawl, which leaves less land for agriculture, exacerbating already serious shortages of food and water. Unless Sisi decides he cares as much about his country as he does about political control, this is the shape of things to come.

Scientists, engineers and technologists are turning to nature in search of solutions to climate change. Biomimicry is now being applied in the energy sector, medicine, architecture, communications, transport and agriculture in a bid to make human life on this planet more sustainable and limit the impacts of global warming. New inventions have been inspired by humpback whales, kingfishers and mosquitoes.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

The drumbeat for regulating artificial intelligence (AI) is growing louder. Earlier this week, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet, became the latest high-profile Silicon Valley figure to call for governments to put guardrails around technologies that use huge amounts of (sometimes personal) data to teach computers how to identify faces, make decisions about mortgage applications, and myriad other tasks that previously relied on human brainpower.

More

January 27 marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi extermination camp. But even as some 40 heads of state gathered in Jerusalem this week to commemorate the six million Jews who were killed, a recent Pew survey revealed that many American adults don't know basic facts about the ethnic cleansing of Europe's Jews during the Second World War. Fewer than half of those polled knew how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and close to a third didn't know when it actually happened. Here's a look at some of the numbers.

1: The Greek parliament has elected a woman president for the first time since the country's independence some 200 years ago. A political outsider, Katerina Sakellaropoulou is a high court judge with no known party affiliation. "Our country enters the third decade of the 21st century with more optimism," Greece's prime minister said.

More

A quarantine in China– Local authorities have locked down the city of Wuhan, the source of the outbreak of a new and potentially deadly respiratory virus that, as of Thursday morning, had infected more than 540 people in at least six countries. Other nearby cities were also hit by travel restrictions. Rail and air traffic out of Wuhan has been halted. Public transportation is shut, and local officials are urging everyone to stay put unless they have a special need to travel. Wuhan is a city of 11 million people, many of whom were about to travel for the Chinese New Year. We're watching to see whether these extraordinary measures help stem the outbreak, but also to see how the people affected respond to the clampdown.

More