16 January 2019

How Google Tracks Your Personal Information

Patrick Berlinquette

When lazy journalists are pessimistic about Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, they say stuff like: “Even Orwell couldn’t have predicted that we’d willingly bring Big Brother into our own homes.”

What they fail to mention is our willingness to exchange privacy for convenience didn’t start with the advent of virtual assistants. It started in the early 2000s, when people—in return for having access to Google products and seeing more relevant ads—allowed Google to have all their data.

Today, Google provides marketers like me with so much of your personal data that we can infer more about you from it than from any camera or microphone.

There have never been more opportunities for marketers like me to exploit your data. Today, 40,000 Google search queries are conducted every second. That’s 3.5 billion searches per day, 1.2 trillion searches per year.

Top 10 AI Startups to Watch in 2018

Dominic Stapleton

From redefining talent management by evaluating job candidates on innate and emerging strengths by removing conscious and unconscious biases from hiring decisions as eightfold.ai does today to providing a self-service AI platform that is always learning from analytics as Anodot does, machine learning startups are fascinating to track. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that spending on AI and ML will grow from $12B in 2017 to $57.6B by 2021, attaining a 48% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). Please see the latest roundup of machine learning forecasts and market estimates, 2018 for more market data on machine learning’s exponential growth.

“AI will be a true differentiator for companies in the future. The companies that have mastered it will take off, those who haven’t will dwindle (just like companies choosing to embrace software and the internet early on),” Scott Stephenson, founder and CEO of Deepgram, an automatic speech recognition company, told Crunchbase News in an email.

Deepfakes and the New Disinformation War

By Robert Chesney and Danielle Citron

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there is nothing that persuades quite like an audio or video recording of an event. At a time when partisans can barely agree on facts, such persuasiveness might seem as if it could bring a welcome clarity. Audio and video recordings allow people to become firsthand witnesses of an event, sparing them the need to decide whether to trust someone else’s account of it. And thanks to smartphones, which make it easy to capture audio and video content, and social media platforms, which allow that content to be shared and consumed, people today can rely on their own eyes and ears to an unprecedented degree.

Therein lies a great danger. Imagine a video depicting the Israeli prime minister in private conversation with a colleague, seemingly revealing a plan to carry out a series of political assassinations in Tehran. Or an audio clip of Iranian officials planning a covert operation to kill Sunni leaders in a particular province of Iraq. Or a video showing an American general in Afghanistan burning a Koran. In a world already primed for violence, such recordings would have a powerful potential for incitement. Now imagine that these recordings could be faked using tools available to almost anyone with a laptop and access to the Internet—and that the resulting fakes are so convincing that they are impossible to distinguish from the real thing.

How artificial intelligence will affect the future of energy and climate

Elizabeth Sablich

This report is part of "A Blueprint for the Future of AI," a series from the Brookings Institution that analyzes the new challenges and potential policy solutions introduced by artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

In a 2017 article for Foreign Affairs, Kassia Yanosek and I advanced the hypothesis that the biggest impacts of the information technology (IT) revolution may be felt far outside IT—in the traditional industries of oil, gas, and electricity.[1] That’s because IT was transforming how those industries function. That logic of transformation may be especially profound when looking at a subset of the IT revolution: artificial intelligence (AI).

Other essays in this series explain what’s happening with AI and why it is such an important technical revolution.[2] In this essay, I’ll look at how AI might be affecting the supply and demand for energy and the implications of AI for how modern society uses energy: climate change. In a nutshell, the message is that AI helps make markets more efficient and easier for analysts and market participants to understand highly complex phenomena—from the behavior of electrical power grids to climate change.

15 January 2019

Bill to terminate Pakistan designation as major non-NATO ally introduced in Congress


An influential US lawmaker has introduced a legislation in Congress to terminate the designation of Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally.

Introduced by Republican Congressman Andy Briggs, the resolution 73, introduced in the House of Representatives, seeks termination of Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally and also sets conditions for its re-designation if any.

The resolution has been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action.

It states, for future redesignation, the US President need to certify to the Congress that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani Network in that country.

It also seeks certification from the Congress that Pakistan has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using any Pakistani territory as a safe haven and that the Government of Pakistan actively coordinates with the Government of Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militants, such as the Haqqani Network, along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

India has lost highest number of personnel in UN peacekeeping mission

Varun B. Krishnan

India has suffered the highest number of fatalities (164 out of 6,593 personnel) among countries that have sent forces to the United Nations peacekeeping mission since 1948.

Ethiopia and Rwanda have contributed the highest number of personnel, followed by three Asian countries — Bangladesh, India and Nepal. These five nations together account for a third of the total peacekeeping force.

The interactive below shows the number of personnel contributed and the number of lives lost in each country. The top right corner indicates countries which have contributed the most personnel, but also have the most number of deaths.

Close to 3,800 personnel have been killed during missions since 1948. Of them, 164 were Indians. Most of the deaths occurred during missions to Congo in the 1960s and former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Central Asia Opens the Door to Afghanistan

By James Durso

The Central Asia states are redrawing the boundary of their region, so the cartographers will have to run to keep up.

“Central Asia” as a defined place of states and borders is a recent idea, dating to the immediate post-Soviet period when the former republics of Soviet Central Asia – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan – declared that Central Asia should include the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan. In 2018, Central Asia is again growing to include the neighbor to the south, Afghanistan.

Central Asia is actively engaging Afghanistan on several fronts, all of which will be necessary if Afghanistan is to join its neighbors as a “normal country.” But projects will need to be executed in a disciplined fashion, unlike efforts such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, which since 1995 has generated political maneuvering but no gas.

Emulating China and Russia, More Countries Crack Down on Internet Freedoms

Justin Sherman

The government in the Democratic Republic of Congo cut internet and text message services across the country two days in a row last week, as tensions rose ahead of the release of official results from last month’s presidential election. It was just the latest move to restrict internet access by a state with a poor democratic track record, as more countries appear to take their digital cues from the likes of China and Russia.

Last year, Thailand proposed a cybersecurity law that would give the government “sweeping powers” to surveil the internet, censor content and even seize computers “without judicial oversight.” The United Arab Emirates tightened its cybercrime laws by allowing stronger enforcement actions against those inciting acts “deemed” to be against the country’s interest. Egypt similarly gave its judges greater power to censor online content found to threaten “national security.”

Xi Jinping will Give Donald Trump a Victory on Trade

by Graham Allison

With the conclusion of the first round of negotiations yesterday in Beijing, the way ahead for the United States and China to avoid a full-scale tariff war has become clear. With fifty days remaining before the March 1 end of the truce Trump and Xi announced to prevent U.S. tariffs increasing from 10 to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese imports, negotiations are likely to continue until the deadline. But before March 1, Trump will declare “victory” in this phase of the trade war—extending the truce for another six months in which a second phase of negotiations will address even more contentious issues.

My assessment is based on my analysis of the economic and political challenges that Trump and Xi are currently confronting. It is also informed by conversations with key members of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s team during a recent visit to Beijing.

China's Giant Leap Into a New Space Race

By Ian Morris

The space race developing between China and the United States will differ significantly from the Cold War original. China's space program is as commercially oriented as NASA's, giving the new space race an economic dimension the old one lacked. The military dimensions of the Sino-American space race also are shaping up differently, with a focus on protecting and threatening satellite communication networks rather than ICBMs. But this could quickly change.

On Jan. 3, the China National Space Administration landed a lunar exploration vehicle on the far side of the moon. It was a remarkable technical achievement, possible only because China had already managed to put a relay satellite into a halo orbit some 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) beyond the moon, from which it can bounce signals from Earth down to the exploration vehicle (and vice versa), getting around the problem that the moon blocks direct communications with its far side.

US-China relations in the age of artificial intelligence

Ryan Hass and Zach Balin

Under President Donald Trump, great power competition has become the organizing principle of American foreign policy. This has led to near-daily invocations of the Cold War to describe the intensifying rivalry between the United States and China, and to frequent analogies to an “arms race” to describe bilateral competition in advanced technologies, including quantum computing and artificial intelligence (AI). Public statements and national plans from both governments have reinforced this zero-sum dynamic. Such framing has done more to conceal than clarify and, if taken to its logical end-point, will do more harm than good for the United States.

AI will create both immense stress on the U.S.-China relationship as well as opportunities for potential collaboration.

This paper argues that we need a different narrative to describe the role of AI in the escalating competition between the United States and China. Even as artificial intelligence is contributing to an intensifying bilateral rivalry, it also is driving both countries to race out ahead of the rest of the world in innovation, economic growth, and overall national power. Moreover, the adoption of advanced technologies is hastening the arrival of intense societal disruptions in both countries. AI applications are also exacerbating ethical questions about government’s role in protecting individual liberties, and elevating the competition between authoritarian capitalism and liberal democracy. To focus on only one of these dynamics would be to lose sight of the bigger picture: AI will create both immense stress on the U.S.-China relationship as well as opportunities for potential collaboration. The core challenge for U.S. policymakers will be to manage the stresses induced by AI in a way that preserves political space for working together when it serves American interests to do so. Along with other essays in our AI policy series, this piece offers recommendations on how best to do so.

he era of U.S.-China cooperation is drawing to a close—What comes next?

Bruce Jones

But 2018 will prove to be more than just a year of turbulence: We will look back on it as a turning point in U.S.-China relations, the closing of an era of expanding cooperation. That era dates from China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, and reached its most expansive phase in the wake of the global financial crisis, under U.S. President Barack Obama. There were even fears in the world of a “G-2,” of a U.S.-China condominium that would leave little room for anybody else. There is little risk of a G-2 now.

But if 2018 was an end of an era, what comes next and how rocky will the transition be?

Asian observers always keenly follow American politics, but never more so than now as they engage in a kind of American Kremlinology to discern how much of the turbulence and how much of the strategic shift in China is being driven by Trump, and how much is a function of wider dynamics. The short answer: The turbulence is Trump, especially on trade; but the deeper shift is structural.

After Latest US-China Talks, Where Does the Trade Truce Stand?


From January 7 to 9, a U.S. delegation was in Beijing for talks about trade issues amid an ongoing 90-day truce in the trade war. The delegation, led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, extended its stay for an additional day; talks had originally been scheduled to conclude on January 8.

Interestingly, while officially this was a vice minister-level dialogue, China’s top man for the trade negotiations, Vice Premier Liu He, made an appearance anyway. A leaked photo of the first day of discussions showed Liu present at the venue, along with Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen (the official head of the Chinese delegation).

How Does China’s Air Force Learn and Adapt to New Circumstances?

By Robert Farley

How does China’s air force learn, and what are its goals as a learning organization? A recent RAND report by Scott Harold investigated this question at some length, coming to some intuitive and not-so-intuitive answers.

It is well understood that China has purchased, acquired, or adapted many aerospace technologies from other countries. This includes everything from straightforward off-the-shelf purchase of Russian aircraft, to cyberespionage directed against American producers of stealth technology. Harold suggest that the technological focus runs the risk of ignoring China’s interest in the U.S. Air Force (and other air forces) as an institutional model. Organizational structure both enables and limits the use of military force, and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has made close study of U.S. military institutions, especially in the aerospace sector. This includes command and control arrangements, training, and unit structure.

The Outlook for Global Trade Is Even Bumpier in 2019

Kimberly Ann Elliott 

After a more-bark-than-bite approach to trade during his first year in office, President Donald Trump took on the world in 2018 and shows no sign of letting up. In Europe, British Prime Minister Theresa May has so far failed to convince Parliament to accept the Brexit deal she negotiated with Brussels. And under the radar, the World Trade Organization is facing paralysis if there is no compromise on how to reform its system of settling disputes. These are among the ongoing challenges that are likely to make 2019 another unsettling year for global trade. 

Even before the calendar turned to 2019, the salvaged Trans-Pacific Partnership, renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, went into effect for the first six countries to ratify it. That means American farmers, already under pressure from Trump’s trade war with China, now face a competitive disadvantage in another major market because of Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP. With the CPTPP’s implementation, Japan must reduce its tariffs on beef, pork and other agricultural imports, mainly to the benefit of Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. The breadth and size of the disadvantage facing American farmers will grow as more countries ratify the CPTPP and phase in the deal’s sizable tariff cuts that are not available to U.S. exporters.

Europe's Four Big Challenges in 2019

By Adriano Bosoni

Domestic constraints in the eurozone's four largest economies will limit their ability to cooperate at the Continental level. 2019 will test the health of nationalist and populist political movements, which represent the main threat to the continuity of the European Union in its current form. This year, the bloc will face three sources of economic risk: trade disputes with the United States, Brexit and economic fragility in Southern Europe. The European Union will be under domestic and external pressure to limit Chinese access to strategic technology and resist Beijing's investments in infrastructure. 

What Border Walls Can and Cannot Accomplish

by Raphael S. Cohen

Washington is literally at a standstill over the funding for a wall on the United States southern border. Putting aside the politics behind the gridlock for the moment, the substance of the debate hinges less on the need for border security and more on differing claims about the effectiveness of such a wall. President Trump has claimed a wall would be “99.9 percent” effective at stopping illegal immigration while leading Democrats argue a border wall is unnecessary and would be “ineffective.” And so it may be worth stepping back from the politics of the day to view walls in their historical context. After all, states have been building walls since ancient times. Some were arguably quite successful, others less so. At the core of prudent policy lies a basic question: What can walls realistically accomplish?

Historically, walls were used to keep invaders out. The early Chinese states built what has become known as the Great Wall to protect themselves against the nomadic groups of the Steppes. Roman Emperor Hadrian constructed a wall across the British isle separating the Roman domain from troublesome northern tribes. More recently, Israel has employed several walls along the West Bank and Gaza, as well as along its northern and southern borders, to protect itself from terrorism, smuggling, illegal immigration and other threats.

Kyrgyzstan: The Importance of an Anti-Chinese Protest in Central Asia


China faces growing resistance to its economic projects in Kyrgyzstan as Beijing expands its economic footprint via its Belt and Road Initiative. Anti-Chinese protests and social media activity could portend larger economic and political challenges for China in Central Asia and factor into Beijing's regional competition with Russia, as Beijing's growing presence could threaten Moscow's position.

What Happened

Around 300 protesters rallied in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek on Jan. 7 to call for the deportation of illegal Chinese migrants, oppose the granting of citizenship to Chinese who marry Kyrgyz nationals, challenge the persecution of ethnic Kyrgyz in re-education camps in China's Xinjiang province and push against China's broader economic ties to the country. More protests were called for Jan. 17.

Preparing for Disasters in 2019: How Can Risks Be Mitigated?


The year 2018 was marked by extraordinary natural disasters in the United States and around the world. California bore witness to devastating mudslides in Montecito and massive wildfires across the state, including the deadly Camp Fire in Northern California that scorched more than 150,000 acres. In the South, Hurricane Florence deluged the Carolinas while Hurricane Michael landed in the Florida Panhandle as the third-strongest storm ever to come ashore in the U.S.

While the loss of life from natural disasters is immeasurable, the destruction of property and infrastructure can cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Scientists believe the damage will only get worse as climate change creates more frequent and intense weather events. So, how should governments, communities and individuals prepare in the new year?

How can the private and public sectors work together to create smart cities?


Smart-city experts share examples of successful public–private partnerships from around the world.

How does a city transform itself into a smart city? One strategy involves bringing the private sector into the fold, to provide funding, technical know-how, and innovation that complements public-sector efforts. But bringing these two different elements together can also prove challenging in practice.

At a recent smart-cities event in New York, convened by the McKinsey Global Institute, Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the not-for-profit Partnership for New York City, asked smart-city experts for examples of successful public–private partnerships. Rit Aggarwala, head of urban systems at Sidewalk Labs and adjunct professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University; Ester Fuchs, professor of international and public affairs and political science and director of the urban and social policy program at Columbia University; and McKinsey partner Jonathan Law shared the following thoughts.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: WHY TRUMP WILL PROBABLY LOSE OUT AND BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE | OPINION

JOHN A. TURES 

One of the biggest myths about government shutdowns is that presidents usually win.

This may explain why President Donald Trump threatened to continue the shutdown for months, even years. However, a poll conducted in the first week of January shows that 51 percent of adults believe Trump is to blame for the shutdown.

I’m a scholar of political science and often research presidential politics. I did an analysis of Gallup data, a group that does public opinion polling, from its Presidential Job Approval Center.

There have been 18 shutdowns since 1977. I found that in the nine longest shutdowns during that time, presidents lose an average of 3 percentage points of public support or approval during a government shutdown of four or more days.

An alternative view of Globalization 4.0, and how to get there

Guy Standing

Professor Richard Baldwin presents Globalization 4.0 as an oncoming era dominated by international arbitrage in services. I would like to reiterate an alternative - or perhaps complementary - perspective that draws on recent work and is inspired by the economic historian Karl Polanyi.

Professor Baldwin calls the pre-1914 period Globalization 1.0, the post-1945 era Globalization 2.0, and implies that our most recent era was Globalization 3.0. The latter is characterized, in his view, by “factories crossing borders”. Since he sees Globalization 4.0 as distinctively disruptive - notably due to the “globotics upheaval”, the blend of globalism and robotics - one might suggest that 4.0 should be followed by 5.0, analogous to Globalization 2.0, which overcame the worst excesses of the preceding disruptive phase.
Professor Klaus Schwab on the challenges ahead

The Ironies of Illegal Immigration

By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON

Protesters carry American and Mexican flags at an immigration-reform march in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2013. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)Mexico does not explain why its citizens wish to leave their birth country — or why they are eager to enter a country ridiculed by the Mexican press and government.

Estimates suggest that there are eleven million to 13 million Mexican citizens currently living in the United States illegally. Millions more emigrated previously and are now U.S. citizens.

A recent poll revealed that one-third of Mexicans (34 percent) would like to emigrate to the United States. With Mexico having a population of about 130 million, that amounts to some 44 million would-be immigrants.

Such massive potential emigration into the United States makes no sense.

Myanmar’s Peace Process On Life Support – Analysis

By Michael Hart

When Aung San Suu Kyi was propelled to high office via a landslide election victory in November 2015, she vowed to make ending Myanmar’s decades-old internal strife a top priority of her government. Yet three years on, the initial outpouring of hope and optimism around the world after the ascent to power of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) has been replaced with rising condemnation of the brutal Rohingya crackdown and alleged army abuses in the northern states of Kachin and Shan.

While the quasi-civilian administration led by Suu Kyi has failed to condemn the actions of Myanmar’s still-dominant armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, the former global human rights icon has pushed forward with a government peace initiative designed to end a myriad of long-running ethnic conflicts which have blighted the country’s remote borderlands for seventy years. And though talks first began under the former military regime, Suu Kyi attended the latest rounds of dialogue held in July and October 2018.

Mission Accomplished? Donald Trump Wants to End America’s Endless Wars, but Military Says Victory Is an Illusion

BY JAMES LAPORTA

President Donald Trump wants to bring Americans home again. Seventeen years after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. troops are currently engaged in seven countries under outdated legislation, and the commander in chief has suggested that two of those open-ended wars may be closing.

Ignoring officials’ advice, he declared victory over the undefeated Islamic State group (ISIS) last month and ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria. He also significantly cut American forces in Afghanistan by instructing the Pentagon to rotate home 7,000 service members in early 2019.

Like George W. Bush declaring “Mission Accomplished,” Trump has asserted that American forces will come home under a banner of victory. He argued on Twitter that if his predecessors brought troops home and crippled militant extremists, they would have been hailed as national heroes.

Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds

By Kendra Pierre-Louis

Scientists say the world’s oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters.

A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years.

“2018 is going to be the warmest year on record for the Earth’s oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, an energy systems analyst at the independent climate research group Berkeley Earth and an author of the study. “As 2017 was the warmest year, and 2016 was the warmest year.”

The Army reduced the cost of its tactical modems by 80 percent

By: Adam Stone 

The Army is rolling out a new tactical modem, a device that connect troops in the field to commanders for communicating orders and instructions .

The new modem supports communication in the Precision Fires-Dismounted system and Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System. To develop the latest iteration, which replaces a 19-year-old system, the Army went in house. It now owns all the intellectual property, the source code and the technical data, in a move that planners say will make the new Ultralink modem cheaper and more readily available.

“We make the cables, we make the cases, we make the boards. So now we can do repairs, we can buy just the components and do replacements as needed, which makes it an order of magnitude cheaper,” said Ben Foresta, Branch Chief, Unified Laboratory for Tactical Radios-Army (ULTRA), U.S. Army.

2019 Forecast: Hard Choices On Invisible Warfare

By BRYAN CLARK

After a quarter-century of post-Cold War neglect, the Department of Defense has once again become serious about electronic warfare: the art of detecting, disrupting, and deceiving enemy radio and radar. But battles between electrons are invisible, literally and often politically as well, and EW must fight for attention and resources with higher-profile efforts from hypersonic missiles and missile defense to combat readiness for everything from fighter jets to nuclear submarines.

Next Generation Jammer on EA-18G Growler

DARPA wants to build an AI to find the patterns hidden in global chaos

Devin Coldewey

That most famous characterization of the complexity causality, a butterfly beating its wings and causing a hurricane on the other side of the world, is thought-provoking but ultimately not helpful. What we really need is to look at a hurricane and figure out which butterfly caused it — or perhaps stop it before it takes flight in the first place. DARPA thinks AI should be able to do just that.

A new program at the research agency is aimed at creating a machine learning system that can sift through the innumerable events and pieces of media generated every day and identify any threads of connection or narrative in them. It’s called KAIROS: Knowledge-directed Artificial Intelligence Reasoning Over Schemas.

“Schema” in this case has a very specific meaning. It’s the idea of a basic process humans use to understand the world around them by creating little stories of interlinked events. For instance when you buy something at a store, you know that you generally walk into the store, select an item, bring it to the cashier, who scans it, then you pay in some way, and then leave the store. This “buying something” process is a schema we all recognize, and could of course have schemas within it (selecting a product; payment process) or be part of another schema (gift giving; home cooking).

Understanding Artificial Intelligence

David Alayón

When I published the article “Understanding Blockchain” many of you wrote me to ask me if I could make one dedicated to Artificial Intelligence. The truth is that I hadn’t had time to get on with it and before sharing anything, I wanted to finish some courses in order to add value to the recommendations.

The problem with Artificial Intelligence is that it’s much more fragmented, both technologically and in use cases, than Blockchain, making it a real challenge to condense all the information and share it meaningfully. Likewise, I have tried to make an effort in the summary of key concepts and in the compilation of interesting sources and resources, I hope it helps you as well as it did to me!

The Technology That Will Define 2019

Lance Ulanoff

Ayear ago, I picked seven technologies that would play significant roles in 2018. Some of my predictions were correct, and some of them reappear on this list — 5G hasn’t quite happened yet, but we’re getting closer.

As George Saville, the 17th-century English statesman and essayist, once wrote, “The best qualification of a prophet is to have a good memory.” It’s a fancy way of saying the past is prologue, and no vision for the near-future is possible without analyzing past trends. That’s what I’ve done to concoct these informed guesses about the state of tech in 2019.

Of course, there are bound to be surprises and off-base prognostications. Don’t sue me if things go a bit differently than expected.

1. Cryptocurrency

Dear Pentagon: It’s Not How Big Your Budget Is. It’s How You Use It.

BY SUSANNA V. BLUME

Over the past two months, unusually public negotiations between the White House and the U.S. Department of Defense on the 2020 defense budget request have bounced from $733 billion down to $700 billion, and then back up again to $750 billion. All of this swamps the Obama administration’s last national defense budget request for FY 2017—$608 billion. And if you think these shifts have been dynamic, just wait until the now-divided Congress takes up the question this spring, “in light of the fact that the current legal cap on defense spending for 2020 is $576 billion (not including Overseas Contingency Operations funding for current military operations). Political and military leaders are throwing around a lot of really big numbers in their public remarks, raising the question: How much does the United States really need to spend on defense? And how will we know when we get there?

Field Manual 3-0 Doctrine Addressing Today’s Fight

Lt. Col. Sam Fishburne, Maj. Joe Dumas, Maj. Benjamin Stegmann,Capt. Jim Burds, 

Engineers assigned to the 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, employ an M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge 9 July 2015 during a breaching training exercise at the Udairi Range Complex, Kuwait. (Photo by Spc. Gregory T. Summers, U.S. Army)

It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past.

—Carl von Clausewitz

Published in October 2017, Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, emphasizes the Army’s four strategic roles as part of the joint force: shape the security environment, prevent conflict, prevail in large-scale combat operations, and consolidate gains to make temporary success permanent (see figure 1).1 This is a significant departure from previous operational-level doctrine, which tended to focus on the tactical-level operations from the line of departure to a limit of advance with little discussion of linkages between strategic policy goals, operations, and the tactical tasks units conduct to achieve a desired end state across the conflict continuum. The new approach is necessary to account for an operational environment that is very different than those in Afghanistan and Iraq, an operational environment characterized by peer threats able to contest the joint force in all domains.

12 Moments Of Truth For Army Modernization In 2019

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR

WASHINGTON: At least a dozen major Army weapons programs face big decisions in 2019. The service will launch a competition for new armored vehicles; award development contracts for scout aircraft and helicopter engines; conduct key tests of long-range missiles, anti-aircraft defenses, rifles, targeting goggles, and multiple battlefield networks; and field new electronics for command posts, acquisition officials tell me.

Details of dates and programs follow, but the big picture is there’s a lot at stake for the ambitious Army modernization plan launched in October 2017. No wonder, then, that the fathers of that reform, Army Secretary Mark Esper and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, will be watching this year’s progress like a pair of hawks. (Of course, Milley may do so from an even higher perch as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).

14 January 2019

India set to become third-largest consumer market, says WEF; these factors to drive consumption growth

By: Anuradha Choudhary 

Rising income will transform India to a middle class-led one from a “bottom of the pyramid economy”, with consumer spending in the country to grow from the current $1.5 trillion to $6 trillion by 2030, a World Economic Forum report said Wednesday. At present, India is the sixth largest economy in the world with an annual GDP growth rate of 7.5% and domestic private consumption accounts for about 60% of the GDP. Bottom of the pyramid- also called the base of the pyramid – is a phrase in economics that refers to the poorest two-thirds of the economic human pyramid.

With this, the country is expected to emerge as the third-largest consumer market, just behind the US and China, WEF said in a report titled ‘Future of Consumption in Fast-Growth Consumer Market – India’. Rising incomes and the expansion of the middle class and high-income segment will reshape future consumption, the report said, adding that the growth in the middle class will lift approximately 25 million households out of poverty.

The Taliban and the Changing Nature of Pashtun Nationalism

by Mohammed Ayoob

With American withdrawal from Afghanistan distinctly on the cards, it is imperative that one makes an objective assessment of the future of Afghanistan by factoring in the variable of Pashtun nationalism now primarily represented, even if in distorted fashion, by a resurgent Taliban. What has given the Taliban’s appeal potency is its ability to couch in religious terminology traditional Pashtun aspirations for dominance in Afghanistan as well as the tribes’ aversion to foreign interference in their land. Both these factors have been constants in Afghan politics going back at least to the nineteenth century. They are likely to continue to assert themselves with great vigor following the American withdrawal.

Most Pashtuns, who comprise over forty percent of the population of Afghanistan, believe that they are the rightful rulers of the country based on the history of the past three hundred years when Pashtun dynasties ruled Afghanistan most of the time. While the Persian-speaking Tajiks, who form around a quarter of the population, are more urban and educated than the Pashtun tribes and staffed a substantial portion of the Afghan bureaucracy, the ruling dynasties were invariably Pashtun.

Is Trump Right to Remove U.S. Troops from Afghanistan?

by Abdul Basit

President Donald Trump’s announcement to pull out seven thousand U.S. troops from Afghanistan took both his allies and adversaries by surprise. As expected, Trump ran out of patience due to lack of progress on his South Asia policy announced last year in September and the worsening security situation in Afghanistan. The announcement came in the middle of the U.S.-Taliban talks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to find a politically negotiated end to the war. It contributed to a resignation from Defense Secretary James Mattis , the principle architect of Trump’s Afghan policy. 

Trump’s announcement will change the calculus on ground in Afghanistan with far-reaching consequences for regional peace and security. Though it remains to be seen if this change is for good or the worst. In any case, it is the beginning of the end of the seventeen-year war in Afghanistan.

Bangladesh: Post-Election Developments – Analysis

By S. Chandrasekharan

As expected, in the highly charged political atmosphere, the overwhelming victory of the Awami League in the National Elections held on 30th December, has raised allegations that the election had been marred by violence and that it had not been fair. In fact, one of the editorials in the Daily Star described the victory of the Awami League as an “overkill”. 

The logic goes this way. It is generally believed that both the Awami League and the BNP have one third of the committed voters and it is only the third one third group that decides the fate/chances of one of the groups coming to power. 

But this time it has not worked this way. The BNP had explicitly associated itself with the JEI who had contested in twenty-five seats. The JEI being a religious fundamentalist organization had been banned by the Court from participating in the elections. Yet they did openly and when they saw the trend of their losing badly, they withdrew their candidacies. Another 22 of the BNP also withdrew from contesting when they found that it was going to be tough.