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The new frontiers of political and strategic technology: The future technological singularity

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To put it in a generic but understandable way, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technologically mediated ability (but always present in a digital computer or in a computer-controlled robot) to carry out activities usually typical of an intelligent being.

In this case, the intelligence is the traditional one of the definitions born in the twentieth century in the framework  of empirical psychology: logical ability, in the sense of abstraction from the characteristics that science considers “secondary” and hence subjective; understanding, that is the thought correctly imitating the future behavior of the human and non-human movements and reactions present in the external world; emotional knowledge; design, in the absence of an image already present in the external world; finally creativity and problem solving.

As the  American pragmatist Charles S. Peirce used to say, understanding or thinking is a form of “talking to oneself” and of symbolically representing – not necessarily reflecting – the inferences that can be found in the external reality.

In Peirce’s mind, all these inferences were probabilistic.

According to the Austrian physicist and philosopher, Ernst Mach, science is instead the process replacing experience with representations and images through which “it becomes easier to handle and manage the experience itself”.

This means that in the transition phase between the nineteenth and the twentieth century, science was no longer interested in the “essence of reality” -interpreted in a reductionist sense  – but it created a new reality on its own, easier and more adapted to the human mind and to societal needs.

It was Ernst Mach who applied the criteria for analyzing the data which developed between the nineteenth and the twentieth century in human sciences to physical and chemical science.

In essence, at the end of its epistemological program, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) can reach a complete simulation of the human brain and, in some respects, even outperforms it in its results. Possibly even in the forms of information processing-understanding and hence transformation of what – in a long-standing Western philosophical tradition – is called  “reality”.

Hence a “Hyperman”, technologically reminding us of the “Beyond Man” or “Overman” (the Übermenschnever to be translated as “Superman”) theorized by Nietzsche, since the homo sapiens sapiens is evolutionarily unstable. Again to use Nietzsche’s words, what we call “man” is a “a rope, tied between beast and overman – a rope over an abyss”.

However, let us revert to military technology.

The IA technology includes not so much the replacement of man with the thinking machine – an idea  probably harboured in some people’s minds – but rather more specific techniques: the Virtual Agents; the processing of Natural Language; the platforms for the “self-learning” machines; robotics; the processing of human and computer perception; neural networks.

Incidentally, the Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs) are the programs providing pre-established interactions with human beings, especially on the Web.The Natural Language Processing deals with the computer treatment of natural human and non-human language.

The platforms for the “self-learning” machines use the recognition of external patterns and the computational theory of learning – hence they create algorithms that can learn new rules from a wide set of data and make predictions starting from the already pre-defined patterns and from the data sets that grow indefinitely.

In the current phase of this complex “research project” – just to use the terminology of the epistemologist ImreLakatos – we have reached the following levels: a) we can  build systems and robots that are already faster, more capable and more powerful than us. The AI systems are expected to reach our same analytical (and creative) power within 2045. The level of singularity, as this point of noreturn is currently defined.

Moreover, b) we will have robots permanently taking care of us, interacting with our body and reading our emotions. But this already happens. Google Home, the Jibo control center and the Roomba “social” robot are already among us.

Furthermore, c) also on the basis of a huge and always updatable universe of data, we can predict the great global phenomena at natural, cosmological, medical-epidemiological and human-statistical levels or even at economic level.

Wewill soon be able to predict also the human behavior in larger populations -often with great accuracy.

On top of it, d) we will have such exoskeletons or extracorporeal extensions as to improve – as never before – our physical and even intellectual/perceptive abilities.

We will shortly become super-human – not in Nietzsche’smeaning of the concept – but rather in the sense of the most popular science fiction comics of the 1960s. Before technological singularity we will record a merger between AI apparata and our mind-body whole.

In the near future, there will be a stable connection between the human brain and computer networks, as already planned and designed by Neuralink or by the Californian company Kernel, which even study the implantation of AI interfaces in the human cerebral cortex.

Finally, e) the end of work.

However, what will the exchange value of the items processed by the AI machines be, considering that our society is based on Smith’s labor theory of value?

How can we set prices, including the non-monetary ones, if there are no values – the classic theme of political economy and also of Marx, his main critic?

In all likelihood, at strategic and military levels we will have 4 types of applicative Artificial Intelligence: the Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), sometimes also referred to as “weak AI”, is an intelligence working within a very limited context, onlyfor specific and routine functions, that cannot take on tasks beyond its field. It is a specific type of AI in which a technology outperforms humans quantitatively in some very narrowly defined task. It focuses on a single subset of cognitive abilities and advances in that spectrum..

Then there is the Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), also known as strong AI, that can successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. Finally we achieve  the Super Artificial  Intelligence (ASI), when AI becomes much smarter that the best human brain in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills.

Hence, in principle, the application of Artificial Intelligence in Defense operations and programming will generally regard a) real military organizations; b) the network of political and intelligence organizations developing around real military structures; c) the whole  governmental organization, which is a defense structure in itself.

Finally it will regard the whole system of Defense and Security within society, i.e. the whole network of sensors and AI networks that can be used for protectinginfrastructure, the territory, as well as economic, strategic and intellectual resources.

Currently the major powers’ research focuses on level 1, namely the Artificial Narrow Intelligence – the level at which AI outperforms the human mind and perceptions only in some sectors and only quantitatively.

Nowadays ANI is used to apply Artificial Intelligence mainly to the battlefield and the integration of forces, intelligence and tactical decision-making within “industrial age” technologies.

An evolution which is still included in and confined to the US Revolution in Military Affairs(RMA) that had its true baptism of fire during the two Iraqi wars.

It was at the core of the doctrinal and technological transformations of the Chinese, Arab, NATO and, later, Russian Armed Forces.

It is worth recalling that the RMA was based on the central idea of the Network-Centric Warfare, which sought to translate an information advantage, enabled in part by information technology, into a competitive advantage through the robust networking of well-informed geographically dispersed forces.  Therefore the network and the integration between weapons and sectoral and regional commands – hence the de factomerging between the political-military decision-making and the activities on the ground.

This means that there will be a two-fold approach in  modern and future warfare: high-technology strikes, which determines the strategic superiority on the field, as well as the whole new low or medium-intensity panoply of political warfare – which operates with the apparent opposite of the Special Forces, on the one hand, and of parallel, civil and rank-and file organizations on the other, including armed citizens, mass operations and operations of influence, the use of local criminal and non-criminal organizations, and the stable “black”, “white” and “grey” propaganda.

Future wars will be more widespread and characterized by swarming, because many regional and local actors, including non-State ones, can afford  attack and defense panoplies on the basis of Artificial Intelligence – systems  more connected to the link between propaganda and politics and less Clausewitz-style: the separation between warfare and non-warfare will disappear in the future and the armed clash will not be “the continuation of politics by other means” – as maintained by the Prussian general and military theorist – but, if anything, there will be a continuum between armed action and political and economic-social operations.

With new and extraordinarily relevant legal issues: who is responsible for an AI or cyberattack? Can we rely on probabilistic analysis of enemy operations or will there be a “cyber or robotic declaration of war”?

Moreover, AI is a way of rethinking, reformulating and reducing military spending, with smarter and more flexible technologies and better cost effectiveness. Hence we will witness the gradual end of the oligopolistic market of technological and military acquisitions – typical of a traditional industrial world – and the emergence of some sort of market economy, open to even the smallest states, in the old political-military establishment that, as early as the 1950s, Eisenhower accused of directing the Western countries’ foreign policies.

In the market of strategic acquisitions there will be specific room for commercial algorithms which, however, can be applied also to the military universe. Nevertheless,  in what we have called the “third level” of AI, that is the integration between government and strategic operations, we will have to deal with algorithms that will rationalize bureaucracy and the decision-making process, both at governmental and  operational levels.

This will happen also for what we have defined as the Fourth Level, i.e. the dimension of the ecosystem between politics, technology and the rest of society, which is not normally interested in military operations.

As already noted with reference to China and to the Russian Federation, here AI will deal with social prevention (which is the new way of avoiding the post-Clausewitz mix of  clash and political representation) and with social resilience, namely the stability of “civil societies”and their critical infrastructure. Not to mention counter-propaganda.

It was Napoleon-style Blitzkrieg.

However, in the future, it will no longer be sustainable, economically and politically, given the military forces’ economic and social limits we are already experiencing today. Hence the link between the AI-Defense Fourth Level and the previous ones will be between Deep Learning, new wide databases, as well as high-speed and highly performing computers.

Within the framework of the NATO countries’ current defense doctrines, the main AI military actors have paid the utmost attention to information and computer technologies that bring together – quickly and easily – the “effectors”, i.e. those or the things that perform the operations with human or artificial “sensors” – the so-called Network Enabled Capabilities, in the NATO jargon.

Nevertheless, how do the old and new superpowers respond to the challenge of military Artificial Intelligence?

China – the country that best stands up to the USA in this field –  established the National Laboratory for Deep Learning, which has been operational since February 2017.

Moreover the Chinese company Baidu and the other Chinese web giants have been entrusted with the task of working with the State in sectors such as automatic visual recognition; recognition based on a vast evolutionary database; voice recognition; the new automated models of Man/Machine interaction; intellectual property in the sphere of deep learning.

In this field everything is based on supercomputers, which China can currently manufacture on its own, after the USA  blocked the sale of the Intel Xeon processors, up to even producing their autonomous superprocessor, present in the advanced computer Sunway Taihu Light, which is so far  the fastest computer in the world, at least in the field of complex computer networks.

Furthermore China’s 13th Five-Year Plan envisages an expansion of the national AI market to the tune of 100 billion renmimbi, with two specific plans: the China BrainPlan, that is AI military-civilian planning for unmanned networks, as well as cybersecurity and complex society’s governance.

The other level, the second one planned by China, is the use of Artificial Intelligence only for military and strategic superiority.

This is President Xi Jinping’s policy line of the progressive “military-civilian integration”.

The Chinese Armed Forces have also established anUnmanned Systems and Systems of Systems Science and Technology Domain Expert Group, in addition to working hard in the sector of visual recognition for the Navy –  above all for operations in “disputed waters” – as well as dealing specifically with the command and control of large-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

Missiles are another important sector in China’s AI military policy – above all to respond to the recently-deployed US Long Range Anti-Ship Missile program, which has replacedHarpoon.

In China all this is included in the broader theory of Remote Warfare, which is based on drones and advanced  missile networks.

This is currently at the basis of many Chinese strategic choices. Hence – at any distance – hitting targets which are a greater danger for China, as well as for the Forces on the ground and for the politics-warfare link – a danger that cannot be replaced or postponed in response.

The Chinese Armed Forces are and will always be used  “to defend the Party”.

Moreover, Israel was the first country- even before the USA – to use fully automated robots and unmanned military vehicles in warfare, besides buildingHarpy, the anti-radiation UAV searching, targeting and destroying enemy radar centers without human control and supervision.

In the near future, the Israeli decision-makers plan to deploy “mixed” battalions, with robots and human soldiers operating together.

Moreover the Israeli Armed Forces have already put in place the system called Automatic Decision Making, employing robotics, AI and deep learning and operating with almost instantaneous speed, which is strategically unavoidable for Israel.

Aeronautics Ltd, an IDF contractor, has already built a series of UAVs having complex Artificial Intelligence algorithms.

IA systems to support political decision-making, as well as techniques for the immediate transfer of data from one computer platform to another, and finally AI technologies for the camouflage of networks and human and non-human operatorsare already operating in Israel.

In the Russian Federation, military Artificial Intelligence has a limit, that is the availability of ultra-fast processors for supercomputers – a problem which, however, is being solved.

Currently Russia is mainly interested in developing the  Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), in addition to the robotic platforms for the integration of the various aspects of the battlefield.

In January 2017, President Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of “autonomous robotic complexes” – just to use the Russian government’s terminology – but for military use only.

With the creation of the National Center for the Development of Robotic Technologies and Basic Robotic Components, Russia is implementing a careful policy of acquisition and independent research in the field of military Artificial Intelligence. A network that already operates for acquisitions throughout the worldmarket.

This is an organization which has been operating since 2015-2016.

Russia has already developed unmanned helicopters and the use of remotely-controlled robot-terminators which target alone – again without human supervision – the targets they have autonomously selected by severity of threat and response to actions on the field.

Finally, after the good results reached with its unmanned operating platforms in Syria, Russia is interested in developing AI systems for border protection, with a series of neural networks automatically referring and reporting to cameras, seismic and human sensors, as well as UAV networks, for an immediate response to threats.

For the USA, the first country to be permanently committed to military AI, the next developments will be in the following areas: a) autonomous machines for deep learning, capable of collecting and processing data and  making choices, especially in the framework of the current “hybrid warfare”; b) the development of AI strategic doctrines in the field of man-machine collaboration, with the final implementation of the Centaur network; c) the creation of joint man-machine combat units; d) web-connected semi-automatic weapons to survive  cyberattacks.

All these systems will be obviously online and interconnected.

Certainly, nowadays, all the major operators of strategic Artificial Intelligence need to use these networks for the crypto-preservation of real intelligence data, as well as for their classification and also for conflict prevention which, as China maintains, must be “predictive, preventive, participatory and shared between political and military decision makers”.

Moreover, the goals of the new AI military networks include “social resilience”, i.e. the stability of the non-military, namely of the members of the “civil society”, faced with any unexpected shocks and actions of “covertor hybrid warfare”.

What about Italy? It has no real document on National Security to be updated every year or for major crises.

This is already a severe limitation. The “White Papers” already drafted in Italy, however, are always political and government documents. They are often drafted by “external” people not involved in the Defense mechanism, or possibly, by the General Staff and they are more focused on the rather vague spending plans and policy lines, as well as on the Grand Strategy, if any, than on the strictly geopolitical and military doctrine.

Little focus on National Interest and much unrequested loyalty to goals set by others.

Furthermore, at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, there is a group of experts working on the Italian foreign policy challenges until 2020.

Hence, apart from the specific activities of the intelligence services, in Italy there is no doctrine or project for internal use of the AI technologies, also in view of stimulating our currently very scarce industries in the IT-AI sector.

Another great deficiency – among the many shortcomings of our defense criteria – and also scarce integration with the other NATO and Allied Armed Forces.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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The Impact of Management in Information Security

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Authors: Sajad Abedi and Mahdi Mohammadi

Due to the increasing role of information security in the management of any society, public and private organizations and institutions are inevitably required to provide the necessary infrastructure to achieve this. In addition to material resources, management techniques also have a great impact on the optimal and successful implementation of information security management systems. The recording of management standards in the field of ICT information security can be designed in a planned way to change the security situation of organizations according to the needs of the organization and ensure security in terms of business continuity and to some extent at other levels (crisis management and soft war). Despite extensive research in this area, unfortunately for various reasons, including the level of security of the issue for governmental and non-governmental institutions or the direct relationship of the field with their interests, clear and useful information on how to implement and prioritize the implementation of a system over the years. The past has not happened until today.

The protection of the organization’s information resources is essential to ensure the successful continuation of business activities. The fact that information and information assets play a key role in the success of organizations has necessitated a new approach to protecting them. Until now, risk analysis and management has been used to identify the information security needs of the organization. After analyzing the risks, security controls were identified and implemented to bring the risks to an acceptable level. But it seems that risk analysis is not enough to identify the information security needs of the organization. Evidence of this claim is that risk analysis does not take into account legal requirements, regulations and other factors that are not considered as risk, but are mandatory for the organization.

Identifying, assessing and managing information security risks is one of the key steps in reducing cyber threats to organizations and also preventing the unfortunate consequences of security incidents that make organizations more prepared to face cyber risks. The risk assessment process, which is the first phase of a set of risk management activities, provides significant assistance to organizations in making the right decision to select security solutions. Risk assessment is actually done to answer the following questions: * If a particular hazard occurs in the organization, how much damage will it cause? * What is the probability of any risk occurring? * Controlling how much each risk costs. Is it affordable or not? The results of risk assessment can help in the correct orientation in choosing solutions (which is to eliminate the main threats) and can also be used in formulating and modifying the security policies of the organization. Risk management is a comprehensive process used to determine, identify, control, and minimize the effects and consequences of potential events. This process allows managers to strike the right balance between operating costs and financial costs, and to achieve relevant benefits by protecting business processes that support the organization’s goals. The risk management process can greatly reduce the number and severity of security incidents that occur in the organization. Risk management has 5 steps, which are: 1. Planning: At this stage, how to manage potential risks in the organization is determined and completed by developing a risk management plan. This plan defines the risk management team, defines the roles and responsibilities of individuals and the criteria for assessing identified risks. Documented. 2. Identification: At this stage, team members gather around each other, identify potential hazards, and record them in the organization’s risk list. Arranging group brainstorming sessions is a good way to identify hazards 3. Assessment: In this step, the assessment of identified risks is performed using the criteria defined in the risk management plan. Risks are assessed based on their probability of occurrence and possible consequences.

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The impact of the Covid-19 on State, Stability, and Globalization

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Many questions have been exposed in the evolution of Covid -19 in the World. This point is very important to see him and explain it because is the same with Peace and war. But his construction isn’t adoptable with the level of all societies.

Seriously, this change is the biological necessity with analytical of science, industrialization and medical, etc. the men are visual by Covid-19 in anything society who the state hasn’t some capacities for all patients in hospitalizes in the world. The war of masks has paralyzed many countries. This battle cemented the level of capacities of states about public health. 

  A lot of studies explain the return of the Nation-State when they compared it with globalization because it can control sovereignty, borders, war, and Peace, etc. The second, she diffused the Markets, bourses, and information, etc. This big mutation is very important to compare it under Covid-19 but this challenge is funded by this pandemic in China. This country will be emplaced the USA country in the future. 

  Many discussions and conflicts after Covid-19 had been remarked with these countries during the commercial war but the Coronavirus has had his direction to the Third War. Why the nature of This impact for this mutation? It seriously questions when the Coronavirus posed these challengers on all states but they haven’t a solution against this new epidemic ravaged millions of persons.    

International security is menaced when the nation-state hasn’t a solution for public health. This point is the same when the big states like the USA or China disputed this situation with them but without international law protected like conflicts who the power definition hasn’t another conception laid the Coronavuris and here impact under stability and security.

  Simultaneously, I consider the epidemic of Coronavirus like a new serious factor about International Relations if we integers it among challengers biological and environment to explain the level of states and their difficulties face the Globalization.

  The International System is in crisis when the dominant American doesn’t relation with many states like China or Russia during Coronavirus, but the cooperation international isn’t the same conception about International Cooperation because the world lives in this moment with the Risks of a pandemic. Negatively, this way is the same vision as in war why the cooperation among states doesn’t participate in the Globalization.

 Thus the limit of strategic vision during globalization encouraged the return of the nation-state because the Covid-19 is an exam of all states to take their responsibility forthe destiny of their societies. Nobody thinks this pandemic choc and his consequently on many sectors and activities.

  During Covid-19, the International Anarchic is concerted after but without stability in the International Relations.Does this stability do her as a concept or practice? The complexity in International Relations is necessary or evolution who the Covid-19 accelerate these processes but he has anything possibility of changing other themes like State, Security, Communication, Integration, Development, and Democracy, etc.

New Realism doesn’t take this point in changing of International Relations because the political level of states is influenced by Economic Crisis. This one is developing the Commercial War between Beijing and Washington. 

The Union European has been fragile during the Covid-19 especially since Italy and Serbia face the bavettes. This dangerous situation of Coronavirus explains the fragility of Union Europe. Globalization had been created by the European Union but this one hasn’t the power to save its identity and money existences during this crisis epidemic.

 In Balkan, The European Union doesn’t take a strategic position about the Civil War between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This left about 300 people dead on September 27, 2020.Atthis moment, the Peace isn’t funded in the surrounding territories face the central regions, especially during the Covid-19 and American election.

 This upheaval epidemic in the XXI Century doesn’t usually challenge if the public health is a dangerous situation in the big states who the politics modern have many experiences of developing hospitably, Research and Industrialization, etc. In Italy, for example, the person’s burn a flag of Union European and emplace it by the China Republic. We are from this ambiguous and weakened passage.

  This conceptualizing of statism in Europe and America during the Covid-19 can be developed the notion of public politics of governments in the World. This one is very important for Nation-state to develop it by theory politics. Because is characterized by the new power of states and not by Globalization.

International Relations are developing by this level of states when we take the Foreign policy of state who reflecting his image clearly or not participating in an international environment. 

The nature of Covid-19 isn’t compactable with institutes against it because the fundaments of there are basing on the War in the International Relations and Anarchy in the International System.

  Consequently, the Nation-State hasn’t many solutions to opposite it because this one is very fundamentally influenced by Globalization for three or fortune decades. But the question who can pose it is: Where is the World moving in the light of what it has passed and what is coming from it? The term Security is very important but it’s not globally when we take it in the other angles of Development, Dialogue, and Research, etc.

 The Nation-State is needed very well of Security or Dialogue with all factors in every society. The Security is consequently of the level of development and changing it when isn’t demined by State and society. The World is changing by his volunteer or by his Violence? 

Why the nature of this epidemic on a lot of actors of bureaucratic management on governments, but this only context is favorable to explosive at least conceptualization like nation-State, Security and Globalization and others. This situation isn’t the same in the past but is the product of their evolution. Maybe the solution isn’t definitive but approximately relative.

Finally, what’s the link between Sciences on practical policies? But all the concepts bring to this kind of crisis. The world is changing but without guarantee of all states and public politics and International relations. The shock is varied and multiple of all humanity in this history cycle during the XXI e centuries.

  This evolution isn’t positive because the states haven’t only strategic vision but the great means who the question of legitimacy posed a problem about democratic of peace. Simultaneously, this way is corrected by ideas, values, and sciences. If the states don’t occupy from representative popularity election, the result is minimally about institutes and policies.             

  This vision can’t global system that the management of administration, economic, and commercial needs many rationally position and efficacy about the treatment of society’s problems.

  In order of Covid-19, the World take another direction without seriously guarantee to participate by all states and organizations. In opposite to Covid-19, humanity observed a big difference between the past and present. This point is clarifying the nature of this crisis of Health, Communication, and Medicine.

  I wait as Researcher in International Relations, the third War Covid-19 between China and USA, but the commercial economic domineer their relations beyond this epidemic. This changing of the deal is very challenging for multiple operations but without solutions.  This mutation of deployment gravity center between states to societies is very dangerous in the World. The Died is a big challenger of humanity but the renovation doesn’t a common fundament of all structures by injection of money during the economic crisis.

   What’s the final solution? This question is very important to pose because History is removed by cycle but the volunteer and consciousness are a common culture. Nobody can answer this orientation about this occupation of humanity. In this perspective, the World is in crisis by their states? We can thinkabout it. But this crisis is multidisciplinary, horizontal, and vertical.

 International Relations have funded on war who the peace is their ideal of politics. This point is contradictory between states and societies. Their relation is based on Security, Stability, and Sovereignty. The Nation-State is seriously needed more treatment in his territory if he takes it as sovereignty like the principal of it. Globalization has been changing the direction if she opposite with Nation-State.

 This contradictory building of conceptualization posed very difficulties than practice because it’s very important for Researchers in International Relations. Many centers in the world talking about this challenge but this fragility structure is the level of this construction of institutes and their policies.

 The Covid-19 like natural danger posed a big problem on humanity who the man is veritably in front of his hearth in hospital: Philosophical point or limit of modernity? What’s the lied with themes’ if the remedy isn’t non-existent. From this question, we can attach a big good consideration for this limitation of several sectors and activities of each State face his population.   

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Technological Competition and National Security. The War Begins

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The COVID-19 epidemic has given a powerful boost to information and communication technologies. The economic blow dealt by global lockdowns has been reduced thanks to remote platforms. Already-existing ecosystems of financial transactions, electronic document management, data storage, etc. have mitigated the shock emanating from the rupture of usual communications. It would seem that the pandemic should have consolidated the world community in the development and implementation of new technologies for the common good. In fact, in 2020, the competition between the largest technology leaders has only intensified. COVID-19 is hardly a direct cause of increased competition. However, it was in 2020 that it reached a fundamentally new level.

The main opponents in the technology race today are China and the United States. The telecommunications industry is at the forefront of this competition. At the same time, it should be seen in the context of the new Cold War between Beijing and Washington. The US proceeds from the premise that China is an increasingly serious threat. During the presidency of Donald Trump, containment of the PRC became a key priority of White House foreign policy. The situation is unlikely to change seriously with the Joe Biden administration. Key provisions of the “United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China” recently published by the White House will remain relevant for the new administration.

The problems emanating from Chinese telecoms began with relatively minor episodes during the Obama presidency. On April 1, 2015, the President of the United States imposed a state of emergency over threats to national security in the digital environment, prompted by a hacker attack and theft of the data of more than 4 million US government employees. The Americans linked the actions of the hackers with the government structures of the PRC, although China wasn’t mentioned specifically in the state of emergency decree.

The next wake-up call was the investigation by the US Treasury and Department of Commerce of the Chinese company ZTE. It was suspected of supplying equipment with American components to Iran. As a result, the company agreed to pay significant fines to American regulators (a $100.8 million penalty was levied by the Treasury Department and a $1.4 billion fine was levied by the Trade Department). The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei also had Iran-related problems. On December 1, 2018, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the behest of the United States. In the US, she is accused of providing HSBC bank with misleading information in an attempt to circumvent US sanctions against Iran. Huawei viewed the arrest as a politically motivated attack on the company. Huawei is still under heavy pressure from American regulators and legislators. The U.S. Defense Budget Act of 2018 and 2019 restricted US defence and government agencies from obtaining supplies from Huawei. Similar restrictions were extended to ZTE. But that was only just the beginning.

On May 15, 2019, President Trump declared a state of emergency over threats to US national security in the telecommunications sector, and the same day Huawei was subject to US Department of Commerce sanctions. They significantly limited the opportunity of American companies to supply components to Huawei. Later, the restrictions were expanded. Since May 2020, the sanctions began to apply to Huawei semiconductors manufactured overseas using US technology or US software, and the list of Huawei subsidiaries subject to sanctions was expanded. In parallel, the Americans have worked with their allies, not without success, convincing them to stop using Huawei equipment in the most advanced areas (such as 5G technologies), citing the threat of PRC espionage. Among the results is the UK’s abandonment of the Chinese company’s equipment for 5G networks in connection with US sanctions.

In addition to Huawei and ZTE, other Chinese companies also had problems. In August, the list was expanded to include the WeChat messenger and TikTok, a video service. Donald Trump banned their use in the United States in separate executive orders, which noted that both services allow the collection of information about users, their location and online activity. This information can be used for blackmail, espionage, censorship, disinformation, etc. However, the White House did not provide examples of such actions by Chinese companies. Interestingly, a month and a half after Trump’s decision, the Alliance of WeChat Users in the United States succeeded in lifting the ban on WeChat in California’s Northern District Court, and in October 2020, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s Federal District Court suspended enforcement of the TikTok order.

In China, restrictions on telecommunications have also been in place for quite some time. However, they are of a different nature and are related to information limitations rather than technology. The country has a ‘Golden Shield’ project that restricts access to a number of foreign websites and filters out politically inappropriate information. In China, it is difficult or impossible to use Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp and a number of other services. However, their Chinese counterparts are functioning quite successfully.

Obviously, the politically motivated technology war is just beginning. National security interests will increasingly influence the competition between technology platforms in a wide variety of areas. On both sides of the barricades, businesses will have to cope with growing political risks.

From our partner RIAC

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