22 May 2019

Natalie Northridge

22 May 2019

Good morning,

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has long been anticipated in sci-fi films or novels. It seems that computers can do just about anything these days, making even everyday, mundane tasks even simpler. Siri can tell you the weather, the news, and switch your lights on before you even wake up. If you’ve played the game wrong you might find your Alexa has ordered hundreds of dollars worth of toys to your doorstep at the whim of your child. Not only can AI tell you the route with the least traffic to get to work, it has also been developed so it can drive you.  

Earlier this week, police in Holland arrested a man who was under the influence and asleep behind the wheel of a tesla on autopilot. No one was hurt, and the man in question quickly had his licence revoked.  Self-driving cars, however, are still in circulation. This raises the question: where do we draw the line in terms of responsibility when AI gets it wrong? 

A year ago, a fatality occurred when a self-driving Uber hit a pedestrian. The driver, who had the car on auto pilot, failed to take action. But can she be held responsible for such a failure, or should we hold the manufacturers more accountable? 

The buck is not only being passed in terms of traffic. AI is being introduced into warfare. In April of this year, armed robots guarded troops on a training exercise. This prompts the question: what can artificial intelligence be held accountable for? The precision and exactitude of artificial intelligence makes them attractive candidates for the armed forces. However, the removal of human instinct and moral compassion renders them questionable soldiers. How far removed are we willing to be from our war tactics? 

The problem is answered by decisions taking place across the world in places like South Korea, where the ruling has been rolled out to state that the driver will be liable for accidents which happen in automated cars, unless the car is ruled defective. The urging for standards and restrictions over AI signals a governmental response to a morally ambiguous state of play. Today, 36 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) plus a handful of other nations are set to adopt a list of guidelines for the development and use of artificial intelligence. These guidelines are predicted to dictate that AI respect the rule of law, democratic values, and human rights, and that AI should remain safe and transparent. Crucially, those developing or deploying AI remain accountable for the AI’s response mechanisms. 

We continue to tread a fine line with AI. How far we trust it and how much we regulate it remains in flux. As we continue to push forward and develop new, life enhancing technology, we must remember our humanity. 

News

The leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, is under investigation by the EU for failing to declare expenses funded by the billionaire Arron Banks during the EU referendum. The investigation comes after Channel 4 revealed last week that Farage had received a £13,000 a month home in Chelsea, a car with a driver and a promotional trip to the US in the year of the Brexit referendum, all at the expense of Banks The advisory committee for the investigation is made up of five MEPs who act as watchdogs and will write a report on their findings and any recommendation for possible sanction. However, the committee will not meet until the fourth of June at the earliest, after the EU elections.  

Prime Minister Theresa May has given MPs “one last chance” to accept her Brexit deal. The proposed Withdrawal Agreement Bill will give MPs a chance to vote on a confirmatory Brexit referendum, as well as new guarantees on workers’ rights, environmental protections, the Northern Irish border and a customs “compromise.” The proposed bill has already received backlash from Labour, who have called it a rehash of existing plans, and from Conservative Brexiteers. The bill will be voted on in early June.  

Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia are to appeal to a global watchdog to lift restrictive measures on the trade of raw ivory The international watchdog “Cites” has banned unregulated commercial trade of endangered species around the world. It has been 13 years since the last commercial ivory sale in Zimbabwe, and the country claims to have stockpiled $300m of ivory, according to their ministry of information. A lift on the ban could provide Zimbabwe with conservation funding. Zimbabwe is also appealing for permission to sell elephants, due to conflict between people and wildlife. Additionally, Botswana are considering lifting a ban on hunting elephants. African elephant, lion and hippo are all on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s "red list" of animals at risk of extinction and needing greater protection. 

Business & Economy

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant chain has gone into administration, with 1,300 jobs at risk. The chain has fallen victim to the tough trading environment on UK high streets. Simon Mydlowski, at partner at Gordons law firm, has pointed to Oliver’s failure to keep up with restaurant trends as the reason for the collapse. The business has been facing difficulties over the past two years, with a number of the chain’s “Jamie’s Italian” and “Barbecoa” restaurants shutting. KPMG have been appointed as the administrators. 

British Steel is expected to go into administration as early as today, putting thousands of jobs at risk, unless an emergency loan can be agreed with the government. The requested amount is understood to have fallen from £75m to £30m after the company’s owner and lender agreed to further invest capital, however the government is faced with legal challenges concerning EU state aid rules. The company is the UK’s second largest steel-maker, employing over 5,000 people. British Steel, and their lenders Whitehall are preparing to appoint EY as the administrator.   

The USA has threatened to impose sanctions on the Russia’s Nord Stream II pipeline project. The controversial project seeks to pipe Russian gas to Germany The $11bn project would double exports of Russian gas to the EU, bypassing countries that currently benefit from transporting Russian gas, such as Ukraine. According to drafts of the US legislation, sanctions will target ships which help in the construction of the pipeline; individuals who sell or lease ships could face a travel ban or have US assets frozen. The bill has bipartisan support. (£) 

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 closed in the green last night, up 18.04 or 0.25% to 7328.92. The risers included retail giants Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer's. The highest riser was Sainsburys (J) plc, up 9.30 points or 4.70%, while Marks & Spencer's Group Plc was up 5.50 or 2.07%. Coca Cola HBG AG also had a good day, closing up 3.63% or 97.00 points, after heavy losses in the previous session. The recovery comes after Coca Cola Co. stating that it would keep its majority stake in Coca Cola Beverages Africa, after having initially stated its intention to refranchise the business. The Biggest Faller was Rolls Royce Holdings Plc, down by –23.20, or –2.46, following the introduction of its £37,000 champagne chest. Other fallers included Imperial Brands Group (-44.00 or -2.01%) and Pearson plc (-15.40, or –1.92%). 

Following Mrs May confirming she will allow MPs to vote on a confirmatory Brexit referendum, the pound jumped against both the euro and the dollar, after having traded at under $1.27 for the first time since January earlier in the session. At the session close, the pound had slumped from the initial spike to trade at € 1.1426 and $1.2768, after opposition to Mrs May’s most recent proposal.  

In the US, the Wall Street rose for the first time in three days, aided by the US temporarily easing the ban on Huawei for three months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.77% at 25,877.33, the S&P 500 gained 0.85% closing at 2,864.36 and the Nasdaq closed 1.08% higher at 7,785.72. 

Finals

Babcock International Group 
C&C Group 
HICL Infrastructure 
Intermediate Capital Group 
Marks & Spencer Group 
Picton Property Income Ltd 
Royal Mail 

Interims  

Britvic 
Ixico 
Paragon Banking Group 
Trading Announcements  
Close Brothers Group 

UK Economic Announcements  

(09:30) Consumer Price Index 
(09:30) Producer Price Index 
(09:30) Retail Sales 
(10:30) Public Sector Net Borrowing 

Int. Economic Announcements  

(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US) 
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

AGMs
Antofagasta 
Arena Events Group 
Allianz Technology Trust 
Bigblu Broadband 
Boku, Inc (DI) Reg S Cat 3/144A 
Bovis Homes Group 
Georgia Capital 
Cluff Natural Resources 
Deltex Medical Group  
Deepmatter Group  
French Connection Group   
Fundsmith Emerging Equities Trust  
Gamma Communications  
Georgia Healthcare Group  
Judges Scientific  
K3 Business Technology Group  
Medica Group  
Motif Bio  
Modern Water  
SafeCharge International Group Limited (DI)  
Sound Energy  
Sportech  
Property Franchise Group

Columns of Note

Human bear-baiting remains entrenched in our society, even with the Jeremy Kyle show gone, Celia Walden writes in The Telegraph. Elizabethan bear-baiting was a popular sport, where a bear was chained up and tortured in front of a crowd; the recently cancelled Jeremy Kyle show is now being described as a form of human ‘bear-baiting’. However, Walden argues that the Jeremy Kyle show was honest about being cruel to its participants: a modern-day form of this sport. The fascination with other people’s misfortune continues to exist subtly within our society, in the form of confessionals, celebrity magazine covers and social media posts that detail the tragic elements of people’s personal lives. What is so strange is that people will volunteer to “be the bear”, even though the backlash is so brutal. (£)

In The Guardian, Shaista Aziz writes that although the UK is a rich country, food poverty is a reality for many British families. A Human Right’s Watch report of UK government austerity policy has accused the British Government of breaching its international duty in pursuing an austerity programme which keeps children in poverty. Aziz, who is a governor at a primary school, and a labour councillor in Oxford, describes the evidence of this failing: genuinely hungry children lining up for breakfast club- some of whom have not had dinner the night before. Although Aziz argues that the voluntary response to food poverty has been good, it is a government issue, and the British government is failing its people in not taking action against this.

Did you know?

Human DNA sequences are over 95% identical to chimpanzee sequences and around 50% identical to banana sequences. 

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY
 
House of Commons
 
Oral questions
Northern Ireland
 
Prime Minister’s Question Time
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Unauthorised Encampments - Toby Perkins
 
Opposition Day Debate
Social mobility and inequality - Jeremy Corbyn
 
Racism in sport - Jeremy Corbyn
 
Adjournment
Suicide in the farming community - Chris Davies
 
House of Lords
 
Oral questions
When the Office for Environmental Protection will be operational - Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
 
Introduction of British Sign Language into the school examination curriculum - Lord Bruce of Bennachie
 
Maintaining appropriate standards in the delivery of free school meals - Baroness Boycott
 
Debate
The role of the devolved administrations in the governance of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
 
Scottish Parliament
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee Debate: Business Support Inquiry
 
General Questions
 
First Minister’s Questions
 
Business Motions
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Decision Time
 
Members’ Business
S5M-16105 George Adam: Concern for Local Radio Content

TOMORROW

House of Commons 

Oral questions 

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (including Topical Questions),  

Attorney General 

Business Statement 

Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Andrea Leadsom 

Backbench Business 

Motion on the Yemen Peace Process - Keith Vaz, Alison Thewliss 

Matters to be raised before the forthcoming Adjournment - Ian Mearns 

Adjournment 

Excessive speeding and driving bans - Susan Elan Jones 

House of Lords 

Oral questions 

Sponsoring research into the benefits of gaming for children’s mental health and wellbeing - Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe,  

Whether the threat of prosecutions under the Suicide Act 1961 is causing suffering to mentally competent, terminally ill people at the end of their lives - Baroness Meacher 

Ensuring that museums and galleries remain accessible to the public -Baroness Rawlings 

Powers available to the Electoral Commission to deal with breaches of spending rules for referendums and elections - Lord Foulkes of Cumnock 

Debate 

Potential conflict between the right of members to speak freely in Parliament and the obligation under the rule of law to obey court orders -Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood 

Increasing the social value of public procurement by aligning it with Her Majesty’s Government’s Civil Society Strategy - Baroness McGregor-Smith 

Scottish Parliament  

No business scheduled.