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Does the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the flames of jihadism?

 Paul Cruickshank: The Israeli-Palestinian issue is very, very important when discussing the war on terrorism.  It’s a key part of it.  Now 9/11 happened and was planned at a time when you were having the Oslo Peace Process.  You were having a real dynamic towards peace over there, and people often site that fact to say that Al Qaeda and terrorism have nothing to do with whatever happens in Israel and Palestine.  But I don’t think that argument is a very well made one.  It’s a very simplistic type of argument.  Of course Israel and Palestine plays into the Al Qaeda equation, because it’s used by Al Qaeda again and again in the statements of bin Laden and …as . . . as one of the reasons for why, again, a war against the United States.  As they’re claiming the United States is at league with Israel and the Jewish crusader plot to oppress and subjugate Muslims around the world.  That’s the way they view this struggle.  And they see whatever is going on in Palestine and whatever is going on in Israel as key to this.  In recent statements, bin Laden has made a huge amount . . .  Sorry.  In recent statements bin Laden has made a very great . . .  In recent statements bin Laden has really focused in on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.  He said that that is . . . the aim of Al Qaeda is to gain control of part of Iraq and use that to then launch an attack to wipe out Israel.  They disagree with Hamaas, which they feel is toying with the idea of some sort of agreement with the Israelis.  They disagree with that entirely.  They are absolutely unprepared to see any part of Israel exist.  They wanna take Israel totally out of the equation.  And they’re hammering this message home and trying to position themselves as the hawks on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and trying to gain recruits by doing that; gaining recruits when people are angry about what’s going on in that country.  So this is a very important issue for them moving forward.

 

 Question: Is Israel-Palestine al-Qaeda’s informing motive?

 

Paul Cruickshank: I think it’s very central to their informing motive.  Bin Laden has a lot of enemies.  You know Al Qaeda had a lot of enemies.  They had a lot of goals, but one of their key goals is the removal of Israel from the Middle East.  Another one of their goals is the removal of all American influence from the Middle East; but Israel is seen as part of that American influence within the region.  So for Al Qaeda, Israel is front and center here.  I think there’s . . .  I think some experts from time to time have said, well Israel and Palestine is not so important to Al Qaeda as an issue.  I think that’s sort of wrong to say that.  It’s a very important part of their motivation.  It’s an important part of their rallying cry for recruits around the world.  Certainly Al Qaeda has very little presence in the Palestinian territories.  Hamaas, Islamic jihad, other groups very much dominate the scene now and not allowed Al Qaeda to have any real presence over there.  And Hamaas, remember, has a very, very different ideology to Al Qaeda; a very different ideology.  They come very much from the Muslim Brotherhood scene.  The Muslim Brotherhood are mortal enemies of Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda are mortal enemies of the Muslim Brotherhood because the Muslim Brotherhood is a political organization.  They’re much more moderate, and it has really not very much time for the sort of really violent rhetoric that Al Qaeda indulges in.  Obviously the Muslim Brotherhood views the conflict . . . the standoff in Israel and Palestine as a different matter; one where violence is justified against what they see as a foreign occupation.  But the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda are very, very different.  Hamaas and Al Qaeda have very, very different conclusions about attacking civilians around the world; attacking Americans.  So Al Qaeda hasn’t really been able to ___________ itself into the Palestinian conflict.  But it’s definitely used that conflict as a recruiting tool.

 

Recorded on: Jan 14 2008

More radical than Hamaas, bin Laden uses the conflict to the advantage of al-Qaeda.

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.

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  • Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
  • Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
  • One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
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Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.

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