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Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Recurring Storms: Food Insecurity, Political Instability, and Conflict
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Renewed and expanded international collaboration to anticipate and prepare for recurring storms of food insecurity is essential. Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Syria are examples that vividly underscore the explosiveness of situations in which people find themselves unable to get the food they want and need. The experiences of post-conflict countries highlight some critical issues that need to be prioritized in order to regain sustainable food security. Averting future storms will require the recognition that food security challenges will extend long beyond 2030, political leadership must be visibly committed to these issues, and actions to reduce fragmentation of effort will be critical.

World Radio Day
RADIO remains the most dynamic and engaging mediums in the 21st century, offering new ways to interact and participate. This powerful communication tool and low-cost medium can reach the widest audience, including remote communities and vulnerable people such as the illiterate, the disabled, women, youth and the poor. Radio offers these communities a platform to intervene in public debate, irrespective of their educational level. It provides an opportunity to participate in policy and decision-making processes, and to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expression. The impact of radio is at different levels: it is an essential tool in times of disaster management as an effective medium to reach affected people when other means of communication are disrupted; it is a way of promoting gender equality by providing rural women access to knowledge and support; finally, it is inclusive, engaging youth in the media as catalysts of change.

Cognitive collaboration: Why humans and computers think better together
Deloitte University Press
Although artificial intelligence (AI) has experienced a number of  “springs” and “winters” in its roughly 60-year history, it is safe to expect the current AI spring to be both lasting and fertile. Applications that seemed like science fiction a decade ago are becoming science fact at a pace that has surprised even many experts. The stage for the current AI revival was set in 2011 with the televised triumph of the IBM Watson computer system over former Jeopardy! game show champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. This watershed moment has been followed rapid-fire by a sequence of striking breakthroughs, many involving the machine learning technique known as deep learning. Computer algorithms now beat humans at games of skill, master video games with no prior instruction, 3D-print original paintings in the style of Rembrandt, grade student papers, cook meals, vacuum floors, and drive cars. All of this has created considerable uncertainty about our future relationship with machines, the prospect of technological unemployment, and even the very fate of humanity.

Preventing Violent Extremism through Inclusive Development and the Promotion of Tolerance and Respect for Diversity
Based on the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism and Sustainable Development Goal 16, UNDP has developed a global framework called 'Preventing Violent Extremism through Inclusive Development and the Promotion of Tolerance and Respect for Diversity'. This framework highlights that prevention of violent extremism needs to look beyond strict security concerns to development-related causes of, and solutions to, the phenomenon. UNDP’s approach to PVE reflects the fact that the world today faces two interlinked trends: the rise of violent extremism, and the need to govern increasingly diverse and multi-cultural societies. At the heart of UNDP’s approach is a belief that better governance of diversity will lead to societies better protected against violent extremism.

Use of mobile phones by the rural poor: gender perspectives from selected Asian countries
Food and Agriculture Organization
"A qualitative study was conducted in Indonesia and Sri Lanka to understand the varied perceptions on the use and ownership of mobile phones ... The study was conducted amongst four groups of people (urban men, urban women, rural men, and rural women) in each of two countries. The study found that: Gender does have some effect on how the phone is used. Women use it more for coordination. Men on the other hand seem to use it more for livelihood activities and for making and maintaining social connections. Men in general have greater decision-making power in a phone purchase even for their spouses. The most significant difference in the utility derived from mobile phones between urban and rural dwellers is the fact that, for the latter, the ability of the phone to help connect to needed infrastructure and services was more important. This was less of a concern for urbanites since essential infrastructure and services were generally close by, unlike for those rural dwellers."

Small Voices, Big Dreams 2016
Child Fund Alliance
When ChildFund Alliance set out to survey children around the world about their views on school and education, we expected them to tell us that going to school is important. We were thrilled when a definitive 98% of the 6,000-plus 10- to 12-year-olds we talked to said that education is, indeed, important to them. We learned that what children love most about schools includes new things and working with their teachers. Almost half said that getting an education will help them get a good job when they grow up. Many see it as allowing them to make a difference in their country or to make them a better person. On a less positive note, only 60% of the children surveyed around the world said their school is always safe. On average, 3% of children said their school is never safe; in one country, a shocking 20% said their school is never safe. This statistic is worrying, as safety is a prerequisite for learning.

Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit

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