9 January 2017

*** 10 trends for the future of warfare

Espen Barth Eide

Stories about killer robots, machine-augmented heroes, laser weapons and battles in space - outer or cyber - have always been good for filling cinema seats, but now they have started to liven up sober academic journals and government white papers.

However, war is about much more than combat or how we fight. Is the sensationalism of high-tech weaponry blinding us to technology’s impact on the broader social, political and cultural context that determines why, where and when war happens, what makes it more or less likely, and who wins?

Consider artificial intelligence (AI). The potential for developing lethal autonomous weapons systems grabs headlines (“killer robots!”), but the greatest impact of AI on conflict may be socially mediated. Algorithmically-driven social media connections funnel individuals into trans-national but culturally enclosed echo-chambers, radicalising their world-view.

As robots relieve humans of their jobs, some societies will prove better prepared than others in their use of education and infrastructures for transitioning workers into new, socially sustainable and economically productive ways to make a living. Less prepared nations could see increasingly stark inequality, with economically-excluded young people undermining social stability, losing faith with technocratic governance, and spurring the rise of leaders who aim popular anger at an external enemy.

*** Declassified: How India Tracked Pakistan’s Development of a Nuclear Device

By Vivek Prahladan

Newly declassified documents reveal how New Delhi tracked Islamabad’s pursuit of a nuclear device. 

Today, South Asia’s fragile nuclear peace risks insolvency, with both India and Pakistan armed with expansive nuclear arsenals. Moreover, given their mutual rivalry, the prospect of limited nuclear exchange continues to loom large in the region. India’s deterrent strategy accounts for a two-front nuclear exchange with both China and Pakistan. How Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine merges into its strategic identity remains an open question. When Kenneth Waltz wrote of the “spread of nuclear weapons rather than their “proliferation” in 1981, Pakistan was yet to count itself among nuclear weapon states.

Making deterrence work amid nation-state rivalry counts on the ability of the respective intelligence communities of nuclear states to constantly attenuate uncertainty about their rival’s present as well as prospective nuclear arsenal and doctrine. Today, both India and Pakistan continue to deploy considerable intelligence resources to track the other’s nuclear arsenal.

*** 10 Conflicts to Watch in 2017


The world is entering its most dangerous chapter in decades. The sharp uptick in war over recent years is outstripping our ability to cope with the consequences. From the global refugee crisis to the spread of terrorism, our collective failure to resolve conflict is giving birth to new threats and emergencies. Even in peaceful societies, the politics of fear is leading to dangerous polarization and demagoguery.

It is against this backdrop that Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States — unquestionably the most important event of last year and one with far-reaching geopolitical implications for the future. Much has been said about the unknowns of Trump’s foreign-policy agenda. But one thing we do know is that uncertainty itself can be profoundly destabilizing, especially when it involves the most powerful actor on the global stage. Already, jittery allies from Europe to East Asia are parsing Trump’s tweets and casual bluster. Will he cut a deal with Russia over the heads of Europeans? Will he try to undo the Iran nuclear accord? Is he seriously proposing a new arms race?

Who knows? And that is precisely the problem.

The last 60 years have suffered their share of crises, from Vietnam to Rwanda to the Iraq War. But the vision of a cooperative international order that emerged after World War II, championed and led by the United States, has structured relations between major powers since the end of the Cold War.

*** Russia Looks for an Exit in Syria


Despite the shared cause of supporting Damascus, Moscow and Tehran will continue to differ in their commitment to the conflict. 

As Russia concocts an exit strategy, its relations with Iran will steadily sour. 

The divergences between the countries will exacerbate the differences among Syria's loyalist forces. 


With their capture of Aleppo in late December, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad secured their biggest victory in the country's nearly six-year civil war. It is now clear that al Assad has weathered the critical threat to his administration's rule over key parts of the country. Military, diplomatic and financial support from Iran and Russia has played a tremendous role in the loyalist victory. But despite their shared cause in Syria and the considerable resources that each government has invested in the war, Moscow and Tehran do not see eye to eye on several issues related to the conflict. The two countries differ most notably in their commitment to the loyalist cause. Though Russia has already demonstrated its pledge to sustain and support loyalist forces in Syria, Moscow's commitment in the conflict simply does not rise to the level of Tehran's. Through its intervention in Syria, Russia is trying to boost its position in the Middle East, demonstrate its global stature, curtail the extremist threat and attain leverage in negotiations with the West. Iran, on the other hand, views the Syrian civil war as a critical front in an existential battle that directly relates to its geopolitical security.

** Rethinking the Threat of Islamic Extremism: The Changes Needed in U.S. Strategy

The analysis is supported by a wide range of data drawn from U.S. government, UN, World Bank, and NGO sources where the key statistics and data are presented in the various figures and tables in each section. It concludes that the United States needs to fundamentally rethink key aspects of its struggle against terrorism and Islamic extremism. 

The United States has made great progress in improving its homeland defenses and international counterterrorism efforts. It has restructured its security partnerships with largely Muslim states to help them give the same emphasis to counterterrorism that they have given to military security. The United States is also making major progress in defeating the ability of ISIS to hold territory, act as a protostate, provide sanctuary for training fighters, and ISIS’s efforts to widen its grasp and number of affiliates. 

At the same time, far too much of the U.S. effort is now centered around the immediate threat from ISIS, and the external threat it poses to the U.S. homeland and Europe. Far too few in the United States understand the importance of the strategic partnerships the U.S. has forged with largely Muslim states, the fact that the primary fight with Islamic extremism is inside Muslim states, and that it is a fight for the future of Islam—rather than the limited threat it poses to faiths and countries outside. 

* Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.


I’m a millennial computer scientist who also writes books and runs a blog. Demographically speaking I should be a heavy social media user, but that is not the case. I’ve never had a social media account.

At the moment, this makes me an outlier, but I think many more people should follow my lead and quit these services. There are many issues with social media, from its corrosion of civic life to its cultural shallowness, but the argument I want to make here is more pragmatic: You should quit social media because it can hurt your career.

This claim, of course, runs counter to our current understanding of social media’s role in the professional sphere. We’ve been told that it’s important to tend to your so-called social media brand, as this provides you access to opportunities you might otherwise miss and supports the diverse contact network you need to get ahead. Many people in my generation fear that without a social media presence, they would be invisible to the job market.

In a recent New York magazine essay, Andrew Sullivan recalled when he started to feel obligated to update his blog every half-hour or so. It seemed as if everyone with a Facebook account and a smartphone now felt pressured to run their own high-stress, one-person media operation, and “the once-unimaginable pace of the professional blogger was now the default for everyone,” he wrote.


Pravin Sawhney

Some of Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat's remarks soon after taking charge were misleading. The two-front war he spoke about, would be suicidal for India. It is a slogan more than a Government directive or an Army chief's operational order worthy of achieving results

The new Army chief, General Bipin Rawat, has announced his arrival in South Block through an interview blitzkrieg, which, perhaps, given his controversial appointment, was deemed necessary. What were unnecessary were his unrealisable offensive pronouncements. For example, instead of saying that the Army was capable of defending India’s territorial integrity, he declared that the Army was prepared to fight a two-front war. This was misleading and unprofessional; and adversaries are bound to exploit.

It was misleading because a two-front war is, to say the least, suicidal. It is a slogan more than a Government directive or an Army chief’s operational order worthy of achieving results. It was unprofessional because he spoke way beyond his authority. The next conventional war would be the outcome of synergy in six war domains, rather than the single land domain which is the Army chief’s responsibility; the other five being air, space, sea, electromagnetic and cyber.

Next Door Nepal: Being with the force

by Yubaraj Ghimire 

Cordial relations with Nepal’s army is crucial to Indian and Chinese diplomacy.

China’s pledge for a grant of one billion RMB for post-earthquake reconstruction and border road construction last month came as a new year gift to Nepal. It was a message that China’s involvement in Nepal will grow. The deal signed in Beijing between Nepal’s ambassador to China and China’s vice minister for commerce coincided with a significant announcement by the spokesperson of the Chinese defence ministry. He said that Nepal and China will conduct a “joint military training” soon, something that may not be taken very kindly in India.

Many think the joint exercise — that will focus on counter-terrorism and disaster management — will mark the beginning of a long-term formal cooperation between the two neighbours. The two armies have quietly undertaken confidence building measures, especially after 2008, when China solicited the help of Nepal’s army to keep a vigil on the Nepal-China border. It feared that pro-Tibet human rights groups might disturb the Beijing Olympics.

Medalless army

The defence ministry must quickly resume issuing official medals.

Last week, a colleague and I were struck by what we saw at a new military supplies store that had opened in our neighbourhood. Among the usual uniforms, shoes, hats, bags and kit, we were surprised to see medals. Not just the ribbons, but the entire suites of medals ready to be stuck on to uniforms. This struck us strange and dubious.

Dinakar Peri’s report in The Hindu tells us why. It turns out that the defence ministry department in charge of issuing medals has not been doing so. Since 2008. So for eight years, the defence ministry has been awarding medals but not issuing them to officers. That’s so long that many younger officers do not even know that they ought to receive the medals from the defence ministry, and not have to buy them from military stores.

It’s not only sad, but undermines the purpose of medals by devaluing them. The economic reasoning behind issuing medals for service and gallantry is to create a “honour incentive” which can both be stronger and more effective than monetary incentives. If you undermine the honour attached to a medal, you weaken the incentive that encourages the behaviour that the medal recognises. If devalued to the point of become a routine, the incentive fails. The fact that the defence ministry hasn’t bothered to issue medals for eight years is therefore disturbing.

How Will Demonetization Affect Business in India in 2017?

Source Link

It’s work in progress. Three events dominated India’s economic landscape last year, but whether they can be described as “progress” is debatable. One definitely isn’t: the unseemly brawl that broke out over control of the Tata group with Ratan Tata returning as interim chairman after ousting incumbent Cyrus Mistry. A lot of dirty linen is being washed in public, putting partly in the shade the political charges being traded elsewhere.

The second is the goods and services tax (GST), whose objective is to replace all taxes levied by the federal government and the states with one central tax. The GST is scheduled to come into effect by April or — at the latest — by September. Although both houses of Parliament have approved the bill and the President has signed off on it, a GST Council is now squabbling over the details, which could delay implementation.

“The timing is not right for implementation,” says West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra, who is also chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers. He lays the blame squarely on the center’s move to demonetize Rs500 ($7.4) and Rs1,000 notes. “We all supported the GST under the premise that this would be the only destabilization factor,” Mitra told a TV channel. “We did not know that there would be a much bigger destabilization in the form of demonetization that would be let loose on the country.”

How Russia May Approach the Taliban and Afghanistan in 2017

By Ankit Panda

A revealing interview with Putin’s top envoy in Afghanistan suggests continued rapprochement with the Taliban. 

Close watchers of Afghanistan may recognize the name Zamir Kabulov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presidential envoy to the country. Kabulov’s been on the scene for a while in Afghanistan, with a career dating back to the Soviet Union’s occupation of the country in the 1980s, when he was a low-ranking diplomat at the Soviet embassy and, by one account, eventually the top KGB agent in the country. More recently, he served as the Russian ambassador and, in his current capacity, has played an important role in shaping and communicating Russian policy toward both Afghanistan and Pakistan — particularly since the formal end of U.S. combat operations in the country in late 2014.

On Saturday, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency ran an exclusive interview with the Russian diplomat that’s quite revealing with regard to where Russian policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan may be heading in 2016. Kabulov’s comments in the interview additionally help rationalize and explain some of the actions Moscow took in 2016 and even earlier on. The full interview is available here.

China Brief

China Brief, December 21, 2016, v. 16, no. 19 

o Carrier Operations on Display in the Bohai Gulf

o The Emergence of the Wang Qishan Faction

o The Strategic Support Force: Update and Overview

o Modernizing Military Intelligence: Playing Catchup (Part Two)

o Quantum Leap (Part 2): The Strategic Implications of Quantum Technologies



Anti-access and area denial — best known by its shorthand A2/AD — has crossed the buzzword threshold. It’s a quite impressive feat for such a distinctively non-user friendly and technical concept, which alludes to that family of military capabilities used to prevent or constrain the deployment of opposing forces into a given theater of operations and reduce their freedom of maneuver once in a theater. A2/AD’s popularity may well be justified. For all its possible criticisms and shortcomings, the concept can help us better understand the unfolding global competition for military access and movement in an increasingly mature precision-strike context.

The A2/AD shorthand began to gain public traction among U.S. China-watchers less than two decades ago, proving rather handy in capturing Beijing’s efforts to shut the U.S. military out of the Western Pacific area of operations. It soon became a popular concept in East Asia, too, as it turned out to be a recurring hook in conversations about the defense strategies of Japan, Australia, and other U.S. allies in the region.

Europe and China's New Silk Roads

The purpose of this report is to provide a comparative perspective of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative (OBOR), as seen from the various European Union member states. The Chinese leadership officially launched this framework in autumn 2013, presenting it immediately as a key national concept and foreign policy priority for the years to come. This report covers the role of OBOR in the relations between China and fourteen EU member states, including all larger countries and many middle-sized ones, as seen from the European side. It does so by systematically treating three basic questions across a selection of EU member states and at the EU level itself:

• Which OBOR-related activities exist currently in the host countries and at the EU level?

• What is China’s approach towards individual EU member states with regard to OBOR?

• What are the perceptions and reactions in individual European countries and at the EU level?

Inside Russia's New Foreign Policy Master Plan

Areg Galstyan, Sergey Melkonyan

In December, Russian president Vladimir Putin approved Russia’s new Foreign Policy Concept, which had not been updated for three years. The document is a system of views and basic principles to serve as a basis for Moscow’s foreign-policy strategy. The first thing that catches the eye is Russia’s new political status in the international arena. In contrast to previous official documents on foreign policy, the new concept shows the need to strengthen Russia’s position as a major center of influence in the modern world. Thus, Russian strategists believe that in the future no international political issue will be resolved without taking into account Moscow’s interests and direct participation. However, many authoritative Russian experts consider such a conclusion to be premature, since the most acute international crises involving the Russian side have not yet been settled.

It is noteworthy that one of the Kremlin’s most important priorities is strengthening Russia’s media position in the global information space, with the aim of informing the world community of Russia’s point of view on certain international processes. It can be assumed that funding of Russian media abroad will increase in the new year. According to the draft plan of the 2017 federal budget, adopted by the State Duma, the RT television network will receive additional funds for the creation, development, maintenance and distribution of its channel in French. Members of the Russian Parliament explain the decision to increase RT’s budget by citing the spread of European propaganda against Russia. Therefore, Moscow wants to express its own views on various global political processes, in particular on the Ukrainian and Syrian crises. In general, Russia’s status and the need for expansion of pro-Russian media influence are the most significant changes in the framework of the new Concept’s general provisions.

Russian Hackers Began Honing Their Election-Tampering Skills in 2010

David Axe
The Democrats’ cyberattackers had lots of practice

On Dec. 29, 2016, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center confirmedagain what they had initially warned about months earlier — that the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Vladimir Putin and Squirrels: Masters of the Universe

By Graham Vanbergen

As far back as last year the Independent went with a story entitled Russian hackers tried to disrupt UK general election. It said that “Russian hackers tried to disrupt last year’s general election, in what is thought to be the first known cyberattack on the British political system. The group known as ‘Fancy Bears’ planned to target every Whitehall server, including the Home Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence, and every major TV broadcaster, including the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky, but was thwarted by GCHQ.” Well done clever GCHQ!

It should be noted, according to wikipedia that “the Russian Bear is a widespread symbol (generally of a Eurasian brown bear) for Russia, used in cartoons, articles and dramatic plays since as early as the 16th century.” GCHQ are having us believe that a highly secretive and covert mission group operating in the dark web whose raison d’être is to cause political instability, and one has to say – achieve all this undetected, call themselves ‘Fancy Bear.’ How creative – no suspicion of Russian’s there then!

'Optionality' and the Future of US Defense Procurement

By Robert Farley

“Optionality” may someday become one of the buzzwords that we simultaneously bemoan and find useful. 

The Center for New American Security Future Foundry report (discussed here in my last column) provides an interesting set of ideas for how to think about the future of the U.S. defense industry, but also leaves some important questions open.

Comparative context would be helpful. “Capability monocultures and an ever-dwindling variety of weapons systems, procured at higher prices and in lower quantities than ever before” isn’t “failure to adapt to global trends”; it is a global trend, not apparently dependent on the specifics of the U.S. defense industry or on U.S. defense procurement strategy. The United States, China, Russia, and the European Union are all spending more to field fewer front line systems, supporting fewer front-line soldiers and sailors.

To be sure, there are aspects of China’s approach that look like “optionality.” China is currently pursuing the development or production of at least four distinct front-line fighters (plus a low-end export model, the JF-17), not to mention a wide array of different missile systems. But China will field all of these systems in smaller numbers than their counterparts a generation ago.

The Year in Review: Russia and the 2016 U.S. Election

by Adam Segal 

Move over Comment Panda and Putter Panda, make way for Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear. 2016 was the year Russian hackers pushed their Chinese counterparts out of the limelight, becoming a major focus of the presidential election and transition, and driving policy discussions about attribution, norms, deterrence, and countering information operations and fake news. How the United States responds to the hacking of the presidential election, or doesn’t, will have a far-ranging impact on domestic cybersecurity and state behavior in cyberspace. 

Attention shifted from Beijing to Moscow in part because Chinese industrial espionage declined. More important, however, was a qualitative, and highly disruptive change in the actions of Russian hackers. For years, the intelligence community has warned that the skills of Russian hackers exceeded those of the Chinese. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for example, told a conference at the University of Texas in 2014 “I worry a lot more about the Russians” than the Chinese. But while Chinese hackers targeted the government, private sector, and civil society, the Russians were relatively restrained, concentrating on espionage and mapping the battlefield. Russian hackers limited their actions to collecting information from political and military targets, and surveiling networks that might be attacked if the United States and Russia engaged in serious conflict. 



In early 2015, the U.S. Air Force was about to begin work on its next-generation air-to-air fighter, commonly known as F-X. When beginning such a program, military services usually start with an “analysis of alternatives” to help them define the desired attributes of new systems. The objective of this analysis is to determine the most rational investment decisions prior to committing taxpayer dollars. Key funding decisions typically follow shortly on the heels of this analytic effort. As the Air Force approached these decisions, it had to decide how much of its topline budget authority it was willing to allocate to the emerging F-X program. Out of this came a cost estimate for the F-X program based on trends from similar programs in the past. The result was not pretty.

The two most recent examples analysts had available were the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. As has been written extensively elsewhere, both programs experienced cost issues throughout development. Such issues eventually drove Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to truncate the F-22 program at 187 aircraft and also led to a re-baselining of the F-35 program in 2010. Comparing the expense of these fifth-generation aircraft programs to fourth-generation F-16 and F-15 programs, experts predicted F-X would cost substantially more than any prior fighter program in history. Additionally, Air Force planners evaluated the development timelines experienced during fifth-generation aircraft development. The combination of historically poor schedule performance with historically high costs led planners to conclude the earliest the Air Force could expect and afford to field F-X would be around the year 2040.

Military weighs expanded use of cyber, space weapons against ISIL

Jim Michaels

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. — Military chiefs are prepared to give President-elect Donald Trump the options he wants to intensify the fight against the Islamic State, including the possibility of granting commanders greater leeway to use secret cyber-warfare and space weapons, the top Air Force leader said.

"We’ve heard him loud and clear that he’s going to be looking for options,” Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, told USA TODAY.

Goldfein said the recommendations may center on permitting field commanders more flexibility to deploy an array of weapons against the militants, who are waging a terrorism campaign beyond their bases in Iraq and Syria.

“If we want to be more agile then the reality is we are going to have to push decision authority down to some lower levels in certain areas,” Goldfein said during a December trip to this air base. “The big question that we’ve got to wrestle with … is the authorities to operate in cyber and space.”

Digital land power: the Australian Army’s cyber future

By: Zoe Hawkins and Liam Nevill
Earlier this year ASPI hosted a roundtable discussion on the strategic, technological and force structure adjustments that must be made so that the Australian Army can successfully adapt to the challenges, and exploit the opportunities, of cyberspace. The roundtable was a closed-door discussion under the Chatham House rule among representatives from the Army, the Department of Defence and academia. This report is the authors’ summary of the roundtable.

The discussions covered the framing of the challenge and a variety of different potential cyber postures. The group considered the importance of employing the right technology and individuals, generating appropriate policies, and finally the obstacles that need to be overcome.

This report is an overview of the conceptual and practical challenges that the Army will face in an effort to both exploit and secure its cyber capabilities. It includes clearly distinct assessments from the authors on how the Army should address those challenges.

Charting our artificial intelligence future

Luciano Floridi

Galileo viewed nature as a book written in the language of mathematics and decipherable through physics. His metaphor may have been a stretch for his milieu, but not for ours. Ours is a world of digits that must be read through computer science.

It is a world in which artificial-intelligence (AI) applications perform many tasks better than we can. Like fish in water, digital technologies are our infosphere’s true natives, while we analogue organisms try to adapt to a new habitat, one that has come to include a mix of analogue and digital components.

We are sharing the infosphere with artificial agents that are increasingly smart, autonomous, and even social. Some of these agents are already right in front of us, and others are discernible on the horizon, while later generations are unforeseeable. And the most profound implication of this epochal change may be that we are most likely only at the beginning of it.

The AI agents that have already arrived come in soft forms, such as apps, Web bots, algorithms, and software of all kinds; and hard forms, such as robots, driverless cars, smartwatches, and other gadgets. They are replacing even white-collar workers, and performing functions that, just a few years ago, were considered off-limits for technological disruption: cataloguing images, translating documents, interpreting radiographs, flying drones, extracting new information from huge data sets, and so forth.

Outpacing Cyber Threats: Priorities for Cybersecurity at Nuclear Facilities

The past decade has seen unprecedented progress in the security of nuclear materials and facilities. As key improvements to physical security have been implemented, however, a threat that is potentially even more challenging is endangering these gains: the cyber threat.

Cyberspace provides a new opportunity for determined adversaries to wreak havoc at nuclear facilities—possibly without ever setting foot on-site. Cyberattacks could be used to facilitate the theft of nuclear materials or an act of sabotage that results in radiological release. A successful attack could have consequences that reverberate around the world and undermine global confidence in civilian nuclear power as a safe and reliable energy source.

Given the risk and the stakes, governments and industry must increase their focus on the cyber threat. 

Nuclear operators and a range of national and international organizations have recognized the challenge and have begun to accelerate their efforts to strengthen cybersecurity at nuclear facilities. However, the rapidly evolving cyber threat, combined with the proliferation of digital systems, makes it difficult to get ahead of the threat. Case after case—from the Stuxnet attacks on the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Iran, to the hack of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power in South Korea, to disturbing revelations of malware found on systems at a German nuclear power plant—demonstrates that the current approach to cybersecurity at nuclear facilities is not equal to the challenge. Crafting a strategy that protects facilities from dynamic, evolving cyber threats requires a fresh, unconstrained examination of the overarching framework that guides cybersecurity.

The U.S. Continues to Face Cyber Threats in 2016

By Riley Walters

As individuals and businesses alike continue to rely more on technology, cyber threats constitute a persistent threat to privacy, economy, and national security. Cybersecurity remains a complex issue: Not all cyber threats are the same, nor is there one-solution-fits-all response for them.

The incoming Administration and Congress should take cyber issues seriously by increasing support for private businesses, continuing to share threat information, and developing ways to work more closely with international partners.
Refuse to Negotiate with Ransomware

Over the past year, the cyber threat environment has seen notable shifts, at some very high financial and social costs. The threat of ransomware attacks—hackers taking control of users’ digital information and charging ransom, at the threat of having that information publicized, sold, or destroyed—has grown tremendously. In April 2016 alone, the FBI reported that 2,400 complaints of ransomware had been filed and losses to ransomware amounted to $209 million.1 Only a fraction of that—$24 million in losses—was reported in 20

Streamlining Internet Of Things And Other Cyber-Physical Systems

Sometimes referred to as the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems vary from phones to self-driving cars, from airplane controls to home energy meters. They are both touchable objects and invisible code. However, as streamlined as cyber-physical systems appear, the technology developed within manufacturing systems that were not designed to accommodate it.

To change that, researchers banded together from Michigan Technological University, Boston University, University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Riverside. Their latest work, a keynote paper published in IEEE Transactions in CAD, lays the groundwork for better design in cyber-physical systems.

“The register-transfer-level (RTL) design flow for digital circuits is one of the major success stories in electronic design automation,” the authors write. “Will a durable design methodology, such as the RTL design flow, emerge for cyber-physical systems?”

The answer, they say, depends on how well cross-disciplinary teams learn to manage heterogeneous and dynamic technologies across large scales while accounting for human users.

Opinion: The hackers are winning

Daniel Castro

JANUARY 4, 2017 —As Washington continues to wrangle over technical details and diplomatic consequences of Russian hacking allegations, we may lose sight of the only undisputed fact in this saga: Hackers attempted to undermine the integrity of US elections. And, it wasn't hard to do.

Regardless of the culprits' identity or motives, Congress and the administration now have an urgent responsibility. They need to develop specific policies and a new strategic focus to fix America’s endemic cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 

Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA, called the recent attacks the “political equivalent of 9/11.” Yet, the response has been underwhelming. Rather than prioritize actions that would improve cybersecurity, the major responses to these cyberattacks have been to impose sanctions on Russia and call for congressional investigations of foreign influence in the election and potential breakdowns at the FBI.

While these actions may be necessary, they are not enough. In the aftermath of 9/11, Washington acted swiftly to recognize the failures in domestic security and put forth a new plan to fight terrorism at home and abroad by federalizing airport security, establishing the Department of Homeland Security, and passing the USA PATRIOT Act. Unfortunately, there appears to be no emerging consensus that US cybersecurity policy needs an overhaul.