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Last year ended on a promising note thanks to DeepMind’s solution to the “protein-folding problem” (First Thoughts, Winter). This development is likely to accelerate our understanding of diseases, including the one that defined 2020 and continues to haunt us. It is a comfort that Demis Hassabis and his team at DeepMind can bring their formidable intellects to real world problems. This company is at the vanguard of AI research after a string of significant year-by-year achievements, and it clearly has the best of intentions. However, I would like to urge the AI world to be cautious when assuming that art produced in this way can convincingly imitate the work of the great artists. Hassabis includes a slide in his presentations that shows how deep neural networks can produce pastiches of Van Gogh’s work. Big deal: that’s easily done and not very satisfying. DeepMind is not delving into the mind of a creative genius when producing a sketch of the bicycle outside your Aunt Mabel’s Weymouth cottage in the style of The Starry Night. Something is wrong here.

Sally Jones Oxford, UK

I applaud the positive views expressed by Lord Waverley in your Winter issue regarding Britain’s future role in support of international trade relations. It is true that the country can now act as a bridge between developed and developing markets. It is indeed important that we “do trade differently” now. Trade must contribute responsibly to a more inclusive, sustainable and greener economy. To ensure this, we must push hard to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. As a member of the G7, Britain is well placed to influence the international scene for the better, and I hope this is never forgotten. We worked hard in 2020 to conclude satisfactory trade arrangements with our friends in the EU and elsewhere. We should not take our eyes off the ball now.

Geffrey Walker Ludlow, UK

I thoroughly enjoyed the Winter issue of your magazine. As an observer – from afar – of the US election and its often-unsavoury aftermath, it was a pleasure to study your predications for change during the Biden presidency. I have framed the cover, which correctly refers to the new president as uniter-in-chief, and it now has pride-of-place in my study. This is not my president, but I welcome the opportunity to join with so many of my US friends in celebrating Biden’s success.

Ami Boateng Accra, Ghana

Your recent article, Prepare for the Impacts of Climate Change (Winter 2020) is the sort of responsibility-dodging, hand-washing disclaimer that is driving us all to distraction, and possibly destruction. Without even considering Covid, social protection, personal identification and digital payment systems, climate change can be fought on far more logical and effective grounds. It is not inevitable, it is a conscious choice – one taken by the world’s corporations, governments, billionaire entrepreneurs, and ministers, to cut costs. Follow the money: it’s the only enduring refrain. You want solutions? Make it a mandatory obligation for those (individual or corporate) seeking planning permission for a new building, be it home, office or luxury hotel. Every project embarked upon in suitable climates (perhaps not The Netherlands, I admit) should have solar panels included in the spec. Without that single, vital commitment, no development should go ahead. Grey-water systems, composting toilets, circular economies, concerted effort on the part of local and national authorities: all these things can be introduced to good effect. Changing the things we are able to, would cut greenhouse emissions, take a load off the national grid, and improve the West’s generally disgusting, chemically driven sewerage systems. The problem is not one of finding solutions; it’s about applying the solutions which are already to-hand – but dismissed for cost reasons. For filthy lucre, put another way. CFI.co and organs like it, that make it seem as if euros and dollars and pounds sterling were the lifeblood of the planet, are partly to blame for the cost-conscious, greedy mindset that pervades modern society. Pursue some issues that really matter, please.

Hilda van Vuuren Amsterdam, NL

In response to your article Steeled by Brexit, European Union Stands Up to Rule Breakers, I hardly think that in the average British household the end of the transition period will have barely registered. But Brexit turned Kent into a Dante-esque tailback of lorries filled with rotting goods and increasingly desperate, and hungry, drivers. The county formerly known as the Garden of England has also managed to come up with a novel strain of Covid-19. As things stand, it could be our major export of 2021.

Bearice Faulks Gravesend, UK

I read with great interest your article on UniCredit’s social impact banking policies. Having had some recent dealings with the company in this ambit, I can confirm the admirable steps it has taken to improve inclusivity and diversity – not just in-house, but also in its investment policies and outreach initiatives. It is reassuring in these times of increasing disparity of income to find programmes such as these from enlightened organisations which understand that their businesses will ultimately benefit from including more people in the active economy. Congratulations to Ms Penna and her team on the positive impact they are undoubtedly making.

Massimo Viscido Brescia, Italy