The Intelligence
The Intelligence
Aug 19, 2019
Scarcely surviving: Zimbabwe
Play episode · 22 min

Electricity, food, water: everything is in short supply in the country, including faith in the government’s ability to recover from Robert Mugabe’s kleptocracy. China produced a record 8.3m university graduates this year; we take a look at the changing labour market they’re entering. And, experiments in the Netherlands to house the young with the old are going remarkably well, in part because both parties benefit. 


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American democracy, hacked
Zack, Jenn, and Alex put the upcoming American elections in global context. They explain why long polling lines and gerrymandered districts are very much not the norm among advanced democracies and how other countries avoid them. Then they dissect the latest news about Russian, Iranian, and other foreign interference in the 2020 election — and debate whether it even matters anymore. References: Here’s Alex’s piece for Vox on how other countries do elections better. And Jen Kirby wrote for Vox on what US intelligence leaders said yesterday about Russia’s and Iran’s interference efforts. BBC News explains why it can be hard to vote in America. NBC News reported on how China is adopting interference techniques the Russians have been using. In August, a top US intelligence official said China, Russia, and Iran were interfering in the 2020 election for differing reasons. CyberScoop reported that North Korea, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia also aim to sway the vote. The US Justice Department charged Russians with interfering in the elections this week. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox:   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us:  Newsletter: Vox Sentences  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
47 min
Intelligence Squared
Intelligence Squared
Intelligence Squared
Wake Up Call: Why The Pandemic Exposes The Weakness of the West
Fear is on the march. All over the world citizens have surrendered basic freedoms to the state in order to be protected from Covid-19. Good government has become not just important but a matter of life and death. But the assumption that Western governments have any advantage over the rest of the world is questionable: ask yourself, where would you feel safer today – in Los Angeles and Barcelona or in Singapore and Seoul? The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the West, argue bestselling authors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, and it is accelerating a shift in the balance of power to the East. While Western democracies have been consumed by in-fights such as the battle over Brexit or partisan showdowns in Congress, countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, as well as China, have been stealing a march economically, technologically and, arguably, politically in recent years. Earlier this month, Micklethwait and Wooldridge came to Intelligence Squared to talk about the themes of their new book, 'The Wake Up Call'. What are the lessons to be learned from the pandemic? Should we recognise, as many on the Left maintain, that big government is back for good and should be expanded permanently to deal with other global crises? Or should a balance be struck between collectivism on the one hand, and freedom and entrepreneurialism on the other? And how can the West respond creatively to the pandemic, reverse decades of decline, and ensure that China does not overtake the US in the struggle for global leadership? To find out more about the book click here: Support this show   See for privacy and opt-out information.
59 min
David Runciman and Catherine Carr
Democracy for Sale
We talk to Peter Geoghegan of openDemocracy and Jennifer Cobbe of the Trust and Technology Initiative about Cambridge Analytica, money, power and what is and isn't corrupting our democracy. How easy is it to buy influence in British politics? Did Cambridge Analytica break the rules or show just how little difference the rules make anyway? Who has the power to take on Facebook? Plus we discuss why the British government's failure to handle the pandemic tells us a lot about the corrosive effects of cronyism. Talking Points: The ICO report on Cambridge Analytica largely concluded that their tactics were not unusual. * Of course, we can take issue with the fact these practices are so widespread.  * One of the reasons Cambridge Analytica was such a scandal was that people didn’t realise they could be targeted in this way. * Cambridge Analytica and organizations like it can do is seed misinformation into a wider ecosystem. They take advantage of the lack of regulation. * Sowing misinformation doesn’t require sophisticated skills; it’s easy. The conversation about micro-targeting often centers on Cambridge Analytica, but we need to look at the structures that make these practices so easy and so potent. * Facebook makes all of this really easy to do. Why were we so complacent?  * When we think about the influence of money in politics, it’s easy to imagine nefarious people throwing around big sums, but at least in the UK a small amount can go a long way when people have the right connections. This is cronyism. The pandemic has made the tech giants unthinkably wealthy. * At the same time, they’ve changed the way that money affects politics. * Could Trump have won without Facebook and Twitter? * The tech companies do not need to lobby politicians in the traditional sense because they are simply that powerful. Governments are dependent on these technologies, as we all are. * Can we think about the tech companies as the technical infrastructure of society? * Right now, these companies have a huge amount of discretion.  Cronyism has been a prominent feature of the UK Government’s COVID response. * There is a strain in a certain school of political thought that the state isn’t good for much. When politicians who believe that are in charge, it can be self-fulfilling. * A hollowed out state creates space for more cronyism. * The civil service has become a punching bag. This could have a long tail.  Does the system that needs reform have the capacity to generate the necessary reforms? * When it comes to tech, the biggest problem is ideological. * It’s hard to get politicians to agree that changing micro-targeting is necessary because they all use it. * Politicians do not want to change a system that has benefitted them even if they can recognize its flaws.  * Can you build a coalition that would force them to do so?  Mentioned in this Episode: * The UK Information Commissioner's Office report on Cambridge Analytica * Peter’s book, Democracy for Sale * Jennifer’s recent piece in the Guardian * See for privacy and opt-out information.
46 min
Nature Podcast
Nature Podcast
Springer Nature Limited
Lab–grown brains and the debate over consciousness
The chances of mini-brains becoming sentient, and a UK government decision threatens gender diversity in academia. In this episode: 00:59 The ethics of creating consciousness Brain organoids, created by culturing stem cells in a petri dish, are a mainstay of neuroscience research. But as these mini-brains become more complex, is there the chance they could become conscious, and if so, how could we tell? News Feature: Can lab-grown brains become conscious? 09:01 Coronapod So called ‘herd immunity’ is claimed by some as a way to break the chain of infection and curtail the pandemic. However epidemiologists say that this course of action is ineffective and will lead to large numbers of infections and deaths. News Explainer: The false promise of herd immunity for COVID-19 20:59 Research Highlights Volcanic ash degrades ancient art in Pompeii, and the aerial ineptitude of two bat-like dinosaurs. Research Highlight: The volcanic debris that buried Pompeii wreaks further destruction; Research Highlight: A dead end on the way to the sky 23:22 How cutting red-tape could harm gender diversity in UK academia The Athena SWAN scheme, designed to boost gender-equality in UK academia, has proved effective, and has been exported to countries around the world. But now a decision by the UK government to cut bureaucracy could mean that institutions pay less heed to schemes like this and threaten future efforts to increase gender diversity in UK academia. Editorial: Equality and diversity efforts do not ‘burden’ research — no matter what the UK government says 31:00 Briefing Chat We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, oncologists discover a potential new human organ, and how re-examined fossils have given new insights into the size of baby tyrannosaurs. New York Times: Doctors May Have Found Secretive New Organs in the Center of Your Head; National Geographic: First tyrannosaur embryo fossils revealed Other links Vote for the podcast in this year's Lovie Awards! Your vote can help us win a People's Lovie. Two of our videos are also up an award, See for privacy and opt-out information.
39 min
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