Daily Archives: August 27, 2019

Exporting digital authoritarianism

By Alina Polyakova and Chris Meserole – Digital authoritarianism — the use of digital information technology by authoritarian regimes to surveil, repress, and manipulate domestic and foreign populations — is reshaping the power balance between democracies and autocracies.

At the forefront of this phenomenon, China and Russia have developed and exported distinct technology-driven playbooks for authoritarian rule. Beijing’s experience using digital tools for domestic censorship and surveillance has made it the supplier of choice for illiberal regimes looking to deploy their own surveillance systems, while Moscow’s lower-cost digital disinformation tools have proven effective in repressing potential opposition at home and undermining democracies abroad.

This policy brief examines the development and export of both the Chinese and Russian models.

China pioneered digital age censorship with its “Great Firewall” of a state-controlled Internet and unprecedented high-tech repression deployed in Xinjiang in recent years, and has exported surveillance and monitoring systems to at least 18 countries.

Russia relies less on filtering information and more on a repressive legal regime and intimidation of key companies and civil society, a lower-cost ad hoc model more easily transferable to most countries. The Russian government has made recent legal and technical moves which further tighten control, including legislation passed this year to establish a “sovereign Russian internet.”

The authors recommend that the United States and other democracies should tighten export controls on technologies that advance digital authoritarianism, sanction regimes engaging in digital authoritarianism and firms that supply them, develop a competitive democratic model of digital governance with a code of conduct, and increase public awareness around information manipulation, including funding educational programs to build digital critical thinking skills among youth. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Three strategy lessons from GE’s decline
By James E. Schrager -It may be too early to write an obituary for General Electric, but only just. In the past few years, the company has gone from iconic American corporate titan and darling of Wall Street to a humbled, awkward, oversized giant. In June 2018, GE was kicked out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the blue-chip club of the United States’ largest public companies. It had been a member since the stock gauge was launched in 1896. Some analysts have GE on bankruptcy watch.

To those who have been paying attention, this has been a long, slow decline. In fact, GE never had much of a chance once Jack Welch retired as chairman and CEO in 2001. That wasn’t because of bad luck or lackluster management. Instead, Welch’s perfectly brilliant growth strategy had simply run its course.

Welch’s great mistake was to fail to plan for the “end of history”—what happens when the golden goose stops laying. The story is worth revisiting not just because it explains the deterioration of GE. It also holds three powerful lessons about corporate strategy:

  1. All growth from any single market or technology will end. Companies that endure are those that plan for this reality.
  2. If you are successful, many will copy your success. Companies that continue to prosper update and adapt their strategies.
  3. Smart corporate strategies are flexible and nimble, enabling action rather than constraining it.

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Updates from Ciena

Dissecting a submarine network trial announcement
With network infrastructure as critical as submarine cables, we’re constantly seeing new cables being announced and new technological milestones being achieved – but what’s real?

Learn the difference between a hero trial, real-world trial, and how you can read between the lines to help separate hype from reality.
By Brian Lavallée – 2019 has and will continue to be a very busy year in the submarine network industry, with several new cables announced, deployed, and already put into the Ready for Service (RFS) state.

Why does the industry need so many new submarine cables?

To maintain pace with our ever-growing affinity and utter addiction to Internet-based content, which continues to drive the 40% CAGR in intercontinental bandwidth demand, according to industry analysts at TeleGeography, along the submerged information superhighways that interconnect continental landmasses.

As submarine networks are rightfully considered critical infrastructure, deploying new and modern cables will improve the overall reliability of the global network that erases distance and borders to close the digital divide.

When new submarine cable performance milestones are achieved in trials, they’re actively promoted through blogs, press releases, tweets, and webinars to celebrate, and why not?

These new submerged wet plant and modem technology advancements are truly astonishing and deserve this fanfare – but the context of these achievements must be fully understood to determine what’s actually deployable for live customer traffic in the real-world. more>

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Against cheerfulness

By Mariana Alessandri – I once ended up at a Boy Scout ceremony in the northeast United States, where I inhaled the American spirit unfiltered. The boys’ uniforms had Stars-and-Stripes patches sewn on next to their badges. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance in front of an oversize US flag, and we prayed to America’s vague God, giving thanks for this and that, and asking for some strength or protection. The boys recited their Scout Law: to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, and… cheerful.

As a philosopher influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, I’d always imagined cheerfulness was a sickly child, born nine months after a Tinder date between Stoicism and Christianity. But that night I learned that cheerfulness was a British orphan smuggled into the US in the early 20th century, and was now making a living spreading itself all over contemporary American kitsch: throw pillows, coffee mugs and slippers. Cheerfulness has planted deep roots in US soil, and the poor Boy Scouts are made to believe she’s a virtue.

The Ancient Greeks named four virtues: temperance, wisdom, courage and justice. Aristotle added more, but cheerfulness wasn’t one of them. The Greek philosophers didn’t seem to care about how we felt compared with how we acted.

The Roman Stoics inched closer to prescribing cheerfulness when they decided that we should pay attention to our feelings. They believed that we could control our attitudes.

To the Stoic list of virtues, the Christians added faith, hope and love. These are a gift from God, unlike patience and justice, which can be achieved on our own. Faith is the belief that with God all things are possible; hope is risking that belief in real time; and love is willing to be wrong about it. These three add an undeniably emotional element to the mix of virtues, but even Jesus didn’t ask for cheer.

It’s no surprise that cheerfulness was embraced not only by Boy Scouts but by the greater American culture too: the US is a melting pot of Christianity, Stoicism, cognitive behavioral therapy, capitalism and Buddhism, all of which hold, to varying degrees, that we are responsible for our attitudes and, ultimately, for our happiness. more>