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Archive for the ‘policy’ category: Page 31

Oct 13, 2016

Taiwan, China, Japan establishing their own Versions of DARPA

Posted by in categories: military, policy

Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of National Defense Lee Hsi-ming recently said Taipei is seriously considering organizing its own DARPA to accelerate the research, development and application of military technology.

Lee’s statement, which was made at the 14th annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Virginia, followed media reports saying Taiwan lags behind other East Asian countries in establishing a DARPA-like agency. Japan and China have already organized advanced defense research establishments.

Lee’s announcement about establishing a “Taiwanese DARPA,” however, triggered debate among legislators in the country’s parliament, the Legislative Yuan. Critics of the proposed think tank said the proposal for its creation might become a contentious policy item since it will require sharing or distributing funds across agencies.

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Oct 10, 2016

Commission plans cybersecurity rules for internet-connected machines

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, food, internet, law, policy, transportation

The European Commission is getting ready to propose new legislation to protect machines from cybersecurity breaches, signalling the executive’s growing interest in encouraging traditional European manufacturers to build more devices that are connected to the internet.

A new plan to overhaul EU telecoms law, which digital policy chiefs Günther Oettinger and Andrus Ansip presented three weeks ago, aims to speed up internet connections to meet the needs of big industries like car manufacturing and agriculture as they gradually use more internet functions.

But that transition to more and faster internet connections has caused many companies to worry that new products and industrial tools that rely on the internet will be more vulnerable to attacks from hackers.

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Oct 9, 2016

Germany calls for a ban on combustion engine cars by 2030

Posted by in categories: energy, finance, policy, transportation

Germany isn’t content with relying on financial incentives to usher in an era of pollution-free cars. The country’s Bundesrat (federal council) has passed a resolution calling for a ban on new internal combustion engine cars by 2030. From then on, you’d have to buy a zero-emissions vehicle, whether it’s electric or running on a hydrogen fuel cell. This isn’t legally binding, but the Bundesrat is asking the European Commission to implement the ban across the European Union… and when German regulations tend to shape EU policy, there’s a chance that might happen.

The council also wants the European Commission to review its taxation policies and their effect on the “stimulation of emission-free mobility.” Just what that means isn’t clear. It could involve stronger tax incentives for buying zero-emissions cars, but it could also involve eliminating tax breaks for diesel cars in EU states. Automakers are already worried that tougher emission standards could kill diesels — remove the low cost of ownership and it’d only hasten their demise.

Not that the public would necessarily be worried. Forbes notes that registrations of diesels, still mainstays of the European car market, dropped sharply in numerous EU countries in August. There’s a real possibility that Volkswagen’s emission cheating scandal is having a delayed effect on diesel sales. Combine that with larger zero-emissions incentives and the proposed combustion engine ban, and it might not take much for Europeans to go with electric or hydrogen the next time they go car shopping.

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Oct 2, 2016

Science, Technology, and the Future of Warfare

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical, computing, economics, existential risks, governance, military, nanotechnology, policy, robotics/AI, science, security

Nice POV read.


We know that emerging innovations within cutting-edge science and technology (S&T) areas carry the potential to revolutionize governmental structures, economies, and life as we know it. Yet, others have argued that such technologies could yield doomsday scenarios and that military applications of such technologies have even greater potential than nuclear weapons to radically change the balance of power. These S&T areas include robotics and autonomous unmanned system; artificial intelligence; biotechnology, including synthetic and systems biology; the cognitive neurosciences; nanotechnology, including stealth meta-materials; additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing); and the intersection of each with information and computing technologies, i.e., cyber-everything. These concepts and the underlying strategic importance were articulated at the multi-national level in NATO’s May 2010 New Strategic Concept paper: “Less predictable is the possibility that research breakthroughs will transform the technological battlefield … The most destructive periods of history tend to be those when the means of aggression have gained the upper hand in the art of waging war.”

As new and unpredicted technologies are emerging at a seemingly unprecedented pace globally, communication of those new discoveries is occurring faster than ever, meaning that the unique ownership of a new technology is no longer a sufficient position, if not impossible. They’re becoming cheaper and more readily available. In today’s world, recognition of the potential applications of a technology and a sense of purpose in exploiting it are far more important than simply having access to it.

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Sep 29, 2016

The Biggest Companies in AI Partner to Keep AI Safe

Posted by in categories: ethics, policy, robotics/AI

Industry leaders in the world of artificial intelligence just announced the Partnership on AI. This exciting new partnership was “established to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.”

The partnership is currently co-chaired by Mustafa Suleyman with DeepMind and Eric Horvitz with Microsoft. Other leaders of the partnership include: FLI’s Science Advisory Board Member Francesca Rossi, who is also a research scientist at IBM; Ralf Herbrich with Amazon; Greg Corrado with Google; and Yann LeCun with Facebook.

Though the initial group members were announced yesterday, the collaboration anticipates increased participation, announcing in their press release that “academics, non-profits, and specialists in policy and ethics will be invited to join the Board of the organization.”

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Sep 24, 2016

HOIP’s ~ Columbia Chemists Find Key to Manufacturing More Efficient Solar Cells ~ Is this the Future of Solar?

Posted by in categories: nanotechnology, policy, solar power, sustainability

In a discovery that could have profound implications for future energy policy, Columbia scientists have demonstrated it is possible to manufacture solar cells that are far more efficient than existing silicon energy cells by using a new kind of material, a development that could help reduce fossil fuel consumption.

The team, led by Xiaoyang Zhu, a professor of Chemistry at Columbia University, focused its efforts on a new class of solar cell ingredients known as Hybrid Organic Inorganic Perovskites (HOIPs).

Their results, reported in the prestigious journal Science, also explain why these new materials are so much more efficient than traditional solar cells—solving a mystery that will likely prompt scientists and engineers to begin inventing new solar materials with similar properties in the years ahead.

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Sep 24, 2016

US Launches International Brain Initiative to Coordinate Brain Mapping Efforts

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience, policy

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State along with the Kavli Foundation; the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Global Partnerships Forum hosted the event that launched the brain initiative during the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly to elevate brain science as a foreign policy priority.

The International Brain Initiative aims to foster coordination of large-scale brain projects around the world in partnership with governments, research institutions, private sector, foundations, advocacy groups, and social innovators.

Toward this end, the United States with Japan, Germany, Argentina and the UN Conference on Trade and Development announced the launch of the International Brain Initiative, part of which is a virtual International Brain Station to enhance and facilitate global collaboration on both basic and disease-focused brain science research.

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Sep 21, 2016

A Free Education for all the World’s People: Why is this Not yet a Thing?

Posted by in categories: education, ethics, internet, open access, open source, philosophy, policy, theory

When we as a global community confront the truly difficult question of considering what is really worth devoting our limited time and resources to in an era marked by such global catastrophe, I always find my mind returning to what the Internet hasn’t really been used for yet—and what was rumored from its inception that it should ultimately provide—an utterly and entirely free education for all the world’s people.

In regard to such a concept, Bill Gates said in 2010, “On the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world […] It will be better than any single university […] No matter how you came about your knowledge, you should get credit for it. Whether it’s an MIT degree or if you got everything you know from lectures on the web, there needs to be a way to highlight that.”

That may sound like an idealistic stretch to the uninitiated, but the fact of the matter is universities like MIT, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, The European Graduate School, Caltech, Stanford, Berkeley, and other international institutions have been regularly uploading entire courses onto YouTube and iTunes U for years. All of them are entirely free. Open Culture, Khan Academy, Wikiversity, and many other centers for online learning also exist. Other online resources have small fees attached to some courses, as you’ll find on edX and Coursea. In fact, here is a list of over 100 places online where you can receive high quality educational material. The 2015 Survey of Online Learning revealed a “Multi-year trend [that] shows growth in online enrollments continues to outpace overall higher ed enrollments.” I. Elaine Allen, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group points out that “The study’s findings highlight a thirteenth consecutive year of growth in the number of students taking courses at a distance.” Furthermore, “More than one in four students (28%) now take at least one distance education course (a total of 5,828,826 students, a year‐to‐year increase of 217,275).” There are so many online courses, libraries of recorded courses, pirate libraries, Massive Open Online Courses, and online centers for learning with no complete database thereof that in 2010 I found myself dumping all the websites and master lists I could find onto a simple Tumblr archive I put together called Educating Earth. I then quickly opened a Facebook Group to try and encourage others to share and discuss courses too.

The volume of high quality educational material already available online is staggering. Despite this, there has yet to be a central search hub for all this wonderful and unique content. No robust community has been built around it with major success. Furthermore, the social and philosophical meaning of this new practice has not been strongly advocated enough yet in a popular forum.

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Sep 13, 2016

Fear Of Russia Drives Sweden Closer To NATO

Posted by in categories: government, policy

Wow; Europe is growing more nervous.


WASHINGTON: The Russian threat has driven Sweden so close to NATO that the once-neutral nation is becoming an ally in all but name. While the current Swedish government won’t apply for NATO membership — a position it just reiterated Friday — every other kind of collaboration is not only on the table, but actually happening more and more.

Recent agreements are bringing Sweden into NATO policy councils and wargame planning in unprecedented ways. Sweden is building up its forces to keep an ever closer watch on Russia both in the Arctic and the Baltic. A Host Nation Agreement — signed just months after Russia’s annexation of Crimea — makes it easier for NATO to operate in Swedish territory (if invited). Sweden has even sent troops to Afghanistan. With friends like these, who needs formal allies?

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Sep 10, 2016

The Familiarity of the Future: A Look Back from 1999

Posted by in categories: counterterrorism, disruptive technology, futurism, governance, hacking, innovation, internet, law, policy

In preparation for writing a review of the Unabomber’s new book, I have gone through my files to find all the things I and others had said about this iconic figure when he struck terror in the hearts of technophiles in the 1990s. Along the way, I found this letter written to a UK Channel 4 producer on 26 November 1999 by way of providing material for a television show in which I participated called ‘The Trial of the 21st Century’, which aired on 2 January 2000. I was part of the team which said things were going to get worse in the 21st century.

What is interesting about this letter is just how similar ‘The Future’ still looks, even though the examples and perhaps some of the wording are now dated. It suggests that there is a way of living in the present that is indeed ‘future-forward’ in the sense of amplifying certain aspects of today’s world beyond the significance normally given to them. In this respect, the science fiction writer William Gibson quipped that the future is already here, only unevenly distributed. Indeed, it seems to have been here for quite a while.

Dear Matt,

Here are the sum of my ideas for the Trial of the 21st Century programme, stressing the downbeat:

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