Wednesday, May 13, 2015

FUK-U-SHIMA: Former Japan TV News Anchor Declares That Mutations Have Begun In Fukushima - Birds Found Blind, Unable To Fly; Magazine Says "Birds In Tailspin 4 Years After Nuclear Meltdown,...The Proverbial CANARY IN A COALMINE; Professor Says Birds With Mutations Popping Up All Over In Contaminated Areas!


May 13, 2015 - JAPAN
- Katsuhide Okada… didn’t worry much about the power plant: It was so safe, Tepco told the Futaba community… [T]he roses that Mr. Okada cultivated over a lifetime — more than 750 varieties, nearly 8,000 bushes — have perished. Still, Okada has returned to Futaba 10 times he was interviewed on NHK appearing grim and heartbroken… Maya Moore, a former news anchor and journalist at NHK, happened to catch Okada’s interview… she collaborated with Okada and the group in putting together the book “The Rose Garden of Fukushima.”

The forward to ‘The Rose Garden of Fukushima’ was written by US Ambassador to Japan (2009-13) John Roos: “The incredible tale of Katz Okada and his Fukushima rose garden as told here by Maya Moore… gives you a small window into what the people of Tohoku faced” - Mar 8, 2015 (emphasis added) - Japan Times.


Interview with Maya Moore, former NHK news anchor and author of The Rose Garden of Fukushima (22:15 in): It’s just poisoned wasteland. The last time Mr. Okada actually went back in there, he found baby crows that could not fly, that were blind. Mutations have begun with animals, with birds.

Several studies have linked the Fukushima disaster to mutations in wildlife and specifically discussed negative effects on crow populations:

Dr. Tim Mousseau, Professor of Biological Sciences at the Univ. of South Carolina, 2014 (pdf): We have studied biodiversity at Chornobyl since 2000 and Fukushima since 2011. Most organisms that we have examined showed significantly increased rates of genetic damage in direct proportion to the level of exposure… Many organisms showed increased rates of deformities, developmental abnormalities, eye cataracts, and even tumors and cancers. - Apr 24, 2015 - WHYY.


Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima — Like the proverbial canary in a coalmine… Mousseau and his team have assembled a grim portrait… their data show that bird species and abundances are in sharp decline, and the situation is getting worse… “where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.”… birds such as the carrion crow… demonstrated higher susceptibility… 2012, he began capturing birds [with] patches of bleach-white feathers… the patches have a high coincidence with… cataracts, tumors, asymmetries, developmental abnormalities By 2013, the birds… had white patches big enough to be seen through binoculars. - Apr 30, 2015 - Smithsonian.


Recent seminal studies of butterflies… found strong evidence for increased mutation rates, developmental abnormalities and population effects as a direct consequence of exposure to [Fukushima] radionuclides… these unambiguously supported observations of the elevated mutation rates and phenotypic effects observed in the field. - Mar 2015 - Journal of Ornithology (Moller, Nishiumi, Mousseau).


[S]pecies showing the strongest negative correlated with level of background radiation level at [Fukushima] were Tree Sparrow [and] Carrion Crow… - Feb 2015 - Journal of Ornithology (Moller, Nishiumi, Mousseau).




Journal of Heredity (Moller & Mousseau), 2014: Developmental Effects: Albinism, Asymmetry, Brain Size, Cataracts, Sperm, and Tumors — There is an increasing array of empirical studies in Chernobyl, and now Fukushima [documenting] consequences of exposure… white spots on feathers of birds and perhaps the fur of mammals (i.e., cattle in Fukushima)… first detected in Fukushima in 2012 [were] observed in increasing frequencies in 2013 and 2014. - 2014 - Journal of Heredity (Moller & Mousseau).


We’re actually starting to see these partial albinos popping up in Fukushima… They’re popping up all over the place in contaminated areas. - 2014 (48:15 in) - Presentation by Mousseau.

- Compiled by: ENE News.




GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Latest Report Of Volcanic Eruptions, Activity, Unrest And Awakenings – May 13, 2015!

Etna. Photo: Barcroft Media

May 13, 2015 - EARTH
- The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.


Etna (Sicily, Italy): Molten lava is seen spewing from Mount Etna in Sicily in this dramatic photo that captured one of the most active volcanoes on Earth acting up again.

The Strombolian activity – in which incandescent matter is propelled in relatively low-level eruptions – occurred at the New SE crater, according to volcanodiscovery.com.

The event, captured in the photo by Barcroft Media, was accompanied by a “rising tremor,” the site reported.


Strombolian explosion at Etna's New SE crater this evening (Radiostudio7 webcam)

“The current pattern is very similar to many past episodes which often culminated in violent explosive (lava fountaining) and effusive (lava flow) paroxysms and could very well build up to a new one,” the site said.

Mount Etna is the largest and most active volcano in Europe, with frequent eruptions that are often accompanied by large flows of lava – though they rarely endanger inhabited areas.

The volcano, which towers above the city of Catania, has been erupting periodically for the past 2,000 years.



Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): The volcano remains in a very active state, with up to 10 or more vulcanian-type explosions occurring per day (see list).


Eruption plume from Sakurajima this evening.


Ash plumes from these eruptions have been rising to 9-15,000 ft (2.7-4.5 km) altitude.

WATCH: Explosive eruption at Sakuraima.






Villarrica (Central Chile): Mild activity continues - a small lava lake remains active inside the vent of the inner summit crater producing steaming, small strombolian explosions, and related ash emissions.


Lenticular cloud at Villarrica volcano this morning illuminated by the lava lake in the inner crater

A lenticular cloud over the summit this morning was beautifully illuminated by the lava glow.


Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): Mild strombolian activity and associated ash emissions continue from the summit crater of the volcano.


Glow and ash plume from Klyuchevskoy volcano May 9, 2015 (KVERT webcam)

Tokyo VAAC reported an ash plume to 20,000 ft (6 km) altitude on 8 May.


Karangetang (Siau Island, Sangihe Islands, Indonesia): An increase in activity occurred during the past days, resulting in dangerous pyroclastic flows that swept 3 km down the steep southern slope of the volcano.


Pyroclastic flow from Karangetang volcano on May 7, 2015 (Photo: Agustinus Hari)


The cause was elevated strombolian activity combined with effusion of a viscous flow from the summit crater, which resulted in partial collapses of the lava flow.

People living in villages near the volcano were evacuated and it seems no fatalities occurred, although houses in the village of Kora Kora were destroyed by the pyroclastic flow on 7 May. Significant ash fall occurred on the northern flank of the volcano.


Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): An ash plume was seen yesterday on satellite imagery extending 45 nautical miles to the west.


Dukono (Halmahera): Intense ash emissions continue at the volcano. Darwin VAAC reported a plume at estimated 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude extending 40 km to the east.


Telica (Nicaragua): Several small explosions with ash emissions have occurred from the volcano's summit vent since 8 May.


Eruption at Telica on May 8, 2015 (Viva Nicaragua - Canal Trece / Facebook)

8 explosions generated ash plumes up to 250 m height that drifted west causing light ash fall in the villages Quebranchal, Telica, Polvareda and Las Joyas.


Kilauea (Hawai'i): As the summit of Kilauea volcano continues to deflate, the lava lake is dropping out of view.


The summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater has dropped significantly over the past two days, as this USGS photo shows. Scientists say the dropping lava level has allowed
lava veneer on the walls of the Overlook crater to fall away, clearly exposing the contact between the original rim of the Overlook crater (which is the original, pre-overflow
floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater) and the stack of recent lava overflows. These overflows are roughly 8 meters 26 feet thick in total.

Over the past few weeks, the volcanic spectacle of the rising lava lake has been drawing thousands of visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where for the first time the lava could be seen from the Jaggar Museum overlook. Before that, the lava could only be observed on USGS webcams stationed around Halema’uma’u crater.

The rise – and occasional overflow – of the lava lake coincided with a steep inflation at the summit, as recorded by continuously operating electronic tiltmeters. But this weekend, that inflationary trend reversed, and the lava lake began to recede.

Tiltmeters at the summit of Kīlauea continued to record a deflationary trend during the past 24 hours. The rate of deflationary tilt increased yesterday afternoon, which was accompanied by a higher frequency of earthquakes in the upper Southwest Rift Zone, including a magnitude 3.1 event at 3:40 pm. The lava lake continued to recede in the past day, and the surface was barely visible from Jaggar Museum early this morning. Seismicity remains elevated beneath Kīlauea’s summit and upper East and Southwest Rift Zones. Sulfur dioxide emission rates averaged 3,600-6,800 tonnes/day for the week ending May 5. - USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on May 12.


This USGS webcam view shows what the public sees at Jaggar Museum … no lava lake visible as of Tuesday afternoon

The sudden deflation coupled with the increased seismicity has everyone on alert. The events could portend a change in the eruption. The National Park Service is taking the precaution of closing certain sections of the park to visitors at night.


Screen grab from the USGS website “Recent Earthquakes in Hawaii”. We have placed the Legend for the map over the upper left portion of the image.


Due to an increase in seismic activity along the East Rift Zone, all backcountry trails between Crater Rim Drive & the coast, as well as Kulanaokuaiki campground have been closed for overnight use. They remain open for day use. - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.


- Volcano Discovery | NY Post | Big Island Video News.





INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Off The Rails - United States Railway Crisis Blamed On Lack Of Funding, Crumbling Infrastructure As Death Toll From The Amtrak Train Crash In Philadelphia Rises To 7, With Over 200 Injured!

Rescue workers search for victims in the wreckage of a derailed Amtrak train in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 12, 2015. (Reuters/Bryan Woolston)

May 13, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- The US is no stranger to fatal railway accidents: over the last decade, dozens of lives were lost, and hundreds of people injured in train wrecks. All this is due to lack of funding, infrastructure and development, critics say.

The latest Amtrak train crash has left at least six people killed and dozens injured, with the cause of the crash remaining unknown.

It came on the eve of the railway budget bill that could see the funding for Amtrak slashed by 20 percent, from $1.4 to 1.13 billion.

In comparison, China’s railway budget for the next fiscal year is an estimated $128 billion, the Atlantic news portal reported.

The issues that the rail system faces in the US are an alleged lack of the federal commitment to build the high-speed efficient transport links, plus crumbling infrastructure – the latter even became the focus point of a recent documentary ‘Falling Apart’ on CBS.


WATCH: 7 dead, 200 injured in Amtrak derailment near Philadelphia.




The documentary stated that the flailing transport system is largely due to “decades of neglect” by the government.

A striking example that the film provided was that 70,000 bridges in the country need to be either replaced or dramatically repaired.

Another problem of the rail system is population density: the US is far less dense than, for instance, Spain or France. Nevertheless, even in the most densely-populated areas of the country, the railway network has been reported slow and inefficient.


Over the last decade, the US has witnessed several major train wrecks that caused both casualties and, in some cases, a serious impact on the environment.

In April 2002, a train crash in Crescent City, Florida, killed four people and left 142 injured when 21 cars of Amtrak train derailed due to broken brakes.

Days after that crash, another one in Placentia, California, left two people dead and 22 injured.

In 2003 and 2005 in Chicago, two Metra train crashes left two people killed and almost a hundred injured, having occurred at the same spot. The engineer, who was responsible for the first crash after he sped despite warnings, carried on working for the US railway system.


WATCH: Commuters scramble for alternative following Amtrak crash.




A major chain reaction crash involving six vehicles and a 50-car train in Lafayette, Indiana, in 2008, left two people dead. The rural crossing where the accident took place has seen five other fatal crashes since 1984.

Later that year, the Chatworth train collision left 25 killed and 135 injured. Two trains crashed head-on and the incident prompted new safety regulations on railway, Positive Train Control, which was signed just a month after the crash.

In November 2009, 116 cars of Union Pacific Railroad derailed, causing a major transport links closure for several days.

Three years later, the Midland train crash in Texas left four killed and 16 others injured, hitting a parade float headed to an event dedicated to war veterans.

In 2013, the Fairfield train crash saw 60 people injured, five of them critically, when a Metro-North commuter train derailed and crashed into a second train in Connecticut.


In December later that year, a major derailment happened at Spuyten Duyvil, New York City, when the conductor fell asleep, with four killed and 63 injured in the crash.

Over 2014, about 25 derailments were reported across the country, causing dozens to be injured.

In January this year, a deadly train wreck was reported near Odessa, Texas, in which at least 10 people were killed.

A month later, a New York Metro-North train hit a car and caught fire, killing six people, while in March an Expo Line train in Los Angeles collided with two cars, causing at least 21 injuries. - RT.



TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - Professor Stephen Hawking Warns That Computers Will Overtake Humans WITHIN 100 YEARS; Influential Tech CEO Elon Musk Lives In Fear Of Google's Killer Robot Army; As China Starts Construction On FIRST ALL-ROBOT Manufacturing Plant!

iStock

May 13, 2015 - TECHNOLOGY
- The growing field of artificial intelligence is catching the eye of academics and technology leaders worldwide.


Stephen Hawking warns computers will overtake humans within 100 years

Stephen Hawking today warned that computers will overtake humans in terms of intelligence at some point within the next century.

Speaking at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference in London, the internationally renowned cosmologist and Cambridge University professor, said: “Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.”

Hawking, who signed an open letter alongside Elon Musk earlier this year warning AI development should not go on uncontrolled, added: “Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it.”

Professor Stephen Hawking
In the short term, people are concerned about who controls AI, but in the long term, the concern will be whether AI can be controlled at all, said Hawking.

AI can be defined as the intelligence exhibited by machines or software. It has the potential to have a profound impact on the world as people know and it’s an area being pursued by global tech giants such as Google and Facebook.

AI technology is already built into devices we use in our every day lives. For example, Siri, an intelligent personal assistant that sits inside iPhones and iPads is underpinned by AI developed by Apple, while Google's self-driving vehicles also rely heavily on AI. According to the FT, more than 150 startups in Silicon Valley are working on AI today.

Hawking believes that scientists and technologists need to safely and carefully coordinate and communicate advancements in AI to ensure it does not grow beyond humanity's control. - Tech World.


Elon Musk lives in fear of Google's killer robot army

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., unveils the company's newest products, Powerwall and Powerpack in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, April 30, 2015.

Elon Musk's relationship with Google cofounder Larry Page is complicated, to say the least.

On the one hand, the two influential tech CEOs are close friends and business associates; on the other hand, Musk is genuinely worried that Page might just lead to the destruction of humanity as we know it.

"I'm really worried about this," Musk is quoted as saying in Elon Musk, a new authorized biography of the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX.

"This," according to the book, refers to the possibility that Page would develop artificially-intelligent robots that could turn evil and have the ability to annihilate the human race.

Page may be well-meaning, but as Musk says, "He could produce something evil by accident."

Google has acquired more than half a dozen robotics companies to date, but the company's ultimate goal for robots is unclear. Andy Rubin, the executive in charge of the (maybe not killer) robot effort, left Google late last year.

Both Page and Musk have publicly discussed their views on artificial intelligence — though not directed at each other.

Google CEO Larry Page, foreground, and Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of
Android, Chrome and Apps, left, walk along the demo floor at Google I/O 2014
in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 25, 2014.
"We do have lots of proof points that one can create intelligent things in the world because– all of us around," Page said in an interview last year. "Therefore, you should presume that someday, we will be able to make machines that can reason, think and do things better than we can."

A few months after that, Musk told an interviewer that he believes "something seriously dangerous" may come about from AI in the next 5-10 years. "Please note that I am normally super pro technology and have never raised this issue until recent months. This is not a case of crying wolf about something I don't understand."


A budding bromance
Musk and Page had very different upbringings — the former had a difficult childhood in South Africa during apartheid; the latter grew up in Michigan — but they are similar in age, disposition and the desire to pursue projects that sound impossible or downright crazy.

Each week, Musk bounces between the SpaceX and Tesla offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively. When in San Francisco, Musk crashes at the homes of friends, including Page.

"He's kind of homeless, which I think is sort of funny," Page is quoted as saying in the biography. "He'll email and say,'I don't know where to stay tonight. Can I come over?' I haven't given him a key or anything yet."

Sometimes Musk will meet with Page and Google cofounder Sergey Brin at a "secret apartment" owned by the Internet giant to talk through ridiculous ideas.

"It's kind of our recreation, I guess," Page says in the book. "It's fun for the three of us to talk about kind of crazy things, and we find stuff that eventually turns out to be real. We go through hundreds or thousands of possible things before arriving at the ones that are most promising."

One such idea, according to a friend who once attended the brainstorm: "building a commuter plane that was always circling the Earth, and you'd hop up to it and get places incredibly fast."

Friends with benefits
The close friendship has yielded business benefits for Musk's risky businesses.

Both Page and Brin personally invested in Tesla before the car company went public. Earlier this year, Google joined with Fidelity to invest $1 billion in SpaceX, Musk's private aerospace manufacturing business.

At one point, Musk even turned to Page to bailout his company.

In April, 2013, with Tesla on the cusp of failure, Musk reached out to Page about acquiring Tesla and keeping him in charge until it could put out a car. According to the book, the pair had a handshake agreement on a deal that would have cost Google about $11 billion in total — though it's worth noting Tesla has a market cap of $30 billion today.

The next month, Tesla turned its its first profit. The stock surged and Musk backed out of the deal. The rest is history.

It's good to have friends in high places — as long as they don't unintentionally ruin civilization. - Mashable.



Building work starts on first all-robot manufacturing plant in China’s Dongguan

China's robot makers could see a growing market as traditional
manufacturers look to automate their plants. Photo: Reuters
Construction work has begun on the first factory in China’s manufacturing hub of Dongguan to use only robots for production, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 1,000 robots would be introduced at the factory initially, run by Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology Co, with the aim of reducing the current workforce of 1,800 by 90 per cent to only about 200, Chen Xingqi, the chairman of the company’s board, was quoted as saying in the report.

The company did not give a figure for the investment in the factory, but said its production capacity could reach a value of 2 billion yuan (US$322 million) annually.

Robots are set to take over in many factories in the Pearl River Delta, the area of southern China known as the ‘world’s workshop’ because of the huge export manufacturing industry there, as labour shortages bite and local authorities face the need to spur innovation to counter the economic slowdown.

Since September, a total of 505 factories across Dongguan have invested 4.2 billion yuan in robots, aiming to replace more than 30,000 workers, according to the Dongguan Economy and Information Technology Bureau.

By 2016, up to 1,500 of the city’s industrial enterprises will began replacing humans with robots.

The provincial authorities of Guangdong said early this year they would spend 943 billion yuan on replacing human labour with robots within the next three years. Cities in the province are handing out annual subsidies of between 200 and 500 million yuan to makers of robots and to manufacturers who install robots on assembly lines.

The provincial capital, Guangzhou, has set a goal of fostering a robot-manufacturing industry with an output value of more than 100 billion yuan by 2020, as well as automating more than 80 per cent of the city’s manufacturing production.

The government of the city of Foshan has said the value of its automation and robotics market would reach 300 billion yuan in five years.

Labour shortages have long troubled the Pearl River Delta region, though the situation has improved slightly in the past few years.

According to Guangdong’s labour department, in March 2015 after the Lunar New Year holiday, the province needed between 600,000 and 800,000 workers. That was about the same as in 2014 but less than the 1 million shortage in 2012.

In the same period in 2010, the shortage had been 2 million.

The period after the Lunar New Year is traditionally the time of greatest labour shortages since most workers in the province are migrants and many do not return to their jobs after going back home for the holiday. - SCMP.


 

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: "I Was In Shock And Disbelief" - New Footage Of Avalanche Destroying Mount Everest Base Camp, Following Nepal Mega-Quake!

Screenshot from YouTube.com video
May 13, 2015 - MOUNT EVEREST, HIMALAYAS - A Mount Everest climber shared footage of deadly avalanche descending on Base Camp, killing and maiming dozens of alpinists and Sherpas.

The one behind the camera does not realize till the very last moment the true danger of what’s happening.

The video lasting 46 seconds was made with an iPhone immediately after the first and most powerful tremor on April 25, at a camp where Everest climbers collect strength before their next advance towards the peak.

The man rushed out of a tent to take a look around after the quake and filmed the very moment of an avalanche walloping the tents.

“I was in shock and disbelief during this whole filming ordeal, not being aware that roughly 20 fellow porters, Sherpas and climbers had just died and about 50 had been critically injured in my immediate camp,” climber Chimu wrote in an annotation to the video.


WATCH: Massive avalanche at Mount Everest Base Camp.




The videographer survived the avalanche and together with HIMEX (Himalayan Experience) teammates took part in the subsequent rescue operation.


WATCH: Another video taken in the Everest Base Camp shows the moment the avalanche came down. [WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE]



- RT.




GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - HSBC Warns That The World Economy Faces A "TITANIC PROBLEM" As The Day Of Reckoning Draws Near For The Federal Reserve!


May 13, 2015 - GLOBAL ECONOMY
-  HSBC chief economist Stephen King is already thinking about the next recession.

In a note to clients Wednesday, he warns: "The world economy is like an ocean liner without lifeboats. If another recession hits, it could be a truly titanic struggle for policymakers."

Here's King (emphasis added):
Whereas previous recoveries have enabled monetary and fiscal policymakers to replenish their ammunition, this recovery — both in the US and elsewhere — has been distinguished by a persistent munitions shortage. This is a major problem. In all recessions since the 1970s, the US Fed funds rate has fallen by a minimum of 5 percentage points. That kind of traditional stimulus is now completely ruled out.

King notes that this far into the recovery, there's a lack of "traditional policy ammunition." For instance, Treasury yields have not risen, the budget deficit is not falling, and welfare payments are still on the rise.

As for what might trigger the next recession, King highlighted four things:
  • Wage growth will hurt corporate earnings and reduce the share of corporate profit contributing to US gross domestic product (it also doesn't help that worker productivity is low). In turn, households and businesses will lose confidence in the economy, and the "equity bubble" will burst with collapsing stock prices.
  • Nonbank financial systems such as insurance companies and pension funds will increasingly not be able to meet future obligations. This will cause a huge demand for liquid assets, forcing people to rush to sell despite no matching demand, triggering a recession.
  • Forces beyond the Federal Reserve's control, including the possibility that China's economy and its currency could collapse. Weak commodity prices could also cause collapses in several emerging markets, as could continued strength in the US dollar.
  • The Fed could cause the next recession by raising interest rates too soon, repeating the mistakes of the European Central Bank in 2011 and the Bank of Japan in 2000.
- Busines Insider.


Reckoning for the Federal Reserve

If you queried American citizens as to whether they would support a monetary experiment conducted by the Federal Reserve to stimulate economic growth — an unorthodox approach that would mostly benefit the government, large corporations and wealthy investors at first, but would ultimately help everyone else — would they approve?

And if you explained that it might take some time to deliver the desired outcome of higher employment at higher wages, and that people in the vast majority of households would have to accept much lower rates of return on their savings in the meantime, wouldn't a few perceptive respondents tilt their heads and ask: How long?So why does such a reasonable question raise such ire from former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke? Responding to a recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal citing persistent low economic growth as perhaps an indication that the Fed's unconventional monetary policies are not working as intended, Bernanke fairly bristled with indignation, writing in his Brookings Institution blog that he never promised monetary policy would be a "panacea" for our economic troubles — and besides, "nobody claims that monetary policy can do much about productivity growth."

Such defensiveness is not reassuring. It's been nearly six years since the recession officially ended in June 2009. Still, the Fed continues to pursue its zero-interest-rate policy in the name of supporting the recovery, even as the negative aspects of this approach are imposing significant economic costs.

According to a report issued in March by Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurance company, the Fed's policy of financial repression has cost U.S. savers roughly $470 billion in lost interest income. Other unintended consequences described in the report include "crowding out viable private markets" and "lowering the funds available from long-term investors to be used for the real economy."


WATCH: Reckoning for the Fed.



Bernanke's riposte to those who would question the wisdom of perpetuating zero rates is to assert that the inflationary consequences predicted by some have not materialized. But after so much pumping, subdued inflation is hardly grounds for crowing; it's further proof that the Fed's policies are not working. Cheap money is not expanding production and raising wages as planned, it's not increasing demand — and thus not raising prices for goods and services. Inflation is the dog that's not barking.

Something is wrong. The monetary stimulus theory behind zero interest rates is not playing out in reality. Where's the economic growth? This mystery will not be solved by former Fed prima donnas refusing to acknowledge that American citizens and their representatives in Congress have every right — indeed, Congress has a constitutionally mandated responsibility — to call to account those who have been appointed to the task of regulating U.S. money.

No one is accusing anyone of less-than-noble intentions or less-than-heroic efforts in utilizing central bank powers to influence economic outcomes. But when monetary authorities themselves are repeatedly stymied by less-than-optimal results, it's time to consider changing course. An accountable Fed would accept the notion that its monetary stimulus strategy needs to be examined because it has not delivered anticipated results, by the Fed's own projections, within a reasonable time period.

Maybe the problem stems from the Fed's enhanced regulatory scrutiny over banks' lending decisions in the wake of the crisis. Overregulation may have had an especially inhibiting effect on community banks. Before the Dodd-Frank bank regulation law passed in 2010, an average of more than 100 new banks opened each year; in the five years since 2010, only one new bank has opened. Fear of violating regulations has caused many hometown banks to reject loan applications from traditional customers — with the result that small business lending has been dampened. And that factor alone is a blow to economic growth.

Then, too, the normal money multiplier has not been functioning properly due to banks' massive buildup of excess reserves, which have gone from $1.9 billion in August 2008 to a staggering $2.6 trillion currently. A study issued by the Cleveland Fed in February states that banks now find it "both easier and more attractive" to hold excess reserves than make loans. Why? Fed policies have altered the terms of the trade-off; the marginal benefit of holding reserves has increased because the Fed now pays interest on them, while the marginal cost in terms of forgone interest on loans has decreased under the low-rate conditions engineered by the same Fed.

So in crafting its monetary strategy to stimulate economic growth, it seems the Fed has given short shrift to the middle-income Americans who fuel the private sector — the true engine of productive economic growth. How much has consumer demand decreased because personal savings accounts pay zilch? How much has employment and production suffered because entrepreneurs can't get loans from their local banks?

Yet, even as business investment languishes and manufacturing has hit the skids, and with America's annual growth rate coming to a near halt at 0.2 percent for this year's first quarter, our monetary authorities seem clueless about the impact of their own policies. Indeed, the Fed's instinctive position is to call for more government intervention in the economy. Don't expect any initiatives to scale back regulatory burdens or liberate market forces to spur real economic growth.

Instead, you can expect increasing calls from Fed officials to give themselves more room to maneuver by raising their target rate of inflation to 4 percent or higher — never mind that such monetary mischief utterly confounds business planning and leads to the misallocation of investment resources. And you can expect further demands for massive government spending on "public infrastructure development" to create jobs. It's what Bernanke recommends in his blog post, insinuating that some other part of government needs to join the Fed's stimulus party to attain economic growth.

But shouldn't we start by figuring out the reasons for the Fed's own lack of success? - The Hill.



MONUMENTAL PARADIGM SHIFT: Precursors To The End Of Zionism - The Vatican Officially Recognizes The State Of Palestine In New Treaty, While Israel Fumes With Condemnation!

Pope Francis welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) upon his arrival at the Vatican June 8, 2014. (Reuters/Riccardo De Luca)

May 13, 2015 - VATICAN
- The Vatican has become the latest country to recognize the state of Palestine, after a new treaty was finalized on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly Israel has hit out at the move, saying that it damages prospects for peace in the region.

The treaty, which was agreed, though has yet to be formally signed states the Vatican has switched its diplomatic allegiance from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine. It was finalized days before the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to visit Pope Francis.

Abbas is traveling to the Vatican to attend the canonization of four new saints by the Pope, two of which are Palestinian nuns. The move to grant them sainthood has been described as a "sign of hope" for the region by the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, Vatican Insider reports.

The Vatican has been unofficially referring to the state of Palestine for over a year. Pope Francis visited Israel last year and the Vatican’s official program referred to Abbas as the president of the state of Palestine. During his visit to the Holy Land, he called for peace from both sides.

A spokesman for the Vatican, the Reverend Federico Lombardi confirmed the news saying: "Yes, it's a recognition that the state exists," AP reports.

The decision has brought condemnation from Israel, with the country’s foreign ministry saying it was “disappointed” at the move.

"This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations," the ministry said in a text message, AP reported. "Israel will study the agreement and will consider its steps accordingly."

Vatican Foreign Minister Monsignor Antoine Camilleri said the move was not politically motivated, but was simply in line with the Holy See’s position.

In 2012, the Vatican welcomed a decision by the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state. However, the latest treaty is the first legal document between the Vatican and the state of Palestine, which can be considered as official diplomatic recognition.

The treaty in question concerns the activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine. In April 2014, a Catholic Monastery was vandalized not far from the Israeli capital of Jerusalem in a hate crime carried out by Israelis. Slogans condemning peace talks with Palestine as well as graffiti disparaging Jesus and Mary was daubed on the walls.

This is not the first time that Pope Francis has made a diplomatic decision that was not to everyone’s liking. In April, he honored the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks and called it “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

During a mass at the Armenian Catholic rite at Peter’s Basilica, the Pope said he had a duty to honor the innocent men, women, children, priests and bishops who were murdered by the Ottoman Turks.

“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” said the pontiff. - RT.

 

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The Ebola Outbreak - Patient Admitted To Uconn Health Center In Connecticut With Possible Ebola Virus!

Patient with Ebola-like symptoms being treated at UConn Health Center

May 13, 2015 - CONNECTICUT, UNITED STATES
- A patient admitted to John Dempsey Hospital at the UConn Health Center in Farmington with a fever on Tuesday night is in isolation to be monitored for the possibility that he was infected with Ebola Virus.

Officials from UConn said other diagnoses are more likely, but the possibility of Ebola virus infection could not be completely ruled out because of the symptoms and because of the fact he was in Liberia from November 2014 until April 30, 2015.

"The patient is at very low risk for Ebola Virus and in fact he probably has another illness or infection, but out of an abundance of caution, we activated our Ebola virus disease protocol, aul Skolnik, chair of medicine at UConn Health said during a news conference on Wednesday.

The man was in Libera to help with Ebola efforts, did not have direct contact with patients, Skolnik said. Instead, he was working in an administrative role.

This comes just days after Libera was declared Ebola-free.

The patient has experienced symptoms for a couple days and arrived at the hospital at 7:17 p.m. on Tuesday with fever and muscle aches, general symptoms of many illnesses, according to Skolnick.

"He was present at some Ebola virus treatment centers, but did not have direct patient contact. He infact had an administrative role, which is one of the reasons he's at very low risk for this disease," Skolnik said.


WATCH: Possible Ebola case in Connecticut.



UConn Health has activated the Ebola virus protocol to care for the patient, the public and the staff, they said in a statement, and the patient is in isolation and is in good condition.

The hospital is working closely with the state Department of Public Health to ensure the appropriate testing is done.

The test results should be available in 24 hours, Skolnik said.

No additional information has been released on the patient.

The state of Connecticut has created a Web site with more information about Ebola in the United States. For more information, click here.

- NBC.


Tracking the EBOLA Virus Outbreak




DELUGE: Torrential Rainfall Causes Flooding In Wellington, New Zealand - Prompts Drainage Review; Queenstown And Wanaka Face Flood Threat As Heavy Rain And Snow Continues!


May 13, 2015 - NEW ZEALAND
- Wellington had an unusually wet morning with parts of the city flooded and firefighters called out to deal with the deluge.

The capital was enjoying clearer skies this afternoon after a wild morning.

The Fire Service said its staff were called out to about eight flooding or rain-related incidents in Wellington today, mostly in relation to surface flooding.

Wellington City Council said it sent staff to tackle surface flooding in Taranaki Street. A video the council posted to Instagram showed fast-flowing water made a manhole "dance" in the road.

MetService said 34.2mm of rain fell in Wellington this morning. Most of that -- 23.2mm -- fell in just the last two hours of the morning.

Parts of a low-lying road in Mt Cook, Wakefield St in Te Aro and the Kent Terrace sidewalk in Mt Victoria were flooded.

Forecasters at MetService expected sunnier spells for the rest of the day. - ODT.


Wellington flood prompts drainage review

Wellington Council says it is working to improve the city's stormwater system after a second flood in as many weeks.

Heavy rainfall on Tuesday again triggered flooding in parts of Wellington that were under water two weeks ago.

Councillor Iona Pannett said the council was now undertaking a review of the drain system to prevent further floods.

"We have to take a careful and scientific approach - if we fix only part of a network without working to a plan, we risk simply transferring the problem," she said.

"We have been spending millions of ratepayers' dollars in the past couple of decades to increase stormwater capacity in areas."

She said despite reports of clogging in the drains, it was a shortage of capacity that cause the problem, not malfunctions.

"Generally we're satisfied with their performance," she said.

There were reports of houses being flooded in Kilbirnie and also flooding around the Basin Reserve on Tuesday.

Parts of the CBD were also under water.

The downpours were heavy in the capital before the weather cleared.

The fire service said it was only called out to about half a dozen emergencies, which involved surface flooding and pumping out garages. - NZ City.


Queenstown and Wanaka face flood threat as heavy rain, snow continues

Cardrona Alpine Resort has had 20cm of snow fall at the resort.  Vicki Wise

Winter woolies and umbrellas are a must for Queenstown Lakes residents with heavy rain and snowfall in the area.

The Otago Regional Council have issued a flood alert with Queenstown and Wanaka lakes facing flood threat.

Otago Regional Council hazards, engineering and science director Dr Gavin Palmer said heavy rainfall was expected in the headwaters of the Lake Wakatipu catchment.

Already there was thick snow on mountains surrounding the towns and ski resorts have reported over 20cm of snow fall.

Lake Wakatipu was at 310.80 metres and the potential for minor flooding around Queenstown occurred once it reaches 311.30m.

Palmer said there was some uncertainty around the impact on lake levels of localised thunderstorms, but low-lying parts of the lakeside communities of Glenorchy, Queenstown and Kingston were unlikely to be affected.

However, with the lakes expected to remain high for the rest of the week, he urged those in low-lying areas to be prepared in case the rainfall was heavier than predicted.

"These lakes have a history of flooding, so taking steps now to ensure mitigation measures were ready was appropriate," Dr Palmer said.


Walkers along the shore of the rising Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown this morning.   Che Baker

Lake Wanaka was expected to rise to around 279.2m and surface flooding was possible at 280m.

Lake Wakatipu had already risen by more than a metre since mid-April because of rain.

The Clutha River, downstream of Clyde, was running high at around 1000 cumecs and flows in the lower river were expected to remain high for several days.

However, surface flooding was not expected.

The last time Lake Wakatipu caused some concern was in May 2010 when levels reached 311.48m and caused localised flooding through the stormwater system.

The council would continue to monitor the situation.

Cardona Alpine Resort general manager Bridget Legnavsky said "we've had around 20cm already and it's looking really good.

"With more expected this week we're prepping, packing and collecting (to preserve snow)".

Snowmaking should start today and Legnavsky said they were confident it would hold until opening day on June 13, unless a warm rain event came through.

With 29 days to go until Coronet Peak opens, maintenance, patrol and lift crews were taking part in their annual working at heights training, while builders of the Remarkables base building were doing so in snowy conditions. - Stuff.



 

MONUMENTAL PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Avian Flu Spreads To 16 American States - Claims 32 MILLION BIRDS; Egg, Turkey And Meat Price Spike!

Turkeys at a Minnesota poultry farm in 2012 appear in this photo from Bethany Hahn. Midwestern states are struggling to contain a virulent strain of
bird flu that has doomed millions of turkeys and chickens since March. (Bethany Hahn via AP)

May 13, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- The fast-spreading avian flu virus was confirmed for the first time in Nebraska, at a commercial egg-laying farm that housed a flock of 1.7 million chickens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The case in Dixon County, Nebraska, brings the number of states affected by the outbreak to 16, and the U.S. tally of birds that have either died or will be killed to 32 million.

The U.S. poultry and egg industry has been grappling for months with the biggest outbreak on record of avian influenza in the United States.

Authorities do not know how the H5N2 virus reached the Nebraska farm. The property has been quarantined and the flock will be culled, USDA said.

"Unfortunately, Nebraska has joined a long list of states currently dealing with highly pathogenic avian influenza," said Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Nebraska farmers and state regulators have voiced growing concern about the virus spreading from neighboring Iowa, where more than 24 million birds from 39 farm sites have been affected.

The worries recently prompted one Nebraska landfill owner to turn down business from a poultry farm in Iowa, whose owners were seeking a place to dispose of a culled flock due to avian influenza, said Brian McManus, spokesman for the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

"Some people from our agency met with the landfill owner. We had voiced some concerns about the hazards of transporting poultry carcasses right now, because of the risk of spreading the virus," said McManus, who declined to identify the name of the landfill. "Right now, transporting those birds is an option we discourage."

HEIGHTENED CONCERNS

The continuing spread of the highly contagious H5 virus is worrying to farmers and investigators, who have hoped that warmer spring weather would help lower the number of infections in birds and curtail the virus' spread.

But the outbreak has shown few signs of waning so far. On Monday, a strain of avian flu that had previously been found only in the Western United States cropped up in an Indiana backyard poultry flock.

The H5 strains in the current U.S. outbreak pose a low risk to human health, experts say, and no human infections have been identified so far.

There have been three strains of H5 identified in North America in this outbreak.

In addition to Nebraska, other states with the H5N2 virus are Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. The virus has also been identified on farms in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada.

The highly pathogenic H5N8 strain had been found in California, Idaho, Indiana, Oregon and Washington. The Canadian authorities also have confirmed the H5N1 strain was found in British Columbia, Canada. - Yahoo.


How the worst avian flu outbreak in U.S. history is costing you money

The outbreak of avian flu that some experts are calling the worst in U.S. history has claimed more than 32 million birds in 16 states. And it’s beginning to take its toll at the grocery store as well.

The cost of a carton of large eggs in the Midwest, where the disease has had the biggest impact, jumped 17 percent in the past month, the Associated Press reported. Meanwhile turkey prices, which were expected to fall this year, have risen between 3 and 10 percent, depending on the cut of meat.

But shoppers are most likely to feel the flu’s effects when buying processed products that include eggs as ingredients, like cake mix and mayonnaise. In Iowa, where most eggs go to these types of products, more than 40 percent of the state’s roughly 60 million egg-laying chickens have been killed by the disease or authorities working to prevent it from spreading.

The price of those eggs has jumped 63 percent in the past 3 weeks, commodity market analyst Rick Brown told the AP

The rapidly worsening outbreak has killed more birds than any other incidence of avian flu, researchers at the University of Illinois reported last week. First detected among a tiny backyard flock in southern Oregon, it reached the Midwest in early March and has since devastated the region’s poultry industry. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin have all declared states of emergency in response to the outbreak. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Nebraska had become the 16th state hit by the virus — a flock of 1.7 million chickens is the first to be infected in the state.

According to the USDA, the virus is being spread by wild geese and ducks, which carry the disease without appearing sick. Though two strains of the virus are currently circulating among wild and domestic flocks, the vast majority of deaths have been caused by a strain called H5N2, the USDA reported. This “highly pathogenic” form of the disease can wipe out huge flocks in a matter of days, but poses little risk to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Still, the agency urged people to avoid contact with sick or dead birds and noted the slim chance that the disease could jump into humans.

The number of confirmed cases represents a fraction of the 8.7 billion birds slaughtered in the U.S. each year, the University of Illinois researchers pointed out. Even among the country’s 360 million-bird laying population, which has been hit the hardest, only about 1 in 20 hens has been infected — a significant portion, but not enough to drastically affect the nation’s egg supply.

The outbreak has raised alarms in countries that import U.S. poultry. China, South Korea and Angola — three of the top 10 markets for American poultry — have imposed total bans on imports from the U.S., Reuters reported last month.

But the biggest impact has been on affected farmers, who have had to cull their entire flocks in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading. Once a flock has been destroyed, the farm must be quarantined, scrubbed and disinfected before it can be repopulated with birds, according to the Sioux City Journal.

“The stress level is very high among all my farmers at this point,” Gretta Irwin, executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation, told the Journal. “Whether you have the virus and have to deal with the emotional grief of losing your flock of turkeys, or if you don’t have the virus and you’re worrying about those who do and what happens next.” - Washington Post.


Egg, turkey meat prices begin to rise as bird flu spreads

This Nov. 25, 2014, file photo, shows eggs for sale in a Des Moines,
Iowa, grocery store. Prices for eggs and turkey meat are edging up
as the bird flu in the Midwest claims an increasing number
of chickens and turkeys. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Prices for eggs and turkey meat are rising as an outbreak of bird flu in the Midwest claims an increasing number of chickens and turkeys. Market experts say grocery stores and wholesalers are trying to stock up on eggs, but there's no need to worry about having enough turkeys for Thanksgiving.

The cost of a carton of large eggs in the Midwest has jumped nearly 17 percent to $1.39 a dozen from $1.19 since mid-April when the virus began appearing in Iowa's chicken flocks and farmers culled their flocks to contain any spread. Neighboring Nebraska reported its first case of bird flu Tuesday, affecting 1.7 million chickens at an egg farm in Dixon County.

A much bigger increase has emerged in the eggs used as ingredients in processed products such as cake mix and mayonnaise, which account for the majority of what Iowa produces. Those eggs have jumped 63 percent to $1.03 a dozen from 63 cents in the last three weeks, said Rick Brown, senior vice president of Urner Barry, a commodity market analysis firm.

Turkey prices, which had been expected to fall this year, are up slightly as the bird flu claimed about 5.6 million turkeys nationwide so far. About 238 million turkeys were raised in the U.S. last year.

The price of fresh boneless and skinless tom breast meat primarily used for deli meat has risen 10 percent since mid-April to $3.37 a pound, a USDA report said Friday. Frozen hens in the 8- to 16-pound range, those often used for home roasting, were up about 3 percent to $1.06 a pound.

Egg supplies are falling short of demand, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has indicated, and Brown said egg buyers such as grocery stores and wholesalers are trying to stock up for fear that another large farm with millions of chickens will be stricken - causing prices to spike higher.

"We're starting to see a little bit of that demand increase, and the sellers are reluctant to give clients too much more than they normally have because they know what's going on and they don't want to be caught short either," he said.

The number of Iowa chickens lost exceeds 26 million, the vast majority of which lay eggs for food use. That's about 41 percent of the leading egg state's layers and about 8 percent of the nation's laying hens. That many chickens would lay more than 500 million table eggs a month. For comparison, Iowa chickens laid 1.4 billion table eggs in March, before the disease struck. U.S. egg production for March stood at 7.42 billion table eggs.

Some companies are beginning to notice the impact of fewer eggs. Cereal maker Post Holdings Inc., which bought egg products supplier Michael Foods last year, said in its May 7 quarterly earnings report that about 14 percent of its egg supply has been affected by the bird flu outbreak. Post estimated the impact at about $20 million through the end of September.

Michael Foods primarily supplies extended shelf-life liquid and precooked egg products and eggs used in food ingredients.

The poultry industry can replenish the supply of chickens more quickly than beef or pork industries can rebound, but it still takes time to rebuild a flock.

"They're going to have to phase in replacing those flocks so they can get them get back into a laying schedule that results in a more even flow of eggs, and that's going to take six to nine months," said Tom Elam, an agricultural economist and poultry industry consultant.

It takes about four months for a hatched chick to be old enough to begin laying eggs, and it will typically be productive for about two years, Elam said. Many of the hens dying from the disease are younger and no pullets had been planned to replace them yet, Elam said. More than 350,000 pullets have been lost to bird flu - a very small portion of the 50 million egg-type chicks hatched in March, but it compounds the replenishment problem.

While new bird flu outbreaks are occurring in the turkey market - Minnesota, the nation's leading turkey producer, has 4 million confirmed dead birds so far - Elam said cold storage stocks and the number of hens still on farms suggest turkeys will be available for Thanksgiving.

"Anybody who wants a Thanksgiving turkey is going to be able to get one," he said. "They may have to pay a little more for it but we're not going to have national stock-outs for Thanksgiving turkeys, yet." - AP.



TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - Artificial Intelligence Experts Are Building The World's ANGRIEST ROBOT, Should You Be Scared?!

Killer robots from the film Terminator Photo: Warner Br/Everett/REX

May 13, 2015 - NEW ZEALAND
- It sounds like the beginning of an apocalyptic sci-fi film. A New Zealand artificial intelligence company is building the angriest robot in the world in the hopes of helping companies to understand and placate angry customers. The technology firm, Touchpoint group, has spent more than £230,000 on the project, and is expected to be live by the end of the year.

So, is it time to start preparing for the robotic revolution? Not quite – though the long-term future of artificial intelligence is undeniably unnerving.

The robot will only simulate anger

Though it may seem aggressive, Touchpoint’s robot won’t come close to experiencing bona fide rage. Instead, the machine will have hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions uploaded to its database and the robot will be programmed to mimic and repeat these conversations. Dr Stuart Armstrong, a research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at the Oxford Martin School, Oxford University, says that this is a relatively easy emotion to seemingly replicate in robots.

"There’s not much variety in human anger. If someone’s angry they’ll just hurl insults at you, there’s not much subtlety of interaction so you don’t have to code anything complicated. Anger is easy to imitate without having to go into depth," he says.

Fake robot anger is very basic – for now

Touchpoint’s angry robot will only be programmed to show basic signs of rage, and will behave in a markedly different way from a genuinely angry human. Dr Armstrong explains:

Why would we be afraid of a human who’s angry? Well, because they might do something stupid and lash out. Robots are not going to start punching the person at the other end of the phone or spreading angry messages on Twitter. They’re not going to do a whole host of things that you would expect a genuinely angry person to do– unless it had been programmed to do that. And that’s how you can tell that their anger is purely situational. A sign that a robot has feeling is if they act in a way that we would expect a human to do but they weren’t programmed for.


The film Ex Machina explores questions of robot consciousness
 
Truly scary robots don't show any emotion

Theoretically, we might one day be able to build robots that exhibit all human signs of anger. There is a complicated philosophical debate about the point at which mimicked emotion and consciousness is indistinguishable from actual emotion and consciousness. If a robot can exactly mimic human consciousness, and react with the same emotional responses to the same events, then are we really justified in calling it unconscious?


WATCH: Ex Machina - Official Trailer.




But such an advanced computer is a hypothetical creation that we might see by the end of the century – and certainly won’t see in the next decade. And even if we do create an angry, human-esque robot, these are a far smaller concern to humans than emotionless robots.

Computer scientists are far more likely to make an error with emotionless robots, which they might be less wary of, than robots that exhibit anger. “If we can create genuine anger as an emotion in robots, everything in our background tells us that this is dangerous and this is not something that should be placed in a position of power,” says Dr Armstrong.

And programmers with sinister intentions would intentionally avoid angry robots. “If you want to cause harm, create a murderous robot but don’t make it angry. If you want to cause harm then creating the thing that signals danger to all humans is exactly what you want to avoid,” says Dr Armstrong.


A machine capable of thinking for itself and expressing emotion is being developed in Switzerland


Instead, robots that have no human evidence of emotion could (hypothetically, far in the future) create a far greater threat. Dr Armstrong says:

Everything in our evolutionary background prepares us to deal with angry entities and knowing how to deal with them and whether or not to trust them. If we get a robot that’s angry in the classically human sense, we know so much more about how to deal with it then a robot that does not exhibit anger of any sort but may have goals that are very dangerous. The dangerous ones are the ones that do not correspond to anything that we can classify on a human scale – the ones that are indifferent to some crucial aspect of the world. If AI are indifferent to humans, it’s obvious how that could go wrong. If they’re indifferent to some aspect of humans and they get great power, well that aspect of humanity may vanish.

Should we worry about AI at all?

Though angry robots may not be such a threat, Dr Armstrong says that it’s extremely difficult to predict whether or not Artificial Intelligence will eventually cause harm to humans.

“Intelligence itself has allowed us to dominate the planet, so potentially higher intelligence might lead to much higher power,” he says. “AIs could become extremely powerful and then their preferences would influence the direction of the future. If these preferences are indifferent to some human element then things could end up quite badly for us.”

But though it seems certain that AIs will become more powerful in the coming decades, it’s far from certain that they’ll reach a significant level of power. “There’s great uncertainty here,” says Dr Armstrong.

How to program robots to avoid harm

Dr Armstrong says that the threat posed by Artificial Intelligence is a “technical problem” being addressed by computer scientists.

One option is specify and code human values – which is an extremely difficult task. “The disagreements among human values is almost unimportant in comparison with the difficulty of specifying this value sufficiently so that it can be coded. You have to solve all of moral ethics in computer code,” says Dr Armstrong.


Robots that look or act like humans, like those in the film I, Robot, are unlikely to be a major threat

Dr Armstrong is working on an alternative solution, and is investigating whether robots can be made safe by programming it for “reduced impact.” He explains:

"If you programmed a robot to remove a tumour then, once the tumour is gone, it might then immediately cut off someone’s leg. It’s motivation to remove the tumour is not safe. But if you programmed it to remove the tumour and have a small impact on the person, then it will remove the tumour without then doing something so drastic. So we’ve made an unsafe goal safe by adding reduced impact to it. Many values become a lot safer if you program the robot so that it won’t do a huge change.

The future of Artificial Intelligence is extremely uncertain, and computer scientists like Dr Armstrong are working to make sure we’ll be safe from dangerous robots. But for now, the angry robot in New Zealand poses no serious threat. Sci-fi horror stories haven’t become reality yet. - Telegraph.