‘Peace on earth and goodwill to all men’: That’s the message from the Bible for Christmastime, when Christians celebrate the birth of the son of God in a stable because there was no room at the inn. A humble beginning for a symbolic figure whose humility was meant to save the world and show mankind salvation.
And yet, tuning in to the news this week, there are so many places on earth suffering war, not peace, and there seems to be very little goodwill to all men, or women, or children:
Monday saw 12 people mown down attending a Christmas market in the German city of Berlin. These included stallholders, plying their festive wares, locals enjoying the pre-Christmas festivities and foreign visitors to German’s most vibrant, cosmopolitan city. It also included the Polish driver of the truck hijacked by a man intent on killing as many market-goers as he could, shooting the driver in cold blood before finishing off his murderous rampage in an open market filled with ordinary people like you and I, buying gifts and festive foods for their family and friends and getting into the Christmas spirit – the one of peace and goodwill. Alas, 12 of them are now lying in a mortuary and their families are left grieving.
On the same day, there was news footage of the Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead in front of rolling cameras in a scene which looked as though it was footage from a movie; a gunman, an off-duty policeman immaculately dressed and blending into the group of visitors to the Russian-sponsored photographic exhibition, standing just behind his victim and shooting him once from where he stood, then coolly approaching the now prostrate figure and shooting him again at point- blank rage and in cold blood, before triumphantly brandishing his weapon and proclaiming ‘Don’t forget Aleppo’, a reference to Russia’s involvement in the ongoing Syrian conflict. Hollywood couldn’t have made it look more staged or more dramatic if it tried.
But undoubtedly the most chocking of all is the footage that emerged from Syria of the parents of 2 small girls sending one child off to its death with a bomb strapped somewhere on her person. Footage shows the father lecturing the two children, seven and nine, about how to carry out suicide bomb attacks before they are embraced by their mother, dressed in a traditional in a burka.
With music in the background and sitting in front of a black and white flag, the ranting extremist holds the girls in his arms as he brainwashes them. Both girls then say 'Allahu Akbar' before separate footage shows them dressed in coats and woolly hats as they embrace their mother and leave the room. A short time later, the seven-year-old is believed to have walked into a police station in Syria's capital, Damascus, before being killed in an explosion which also injured three policemen.
That any parent could send their own small child off to certain death is frankly beyond belief, no matter what the cause. A parent’s first and only function is to nurture and protect their children and such an act goes against the very fibre of most of our beings.
Following the Berlin incident, many pundits on terror tactics reported that on social media sites, vehicles are now being actively promoted as weapons of murder and mayhem; they are easy to get hold of, usage requires very little training and they are unobtrusive right up to the last minute. On the other hand, guns and bombs usually require specialist training in usage and in places where security is in place, are easily detectable. Yet no-one would look twice at a delivery truck driving through a city centre and absolutely no-one would suspect a 7-year old girl of being an albeit uncomprehending suicide bomber.
Though the timing of the child’s deadly errand and the assassination of the ambassador can only be tenuously linked to the time of year, the attack on market goers and stall-holders was undoubtedly fully intended to create fear and confusion amongst Christians in the run-up to one of their most important religious calendar dates. The venue, a Christmas market, is significant but more so was the date, less than a week before Christmas Day, the day of the nativity or birth of Christ.
And yet the figure of Jesus Christ is also regarded as a prophet in Islam and as such most Muslims are not only tolerant of this Christian festival but themselves embrace many of its traditions. Consider this paragraph from Wikipedia: "Jesus" Jesus, is understood to be the penultimate "Prophets and messengers in Islam" prophet and messenger of "Allah" Allah ( HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_Islam" o "God in Islam" God) and "Messiah" al-Masih, the Arabic term for "Messiah" Messiah, the " "Christ (title)" Christ", sent to guide the "Israelites" Children of Israel (banÄ« isrÄ'Ä«l in Arabic) with a new revelation: "Gospel in Islam" al-InjÄ«l (Arabic for "the HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_gospel" o "The gospel" Gospel"). Jesus is believed to be a prophet, who neither married nor had any children, and is reflected as a significant figure, being mentioned in the Quran in 93 ayaat (Arabic for verses) with various titles attached such as "Son of "Mary, mother of Jesus" Mary", "Spirit of God", and the " "Logos (Christianity)" Word of God" among other relational terms, directly and indirectly, over 180 times’.
And when the Bible references peace on earth and goodwill to all men, that is understood to be all-encompassing – personal belief systems, colour, creed, nationality, sexuality, there is no distinction. Here in Botswana it seems we are distanced from such problems and our society is in the main extremely tolerant and pacifist, so much so that is often hard to comprehend the depth of hatred and division that exists elsewhere. My only wish this Christmas is that we could somehow extract this local essence, bottle it and send it wherever it’s needed because if the above are anything to go by, it can’t come onto the market too soon.
In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.
It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.
… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan
With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.
Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.
If I say the word ‘robot’ to you, I can guess what would immediately spring to mind – a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and tv shows. Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name, Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama, Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…
Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator, Box in Logan’s Run, Police robots in Elysium and Otomo in Robocop.
And that’s to name but a few. As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves. And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of robotics in the workplace.
ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.
A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles. It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.
DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.
AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,
AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.
INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour
These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.
This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count! For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars. It’s a theory, at any rate.
Already,customers at the South-Korean fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic. The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners. Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.
‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP.
Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions.
Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders. Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.
These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.
And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth. Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.
But there may be more redundancies on the way as well. Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable? So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid? Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!