Cartel busted. An interesting story is unfolding down in Mexico. Last year, the Mexican government got serious about cracking down on the “Knights Templar” drug cartel. Of course, they’ve looked serious in the past, to no avail. Still, the movement of thousands of troops into the western Mexican state of Michoacan, the country’s region most visibly dominated by a drug cartel, was a promising development. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago: The cartel’s activities have been seriously curtailed and its leader captured. These developments are a big step forward for the Mexican government’s efforts to bring the rule of law to parts of the country that have been controlled by the cartels. This development could have an impact on the economies of Mexico and the United States, and on immigration reform.
Science and religion rapprochement. A new survey released in conjunction with this week’s American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) finds that 36 percent of scientists have “no doubt” that God exists. That’s a minority, but it’s a number that “gives the lie” to the notion that religion is anti-intellectual or anti-science, or that science is necessarily anti-religion. Among the survey’s other findings: 18 percent of scientists attend a religious service weekly, and 17 percent consider themselves evangelical.
High taxes, high unemployment? A new analysis published in USA Today yesterday lists the 10 cities with the highest tax burdens for families making more than $150,000. It’s interesting to note that every one of these cities (with the lone exception of Columbus, Ohio) has an unemployment rate ABOVE the national average. Several have unemployment rates significantly above the national average. These data do not prove that high taxes cause unemployment, but it’s such a powerful correlation that it would be hard to assert there is no relationship at all.
Artificial intelligence. Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES), a 22-year-old seminary in Charlotte, N.C., now has a robot. You might wonder why a seminary needs a robot, but the school maintains it will help its students understand the interface between technology and ethics. Artificial intelligence discussions have become a fad lately with the publication of Ray Kurzweil’s 2012 book How to Create a Mind. The question techies and ethicists are throwing around is: What level of consciousness (awareness or self-awareness) makes a machine ‘human’? Is that level of consciousness achievable in robots or computers? Of course, Christians answer this question by asserting that humans are made by God and in God’s image, and that any human creation is by definition something other than and less than that. But that answer needs to be curated effectively in the public conversation, and SES’s humanoid computer may be a part of that process.