2 June 2018

Modi Needs to Show India Has Teeth


Asia’s premier security meeting is this week, and all eyes will be on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he gives his keynote speech — the first for an Indian leader. The defense chiefs and diplomats at the Shangri-La Dialogue are eager to see whether Modi — and India — have the chops to take on an increasingly critical regional role. Asia’s uncertain political and economic climate presents an opportunity for Modi. U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies, including the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and a purely transactional approach to longtime alliances, have contributed to strategic drift in the region as China grows assertive and authoritarian. The situation calls for steady leadership — and the United States and its Pacific allies better hope that New Delhi can deliver.

What GDPR Means For India: How Europe's Data Protection Law May Indirectly Protect Indian Users

If you use Twitter, Facebook, Google, or access any online platform really, chances are you have seen a notification that the company has made some changes to its privacy policy before 25 May 2018. All of these updates are in preparation of the GDPR, Europe's new behemoth data protection law.

What's so important about the GDPR?

The main purpose of the GDPR is to ensure that the privacy and personal data of every individual (or data user) within the European Union (EU) is steadfastly protected. It seeks to regulate the purpose for and the manner in which several entities, including governments, collect and process data about individuals using automated means (data collectors / data controllers).


The Great Afghan Paradox arises from the fact that victory remains elusive and sometimes seems impossible even after seventeen years of fighting, while a defeat that cedes Afghanistan to Islamist terrorist groups with the blood of thousands of Westerners on their hands is all but unthinkable. Already Daesh has made inroads in the country and is claiming some of the most horrific suicide bombings there, for instance, and just last month U.S. forces killed Al Qaeda leader Hazrat Abbas and his bodyguard in an airstrike in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. 

China’s manufacturing growth expected to slip marginally

BEIJING: Growth in China's vast manufacturing sector is expected to have dipped, but only marginally this month, easing concerns of a slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy as fears of a trade war with the US ebbed. The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is seen slipping to 51.3 from 51.4 in April, according to the median forecast of 30 economists in a Reuters poll. The 50-point mark divides expansion from contraction on a monthly basis. That would mark the 22 straight month of expansion for China's manufacturing sector, and reinforce views that the economy will slow only modestly this year, good news for policymakers as they try to navigate debt risks and rocky trade relations with Washington.

China's Amazon Is Not Quite Amazon Yet

The Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group is not only one of the two largest internet companies in China (Tencent being the other one), with a market capitalization of more than $480 billion it is also one of the most valuable public companies in the world.Earlier this year, the company briefly joined U.S. tech giants like Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft in reaching a market capitalization of more than $500 billion, but it’s Amazon that Alibaba is most often compared to.

Kim Won’t Be Duped Like Qaddafi

The much-heralded summit between the United States and North Korea has entered a state of uncertainty; you don’t know whether it’s off or on again until you check at any given moment. Invitations have been accepted, canceled, and re-accepted; letters have been sent; tweets have been shouted into the atmosphere. Right now, it appears to be back on again. But many observers fear a return to last fall’s mano a manoconfrontation between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with war a real possibility. If that happens, the blame will mostly fall on the Trump administration. The dangerous language coming out of the White House — especially discussion of a “Libya model” for the talks — has left the North Koreans angry and upset. To Pyongyang, that language is an implicit threat — and a sign that the United States can’t be trusted.

Trump thinks his North Korea strategy will work on Iran. He’s wrong on both.

By Colin H. Kahl and Vipin Narang 

On April 24, French President Emmanuel Macron walked into the Oval Office with one overriding mission: persuade President Trump not to ditch the Iran nuclear deal. It looks as if he failed. Macron later told reporters that Trump repeated his long-standing view that the nuclear agreement — formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — is “the worst deal ever, it’s a nightmare, it was a catastrophe.” According to Macron, Trump indicated that he would probably fulfill his campaign pledge to scrap the deal when U.S. sanctions relief is due to be renewed May 12. This impression has only been strengthened since.

The US Military Is Funding an Effort to Catch Deepfakes and Other AI Trickery

The Department of Defense is funding a project that will try to determine whether the increasingly real-looking fake video and audio generated by artificial intelligence might soon be impossible to distinguish from the real thing — even for another AI system. This summer, under a project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the world’s leading digital forensics experts will gather for an AI fakery contest. They will compete to generate the most convincing AI-generated fake video, imagery, and audio — and they will also try to develop tools that can catch these counterfeits automatically.

What would a cyberattack in Ukraine mean for the U.S. government?

By: Frank Bajak
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LONDON — Network technology company Cisco Systems said Wednesday that a half a million routers had been compromised in preparation for what could be a major cyberattack against Ukraine, raising the specter of large-scale disruption timed to the upcoming Champions League soccer final there. The announcement leaves federal cybersecurity officials in the United States scrambling. Ukraine’s Cyberpolice said in a statement that it was possible the hackers planned to strike during “large-scale events,” an apparent reference either to the match between Real Madrid and Liverpool in the capital, Kiev, on Saturday or to the country’s upcoming Constitution Day celebrations.

A Defiant Russia Builds Barriers to U.S. Sanctions

As the United States pressures Russia with sanctions, Moscow will use a mix of options to counter the penalties in the short term, including diplomatic negotiations and financial support for threatened businesses. In the long term, Russia will continue deploying a strategy to insulate its people and businesses, leading Moscow to increasingly move away from the West and toward the East.
While Moscow may make tactical concessions to protect its economic interests, U.S. sanctions ultimately will be ineffective in compelling Russia to strategically shift its foreign policy, meaning the Russia-West standoff is here to stay.

With CAATSA, the U.S. is Trying to Make Russia Hurt

Middling powers in Europe, Asia and the Middle East will face increasing pressure from Washington on their ties with Russia because of the United States' new sanctions legislation. Germany, Vietnam and Turkey are some of the major states most likely to defy U.S. pressure on their Russia relations. In Asia, India may struggle to cope with the U.S. sanctions, while Indonesia could go either way. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will find it easier to comply thanks to their limited links to Russia and deep defense relationships with Washington. Measures such as the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act will encourage U.S. partners to adopt a more multilateral strategy in an emerging world of great power competition.

Gazans Are Protesting Their Economy, Not Israel’s Existence

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In recent months, tens of thousands of Palestinians have marched toward the Gaza-Israel border in what has become known as the “Great March of Return.” On May 14 alone, more than 60 people were killed and over 2,700 were injured by Israeli bullets and tear gas. While the ongoing mass protest succeeded in bringing Gaza’s humanitarian crisis to the world’s attention, it also reminded the Arab nations, the European Union, the United States, and Israel that Gaza may have been perceived as a stable conflict, but is in fact far from stable. The call by some activists to march to the Gaza border with Israel was seen by Hamas and other Palestinian factions as a golden opportunity to exit from the numerous crises facing them and to shift the people’s anger toward the Israeli occupation.

Macron’s Fake News Solution Is a Problem

In the aftermath of a very agitated U.S. presidential campaign that was tarnished — and its outcome likely influenced — by the use of so-called fake news, as well as an election campaign in France that was nearly upended in the same way, French President Emmanuel Macron has made the fight against fake news a major priority in his legislative agenda. France has often seen new legislation as the solution for whatever problems ail the country, and Macron, bruised by rumor-filled attacks during the 2017 campaign, declared his intention to pursue legal remedies against fake news in spite of vigorous criticism from academics, journalists, and media watchdogs.

NATO to focus on deterrence, ‘managing’ Russia ties at July summit

NATO said Monday (28 May) it will focus on five key areas from deterrence to modernisation and EU relations at its July summit, with measures to “manage” ties with an increasingly assertive Russia high on the agenda. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told lawmakers at the spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw that the summit will also focus on projecting stability in border regions — particularly in the south — as well as burden-sharing. Building on the alliance’s 2016 decision to deploy battle groups on its eastern flank facing Russia, Stoltenberg said he expected leaders at the 11-12 July summit in Brussels to “make decisions on reinforcement, readiness and military mobility” of forces.

Back From the Dead: the Bizarre Story of Journalist Arkady Babchenko

On May 29, the news broke that another Russian journalist critical of President Vladimir Putin’s regime had been killed, gunned down outside his apartment in Kiev. Pictures were circulated of his bloodied corpse, and the Ukrainian prime minister blamed “the Russian totalitarian machine.” On May 30, the journalist stood up, alive and well, at a press conference to admit it had been a sting operation by the Ukrainian security services to catch a Russian-paid killer. A cunning stratagem? A self-defeating gimmick? Welcome to the world of post-truth geopolitics, where it can be both.

Are DoD’s cyber forces too focused on the network?

By: Mark Pomerleau  

Cyber Command’s primary mission is defense of the Department of Defense Information Networks, but some believe they might need to expand beyond DoD’s networks. Regarding the aiming point for DoD, “we have spent years and years focused on infrastructure. Routers, switches, servers and making sure that’s right. We know how to do that, we have policies and regulations on how to do that and it’s done very well,” Col. Paul Craft, director of operations at Joint Force Headquarters-DoDIN, the DoD’s global operational defensive unit, said May 16 at the AFCEA Defensive Cyber Operations symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. “We need to shift because that’s not the only thing the information network is. It’s also our platform IT; it’s also all of our programs of record; it’s also our [industrial control systems] ICS and [supervisory control and data acquisition] SCADA systems; it’s also the cloud; it’s also all of our crossdomains that we have out in the network.”

The West is ill-prepared for the wave of “deep fakes” that artificial intelligence could unleash

Chris Meserole and Alina Polyakova

To get ahead of new problems related to disinformation and technology, policymakers in Europe and the United States should focus on the coming wave of disruptive technologies, write Chris Meserole and Alina Polyakova. Fueled by advances in artificial intelligence and decentralized computing, the next generation of disinformation promises to be even more sophisticated and difficult to detect. This piece originally appeared on ForeignPolicy.comRussian disinformation has become a problem for European governments. In the last two years, Kremlin-backed campaigns have spread false stories alleging that French President Emmanuel Macron was backed by the “gay lobby,” fabricated a story of a Russian-German girl raped by Arab migrants, and spread a litany of conspiracy theories about the Catalan independence referendum, among other efforts.

Can science fiction help us prepare for 21st-century warfare?


The novelist Margaret Atwood recently caused a stir when, during an interview with Variety, she said that the 9/11 hijackers "got the idea" to fly planes into buildings from watching "Star Wars." Atwood, the author of "The Handmaid's Tale" and other dystopian classics, did not have the facts right. The 19 hijackers were not inspired by "Star Wars." Al Qaeda wasn't reenacting the destruction of the Death Star.  But the premise of Atwood's comment was not at all far-fetched. Literature and film have long sought to capture the realities of war, and, in turn, they have influenced thinking about war. There is a direct relationship between real war and "reel" war. This is nothing new, of course. Art has been influencing war, and vice versa, since the beginnings of recorded human conflict. "The Iliad" is an ancient and largely made-up tale of war, yet Alexander the Great reportedly slept with a copy of the book under his pillow.

What's the difference between A.I., machine learning, and robotics?

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Artificial intelligence is everywhere. On your screens, in your pockets and one day may even be walking to a home near you. The headlines tend to group together this vast and diverse field into one subject. Robots emerging from the labs, algorithms playing ancient games and winning, AI and its promises are becoming a part of our everyday lives. While all of these instances have some relationship to AI, this is not a monolithic field, but one that has many separate and distinct disciplines. A lot of the times we use the term Artificial intelligence as an all-encompassing umbrella term that covers everything. That’s not exactly the case. A.I., machine learning, deep learning, and robotics are all fascinating and separate topics. They all serve as an integral piece of the greater future of our tech. Many of these categories tend to overlap and complement one another.

Bipartisan Support For Net Neutrality

by Felix Richter

The regulation, put in place by the FCC under the Obama administration in 2015, essentially ensures that all internet traffic is treated equally by internet service providers and prevents them from blocking or prioritizing content from certain companies over others. In December 2017, the FCC had decided to repeal the current set of rules, arguing that net neutrality would limit internet freedom and stifle investment and innovation. As our chart, based on a recent poll commissioned by the nonpartisan group Voice of the People, illustrates, Americans are surprisingly united in their support of current net neutrality rules. 86 percent of the registered voters polled by Nielsen Scarborough oppose the FCC's plans to repeal net neutrality rules, with similar numbers found across all political camps.

GDPR vs. ePrivacy: The 3 differences you need to know

By Conner Forrest 

After months of waiting, the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018, and user inboxes were flooded with emails alerting them of changes to company privacy policies. However, even though the world has (mostly) accepted GDPR and kept moving forward, that isn't the end of EU privacy regulations for the tech industry. On the heels of GDPR comes the ePrivacy regulation, a separate regulation that focuses on ensuring individual privacy as it relates to electronic communications. While the final draft of the ePrivacy regulation didn't make it out in time to release with GDPR, it is in the works and expected to release soon. As such, it is important that companies understand the different ways in which the GDPR and ePrivacy regulations will affect their business. Here are the three differences that business leaders and professionals need to know.

11 ways to hit inbox zero

By Olivia Krauth

It's common knowledge that professionals tend to be on the lookout for ways to increase efficiency and productivity, whether that's through a company-wide effort or in a personal space like their email inbox. It's also common knowledge that professionals receive a lot of email. Enter inbox zero. Developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann, inbox zero is a way to manage email by keeping the primary inbox empty. Instead of having several emails waiting in the inbox, the concept encourages professionals to either act on or organize emails into subfolders.  "Aiming for inbox zero makes life far less stressful, and once it's achieved it's easy to maintain," IT consultant and self-proclaimed inbox zero devotee Ben Taylor said.

Internet of Things: when objects threaten national security

Tim Stevens

We all know personal devices can be hacked, but a whole country’s security could be at risk too. With the rise of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), and against the backdrop of cyberwarfare, digital surveillance and digital subversion, the risk to national security is increasing. Earlier this year the head of the UK National Cyber Security Centre publicly stated that a major cyber-attack on the country’s essential services was a question of “when, not if”. The IoT comprises of the billions of online objects embedded in our homes, workplaces and cities, that are constantly collecting, analysing and transmitting data. Some IoT devices, such as personal fitness trackers or smartphones, are carried with us wherever we go. Others we interact with remotely, such as domestic heating controls. Many are invisible, operating silently to modulate traffic flows, industrial control systems, and much more.

55. Influence at Machine Speed: The Coming of AI-Powered Propaganda

[Editor’s Note: Mad Scientist Laboratory is pleased to present the following guest blog post by MAJ Chris Telley, U.S. Army, assigned to the Naval Postgraduate School, addressing how Artificial Intelligence (AI) must be understood as an Information Operations (IO) tool if U.S. defense professionals are to develop effective countermeasures and ensure our resilience to its employment by potential adversaries. AI-enabled IO present a more pressing strategic threat than the physical hazards of slaughter-bots or even algorithmically-escalated nuclear war. IO are efforts to “influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision-making of adversaries and potential adversaries;” here, we’re talking about using AI to do so. AI-guided IO tools can empathize with an audience to say anything, in any way needed, to change the perceptions that drive those physical weapons. Future IO systems will be able to individually monitor and affect tens of thousands of people at once. Defense professionals must understand the fundamental influence potential of these technologies if they are to drive security institutions to counter malign AI use in the information environment.

Why war powers need an expiration date

Scott R. Anderson

Almost 17 years into America’s longest-lasting conflict, Congress is finally getting serious about exercising its constitutional war powers. But it’s at risk of repeating many of the same mistakes that it made last time. Later this month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) is expected to begin mark-up on a new draft Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that would repeal and replace the 2001 AUMF currently used—sometimes quite controversially—to authorize U.S. counterterrorism operations. S_R_AndersWhile not the first effort at reform, this bill has the support of an influential bipartisan coalition of senators, led by SFRC Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Hence, it may be the first such proposal with any serious chance of becoming law.