DAILY DOSE: Climate change at the top of governments’ agenda; Bruce Willis deepfake proves the future will be complicated.

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SOUTH PACIFIC CLIMATE AGREEMENT.

With COP27 nearing, governments around the world are making visible efforts to appear proactive on the climate change front. Look no further than Australia and Singapore. Per the Associated Press,

Australian and Singaporean leaders announced Tuesday what they described as a world-first agreement to cooperate in transitioning their economies to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese outlined their so-called Green Economy Agreement between the two countries after an annual meeting in the Australian Parliament House.

The agreement has 17 components that cover facilitating trade and investment in green services, harmonizing standards and building green growth sectors through collaboration between businesses.

Australia has committed to reducing its emissions to net-zero by 2050 and Singapore is considering adopting the same target.

There must be some sort of database that keeps track of climate pledges and whether countries actually follow through. If there isn’t, there should be. https://bit.ly/3MDQAag


LIP SERVICE.

Speaking of the politics of climate change, Egypt is set to host the COP27 conference. According to some reports, they are merely going through the motions in order to reap the financial benefits and prestige of being the host country. Per The Guardian

The Egyptian regime is eager to celebrate its official climate “youth leaders”, holding them up as symbols of hope in the battle against warming. But it’s hard not to think of the courageous youth leaders of the Arab spring, many of them now prematurely aged by more than a decade of state violence and harassment from systems that are lavishly bankrolled by military aid from western powers, particularly the US. It’s almost as if those activists have just been substituted by newer, less troublesome models.

It all gets so tiring after a while. Is anyone anywhere actually on the level? Doubt it. https://bit.ly/3s5vlES


CORONAVIRUS VS. IMMUNE SYSTEMS.

Science did a long form explainer on how Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, evades the immune system. We love these kinds of user-friendly things. Here’s a taste from the introduction,

Alpha, Beta, Delta, Omicron, BA.5—with each new SARS-CoV-2 variant or subvariant, the coronavirus seems to hone its ability to infect and spread between people. Although vaccines, drugs, and immunity from prior infections are allowing more and more people to dodge severe cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus has already killed more than 6 million people, according to the World Health Organization, and the true toll may exceed 18 million. Some virologists worry COVID-19 is here to stay, with SARS-CoV-2 potentially sickening people once or more a year as adenoviruses and other coronaviruses that cause the common cold do.

One key to the virus’ success is its ability to neutralize the body’s immune response, thanks to its arsenal of proteins. Over the past 3 years, investigators have begun to explore those viral countermeasures. They’ve shown that many of SARS-CoV-2’s molecules manage to shield the virus—at least temporarily—from host immunity, allowing the invader to replicate and spread to more people.

Needless to say, the article is worth the read. https://bit.ly/3D75va3


IS THIS THE END?

More often than not, the paranoia around artificial intelligence and the pending end of humanity doesn’t live up to the hype once you take a closer look at the current state of the technology. That said, if there’s one thing that supports people’s unease, it’s the whole deepfake thing. The latest incident is more serious than the famous Tom Cruise thing. Per Wired

Last month the actor had the strange experience of “appearing” in an ad where he was tied to a bomb on the back of a yacht, growling "Mississippi" in a Russian accent. The Telegraph reported the deepfake was possible because he sold his performance rights. That wasn't quite true—a representative for Willis later told reporters the actor had done no such thing. And as my colleague Steven Levy wrote a few days ago, the company who made the ad—the cheekily named Deepcake—never claimed to hold Willis' future rights, but had struck a deal that allowed the company to map a digital version of his appearance onto another actor in a commercial for the Russian cell network Megafon.

Yet the question of “who owns Bruce Willis,” as Levy put it, isn’t only a concern for the Hollywood star and his representatives. It concerns actors unions across the world, fighting against contracts that exploit their members' naivety about AI. And, for some experts, it's a question that implicates everyone, portending a wilder, dystopian future—one in which identities are bought, sold, and seized.

So maybe the pending end of humanity isn’t that far off after all? https://bit.ly/3yM4vWk

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.


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