By Fareed Zakaria
Attention might typically focus on China as a manufacturing powerhouse, but next year may mark a turning point, The Economist notes.
“ may be the year that China's services sector officially eclipses industry,” it says. “According to the national statistics, services (which include transport, wholesaling, retailing, hotels, catering, finance, real estate and scientific research, among other things) accounted for 44.6% of China's GDP in 2012. That is less than one point behind industry's 45.3%. And services are growing faster.”
Computers will never be able to replicate the brain, at least according to leading neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, whose work is cited in the MIT Technology Review.
“Nicolelis is in a camp that thinks that human consciousness (and if you believe in it, the soul) simply can’t be replicated in silicon. That’s because its most important features are the result of unpredictable, non-linear interactions amongst billions of cells, Nicolelis says. ‘You can’t predict whether the stock market will go up or down because you can’t compute it,’ he says. ‘You could have all the computer chips ever in the world and you won’t create a consciousness.’”
The incredible drops in poverty rates experienced across much of the world may also bring some unexpected problems: conflict over water resources, Clark Judge notes in U.S. News and World Report.
“[D]espite the worldwide economic downturn, vastly more people are middle income or approaching middle-income status than was conceivable in, say, 1980,” Judge writes. “But more prosperous populations are also better fed. For example, it takes about 40 liters of water to produce a slice of bread, a staple of low-income diets. It takes 2,400 liters to produce a hamburger, common in many middle-income diets. Put rising population and rising incomes together and, experts tell us, by 2050 global food needs will double, with water requirements going up accordingly.”