5 December 2023

The Rapid Return Of Israel’s Disastrous Policy – Analysis

Daniel Pipes

“Everything changed” in Israel on Oct. 7. But did it? Understanding the mistakes that led up to the Hamas massacre provides a basis to evaluate Israel’s long-term response to that day. Contrary to general opinion, I shall argue that the presumptions behind those mistakes remain in place and will not change unless Israelis adopt a radically different attitude toward the Palestinians.
The Road to Oct. 7

Israeli military planners coined a Hebrew term, conceptzia, “the concept,” in the late 1960s. It held that Egypt’s Anwar el-Sadat would not go to war until 1974, when his military had acquired advanced Soviet fighter jets that permitted it to take on the Jewish state’s air force. Israel’s Agranat Commission, which investigated how the Egyptians and Syrians surprised Israel in the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, largely blamed the conceptzia for a blindness to the preparations taking place before its very eyes.

The future commission inevitably analyzing Israel’s unpreparedness on Oct. 7, 2023, will surely blame that surprise on a second erroneous conceptzia. It held that, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy explains,

under the heavy burden of governing the Gaza Strip, Hamas would feel the need to prove itself through economic performance. Specifically, economic inducements towards Hamas would moderate its foundational belief that Israel is an illegitimate entity whose very existence must be extinguished and its citizens killed. This Israeli conceptzia was driven by many factors, but at its core, it was based on the idea that Hamas was undergoing an organizational evolution in which it would now value even modest increases in living standards in Gaza. Economic advancement would bring calm, as it gave Hamas something to lose.

Perhaps Lawful, but Awful: The Environmental Impacts of the Israel-Hamas War

Saeed Bagheri

While the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) keeps targeting the positions of Hamas in and around the Gaza Strip, concerns about the environmental impacts of the IDF’s air strikes are becoming prominent. This, however, is very much overshadowed by discussions on relatively different aspects of the war, especially the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, the possible disproportionality of the attacks on military objectives, the question of precautions in attack, and so on. One month after Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, it was reported that the IDF has dropped more than 25,000 tons of explosives in Gaza since the start of the war. It has also been reported that soil will turn infertile, and chemicals from white phosphorus weapons used in Gaza will linger in the air for years.

Here, I make some legal observations regarding the alleged environmental impacts of the IDF’s actions, including air strikes, in Gaza. This discussion is informed by calls for international investigations into the environmental losses and damages resulting from Israeli actions in Gaza. It considers the law of armed conflict (LOAC) rules regarding the protection of the natural environment during armed conflicts.

Ecological Concerns and Limiting Methods and Means of Warfare

Countering Hamas’s Financial Network

Jessica Davis

Editor’s Note: Stopping the financing of terrorism is one of the most important, and most difficult, counterterrorism tasks. Jess Marin Davis, the president of Insight Threat Intelligence and my colleague at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, details the challenges in disrupting the financing of Hamas and explains what must be done to deny the group resources.

Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack, one of the most egregious in recent years, was enabled by the organization’s strong finance network. Hamas generates roughly $1 billion in revenues each year, some of which was sent to its armed wing to conduct this attack. Disrupting Hamas’s financing networks is critically important to prevent future attacks. And while the international community has had some success in establishing a coordinated approach to countering the financing of the Islamic State, Hamas presents a different challenge altogether.

Counterterrorist financing has five objectives: to detect terrorist networks, deny their access to funds, deter their ability to raise funds, disrupt their financing activities, and destroy their resources. Achieving these goals will be made difficult by the lack of international consensus on the status of Hamas as a terrorist group.

Israel Faces Pressure to Yield to the ‘Terrorist Veto’

John Bolton

There is a tension between Israel’s two objectives of eliminating Hamas as a political and military force and recovering the innocent civilians kidnapped on Oct. 7. Weighing these competing priorities, Israel decided to pause its anti-Hamas military campaign in exchange for the return of some hostages. This policy’s wisdom is debatable.

A greater hazard, however, imperils Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense. I call it the “terrorist veto,” and with every passing day, Israel’s chances of escaping it diminish, notwithstanding Friday’s resumption of hostilities. For many people, the not-so-hidden goal of the hostage negotiations is to focus international attention—and emotions—on pausing hostilities indefinitely and tying Israel’s hands militarily. Whether labeled a pause, truce or cease-fire, the strategic consequences are objectively pro-Hamas. Using human bargaining chips and fellow Gazans as shields, Hamas seeks to prevent Israel from eliminating its terrorist threat.

The pause in fighting enters a third day.

Patrick Kingsley and Aaron Boxerman

Halfway through a four-day pause in fighting that so far has brought two swaps of hostages and prisoners, Israeli leaders faced a dilemma over whether to restart the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip once the truce ends on Tuesday morning.

Early on Sunday morning, Israel said it had received 13 Israeli hostages — eight children and five women — and four Thai citizens who had been held in Gaza, and had in turn released 39 Palestinians from Israeli prisons. The exchange followed an hourslong delay that raised fears the fragile deal could collapse.

The exchange was the latest step in an agreement that allows for a pause in fighting to be extended. Israel has said it is prepared to grant another day’s pause for every 10 hostages that Hamas releases beyond the 50 outlined in the agreement. Hamas has not responded to the offer.

“The question is Day 5,” said Alon Pinkas, an Israeli political commentator and former senior diplomat. “Does Israel resume the war?”

An extension that allows for more hostage releases could give further relief to Israelis who see the hostages’ freedom as the country’s biggest immediate priority. That sentiment could spread more widely among Israelis as each day of the cease-fire passes and more hostages are freed.

Why The West And India Love Taiwan – OpEd

Lim Teck Ghee

Reps. Mike Gallagher, a Republican, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, are the chair and ranking member of what is basically the hottest ticket in Washington. The Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, which is its full name, was the brainchild of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and is focused exclusively on how to map out a new era of U.S. competition with China. It’s a task almost everyone in Washington is on board with, which has made at least some U.S. allies and partners around the world very uneasy, fearful of being dragged into a Cold War 2.0. — Foreign Policy

As the Taiwan presidential election due in January 2024 approaches, prominent western – primarily US and UK media, but now joined by Indian media – have begun to work themselves into a frenzy of stories and analysis on Taiwan and China. But this attention is not to provide fair reporting on the election.

Possible Merger of Baloch Militant Groups Threatens Pakistani and Chinese Interests

Kiyya Baloch

Two Baluch separatist groups involved in 20 years of violent insurgency are reportedly in talks to merge and establish a unified militant group. The two groups involved in the unification of the “liberation movement” are the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) and the Bashir Zaib faction of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) (BBC Urdu, November 16). Despite already being part of the Baloch Raaji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS, or “Baloch National Freedom Front”; an umbrella organization for Baluch insurgent groups), this announcement signals a potential escalation of insurgent activities in Pakistan’s troubled southwestern region of Balochistan.

BLF and BLA Likely to Merge

The BLF is a banned militant group led by Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, who is a former physician-turned-guerrilla leader that gained popularity after a car bomb attack in 2004. The bombing killed three Chinese engineers and injured 11 others in Gwadar (Dawn, May 5, 2004). The BLF has maintained a militant presence in the coastal Makran Division and Awaran District for two decades. Dr. Allah Nazar initially founded the Baloch Student Organization (BSO Azad) in 2002. It was a radical youth organization, but was banned in Pakistan in 2013 on charges of supporting Baloch armed groups. In 2004, Dr. Allah Nazar departed from student politics and co-founded the BLF with other like-minded people (India Narrative, August 11, 2022).

Banished From Pakistan: Islamabad Moves On Afghan Refugees – OpEd

Eurasia Review

Across the globe, refugees, always treated as the pox of public policy, continue to feature in news reports describing anguish, despair and persistent persecution. If they are not facing barbed wire barriers in Europe, they are being conveyed, where possible, to third countries to be processed in lengthy fashion. Policy makers fiddle and cook the legal record to justify such measures, finding fault with instruments of international protection such as the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951.

A very dramatic example of roughing up and violence is taking place against Afghans in Pakistan, a country that, despite having a lengthy association with hosting refugees, has yet to ratify the primary Convention. Yet in March 2023, the UNHCR noted that Pakistan hosted 1.35 million registered refugees. The organisation praised Pakistan for its “long and commendable tradition of providing protection to refugees and asylum-seekers”, noting that the current number comprised “mainly Afghan refugees holding Proof of Registration (PoR), as well as a small number of non-Afghan refugees and asylum seekers from other countries such as Myanmar, Yemen, Somalia and Syria.”

Such a rosy assessment detracts from the complex nature of the status of Afghans in that country, characterised by, in some cases, the absence of visas and passports, the expiration of visas and the long wait for renewals. Then comes the tense, heavy mix of domestic politics.

Special Space Plane Puts China Ahead Of Competitors – Analysis

Dr. Theodore Karasik

China’s ambitious and secretive space plane program is of great interest in terms of possibly filling a gap in low Earth orbit operations. China is using the development of its orbital test vehicle to outpace competitors in a specific strategic space. Given the current economic issues Beijing is facing, proceeding with the space plane appears to be a top priority.

The Chinese space plane is called Tengyun (cloud rider). Another name used is Chongfu Shiyong Shiyan Hangtian Qi. It is an experimental, reusable unmanned spacecraft and is in the early stages of its program, but it has much potential. Since the US thinks that China will surpass it in terms of space capacity by 2040, understanding this type of approach to space and its economy is important.

China is developing the Tengyun so that it can fly from runway to orbit and return to Earth at hypersonic speeds. The craft can be used up to 20 times. The hypersonic space plane boosts China to the forefront of the aerospace industry, eclipsing the capabilities of other competing systems. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is recruiting the best talent and using the best technology in the country’s aerospace field to support Tengyun.

China is keeping the orbital test vehicle a closely guarded secret. There have been only three known missions. In 2016, China constructed an enormous 5 km runway at the site later known as the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert. Tengyun took off on Sept. 4, 2020, under unusually heavy secrecy compared with other recent Chinese space missions, which have been quite public, broadcast on television or the internet. On Sept. 6, China announced that the spacecraft had returned to a “scheduled landing site.” The two-day flight added a tremendous amount of momentum to the program. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation called the space plane flight a “complete success,” saying it “marks an important breakthrough” in China’s research into reusable spacecraft technology.

Decoding China’s Dilemma: The Difficulties Of Economic Reform

Sunny Cheung

On November 27, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) unveiled a new policy, titled “Notice on Strengthening Financial Support Measures for the Private Economy (关于强化金融支持举措 助力民营经济发展壮大的通知)” (People’s Bank of China, November 27). The notice introduces a set of 25 measures crafted to reinvigorate the private sector. These prioritize key areas such as technological innovation, green initiatives, and primary support for small to medium-sized enterprises. The package includes increasing financial assistance and gradually enhancing the proportion of loans to private businesses. It underscores the importance of facilitating credit, lowering interest rates, issuing bonds, and other kinds of financial instruments to meet the varied financing needs of private enterprises.

This policy measure echoes mandates put forth during the 20th Party Congress in October 2022 and Central Financial Work Conference held at the end of October 2023 in response to China’s deepening economic woes (Xinhua, November 1). This backdrop has prompted policies aimed at addressing the challenges facing the Chinese economy. In October, the PRC National Bureau of Statistics announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell by 0.2 percent year-on-year—worse than expected and marking a contraction since July (RTHK, November 9). This ominous data, which includes price deflation for both July and October this year, is indicative of significant weakness in domestic demand, particularly due to the underperforming real estate market, which affects citizens’ expectations for asset prices. The ongoing economic downturn in China also refutes the notion that economic chaos would clear up after the abandonment of the Zero-Covid policy. This situation is also similar to the Japan-style recession in the 90s in which consumption and investment are further repressed in favor of paying down debt. China’s recent response has been to implement a series of economic stimulus measures in an attempt to revive its weakening national economy.

Opinion – The Risks of China’s Growing Influence in the Middle East

Hassan Jaber

March 2023 was a historically significant month for the Middle East, as China successfully brokered a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The two regional powers had been supporting different and opposing groups in armed conflicts since the Arab Spring of 2011 onwards. Conflicts and wars in the Middle East are no rare occurrences. The region has been characterized by the intricate and fragile relationship between identities for decades, but saw a peak in sectarian conflicts throughout the region in 2011, with Iraq, Syria and Yemen most affected. However, while the potential for de-escalation of proxy conflicts thanks to the peace brokering of China is good news, this has also opened the door for the East Asian great power to gain even more influence in the region.

In the context of the grander US-China rivalry, China has actively been seeking opportunities to expand its global influence. On this geopolitical chessboard, the strategic importance of the Middle East to Beijing has increased, especially since the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. While China’s role in brokering peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran is commendable on the surface, Middle Eastern leaders must exercise caution and consider the potential long-term repercussions of allowing China to become a significant player in the region’s security affairs.

The Iranian-Backed Aerial Threat: More Than Just an Israeli Proble

Liran Antebi

Thousands of rockets, suicide UAVs – and ballistic missiles: in the course of the war in Gaza, Israel has been targeted by range of Iranian weapons. How should Israel deal with this threat, and why should other countries be worried as well?

In the ongoing war in Gaza, Israel continues to be attacked by various actors using Iranian weapons. These include weapons with particular capabilities that dramatically change the nature of the aerial threat Israel faces. The range of weapons displayed during the fighting, alongside new capabilities and the involvement of new actors in the conflict, are a red flag for Israel’s force buildup, which will demand the procurement of equipment and a change of doctrine in this context. In addition, Israel is presented with new opportunities for cooperation and for strengthening existing joint ventures. Israel must highlight how the global aerial threat has changed under Iranian auspices, in order to underscore that this is more than just an Israeli problem.

The Swords of Iron war has seen a variety of weapons used against Israel, including aerial weapons, such as: ballistic and cruise missiles; rockets; mortar shells; anti-tank missiles; intelligence-gathering and suicide UAVs; and drones for intelligence, guides, arms and ammunition drops, and suicide missions. A large proportion of these weapons are manufactured by Iran or are based on Iranian technology; the people operating them were trained by Iran to use, assemble, and maintain these weapons. How should Israel deal with this threat?

To Escape War In Ukraine, More Russian Soldiers Are Deserting – Analysis

Timofei Rozhanskiy

(RFE/RL) — As fighting raged in an around Bakhmut amid Russia’s unrelenting assault earlier this year turning the eastern Ukrainian city to rubble, a Russian conscript began plotting how he would desert shortly after being deployed there.

Anton (not his real name) said he was given a two-week leave in August that would prove his ticket out of the carnage.

“From the first days there, I began to intensely study this. I surfed the Internet. What? How? Where?” Anton recounted recently from an undisclosed location abroad to Current Time, the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

Anton is just one of a growing number of Russian soldiers who have reportedly deserted their military units in Ukraine. While no hard figures are available, the independent news outlet Mediazone has reported that 2,076 criminal cases were opened in the first half of 2023 against Russian soldiers accused of abandoning their units without leave. That is said to be twice the total for 2022 and three times higher than the prewar figure for 2021. Analysts say the true figures are likely higher given the Kremlin’s systematic attempts to hide information about the military.

Despite the risks of prosecution, it’s a gamble more Russian conscripts appear to be willing to take. The Georgian-based antiwar organization Idite Lesom — which means “go through the forest” in Russian – helps Russian soldiers to desert. It said 18 percent of all requests they’ve received from those wanting to desert were registered in October alone.

The Biden-Blinken Rules of War for Israel

War is back against Hamas, but will the Biden Administration let Israel win? Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered the bad news to Jerusalem before the truce ended: He wants Israel on a short leash.

Hamas fired rockets at Israel Friday morning, in violation of the pause, and failed to produce the remaining female hostages to trade for more time and terrorists. It also claimed that its last child hostages, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas and his four-year-old brother, Ariel, are dead.

Mr. Blinken understands that Israel has more to do to defeat Hamas. “Hamas cannot remain in control of Gaza,” he reiterated at a press conference in Israel Thursday. Israel’s campaign has so far secured much of Gaza’s northern half, smashing several Hamas brigades and destroying its tunnels and hospital headquarters. The pressure this put on Hamas yielded a deal that freed 105 hostages. More pressure on Hamas now could spring some of the 137 hostages who remain in captivity.

Letting a pause turn into a more lasting cease-fire would repeat the mistake of past bouts with Hamas: leaving it in control of territory. Hamas still rules south Gaza, a base from which it would plot the next massacre, as its leaders have repeatedly pledged to do. That’s why Israel will take the fight south.

But how should this next phase of the war be waged? Here, Mr. Blinken is adamant: It must be nothing like the operation in north Gaza. The Secretary of State said he “underscored” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the imperative to the United States that the massive loss of civilian life and displacement of the scale we saw in northern Gaza not be repeated in the south.” He said Israel must take “more effective steps to protect the lives of civilians.”

Time to End Wilsonian Foreign Policy

Francis P. Sempa

In his magnificent post-Cold War book Diplomacy (1994), the late Henry Kissinger identified and explained the competing strains of American foreign policy since the dawn of the 20th century: realism as typified by Theodore Roosevelt, and Wilsonianism as typified by Woodrow Wilson. Kissinger noted that realism was U.S. foreign policy throughout the late 18th century and all of the 19th century. “In the early years of the Republic,” he wrote, “American foreign policy was in fact a sophisticated reflection of the American national interest.” Wilsonianism, Kissinger wrote, marked a “revolutionary departure” from the Old World diplomacy practiced by previous American statesmen because it “held that peace depends on the spread of democracy,” that nations “should be judged by the same ethical criteria as individuals,” and “that the national interest consists of adhering to a universal system of law.” Realism served the nation well for more than a century. Wilsonianism threatens to mire the American republic in endless crusades on behalf of “humanity.”

Theodore Roosevelt did not base his approach to foreign policy on high-sounding principles or Utopian ideals. Roosevelt once said that he would choose a policy of “blood and iron” over one of “milk and water.” Kissinger described Roosevelt as the “warrior-statesman” who dealt with the world as it is. He described Wilson as the “prophet-priest” who desired to bring about a more perfect world. Roosevelt imbibed the geopolitics of Bismarck and Alfred Thayer Mahan. Wilson preached the Sermon on the Mount. Roosevelt as president ended the U.S.-Filipino conflict that followed the Spanish-American War, mediated the Russo-Japanese War, and strengthened American naval power as the world inched toward global war. Wilson intervened in Mexico, brought the U.S. into the global war to “make the world safe for democracy” (which Roosevelt supported for balance of power reasons), and sought a Utopian peace based on a League of Nations; a peace that set the stage for an even more destructive global war waged by one of Wilson’s intellectual disciples, Franklin Roosevelt.

Small And Micro Launchers In The NewSpace Era: New Missile Proliferation Risks Or More Of The Same? – Analysis

Kolja Brockmann and Dr Markus Schiller

The global growth of the NewSpace industry, the demand for launch capacity for small satellites and the desire to reduce launch costs are driving the development of small and micro launch vehicles by commercial providers. The dual-use nature of traditional space launch vehicle technology has always been a missile proliferation challenge. With the larger number and diversity of launch vehicle projects pursued by commercial providers in the NewSpace era, the extent of this challenge appears to be changing.

In general, space launch vehicles of all sizes use many of the same, or at least very similar, technologies and major components as ballistic missiles. A lot of the small and micro launch vehicles currently being developed seek to provide a ‘rapid response’ capability—meaning that they are designed to be deployable at short notice and from a variety of launch locations—making them more similar to ballistic missiles.

This topical backgrounder seeks to create a better understanding of current trends in small and micro launchers and how they contribute to missile proliferation risks. It explains what small and micro launchers are and how their technologies and optimization resemble and differ from those of ballistic missiles. It explores how the availability of small and micro launcher technology could contribute to missile proliferation and how the particular trends in the NewSpace era increase this risk. Finally, it calls on states and industry to work together to reduce the missile proliferation risks linked to small and micro launcher technology.

Social Media And Counter-Terror Operations – Analysis

Shashank Ranjan

A counter-terror operation lasting for more than 24 hours in Rajouri’s Kalakote in Jammu and Kashmir on 22–23 November saw five soldiers including two young Indian army officers and Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) highly-trained ‘commander’ and his associate killed.

Although the intent here is not to carry out a military analysis of the incident, it would be pertinent to mention that officers’ casualty once again reinforces the fact that the Indian army leaders continue to lead the troops by example. The military lessons from this operation will certainly be drawn by the Army to modify its tactics and planning, as applicable. The opinion endeavours to flag the sensitive issue of usage of social media (SM) platforms, especially WhatsApp, during the course of such counter-terror operations.
Adverse Fallouts

Social media, as we all know, is very thoroughly abused by the terror outfits towards spread of dis-information as well as for recruitment purposes, among other objectives. The usage of social media platforms by the common people during the course of counter-terror operations, though, does not always portend well. In crisis situations such as natural disasters, messages on social media by the affected sections of people as also by relief providers do prove to be a force multiplier.

Everyone Wins With Better Asian AI Governance – Analysis

Jacob Taylor

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has captured the world’s imagination. It has also been greeted with alarm, with policymakers concerned about its control by non-state actors and the impact of AI systems on citizens within and across national borders.

Most AI experts agree that the world needs to work together to promote the best and prevent the worst. But China announcing its Global AI Governance Initiative two weeks before a UK-hosted AI Safety Summit and one day after the United States further tightened export controls over advanced computing chips raises questions about the effectiveness of multilateral efforts to develop trustworthy, inclusive and environmentally sustainable AI systems.

Regional coordination of AI governance is nowhere more crucial than in Asia.

With Asia facing one of its worst economic outlooks in half a century, the key to inclusive and sustainable growth in the region will be reforming the service sector to harness the digital revolution, including through the development of advanced AI systems. Coordinated regional arrangements for AI can also help mitigate the most acute risks of geostrategic competition between the United States and China while reducing the need for middle powers to choose sides.

The Year of ChatGPT and Living Generatively


No human celebrating a first birthday is as verbose, knowledgeable, or prone to fabrication as ChatGPT, which is blowing out its first candle as I type these words. Of course, OpenAI’s game-changing large language model was precocious at birth, tumbling into civilization’s ongoing conversation like an uninvited guest busting into a dinner party and instantly commanding the room. The chatbot astonished everyone who prompted it with fully realized, if not always completely factual, responses to almost any possible query. Suddenly, the world had access to a Magic 8 Ball with a PhD in every discipline. In almost no time, 100 million people became regular users, delighted and terrified to realize that humans had suddenly lost their monopoly on discourse.

How to Not Get Hacked by a QR Code


For every form of communication or messaging out there, you can be sure that scammers and hackers are trying to find a way to take advantage of you—from emails to texts to calls. This threat extends to QR (quick response) codes too.

Earlier this year, we saw a QR code scam targeted at a major US energy company, for example, and security analysts are warning that these so-called quishing attacks are on the rise. Quishing is an amalgamation of “QR code” and “phishing”—where malicious actors “fish” (often over email) for private information and personal details.

If we didn’t already have enough to worry about, now we need to be on guard against quishing. The good news is that the security practices you hopefully already have in place should serve you well here too.
How QR Code Hacks Work

By now we should all be familiar with QR codes: a grid of black-and-white squares that act as a sort of hieroglyph that can be translated by the camera on your phone or another device. Most often, QR codes translate into website URLs, but they can also point to a plain text message, app listings, map addresses, and so on.

AI Should Complement Humans at Work, Not Replace Them, TIME Panelists Say


Artificial intelligence is widely expected to transform our lives. Leaders from across the sector gathered for a TIME dinner conversation on Nov. 30, where they emphasized the need to center humans in decisions around incorporating the technology into workflows and advocated for governments and industry leaders to take a responsible approach to managing the risks the technology poses.

As part of the TIME100 Talks series in San Francisco, senior correspondent Alice Park spoke with panelists Cynthia Breazeal, a pioneer in social robotics and the Dean for Digital Learning at MIT, James Landay, a computer science professor and vice director of the Institute for Human-Centered AI at Stanford University, and Raquel Urtasun, CEO and founder of self-driving tech startup Waabi, which recently put a fleet of trucks into service on Uber Freight’s trucking network. The panelists discussed the ethical considerations of AI and the ways in which leaders can ensure its benefits reach every corner of the world.

During the discussion, the three panelists highlighted the transformative journey of AI and delved into its profound implications, emphasizing the need for responsible AI deployment. Landay reflected on the pivotal moment nearly a decade ago when neural networks started to make significant strides. He said the AI boom occurred when these neural networks transitioned from theoretical promises to practical applications, infiltrating products like smartphones and revolutionizing speech recognition. “We started to see that this was going to affect every company everywhere in our lives,” Landay said of AI. “That this technology was going to have a profound impact, both on the positive but potentially on the negative.”

TikTok’s recent court victories show just how hard it might be to ban the app

Brian Fung and Catherine Thorbecke

A pair of back-to-back court victories for TikTok this week have threatened to make it harder for the company’s critics to clamp down on it, after a state judge in Indiana threw out one lawsuit against the popular short-form video app and a federal judge blocked a first-of-its-kind Montana law that would have banned the app statewide.

Neither case has reached a final outcome. But the early-stage results in both states show that when the hot-button politics of TikTok came face-to-face with the most fundamental basics of American law, the politics lost.

In both cases, efforts to crack down on TikTok failed to pass rudimentary checks such as whether they complied with the First Amendment or whether the court even had jurisdiction in the matter, according to Thursday’s rulings.

Those results reveal how the state attempts to regulate TikTok “are clearly pretextual and designed for political theater,” Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, told CNN. “So when you put them in front of a non-political decisionmaker, they look ridiculous.”

That the states’ could not clear even the most elemental legal hurdles highlights the challenge ahead for policymakers who are struggling to articulate a concrete problem their legal tools can solve.

How we got here

Everyone wins with better Asian AI governance

Jacob Taylor, Brookings Institution

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has captured the world’s imagination. It has also been greeted with alarm, with policymakers concerned about its control by non-state actors and the impact of AI systems on citizens within and across national borders.

Most AI experts agree that the world needs to work together to promote the best and prevent the worst. But China announcing its Global AI Governance Initiative two weeks before a UK-hosted AI Safety Summit and one day after the United States further tightened export controls over advanced computing chips raises questions about the effectiveness of multilateral efforts to develop trustworthy, inclusive and environmentally sustainable AI systems.

Regional coordination of AI governance is nowhere more crucial than in Asia.

With Asia facing one of its worst economic outlooks in half a century, the key to inclusive and sustainable growth in the region will be reforming the service sector to harness the digital revolution, including through the development of advanced AI systems. Coordinated regional arrangements for AI can also help mitigate the most acute risks of geostrategic competition between the United States and China while reducing the need for middle powers to choose sides.

Effective AI governance faces fundamental challenges. The concentration of power over AI inputs by the United States, China and a handful of their technology infrastructure firms is just one. Another problem is governments’ tendency to localise and protect key digital assets. Meanwhile, Asia’s women, rural residents, and indigenous populations remain systematically excluded from accessing the benefits of AI systems.

Psychological science can help counter spread of misinformation, says APA report

WASHINGTON — Debunking, “prebunking,” nudging and teaching digital literacy are several of the more effective ways to counter misinformation, according to a new report from the American Psychological Association.

Written by a panel of U.S. and international experts on the psychology of misinformation, the report outlines the processes that make people susceptible to misinformation and offers solutions to combat it.

People are more likely to believe misinformation if it comes from groups they belong to or if they judge the source as credible, according to the report “Using Psychological Science to Understand and Fight Health Misinformation: An APA Consensus Statement (PDF, 1.75MB).” It defines misinformation as “any information that is demonstrably false or otherwise misleading, regardless of its source or intention.”

The report outlines the key features of misinformation that fool people into believing and spreading it. For instance, it found that people are more likely to believe false statements that appeal to emotions such as fear and outrage. They are also more likely to believe misinformation that paints groups that they view as “others” in a negative light. And people are more likely to believe information the more it is repeated, even when it contradicts their prior knowledge. These findings suggest that it is important to stop misinformation early, the report says.

The report also describes features of social media that help misinformation spread very quickly. “Rapid publication and peer-to-peer sharing allow ordinary users to distribute information quickly to large audiences, so misinformation can be policed only after the fact (if at all),” the report says. “’Echo chambers’ bind and isolate online communities with similar views, which aids the spread of falsehoods and impedes the spread of factual corrections.”

AI, War and Transdisciplinary Philosophy Hacking the Human Soldier

Nayef Al-Rodhan 

Human ego and emotionality play a bigger role in war than we often admit. Human pride, grief, contempt, hate and shame have all changed the course of history time and time again. As AI and human enhancement continue to evolve, they will be used to hack human ego and emotionality, leading to a step-change in the brutality and illegitimacy of war, writes Nayef Al-Rodhan.

The Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz saw uncertainty and fear as essential ingredients of war. But how does human fallibility, which is at the core of classic theories of war dating back to Sun Tzu, play out in a world where AI-powered military technologies remove human qualities from battle? Will emerging AI tools such as deepfakes, and other deceptive technologies, deepen the fog of war? Are these transformative technological developments changing the very nature of war? Will the extreme brutality enabled by highly destructive military technologies create multi-generational hate, vengeance, deep ethnic and cultural schisms and hinder reconciliation, reconstruction and coexistence? These questions have been made ever-more pressing by the current Russia-Ukraine and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. Will these developments change the very nature of war? These questions are fundamental to the sustainability of human civilisation, here on earth as well as increasingly in Outer Space. To answer them, we need to examine the benefits, dangers and limitations of the new methods of war - and examine how our human nature shapes, and is shaped by, the way we fight.