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What Indonesia Can Teach Us About Tolerance

Question: Is tolerance staging a comeback?

Ian \r\nBuruma:  Well of course it is not dead, but what has happened is \r\nthat tolerance which we on the whole used to regard as a positive term \r\nmore and more has become a very negative one, and that those who are \r\nafraid that the West or Europe in particular is going to be Islamized, \r\nthat Europe is going to end up as Eurabia or that we’ll be swamped by \r\nintolerant Muslims and so on, tend to see tolerance as at best \r\nindifference, at worst a sort of cowardly appeasement and collaboration \r\nwith Islamic fascism.  I think that is very regrettable because \r\ntolerance in the sense of being able to live with people whose opinions \r\nor values you may not share, as long as everybody abides by the law and \r\ndoesn’t start you know slitting each other’s throats I think is \r\nnecessary. And you can’t demand—and the United States is a good example \r\nof this—that the entire population shares exactly the same cultural \r\nvalues, it’s impossible, nor should one demand it.  I mean diversity is \r\npart of the societies we live in.

\r\nQuestion:
Who does multiculturalism hurt?
\r\n

Ian Buruma: Well multiculturalism, if it is simply a \r\ndescription of a society which consists of various different cultures \r\nand languages, is one thing.  We live in such societies.  \r\nMulticulturalism as an ideology that somehow supposes that or promotes \r\nthe idea that people should stick to their own culture and not integrate\r\n or assimilate I think is wrong. But I think as an ideology it is \r\ncertainly on the way out.  I don’t think that that many people believe \r\nin that anymore.  I think that when you think of it in that dogmatic way\r\n it harms minorities because they’re not encouraged to learn the skills \r\nor the languages that would allow them to take part in the societies and\r\n the economies in a way that would be beneficial to them.

\r\nQuestion:
How have former British colonies dealt with the phenomenon\r\n of multiculturalism?
\r\n

Ian Buruma:  Well India is rather a good example of a \r\nplace which has institutionalized multiculturalism in the sense that it \r\nincludes a population of very different cultures and even ethnicities \r\nand I don’t just mean Muslims and Hindus.  There are a huge number of \r\ndifferent languages in India and so on. And somehow it works even though\r\n there are instances of violence and tensions and it is a democracy \r\nthat's hugely problematic, but it works.  They’ve found a way of dealing\r\n with it that actually probably the West in its more hysterical moments \r\ncould learn something from.
\r\n
\r\nIndonesia likewise. It was only a nation state because of... because the\r\n Dutch colonial history made it that.  I mean it is highly diverse.  It \r\nhas only just become a democracy and showing many tensions, but I think \r\nagain one probably we should be paying more attention to Indonesia \r\nbecause it is the country with the largest Muslim population in the \r\nworld and when people say Islam in incompatible with democracy they \r\nshould take another look at Indonesia.

Question: Are \r\nurban-rural divisions a source of violent culture clash in Europe?
\r\n

Ian Buruma:   Well the violence that comes from radical \r\nIslamists for example is sometimes blamed on a clash of civilizations \r\nthat somehow different traditions, one a non-Western one, one a European\r\n one, are sort of violently clashing.  I think that is a mistake.  It’s a\r\n mistake in analysis, because the people who drop bombs in the London \r\nunderground for example are not guest workers from little villages in \r\nAnatoli or the Rif Mountains in Morocco.  They’re people born in Europe \r\nand raised in Europe who often grew up not knowing much about religion. \r\nAnd I think they indeed are often in a kind of no man’s land, which is \r\nvery often true of second generation immigrants, where they are \r\nalienated from the culture of their parents or grandparents and feel \r\nrejected for one reason or another by the country in which they grew up.\r\n And of course they’re vulnerable, particularly vulnerable, to violent \r\ncauses.  All young people are vulnerable to them, but they are perhaps \r\nespecially vulnerable.

Recorded April 21, 2010

Looking for a model of successful multiculturalism? You could do worse than former European colonies such as India and Indonesia.

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.

Videos
  • 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.
Keep reading Show less

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.

Keep reading Show less

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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