Stories by Steve LeVine

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev: A lesson in one-man rule

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.
President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Authoritarian power is all the rage across the continents. But one of the most practiced autocrats on the planet, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has just offered up an object lesson in how to elevate mere one-man power to something higher.

In an announcement yesterday, the 78-year-old Nazarbayev resigned after 3 decades in power. It was seemingly historic news — the exit of the last political survivor of the Soviet Union, for which he had served as vice president until its 1991 collapse.

A paradise for the age of the techno-autocrat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China is criticized for its use of deeply controversial surveillance systems to control untrusted elements of its population. But the U.S., too, is developing such know-how as artificial intelligence fast becomes a leading factor in the race for power in the new world order.

What's happening: Since humans began resorting to war, technology has been decisive in who prevails. Today, as the U.S.-led, post-World War II system of global power unravels, next-generation influence will hinge on mastery of AI-infused technology that, while perhaps having innocent origins, has often been weaponized.

AI unready

Photo: BSIP/Contributor/Getty

In two years observing surgeons in teaching hospitals, social scientist Matthew Beane noticed something troubling: doctors were finishing their residencies licensed to use robots in the operating room, but most were barely trained to do so.

The big picture: At fault, Beane reported, is how hospitals have introduced machines and artificial intelligence to the workplace — a way that has left a large part of the new generation of doctors lacking crucial surgery skills.

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