Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts

18 July 2017

AI, people, and society


In an essay about his science fiction, Isaac Asimov reflected that “it became very common…to picture robots as dangerous devices that invariably destroyed their creators.” He rejected this view and formulated the “laws of robotics,” aimed at ensuring the safety and benevolence of robotic systems. Asimov's stories about the relationship between people and robots were only a few years old when the phrase “artificial intelligence” (AI) was used for the first time in a 1955 proposal for a study on using computers to “…solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans.” Over the half-century since that study, AI has matured into subdisciplines that have yielded a constellation of methods that enable perception, learning, reasoning, and natural language understanding.

“Excitement about AI has been tempered by concerns about potential downsides.”

Growing exuberance about AI has come in the wake of surprising jumps in the accuracy of machine pattern recognition using methods referred to as “deep learning.” The advances have put new capabilities in the hands of consumers, including speech-to-speech translation and semi-autonomous driving. Yet, many hard challenges persist—and AI scientists remain mystified by numerous capabilities of human intellect.

17 July 2017

2017 Third-Quarter Forecast


Tempering Trump Policy: Ongoing federal investigations and intensifying budget battles with Congress will make for another distracting quarter for U.S. President Donald Trump. But these disruptions won't mitigate the rhetoric of White House ideologues, or broader speculation that the United States is retreating from the global stage. The reality of the superpower's role in global governance, of course, is far more complicated. Meanwhile, the administration's more extreme policy initiatives, particularly on matters of trade and climate, will be tempered at the federal, corporate, state and local levels. And though the United States will maintain its security alliances abroad, it will also generate enough uncertainty to drive its partners toward unilateral action in managing their own neighborhoods.

Sparks Fly in the Middle East: Qatar's standoff with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will persist throughout the quarter amid intensifying battles among regional powers' proxies across the region. More visible competition within the Gulf Cooperation Council and growing distrust between Turkey and its Gulf neighbors will reveal the weaknesses of the White House's strategy to conform to Riyadh's increasingly assertive foreign policy in an attempt to manage the region. The risk of clashes among great powers is also on the rise in eastern Syria: As Iran works to create a land bridge from Tehran to Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, Syrian loyalists and U.S.-backed rebels are racing toward the Iraqi border, all while Russia uses the Syrian battlefield to jockey with the United States for influence.

10 July 2017

The World's Most Populous Nations In 2050


Currently the world has a population of nearly 7.6 billion people and that's increasing, though at a slower pace than in the recent past.

The population is growing at a rate of 1.1 percent, meaning an extra 83 million people are being added to the planet's population every year. The global population is going to surpass 8 billion by 2030 and hit 9.8 billion by 2050, according to a new report from the United Nations. There's an estimated 962 million people aged 60 and over around the globe (13 percent of the population), and that is going to expand steadily over the coming years. In 2030, 1.4 billion people will be aged over 60 and and that could reach 3.1 billion by 2100.

Ten countries are set to account collectively for over half the world's projected population increase between now and 2050: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the United States, Uganda, Indonesia and Egypt. Within the next seven years, India is expected to surpass China as the most populous nation. The United States is also going to be overtaken by Nigeria by 2050 to become the world's third most populous nation - Nigeria is currently posting the fastest rate of population growth worldwide. The following infographic shows the world's most populous nations in 2050 and it was created using the UN's data.
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6 July 2017

A Survey of Ongoing Wars Around the World


While Islamic terrorism continues to dominate the news, it is but one example of an ancient curse that has reappeared recently in multiple forms; calls for the revival of empires. Some of these efforts are more media friendly than others but all share the same characteristics; mobilizing popular support for rebuilding lost empires. There are numerous examples. The most obvious one (the Islamic caliphate) grabs most of the headlines because Islamic terrorism has been a common symptom of desperate, longshot efforts to restore the caliphate for a long time (over a thousand years). As a religion based empire (“Islam” literally means “submission”) that has been hostile to any kind of progress (especially technology, economic or religious) past revival efforts have been unsuccessful. Thus the quick and brutal demise of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) because it also tried to use self-righteous fanaticism as its primary weapon and motivation in a world that was largely hostile to such a brutal and simplistic ideology. ISIL was one of the few Islamic radical movements that mobilized nearly all Moslems to unite and violently oppose it. Yet even with ISIL gone (or suppressed) there are plenty of other Islamic empire revivalists who all seek to not just make Islam great again but to do it on a global scale.

4 July 2017

** Globalists, Nationalists and Patriots


In times of global angst, we tend to organize ourselves into rival camps and casually hurl political epithets at each other as a matter of practice and principle. A couple of similarly angst-ridden generations ago, identifying yourself as a communist or capitalist could provide you with a medal or land you in jail, depending on where you were in the world and the company you kept. Now, it is self-proclaimed globalists and nationalists who are pitted against each other in a battle to passionately defend or radically reconstruct the global order.

Previous columns have examined the underlying forces — from aging populations in the advanced industrial world, to technological change compensating for lagging productivity, to major evolutions in global trade — that have put this most recent global rebalancing in motion. This rebalancing will take generations to play out but is growing more visible by the day. Just watch the battle lines being drawn by the "globalists" and "nationalists" from within the tense corridors of the White House to the flag-lined stage of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, where host German Chancellor Angela Merkel will once again face off against U.S. President Donald Trump.

3 July 2017

Globalists, Nationalists And Patriots

-- this post authored by Reva Goujon

In times of global angst, we tend to organize ourselves into rival camps and casually hurl political epithets at each other as a matter of practice and principle. A couple of similarly angst-ridden generations ago, identifying yourself as a communist or capitalist could provide you with a medal or land you in jail, depending on where you were in the world and the company you kept. Now, it is self-proclaimed globalists and nationalists who are pitted against each other in a battle to passionately defend or radically reconstruct the global order.

Previous columns have examined the underlying forces - from aging populations in the advanced industrial world, to technological change compensating for lagging productivity, to major evolutions in global trade - that have put this most recent global rebalancing in motion. This rebalancing will take generations to play out but is growing more visible by the day. Just watch the battle lines being drawn by the "globalists" and "nationalists" from within the tense corridors of the White House to the flag-lined stage of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, where host German Chancellor Angela Merkel will once again face off against U.S. President Donald Trump. 

2 July 2017

*** Rolling Back Democracy

By Jay Ogilvy

Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.

What must Angela Merkel be thinking? What must Xi Jinping be thinking? What must Vladimir Putin be thinking?

In the wake of America's withdrawal from both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the Paris Accord on climate change, to say nothing of Washington's alienation of NATO allies, there lurks a mix of fear, bafflement, anger… and opportunity. Isn't there a little more room on the world stage now that one of its major players has shuffled off into the wings?

Merkel announced to a beer hall rally, "The times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over." With the United States out of the TPP, the influence of Xi's China in Asia and across the globe can only increase. As for Putin, as former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers put it on CNN when another commentator suggested they would be "giggling" in the Kremlin, "I don't think they're giggling. I think they are consuming large volumes of vodka in celebration," over Trump's troubles with a special prosecutor.

So how are the great powers going to seize this opportunity? And how will lesser powers adapt to a new geopolitical regime? These are not just questions about trade blocs like NAFTA, the European Union and the TPP; these are questions about how we human beings relate to one another.

30 June 2017

** The World Is Even Less Stable Than It Looks

BY STEPHEN M. WALT

I’m normally leery of the pervasive threat inflation that tends to dominate discussions of foreign policy. Because the United States is so strong and in such a favorable geopolitical location, pundits and policymakers have to pretend the sky is falling to justify bigger military budgets and convince the public to keep meddling in distant lands. And whether the threat is falling dominos, “creeping Sharia,” the “axis of evil,” or even “violent extremism,” the actual threat these faraway dangers pose is usually exaggerated.

Right now, however, we’re at a moment when I think genuine concern is warranted. This is not to say that we’re on the brink of a major war, let alone a global clash of great powers. But flammable material is accumulating and it is hard to have high confidence in the political leadership in several key countries (including here in the United States). We would all do well to take stock of the global order: Is the world more secure than it was a year ago? Specifically, is the risk of war increasing or decreasing? Is the danger of a serious economic crisis higher or lower? Are the institutional arrangements and norms that help smooth and resolve conflicts of interest and enhance the prospects for international cooperation more or less robust than they were in June 2016?

Stratfor Worldview’s 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast

June 27, 2017

Based on the principle that transformative world events are not random, but are in fact predictable, Stratfor develops decade, annual and quarterly forecasts. These forecast are built upon Stratfor’s geopolitical methodology, our framework for identifying and forecasting the fundamental trends shaping the international system. Below are the global trends highlighted in Stratfor’s forecast for the third-quarter of 2017. The complete forecast is available at Stratfor Worldview.

The U.S. Exits Stage Left?

When world leaders gather in Germany for the approaching G-20 summit, they will no doubt make a slew of assertions — some alarmist, others justified — about a U.S. retreat from the global stage. Talk of leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping stepping in to fill the void and uphold global governance on major issues such as free trade, climate change and security can be expected. But there is an underlying reality to that narrative that should be kept in mind.

28 June 2017

The Demographic Timebomb: A Rapidly Aging Population


Partner Perspectives are a collection of high-quality analyses and commentary produced by organizations around the world. Though Stratfor does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here — and may even disagree with them — we respect the rigorous and innovative thought that their unique points of view inspire.

Editor's Note

At Stratfor, we often look at how demographic shifts impact the economic outlook and geopolitical imperatives of countries around the world. Here, our partners at Visual Capitalist do the same as they explore the economic challenges created by a rapidly aging global population.

With record-high amounts of student debt, questionable job prospects, and too much avocado toast in their bellies, many millennials already feel like they are getting the short end of the stick.

25 June 2017

*** This Is How Great-Power Wars Get Started


In the last month, for the first time since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, the United States has directly attacked Syrian government forces or proxies — not just once, but at least four times. The urgent question now is less about Syria than Russia, which in response to the latest of these incidents, in which a U.S. fighter plane shot down a Syrian jet, threatened to target any U.S.-led coalition aircraft flying over Syria.

Are the U.S. and Russia being sucked into war in the Middle East, and if so, how can escalation be averted?

The present political dynamics in the Middle East are unsettled and kaleidoscopic. But in the interests of brevity, leaving aside smaller players, and before we think about the role of the United States and Russia, the basic configurations of power in the region since the 2011 Arab Spring can be simplified in terms of five loose groupings.

First, a grouping of Sunni monarchies (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Bahrain); Arab secular nationalists (Egypt since President Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi took over in 2013, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia); and Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s faction in eastern Libya.

** On Leadership, Virtue and Vice

By George Friedman

Last week there was a fire in a high-rise building in London that killed dozens. British Prime Minister Theresa May was slow to issue a statement, and it was another day before she visited the scene – and then only to meet with members of the emergency services. It was not until day three that she paid a visit to the survivors. Her explanation was that she was busy overseeing the management of the disaster and therefore couldn’t go sooner. She was met by a storm of criticism.

Two questions arise from this affair. First, why would anyone think an empty gesture like visiting the site of a fire – no matter how many died – to be important? Perhaps the prime minister ought to be doing something productive? Second, why did May answer that she was busy overseeing the crisis? Exactly what was it about the disaster that she could oversee? She faced what seemed to be unreasonable condemnation and replied with a preposterous justification.

But it is the first question that I want to discuss because it raises another, more important question: that of leadership.

More Than Policy

The simple answer to the first question is that May ought to have visited the site of the fire because that’s what prime ministers do. They engage in gestures, and whatever they may privately feel or not feel, they show themselves to be grieving the dead. A prime minister, a president, a king or a queen represents the country at moments such as these, and their responsibility is to convey to the country the gravity of the event, the sorrow they feel, and that the state – personified by them – is not indifferent to the suffering of its citizens.
 

21 June 2017

Venezuela's Ruling Party Faces Rebellion From Within

Over the past two years, Venezuela has sunk into a deep economic crisis brought on by a decline in oil prices, and its reverberating effects have left the country's ruling party desperate. In an environment where regular protests and widespread disapproval have become the norm, President Nicolas Maduro's administration is clinging to power despite the increasing likelihood that it will lose the next presidential election. Now, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has begun coalescing into opposing factions, and how its struggle plays out will determine just how long the administration is able to protect its rule.

For the president and his inner circle, losing control of the country could mean being jailed by an opposition government or even being extradited to the United States on criminal charges. To prevent this, Maduro and his allies, including influential PSUV power broker Diosdado Cabello and Vice President Tareck El Aissami, have called for a constitutional assembly to rewrite the constitution. The move could allow the government to rework elements of the country's electoral law and perhaps delay the next presidential race, cementing Maduro's position in power in the process.
An Opposition Faction Emerges

But segments of the administration are already thinking about a future without Maduro. A faction of the PSUV that includes Attorney General Luisa Ortega has emerged hoping to block Maduro's attempts at firming up his political position. Over the past three months, Ortega has consistently opposed the Maduro administration's actions, including its attempt to dissolve congress in March and its use of military courts to try civilian protesters. More recently, Ortega also attempted — albeit unsuccessfully — to get the Supreme Court to halt the constitutional assembly. In her fight against the president, Ortega is joined by former Cabinet ministers, retired military officers, district attorneys and retired and active law enforcement officials.

19 June 2017

The Free World: What it Achieved, What Went Wrong, and How to Make it Right

By Daniel Fried

The Free World appears to be in trouble, says Daniel Fried. Indeed, aggressive authoritarians and newly-emboldened nationalists are challenging the very foundations of a rules-based, democratic international order. Given these dangers, Fried believes it’s important for us to remind ourselves what the Free World achieved, where it has gone wrong, and what democratic forces can do to help restore it.

Ideas have power, not all ideas and not under all circumstances, but the idea of a liberal world order demonstrated its power at two turning points: the resurrection of the West after World War II and the expansion of the West after the fall of Communism in Europe in 1989. The phrase “liberal world order” sounds like the invention of a political science seminar. It may be better to call it the Free World Order, as the Free World—its values, institutions, and purposes—remains the best organizing framework for humanity in the twenty-first century.

18 June 2017

*** Winning the War of Ideology: Leveraging Religious Commonalities

By John J. Houser

Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘This would be the best of all worlds if there were no religion in it!' But in this exclamation I would have been…fanatical…without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell. - John Adams writing to Thomas Jefferson

Leveraging common principles found in different religions forms a foundation to undermine those using religious differences as a weapon. Expressing a deeper sense of religious understanding paints the U.S. as a pluralist society in a world where “more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group.”[1] Some assert Samuel Huntington prophetically warned about a pending “Clash of Civilizations” citing religiously inspired violence ranging from organized terror groups to “lone wolf” incidents as evidence of a world bound for a cultural collision. Although terrorists represent only a small portion of a religious population, their ability to project global influence indicates the current international framework of nation-states is reaching a tipping point.

16 June 2017

Larry Summers: The Problem With Privatization

Lawrence Summers

We tend in modern economies to take progress for granted and debate only its pace. This is not true with respect to air travel times. A look at airline time tables reveals that today the 8:26 a.m. flight from Boston to Washington National took 103 minutes. The 8:15 a.m. flight in 1982 took 82 minutes. The difference is similar, if not greater, on other routes. For example, flights from Boston to Charlotte typically took 125 minutes in the early 1980s compared to 160+ today.

Why has this happened? The distances have not changed. Nor have we lost knowledge of aeronautical engineering. Perhaps fuel efficiency has something to do with it, but real fuel prices are actually lower today than they were in 1981. Almost certainly, the problem is increased congestion of finite facilities, airspace and air traffic control capacity.

I have, therefore, long been interested in the issue raised by the Trump administration last week of improving our air traffic control system. I remember well meeting a group of airline CEOs at the beginning of the Obama administration as they argued for inclusion in the President’s Recovery Act for a NEXTGEN system that could, over the next two decades, transform American air traffic control.

15 June 2017

Danger in Shifting Patterns in Global Militarisation

By Daniel Hyslop

While the world has successfully lowered overall levels of militarisation over the last 30 years there has been a dangerous increase in the world’s most unstable areas

The conflict in Syria is a stark reminder of the devastating potential of state based armed conflict and the destructive capability of conventional heavy weapons. One need only look at the gulf between the numbers of lives lost from terrorism versus armed conflict globally to be reminded of this fact –in 2016, it is estimated that approximately five times more people were killed in armed conflict than in terrorist events.

While charting trends in militarisation is difficult due to the constantly evolving destructive capability of heavy weapons technology, IEP has tried to develop a data driven approach by compiled 30 years of heavy weapons data based on the authoritative International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Military Balance. The data have then been codified based on a methodology developed by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

13 June 2017

Meeting Security Challenges in a Disordered World


Today the world faces a volatile convergence of instability, state weakness, and conflict. Lethal civil conflicts rage in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and South Sudan, stoking regional rivalries, offering safe havens to violent extremist groups, and triggering immense and unprecedented humanitarian crises. Even in regions and states where overt conflict is absent, such as West Africa or Central America, institutional and economic weakness creates unstable conditions that may enflame low level shocks or simmering criminal activity. At times resolution of these conditions may prove elusive and intervention fruitless; however, sometimes security challenges emerging in these environments require immediate and direct response.

The United States must be prepared to operate in a range of complex environments to meet a range of security challenges and threats, such as humanitarian emergencies, terrorism and violent extremism, great power aggression, health security crises, and international criminal violence. This study focuses on these five functional security imperatives and illustrates each imperative through regionally or subnationally defined operating environments. In each case, the selected security imperative must be addressed in the near term to help meet other U.S. objectives. The goal of the case studies is to characterize the operating environment, identify key tasks and responsibilities to address the security imperative, and develop a set of tools and policy recommendations for operating in those specific environments.

5 June 2017

The CSS Blog Network

By Glenda Sluga

These days, the pulse of the world’s political health is running fast. The general prognosis is terminal, the end of the international world order, as we know it. But determining what order we are on the verge of losing could do with more diagnosis, including tracking the symptoms of the disorder (and order) back to their beginnings. One of the useful roles that historians can play in this regard is to offer a longer view of what we have lost, or, at least, the international order that seems to be disappearing from view. So bear with me as I offer a “Cook’s tour” of two centuries in search of the point where the end possibly began, in order to understand better the history of the aims—or “ends”—of international order itself.

1814?

European historians have long assumed that the early nineteenth century made “international” politics possible: In 1814, after decades of continental wars against French hegemony, a coalition led by Russia, including Sweden, Prussia, Austria, and Britain (as well as some smaller now non-existent sovereignties) emerged victorious and established what became known as the “Congress system.” At its most basic, this comprised negotiations through discussion—famously identified with the Congress of Vienna—and transnational cooperation in the interests of permanent peace. In the years that followed, ambassadorial conferences in London, and occasional conferences around the smaller towns of the European continent, became a method for managing territorial and ideological flashpoints. Within a few years, the British foreign minister Lord Castlereagh confidently reported to his Prime Minister the practical value of this transformation of European politics:

1 June 2017

The World That World War II Built

By George Friedman

On June 4-7, it will be 75 years since the Battle of Midway, the battle in which the United States won the war in the Pacific and prevented the defeat of Britain and Russia. Guadalcanal, El Alamein and Stalingrad followed, all mostly fought in the second half of 1942. Over two years of horror would remain – neither Japan nor Germany was prepared to concede the point – but the war was won by the beginning of 1943.

These were extraordinary battles in an extraordinary war. I want to devote some time this year to considering the battles on their anniversaries and, I want to try to explain how these battles were an interlocking whole – really a single, rolling, global battle that collectively decided the war. By the end of the year, my goal is to show that a single global battle, beginning at Midway and ending at Stalingrad, defined the fate of humanity.

Systemic Wars

This is not simply antiquarian interest, although surely June 1942 to February 1943 must rank with Salamis, where the Greeks stopped the Persian surge into Europe; Teutoburg, where the Germans halted the Roman advance; or Lepanto, where Christian Europe halted Muslim Ottoman expansion. These battles defined the future of a civilization; June 1942 to February 1943 defined the future of the entire world.