Daily Archives: November 19, 2019

War once helped build nations, now it destroys them

By Mark Kukis – Organized violence – the term war boils down to – has long been a unifier of peoples. Archaeological evidence shows that nearly half those who lived during the last part of the Stone Age in Nubia, an area along the southern reaches of the Nile River, died violent deaths. Many other tribal societies through the ages have shared this mortality pattern, which suggests large-scale mobilization for killing rather than widespread random violence.

Cooperation, mutual dependence, trust – even in killing others – are building blocks of political order, the foundational elements of states.

The advent of agriculture was a prerequisite to long-term human settlements – cities – of any significant size. It gave rise to larger societies, capable of bigger and more elaborate wars. For the dynasties of ancient China, the empires of Mesopotamia and, centuries later, the kingdoms of Europe, waging war was one of their reasons for being.

Frederick William founded and built Prussia to wage war against its many hostile neighbors. Prussia’s clashes with regional rivals during the 17th and 18th centuries made the nation we know today as Germany.

Across this long history from the Stone Age to the modern era, the basic political formula remained the same. Disparate elements of a society learned to cooperate outside familial structures in order to arm themselves for plunder, defense – or both. They formed hierarchies, bureaucracies and institutions that endured and evolved. For emerging nations, the aftermath of the wars imparted important shared experiences too. Defeat could be even more unifying than victory.

The last major nation-building war came in 1980, when Iraq under Saddam Hussein attacked Iran following the Iranian Revolution. When Hussein launched a ferocious assault reminiscent of fighting from the First World War, Iran was woefully unprepared. The Iranian revolutionaries drew on religious commitments to help galvanize legions of fighters. Iranian men young and old flung themselves against Iraqi tank attacks, again and again, until Iraq’s advance ground to a halt.

For Iran, it is difficult to overstate the legitimacy this achievement gave the new regime, and the cohesion the war imparted to Iran. Iranian society cohered around grief, fear and a renewed sense of Persian identity in response to Arab invaders, both Sunni and Shiite.

Since the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), wars have tended to be mainly destructive forces for nations. more>

Cybersecurity and digital trade: What role for international trade rules?

By Joshua P. Meltzer – Trade and cybersecurity are increasingly intertwined. The global expansion of the internet and increased use of data flows by businesses and consumers—for communication, e-commerce, and as a source of information and innovation—are transforming international trade. The spread of artificial intelligence, the “internet of things,” (IoT) and cloud computing will accelerate the global connectivity of businesses, governments, and supply chains.

As this connectivity grows, however, so does our exposure to the risks and costs of cyberattacks. As the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Council observed, the U.S. is “faced with a progressively worsening cybersecurity threat environment and an ever-increasing dependence on internet technologies fundamental to public safety, economic prosperity, and overall way of life. Our national security is now inexorably linked to cybersecurity.

Not only are traditional defense and other national security targets at risk of cyberattack, so too is the broader economy. This includes critical infrastructure—such as telecommunications, transport, and health care—which relies on software to network services. There is also cybertheft of intellectual property (IP) and manipulation of online information. More broadly, these risks undermine business and consumer trust in the internet as a basis for commerce and trade.

Many countries are adopting policy measures to respond to the threat. According to one estimate, at least 50 percent of countries have adopted cybersecurity policies and regulations. more>

Updates from Ciena

Is automation enough for digital transformation?
Many leading service providers are already concluding that automation is not enough to drive complete digital transformation. Complex decision making at super-human speeds requires intelligent automation, machine learning, and AI, all of which are fundamental for controlling and operating communications networks of the future.
By Shelley Bhalla – On March 26, 2019, many airlines tweeted that their main reservation systems were having “system issues” and were unable to issue boarding passes. This was a U.S.-wide outage that impacted hundreds of thousands of passengers and the scene below from one of the airports illustrates a frustrating customer experience most anyone can relate to.

Every industry inevitably experiences network issues and outages, but in today’s deeply connected social world, a disruption in service severely impacts a company’s brand value and reputation. Service providers understand this and are focusing on using automation to quickly identify root causes and fixes to such issues.

But is automation enough for meaningful digital transformation?

To reduce operating expenses and address the complexity resulting from incorporating newer technologies, service providers must embrace a fundamental shift in ideology to focus on solving problems proactively, before they happen. This won’t happen overnight; it’s more of a journey that starts with a keen focus on solving problems quickly using analytics and automation. As time progresses, the power of artificial intelligence (AI) can then help predict and avoid these issues before they impact services.

Many leading service providers are already concluding that automation is not enough to drive complete digital transformation. Complex decision making at super-human speeds requires intelligent automation, machine learning and AI, all of which are fundamental for controlling and operating communications networks of the future.

Let’s look at why. more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

Startups, forget about the technology
New ventures should focus all their efforts on problem-solving
By Michael D. Alter – Soon after Brian Chesky graduated in 2007 with a degree in industrial design, he moved from Rhode Island to San Francisco. He was shocked by the cost of living, at one point owing $1,200 for his share of the rent for an apartment, but with only $1,000 in his bank account. Chesky saw an ad for an international design conference being held in the city, which mentioned that all the nearby hotels were completely booked up. He immediately saw an opportunity: designers needed a place to stay, and he needed rent money. So he set up a website and advertised that his roommates had space to accommodate three visitors, if they would sleep on inflatable air beds. What would later become Airbnb was born.

The following year, Chesky was reading an article about the Democratic National Convention, which was due to be held in Denver. How, the article wondered, would Denver, which had some 28,000 hotel rooms at the time, accommodate about 80,000 convention goers? The entrepreneur immediately recognized that this could be a big break for his fledgling startup. “Obama supporters [could] host other Obama supporters from all over the world,” Chesky recalled three years later. “All we did was become part of the story.”

As well as being a memorable origin story that explains their name (air mattresses were the air in Airbnb), this is an instructive lesson in entrepreneurship. Chesky and his cofounders identified a twofold problem—lack of affordable accommodations and sky-high rents—and thought creatively of how they might be able to solve it and make some money at the same time.

In the startup world, it isn’t necessarily the best product that ultimately wins out. Rather, it’s the best way to solve the problem. Once you do that, you can figure out how to scale it. more>

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