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President-elect, Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, left Nigeria for Europe on a working visit.

A statement from the office of the president-elect signed by Tunde Rahman on Wednesday said Tinubu, during the visit, will engage with investors and other key allies with the goal of marketing investment opportunities in the country and his administration’s readiness to enable a business-friendly climate through policies and regulations.

This is the second time Tinubu will be travelling out of the country after he was declared president-elect on 1 March. He returned to Nigeria on 24 April after a four-week vacation in France.

The statement said the president-elect will use the opportunity of the trip to fine-tune the transition plans and programmes, and his policy options with some of his key aides without unnecessary pressures and distractions.

Already, meetings with multi-sectoral actors in Europe’s business community, including manufacturing, agriculture, tech and energy have been lined up, a part of the statement noted.

The statement also said that Tinubu hopes to convince them of Nigeria’s readiness to do business under his leadership through mutually-beneficial partnerships premised on job creation and skills acquisition.

“Reviving the country’s economy forms a major plank of Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda and the meeting is part of his efforts to re-establish Nigeria’s importance in the global economic chain and create empowering opportunities for the country’s huge youth population,” the statement said.

The president-elect has hitherto promised to hit the ground running and the visit is reflective of his commitment to the promise as he has already begun talks with global actors in the important areas of the economy and security.

The statement said he is scheduled to return soon for preparations towards his official swearing-in as the 16th president of the country on 29 May.

Tinubu’s victory is being challenged at the presidential election petition tribunal which started hearing on Monday.

 

PT

The Federal High Court Abuja, on Wednesday, gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from imposing fines, henceforth, on broadcast stations in the country.

The judge, James Omotosho, in a judgement, also set aside the N500,000 fines imposed, on 1 March 2019, on each of 45 broadcast stations.

Omotosho held that the NBC, not being a court of law, had no power to impose sanctions as punishment on broadcast stations.

He further held that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanction, is in conflict with Section 6 of the Constitution that vested judicial power in the court of law.

Omotosho said the court would not sit idle and watch a body imposing fine arbitrarily without recourse to the law.

He said that the commission did not comply with the law when it sat as a complainant and at the same time, the court and the judge on its own matter.

The judge agreed that the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, being a subsidiary legislation that empowers an administrative body such as the NBC to enforce its provisions cannot confer judicial powers on the commission to impose criminal sanctions or penalties such as fines.

He also agreed that the commission, not being Nigerian police, had no power to conduct criminal investigation that would lead to criminal trial and imposition of sanctions.

“This will go against the doctrine of separation of powers,” he said.

Omotosho held that what the doctrine sought to achieve was to prevent tyranny by concentrating too much powers in one organ.

“The action of the respondent qualifies as excessiveness” as it had ascribed to itself judicial and executive powers.

NBC had, on March 1, 2019, imposed N500,000 each on 45 broadcast stations in the country over alleged violation of its code.

Suit

However, the Incorporated Trustees of Media Rights Agenda had, in an originating motions marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1386/2021, sued the NBC as sole respondent in the suit.

In the motion dated November 9, 2021 by its lawyer, Noah Ajare, the group sought a declaration that the sanctions procedure applied by the NBC in imposing N500,00Q fines on each of the 45 broadcast stations on March 1, 2019 was a violation of the rules of natural justice.

The lawyer also said that the fines were in violation of the right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Articles 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap AQ) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The group argued that this was so because the code, which created the alleged offences of which the broadcast stations were accused was written and adopted by the NBC, “and also gives powers to the said commission to receive complaints of alleged breaches, investigate and adjudicate the complaints, impose sanctions, including fines, and ultimately collect the fines, which the commission uses for its own purposes.”

They, therefore, sought an order setting aside the N500,000 fines purportedly imposed by the NBC on each of the 45 broadcast stations on Friday, 1 March 2019.

They also sought “an order of perpetual Injunction restraining the respondent, its servants, agents, privies, representatives or anyone acting for or on its behalf, from imposing fines on any of the broadcast stations or any other broadcast station in Nigeria for any alleged offence committed under the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.”

Delivering the judgment, Omotosho described the NBC’s act as being ultra vires.

He held that the fines imposed by the NBC as punishment for commission of various offences under its code were contrary to the law and hereby declared as unconstitutional, null and void.

The judge also made an order of perpetual injunction restraining the commission from further imposing fines on broadcast stations in the country.

 

NAN

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Ukraine says it routs Russian brigade, Kremlin acknowledges 'very difficult' campaign

A Ukrainian unit said on Wednesday it had routed a Russian brigade near the stronghold of Bakhmut in an incident underlining the task facing the Kremlin as it carries out what it calls a "very difficult" military operation.

The unit's claim appeared to buttress comments by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner private army, who on Tuesday said the Russian brigade had abandoned its positions in Bakhmut, Moscow's primary target in its winter offensive and scene of the bloodiest ground combat in Europe since World War Two.

Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who heads Ukraine's ground forces, said Russian units in some parts of Bakhmut had retreated by up to two km (1.2 miles) as the result of counter attacks. He gave no details.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the situation on the ground. Wagner units have led a months-long Russian assault on the eastern city, suffering heavy losses, but Ukrainian forces say the offensive is stalling.

"The special military operation continues. This is a very difficult operation, and, of course, certain goals have been achieved in a year," Tass new agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as telling a Bosnian Serb television channel.

"We managed to beat up the Ukrainian military machine quite a bit," said Peskov, citing Russian missile strikes in Ukraine. "This work will continue".

Peskov said he had no doubt that Bakhmut "will be captured and will be kept under control". He also said the Russian campaign in eastern Ukraine was proceeding slowly because Russia "is not waging war".

"Waging war is a completely different matter - it means complete destruction of infrastucture, it means complete destruction of cities," he said. "We are not doing this. We are trying to preserve infrastructure and preserve human lives."

Peskov's comments did not address claims that Russia's 72nd Separate Motor-rifle Brigade had abandoned positions on the southwestern outskirts of Bakhmut.

In a statement, Ukraine's Third Separate Assault Brigade said: "It's official. Prigozhin's report about the flight of Russia's 72nd Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade from near Bakhmut and the '500 corpses' of Russians left behind is true."

A Russian brigade is typically formed of several thousand troops.

"Our army is fleeing. The 72nd Brigade pissed away three square km this morning, where I had lost around 500 men," Prigozhin said on Tuesday, complaining his troops were receiving only 10% of the shells they needed.

In a statement later on social media, Prigozhin said Wagner forces had advanced 170 metres (530 feet). Ukrainian troops were confined to an area of 2.25 sq. km. (just under a square mile) and were coming under pressure in western districts dotted with high-rise apartments.

MERCENARY CHIEF TAKES ON THE MILITARY

Prigozhin has clashed with Russia's defence ministry and expressed concerns about a promised Ukrainian counter-offensive to recapture territory Russia occupied after the invasion was launched on Feb. 24, 2022.

Ukrainian military analyst Roman Svitan said the successes

near Bakhmut amounted to the beginning of the counter-offensive.

"We are the ones who launched the moves to advance," Svitan told Ukrainian NV Radio. "We can say that the offensive that we have been expecting for at least the past six months got underway about a week ago."

Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on Telegram that pro-Kyiv units had not lost a single position in Bakhmut on Wednesday.

Russian troops invaded Ukraine in what Moscow calls a special military operation and initially captured large amounts of territory, but Kyiv's forces pushed back. Western officials estimate more than 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded.

In his evening video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy named the Third Brigade and noted its report "about the flight of Russia's 72nd Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade from near Bakhmut".

In Brussels, NATO's top military official said the war would increasingly be a battle between large numbers of poorly trained Russian troops with outdated equipment and a smaller Ukrainian force with better Western weapons and training.

Admiral Rob Bauer, a Dutch officer who is chair of NATO's military committee, noted Russia was deploying T-54 tanks - an old model designed in the years after World War Two.

In Washington, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he had authorized the first transfer of forfeited Russian assets for use in Ukraine.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Drone hits government building in Russia – governor

A Ukrainian drone has struck a government building in Russia’s Bryansk Region, which shares a border with Ukraine, Governor Aleksandr Bogomaz said in the early hours of Thursday. The statement came shortly after a drone attack was reported in Russia’s Belgorod Region, which also borders Ukraine. 

Bogomaz said the raid took place in Starodub, a town of 17,000 people, and that that no one was hurt. Telegram channel Baza reported that the targeted building was a military enlistment office.

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on his Telegram channel on Wednesday evening that two drones “exploded over a residential area,” damaging two houses and a car. An hour later, he said that a third UAV was shot down by air defenses. According to the governor, there were no casualties.

Russia’s border regions have been repeatedly shelled and targeted by drones after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine more than a year ago. On Wednesday, the shelling of the city of Shebekino in the Belgorod Region claimed the life of one person.

Spokesman for Transneft oil company said on Wednesday that there was an attempt to carry out a “terrorist attack” on the section of the Druzhba pipeline in the Bryansk Region that transports oil to EU countries.

** Putin signs annual decree on military training of Russian reservists

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on military training of Russian citizens in reserve in 2023. The document was published on the official legal information website Wednesday.

"Call up Russian citizens in reserve for military training in the Russian Armed Forces, Russian National Guard forces, state security agencies and Federal Security Service (FSB) bodies in 2023," the document reads.

The Russian government and executive power bodies were tasked with implementation of events connected to the call-up and the training itself. The decree enters into effect since the day of publication.

Military training of reservists is a planned event on improvement of reservists’ military proficiency and takes place annually. The call-up decree is being signed by the President of the Russian Federation. Based on the presidential decree, the Defense Ministry’s mobilization department prepares a corresponding directive for regional conscription stations. Only once this process is complete, reservists will begin to receive call-up notifications.

** Russian assault teams push ahead in Artyomovsk offensive, top brass reports

Russian assault teams continued offensive operations in the northwestern and western outskirts of Artyomovsk over the past day during the special military operation in Ukraine, Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov reported on Wednesday.

‘In the Donetsk direction, the assault teams continued their offensive operations to capture urban areas in the northwestern and western outskirts of the city of Artyomovsk. Airborne Force units immobilized the enemy on the flanks," the spokesman said.

Russian operational/tactical and army aviation and artillery struck units of the Ukrainian army’s 67th mechanized, 80th air assault and 5th assault brigades near the settlements of Krasnoye and Stupochki in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the western outskirts of Artyomovsk, the general specified.

"Aircraft flew ten and helicopters two sorties in that area over the past 24 hours. Artillery of the southern battlegroup accomplished 98 firing objectives," Konashenkov reported.

 

Reuters/RT/Tass

Battles shake Sudan's capital, ceasefire talks reported to make progress

Fighting in Sudan's capital escalated on Wednesday with fierce clashes and air strikes, but rival military factions were reported to be close to a ceasefire agreement in talks in Saudi Arabia.

Residents reported ground battles in several neighbourhoods of Khartoum between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as well as heavy gunfire in the north of Omdurman and the east of Bahri, two adjacent cities separated from Khartoum by the River Nile.

The army has been pounding targets across the three cities since Tuesday as it tries to root out RSF forces that have taken control of large residential areas and strategic sites since early in the conflict that erupted on April 15.

"There's been heavy air strikes and RPG fire since 6:30 a.m.", said Ahmed, a resident of the Bahri neighbourhood of Shambat. "We're lying on the ground and there are people living near us who ran to the Nile to protect themselves there under the embankment."

Army and RSF delegations have been meeting since the end of last week in talks sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia in the Saudi city of Jeddah on the Red Sea.

Negotiations aim to secure an effective truce and allow access for aid workers and supplies after repeated ceasefire announcements failed to stop the fighting.

After days of no apparent movement, a mediation source told Reuters on Wednesday that the negotiations had made progress and a ceasefire agreement was expected soon.

A second source familiar with the talks said a deal was close. Talks continued late into the night.

U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland earlier said U.S. negotiators were "cautiously optimistic" about securing a commitment to humanitarian principles and a ceasefire but were also looking at appropriate targets for sanctions if the warring factions did not back this.

The conflict has created a humanitarian crisis in Africa's third-largest nation by area, displacing more than 700,000 people inside the country and prompting 150,000 to flee to neighbouring states. It has also sparked unrest in Sudan's western Darfur region.

The U.N. World Food Programme said that up to 2.5 million more Sudanese were expected to fall into hunger in the coming months because of the conflict, raising the number of people suffering acute food insecurity to 19 million.

Since the battles began on April 15, the RSF have dug in across Khartoum neighbourhoods, set up checkpoints, occupied state buildings and placed snipers on rooftops.

The army has been using air strikes and heavy artillery to try to dislodge them.

The RSF on Tuesday said the historic presidential palace in central Khartoum, which has symbolic importance and is in a strategic area that the RSF says it controls, had been hit by an air strike and destroyed, a claim the army denied.

Drone footage filmed on Wednesday and verified by Reuters appeared to show the building, known as the Old Republican Palace, intact, though smoke could be seen coming from the southeast edge of the palace compound.

The fighting has left more than 600 people dead and 5,000 injured, according to the World Health Organization but the real figure is thought to be much higher.

Witnesses have reported seeing bodies strewn in the streets. Most hospitals have been put out of service and a breakdown of law and order has led to widespread looting. Fuel and food supplies have been running low.

"Our only hope is that the negotiations in Jeddah succeed to end this hell and return to normal life, and to stop the war, the looting, the robbery and the chaos," said Ahmed Ali, a 25-year-old resident of Khartoum.

Aid agency Islamic Relief said many aid operations in Darfur and Khartoum remained suspended due to extreme insecurity.

It plans to provide aid to thousands of people in Al Gezira state, southeast of Khartoum, where some 50,000 people have fled, as well as to people in parts of Khartoum State and North Kordofan, where fighting has raged.

Conflicts are not new to Sudan, a country that sits at a strategic crossroadbetween Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and the volatile Sahel region, although most unrest in the past occurred in remote areas.

The United Nations has projected that 5 million additional people will need emergency assistance inside Sudan while 860,000 are expected to flee to neighbouring states.

 

Reuters

As I reflect on the fifth anniversary of the passing of my father, Khalifa Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu (Khadimul Quran), I am filled with both sadness and gratitude. While it is difficult to believe that five years have already passed since he left us, I am grateful for the time that we had with him and the legacy that he left behind.

Khalifa was a man of great faith and determination. He was a devout Muslim who dedicated his life to serving Allah and spreading the teachings of Islam. He was also a successful businessman who built a global empire through hard work, perseverance, and a deep commitment to excellence.

But what I remember most about Khalifa is his kindness and generosity. He had a heart of gold and was always willing to help those in need, regardless of their race, religion, or social status. He believed in giving back to the community and made significant contributions to various charitable organisations and causes throughout his life.

Khalifa’s passing was a great loss, not only to our family but also to the wider community. However, his legacy lives through his works and various programmes we have established in his memory to continue his charitable work, and support various initiatives aimed at improving the lives of people in Nigeria and beyond.

On this fifth anniversary of his passing, I am reminded of Khalifa’s words, which continue to inspire me every day: “Success is not measured by wealth or power, but by the impact you make in the lives of others.” Khalifa’s impact on the world will continue to be felt for generations to come, and his memory will forever be cherished in our hearts.

I am also reminded of the verse in the Quran that says, “And say, ‘My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.'” (Quran 17:24).

May Allah grant him Jannah (Paradise) and may his soul continue to rest in peace.

** Abdul Samad Rabiu Abdul Samad is the founder and chairman of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate.

In the opening pages of his book, Who Will Love My Country: Ideas for Building the Nigeria of Our Dreams, Ike Ekweremadu unapologetically declared his love for Nigeria  saying, “I love Nigeria and will forever love it.” The book contents, the regular sweet nothings Nigerian leaders preachify but which they cannot stretch themselves to live by, now take a new meaning in the light of his fall from the grace of deputy Senate presidency to a convicted prisoner. When you consider the past 11 months when he and his wife, Beatrice, were tried in a London court for organ trafficking, you will understand why the man loved Nigeria as fiercely as a scoundrel raised by indulgent parents.

Hardly had the arrest of Ekweremadus been announced when sympathies poured in for them. From Dino Melaye and Smart Adeyemi to the Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi, they were never short of commiseration. Ebonyi State Government announced it stood with his family and asked the UK Government to be considerate of their children’s plight. Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila too requested the Nigerian High Commission in the UK to give him needed support (and those ones hired a lawyer for him shortly after). Colleagues in the Senate visited the Ekweremadus, and some even attended the court sessions to show support. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo the letterman wrote to the Chief Clerk of the Central Criminal Court of England to beg for mercy in their sentencing. Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, and Head of Diplomatic Mission to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Duru Hezekiah, also appealed to the UK Government for leniency. Both chambers of the National Assembly also begged for mercy. Even the Chair of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who once advised Nigerians to shun crimes while abroad set aside her conviction and joined in the plea for leniency. Her disdain for Nigerians caught in the vortex of crime abroad does not seem to extend to the political elite.

In all the demonstration of anxieties by several highly placed Nigerians not used to seeing their fellow “big man” in jail was a glaring omission: some fellow feeling or even as much as a thought spared for the other Nigerian—the poor young man whose kidney would have been harvested— involved in the matter. There were times during the months of trial I wondered how that young man felt when he saw the overwhelming support from official quarters for the person who was going to rob him of his life. He must have felt lonely, invisible, unsupported, and inconsequential.

With all the high-powered support he received, it is understandable why Ekweremadu would love Nigeria with all his heart. Who would not love a country where the powers that be commit themselves to work in your favour? Why would he not love a country that sides with him against his victimised countryman? The demonstration of support that the Nigerian political class offered Ekweremadu against that young man proved how much our society lacks an appreciation of justice. If that young man had walked into a Nigerian police station to report that a big man wanted to harvest his organs, nothing would have happened. Apart from our lax laws on organ harvesting, our justice system abhors the idea of punishing a big man for an infraction committed against a lowly nobody. In a country where people buy human body parts for N50,000 or even less, Ekweremadu would even have been commended for offering N3.7m. He would even have been garlanded to assuage the shame of the allegation. He would be given the title of “Fiwajoye” or something similarly ridiculous.

Given what we know about the crime of the Ekweremadus, I am baffled some Nigerians think it was their parental instinct that went on overdrive. Even if you do not find their attempt to jump the long queue for organ donation immoral, how about the paltry sum they offered their victim? The boy is around the same age as their daughter. If the transaction had sailed through, it would have been tantamount to shaving off a part of the young man’s life to extend their daughter’s own. What would have at least been moral in such a shady transaction would be to make a willing donor an offer that can at least guarantee them a quality life. Imagine the victim had been returned to Nigeria and fallen sick sometime later, how would he have coped? Even with all the mad love Ekweremadu proclaimed for Nigeria, he did not entrust his child’s life to the dilapidated hospital system in the country.

One clown who labelled himself a “deep thinker” even blamed the Ekweremadus’ travails on the average Nigerian southerners’ tendency to pull down their own. He said if the person involved were a northern Muslim, he would have sought refuge from a mosque rather than inform the law enforcement agents. Such a mindset, reeking of the southern Nigerian condescension that serially stereotypes the average northerner as meek and lacking agency, is irritating and problematic on all levels. Why should the person whose life was undervalued hesitate to affirm their self-worth so that one big man somewhere would not be accountable to the law? The road that leads home might be far, but even the lowly-born slave has a father.

In a country like Nigeria where people with kidney disease and who can afford the expense have to go to India for medical care, what would have become of that poor guy if they had taken his kidney for a measly sum? The fact that the Ekweremadus priced the young man’s life less than the cost of a business class flight ticket from Nigeria to London shows they are depraved and wicked. Actually, what they proposed to do is what Nigerian leaders have done since forever. They take and take and take from the people, and that is all they know how to do. They have been robbing our society of the vital organs that it needs to function, and it is nothing to them to try to take a bodily organ just to shore up their own lives.

With the way the case panned out, I want to believe that the young man redeemed from the snare of the fowler will be forever grateful to the British legal system. To those who habitually steal from us, the young man’s body did not belong to him. He was a mere bag of flesh, available for their use and abuse. But for the integrity of the British medical system, the young man’s body would have been taken apart and used as spare parts. I can bet that he too will now love Britain as much as—and perhaps even more than—Ekweremadu loved Nigeria. His love for that country and its justice system will be far more sincere because, while Ekweremadu loved Nigeria for letting him believe he could take what did not belong to him, the British system ennobled this would-have-been victim. The young man might have been poor and lowly born, but they saw a human deserving dignity.

Funnily enough, at the public presentation of Ekweremadu’s book launch in 2016, part of his speech noted that “the greatest honour and tribute we can pay to Nigeria is to love it. To love Nigeria requires us to fundamentally revise and reexamine our attitudes, our values, and how we treat one another.” Events around his conviction show why he could not but love a country that lets him do whatever he likes. The trouble with being a brat is that if your parents fail to straighten you out within the threshold of the homestead, outsiders will discipline you on their behalf.

 

Punch

Capitalism relies on competition. In practice, however, this core principle is often violated, because ambitious capitalists will naturally seek to eliminate competition and secure a commanding market position from which they can keep new would-be competitors at bay. Success, in this respect, can make you rich and establish your status as a visionary; but it can also make you feared and hated.

Hence, China – arguably one of the most successful market economies of the twenty-first century – has been waging war against its own tech giants, most notably by “disappearing” Alibaba Group co-founder Jack Ma from the public stage after he criticized Chinese financial regulators. At the same time, the Europeans, deeply worried that they lack a Big Tech sector of their own, have focused on enforcing competition (antitrust) policies to limit the power of giants like Google and Apple. And in the United States, Big Tech’s political allegiances (to both the “woke” left and the “red-pilled” right) have become focal points in the country’s corrosive culture wars.

It is only natural to worry about the market power and political influence of such massive – and massively important – corporations. These are companies that can single-handedly decide the fate of many small and even medium-size countries. Much of the debate about corporate influence is rather academic. But not so in Ukraine, where private-sector technology has played a decisive role on the battlefield over the past year.

Thanks to Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite internet service, the Ukrainians have been able to communicate in real time, track Russian troop movements, and radically improve the precision of their strikes on enemy targets (thus saving precious ammunition). Without Starlink, Ukraine’s defense probably would have crumbled.

But given the capriciousness of would-be corporate dictators, such technological dependencies are inherently risky. Last October, Musk used his ownership of Twitter to stage a virtual “referendum” on a half-baked peace plan that would cede Crimea to Russia. When Ukrainian diplomats objected, he petulently threatened to cut off Starlink (and for some time, access was indeed lost in contested areas).

Paradoxically, the new debate about corporate power comes at a time when competition between tech companies is intensifying. By its very nature, radical technological change introduces radical uncertainty, especially for existing corporations and business models. New, apparently transformational breakthroughs in artificial intelligence could render even the most powerful tech giants obsolete if they fail to keep pace with innovation. Until this year, the dominance of Alphabet’s Google search engine was unquestionable; now, the service is suddenly at risk of being overtaken by OpenAI/Microsoft’s ChatGPT. Facebook and Twitter used to be regarded as indispensable social-media platforms; now, they are quickly being succeeded by others, such as TikTok.

These developments should not come as a surprise. In the annals of business history, failure is far more common than lasting success. Remember Kodak? Its days were numbered when it failed to adapt to the arrival of digital photography. The oldest companies in the world are those with a niche in localized, nontechnical sectors that do not depend on passing fashions. Unless you occupy such a niche – like a Japanese sake producer or a Tuscan winemaker – you are not safe.

Faced with the abiding threat to their existence, large companies generally have two strategies at their disposal. The first is to block or frustrate further innovation by claiming that it will be dangerous and destabilizing. For example, in the twentieth century, big railroad companies lobbied aggressively against automakers’ demand for highways.

Today, the stakes are much higher, and the rhetoric is more overblown. Some leading figures in the tech world are warning that without stringent AI regulations, the latest innovations in the sector could bring about civilizational collapse. This was one of the messages of the widely circulated AI moratorium letter signed by AI researchers and tech icons like Musk, who was later revealed to have invested in a new startup that will compete with OpenAI.

According to this narrative, today’s rapid progress could lead to an artificial general intelligence that is so powerful and so unpredictable that humanity might unwittingly end up at its mercy. Science-fiction writers (and some philosophers) have long articulated such scenarios. If you task a superintelligence with protecting the environment, it might well decide that the obvious solution is to eliminate the source of the problem: humans.

Or perhaps an AI would simply pursue its assigned task so monomaniacally that it would be unstoppable, as in Goethe’s poem “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” Such arguments reflect the general mood of anxiety that is characteristic of any age of rapid change. The example of the nineteenth-century machine breakers, the Luddites, always has a certain romantic appeal.

The second option for an anxious tech elite is to seek government protection by conjuring up risks to national or economic security. Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith, for example, warns that since training AI systems requires such massive investments, there are really only a few institutions that can do it, and chief among them are Chinese ones like the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence.

Both strategies involve formulating a narrative that can secure a political backstop against market competition. Companies that are inherently endangered – because they are engaged in high-stakes wagers with unknowable outcomes – will always call on the political process in big countries to protect them. Whether by adding to the regulatory burden on new entrants or creating barriers against foreign competitors, they want to preserve the status quo.

We should keep these natural tendencies in mind, especially now that the pandemic and rising geopolitical tensions have created a new impetus for technical innovation. As always, technological change will be deeply disruptive and generate new winners and losers. Many commentators (and interested parties) will inevitably fixate on the dangers. It is ironic, but hardly novel, that the new narrative of techno-pessimism is being promoted most loudly by those at the forefront of yesterday’s innovations.

 

Project Syndicate

Alphabet Inc's on Wednesday demonstrated an updated core search product that embeds more AI in its answers as the company looks to banish doubts that it is losing ground to Microsoft Corp's OpenAI-powered Bing search.

Google already has a Bard chatbot that competes with ChatGPT, the chatbot from OpenAI that has generated huge excitement among users with its humanlike responses.

SO WHEN DO YOU GOOGLE AND WHEN DO YOU BARD?

The company says that traditional Google search should still be used for finding and seeking information, such as locating something to purchase.

Bard is a chatbot with a persona that can hold humanlike conversations, and is intended to be used for creative collaboration, for instance, to generate software code or write a caption for a photo.

WHAT ARE THE UPDATES TO GOOGLE SEARCH?

With the enhanced search termed the Search Generative Experience, Google's home page still looks and acts like its familiar search bar.

The difference is in the answers: if the new Google detects that generative AI can be used to answer a query, the top of the results page will show the AI-generated response. The traditional links to the Web will remain below.

For example, a search for "weather San Francisco" will as usual point a user to an eight-day forecast, while a query asking what outfit to wear in the California city prompts a lengthy response generated by AI, according to a demonstration for Reuters earlier this week.

"You should bring layers, including a short-sleeved shirt and a light sweater or jacket for the day," the result stated, including links to websites where it gleaned such advice.

Users will also be able to enter a brand-new "conversational mode," which similar to Bard and ChatGPT remembers the user's prior questions so users can ask follow-ups more easily.

However, the company points out that conversational mode is not designed to be a chatbot with a personality; it is intended only to help hone search results. For example, its responses will never contain the "I" phrase, unlike Bard and ChatGPT.

CAN I TRY THE NEW GOOGLE SEARCH NOW?

Not yet. U.S. consumers will gain access to the Search Generative Experience in the coming weeks via a wait list, a trial phase during which Google will monitor the quality, speed and cost of search results, the company said.

CAN I TRY BARD NOW?

The company said on Wednesday that Bard is now available with no wait list in 180 countries and territories, and plans to expand its support to 40 languages.

 

Reuters

With brand-name bottle fads and gallon-a-day water challenges trending on TikTok, hydration is in, and that’s good news for health. The average human body is more than 60% water. Water makes up almost two-thirds of your brain and heart, 83% of your lungs, 64% of your skin, and even 31% of your bones. It’s involved in almost every process that keeps you alive. So if you’ve hopped on the water-drinking bandwagon, you’re doing yourself a big solid.

“Water is essential for your body’s survival,” says Crystal Scott, registered dietitian-nutritionist with Top Nutrition Coaching. “It helps regulate your temperature, transports nutrients, removes waste, lubricates your joints and tissues, and it also plays a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of electrolytes and fluids in your body.”

You lose water when you breathe, sweat, urinate, and metabolize food and drink into energy. If you don’t replace that fluid, your health can go downhill, and fast. Without food, your body can keep ticking for as long as three weeks or more. But without water, you’ll die in only a few days. There’s just too many systems that depend on it.

“I like to correlate our bodies with planet Earth,” says Scott. “Our Earth is made up of a large percentage of water. If that amount got too low, what would happen to our food systems? Our forests? Animal life? It’s a domino effect.”

To keep that first domino from falling, she says, drink up.

“It’s the starter when looking at any form of change or issues with your nutrition or your lifestyle—assess water intake first and foremost,” says Scott. “It helps with fullness cues, it can improve cognitive function, mood, physical performance, and can prevent health problems like constipation, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections. It’s one of the foundational building blocks.”

Bottom line: Water is life. But how much should you be downing daily not just to survive, but thrive?What’s the right amount?

The common rule of thumb you’ve likely heard is the 8×8 rule: Drink eight 8-oz. cups of water a day. If you’re achieving that, you’re doing well, says Scott. But it’s possible you could benefit from some adjustments.

“I don’t think that amount is necessarily wrong, but I think research over time has definitely evolved,” she says. “Water recommendations are going to vary depending on age, sex, and activity level.”

Your intake recommendation may vary based on life circumstances, too, such as the climate you live in, physical activity, illness, and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

The National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommends an average daily water intake of about 125 ounces for men and about 91 ounces for women. If you’re not filling up a bottle to exactly that amount every day, you’re probably still close or even over, because you also get water from food, says Scott.

“You can get a lot of hydration from foods like celery, oranges, strawberries, watermelon, and cucumbers,” she says. “All are hydrating foods that can actually help supplement your water intake.”

How to know if you’re getting enough (or too much)

Although it’s rare, it is possible to drink too much water. It’s a condition called hyponatremia, and it happens when the amount of water in your system overwhelms your kidneys and they can’t keep up with a normal filtration rate. The sodium content of your blood becomes dangerously diluted and causes your cells to swell. Certain health conditions such as kidney failure and congestive heart failure put you at higher risk of it, and some high-level athletes may experience it if they don’t replace their electrolytes after exercising.

But for the majority of the population, the bigger issue is getting enough water. While it’s helpful to keep tabs on actual ounces, the best indicator of whether you’re well hydrated is your body. When you don’t get enough water, your body will show certain signs.

“Urine color is a really great indicator of hydration status,” says Scott. If your toilet water is pale yellow or clear after you pee, you’re golden. Dark yellow or amber colored urine are signs your body needs fluids.

Headaches, migraines, bad sleep, constipation, dizziness, and feeling lightheaded or confused can also be symptoms of dehydration. When in doubt, head to the spout.

Tips for getting your daily fill

If you’re committing yourself to hydration optimization, Scott recommends starting slow. First, take stock of where you are, and then set a goal for where you want to be.

“Half your body weight in ounces is a great starting point,” she says. “So for someone who’s 200 pounds, our first goal would be 100 ounces. And let’s say they’re only drinking 20 ounces of fluid a day. So every week, we’d want to increase about eight to 10oz a week, slow and steady. Because if you do hydrate too quickly, people can feel really waterlogged.”

Other handy helps Scott suggests: Experiment with drinking it ice cold or adding sliced fruit to give it flavor. Use smaller water bottles and refill them instead of filling a huge jug for the whole day, which can feel daunting to conquer. Split your day into increments and give yourself a mini goal in each section. That way you’re keeping a steady stream of hydration going instead of trying to gulp it all in one go.

 

Fortune Well

CEO of Octopus Energy, a UK-based household energy supplier, says artificial intelligence is doing the work of 250 people at the company. 

Writing in The Times of London, Greg Jackson said the company had been experimenting with AI for several months. He said the technology had been incorporated into company systems and staff began letting it reply to some customer emails in February.

Now, AI replied to more than a third of customer emails, which is the work of about 250 people, Jackson said.

He continued: "Emails written by AI delivered 80% customer satisfaction — comfortably better than the 65% achieved by skilled, trained people."

A representative for Octopus Energy told Insider: "Our team supervises the answers AI provides, so, for example, drafting a personalized response that a team member can review and then send on."

Workers at other companies recently reported on the experience of using AI tools to help carry out their work. One worker told Vice that OpenAI's ChatGPT did 80% of their job.

Jackson told the Times of London that the development was unlikely to lead to job losses at his company but that the pace of AI technology had the potential to cause "huge and rapid dislocation" to the job market.

In March, a report from Goldman Sachs found that generative AI tools like ChatGPT could lead to "significant disruption" in the labor market and affect around 300 million full-time jobs globally.

The report highlighted white-collar workers, especially those working in legal services and administration, as some of the most likely to be affected by new AI tools.

The report also said AI systems could boost global labor productivity and create new jobs.

 

Business Insider


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