Russia, AI, Climate Change – The West Can Overcome Big Threats If We Pull Together | Adam Boulton | UK News

What are the major threats to our way of life?

This issue was a hidden concern at the London defense conference this week, which was attended by the Prime Minister and Chief of the Defense Staff as well as academics and politicians from across the Western world.

The immediate crisis is UkraineOf course.

There was a general consensus that victory is essential not only for Ukraine but also for the continued security of its allies. On the sidelines of the conference, George Robertson, former NATO Secretary General and British Defense Secretary, warned that the rules-based order would be over unless Russia’s illegal and violent invasion was repelled. .

Autocrats in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere will feel free to grab territory and rewrite national borders if Putin gets away with invading a sovereign neighbor.

The Commander of the British Armed Forces, CDS Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, insisted that NATO must do everything in its power to support the Ukrainian forces, unless it joins the fight. The UK aims to train more than 20,000 Ukrainian troops this year. He argued that Western politicians should “not be afraid of escalation”.

Hurry up. Many feared that support for Ukraine would quickly fracture if donald trumpor another Trumpist Republican, be elected to the presidency of the United States in November 2024. Even though retired US Army General Ben Hodges was convinced that the bipartisan support of Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress would survive even that.

Ukraine is rewriting global power relations.

More importantly, NATO was bolstered by the once-neutral Finland and Sweden seeking to join. Against this, Russia And China came together, while the rising “middle” powers in India, Africa and Latin America deliberately refused to take sides, thereby indulging Putin’s ambitions.

There is broad agreement in the West that Russia cannot be allowed to win the war

Beyond the much-desired and essential liberation of Ukraine as a free nation-state, what challenges lie ahead? I asked an all-female group of experts to compile a “future risk” register of threats they see to our security.

Their suggestions went very far: conflicts with Russia and/or China over Taiwan and the Arctic; Iran; nuclear weapons; Chinese expansionism, and conversely an economic slowdown in China; fragmentation or disruption of global supply chains and communications networks; climate change; competition for hydrocarbon-based energy sources and rare earth metals essential for both digital communications and renewable energy generation; collapse of society due to increasing economic pressures.

Despite the immense damage caused by Russia, there has been a surprising consensus that the Putin regime has miscalculated and that Russia is now effectively a dependency of China. Russia’s rebuff in Ukraine eliminated any active threat of invasion from China Taiwanfor all of President Xi’s stated intention to resolve the issue this generation.

Russia’s power lies in its role as an oil and gas supplier. He has now joined Saudi Arabia in OPEC+ and China brokered a careful reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, another hydrocarbon producer. As Europe weanes itself off Russian energy, these suppliers are finding new customers and increasing their influence in other parts of the world.

Helen Thompson, professor of political science at the University of Cambridge, raised the possibility that a new OPEC-like cartel could emerge from countries with rare earth metals that are vital for new technologies. “Even if we succeed in decarbonizing,” she said, the amount of dependence on foreign metals we will have will be enormous.”

At the same time, she pointed out that the best efforts of Saudi Arabia and its allies had failed to prevent the United States from becoming the world’s largest producer of oil and gas. The world is becoming more and more competitive and multipolar, but the United States should remain dominant thanks to its natural resources, its technological advance and the strength of its economy.

As China’s population ages, its economy grows more slowly. Western leaders must be vigilant as China seeks to bend existing global institutions such as the UN to its own advantage but, unlike Russia, according to Professor Thomson, China is keen to break the world order based on rules established after the Second World War.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool
Experts have warned of China’s ambitions, but say any active threat to Taiwan has disappeared

Since the launch of ChatGPTpolitical leaders have expressed concern about the “existential” threat posed by artificial intelligence.

Sam Altman, the chief executive of Open AI – which developed Chat GPT, has been summoned to testify before the US Congress. This week, he attended a meeting with Rishi Sunak, along with other tech bosses, to discuss how to moderate AI and avoid disaster.

So far, the cooperation appears to be working, as technology innovators, including Elon Muskraise their concerns with legislators.

Meanwhile, Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger focused on the potential consequences of AI. Mr. Kissinger, who was President Nixon’s secretary of state in the 1970s, is considered by many to be a foreign policy guru.

In a series of interviews on the occasion of his 100th birthday this weekend, he warned: “The speed with which artificial intelligence acts will make it problematic in crisis situations… I am now trying to make what I did on nuclear weapons, to draw attention to the importance of the impact of this development… It’s going to be different. Because in the previous arms races, you could develop plausible theories about how you could win. It’s a totally new problem intellectually…”

His comment helps explain why AI was not considered a major risk by my panel. AI and quantum computers are likely to be extraordinarily powerful tools, but they will ultimately be regulated and directed by human beings. They don’t have an independent agency. It’s up to us to do it right.

FILE - The OpenAI logo
AI raises concerns, but it will eventually be regulated and directed by humans

With a “I’d say it’s not me?”, Polly Scully argued that data processing was potentially an asset that could improve the lives of citizens through better analysis and threat warning.

His background was as a British civil servant working on improving the crisis. She now works for Palantir, the big data analytics company co-founded by Peter Thiel, a major Silicon Valley investor.

Panelists – also including Chinese expert Francesca Ghiretti and Mafrid Brout Hammer from the University of Oslo – agreed that a greater threat was posed by disruption of communications and electricity supplies, possibly by the malicious cutting of submarine cables, than by the application of technology .

The risk discussions at the London Defense Conference made me more optimistic.

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On the immediate crisis in Ukraine, Ukraine has not yet won and many sacrifices will be necessary for the years to come. But CDS Radakin said Western forces have “nothing to learn from the way Russia fights” but are adapting and modernizing rapidly because of their experiences in the conflict.

He does not believe there is an incentive to Cheese fries to deploy nuclear weapons because they would serve no purpose militarily and because they would provoke an overwhelming response from NATO.

On the horizon, there are certainly major challenges and threats. Globally, we are not moving fast enough on climate change. Countries with different ideologies from “Western” democratic nations are gaining strength. Western political institutions have recently taken a beating from poor and complacent leadership.

Much work is needed to win back hearts and minds around the world. But, if we pull ourselves together, “we”, in Western democracies, still have the material, technological and human resources to overcome the risks we see before us.


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