CARACAS – In the last two decades, Latin America has achieved remarkable social and economic progress. The middle class has grown to historic levels; poverty has been cut almost in half; access to education and health care has been expanded; and prosperity is being shared more widely than ever. As a result, most countries in the region have now achieved “middle-income” status. But their work is far from done.
STORRS, CONNECTICUT – The prospect of artificial intelligence (AI) has long been a source of knotty ethical questions. But the focus has often been on how we, the creators, can and should use advanced robots. What is missing from the discussion is the need to develop a set of ethics for the machines themselves, together with a means for machines to resolve ethical dilemmas as they arise. Only then can intelligent machines function autonomously, making ethical choices as they fulfill their tasks, without human intervention.
SINGAPORE– Climate change is the single biggest challenge facing humankind. Yet the next president of the United States – the world’s second-largest greenhouse-gas emitter and a critical actor in climate policy – does not believe it is happening, or at least that humans have a role in driving it. If Donald Trump actually wants to “Make America Great Again,” as his campaign slogan declared, he will need to change his attitude and embrace the climate agenda.
ZURICH – Thanks to unprecedented international cooperation, the world is making impressive progress in the fight against malaria. According to the World Health Organization’s just-released 2016 World Malaria Report, malaria mortality rates among children under age five have fallen by 69% since 2000.
FEZ – The escalation of radicalism, violence, and civil wars in the Middle East since the so-called Arab Spring revolts began in 2010 has exacted a massive toll in human lives and welfare. The need to build effective states that support peace, provide greater opportunity and prosperity, and protect human rights could not be more urgent.
RIYADH – Saudi Arabia has drawn a lot of criticism lately for its leading role in the war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Some deride the Kingdom, the richest Arab state, for taking action against the poorest. Others have claimed that the fight against the Houthis – a Zaidi Shia-led religious-political movement – is just one element in a broader war on the Shia that Saudi Arabia has supposedly been waging. These are simplistic claims, reflecting a fundamental misunderstanding about the Kingdom’s role in Yemen – and, indeed, in the entire Arab world.
BRAZZAVILLE – Three years ago, a young boy in rural Guinea fell victim to the Ebola virus. An epidemic soon took hold of West Africa. By the time it was contained, it had killed more than 11,000 people and devastated the economies of the three hardest-hit countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. And it provided a sobering lesson about the need for countries to build resilient health systems capable of responding swiftly and effectively to emergencies.
PARIS – European leaders have devoted scant attention to the future of the eurozone since July 2012, when Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank’s president, famously committed to do “whatever it takes” to save the common currency. For more than four years, they have essentially subcontracted the eurozone’s stability and integrity to the central bankers. But, while the ECB has performed the job skillfully, this quiet, convenient arrangement is coming to an end, because no central bank can solve political or constitutional conundrums. Europe’s heads of state and government would be wise to start over and consider options for the eurozone’s future, rather than letting circumstances decide for them.
MONTREAL – Global health organizations and initiatives –and, in particular, the World Health Organization – have traditionally focused on infectious diseases, from malaria (their great failure) to smallpox (their greatest success). But there has long been a tiny corner of global health that has targeted chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). As these countries make progress on development, pressure to expand that corner is mounting.
LONDON – Donald Trump’s stunning victory in the US presidential election has shaken the world. From Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s conspicuous silence to French President FrancoisHollande’s statement that it opens up a “period of uncertainty” to the Kremlin’s barely concealed giddiness, Trump has not been received internationally like past US presidents. But one country has remained largely unmoved: China.