May 28, 2013


The ITU’s Quest for Relevance

May 22, 2013 by

Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Image via the WCIT

The United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has received a lot of attention over the hotly contested debate regarding Internet governance. During the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in Dubai, the ITU meant to renew an outdated treaty about simple international telecommunication regulations (ITRs) but instead, nation-states walked out of the conference accusing the ITU of trying to control the Internet. This past week, at the most recent WCIT conference, the ITU failed again to rally sufficient support for its agenda.

The inability of the ITU to get all member states to sign the updated ITR treaty has revealed a barrier to its effectiveness and has continued to make Internet governance a controversial topic, especially among Democratic states. The ITU can solve this challenge by revising the wording of the treaty regarding Internet governance. The revision of the treaty ought to increase the likelihood that it would pass and ensure the Union has a role in future discussions about the development of the Internet.

Previously considered weak, declining in importance and necessity, the ITU decided to update its ITRs to include the Internet as part of its telecommunication jurisdiction. However, many of the Western democratic members states (G55) feared that the treaty could be interpreted as granting governments legal rights to manage and regulate the Internet. With the current treaty, the ITU has failed to convince member states that the above accusation is false. Months later, with member states still disputing, the ITU has proven that it is incapable of resolving this issue. In many ways this is counterproductive to the ITUs quest for relevance in the international community.


Read more about:

The “Cyber Weapons Gap”: What do we really know about China’s Cyber Warfare Capabilities?

December 22, 2012 by

The journalist, Joseph Alsop, was not mincing words in his syndicated column on August 1, 1958: “The Eisenhower Administration is guilty of gross untruth concerning the national defense of the U.S.” The reason behind this vitriol was the now infamous (and fictional) missile gap—a presumed strategic advantage for the Soviet Union over the United States in bombers and nuclear missiles—that Alsop believed was factual.

When Ike read the paper he supposedly threw it across the room. The president knew the gap was fictional due to top secret, U-2 spy flights over the Soviet Union, but he could not inform the public about the non-existing missile gap due to the top-secret nature of the flights. Alsop had received incomplete intelligence from the Air Force and a couple of US senators. For years the fear of a missile gap poisoned the discourse about Soviet capabilities and led to an increase in military spending under the Kennedy administration.


Read more about:

Arlington and Shenzhen: A Tale of Globalization, Innovation, and Technology

February 8, 2012 by

Arlington, Virginia. Arlington County/Flickr

Seven thousand miles separate Arlington, Virginia and Shenzhen, China.  Two continents apart, these two cities could not be more different.  Yet they are similar, geopolitically and globally.  The characteristics of today’s globalization have united and connected cities like Arlington and Shenzhen.


Read more about:

Maintaining U.S. Space Primacy during China’s Rise

November 11, 2011 by

An artistic rendition of the Dream Chaser vehicle launching into space. Image via Sierra Nevada

Has space exploration just become too costly, politically unappealing, or both? In the 1960’s, the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union, whose publics where fueled by the tensions of the Cold War, found themselves as pioneers of space travel and exploration technology.  Now with a space race that’s no more, the political will and pursuit of going into “the beyond” has garnered a lackluster appeal by the public and policy makers. And it’s showing in both Washington and Moscow.

This past September at a recent Congressional hearing, Neil Armstrong, the iconic figure in space exploration history, had nothing but rebuke for the current NASA program, calling it “embarrassing and unacceptable.” His fellow colleague Eugene Cernan described the current U.S. space program as “on a path to decay.”


Read more about:

Steve Jobs as a Genius, Visionary, and a Saint: But what about Apple’s Chinese Suicide Jumpers?

October 11, 2011 by

Thousands line up for Foxconn jobs in Zhengzhou. Giddy/Flickr

America’s response to the death of Steve Jobs was an outpouring of grief, and love, similar to the behavior people show at the death of a beloved rock star - like John Lennon (one of Jobs’ favorite performers). But what of the rest of world? Specifically, what of Asia?  China, where Jobs’ brilliant inventions were manufactured and where millions paid the supreme tribute by buying, either the real thing, or millions of Apple knock offs?

At first, Asians mirrored the waves of grief that flooded the U.S. Shock, genuine grief, and an outpouring of homage from country after country.


Read more about:

Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs Dead at 56

October 7, 2011 by

Apple co-founder and Chairman Steve Jobs died two days ago at the age of 56.  Jobs, a legend in US technological history, and a culture hero for many of his generation and indeed, subsequent generations, was involved in the technology industry for 35 years. In that time, he turned three separate industries on their heads and reinvented a fourth.


Read more about:

BRICS are Conquering the Developing World and Space is Next

October 3, 2011 by

While some of NASA’s old equipment falls back to earth, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are doing just the opposite, by launching massive technologically advanced hunks of titanium into earth’s orbit. Ever since Wan Hu, China has been aiming for space and it’s a frontier that it has finally conquered.

On 29 September 2011, China successfully launched its first space lab module into orbit in an impressive nighttime display. The unmanned Tiapong blasted off on a Chinese Long March 2F rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. The growing economic giant wants to put a man on the moon by 2030.


Read more about:

Russia Wins the ‘Space Race’

July 18, 2011 by

When the space shuttle Atlantis returns to earth in a few days it will be the culmination of a decades long NASA program that allows Russia to chalk up the Space Race as a win, by default.  While important in the Russian psyche, this win may prove to be a mere footnote in the history of U.S.-Russian relations.  Russia, then the Soviet Union, was the first to reach space on April 12, 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth in his Vostok spacecraft.

Previously, Russia’s Luna 2 became the first unmanned aircraft to reach the moon in 1959.  However, Russia was bested, in embarrassing and televised fashion by the United States, when Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 set down on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. He was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978. While Gagarin received a hero’s welcome and has had statues dedicated to him, it is Armstrong who was immortalized in the recent Transformers movie.


Read more about:

Securing Japan’s Clean Energy Future

June 24, 2011 by

Police officers in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture. Photo by Warren Antiola

As Japan recovers from the spring tsunami and Fukushima nuclear station disaster, it plans for a clean energy future. It is tempting for its energy industry officials to categorize all the lessons of the nuclear crisis as specific to the atomic energy industry.  Accidents happen, however, in all complex energy production systems. 

Accidents in the most abstruse technology systems, from commercial airplanes to tankers to space shuttles to nuclear plants, can overwhelm even the most conscientious designers and operators.


Read more about:

Generation Wiki

March 31, 2011 by

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

We are Generation Wiki. We are interconnected collaborative creatures, and we like to share. We link and like, comment, post and poke. We Yelp when we’re hungry, Skype when we’re lonely and Gchat throughout the day.  Our cell phone bills are light on minutes and long on data almost every month.

We are the first of our kind. A computer has sat comfortably in some nook of our home for as long as we can remember. We grew up trying to find Carmen Sandiego, and came of age to the beeps and cackles of a 14k modem connecting to America Online. Before we had our own car, before we had our own cash and before we had a fake ID, we had chat rooms, instant messages and inboxes. We had an entire world wide web of possibilities with which to explore beyond the confines of our bedroom walls. Our rebellion was data-driven, a battle cry of zeros and ones where power grew out of the results of a search engine.


Read more about: