8 April 2019

Peace Talks with Afghan Taliban and its Implications for Pakistan

Negotiations leading toward a peaceful solution for a longstanding politically violent conflict is generally the desire of neighboring nations. In the recent past, several terrorist campaigns have ended after rounds of talks resulting in peaceful solutions in countries such as Algeria, Ireland, Colombia, Peru and others. However, peace talks resulting in lasting negotiated settlements are particularly elusive with Islamist terrorist groups. Islamist terrorist groups are typically absolutist and Manichean in their approach and mostly reluctant to hold peace talks with the states through mediators and at times only do that under conditions suitable to their ideological causes or when facing imminent military defeat.

In the case of the Afghan Taliban, the situation is much more complex. There have been rounds of peace talks with the group over the last 15 years, yielding more or less no results. Long campaigns of political violence detrimentally affect countries in close proximity and such is the case for Afghanistan’s eastern neighbor, Pakistan. Whether peace is attained in Afghanistan or not, the results will likely have serious implications for Pakistan.

Current State of Affairs

China and Pakistan Have Struck a Devil’s Bargain With Militants

The tense standoff between India and Pakistan has gotten tenser with a surprising move by China. On March 14, China blocked a United Nations effort to designate as a terrorist Masood Azhar, a militant group leader who had brought the two South Asian nuclear rivals to the brink of war. Azhar is the founder and leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which took credit for the Feb. 14 suicide attack in India-administered Kashmir that sparked the recent India-Pakistan crisis.

It might seem strange for China to coddle a militant group that is threatening its $60 billion investment in Pakistan. However, there is a possibility that the Afghan Taliban, not JeM, may have provided the initial push for the attack. By giving diplomatic cover to JeM, China is safeguarding its economic interests in the region and propping its regional ally (Pakistan), which is pressuring the Afghan Taliban to negotiate with Kabul.

Pakistan has been playing a critical role in the U.S.-Taliban peace talks. Their success would mean U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, where China has big plans. Last year, Beijing decided to expand the flagship project of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative—the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure-building plan—into Afghan territory, with the support of Kabul.

Nepal: Two Third Majority for Oli has not worked:

By S.Chandrasekharan

Prior to the last General Elections, the unified Communist party of Maoists and the UML went round the country seeking votes promising that they would need a good majority to have proper governance and stability. Not that the country has not had a majority government in the past, but it was a good justification to ask for votes purely on the promise of stability of the country. Yet fourteen months have passed and the two third majority has really not worked. One of the writers in the media has examined this issue and has come up with good reasons.

First, there is rivalry and ego clashes among the top leadership. Oli is getting more and more isolated with all other leaders both from the UML and the erstwhile Maoist leadership ganging up together to thwart any new initiative.

Second, is the uneasy relationship between the two top leaders- Dahal and Oli as the latter will have to be constantly looking behind his back to watch Dahal who has ambitions of his own to become the next Prime Minister! He is yet to tell Oli as what transpired between him and the Indian leadership during his recent visit.

Judy Asks: Is China Devouring Europe?


No, it is not—but it is taking bites, one mouthful at a time.

The United States labels China and Russia “strategic adversaries,” a designation many European nation states do not share. Absolved of security concerns (outsourced long ago to the United States), national leaders only see benefits of Chinese investments, loans, and trade. Costs—strengthening the adversary—do not figure in their calculations because these had been “socialized” through NATO.

In this light, it is little wonder that the Italian public only sees gains from Chinese investments in several of its ports while Hungary and Serbia welcome a joint venture largely financed by China to connect by fast rail Budapest with Athens (and with Piraeus, the Chinese-owned port nearby). These views are not very different from that espoused by the German government, which only counts advantages of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline while externalizing its collateral security costs to the country’s friends.

A very senior French defense official posed a rhetorical question in Washington just a few days ago: “What Europeans are worried about is this: will the U.S. commitment [to Europe’s security] be perennial?” French President Emmanuel Macron partially answered that question while welcoming China’s President Xi Jinping at the Elysée Palace. Macron called for a “strong Europe-China partnership.”

Why China’s Economic Reforms Often Backslide

By Zhizhen Lu and Meiying Xu

Market reform has been China’s flagship economic initiative for over 40 years, yet each new round of reform often ends up with more heavy-handed state control. Why does China’s market reform so often backslide? Why is government intervention a persistent syndrome even after the center repeatedly promised to “give the market a decisive role in resource allocation”? With the state playing a central role in coordinating economic activities, the Chinese government builds and sustains the market, but falls short on empowering it.

While building functional markets requires state facilitation, China’s state-led market reform hinders the establishment of healthy market selection and adjustment mechanisms. Business performance is dependent more on “riding the policy wave” than prudent management or innovative business models. Subdued by political objectives, the alleged market economy “with Chinese characteristics” encounters various challenges both in terms of the macroeconomy and sector-specific reforms.

Misplaced Confidence? The US Private Space Sector vs. China

By Namrata Goswami

When China landed on the far side of the lunar surface early this year, Americans tended to dismiss the achievement. Either they said some version of “been there, done that, 50 years ago,” or commented that it was nothing to be concerned about. China would have to contend with not the U.S. government sector in space led by NASA, but the vibrant and successful U.S. private space sector led by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Certainly, the U.S. private space sector today has a significant advantage. But China is hot on their heels — encouraging their own billionaires and private space companies (Onespace, Landspace, iSpace, Linkspace) to enter the sector. To enable this, President Xi Jinping and the Chinese state have created a supportive environment. While the U.S. private space program has a 19 year head-start with the founding of Blue Origin in 2000, the Chinese private space sector that took off around 2015 drew an investment of $2 billion in 2018 alone [China’s state funded space program takes about $6 billion annually] and is growing rapidly.

Does China Have Feet of Clay?


No one knows what China’s future holds, and there is a long history of faulty predictions of systemic collapse or stagnation. Neither outcome is likely, though the country is facing several challenges that are far more serious than many observers seem to think.

CAMBRIDGE – Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to be on a roll. He has sent a rocket to the dark side of the moon, built artificial islands on contested reefs in the South China Sea, and recently enticed Italy to break ranks with its European partners and sign on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump’s unilateralist posture has reduced America’s soft power and influence.

China’s economic performance over the past four decades has been truly impressive. It is now the main trading partner for more than a hundred countries compared to about half that number for the United States. Its economic growth has slowed, but its official 6% annual rate is more than twice the American rate. Conventional wisdom projects that China’s economy will surpass that of the US in size in the coming decade.

China Studying the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal? Smart.

By CDRSalamander 

One navy has is reaching from the other side of the ocean to project power, the other reaches south. Neither nation’s carrier fleets are a significant players due to most being sunk, damaged, or elsewhere. The one that could have been used early is husbanded away in a safe place in fear of one submarine’s streak.

Two navies push forward for the decisive battle with the ships they have, and the tide of battle goes both ways day-by-day in a near run thing.

There is a lot to learn about the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal … and the PLAN is studying it.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sought to remedy its lack of actual combat experience by the careful study of military history, including the bloody Pacific War as I have noted in other Dragon Eye columns. August is steamy in the South Pacific and so the Guadalcanal campaign that began in August 1942 was hell. It was through that campaign that the fate of the Pacific was decided. While the dazzling miracle of Midway gets infinitely more attention, the grinding attrition battle just a few months later of Guadalcanal, which could be termed the “Verdun” of the Pacific War, ultimately proved to be the turning point. Losing 38 ships and perhaps over 700 aircraft proved devastating for Japan, although these losses were quite similar to those suffered on the American side. The difference, of course, was that America could replace these losses quite easily.

South China Sea on a precarious strategic edge


When Chinese fighter jets violated neighboring Taiwan’s airspace by crossing for the first time in decades the “median line” separating the two countries on March 31, the move immediately raised speculation about how the island nation’s American ally might respond.

The provocation came after Chinese President Xi Jinping declared earlier this year that Taiwan’s incorporation into Greater China is “inevitable” and that he will “make no promise to give up the use of force and reserve the option of all necessary means.”

The maneuver marks China’s latest escalation in the South China Sea, a contested maritime area the United States has vowed to keep open and free for international navigation.

The Controversy Over U.S. Strikes in Somalia

by Claire Felter

A surge in the number of U.S. air strikes in Somalia is raising questions about Washington’s mission there, the risk it poses to civilians, and whether Congress should pull back the reins on increasingly opaque military operations in Africa and elsewhere.

The Trump administration is facing increasing scrutiny over the U.S. presence in Somalia from human rights groups, which say that civilian deaths have been increasingly obscured.

A March 2019 report [PDF] by Amnesty International found that at least fourteen civilians were killed in just five of the more than seventy air strikes the United States has carried out in the country since early 2017. The report is based on interviews with witnesses, family members, and medical professionals, as well as a review of photographic evidence.

The U.S. military disputes the report; it says none of those strikes resulted in any civilian casualties.

How Serious Is White Nationalist Terrorism?

by Bruce Hoffman

The attack on two New Zealand mosques by a white supremacist has spurred new concern over the threat posed by violent far-right extremists. Bruce Hoffman, CFR’s Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis senior fellow for counterterrorism and homeland security, offers his assessment. The attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, this month have sparked concern about a sharply rising white nationalist threat. How serious is it?

White nationalist terrorism and its variants—those that embrace racist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and anti-government sentiments—have existed for decades in countries including Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the past their acts were mostly isolated, spasmodic outbursts of violence. Today, however, the internet and social media unite disparate, disgruntled individuals in an ideologically more cohesive echo chamber, which radicalizes, inspires, and motivates acts of wanton violence.
Some commentators suggest Western countries have been blind to the threat posed by far-right terrorism while maintaining a tight focus on Islamist terrorism. How valid is that?

How the Mysteries of Khashoggi’s Murder Have Rocked the U.S.-Saudi Partnership

Author: David Ignatius 

It has been nearly six months since Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, but the aftershocks continue. The U.S.-Saudi defense and intelligence partnership has been rocked. The future of the relationship is on hold, pending answers from Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia still hasn’t explained officially how and why the Post Global Opinions columnist was killed. But Saudi and American sources have begun disclosing new information about the people and events surrounding Khashoggi’s fatal visit to Istanbul. They’ve described secret intelligence deals that are now frozen. And they’ve explained, in the clearest detail yet, how an operation that began as a kidnapping ended with a gasping, dying Khashoggi pleading: “I can’t breathe.”

The basic questions remain much the same as they did in October, when Khashoggi died: How was the Istanbul strike team that carried out the operation trained and controlled? What exact roles did Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his close aides play in the killing? What new controls can be implemented, in Riyadh and Washington, to make sure that such a grisly murder of a journalist never happens again?

And most important, will anyone be held accountable?

The Strange Death of a Special Relationship


The U.S.-UK special relationship is on life support—and Brexit may well pull the plug.

For American devotees of British comedy, from Monty Python to Ricky Gervais and Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom is a gift that keeps on giving. The long-running “Brexit” farce that began on “Independence Day”—the June 23, 2016 European Union referendum—is nowhere near closure. Whatever the eventual outcome of Phase I—the “withdrawal agreement”—we are not even at the beginning of the end of the omni-shambles.

But one outcome, alas, can be safely ventured: a “special relationship” between America and Britain will erode further. Although non-trivial forces of continuity remain, by accident and design Washington and London have passed an inflection point. U.S. strategic insolvency is well-advanced. The British version is effectively complete. As the Transatlantic alliance increasingly resembles a transactional association, some herald this more mature understanding. But its consequences for Britain’s rapidly collapsing role and influence as a great power, and the West as a cohesive geostrategic entity, are grave.

Technological Innovation and the Geopolitics of Energy

By Severin Fischer

In this article, Severin Fischer discusses three of the most important recent and upcoming technological advancements in energy – horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, photovoltaics and batteries – and their potential impact on international politics. Further, he outlines why China and the US will have the biggest impact on future discussions on the geopolitics of energy.

This article was originally published in Strategic Trends 2018 by the Center for Security Studies on 13 April 2018.

Technological change has a tremendous impact on societies in general, including international politics. This chapter discusses the most important recent and upcoming technological advancements in energy – horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, photovoltaics, and batteries – and their possible influence on geopolitical dynamics. For different reasons, China and the US will have the biggest impact on the way we will discuss the geopolitics of energy in the future.

Russian Analytical Digest No 234: Russian Think Tanks and Foreign Policy-Making

This edition of the RAD examines the influence of think tanks on Russian foreign policy. Firstly, Igor Okunev outlines obstacles that have impeded the development of independent foreign policy think tanks in Russia and possible steps that could remedy the situation. Secondly, Alexander Graef assesses the evolution of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI), including the controversy around its role in Russian foreign policy making during the mid-2010s. Graef also notes how a change in leadership in 2017 has seen the RISI undergo another period of reform.

Author Igor Okunev, Alexander Graef, (Editors: Stephen Aris, Matthias Neumann, Robert Orttung, Jeronim Perović, Heiko Pleines, Hans-Henning Schröder, Aglaya Snetkov)

World’s Poorest Of The Poor To Hit One Billion By 2020 – OpEd

By Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan

In the arid dunes of sub-Saharan Africa, women walk six hours to fetch water with nothing to eat. Arriving home, one mother decides who among her four children will eat the last oatmeal from a food aid caravan three weeks back, and who will starve.

The picture is no different in the Philippines where in the Visayan region, rural mothers scour the forests for something to eat as crops have failed. Their counterparts in Manila eat whatever food they get from the garbage, unmindful of their health.

These are images of the world’s poorest of the poor. They are trapped in long-term poverty where most likely, their children, if they survive, will live in worst or similar conditions. They are hardcore poor, extreme poor and ultra poor. They are the victims of chronic poverty because they are in it for a long, long time, an entire life or even across generations.

Toward European Strategic Autonomy


Far from being an abstract concept, European strategic autonomy has huge practical implications, especially in military and economic terms. Realizing this goal will make Europe more prosperous, secure, and influential in a rapidly changing world.

BERLIN – How, and to what extent, can Europe rely on itself for its wellbeing, security, and international influence? Global power shifts, geopolitical uncertainties, and doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally have injected new urgency into this debate. Its outcome will be crucial for Europe’s future.

Much of the discussion so far has revolved around different terms. European Union institutions, as well as Germany, tend to prefer “strategic autonomy,” while France favors the concept of “European sovereignty.” But the two concepts are often used interchangeably, and are rarely defined precisely.

First Images of Saudi Nuclear Reactor Show Plant Nearing Finish

By Jonathan Tirone

Saudi Arabia is nearing completion of its first nuclear reactor, satellite images of the facility show, triggering warnings about the risks of the kingdom using the technology without signing up to the international rules governing the industry.

The research facility is located in the southwest corner of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh, according to images published by GoogleEarth. They’re the first in the public domain to confirm that the program is advancing, showing construction nearing its finish around a columnar vessel that will contain atomic fuel.

The advancement is alarming to arms-control experts because Saudi Arabia has yet to sign up to the international framework of rules other nuclear powers follow to ensure that civilian atomic programs aren’t used to build weapons. Nuclear fuel providers won’t move to supply the unit until new surveillance arrangements have been sealed with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

The National Defense Strategy Is No Strategy


It’s closer to a call for a new Cold War.

What are we to do when an ideological tract masquerading as a strategic roadmap — I refer to the 2018 National Defense Strategy document — becomes the de facto template for defining America’s strategic posture? What are we further to do when it becomes clear that we’re destined to live with this state of affairs until at least 2022, when by law the next NDS comes due? By then, the worldview embodied in the current document could well be so deeply embedded in national security discourse and bureaucratic practice as to be virtually irreversible. That’s what its progenitors want; it’s what the rest of us – anyone concerned with the state of U.S. national security – should fight to resist.

Let us first dispense with the notion that there exists a White House National Security Strategy that describes an overall national-security approach in which the NDS plays a part. The 2017 NSS document, a modest, carefully navigated bow to conventional thinking perpetrated by National Security Council staffers under then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, was largely irrelevant from the start. Now it’s all but moribund. Although, by law, an updated National Security Strategy is to be submitted to Congress annually, that never happens; Presidents Bush 43 and Obama, for example, each submitted just two apiece over their respective 8-year terms. National Security Adviser John Bolton recently indicated to The Atlantic that the McMaster security document was “written and filed away…and consulted by no one. ‘I don’t view writing strategy papers as big accomplishments,’” Bolton said. So we are stuck with the 2018 NDS, it appears, at least for the duration of the Trump administration.

It's Time to Rethink America’s Foreign Alliance Commitments

by Ted Galen Carpenter

This April is the month for notable milestones in two major U.S. security commitments. NATO marks its seventieth anniversary on April 4, and the Taiwan Relations Act turns forty on April 12. Predictably, there will be much celebrating among supporters of the two measures. But these anniversaries should be occasions for reflection and reconsideration, not mindless endorsements. The strategic environments in both Europe and East Asia have changed dramatically since Washington made those commitments. In both cases, the most important and worrisome change is that the risk level to America from both commitments has risen sharply, even as the strategic justification for them has eroded.

When the United States joined NATO in 1949, the strategic rationale was straightforward and logical. The Soviet Union had emerged from World War II as a global power second only to the United States in its economic strength and military clout. It soon established an empire of Communist political satellites in Central and Eastern Europe, and U.S. officials had no way to be certain just how far the Kremlin’s geographic ambitions extended. The USSR gave every indication of being a messianic, totalitarian power with massive, perhaps unlimited, expansionist goals.

Poland's Place in NATO and the European Union

by Adam Bielan

Last year we commemorated the one-hundredth anniversary of Poland regaining its independence. Like a phoenix, Poland was reborn from the ashes of European empires that went to war in 1914. We had been partitioned and did not have independence for 123 years. As a steadfast advocate of Poland’s cause, President Woodrow Wilson addressed the U.S. Congress in April 1917 proclaiming that “there should be a united, independent, and autonomous Poland, and that, henceforth, inviolable security of life, of worship, and of industrial and social development should be guaranteed to all peoples who have lived hitherto under the power of governments devoted to a faith and purpose hostile to their own.” His words are as relevant now as they were a hundred years ago because today the Euro-Atlantic community is menaced by governments that are devoted to a purpose hostile to our faith in freedom and democracy. This year, as the United States and Poland celebrate the centennial of the establishment of diplomatic relations, it is important for us to reflect on lasting peace in Europe.

What the Brexit Mess Means for America

by Paul R. Pillar

Donald Trump Jr. has taken to the op-ed pages to lecture the British about how they should have taken his father’s “advice” on handling the Brexit issue. A more instructive cross-Atlantic comparison would examine how the state of political parties in the United Kingdom and the United States figures prominently in current problems in each country, but in opposite ways.

A breakdown of formerly strong party discipline in Britain has much to do with the current mess over Brexit. Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s blunder of holding a referendum on the subject three years ago was an effort to manage restive members of his own Conservative Party who opposed continued membership in the European Union. In recent days, Brexiteers in that same party have furnished many of the nays in crushing defeats in the House of Commons of Prime Minister Theresa May’s government. Even some ministers have voted against their own government, in a parliamentary spectacle that would have been almost unthinkable in Britain just a few years ago.

The world’s 7.5 billion people, in one chart

Which countries do people live in, globally?

It’s a very simple question, but it’s also hard to get an accurate sense of the answer by browsing through a lengthy table of country-level population data.

That’s because there are close to 200 countries spread around the globe, with populations ranging from near 1.4 billion (China or India) to countries a mere 0.001% of that size. How is it possible to do the mental math in interpreting such a wide range of data points simultaneously?

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global syste

Geo-economic developments are illustrating the power of global partnerships but also the constraints of current systems. As Japan begins its presidency of the G20 for the first time this year, there is an opportunity for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to a cooperative approach toward economic growth and to update our trade system so that it is more resilient and responsive to new technology.

For Japan, 2018 marked a productive period in terms of strengthening global commerce: the European Union and Japan signed the Economic Partnership Agreement this past summer and the eleven-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership entered into force at the end of last year. Combined, these deals are expected to add a total of 750,000 new jobs and ¥13 trillion annually to the Japanese economy.

Indeed, these projections are in line with the broad benefits we have seen from globalization over the past quarter century. Since 1990, global GDP has doubledin real terms and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty has dropped from 36 percent to 10 percent, according to the World Bank. A key driver behind this has been trade.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning And Intelligence – Analysis

By Giancarlo Elia Valori*

Over the past two years, the development of Artificial Intelligence and the new techniques for using Big Data has become both faster and more widespread.

According to the old definition, by Artificial Intelligence we mean teaching a machine to think like a man, while Big Data is such a large mass of data in terms of quantity, speed and variety that it has to enable specific technologies and methods to extrapolate data from news already learned and extract new data and links from the news which seem unrelated to one another.

This ranges, for example, from the analytical forecast of buyers’ behaviours -by always using machine learning – to the inference of relations between single data and sequences of phenomena. Just to make an example, each buyer wants a specific reward.

7 Indicators Of The State-Of-Artificial Intelligence (AI), March 2019

Turing Award winners (from left to right) Yoshua Bengio, Yann LeCun, and Geoffrey Hinton at the ReWork Deep Learning Summit, Montreal, October 2017. GIL PRESS

AI “Sputnik moment” (say it in Chinese*) is at hand

China is overtaking the US not just in the sheer volume of AI research papers submitted and published, but also in the production of high-impact papers as measured by the top 50%, top 10%, and top 1% most-cited papers. “By projecting current trends, we see that China is likely to have more top-10% papers by 2020 and more top-1% papers by 2025” (Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence).

AI continues to be popular among business executives, regardless of complications, concerns and confusion

73% of senior executives see AI/machine learning and automation as areas they want to maintain or increase investment in but only 33% state that they plan to invest more in getting better visibility of their processes, not taking into account that understanding their current processes first could help them work out which technologies would be most beneficial to their business (Celonis).

How a merger will expand the Air Force’s cyber edge

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The Air Force is merging its main cyber and intelligence organizations after years of discussion and speculation.

24th Air Force, or Air Forces Cyber, will merge with 25th Air Force — responsible for global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance this summer — according to an April 4 press release.

Officials had been coy about the potential merger when asked directly about it, despite publicly referencing it as recently as mid-March.

The merger follows several initiatives within the Air Force to integrate cyber and ISR together.

The Air Force is evaluating a variety of proposals in the way it organizes itself in the cyberspace domain.

GPS Jamming in the Arctic Circle

BY Alexandra Coultrup

Both military and civilian entities make regular use of satellite-enabled Global Positioning System (GPS) and communication technology via signals transmitted over various radio frequencies. However, reliable transmission of this information can be disrupted through electronic counterspace attacks, including jamming and spoofing.
Counterspace Weapons 101

For a brief description of the four categories of counterspace weapons used in this report, read “Counterspace Weapons 101,” from the CSIS Aerospace 101 article series.

Since late 2017, GPS users in northern Scandinavia have experienced signal disruptions in conjunction with military exercises in the region. The interactive map above highlights three distinct military exercises during which GPS signal loss was recorded: Russia’s Zapad-2017 exercise, the North American Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Trident Juncture exercise, and the United Kingdom’s Clockwork exercise.

Amazon is making a late entry into the internet satellite race

By Tim Fernholz

A company called Kuiper Systems LLC has been revealed as the front for an Amazon plan to launch thousands of satellites offering internet connectivity to users below.

The news, revealed by regulatory filings at the International Telecommunication s Union in Geneva, was first reported by Geekwire and confirmed to Quartz by an Amazon spokesperson.

“Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” the Amazon statement said. “This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.”

The description of the constellation suggests is akin to many other new satellite schemes already underway by companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the SoftBank Vision Fund-backed OneWeb, and Canada’s Telesat. Each is raising billions of dollars to construct thousands of satellites the size of washing machines that will circle the earth at relatively low altitudes—from just under 400 miles (600 km) above the earth to around 1000 miles (1609 km) up. There, they promise to create a speedy internet network accessible across most of the world.

Artificial Intelligence is the Future of Data

Michael K. Spencer

From surveillance capitalism to the future of the surveillance state, the future of AI and machine intelligence is the churning of data. If data is the new oil so many things are coming to pass including the possibility of that artificial intelligence regulation may be impossible.

We live in an era of AI hype so unparalleled that it sounds almost like the crypto fraud. Come to think of it, 40% of AI startups might not even be using real AI at all.

Humanity though likely will be faced by an automation crisis of the disruption of jobs. This is because there are so many industries ripe to be impacted by it: retail, transportation, finance, human resources, law, healthcare, and it goes on.

Baidu’s Robin Li Yanhong and Tencent’s Pony Ma Huateng submitted separate proposals on the need for ethical guides on the development of new technology. If China is most likely to lead the next-gen of AI, it’s up to it to establish ethical guidelines that keeps humanity safe. I’m not sure we can say Silicon Valley has done that, creating essentially an internet based on advertising revenue that has used our data just for profit.