Your Friday Briefing: Dueling Conferences

Usman Deen
Usman Deen

Global Courant 2023-05-19 02:04:22

Before the G7, China will hold its own summit

As leaders from the world’s wealthiest major democracies gathered in Japan for the G7 summit, which begins today, China began its own conference with the leaders of five Central Asian countries. The split-screen diplomacy comes as tensions rise between the West and China.

Beijing’s inaugural China-Central Asia summit, which began yesterday, is part of its efforts to counter what it sees as a US-dominated world order seeking to contain and suppress China. (At the G7, leaders will address what the US describes as China’s growing assertiveness.)

China greeted the leaders of five former Soviet republics – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – on the tarmac with a huge crowd of dancers and jumping children. With the two-day summit, China is trying to fill some of the void left by Russia. The war in Ukraine has weakened some of Russia’s influence in Central Asia and China sees an opening.

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China’s interest in the region also stems from concerns about violence and ethnic tensions in China’s Xinjiang region, which borders Central Asian countries. China sees economic prosperity in the region as a way to further stabilize Xinjiang, analysts say.

Meta gave away its AI crown jewels

The tech industry’s race to develop artificial intelligence has been disrupted by a decision to give away a powerful system for free. In February, Meta released LLaMA, an AI technology similar to ChatGPT’s, as open-source software that anyone can use to build their own chatbot.

“Meta now has zero control,” our colleague Cade Metz told us. “It’s in the wild.”

Formerly known as Facebook, Meta believes that sharing the underlying AI engines will spread the company’s influence and undermine its rivals. Meanwhile, companies like Google and OpenAI have only become more secretive about their AI tools, fearing they will be used to spread disinformation, hate speech and other toxic content.

“Open source tends to win,” Cade said. “Now the difference: the technology is potentially dangerous.”

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Separately: OpenAI unveiled a new version of ChatGPT for the iPhone that responds to voice prompts.

Myanmar’s junta is blocking aid

Days after Cyclone Mocha made landfall in Myanmar, aid groups are still awaiting approval from the military regime to deliver supplies. For survivors, the threats are increasing.

Aid groups fear the death toll – estimated by some at more than 450 – will only rise as people face food shortages, disease, a lack of clean water and the loss of their homes. Survivors also face the threat of unexploded landmines that may have shifted during the flood.

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The civil war also hampered aid. Fighting is taking place in many of the cyclone-affected areas. Rescue workers, activists and survivors say the junta is reluctant to allow outsiders access because it wants to control who receives aid.

Background: In 2008 Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar and killed more than 135,000 people. The death toll also rose in the aftermath of the storm and the military government was criticized for slow response.

Refugees: Most of the dead were Rohingya Muslims transferred to relocation camps more than a decade ago, said the rival National Unity government’s humanitarian and disaster management minister.


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What is your therapist not telling you? There are certain things they just can’t say to your face. “Therapy itself, it’s a bit of a dance — you want to see what the other person is bringing, and you dance with them,” said one psychologist. “If they do a waltz, you can’t break hip-hop.”

A dozen counselors shared with The Times what it’s really like to sit in the other armchair.


The US Supreme Court thinks so.

In a 7 to 2 ruling, the judges said the artist had no right to appropriate someone else’s photo of Prince for a portrait series.

The photographer’s “original works, like those of other photographers, are entitled to copyright protection even against famous artists,” Judge Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the majority. The photographer, Lynn Goldsmith, received almost no money or mainstream credit for the image.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Elena Kagan wrote that the decision will “stifle any kind of creativity” and “make our world poorer.” The art world largely agrees: many feared this outcome, arguing that artists constantly borrow from each other. (They also note that Andy Warhol, who died in 1987, modified the photo in several ways.)

“There’s a lot judges can do with the stroke of a pen, but rewriting art history isn’t one of them,” wrote a biographer and critic of Warhol in The Times. “They are stuck with appropriation as one of the great artistic innovations of the modern age. It is their job to ensure that the law recognizes that.”


What to cook

Put down potato chips in an omelette. (Serious.)

What to read

‘Berlin’ by Bea Setton is a funny and disturbing debut about a young woman in a new city.

What to watch

In “Sanctuary,” a dark psychosexual romantic comedy, a wealthy heir and his longtime employee struggle to control their relationship.


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Join our five-week walking series starting next month.

Your Friday Briefing: Dueling Conferences

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