w/c 3rd October 2022
- The Nord Stream Conundrum
- Ukraine: Russia’s Botched “Partial Mobilisation”
- Alba Party Defence Policy Debate
Over the last few days many media outlets have reported that Bruce Willis sold the rights to use his face to Deepcake, a deepfake company. The reports are, however, fake. A spokesperson for Bruce Willis said there was “no partnership or agreement ” with Deepcake. Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create astonishingly realistic videos which look and sound like the real thing. The commercial implications are significant.
The technology opens new revenue streams including for those celebrities no longer able to work. Bruce Willis announced his retirement from acting this year after being diagnosed with aphasia which affects speech. Whilst the reports of Bruce Willis selling his face are fake, a deepfake of Bruce Willis was used in a commercial for Megafon, a Russian telecoms company.
As previously predicted, the use of AI is set to explode presenting new opportunities as well as threats if proper protection is not in place. Retired actor James Earl Jones, who played Darth Vader, has had his voice recreated from archive materials. Disney released its latest Star Wars spinoff, Obi-Wan Kenobi, using Respeecher’s AI technology to reproduce Darth Vader’s speech including to make him sound younger.
Concerns have been expressed regarding the commercial implications and the fear that actors may lose jobs as a result of the fact that AI can recreate actors’ voices and images. Equity, the UK actors’ and performers’ Union, launched a campaign called Stop AI Stealing The Show. The truth, however, is AI wont steal the show but rather will open new revenue streams. Understanding the technology and ensuring that contracts are drafted to ensure proper protection and compensation are key. As always, getting the rights right is key.
ANDREW EBORN – RIGHTING WRONGS GET IN TOUCH
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publicity for their cause. This is where Andrew hopes to help. By focusing on the injustice and assisting to promote, Andrew is keen to give an initial helping hand in any way he can make possible. If there are particular issues you would like Andrew Eborn to investigate please provide information here so he may be able to assess if he can provide you with help.
© Andrew Eborn 2022
I’m just back from Barcelona where I have been presenting to the Societat d’Estudis Militars on my thoughts on how an independent Scotland, should it ever come to pass, might go about designing and organising its own armed forces. All predicated, of course, on Scotland holding another independence referendum and the electorate voting in favour of it, which looks increasingly unlikely in the short to medium terms at least.
This particular topic is something I’ve been writing about for over twenty years now. People assume that I must, therefore, be a dedicated, hardline Scottish nationalist, but I’m not. I was a member of the Scottish National Party in the past, but no more. However, I retain an interest in Scottish military affairs in the independence context and have spoken to a number of pro-independence and SNP local groups over the years around Scotland. My position is not that Scotland should become independent and set up its own armed forces but that it could, so the least we can do is ensure that if it happens it’s done properly.
So Catalonia was my first overseas gig on the topic. There are aspirations in that region of Spain that are similar to those in some quarters in Scotland. Their strategic context is quite different, of course, but the principles remain more or less the same, and the process is remarkably simple. There are three stages in my preferred model; identify the threats, risks, and opportunities to/for the state; decide what armed forces are required to defend against/exploit those risks and opportunities; and then work out if the plan is affordable.
The answer to the third stage of the first iteration of this process is almost inevitably no, so you carry out the whole process again and again, compromising, double-tasking, dispensing, taking risks and so on until the scheme becomes affordable. In the final analysis, though, the defence budget is always a political decision, and military people have to get on with what their political masters give them.
When I was first invited to address the Societat I jumped at the chance, but then along came Covid and it was delayed by two years. But now it is done and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I just hope my friends in Barcelona found it useful too.
The UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, pledged before her elevation to power that the UK defence budget would rise from its present just over 2.1% of GDP to 3.0% by 2030. Although nobody can accurately predict what Britain’s GDP will actually be by that date, and of course much depends on the state of the economy and how inflation will affect that number, some have predicted that it might amount to an additional £157 billion of spending in the eight years between now and then. Looking at it another way, the annual defence budget is likely to double from its current £48 billion to £100 billion by 2030.
Those hoping that this splurge of cash will result in the restoration of some long-lamented army regiments disbanded overt he past few decades shouldn’t get their hopes up too much though. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has just indicated that rather than reviving lost battalions of the Rifles Regiment, for example, the additional funds are much more likely to be expended on much needed enhancements to the equipment procurement programmes of all three services, although the hope remains that the British army, which has been sucking on the hind tit for the past few years, will get the lion’s share. Goodness knows it needs it, with diminished numbers and much obsolete and obsolescent equipment in its inventory.
All of this is a direct result of the Ukraine war, and to a lesser extent heightened tensions in other parts of the globe like those between China and Taiwan. What is crystal clear, though, is that in the face of the renewed security threat from Russia, European nations have to commit more to providing for their own defence and less on the USA to come to their rescue. Britain’s increased defence budget commitment is in line with similar actions amongst its European allies, and not before time either. Doing nothing is no longer an option, if indeed it ever properly was.