27 October 2019

The Future of Biometrics: Opportunities and Challenges

By Trisha Ray

In 1860, William Herschel was appointed Magistrate of Nadia, in the Indian state of West Bengal. With the Indigo Revolt — a farmer uprising against exploitation by the British — in full swing, Herschel began experimenting with an idea that would spawn a whole new way in which the state could identify and sanction its subjects: biometric identification.

Today, with new technologies enabling the collection, storage, and retrieval of data at an unprecedented scale, biometric identification has morphed into applications its originators could never have imagined. India, Kenya, Argentina, and France have all instituted mandatory biometric IDs. Facial recognition is a booming industry, with ongoing trials in the areas of policing, travel, and immigration. These biometric projects purport to improve efficiency and ease of access of services, some with the express intent to facilitate law enforcement, others extending the reach of critical government services such as healthcare, education, and food.

Necessary and Proportionate? 

The Taliban’s Diplomatic Reemergence

By Daud Khattak
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In a fresh move to reinvigorate the “dead” peace talks, China announced it would host Taliban and Afghan delegates in a two-day meeting slated to begin on October 28 in Beijing. Although there was no official announcement from China, both Taliban and Afghan delegates confirmed they received invitation from Beijing. 

This will be the first such meeting since the abrupt ending of talks between U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Doha-based Taliban leadership last month. 

Separately, diplomats from the United States, Russia, China and Pakistan are scheduled to meet in Moscow on October 25 to discuss the Afghan peace process.

Disregarding the Taliban’s past and present violence, support for terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda or its dreadful human rights record, the group’s once reclusive militant leadership is gradually and rapidly strengthening and expanding their diplomatic outreach. 

US-China Trade War Tariffs: An Up-to-Date Chart

Chad P. Bown 

This post, originally published on September 20, 2019, will be updated as China and the United States change their tariffs. For more information on trade war events, see "Trump's Trade War Timeline: An Up-to-Date Guide."

President Donald Trump's current trade plan would nearly double the average US tariff on imports from China in the six months between June 14 and December 15, 2019. Even Trump's October 11 announcement that he would not follow through with an earlier threat to increase tariffs from 25 to 30 percent on $250 billion of Chinese goods (originally scheduled for October 15) will not temper this surge.

US tariffs averaged 12.0 percent right before an increase went into effect on June 15. If Trump's current plan is implemented on schedule, the average US tariff on Chinese imports will increase to 23.8 percent. Much of this is due to new 15 percent tariffs on a subset of $300 billion of imports scheduled to arrive on December 15.

China has timed its own tariff retaliation to coincide with Trump's actions. Its average tariff on imports from the United States has sharply escalated from 16.5 to 25.1 percent during the same six-month period.

The tariff changes taking place between June and December 2019 are large and swift. Since 2018, the trade war has proceeded in four stages. The first six months of 2018 featured only a moderate increase in tariffs. The months of July through September 2018 also had a sharp tariff increase on both sides: US average tariffs increased from 3.8 percent to 12.0 percent, and China's average tariffs increased from 7.2 percent to 18.3 percent. In phase three, there was an eight-month period (September 25, 2018, through June 2019) of little change in tariffs. Starting June 1, 2019, the latest phase of tariff increases kicked in.

This chart was adapted from data available in Chad P. Bown’s blog post, “US-China Trade War: The Guns of August.” It was originally published on August 29, 2019, and updated based on the Trump administration’s announcements on September 11.

How Climate Change Will Help China And Russia Wage Hybrid War

The Democratic debate on 16 October featured a wide range of questions, including one about Ellen DeGeneres – but none about climate change. That’s a critical miss by Anderson Cooper and his fellow debate anchors, because as the irked contender Julián Castro pointed out after the debate, climate change is an existential threat. Americans and Europeans may not notice that existential threat yet, but they had better pay attention to it. Their adversaries could use climate change as a new front in hybrid warfare.

Consider the devastating fires in the Amazon. Soon after the G7 group offered Brazil $20 million to help fight the fires, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro turned it down, accusing them of treating his country “as if it were a colony” and blaming NGOs for having started the fires. The G7 looked weak, and the fires in the world’s green lung kept raging. Bolsonaro appears to have reached his rebellious stance on his own, but outside powers can exploit such grievances in combination with climate change.

What True Reciprocity for U.S. and Chinese Diplomats Would Look Like

Howard W. French 

It’s not every day that one gets a chance to assess a Trump administration decision made on what looks like solid foreign policy principles. But unexpectedly last week, the State Department announced that it had established new rules governing the activities of Chinese diplomats posted to the United States. The changes require Chinese envoys to notify the State Department in advance of “official meetings with representatives of states, local and municipal governments; official visits to educational institutions and official visits to research institutions” in the U.S.

Since the rationale given for this measure was reciprocity, meaning that Washington claims to be merely applying some of the conditions that Beijing imposes on the activities of American diplomats in China, one might easily conclude there’s not much to see here, and simply applaud the measure as long overdue. But there is more here than meets the eye. ..

China tops world in unicorns as Ant Financial, ByteDance, Didi Chuxing lead US$1.7 trillion market

Bien Perez

Employees at the Ant Financial Services headquarters in Hangzhou on October 17. Alipay operator Ant Financial was ranked as the world’s most valuable tech start-up, with a US$150 billion valuation, according to a new global unicorn list published by Hurun Report. Photo: Bloomberg

China is now home to the world’s largest number of start-ups valued at more than US$1 billion, edging out the United States and raising the stakes in the two countries’ trade war.

Of the 494 tech unicorns founded in the 2000s that have not yet gone public as of June 30, China had 206 such firms to move ahead of the US with 203, according to the inaugural Hurun Global Unicorn List 2019 released on Monday.

“China and the US dominate with over 80 per cent of the world’s known unicorns, despite representing only half of the world’s GDP and a quarter of the world’s population,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Shanghai-based publishing group Hurun Report, in a statement. “The rest of the world needs to wake up to creating an environment that allows unicorns to flourish.”’

Democracy in Hong Kong

by Eleanor Albert

Hong Kong is largely free to manage its own affairs based on “one country, two systems,” a national unification policy developed by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s. The concept was intended to help reintegrate Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau with sovereign China while preserving their unique political and economic systems. After more than a century and a half of colonial rule, the British government returned Hong Kong in 1997. (Qing Dynasty leaders ceded Hong Kong Island to the British Crown in 1842 after China’s defeat in the First Opium War.) Portugal returned Macau in 1999, and Taiwan remains independent.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 dictated the terms under which Hong Kong was returned to China. The declaration and Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the city’s constitutional document, enshrine the city’s “capitalist system and way of life” and grant it “a high degree of autonomy,” including executive, legislative, and independent judicial powers for fifty years (until 2047). Chinese Communist Party officials do not preside over Hong Kong as they do over mainland provinces and municipalities, but Beijing still exerts considerable influence through loyalists who dominate the region’s political sphere. Beijing also maintains the authority to interpret Hong Kong’s Basic Law, a power that it has only used a handful of times since the handover.

What will be the effect of the latest US cyberattack on Iran?

By: Sean Lawson  

The United States launched a cyber operation against Iran in response to the September attacks on Saudi oil facilities, according to Reuters. Citing two unnamed U.S. officials, the report claims that the cyber operation “affected physical hardware” in an effort to degrade Iranian capabilities to spread “propaganda.”

The Houthi rebels in Yemen originally claimed responsibility for the missile and drone attack on the Aramco oil refinery. The United States, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, however, have pinned the blame on Iran. Iran has denied involvement in the attack.

The reported U.S. cyberattack is the latest in an ongoing cyber conflict between the United States and Iran that stretches back at least a decade. During that time, there have been multiple cyberattacks and reprisals between the two countries and their allies. This included the 2010 U.S.-Israeli Stuxnet cyberattack against the Iranian nuclear program. This was followed by Iranian reprisals in the form of denial of service attacks against U.S. businesses and the Shamoon attack against Saudi Aramco.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Strategic Stability and Nuclear Risk, Volume II

Dr Lora Saalman
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This edited volume is the second of a series of three. They form part of a SIPRI project that explores regional perspectives and trends related to the impact that recent advances in artificial intelligence could have on nuclear weapons and doctrines, as well as on strategic stability and nuclear risk. This volume assembles the perspectives of 13 experts from East Asia, Russia and the United States on why and how machine learning and autonomy may become the focus of an arms race among nuclear-armed states. It further explores how the adoption of these technologies may have an impact on their calculation of strategic stability and nuclear risk at the regional and transregional levels.


1. Introduction

Part I. The technologies and dynamics of artificial intelligence and nuclear risk

2. Artificial intelligence and its impact on weaponization and arms control

3. The role of artificial intelligence in deterrence in cyberspace

Russian Hackers Used Stolen Iranian Malware to Attack 35 Countries, NSA Says

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U.S. and British authorities said the Turla group is piggy-backing off the work of Iranian rivals to advance its own agenda.

Russian hackers used Iranian cyber tools and digital infrastructure to launch attacks on government and industry groups in dozens of countries, national security officials from the U.S. and the United Kingdom said Monday.

The Turla group, which is widely believed to be Russian in origin, used two Iranian hacking tools—Nautilus and Neuron—to target military, government, academic and scientific organizations in at least 35 different countries, according to a joint advisory released by the National Security Agency and the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre. So far, victims have largely been concentrated in the Middle East, officials said.

While authorities had previously flagged Turla’s use of the tools, this latest advisory offers new details on their origin and the extent of their damage. The disclosure paints a picture of Russian hackers piggy-backing off the work of Iranian rivals to advance their own agenda.

Cigéo, the deep underground vault holding 80,000 cubic metres of waste

Burying radioactive waste is widely seen as the safest way to dispose of it. Researchers are exploring how we tell future generations about the decisions we make today.

In January 1997, the crew of a fishing vessel in the Baltic Sea found something unusual in their nets: a greasy yellowish-brown lump of clay-like material. They pulled it out, placed it on deck and returned to processing their catch. The next day, the crew fell ill with serious skin burns. Four were hospitalised. The greasy lump was a substance called yperite, better known as sulfur mustard or mustard gas, solidified by the temperature on the sea bed.

At the end of the World War II, the US, British, French and Soviet authorities faced a big problem – how to get rid of some 300,000 tonnes of chemical munitions recovered from occupied Germany. Often, they opted for what seemed the safest, cheapest and easiest method: dumping the stuff out at sea.

Estimates are that at least 40,000 tonnes of chemical munitions were disposed of in the Baltic Sea, not all of it in designated dumping areas. Some of these locations are marked on shipping charts but comprehensive records of exactly what was dumped and where do not exist. This increases the likelihood of trawler crews, and others, coming into contact with this dangerous waste.

Greenhouse gas emissions have already peaked in 30 major cities

Austin, Athens, Lisbon and Venice are the latest places to hit that milestone in the fight against climate change, according to analysis from C40, a coalition of 94 large and influential cities around the world working to limit global warming and protect the environment.

Cities are home to growing numbers of people. By 2050, 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, up from 55% today. Cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. That means they have a critical role to play in helping the world to limit dangerous climate change.

But, almost four years after nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Agreement, the world is still seriously off-track from meeting its goals. Global emissions hit a record high in 2018.

Green leaders

The good news is that many cities are stepping up efforts to address the climate crisis.

‘This Is Ethnic Cleansing’: A Dispatch from Kurdish Syria

Khabat Abbas

Qamishli, Syria—When my mom called to ask me where I was, I lied to her. Sometimes I do not want to worry her, as I’m often reporting on stories from places that aren’t safe. When she said, “Get ready to move,” I realized something was wrong. Qamishli was under attack. “Can’t you hear the shelling?” she screamed. She lives in Rimelan, a city an hour away, but she was here to visit my brother. The Turks were targeting my neighborhood, she said.

That was Wednesday afternoon, October 9, the first day of Turkey’s attack on Rojava, Western Kurdistan, as we call it in Kurdish. Qamishli, my city, was one of the few places in northeast Syria that had enjoyed relative peace despite Syria’s eight-year civil war. 

In past years, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made constant threats against us, but I never really expected him to make a move. The Americans were here, and they promised they would protect us. So Erdoğan’s bluster seemed meaningless. I was wrong.

If Chile Can Erupt Over Inequality, Anywhere Can

Frida Ghitis 

Until just a few days ago, Chile probably looked to most people like the most stable country in Latin America, and the least likely to erupt in massive social unrest. Few if any countries in the region have experienced decades of economic growth and an expansion of the middle class, alongside reliably fair and competitive elections. And yet last week, the streets of Santiago became the scene of violent clashes between thousands of protesters and security forces, leaving more than a dozen people dead and hundreds arrested. In response, President Sebastian Pinera deployed the military, imposed curfews and announced a state of emergency, declaring, “We are at war.”

The sudden, ferocious eruption of discontent caught just about everyone at home and abroad by surprise. If it can happen there, some observers noted, it can happen anywhere. ...

A Brief Guide to Russia’s Return to the Middle East



Despite the chaos unleashed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt pullout from northern Syria, it would be a mistake to assume that Russia wants to displace the U.S. role in the Middle East completely. Russian leaders likely want Moscow to be seen as on equal footing with the United States and as a regional power broker.

The Kremlin has been careful not to get overextended. It has deployed a relatively small number of military personnel to Syria and has conducted military operations in a way designed to minimize the risk of Russian casualties. Of course, the Russian military has been anything but restrained while conducting a brutal air campaign that has killed countless Syrian civilians. But they have been careful not to put large numbers of their personnel at risk.


No, Putin Doesn’t Like Impeachment

Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool 

As impeachment proceedings loom over President Donald Trump, some observers have speculated that Russia, actively enjoying sowing chaos in the United States, is delighted by the dysfunction tearing apart the U.S. government. Nineteen Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee signed a joint letter to the Wall Street Journal that was published on the paper’s op-ed page last month with the headline, “Impeachment Is What Vladimir Putin Wants.” The GOP members of Congress wrote, “His goal, now and before the 2016 election, has been to pit Americans against one another and erode confidence in our democratic process.”

That might be true up to a point. But the impeachment investigation might be a bit too chaotic, even for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There are many ways in which the Ukraine affair is terrifying the Kremlin, because it threatens to unwind what little progress Russia has made in recent years and undercuts its wider goals. Putin’s long-term goal is pretty clear: He wants the United States to conclude a “big deal” that would revise the outcome of the Cold War and limit the strategic threat that he believes the West poses to Russia through its military expansion, double standards in foreign affairs and liberal values.

No going back: How America and the Middle East can turn the page to a productive future

Hady Amr

Ever since President Trump abruptly decided to withdraw troops from northern Syria, there’s been growing debate about the role of America in the Middle East. And there should be. This is a region that about 400 million souls call home. And it’s right on Europe’s doorstep. If we’ve learned anything since 9/11, it should be that, as Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere….Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In other words, anger on one side of the world can strike at the hearts and lives of us here in America.

So what injustices are making folks angry in the Middle East today?

From sea to shining sea (in this case from the Mediterranean to the Arabian seas), the Arab world — with few exceptions — either sees citizens rising up in protest, citizens who are suffering from government repression, or citizens living through civil war. Although each country is unique, the core complaints across them are some combination of poverty, corruption, and an absence of freedom.


Erdogan Has No Idea What He’s Doing in Syria

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In contrast to the profound confusion in Washington over the past two weeks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government have been relentlessly on message about their invasion of Syria. Operation Peace Spring, as Turkey calls it, is a counterterrorism operation, providing safety for Turks and Syrians alike—including Kurds. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is no different from the Islamic State. Full stop. No amount of international pressure and outrage has moved Ankara from these talking points.

Yet perhaps because the Turks have been so good at their messaging (mostly to other Turks), they have not been as clear on what it is they want to achieve in Syria over the longer term and how they will know when they achieve it. In sending its forces into Syria, the Turkish government seems to have four primary goals: make the establishment of a Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria impossible, boost Erdogan’s popularity, destroy the YPG, and resettle Syrian refugees.

It’s obvious that an autonomous Kurdish area in northeastern Syria is no longer imaginable and that Erdogan—whose domestic political support flagged in the previous six months—has benefited from the invasion. Turkey’s other two war aims are more complicated, however. It’s fair to wonder what Ankara’s strategy for achieving them is—and whether it even has one.

Turkey's Offensive in Northeastern Syria: The Expected, the Surprising, and the Still Unknown

Gallia Lindenstrauss, Eldad Shavit
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Operation Peace Spring, Turkey's third operation in northern Syria since 2016, constitutes its most ambitious action in Syria yet. The developments leading up to the offensive and the outcomes of the operation have regional and international ramifications well beyond this specific campaign – particularly for the conduct of the various actors in light of President Donald Trump's desire to end US involvement in conflicts in the region. The offensive was not in itself surprising given the numerous Turkish threats to this effect, and the Kurds' deal with the Assad regime once the threats were carried out was also expected. However, the emergence of the deal after only four days of fighting was a surprise. 

Following the deal, a question arises as to what will remain of Kurdish autonomous rule in northeastern Syria. There are concerns that the weakening of Kurdish forces will enable a resurgence of the Islamic State and its control over territory. In the Israeli context, the departure of US forces from Syria grants an easier-than-expected victory to adversaries of the United States, especially Iran. The US withdrawal is further expected to significantly ease Iran's operation of a land route from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and in effect leaves Israel alone in the fight against Iran's entrenchment in the northern theater.

Operation Peace Spring, the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria that began on October 9, 2019, is the third offensive carried out by Turkey in northern Syria and its most ambitious action in Syria to date, as well as the one that has elicited the most international censure. The developments that led to this offensive and its outcomes have regional and international significance that go well beyond the specific campaign.

The 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing, and the Current U.S. Retreat from Syria

By Robin Wright

Thirty-six years ago, a yellow Mercedes truck loaded with twelve thousand pounds of explosives sped into the barracks of U.S. Marine peacekeepers in Beirut. It was 6:22 a.m. Lance Corporal Eddie DiFranco, on guard duty nearby, was the only one who saw the bomber. “He looked right at me, smiled,” DiFranco said later. “Soon as I saw the truck, I knew what was going to happen.” The truck set off the largest non-nuclear explosion on Earth since the Second World War. The four-story concrete building imploded; marines were crushed like paper dolls. The collapse set off a brown mushroom cloud over the Lebanese

Trump’s Gift to Putin

By Michael McFaul 
For decades, if not centuries, scholars have debated which matters more in international affairs: structural forces, such as the relative power between states, or the ideas and decisions of individual leaders. But at least as far as the United States is concerned, President Donald Trump may put the debate to rest.

After a slow start, Trump has affected almost every facet of U.S. foreign policy. And the story to date is not an inspiring one. Trump has personalized, privatized, and deinstitutionalized foreign policy to the detriment of the national interest. That trend has accelerated in recent months, culminating in two disastrous missteps vis-à-vis Ukraine and Syria. In the process, the American public has suffered, U.S. allies have lost, and U.S. adversaries have gained—none more so than Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Three years ago, the United States was the world’s most powerful state, capable of influencing outcomes on every continent and every issue area. But from the beginning of his presidency, Trump chose to pull back. He pursued his withdrawal doctrine with vigor, exiting the 12-nation trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership within days of taking office, then going on to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, the Paris climate accord, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. He has since threatened to leave multiple other multilateral organizations and treaties.

Pentagon to Begin Testing 5G at Four Bases

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The project will evaluate the next-gen networks' usefulness for augmented and virtual reality, smart warehouses, and spectrum-sharing.

The Defense Department will soon begin prototyping and testing 5G technology at a handful of its bases, and it’s looking to industry for help.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that in the coming months it will kick off a “large-scale” effort to explore various applications of 5G technology. The program will initially focus on three different 5G use cases and take place across four as-yet-unnamed domestic military installations.

The program will focus on three areas: using 5G to expand the use of augmented and virtual reality systems in training and mission planning, developing smart warehouses to improve logistics, and exploring new strategies for sharing different types of spectrum. 

Gartner's top 10 strategic predictions for 2020

by Teena Maddox

Technology is creating ever-changing expectations for people, and Gartner's top predictions for 2020 reflect these new challenges.

The predictions were revealed at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2019 in Orlando, which runs through October 24. More than 9,000 IT leaders and CIO's are in attendance at the conference.

"Technology is changing the notion of what it means to be human," said Daryl Plummer, distinguished vice president and Gartner Fellow. "As workers and citizens see technology as an enhancement of their abilities, the human condition changes as well. CIOs in end-user organizations must understand the effects of the change and reset expectations for what technology means."

Augmentations, decisions, emotions and companionship are the four main aspects that are creating a new reality for how people use technology. "Beyond offering insights into some of the most critical areas of technology evolution, this year's predictions help us move beyond thinking about mere notions of technology adoption and draw us more deeply into issues surrounding what it means to be human in the digital world," Plummer said.

Quantum supremacy from Google? Not so fast, says IBM.

by Gideon Lichfield and Konstantin Kakaes
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A month ago, news broke that Google had reportedly achieved “quantum supremacy”: it had gotten a quantum computer to run a calculation that would take a classical computer an unfeasibly long time. While the calculation itself—essentially, a very specific technique for outputting random numbers—is about as useful as the Wright brothers’ 12-second first flight, it would be a milestone of similar significance, marking the dawn of an entirely new era of computing.

But in a blog post published today, IBM disputes Google’s claim. The task that Google says might take the world’s fastest classical supercomputer 10,000 years can actually, says IBM, be done in just days.

As John Preskill, the CalTech physicist who coined the term “quantum supremacy,” wrote in an article for Quanta magazine, Google specifically chose a very narrow task that a quantum computer would be good at and a classical computer is bad at. “This quantum computation has very little structure, which makes it harder for the classical computer to keep up, but also means that the answer is not very informative,” he wrote.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on achieving quantum supremacy

by Gideon Lichfield
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In a paper today in Nature, and a company blog post, Google researchers claim to have attained “quantum supremacy” for the first time. Their 53-bit quantum computer, named Sycamore, took 200 seconds to perform a calculation that, according to Google, would have taken the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years. (A draft of the paper was leaked online last month.)

The calculation has almost no practical use—it spits out a string of random numbers. It was chosen just to show that Sycamore can indeed work the way a quantum computer should. Useful quantum machines are many years away, the technical hurdles are huge, and even then they’ll probably beat classical computers only at certain tasks. (See “Here’s what quantum supremacy does—and doesn’t—mean for computing.”)

But still, it’s an important milestone—one that Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, compares to the 12-second first flight by the Wright brothers. I spoke to him to understand why Google has already spent 13 years on a project that could take another decade or more to pay off.

Army special operators look to counter disinformation, cyberwarfare in new strategy

Army Green Berets and Rangers will “get brilliant at the basics” to prepare for future battlefields where adversaries like Russia and China could knock out the secured combat outposts relied upon in more recent conflicts, according to a new U.S. Army Special Operations Command Strategy.

“We will shift from a mindset of inhabiting secure forward operating bases to one of surviving and thriving in large-scale combat operations,” the strategy says.

The plan, which was rolled out by USASOC leaders earlier this week at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington, also says trends like climate change, urbanization and rapid technological advances will test Special Forces soldiers in new ways.

“Drastic changes to global social patterns, the climate, and economies will drive political instability and resource competition,” the strategy states.

Here’s what quantum supremacy does—and doesn’t—mean for computing

by Martin Giles
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Google has reportedly demonstrated for the first time that a quantum computer is capable of performing a task beyond the reach of even the most powerful conventional supercomputer in any practical time frame—a milestone known in the world of computing as “quantum supremacy.” (Update: It confirmed the news on October 23.)

The ominous-sounding term, which was coined by theoretical physicist John Preskill in 2012, evokes an image of Darth Vader–like machines lording it over other computers. And the news has already produced some outlandish headlines, such as one on the Infowars website that screamed, “Google’s ‘Quantum Supremacy’ to Render All Cryptography and Military Secrets Breakable.” Political figures have been caught up in the hysteria, too: Andrew Yang, a presidential candidate, tweeted that “Google achieving quantum computing is a huge deal. It means, among many other things, that no code is uncrackable.”

Nonsense. It doesn’t mean that at all. Google’s achievement is significant, but quantum computers haven’t suddenly turned into computing colossi that will leave conventional machines trailing in the dust. Nor will they be laying waste to conventional cryptography in the near future—though in the longer term, they could pose a threat we need to start preparing for now.

National Defense University Press

Prism, October 2019, v. 8, no. 2 https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Journals/PRISM/PRISM-8-2/

o Taking Responsibility in a Dangerous World

o The Business Case for Terrorism

o Afghanistan Reconstruction: Lessons from the Long War

o The Meaning of Setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan

o Pathologies of Centralized State-Building

o Saving Democracy Abroad: The Case for Revitalizing U.S. Rule of Law Assistance

o Countering Hybrid Warfare: So What for the Joint Force?

o On the "Gerasimov Doctrine": Why the West Fails to Beat Russia to the Punch

o Artificial Intelligence on the Battlefield: Implications for Deterrence and Surprise

o The Digital Maginot Line: Autonomous Warfare and Strategic Incoherence

o "Total Defense"—an Interview with Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist

· Future Force: Naval Science and Technology, v. 6, no. 1, 2019 https://futureforce.navylive.dodlive.mil/files/2019/10/FF_2019_Vol6-No1.pdf

o How We Got Here: Project Nobska

o A Revolutionary Relationship: The Navy and Woods Hole

o Awesome Alvin: Shining a Light on the Ocean's Depths

o Unmanned and Unafraid: The Transformation of Naval Oceanography

o Wave Energy: Powering the Ocean Instrument of Tomorrow?

o An Orchestra of Instruments: Discovering the Sea at Scripps

o FLIP: Still the World's Most Unusual Watercraft

o Navy Divers Get a Break with New App

o Hard Shell: Collaboration is Improving Composites for Underwater Warfare

o There's a Better Way to Get Batteries for the Navy

o Mapping the Oceans for Sound: Predicting Sonar-Seabed Interaction

Geospatial peacekeeping: How soldiers and technology can help fight poverty

Paul M. Bisca

If, as Star Trek famously put it, space is the final frontier of human endeavor, then insecure environments are the final frontiers of development. The data estimates are clear—by 2030, 50 percent of the world’s poor will live in countries where their survival is threatened by violence. The data also show that yesterday’s humanitarian settings are becoming today’s development contexts. For example, a map of fragile states from the OECD’s 2018 States of Fragility report and a map depicting constraints to humanitarian actors are almost indistinguishable. Today, development and humanitarian access constraints overlap, particularly in Africa. The good news is that, with the help of technology, security actors such as peacekeepers could help development agencies reach the poor even in the most dangerous field locations.

Development and humanitarian access constraints overlap

What happens when the military holds a ‘con’

By: Mark Pomerleau

Despite the fact most of the “hackers” attending the conference were all members of the military, it was difficult to discern who was a uniformed member of the service and who wasn’t.

Attendees dressed in jeans, sneakers, t-shirts and sweatshirts — “hacker casual” as one organizer called it — and were free to roam the halls. They popped into talks covering “post-quantum cryptography,” “common code patterns in exploit development” and “hacking in the industrial age.” Others experimented with different systems in hacking “villages,” participated in capture the flag-type cyber events or tried their hand at picking locks.

This, believe it or not, is what professional development for the military’s cyber force looks like.