So You Were Afraid To Ask: What is AI, Actually?

Artificial Intelligence is the loose name for a group of technologies that allow computers, fed with mountains of data and clever algorithms, to perform cognitive tasks that previously required human brainpower.

Beating human champions at Go or Chess, getting Alexa and Siri to understand voice commands, detecting fraudulent activity on your credit card, or automatically recognizing the faces in your Facebook photos are just a few ways AI is being used today. But those functions are going to grow dramatically in the coming years: driving cars, taking care of your elderly parents, or controlling autonomous lethal weapons.

From a political standpoint there are three big issues. First, who controls all the personal data that feeds AI algorithms. Is it you, your government, or the company that makes the phone/browser/app that you’re using right now? Second, who regulates what’s inside those algorithms and how that data is used? Third, is Vladimir Putin right that whatever nation leads in AI will “rule the world”?

Eni's luminescent solar concentrators can help smart windows and next-generation buildings generate electricity. But even Eni hadn't imagined using this technology to create eyeglasses capable of charging mobile phones and headsets.

Introducing Funny Applications, Eni's video series that imagines new, unexpected uses for technology. Watch the premiere episode.

We've written recently about how the COVID-19 pandemic will hit poorer countries particularly hard. But the burden of the virus' spread also falls more heavily on working class people even in wealthy countries, particularly in Europe and the United States. This is exacerbating the divide between rich and poor that had already upended the political establishment in countries around the world even before anyone had heard of a "novel coronavirus."


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Meet Mark Wetton, a Kentucky-based businessman who owns a dust-collection factory in Wuhan. He has been there since the beginning of the outbreak, and describes the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak there, life in lockdown, and what things are like today as the city finally begins to reopen its borders and come back to life. He also shares some lessons learned that he hopes Americans will heed.

The coronavirus is likely to hit poorer countries particularly hard, but it is also laying a bigger burden on working class people even in wealthy ones. As less affluent people suffer disproportionately not only from the disease, but also from the economic costs of containing it, we can expect a worsening of income inequalities that have already upended global politics over the past few years. Here is a look at inequality in some of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 so far.

500 million: The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could plunge 500 million people into poverty, according to a new report released by Oxfam. As incomes and economies continue to contract, global poverty will increase for the first time in 30 years, the report predicts, undermining many of the gains of globalization that have pulled millions out of poverty in recent years.

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