…the West may find itself out-competed in three different areas: First, it may find itself displaced in terms of the norms of international relations and development. Second, the economic infrastructure of development itself may be increasingly under Chinese political control. Finally, the sorts of deals offered by China may become more desirable by virtue of their adaptability to different cultures, regions, and political regimes, as compared with Western ideological demands. The reality is this: in a time when the Western model has become further delegitimized by its internal crises and foreign policy troubles, extensive rethinking is necessary in order for it to compete in these fronts.
A group of some of China’s smartest students have been recruited straight from high school to begin training as the world’s youngest AI weapons scientists.
Each student will be mentored by two senior weapons scientists, one from an academic background and the other from the defence industry, according to the programme’s brochure.
After completing a short programme of course work in the first semester, the students will be asked to choose a speciality field, such as mechanical engineering, electronics or overall weapon design. They will then be assigned to a relevant defence laboratory where they will be able to develop their skills through hands-on experience.
Creative people in general have an acute propensity for wonder. Great trauma can rob us of this, the ability to be awed by things. Everything loses its sheen and appears beyond our reach. We were surviving, but we were surviving in exile on the perimeter of our lives, way beyond anything that mattered.
So how do we return to our lives – to the awe of existence – and reclaim a sense of wonder? Well, for me, it had something to do with work but it also had something to do with community. Work and community. I kind of realised that work was the key to get back to my life, but I also realised that I was not alone in my grief and that many of you were, in one way or another, suffering your own sorrows, your own griefs. I felt this in our live performances. I felt very acutely that a sense of suffering was the connective tissue that held us all together. It was these two things – community and work – that showed Susie and me a way forward. Work became the lifelines thrown out to us as we floated lost in narcissism and self-absorption. It also became very clear to both of us that we were not alone! We could see there were many others out there, floating around in the dark, outside of their lives. It seemed to be everywhere we looked – people in search of meaning and wonder.
We all needed to draw ourselves back to a state of wonder. My way was to write myself there. I sat and wrote and wrote, and in doing so I found a way back, or at least a way through the veil of grief, to the other side. I felt very strongly that the communal suffering, and our ability to transcend it, was the thing that held us together. This was not some pessimistic worldview, quite the opposite really. It became clear that as human beings we have enormous capabilities that allow us to rise above our suffering – that we are hardwired for transcendence. This was an acute realisation that changed the nature of our relationship to everything.
In the two years since the 2016 US election, it seems ever more clear that Thucydides is the greatest historian not only of empire but also of contemporary politics. This excerpt is his account of civil war in Corcyra, 427 BC—and, equally, of politics in America, AD 2018:
…it was in Corcyra that there occurred the first examples of the breakdown of law and order. There was the revenge taken in their hour of triumph by those who had in the past been arrogantly oppressed instead of wisely governed; there were the wicked resolutions taken by those who, particularly under the pressure of misfortune, wished to escape from their usual poverty and coveted the property of their neighbors; there were the savage and pitiless actions into which men were carried not so much for the sake of gain as because they were swept away into an internecine struggle by their ungovernable passions. Then, with the ordinary conventions of civilized life thrown into confusion, human nature, always ready to offend even where laws exist, showed itself proudly in its true colors, as something incapable of controlling passion, insubordinate to the idea of justice, the enemy to anything superior to itself; for, if it had not been for the pernicious power of envy, men would not so have exalted vengeance above innocence and profit above justice. Indeed, it is true that in these acts of revenge on others men take it upon themselves to begin the process of repealing those general laws of humanity which are there to give a hope of salvation to all who are in distress, instead of leaving those laws in existence, remembering that there may come a time when they, too, will be in danger and will need their protection.