Two articles from the South China Morning Post were really interesting this week:
“US needs a hi-tech revolution to combat China,” says General Mark Milley.
- Military must adapt to ‘fundamental change’ under way in the character of war
- Joint Chiefs of Staff head wants smaller, more capable forces which fully embrace robotics and artificial intelligence
The US military will need to fully embrace robotics and artificial intelligence if it is to maintain superiority over China, according to the Pentagon’s top general.
Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley also said smaller, more capable forces armed with long-range missiles would need to be posted more widely around Asia to hem in the top US adversary.
“We are in the middle of a fundamental change in the character of war,” he told the Defence Forum Washington online symposium at the US Naval Institute on Thursday.
And while the USA is still talking about a technological revolution, China reports another success in quantum computing and AI:
“China claims quantum computing lead with Jiuzhang photon test, creating machine ‘one trillion times faster’ than next best supercomputer”
- Researchers said their prototype took a little over three minutes to complete a task that would take the world’s fastest conventional machine 600 million years.
- Results put the country firmly at the forefront of the field, lead scientist says
The times are over to claim that China could only copy technology from the West and would get all its successes from economic espionage. Graham Allison once said that China is not doing Research and Development (R&D),, but RDT (Research &Development &Theft). While this is correct, one should not forget that not only China harmed intellectual property rights, copied technologies and had economic espionage—the West and the USA are also doing this as became last known in the NSA scandal. And scholars and knowledgeable people of economic history know that these are not new symptoms of the last decade. Just a look at the history of the atomic bomb, the Manhattan Project, how Russia and China got their nuclear technology shows this as the most obvious and best-known example. It should also not be forgotten that globalization pushed by the West also made it possible for China to hire engineers, scientists, experts, as advisers and even managers for Chinese companies. As Trump said: I don’t blame the Chinese that they took advantage, but the Western politicians and Davos elites who were giving the Chinese the advantages. In this sense Trump was correct.
But we don’t want to engage in a moral discussion. More important is how the CCP and the West see technological progress. While the Germans and Europeans are complaining that the USA and China would steal their technology, it should be clear that most technologies “stolen” from then become more and more outdated and that Europe and Germany really has a problem if it is about new technologies. The technological gap – civil and militarily- between the Europeans and the USA and China is too obvious. There is not too much to “steal” anymore, just the opposite. Germany and Europe might come in the situation that they have to copy or steal from China or the USA just to get access to the new technologies. And without a military-industrial complex, joint venture capital, a Silicon Valley, or EU hi-tech fonds, nothing will change.
The EU has now at least decided on a new Green deal, but it is questionable whether the EU budget and the ECB-funded grants and loans have a uniform thrust in the direction of new technologies and analog and digital infrastructure construction and not to fill any financial holes in the state budgets. Long story short message.: A European hi-tech investment fund or some sort of industrial policy would be needed that promotes new high-tech technologies and brings them to a breakthrough so that the technological gap between Europe and the United States and China can be closed.
A European investment fund that promotes new industries and start-ups, as well as existing national champions nationally and European, but as a new EU Los Alamos and Apollo project. A kind of Apollo project from cloud computing, quantum computing, AI, blockchain technology, robotics to nano and biotechnology and also such new developments in Silicon Valley as artificial meat. New ecological technologies would have to be also addressed, which can already be part of the current New Green Deal of the EU. ..Trillions of savings are in the bank accounts with zero interest rate policy and are not invested in productive new technologies, but are continuously decreasing. Bringing this dead, unproductive capital to a productive utilization is the idea of Walter Kohl in his book “Which future do we want?”(Welche Zukunft wollen wir?)”.
A European Silk Road Marco Polo 2.0 would be needed, a project that in addition to the systematic development of a high-tech industry in research. Development and production also remove the investment backlog in the analog and digital infrastructure in Europe, which are also prerequisites for the use of these new technologies, leaving the young generation with a well-functioning infrastructure for the future as the legacy of our generation, a common interest project that unites today’s Europe, a vision and concrete material advantages, as well as jobs and economic growth then generated in a multiplier effect. On the one hand as a counterpoint to China’s New Silk Road, a European infrastructure project that renews Europe’s promise of prosperity, makes it concrete and creates optimism again. Especially since every European also wonders: Why are the Chinese building a train route from Budapest to Belgrade and not the Europeans? It is also about getting the Chinese backyard in the form of the 16 plus 1 group back by connecting European non-EU members. The first serious supporters have already appeared. On the one hand, the FAZ already headlined: “Why not a European Silk Road?” The idea is now gaining further supporters from three research institutes, albeit in the still rudimentary form of a high-speed long-distance train network for Europe – here from the Freitag newspaper:
“A recent proposal from the Düsseldorf Institute for Macroeconomics, the Austrian Economic Institute and the French Institute OFCE has shown that there is another way. In view of the EU negotiations on a reconstruction fund to deal with the Corona crisis, they are calling for Europe to build a network of four super-fast train lines that connect east and west, north and south. A route should run from Lisbon via Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen to Helsinki. At an average train speed of 250 to 350 kilometres per hour, the travel time from Berlin to Paris would be reduced to four hours. Those who travel the distance by plane today take longer. The researchers calculated that simply switching passengers from planes to trains would reduce CO2 emissions by four to five percent. Freight traffic would also be shifted to the new rail. The 18,250-kilometer network would cost 1.1 trillion euros – an amount roughly double the 500 billion earmarked for the EU’s reconstruction fund. But it would be worth it. What would a movement from below do to effectively to counter global warming? It would network across Europe to promote such a project. It is so exemplary. The politicians are waving away? This may show that our free elections are not as free as they seem. The movement from below would combine their struggle for an ecologically effective large-scale project with the struggle for an electoral system that does not, of all things, spare the economy – that is, leaves it to capital, on which everything else depends. The chances of getting a lot of approval would be great, also because the institutes propose even more. They consider the superfast train network to be the core of a “European silk road”, which would also include new ports. The continent’s borders, the Balkans, the Caucasus, would be better connected to the industrial regions in the west. The researchers expect 3.5 percent economic growth and two million new jobs.”
Furthermore, in addition to the civil infrastructure, military use for NATO should also be considered, which, like ecological aspects and more, should include the ecological promotion of regional public transport networks to overcome the urban-rural divide in the analog and digital infrastructure, in order to create a holistic concept for the greatest possible benefit. The whole thing should also be thought of with future orientation in matters of Eurasia and the USA. It is also interesting to see that in a joint guest article in the FAZ, the chairman of the Atlantik-Brücke and former Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and John B. Emerson. Former American Ambassador to Germany and Chairman of the American Council on Germany propose a future transatlantic agenda, among this some kind of European or even Eurasian Silkroad: as mentioned as “Conception of a transatlantic infrastructure initiative with Africa and the Eurasian area as a democratic, fair and transparent alternative to China’s “New Silk Road.” Would there be any space and connection in a transatlantic Eurasian Silkroad for Russia?
From our partner RIAC
Is your security compromised due to “Spy software” know how
Spy software is often referred to as spyware is a set of programs that gives access to user/ administrators to track or monitor anyone’s smart devices (such as desktop, laptop, or smart phone) from anywhere across the globe.
Spyware is a threat, not only to businesses but individual users as well, since it can steal sensitive information and harm anyone’s network. It is controversial due to its frequent violation to end user’s privacy. It can attack user’s device, steal sensitive data (such as bank account or credit card information, or personal identity) or web data and share it with data firms, advertisers, or external users.
There are numerous online spyware designed for almost no cost, whose ultimate goal is to track and sell users data. Some spy software can install additional software and change the settings on user’s device, which could be difficult to identify.
Below are four main types of spyware, each has its unique features to track and record users activity:
Tracking cookies: These are the most common type of trackers, these monitor the user’s internet usage activities, such as searches, downloads, and history, for advertising and selling purposes.
System monitors: These spy software records everything on your device from emails, keystrokes, visited websites, chat-room dialogues, and much more.
Adware: This spyware is used for marketing purpose, it tracks users downloads and browser history, and suggests or displays the same or related products, this can often lead to slow device.
Trojan: This spyware is the most malicious software. It can be used to track sensitive information such as bank information or identification numbers.
Spyware can attack any operating system such as windows, android, or Apple. Windows operating systems are more prone to attack, but in past few years Apple’s operating systems are also becoming vulnerable to attacks.
According to a recent investigation by the Guardian and 16 other media organizations, found that there is a widespread and continuous abuse of NSO’s hacking spyware Pegasus, on Government officials, human rights activists, lawyers and journalists worldwide which was only intended to use against terrorists and criminals.
The research, conducted by the Pegasus technical partner Amnesty’s Security Lab, found traces of the Pegasus activity on 37 out of the 67 examined phones. Out of 37 phones, 34 were iPhones, and 23 showed signs of a Pegasus infection, while remaining 11 showed signs of attempted infection. However, only three out of 15 Android phones were infected by Pegasus software.
Attacks like the Pegasus might have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals. But evidences from past have proved that attackers target large group of people and are often successful.
Below are the most common ways devices can become infected with spyware:
- Downloading software or apps from unreliable sources or unofficial app publishers
- Accepting cookies or pop-up without reading
- Downloading or watching online pirated media content
- Opening attachments from unfamiliar senders
Spyware can be extremely unsafe if you have been infected. Its damage can range from short term device issue (such as slow system, system crashing, or overheating device) to long-term financial threat.
Here’s what you can do protect your devices from spyware:
Reliable antivirus software: Firstly look for security solutions available on internet (some are available for free) and enable the antivirus software. If your system or device is already infected with virus, check out for security providers offering spyware identification and removal.
-For instance, you can install a toolkit (the Mobile Verification Tool or the MVT) provided by Amnesty International. This toolkit will alert you with presence of the Pegasus Spyware on your device.
-The toolkit scans the backup file of your device for any evidence of infection. It works on both Apple and Android operating systems, but is more accurate for Apple operating system.
-You can also download and run Norton Power Eraser a free virus removal tool.
Update your system regularly: Set up an update which runs automatically. Such automatic updates can not only block hackers from viewing your web or device activity, but can also eliminate software errors.
Be vigilant of cookies compliance: Cookies that records/ tracks users browsing habits and personally identifiable information (PII) are commonly known as adware spyware. Accept cookies only from reliable sites or download a cookie blocker.
Strong authentication passwords: Try to enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) wherever possible, or if not possible create different password for all accounts. Change your password for each account after a certain period of time.
-Password breaches can still occur with these precautions. In such case change your password immediately.
Be cautious of free software: Read the terms and conditions on software licenses, before accepting. Free software might be unlimited but, your data could be recorded with those free software’s.
Do not open any files from unknown or suspicious account: Do not open any email attachments or text on mobile from a suspicious, unknown, or untrustworthy source/number.
Spyware could be extremely dangerous, however it can be prevented and removed by being precautious and using a trustworthy antivirus tool. Next gen technologies can also help in checking and removing malicious content. For instance, Artificial intelligence could aid the organizations identify malicious software, and frequently update its algorithms of patterns similar to predict future malware attacks.
Implementation of virtual reality and the effects in cognitive warfare
With the increasing use of new technologies in warfare situations, virtual reality presents an opportunity for the domain of cognitive warfare. Nowadays, cognitive skills are treated equally as their physical counterparts, seeking to standardize new innovative techniques. Virtual reality (VR) can be used as a tool that can increase the cognitive capabilities of soldiers. As it is understandable in today’s terms, VR impacts the brain directly. That means that our visual organs (eyes) see one object or one surrounding area, but brain cells perceive and react to that differently. VR has been used extensively in new teaching methods because of the increased probability of improving the memory and learning capabilities of students.
Besides its theoretical teaching approach and improvement of learning, VR can be used systematically towards more practical skills. In medicine for example students can have a full medicine lesson on a virtual human being seeing the body projected in 3D, revolutionizing the whole field of medicine. If that can be used in the medical field, theoretically it will be possible to be used in combat situations, projecting a specific battlefield in VR, increasing the chances of successful engagement, and reducing the chance of casualties. Knowing your terrain is equally important as knowing your adversary.
The use of VR will also allow us to experience new domains relating to the physical health of a person. It is argued that VR might provide us with the ability to effectively control pain management. Since VR can stimulate visual senses, then it would be safe to say that this approach can have higher effectiveness in treating chronic pain, depression, or even PTSD. The idea behind this usage is that the brain itself is already powerful enough, yet sometimes when pain overwhelms us we tend to lose effectiveness on some of our senses, such as the visual sense. An agonizing pain can blurry our vision, something that we cannot control; unless of course theoretically, we use VR. The process can consist of different sounds and visual aids that can trick the mind into thinking that it is somewhere that might be the polar opposite of where it is. Technically speaking, the mind would be able to do that simply because it works as a powerful computer, where our pain receptors can override and actually make us think that we are not in such terrible pain.
Although the benefits of VR could be useful for our health we would still need to deal with problems that concern our health when we use a VR set. It is possible that the brain can get overloaded with new information and the new virtual environments. VR poses some problems to some people, regarding the loss of the real environment and creating feelings of nausea or extreme headaches. As a result, new techniques from cognitive psychologists have emerged to provide a solution to the problem. New technologies have appeared that can desaturate colors towards the edge of the headset in order to limit the probability of visual confusion. Besides that, research shows that even the implementation of a virtual nose when someone wears a VR headset can prevent motion sickness, something that our brain does already in reality.
However, when it comes to combatants and the implementation of VR in soldiers, one must think of maybe more effective and fast solutions to eliminate the problems that concern the confusion of the brain. Usage of specific pharmaceuticals might be the key. One example could be Modafinil which has been prescribed in the U.S. since 1998 to treat sleep-related conditions. Researchers believe it can produce the same effects as caffeine. With that being said, the University of Oxford analyzed 24 studies, where participants were asked to complete complex assignments after taking Modafinil and found out that those who took the drug were more accurate, which suggests that it may affect higher cognitive functions.
Although some of its long-term effects are yet to be studied, Modafinil is by far the safest drug that can be used in cognitive situations. Theoretically speaking, if a long exposure to VR can cause headaches and an inability to concentrate, then an appropriate dose of Modafinil can counter the effects of VR. It can be more suitable and useful to use on soldiers, whose cognitive skills are better than civilians, to test the full effect of a mix of virtual technology and pharmaceuticals. VR can be a significant military component and a simulation training program. It can provide new cognitive experiences based on foreign and unknown terrains that might be difficult to be approached in real life. New opportunities arise every day with the technologies, and if anyone wanted to take a significant advantage over adversaries in the cognitive warfare field, then VR would provide a useful tool for military decision-making.
Vaccine Equity and Beyond: Intellectual Property Rights Face a Crucial Test
The debate over intellectual property rights (IPRs), particularly patents, and access to medicine is not new. IPRs are considered to drive innovation by protecting the results of investment-intensive R&D, yet arguably also foster inequitable access to affordable medicines.
In a global public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic, where countries face acute shortages of life-saving vaccines, should public health be prioritized over economic gain and the international trade rules designed to protect IPRs?
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), to which all 164 member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are a party, establish minimum standards for protecting different forms of IPRs.
In October 2020, India and South Africa – countries with strong generic drug manufacturing infrastructure – invoked WTO rules to seek a temporary waiver of IPRs (patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and industrial designs) on equipment, drugs, and vaccines related to the “prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.” A waiver would mean that countries could locally produce equipment and vaccines without permission from holders of IPRs. This step would serve to eliminate the monopolistic nature of IPRs that give exclusive rights to the holder of IPRs and enable them to impose procedural licensing constraints.
Brazil, Japan, the European Union (EU), and the United States (US) initially rejected the waiver proposal. That stance changed with the rise of new COVID-19 mutations and the associated increase in deaths, with several countries facing a public health crisis due to vaccine supply shortages. The position of many states began shifting in favor of the India-South Africa proposal, which now has the backing of 62 WTO members, with the US declaring support for the intent of the temporary waiver to secure “better access, more manufacturing capability, more shots in arms.” Several international bodies, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have voiced support.
Some countries disagree about the specific IPRs to be waived or the mechanisms by which IPRs should be made available. The EU submitted a proposal to use TRIPS flexibilities such as compulsory licensing, while others advocate for voluntary licensing. The TRIPS Council is conducting meetings to prepare an amended proposal to the General Council (the WTO’s highest-level decision-making body in Geneva) by the end of July 2021.
The crisis in India illustrates the urgency of the situation. India produces and supplies Covishield, licensed by AstraZeneca; and Covaxin, which is yet to be included on the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL). Due to the devastating public health crisis, India halted its export of vaccines and caused a disruption in the global vaccine supply, even to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program. In the meantime, the world’s poorest nations lack sufficient, critical vaccine supplies.
International law recognizes some flexibility in public health emergencies. An example would be the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health in 2001, which, while maintaining the commitments, stresses the need for TRIPS to be part of the wider national and international action to address public health problems. Consistent with that, the body of international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), protects the right to the highest attainable standard of health.
But as we race against time, the current IPR framework may not allow for the swift response required. It is the rigorous requirements before a vaccine is considered safe to use under Emergency Use Authorizations and procedural delays which illuminate why IPR waivers on already approved vaccines are needed. Capitalizing on the EUL’s approved vaccines that have proven efficacy to date and easing IPR restrictions will aid in the timely supply and access of vaccines.
A TRIPS waiver may not solve the global vaccine shortage. In fact, some argue that the shortages are not an inherent flaw in the IP regime, considering other supply chain disruptions that persist, such as the ones disrupting microchips, pipette tips, and furniture. However, given that patent licensing gives a company a monopoly on vaccine commercialization, other companies with manufacturing capacity cannot produce the vaccine to scale up production and meet supply demands.
Neither does a temporary waiver mean that pharmaceutical companies cannot monetize their work. States should work with pharmaceuticals in setting up compensation and insurance schemes to ensure adequate remuneration.
At the College of Law at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, our aim is to address today’s legal challenges with a future-oriented view. We see COVID-19 as a case study in how we respond to imminent and existential threats. As global warming alters the balance of our ecosystem, threats will cascade in a way that is hard to predict. When unpredictable health emergencies emerge, it will be human ingenuity that helps us overcome them. Even the global IP regime, as a legal system that regulates ideas, is being tested, and should be agile enough to respond in time, like the scientists who sprang into action and worked tirelessly to develop the vaccines that will soon bring back a semblance of normal life as we know it.
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