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‘A different perspective’: the journalist reporting the Amazon through fresh eyes | Global development

Elaíze Farias’ phone is buzzing. Sitting at a restaurant in central Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state in Brazil, just weeks before the presidential election, Farias is in demand. She is fielding requests from domestic and international organisations to comment, give lectures and speak on panels about her work as a journalist in the Amazon.

Amid the election buzz, Farias is committed to ensuring her less high-profile stories do not get forgotten. “We want to tell the stories of people who are excluded from mainstream media,” she says.

Farias is the editor of Amazônia Real, a digital media outlet dedicated to telling stories about the violation of Indigenous, environmental and human rights in the Brazilian Amazon, that she cofounded 10 years ago with journalists Kátia Brasil and Liege Albuquerque.

Farias, frustrated by the way traditional journalism perpetuates colonialist mentalities, created Amazônia Real with the goal of doing journalism differently. However, the platform is about more than seeking to tell untold stories about injustice: it is a laboratory for thinking about what a new, post-colonial journalism could look like.

“We keep the basic principles of journalism, like listening to different sides and following a certain code of ethics,” she says about Amazônia Real’s newsroom. “But I see a need to rethink some basic media concepts.”

From an early age, at home in Parintins, a municipality on the banks of the Amazon, Farias was interested in social issues. Of Indigenous origin, she was always passionate about telling stories, often listening to those passed down from her grandparents. But journalism was not her goal.

“Journalism was a way of getting a university degree,” Farias says, noting how challenging it is for a woman from a state school to be admitted to the Federal University of Amazonas. “There was nothing romantic about my choosing journalism.”

While studying, Farias worked as a culture reporter, covering everything from music to art. She fell in love with the craft and by 2003, changed her focus towards social injustice. She increasingly spent time on the streets of Manaus, writing stories about people who struggled to access clean water or electricity. “I learned a lot about myself – and found myself – during this period,” she says.

The more stories about the environment and Indigenous rights Farias worked on, the more concerned she became about the way they were reported. “I became worried that journalism stigmatises Indigenous people,” she says.

Farias cringed reading stories that featured what she calls a “panoramic view” of the Amazon, where the region’s diverse cultural groups were collapsed into a monolith. She felt communities were often either left out of the conversation or fetishised. “Outsiders like to make the Amazon exotic, like a theatre,” she says. “They want to wow people. They want something they can sell.”

So, in 2013, Farias, with Brasil and Albuquerque, established Amazônia Real, dedicated to underreported stories about the Amazon. With no initial financial help, it was essential to Farias and Brasil that they make no compromises by hosting sponsored content on the site or accepting money. “We don’t want people to think that we have an allegiance to anyone who isn’t the public,” Farias says.

But what sets Amazônia Real apart is not just the stories it tells, but how it tells them.

This starts with breaking what Farias calls the “myth of neutrality” in journalism. She doesn’t believe objectivity is possible, given that all journalists have worldviews that inevitably shape how they tell stories. Meaning, she says, western ways of understanding the world are assumed to be “neutral” but centre on economic logic – often missing the mark when it comes to the Amazon.

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Through a western lens, for example, the merits of an extractive project can be judged on potential profitability; even people’s wellbeing may be judged by the money in their bank account, and an environmental footprint calculated in carbon emitted rather than species lost. But Farias says many in the Amazon “don’t have the same view”. “If you come in with this bias in your mind, you might see someone fishing for food and say they are poor, when they see themselves as rich,” she says, which inevitably affects story accuracy.

Elaíze Farias, editor of Amazônia Real, on a canoe on the Amazon
Elaíze Farias, editor of Amazônia Real, an agency specialising in underreported stories about the Amazon region and its Indigenous communities

Farias refuses to be called an activist – a term she says stigmatises journalists – but does believe it shouldn’t be radical for journalists to stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed by the status quo. Amazônia Real explicitly states on its website that it seeks to defend Indigenous people, a stance many news organisations would refuse to take. “If you’re being neutral,” Farias says, “you’re on the side of the oppressor,” citing South African bishop Desmond Tutu.

Amazônia Real is now established as a leading media player in the region, respected by readers and competitors, who often republish its stories. And Farias has won several awards for her journalism.

Journalists for the platform are encouraged to work to the schedule of the communities they interview, rather than imposing their own deadlines. Unlike other media outlets, reporters nurture close ties with those they write about and maintain contact after a story is published. For Farias, this is crucial to build trust and solidarity. She says keeping distance from a subject is unrealistic and can be unkind when people have trusted you with their story and put their lives on the line to tell it.

“It’s not about creating a manual,” Farias says. “It’s about putting a different perspective forward. It’s about putting the voices of marginalised people first.”

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Chemistry Problems & Quantum Computing

The researchers compared the results of a conventional and quantum computer to minimise error calculations, which could eventually be scaled up to solve more complicated problems.

Scientists in Sweden have successfully managed to use a quantum computer to solve simple chemistry problems, as a proof-of-concept for more advanced calculations.

Currently, conventional supercomputers are used in quantum chemistry to help scientists learn more about chemical reactions, which materials can be developed and the characteristics they have.

But these conventional computers have a limit to the calculations they can handle. It is believed quantum computers will eventually be able to handle extremely complicated simulations, which could lead to new pharmaceutical discoveries or the creation of new materials.

However, these quantum machines are so sensitive that their calculations suffer from errors. Imperfect control signals, interference from the environment and unwanted interactions between quantum bits – qubits – can lead to “noise” that disrupts calculations.

The risk of errors grows as more qubits are added to a quantum computer, which complicates attempts to create more powerful machines or solve more complicated problems.

Comparing conventional and quantum results

In the new study by Chalmers University, scientists aimed to resolve this noise issue through a method called reference-state error mitigation.

This method involves finding a “reference state” by describing and solving the same problem on both a conventional and a quantum computer.

The reference state is a simpler description of a molecule that can be solved by a normal computer. By comparing the results from both computers, the scientists were able to estimate the scale of error the quantum computer had in its calculation.

The difference between the two computers’ results for the simpler reference problem was then applied to correct the quantum computer’s solution for the original, more complex problem.

This method allowed the scientists to calculate the intrinsic energy of small example molecules such as hydrogen on the university’s quantum computer.

Associate professor Martin Rahm – who led the study – believes the result is an important step forward that can be used to improve future quantum-chemical calculations.

“We see good possibilities for further development of the method to allow calculations of larger and more complex molecules, when the next generation of quantum computers are ready,” Rahm said.

Research is happening around the world to fix the problems limiting the development of more advanced quantum computers.

Earlier this month, Tyndall’s Prof Peter O’Brien told about his group’s work in addressing a key challenge in quantum technology and how quantum communications will make eavesdropping ‘impossible’.

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A Chilling Resurgence Of The “Vampire Fish” In The Great Lakes

The notorious sea lamprey, a creepy parasitic fish, resurges in the Great Lakes, wreaking havoc on native species.

The Creepy Invader Emerges

In the eerie waters of the Great Lakes, a parasitic fish has emerged from the depths, thriving on a bloodsucking mission. Meet the sea lamprey, a creature with a haunting circular row of teeth, a serrated tongue, and an eel-like shape. Native to the northern and western Atlantic Ocean, this nightmarish creature invaded the Great Lakes in the early 19th century through the Welland Canal, which links Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Once it infiltrated the pristine waters, the lamprey set about its insidious predation on commercially important fish, including trout, whitefish, perch, and sturgeon. The consequences were catastrophic.

A Century of Devastation

Within a mere decade, the sea lamprey gained access to all five Great Lakes, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Its unchecked proliferation led to the collapse of the once-thriving trout fishery within a century. By the 1960s, the lamprey had inflicted such damage that the annual commercial catch of lake trout in the upper Great Lakes plummeted from around 15 million pounds to a meager half a million pounds.

A Battle Against the Vampire Fish

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, alongside the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, took up arms against this highly invasive species. With ardent determination, they sought to manage and reduce the sea lamprey population, and their efforts yielded significant success. The fishery commission proudly boasts on its website that sea lamprey populations have been diminished by a staggering 90 percent in most areas of the Great Lakes.

The “vampire fish” sea lamprey makes a chilling comeback, threatening the delicate balance of the Great Lakes’ aquatic life.

The Pandemic’s Interruption

However, as the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, the agencies’ crucial operations to control the lamprey’s resurgence suffered a chilling interruption. With travel restrictions in place and resources stretched thin, fishery managers faced daunting challenges. The pandemic’s insidious impact reached the heart of the Great Lakes, allowing the parasitic fish to take advantage of the hiatus.

The Reemergence

As restrictions eased and operations resumed, a grim revelation awaited the fishery managers. The parasitic fish had cunningly exploited the opportunity, and their population began to creep back across the Great Lakes. Reports from the Wall Street Journal indicated that the sea lamprey population had resurged, sending shivers down the spines of those who witnessed its wrath in the past.

Lampreys belong to the superclass Cyclostomata and represent the most ancient group of vertebrates. Existing for over 360 million years, they are known as living fossils due to their many evolutionally conserved features

A Fragile Balance

Exact figures of the resurgence remain uncertain, but the implications are undeniably ominous. According to a 2022 report by Undark Magazine, crews responsible for population control were only able to treat about 25 percent of the target streams in 2020, leaving the lamprey unchecked. The following year saw a partial recovery, as the teams reached 75% of their targets. Nevertheless, the challenge remains enormous, and the careful application of pesticides called lampricides is essential to reduce the lamprey population.

After pandemic disruptions, the sea lamprey population surges, posing a formidable challenge for conservationists in the Great Lakes.

The Cost of Confrontation

The battle against the lamprey is not merely a spooky tale—it comes with a substantial price tag. Controlling this aquatic menace is estimated to cost around $15 to $20 million annually, reflecting the magnitude of the threat it poses to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Joining the Fight

As the resurgence of the “vampire fish” casts a shadow over the Great Lakes, the need for decisive action becomes evident. Stakeholders must unite in their mission to protect the delicate balance of this vital ecosystem. The battle against the sea lamprey requires collective effort and resources, with innovative approaches to safeguarding the region’s rich biodiversity.

A Race Against Time

With the sinister sea lamprey gaining ground, time is of the essence. As this dark chapter unfolds, the eyes of the world are on the Great Lakes, waiting to witness the outcome of this gripping struggle. The clock is ticking, and the stakes have never been higher.

Seizing the Opportunity

For environmental advocates, researchers, and those invested in the well-being of the Great Lakes, the resurgence of the “vampire fish” serves as a chilling reminder of the fragility of our ecosystems.

Embracing sustainable practices, collaborative efforts, and innovative solutions, there is hope that the Great Lakes can once again emerge victorious against this formidable foe.

A Battle for the Ages

As the lamprey saga continues, it will be a tale of resilience, perseverance, and the relentless pursuit of balance. The world holds its breath, awaiting the final chapter in this eerie narrative—a chapter that will determine the fate of one of North America’s most treasured aquatic ecosystems.

Contact us now to learn how you can support the battle against the “vampire fish” and join the ranks of those committed to preserving the Great Lakes for generations to come. Let your voice be heard in this harrowing tale of nature’s tenacity and mankind’s dedication.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

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The Implications Of Controlling High-Level Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

By Clint Bailey | ‘The Voice of EU’

The notion of artificial intelligence surpassing humanity has long been a topic of discussion, and recent advancements in programs have reignited concerns. But can we truly control super-intelligence? A closer examination by scientists reveals that the answer is highly unlikely.

Unraveling The Challenge:

Controlling a super-intelligence that surpasses human comprehension necessitates the ability to simulate and analyze its behavior. However, if we are unable to comprehend it, creating such a simulation becomes an impossible task. This lack of understanding hinders our ability to establish rules, such as “cause no harm to humans,” as we cannot anticipate the scenarios that an AI might generate.

The Complexity Of Super-Intelligence:

Super-intelligence presents a distinct challenge compared to conventional robot ethics. Its multifaceted nature allows it to mobilize diverse resources, potentially pursuing objectives that are incomprehensible and uncontrollable to humans. This fundamental disparity further complicates the task of governing and setting limits on super-intelligent systems.

Drawing Insights From The Halting Problem:

Alan Turing’s halting problem, introduced in 1936, provides insights into the limitations of predicting program outcomes. While we can determine halting behavior for specific programs, there is no universal method capable of evaluating every potential program ever written. In the realm of artificial super-intelligence, which could theoretically store all possible computer programs in its memory simultaneously, the challenge of containment intensifies.

The Uncontainable Dilemma:

When attempting to prevent super-intelligence from causing harm, the unpredictability of outcomes poses a significant challenge. Determining whether a program will reach a conclusion or continue indefinitely becomes mathematically impossible for all scenarios. This renders traditional containment algorithms unusable and raises concerns about the reliability of teaching AI ethics to prevent catastrophic consequences.

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The Limitation Conundrum:

An alternative approach suggested by some is to limit the capabilities of super-intelligence, such as restricting its access to certain parts of the internet or networks. However, this raises questions about the purpose of creating super-intelligence if its potential is artificially curtailed. The argument arises: if we do not intend to use it to tackle challenges beyond human capabilities, why create it in the first place?


Urgent Reflection – The Direction Of Artificial Intelligence:

As we push forward with artificial intelligence, we must confront the possibility of a super-intelligence beyond our control. Its incomprehensibility makes it difficult to discern its arrival, emphasizing the need for critical introspection regarding the path we are treading. Prominent figures in the tech industry, such as Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, have even called for a pause in AI experiments to evaluate safety and potential risks to society.

The potential consequences of controlling high-level artificial super-intelligence are far-reaching and demand meticulous consideration. As we strive for progress, we must strike a balance between pushing the boundaries of technology and ensuring responsible development. Only through thorough exploration and understanding can we ensure that AI systems benefit humanity while effectively managing their risks.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

By Clint Bailey, Team ‘THE VOICE OF EU

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