Illustration: Alex Belman

From the start of his term in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping did not shy away from criticizing the United States. To the Central Committee, he assured that “[China] must prepare for a long and harsh period of competition between political systems.”

Fast forward to 2020, tensions between the two countries are at an all-time high. It is then clear why many have referred to the current climate between the two countries as a “new Cold War.”

Both are challenging one another without any direct confrontation, reminiscent of the decades of rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union. However…

Four months. That is the time it took for a virus the size of 1/900 of the width of a human hair to move across the world, infect millions and kill hundreds of thousands. It also unleashed a significant upheaval in the balance of power between China, Western and emerging countries.

In an unexpected turn of events, it looks like China will be the one mostly benefiting from it.

A paradox, since the COVID-19 outbreak took hold and spread like fire on its grounds, partly due to the opacity of the regime.

But three months later, while nearly half of…

(Lianhao Qu/Unsplash)

A debate reminiscent of the classic American dilemma between freedom and safety is resurfacing.

In the fight against COVID-19, would you rather stay isolated or hand over your data to the state? A few months ago, this question would have seemed incongruous. Who are we to follow China’s example? “This is America,” I imagine many would say. Where such authoritarian measures have no place.

The use of personal location data from smartphones to track the spread of the disease seems Orwellian. But as COVID-19 casualties are mounting while social distancing shows no end in sight, such measures are now envisaged…

Matthew Horwood via Getty Images

A s economies flinch in the face of COVID-19, carbon emissions are shrinking. Air quality inside Chinese cities drastically improved during quarantine. In Italy, Venice canals are clearer because of decreased boat activity. In Sardinia, dolphins are swimming in the port of Cagliari. In many areas, nature is reclaiming its spaces. How beautiful is that? Isn’t this pandemic doing wonders for the climate?

I lost count of all the articles, tweets and posts praising nature’s recovery.

Some were real, some were fake. People are posting quotes saying that humans are the problem. …


A s kids, we build friendships based on common interests. You’re also into soccer? Let’s play. You like Beyoncé too? I’m her biggest fan. You’re into computers? Me too. Nothing else really matters until you grow up, and socio-economic, cultural, and political barriers gradually become apparent and inevitably shatter many friendships formed during more careless times.

It’s election season, and if you’re in the US, you’re probably being bombarded on all sides with both wanted and unwanted political opinions.

Most of us already argued about politics with family members. But what about friends? Is it worth debating with friends who…

Oh, Switzerland. High peaks, green pastures, delicious cheese and chocolate, and neutrality. Because of the latter, Switzerland hasn’t taken part in any international armed conflict since 1815, making the country relatively discreet on the world stage.

For me, growing up in Switzerland was like growing up in a sanitized, safe, and tidy bubble.

Although things are far from perfect, violent crime is low, and turmoil or unrest is rare. Switzerland is a direct democracy, meaning its citizens can challenge any law approved by the parliament, or even propose a modification of the Constitution. …

Illustration: Rachel Cripps

“Did I take my passport?” is a phrase that I always anxiously whisper to myself multiple times as I travel between St Andrews and my home country or whenever I embark on a trip overseas. As my main form of identification, my passport is undoubtedly one of my most prized possessions — something I consider symbolically as an extension of myself. Therefore, sometimes I wonder, how did such a small book come to hold so much meaning in our lives?

The first travel documents long predate the modern nation-state, even though they existed in more humble forms, such as a…

Sophia, Hanson Robotics Ltd. speaking at the AI for Global Good Summit in 2017. Source: Flickr

Have you ever given an order to a virtual assistant? Avoided a traffic jam thanks to a smart navigation system? What about those targeted offers appearing on various websites, continually reminding you of items that you looked up online?

All of the above are made possible as a result of big data analysis from Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, the use of which is increasing. However, as AI starts affecting every dimension of our society, it also poses several opportunities and challenges for social issues, such as human rights.

The above examples of AI-powered technologies were designed to make specific tasks…

Alice Weiss

MSc Politics & Comm at LSE. IR graduate from the University of St Andrews. Interested in tech, politics and international affairs.

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