Artificial Intelligence is Taking Over Art as Apple Launches New Products
This week, controversy rose after a painting generated by Artificial Intelligence won an art contest. Apple unveils a new line of products in its annual September event. The US economy is worsening and improving simultaneously, causing confusion among analysts. Liz Truss won the election over Rishi Sunak and became Prime Minister of the UK during a time of crisis. The UN is warning of a global food shortage. Here are this week’s top stories.
Artificial Intelligence Is Taking Over Art
This year at Colorado State Fair’s art competition, Jason M. Allen’s “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” took home the blue ribbon, which has caused severe backlash from artists who accused him of cheating. The artwork itself is very captivating and shows a space opera scene, but the controversy stems from how Allen made the piece. He created it with Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program that transforms lines of text into images. The program analyzes millions of pictures on the web and relates them to words. It then uses these relationships and patterns to generate new images related to the text. Essentially, Allen typed a text prompt that resulted in Midjourney creating the image above. Programs similar to Midjourney that take advantage of AI have also expanded to the music industry, and many are concerned for the future of these industries. As this technology develops, new questions regarding plagiarism, copyright, and ethics are being raised.
Apple Unveils New Line Of Products
This week, Apple held its annual September event and announced new iPhones, Apple Watches, and AirPods. Apple made minor updates to its Apple Watches and AirPod Pros, but it announced a new rugged Watch tuned for athletes. The Apple Watch Ultra is massive at 49mm with over 36 hours of battery life, more durable to withstand extreme conditions, and has better GPS, compass, and SOS capabilities. Apple Watch Ultra will cost $799, which is competitive compared to other watch brands like Garmin for extreme sports. After that, Apple showed off its new iPhone lineup, which includes the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are nearly identical to the previous generation, but the Pro models have received some significant upgrades. They have the new A16 Bionic chip, an always-on display, a significantly better screen and cameras, and a smaller notch. The new notch is called the dynamic island, and notifications and alerts will adapt and move around the pill-shaped notch. Unlike most other tech manufacturers, Apple has surprisingly not raised the price of any of its products. Even with all the issues during the pandemic, including supply chain issues, chip shortages, and inflation, Apple has kept its prices steady to gain more customers who will join the ecosystem and spend more on other Apple products and services.
The US Economy is Worsening and Improving
The US economy is worsening and improving simultaneously, causing confusion among analysts. The US economy has shrunk for the second straight quarter, hitting a widely accepted rule for identifying recessions. Gross domestic product (GDP), a key measure of economic output, fell by 0.9% annually in the second quarter after declining by 1.6% earlier this year. Inflation remains extremely high at 8.5% year-over-year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates to combat high inflation, but it will likely tip the US economy into a recession. In the 11 times the Federal Reserve increased interest rates, the Fed has successfully dodged recession only three times. Energy prices remain high but have gone down from last month. Gas prices across the country have also significantly fallen from their peak of $5 in June to $3.72. The labor market is robust as the unemployment rate remains at 3.7%. Still, a recession is inevitable with high inflation, high-interest rates, and a shrinking GDP.
Liz Truss Wins UK Election
Liz Truss won the election over Rishi Sunak and became Prime Minister of the UK during a time of crisis. The Queen has passed away and Charles III is now King, households in the UK are struggling financially, the economy is in a recession and inflation is at over 10%, energy prices are skyrocketing, and Russia is invading Ukraine. Liz Truss, formally the Foreign Secretary, hopes to reverse the recent rise in National Insurance and create “low-tax and low-regulation zones” to foster development and innovation. She also wants to increase spending on defense, scrap a planned rise in corporation tax, and suspend a tax on the energy bill that pays for social and green projects. She has already created a plan to tackle rising energy bills and secure future fuel supplies. With the Queen’s death, it has been a tough first week for Truss, but she also has an opportunity to define herself by uniting the country.
UN Warns of a Food Shortage
There are growing fears of a global food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, climate change, supply chain issues, and rising inflation. Experts from the United Nations warn of a worldwide food shortage coming in the following months and urge international action. According to the United Nations, global food costs have increased by almost one-third, fertilizer prices have increased by more than half, and oil prices have increased by two-thirds. The number of individuals who are extremely food insecure has doubled in the last two years, from 135 million to 276 million now, and more than half a million people are currently suffering from hunger, an increase of more than 500% since 2016. Ukraine and Russia are wheat producers that contribute over 25% of the global supply, and a large proportion of that will be unavailable this year because of the war and sanctions. Recently, India banned wheat exports after a devastating heatwave distorted the wheat harvest. India is the world’s second-biggest wheat producer but accounts for less than 1% of the global wheat trade. Still, the ban caused prices to break records. Climate change has impacted wheat production worldwide, including in the US, Canada, France, and China. This year’s global wheat production will be the lowest in four years, and global wheat stocks have been down to their lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis. The UN has created an international plan to reduce the chances of famine, including raising fertilizer supply, social protection systems within countries, and more funding to relieve famine.
Above are my top stories for the week of September 11th, 2022. I hope you enjoyed them. Thank you, and see you next week!