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Inside Qatar’s ‘other’ fan zone: a night watching football with Qatar’s migrant workers | World Cup 2022

It has the big screen, the pumping music and the Fifa branding, but this is a fan zone with a difference. There are no visiting supporters, no women, no team colours and certainly no beer. The clue is in the venue: a cricket stadium on the edge of Doha. Inside, thousands of mostly south Asian low-wage labourers, fill the stands or sit cross-legged on the grassy outfield.

It is a world away from the polished face of Doha that most fans will see. The stadium fan zone is within Asian Town, a shopping and entertainment complex purpose-built for Qatar’s migrant workers about 30 minutes by car from the city centre. A vast expanse of warehouses, workshops and accommodation blocks stretches out for miles on one side, housing hundreds of thousands of workers, often in grim, crowded dorms.

On a wall near the entrance to the fan zone, a banner in Arabic, English and Hindi reads: “Thanks for your contributions for delivering the best Fifa World Cup ever.”

Visitors to the fan zone for migrant workers in Doha, Qatar during an evening event.
The entrance to the fan zone for migrant workers in Doha, Qatar. Photograph: Pete Pattisson

Many here probably played a part in building the stadiums and infrastructure for the tournament, but gratitude has its limits. While some match tickets went on sale for Qatar residents for just 40 rials (£9), no one the Guardian spoke to had managed to get one. Any that were available were far too expensive for workers who earn as little as £225 a month.

Without a match ticket, they are unable to register for a Hayya card, which is needed to enter the main fan zones in Doha. Even if they could, the efficient and cheap Metro does not reach this part of the city, forcing workers to take more costly alternatives.

The fan zone, and Asian Town itself, highlight the parallel lives that many migrant workers inhabit. Critics say it entrenches divisions, the unspoken message being: you can have your restaurants, shops and fan zone, as long as you don’t come to ours.

In the migrant worker fan zone in Doha, Qatar, people watch the Spain v Costa Rica match at night on a big screen.
People watch the Spain v Costa Rica match in the migrant worker fan zone. Photograph: Pete Pattisson

As the match between Spain and Costa Rica kicks off, Dilip Kumar Mandal from Nepal looks thrilled. “I come every night. I like the environment,” he says. Asked which team he is supporting, he pauses and says, “The red one.”

“I’d like to be in a stadium, but I have no money. Whatever I earn, I have to send home for my children’s education,” he adds.

Mandal, a mason, is just happy to be there. Before the World Cup began, 350 of his workmates were ordered home, as his company, like many others, wound down its work on instructions from the government.

As Spain score their first goal, he punches the air. “Yes! I knew they’d score,” he says, his face glowing red in the light of the giant screen.

Sitting nearby, Stephen* from Ghana works at the airport, transferring inflight meals to the planes. It’s his day off, but during the week, “All I do is work, sleep, work, sleep, work, sleep,” he says. Like Dilip, he could not afford a match ticket, but unlike him, he speaks about football as fluently as the Spanish play it. As another goal slides in, he enthuses about Ghana’s chances: “I just hope I can get off work to watch them,” he says.

As half-time approaches, hundreds surge towards the stage, and are soon rewarded, not by another goal, but by an MC and her four female dancers. She gives a shoutout to, “My African friends”, before reeling off the other countries that make up the bulk of Qatar’s migrant workforce: India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Close up images of visitors to the migrant workers fan zone on the edge of Doha, Qatar, during an evening World Cup match.
Some workers are happy to be in Qatar for the World Cup having seen workmates sent home pre-tournament as firms wound down their operations. Photograph: Pete Pattisson

There are no team colours or flags on display. With the exception of Ghana, none of these nations qualified for the World Cup and so decisions about who to support appear to be determined by a favourite player or the colour of a shirt.

In the stands, Mohammed Malik from Bangladesh says he comes to watch the matches every day. He has nothing better to do. “My company stopped sending us to work because we can’t access our worksite during the World Cup. They’ve stopped paying us too,” says the 42-year-old carpenter.

Yam Kumar Rajbanshi, a forklift operator, is another regular in the fan zone. “I come every night. I love football more than cricket. Brazil will win,” he says confidently. Rajbanshi, from Nepal, said a ticket for a match cost too much – half his monthly salary – but he did not seem to care. “It’s better to watch here!”

Migrant workers watch Qatar v Ecuador on a big screen from the cricket ground fan zone on the edge of Doha.
Migrant workers watch Qatar v Ecuador from the cricket ground fan zone on the edge of Doha. Photograph: Marko Đurica/Reuters

As Spain stroll to a 7-0 win, the workers who helped make it possible, saunter back to their dorms, a band of south Indian drummers sending them on their way.

* name changed to protect the individual’s identity

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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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