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3 May 2016 23:42 (South Africa)

G-brain: Google's simulated thinking computer system only has eyes for lolcats

  • Richard Poplak
    Richard Poplak

    Richard Poplak was born and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He trained as a filmmaker and fine artist at Montreal’s Concordia University and has produced and directed numerous short films, music videos and commercials. Now a full-time writer, Richard is a senior contributor at South Africa’s leading news site, Daily Maverick, and a frequent contributor to publications all over the world. He is a member of Deca Stories, the international long-form non-fiction collective.

    His first book was the highly acclaimed Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa (Penguin, 2007); his follow-up was entitled The Sheikh’s Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop-Culture in the Muslim World (Soft Skull, 2010). Poplak has also written the experimental journalistic graphic novel Kenk: A Graphic Portrait (Pop Sandbox, 2010). His election coverage from South Africa’s 2014 election, written under the nom de plume Hannibal Elector, was collected as Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political Jungle (Tafelberg, 2014).  Ja, No, Man was longlisted for the Alan Paton Non-Fiction prize, shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Literary Award and voted one of the Top-10 books of 2007 by Now Magazine. Richard has won South Africa’s Media-24 Best Feature Writing Award and a National Magazine Award in Canada.

    Since 2010, Poplak has been travelling across Africa, seeking out the catalysts and characters behind the continent’s 21stcentury metamorphosis. The coming book, co-authored with Kevin Bloom, is called The Shift

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Jorgo Riss, the director of Greenpeace EU, addresses a news conference to comment on the findings from analysis of the negotiating texts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), at the Résidence Palace in Brussels, Belgium, 02 May 2016. Greenpeace Netherlands has made these documents publically available to bring some much-needed transparency to the debate on the TTIP. Greenpeace has had its grave concerns for environment and public health confirmed, and has invited others with expertise in different areas to view the documents and analyse the impact of this trade deal, Greenpeace said. EPA/LAURENT DUBRULE

While you were sleeping: 03 May 2016

By John Stupart
Main photo: A military truck is stationed at the 'Grand Place' in front of the City Hall in Brussels, Belgium, 21 November 2015. Last night Belgium raised the alert status at Level 4/4 as 'serious and imminent' threat of an attack, the main effect are closing of all Metro Line in Brussels, all soccer match of league one and two cancelled countrywide. Belgium government said 'the advice for the population is to avoid places where a lot of people come together like shopping centres, concerts, events or public transport stations wherever possible. EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Analysis: The Islamic State may be losing ground, but not influence

Photo by Andrew via Flickr.

AGOA, Inc: When Chickens Come Home to Roast

By J Brooks Spector
Photo: Armed groups burn trucks during a confrontation with self-defense groups as they try to recover the control of the municipality of Antunez, Michoacan State, Mexico, 10 January 2014. Armed civilian groups controlling the access to their cities deter drug cartels from entering their territories. The Mexican government said that these groups, grown in several parts of the country, are to be considered out of the law. The government promises to reinforce security in the regions in which the self-defence groups operate. EPA/ULISES RUIZ BASURTO

ICG: A Very Modest UNGASS Drug Policy Review

By International Crisis Group
Five cows look for food as they stand on a snow-covered meadow near Degenfeld, Germany, 26 April 2016. Parts of Germany have been hit by heavy snowfall.  EPA/JAN-PHILIPP STROBEL

While you were sleeping: 29 April 2016

By John Stupart
Photo: US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he discusses his primary wins in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, during a speech in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, New York, USA, 26 April 2016. EPA/JUSTIN LANE

US2016: Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech sets off shock waves

By J Brooks Spector
A South African woman looks out the window of a derelict building as she watches thousands of South Africans protesting against president Jacob Zuma through the streets of Cape Town, South Africa 27 April 2016. Tens of thousands of South Africans protested across the country against president Zuma. The embattled president surrounded by corruption scandals has most recently been found guilty by South Africa's highest court the Constitutional Court for speding state funds on his private residence Nkandla. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

While you were sleeping: 28 April 2016

By John Stupart
Photo: Businessman and US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts as he speaks at a campaign rally in Bethpage, on Long Island, New York, USA, 06 April 2016. Voters will go to the polls for the New York primary on 19 April. EPA/PETER FOLEY

Op-Ed: Yes, South Africa, Donald Trump Can Win

By James Cannon Boyce
Photo: US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a primary night event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 26 April 2016.  EPA/TRACIE VAN AUKEN.

US 2016: Trump, Clinton surge towards head-to-head clash

By J Brooks Spector
Photo: British Home Secretary Theresa May arrives for a cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London, Britain, 22 March 2016. EPA/ANDY RAIN

Britain’s Investigatory Powers Bill: A gift to securocrats everywhere

By Jane Duncan
German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives US President Barack Obama (L) at Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover, Germany, 24 April 2016. President Obama is on a two-day visit to Germany. EPA/KAY NIETFELD

While you were sleeping: 25 April 2016

By John Stupart
Photo: SunEdison website front page.

Analysis: SA’s Department of Energy in a quandary as SunEdison files for bankruptcy protection

Photo: Two Austrian teens, Samra Kesinovic, 17, (left) and Sabina Selimovic, 16, (right) departed some time in 2015 to join Islamic State (picture taken from an Islamic State-affiliated social media account).

Thwarting Islamic State: Make IS propaganda part of your dinner table conversation

By Jasmine Opperman
Photo: US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (C) appears with his wife Melania (L) and daughter Ivanka Trump (R) on a NBC Town Hall at the Today Show in Rockefeller Plaza in New York, New York, USA, 21 April 2016. EPA/PETER FOLEY

‘Après moi, le deluge’: The Trump ‘Hundred Days’

By J Brooks Spector
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers carry the tusk of an elephant, arranging them at a burning site after offloading them from a container at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, 20 April 2016. Containers loaded with ivory tusks from various parts of the country like Mombasa, Voi, Nanyuki and other places were offloaded at the burning site ahead of the ivory burning event on 30 April 2016 where 105 tonnes of ivory is set to be burned. This would be the single biggest haul ever to be burned. EPA/DANIEL IRUNGU

While you were sleeping: 21 April 2016

By John Stupart
Photo: A file combo picture made available on 20 April 2016 shows US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressing the National Action Network’s national convention in New York, New York, US, on 13 April 2016; and US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at Trump Building in New York, New York, US, on 3 November 2015. EPA/JUSTIN LANE / ANDREW GOMBERT

US 2016: The Morning After the Morning After – New York state of mind

By J Brooks Spector
Tulips on a sunny spring day in a field near Celle, Germany, 19 April 2016. EPA/SEBASTIAN GOLLNOW

While you were sleeping: 20 April 2016

By John Stupart
Photo: Burning of a Village in Africa, and Capture of its Inhabitants (p.12, February 1859, XVI).

Slavery and Redress: When history haunts the present

By J Brooks Spector
Photo: Yemeni fighters, loyal to the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, ride on a vehicle during an offensive against Houthi rebels’ positions, ahead of a UN-announced ceasefire, in the eastern province of Marib, Yemen, 09 April 2016. According to reports, a nationwide ceasefire is scheduled to begin on midnight of 10 April 2016 in Yemen ahead of a new round of UN-sponsored peace talks starting 18 April in Kuwait, in a fresh attempt to end Yemen’s yearlong conflict which killed over 6,000 people. EPA/STR

ICG: Can the Kuwait peace talks break Yemen’s deadlock?

By International Crisis Group
Photo: South Africa’s Bryan Habana dives to score a try against Samoa during the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool B match South Africa vs Samoa in Villa Park in Birmingham, Britain, 26 September 2015. EPA/DAVID JONES

Pro Rugby launch in US could be a game changer for South African players

By Antoinette Muller
Activists attend a demo in support of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff next to a mural depicting her in Sao Paulo, Brazil on April 17, 2016. Rousseff risks being driven from office if the lower house votes in favor of an impeachment trial Sunday in Brasilia.

While you were sleeping: 18 April 2016

By John Stupart
Photo: US President Barack Obama and US First Lady Michelle Obama welcome South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Nompumelelo Ntuli to the opening dinner for G-20 leaders at the Phipps Conservatory on September 24, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. EPA/Win McNamee

Drift Equals Disaster – the Foreign Policy Edition

By J Brooks Spector
Marine police hold a green turtle prior to its release at Kuta beach near Denpasar on the resort island of Bali on April 14, 2016. Indonesia Marine police seized 45 illegal green turtles from a traditional boat in Karangasem waters during an operation on April 6. 

While you were sleeping: 15 April 2016

By John Stupart
A tourist woman takes selfies in front of Mossack Fonseca headquarters at Panama city on April 13, 2016. Police on Tuesday raided the headquarters of the Panamanian law firm whose leaked Panama Papers revealed how the world's wealthy and powerful used offshore companies to stash assets.
Ed Grimaldo / AFP

While you were sleeping: 14 April 2016

By John Stupart
Photo: President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff (L) embraces her predecessor, Former President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (R), as she swears him in as the new Chief of Staff Minister, in a ceremony held an Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, 17 March 2016. EPA/FERNANDO BIZERRA JR

Brazil: Waxing, Waning and, now, Impeaching

By J Brooks Spector
Photo: Guatemalan soldiers present alleged ‘international drug trafficking leader’ Efrain Cifuentes Gonzalez (C) to the media, at an Air Force base in Guatemala City, Guatemala, 07 November 2014. EPA/SAUL MARTINEZ

ICG: Lessons from Latin America

By International Crisis Group
Photo: A boy looks out of a window as refugees from Syria and Iraq board a bus transferring them to a new organised hosting facility in Attica from the port of Piraeus, Greece, 11 April 2016, where almost 5,000 migrants and refugees have been staying for more than a month. EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI

ICG Op-Ed: The Global Refugee Crisis, a call to principled action

By International Crisis Group
(L to R) Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Canada's Foreign Minister Stephane Dion offer a silent prayer at the Memorial Cenotaph in the Peace Memorial Park for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, on the sidelines of the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Hiroshima on 11 April 2016. Kerry and other G7 foreign ministers made the landmark visit to the memorial site for the world's first nuclear attack in Hiroshima.
Kazuhiro NOGI / POOL / AFP

While you were sleeping: 12 April 2016

By John Stupart
Photo: President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, addresses Parliament in Khartoum, Sudan, 19 October 2015. According to reports Bashir detailed a number of measures to improve the Sudanese economy and proposed a referendum for April 2016 in the Darfur region as part of a strategy to promote a sustainable peace in the conflict riven area. EPA/MORWAN ALI

Sudan: Darfur referendum is another step in Bashir’s rehabilitation

By Simon Allison