USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, September 15 - 21, 2011

Table of Contents

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America's Permanent Robot War
In the world of weaponry, they are the sexiest things around. Others countries are desperate to have them. As CIA director, Leon Panetta called them "the only game in town". As secretary of defence, Robert Gates pushed hard to up their numbers and increase their funding drastically. You don't need it in skywriting to know that, as icons of American-style war, they are clearly in our future - and they're even heading for the homeland as police departments clamor for them. They are, of course, the pilotless drones, our grimly named Predators and Reapers.
See the full article (Guardian, Tom Engelhardt, 10/4/11)
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Video Game to Aid War Journalists
Tony Maniaty teamed up with the filmmaker Robert Connolly and games designer Morgan Jaffit to produce a "proof of concept" prototype. The game, set in the fictional, poverty-stricken African country of Benouja, introduces some of the hazards journalists may face in real-life war zones, such as snipers, improvised explosive devices, ambushes, kidnapping, illness and hostile crowds.
See the full article (BBC, Stuart Hughes, 10/4/11)
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History and the Decline of Human Violence
Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, is the author of the best-selling books, "How the Mind Works?," and "The Blank Slate." His latest work is an ambitious attempt to understand the origins, history - and perhaps the future - of human violence. The book is called "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined," and it combines science with history to conclude that, by many measures, we live in the best of times, not the worst.
See the full article (Scientific American, Gareth Cook, 10/4/11)
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The Pentagon's Cyberstrategy, One Year Later
For almost all of human history, man has waged war on land and at sea. Air and space emerged as potential battlefields only in the past few generations. Now, the danger of cyberwarfare rivals that of traditional war. The advent of more destructive technologies - and of their inevitable proliferation among actors willing to use them - means that the United States must strengthen its critical national networks against ever worse threats.
See the full article (CNN, William J. Lynn III, 10/3/11)
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Monitoring Human Rights from Space
There are parts of Sudan too dangerous and too remote for journalists to get to - meaning they can't cover some of the human rights abuses that have plagued the country. The Satellite Sentinel Project uses, you guessed it, satellites to shed light on what's happening on the ground in Sudan. The project is, in part, the brainchild of George Clooney.
See the full article (NPR, 9/30/11)
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Idaho Laboratory Analyzed Stuxnet Computer Virus
Behind the doors of a nondescript red brick and gray building of the Idaho National Laboratory is the malware laboratory where government cyber experts analyzed the Stuxnet computer virus. Cyber experts have said it appeared aimed mostly at Iran's nuclear program and that its sophistication indicates involvement by a nation state, possibly the United States or Israel.
See the full article (Reuters, Tabassum Zakaria, 9/29/11)
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Africa's Quiet Digital Revolution
Facebook and Twitter may have grabbed the headlines during the Arab Spring uprisings, but on the African sub-continent an altogether quieter digital revolution is taking place. Services begun in the UK to help allay middle-class indignation about the lack of transparency from MPs is playing an increasingly important role in bringing democracy to countries that have known little.
See the full article (BBC, Jane Wakefield, 9/29/11)
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