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  • Author: Nathaniel Kim, Trey Herr, Bruce Schneier
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Hundreds of “things” are being connected to the Internet and each other, with more than fifty billion devices expected to be connected by 2030. 1 These devices vary from Internet-connected power-generation equipment to wearable health trackers and smart home appliances, and generally offer some combination of new functionality, greater convenience, or cost savings to users. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Hundreds of “things” are being connected to the Internet and each other, with more than fifty billion devices expected to be connected by 2030. 1 These devices vary from Internet-connected power-generation equipment to wearable health trackers and smart home appliances, and generally offer some combination of new functionality, greater convenience, or cost savings to users.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Internet, Innovation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Soud, Ian M. Ralby, Rohini Ralby
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Downstream oil theft has become a global problem. Since most of the world’s energy systems still rely on oil, fuel smugglers are nearly always able to find markets for their goods. Moreover, since oil is not inherently illegal, it is generally an easy product to move, buy, and sell. Profits from oil theft are frequently used to fund terrorism and other illegal activities. The new Atlantic Council Global Energy Report by Dr. David Soud, Downstream Oil Theft: Countermeasures and Good Practices, provides an in-depth look at how governments—from militaries to law enforcement officials—along with other stakeholders can anticipate and intercept instances of downstream oil theft. The report offers a range of methods to counter oil theft, which range from fuel marking and other technologies to transnational
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Energy Policy, Environment, Governance, Law Enforcement, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John T. Watts
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Recent events have seen an acceleration in the rise of reemerging great powers. This has had a profound impact on global economic, technological, and political assumptions and has created new technological realities. The potential impact and implications of artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology innovation, and the dark sides of social media have raised new concerns for social norms. No issue is more emblematic of the competition between liberal, free-market nations and authoritarian command-economy principles than the evolution of fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications. Generational shifts between cellular telecommunications networks have profound implications for national and global economies. As data become increasingly central to every aspect of a modern economy, the shift to the next generation of cellular networks will be of even greater significance. The Chinese government identified the importance of this transition and has, for years, been aggressively investing around the world to be the purveyor of 5G infrastructure that will carry that data in the coming decades. Chinese-backed firms are currently better positioned to exploit the vast opportunity that 5G represents more effectively than corporations within free markets, for several reasons. The most significant is the high infrastructure cost of legacy cellular models and uncertain consumer demand in the short term. Capital costs are driven predominately by the technical requirements of 5G, which—in return for far higher speeds and ultra-low latency—require new hardware to be installed in many more locations than previous networks. Moreover, the legacy infrastructure model relied on proprietary and incompatible hardware components that are best suited to large, single-manufacture companies that can provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions. While consumer demand is predicted to be high, businesses are cautious in deploying such large amounts of money for unproven speculative demand. The lack of a concrete user base creates an opening that vertically integrated Chinese companies, heavily backed by the state, are exploiting by deploying the 5G technology and services at a discount of about 25 percent, along with loss-leading financing terms. Given that end-to-end network solutions can cost $10–100 billion, or more, 25-percent discounts have a major impact. While the 25-percent discount is financially enticing, the longer-term consequences are often hidden, and can include vulnerability to foreign espionage, economic leverage, and forced compliance to conditions underpinned by authoritarian principles. For the Chinese government, the financial cost is a small investment in return for potential control of the world’s data backbone for the next several decades. The reality is that questions revolving around security, as defined from the perspective of traditional “cyber” or “network security,” are ancillary to the critical challenge. If a nation builds a telecommunications network with equipment supplied from Chinese tech giants such as Huawei or ZTE, those networks will inherently be subject to Chinese laws that require compliance with many principles’ anathema to free-market, liberal views. Moreover, these networks, by design, must be managed and maintained by large services organizations, likely staffed by a vast workforce of Chinese citizens, who also must comply with Chinese law and can provide local human intelligence back to the Chinese state. These are terms that countries should not have to accept, and to which their citizens should not be involuntarily subjected. An open, innovative, safe, and reliable alternative is needed, so that people have a realistic option that allows them to freely communicate and consume information. 5G is emblematic of the competition between the new authoritarianism and free-market, liberal principles. China has executed its plan well over the last five years by driving the standards discussion, developing the leading vertically integrated solution, deploying national export finance to subsidize their offerings, and building the largest and most effective services organization in the market. Free-market economies have spent far less on research and development (R&D), have only limited export finance options, rely on semiconductor dominance, deploy severely limited services organizations, and have no integrated national or international strategy. Few governments or companies were prepared for the level of sophistication of the product and export finance offering of the authoritarian-backed commercial players.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Innovation, 5G
  • Political Geography: Global Focus