The Covid-19 pandemic has led governments across the world to take dramatic measures to arrest the spread of the disease. Even though the absolute number of cases in India seems relatively small (around 2000 at the time of writing), the government announced one of the most severe lockdowns on March 25 for a 21-day period.

Lockdown is one among a broader class of strategies deployed to reduce the spread of the disease known as non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI). …


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Photo by Papaioannou Kostas on Unsplash

When I talk to people about the dangers of ubiquitous surveillance, from tech companies tracking our online movements to governments collecting and storing our personal records, I am often met with refrains that sound very similar to each other. Even in this post-Snowden, post-Cambridge Analytica era, people seem to wonder why any of this is even a problem. What possible harm come your way if Facebook for example maintains a record of every single activity on its platform ?Some …


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It’s been nearly 10 years since I decided to ditch dairy and go vegan. In the years since, a lot has changed — the number of vegans has grown considerably, there is greater familiarity with the concept and the surrounding issues, wider recognition of the significance of the diet and lifestyle in the context of health, environment and sustainability.

I was living in the U.S. when I made the switch and being close to New York enabled me to connect with a community of committed vegans and animal rights activists. In fact, it was the arguments with some of them that had prompted me to examine my assumptions in the first place. To be clear, I was aware of the animal abuse prevalent in factory farms for a while but for some inexplicable reason,was relatively sanguine about the dairy industry. As a vegetarian — and especially Indian — you tend to somehow assume that you are not really complicit in animal abuses. Further I never thought about the myriad ways, besides food production, in which humans systematically exploit animals. …


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Source: Max Pixel

Artificial intelligence (AI) has proven to be remarkably successful in a number of fields — beating the best human player of Go, identifying faces in a video, engaging in an eerily human-like conversation and generating entire paragraphs of meaningful text.

Even more remarkably, most of this development has occurred in the last few years highlighting the other aspect of AI — its exponential rate of progress, with rapid improvements in performance on specific tasks and overall explosion in the domains of its application. …


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Source: Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Animals in the wild suffer in a variety of ways — attacks by predators, exposure to diseases, physical injury, indefinite starvation and thirst among others.

Despite increasing attention to the enormity of suffering inflicted by humans in factory farms , animal testing laboratories, etc., there remains the more ambiguous issue that most animal rights advocates would have considered at one point or the other — what should be done about wild animal suffering?

This is difficult to answer and there is a great deal of uncertainty about what, if anything, can be done to minimize the harm to wild animals. Whatever the position one may choose to take on this issue, there is one aspect that is no doubt paramount: the importance of establishing the relative magnitude of wild animal suffering.


It would hardly come to as a surprise to anyone to know that most people in the animal advocacy movement are strict and vocal vegans. As a matter of fact, not being a vegan in these circles can stir up quite a bit of controversy and more time is spent debating about someone’s decision to consume something ethically questionable than what may be justified or useful.

The rationale of course is that, in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary, it is only natural to assume that any product derived from animals involves some degree of harm to the sentient beings, varying from denial of freedom to horrendous torture for its entire lifetime. …

About

Venkateshan K

Physics PhD.; seeking an informed perspective

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