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Geopolitics

Scotland's Vote, Hitler's Food Taster, Monster Black Hole

Scotland's day of reckoning
Scotland's day of reckoning

SCOTLAND’S MOMENT OF TRUTH
The time has come for Scottish voters to decide whether they want to live in an independent Scotland or remain part of the United Kingdom. Polling stations will be open until 10 p.m. local time ,and the results are expected by tomorrow morning, though the counting could take longer than usual, as authorities believe the turnout will be historically high, with 97% of the electorate having registered to vote, the BBC explains.

POROSHENKO TO MEET OBAMA
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will be in Washington today for a meeting with President Barack Obama focused on economic and military aid, The Washington Post reports, although it is “far from clear” whether Poroshenko will obtain “a substantial new pledge” of U.S. support. This comes amid growing hopes that the conflict in eastern Ukraine might be nearing an end. A fragile two-week-old ceasefire is still in place, and Moscow has welcomed Kiev’s pledge to allow more autonomy to rebel-held regions, AFP reports. Meanwhile, a team of BBC reporters said they had been attacked in southern Russia.

HITLER’S FOOD TASTER TALKS
The only survivor of Adolf Hitler’s 15 young food tasters has broken her silence on what life was like at “Wolf’s Lair” headquarters during World War II. “There were constant rumors that the British were out to poison Hitler,” Margot Wölk told a German television program of her job to make sure the Nazi leader’s food wasn’t poisoined. “Some of the girls started to shed tears as they began eating because they were so afraid. We had to eat it all up.” Read more in English from The Independent.

NEW AID FOR SYRIAN REBELS
The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved President Obama’s $500 million plan to train and arm the “moderate” Syrian fighters who oppose both President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS forces, while the U.S. President renewed his promise that American troops would not be involved on the ground. Reuters reported this morning that ISIS fighters had seized 16 Kurdish villages in northern Syria in their march towards Ayn al-Arab, the third-largest Kurdish city in Syria.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Caixin reports, while criticism of medical care in China grows, public hospitals are offering a solution that is laughably shallow: “‘stewardess nurses,’ sporting smart uniforms, pretty faces and nice airs while providing services such as greeting people with smiles at the entrance, offering cups of water or opening the elevator door for patients.”
Read the full article, A Bogus Cure For Chinese Hospitals: Airline-Style Hostesses.

CHINA SEEKS CLOSER TIES WITH INDIA
Chinese President Xi Jinping began a three-day visit to India yesterday, the first by a Chinese head of state in eight years, aimed at boosting cooperation between the two countries through increased investment and trade, AP reports. This is a win-win situation for both, according to The New York Times, as China can “channel billions of dollars into Indian infrastructure and manufacturing projects, allowing Mr. Modi to pursue the jobs-creation agenda that was at the heart of his campaign.” The meetings between Xi Jinping and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi come amid ongoing reports in the Indian press of face-offs on the border. Read more from The Indian Express.

“Xi Jinping's thinking is more realistic and more open-minded,” Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said of the Chinese head of state.

APPLE’S IOS8 LOCKS OUT POLICE
Apple released its latest iPhone operating system iOS8 yesterday, and in doing so the company announced that the new encryption system included in the software update makes it impossible for them to unlock iPhones and iPads to the police, even with a search warrant, The Washington Post reports. The move represents a big step away from what critics have denounced as Apple’s close collaboration with the U.S. government and the NSA in particular. Apple also published a new section on its website dedicated to privacy, defending its policy in the wake of the scandal that followed the leak of personal celebrity photos.

A “MONSTER” BLACK HOLE
Astronomers using data from the Hubble Space Telescope have found what NASA calls “an unlikely object in an improbable place — a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known.” Read more here.

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Future

Hey ChatGPT, Are You A Google Killer? That's The Wrong Prompt People

Reports that the new AI natural-language chatbot is a threat to Google's search business fails to see that the two machines serve very different functions.

Photo of bubbles exploding

Mind blowing power

DeepMind
Tristan Greene

Since OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT to the world last November, people have wasted little time finding imaginative uses for the eerily human-like chatbot. They have used it to generate code, create Dungeons & Dragons adventures and converse on a seemingly infinite array of topics.

Now some in Silicon Valley are speculating that the masses might come to adopt the ChatGPT-style bots as an alternative to traditional internet searches.

Microsoft, which made an early $1 billion investment in OpenAI, plans to release an implementation of its Bing search engine that incorporates ChatGPT before the end of March. According to a recent article in The New York Times, Google has declared “code red” over fears ChatGPT could pose a significant threat to its $149-billion-dollar-a-year search business.

Could ChatGPT really be on the verge of disrupting the global search engine industry?

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