By Stuart N. Brotman – The growing restrictions on internet freedom around the world are easy to document; less so any visible American strategy that would reverse the ominous trends at hand.
According to its most recent annual report in this area, Freedom on the Net 2016, two-thirds of the world’s internet users live under government censorship. Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.
The types of blocked content include political communication aimed at promoting democratic values, such as online petitions and calls for public protests. Even satire can be punished severely: a 22-year old in Egypt was imprisoned for three years after photo-shopping Mickey Mouse ears on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Unfortunately, this type of criminal penalty is hardly unique.
Overall, Freedom House deemed only 17 surveyed countries to have real internet freedom; 28 were partly free and 20 were characterized as not free. The leading bad state actors should not be surprising: China, Syria, Iran, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan and Cuba (North Korea was not included in the survey, alas).
The U.S. would be hurt if the marketplace of ideas and the online commercial marketplace that thrive here are diminished overseas.
However, there has been radio silence to date about this issue from the White House and the Department of State. more> https://goo.gl/msTcLz
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, CONGRESS WATCH, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media, Net
Tagged Digital privacy, First Amendment Rights, Government, Internet freedom, Repression, Surveillance state
Renewable Energy Makes Things Tough On The Grid, But New Software Could Help
By Bruce Watson – In 2016, more than two-thirds of power in Europe came from nonrenewable sources. Globally, renewables are expected to reach parity with coal and gas around 2040.
Nevertheless, the speed with which intermittent renewables — the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow — are coming on board is making it harder for European utilities to balance the grid. That’s because the grid, as large as it is, is also a delicate system where supply must match demand at all times or there’s a risk of blackouts.
In France, for example, strong winds in the north mixed with a sunny week on the Riviera in the south can lead to a surfeit of electricity that puts the balance at risk.
The intermittency also makes profits hard to find, with European utilities on average struggling to increase profits 1 percent in 2016. Countries around the world are watching how Europe uses thermal generation to keep the grid balanced; prioritizes low-cost, clean and renewable energy; and keeps utilities profitable amid a rapidly changing energy network. more> https://goo.gl/iC532f
Posted in Broadband, Communication industry, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, Nature, Technology
Tagged Black out, Climate change, Electricity grid, GE, Power generation, Renewal energy
By Henning Meyer – The digital revolution, used here as shorthand for broader technological change, is one of today’s most hotly debated topics in politics, economics and business.
We are undoubtedly faced with large-scale disruptions in many areas that require adjustments.
To analyse exposure to the digital revolution and potential policy solutions you need to start breaking it down into manageable dimensions. Three areas in particular warrant special attention: What are the forces shaping the application of new technologies? What does the digital revolution mean for the future of work? And what kind of policies could help to address these issues?
There is a general lack of structured analysis of the ways in which technological progress translates into real life. This is an important shortcoming as it leads to a distorted view of real-time developments. Here we try to structure this process and identify five filters that in effect moderate technology’s impact.
First, an ethical filter. This filter restricts research itself as it sets a permission framework for what can be done.
Second, a social filter. Social resistance against technological change is not new and it is likely to be more intense in areas where there is a perceived threat to people’s jobs.
Third, a corporate governance filter.
Fourth, a legal filter also moderates what is possible and what is applied in the real world.
Last but not least a productivity filter. This filter means in principle that the application of new technology does not have a dramatic effect on productivity because either the productivity bottleneck lies elsewhere or diminishing marginal returns mean that there is little real improvement in products or services. more> https://goo.gl/nZdclG
Posted in Broadband, Communication industry, Economic development, Economy, Education, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Bottlenecks, Capital, Digital transformation, Productivity, Public policy, Technology adoption
By Sasha Cohen O’Connell – Resolving today’s most pressing cyber security and Internet governance challenges is dependent on the tech industry and the government working together on both policy development and policy implementation.
Specifically, collaboration is required to successfully research, design, debate, and ultimately implement effective solutions.
While there is overwhelming consensus on the need for collaboration, it remains a huge challenge. Why?
While many factors contribute to the problem, including differing incentive structures, cultures and business models, one critical element—organizational structure—is a significant and often overlooked hurdle that needs attention and creative solutions.
Most collaborations today are done by ad hoc teams of operational personnel, lawyers, government affairs departments, and/or trade associations or other outside third parties. This setup is neither efficient nor effective. more> https://goo.gl/B0j8RA
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, CONGRESS WATCH, Economic development, Economy, History, Leadership, Media, Net, Regulations
Tagged Broadband, Business improvement, Congress Watch, Government, Internet, Leadership, United States, Wireless, Wireline
By Mike Hearn – One of the issues (though not at all the only one) is how governments understand the term “cyber warfare”. This term has spread rapidly throughout government in the past 20 years. Presidents, Prime Ministers, generals and journalists all believe they understand what “cyber warfare” is, but they don’t and this lack of understanding leads to events like today’s.
The big problem is that cyber warfare is totally different to normal warfare, in fact it’s so different that calling it warfare at all is meaningless. In regular warfare you can build up your own defenses without improving your opponent’s defenses, and you can develop new weapons that your opponents will not have. This basic asymmetry is key to the very concept of war: the side with the better weapons, defenses and tactics should normally win.
But cyber warfare doesn’t work like that. Because everyone uses the same software infrastructure, and the “weapons” are nothing more than weaknesses in that global infrastructure, building up your own defenses by fixing problems inherently builds up your opponents defenses too. And developing new “weapons” is only possible if your opponents are able to develop the very same weapons for themselves, by exploiting the very same vulnerabilities in your country that you are exploiting in theirs.
Governments have huge problems understanding this fact because politicians tend to reflexively trust their own intelligence agencies, who deliberately obfuscate about it. more> https://goo.gl/t1YWuS
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, CONGRESS WATCH, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media, Net
Tagged Broadband, Congress Watch, Cybersecurity, Government, Internet, Leadership, Technology, United States
By Alwyn Scott – The $4 billion GE has spent on developing digital products – ranging from tiny sensors in jet engines to augmented reality and software that can crunch large volumes of data – is on the scale of investments Google and Facebook Inc (FB.N) made to build their businesses, Bill Ruh, CEO of GE’s digital division, told Reuters.
Now that GE has shed non-essential operations, including most of its large financial unit, its fortunes will rise or fall depending on whether that investment delivers.
GE’s technology – and similar systems by IBM, Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) and others – is a hot new battleground in manufacturing.
The companies promise they can spot problems before machines break down, yield cost savings of 30 percent or more, and raise labor productivity that has slowed sharply in recent years.
The company has spent $5 billion setting up new U.S. factories in the last five years. As it now adds digital technology to its plants, it needs fewer, and higher skilled, workers than in the past.
“We’re going to have a smarter worker,” Jeff Immelt said in an interview. “We’re not going to have as many workers.” more> https://goo.gl/MDXuzw
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy, How to, Leadership, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Broadband, Business improvement, Capital, Industrial economy, Internet, Productivity, Technology