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Surging inflation in Argentina leaves people feeling hopeless: ‘It robs you of your dreams’ | International

Double-digit inflation has long plagued Argentina, causing many to feel like they are getting poorer and poorer with each passing month.

In October 2022, prices in the South American country increased by 6.3% compared to the previous month. Year-over-year, however, the inflationary rates are even more damning – since October 2021, prices have gone up by an astonishing 88%. To make matters worse, over that same period of time, the Argentine peso has lost 30% of its value.

It’s extremely difficult for the average person to make long-term plans when their salaries evaporate so quickly. Signing a rental contract or investing in a business are risky endeavors amid so much volatility. Most Argentine workers are forced to live day-to-day, often holding several different jobs to make ends meet.

While the official data shows that unemployment is low (6.9%) and the economy is growing at a rate of 6.4% percent, few people feel like they’re experiencing any tangible benefits. To understand the reality behind the numbers, EL PAÍS spoke to three generations of Argentines about having to forego their dreams in the current climate.

Carla López, 21-years-old: “More than living, we’re just surviving”

Carla López wants to move out of her parents’ house, but she can’t. She used to work at a Covid-19 vaccination center, where she earned 55,000 pesos a month – about $400 when converted at the official exchange rate. But in August, the municipal government of Buenos Aires shuttered the facility, leaving her unemployed.

“I’ve been looking for work, but I can’t find anything that pays what I was earning before. I’m studying law and there’s the possibility of working as a paralegal… but that kind of job pays badly, or doesn’t pay at all,” she sighs.

López sits in Lezama Park with former colleagues from the vaccination center. They sip mate and discuss their precarious living situations. Only one of the young people present was able to briefly become financially independent two years ago – but when her relationship ended, she had to move back in with her parents.

“I don’t think about the future – it just stresses me out. I think that, more than living, we’re surviving,” says López. She also sees that her parents are more worried about money than ever.

“When I was a girl, we would take a family trip to the beach for a month every year. Then, we cut back to 15 days. Now, my parents are wondering if we can even afford to go for a week. It’s very expensive – double what my monthly salary used to be.”

Enrique Máiquez, 42-years-old: “I need two jobs – one isn’t enough”

Enrique Máiquez during his shift as a municipal gardener.
Enrique Máiquez during his shift as a municipal gardener.Enrique García Medina

Enrique Máiquez lives in Ezeiza, a commuter city 20 miles outside of Buenos Aires. Six years ago, he was let go from his job at a music store, due to falling sales.

“From then on, I’ve had to adjust… but things keep getting worse and worse,” he laments.

With the compensation he received from the music store, along with some savings, he bought a taxi license. He also got a job working for the municipality as a gardener.

“I thought about investing in a kiosk… but it wasn’t feasible. [Former president Mauricio] Macri raised all the fees and [tax] rates… the costs were too high.”

“I leave home at 4am and return at 7pm. I need two jobs – one isn’t enough for me. But [because of devaluation] to keep earning the same amount, I have to work more hours each year,” he explains. He has three children to support.

Máiquez recalls that the worst days of his childhood were in 1989, during the hyperinflation crisis, when his father’s salary disappeared as soon as he received it. He and his four brothers often went to bed without dinner. Now an adult, he feels that the current situation is worse.

“1989 was bad… the 2001 crisis was terrifying. But, afterwards, thank God, the economy picked up quickly. Now, it’s a slow agony. It robs you of your dreams, it takes away your hope… you see more and more poverty every day. All the politicians think about is filling their pockets, it doesn’t matter if they’re Peronists or Radicals.”

Haydé Vargas, 63-years-old: “I dreamed of buying a house… how silly of me”

Haydé Vargas was born in Peru, but has lived in Argentina since 1992. The economic situation during her first years in the country was relatively healthy: inflation was not a problem. Then-president Carlos Menem had implemented a new conversion system, by which a peso had the same value as a dollar. That artificial change stabilized prices for a decade, until everything collapsed during the crisis of December 2001, when, in an effort to boost reserves, Fernando de la Rúa’s administration restricted people’s ability to withdraw cash from banks. This sparked rioting, which forced the government to resign.

Haydé Vargas, pictured while shopping in a supermarket.
Haydé Vargas, pictured while shopping in a supermarket.Enrique García Medina

“It was the best time [in the 1990s]… with ten pesos you could fill your grocery cart.”

A few days after arriving in Buenos Aires, she found work as a live-in maid. She was able to save a large part of her salary and send it back to Peru, where her daughter had stayed behind with her mother.

“I dreamed of buying a house in Peru… how silly of me. Everything got worse very quickly,” she says.

When the woman she was caring for died, Vargas found another job with much lower pay. And then, a few months later, the 2001 crisis broke out. She went back to Peru, but three years later, she returned to Argentina with her daughter.

“I would go back, but she wants to stay here, even though it is difficult because we don’t have enough. Before, we could go out to eat… now, it’s very expensive. And going out at night scares me, because there’s more crime than ever. Even small pleasures are impossible.”

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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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