USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, November 17 - 30, 2011

Please note: This Roundup contains two weeks' worth of highlights due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Table of Contents

**Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

New Technology Can Democratise Development
Decades after the World Bank and the IMF came into being, we have the technology to ensure that countries can hold their governments to account. These moves to transparency - giving citizens access to information - gives 21st-century meaning to the saying "knowledge is power".
See the full article (Guardian, Anstey Tuesday, 11/29/11)
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Can Ushahidi Rely on Crowdsourced Verifications?
Is false information just a necessary by-product of "crowdsourced" environments like Ushahidi? Or do we need to do more to help deployment teams, emergency personnel and users better assess the accuracy of reports hosted on our platform? [A new study] has revealed some questions as we look to improve the platform's ability to do verification on large quantities of data in the future.
See the full article (PBS, Heather Ford, 11/28/11)
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War by Remote Control: Drones Make it Easy
Drones have taken center stage in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the counterterrorism fight in Pakistan. The Air Force now recruits more pilots for unmanned aircraft than fighter and bomber pilots combined. A lot of the skills pilots need are the same - spatial awareness, quick critical thinking skills - but unlike pilots for manned aircraft, remote pilots don't need perfect vision.
See the full article (NPR, 11/26/11)
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Cyberwar Explodes in Syria
Since media are strictly controlled by the Syrian government, and foreign journalists are by and large prohibited from entering the country, the Internet has played a vital role for Syrian opposition activists smuggling out images of atrocities carried out by security forces. Some observers argue the Internet has become a battleground in an all-out Syrian cyberwar.
See the full article (CNN, Ivan Watson, 11/22/11)
Click to read "Syrian Uprising: Looking In, Looking Out," a USIP Peace Brief by Amr al-Azm.
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U.S. Probing Use of Surveillance Technology in Syria
Commerce officials are attempting to determine whether Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., had prior knowledge that its equipment and software was being used by the Syrian government. Recent news reports have revealed that authoritarian governments have used U.S. and other Western technology to monitor dissidents and other citizens.
See the full article (Washington Post, Sari Horwitz and Shyamantha Asokan, 11/18/11)
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Unquenchable Thirst
A growing rivalry between India, Pakistan and China over the region's great rivers may be threatening South Asia's peace. Analysts have suggested that, given the generally dire relations between South Asian countries, water will provoke clashes rather than co-operation.
See the full article (Economist, 11/19/11)
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Cyber Spies Are Winning: Time to Reinvent Online Security
The year 2011 will be remembered as the year that the fundamental underpinnings of Internet security fell. Business leaders are waking up to the new reality that cyber adversaries, from hacktivists to nation-state adversaries, can gain almost unlimited access to their networks.
See the full article (Forbes, Anup K. Ghosh, 11/18/11)
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The Next Osama Bin Laden Already Has Your Social Security Number
A massive cyber attack on American infrastructure is the 21st-century equivalent of the neutron bomb. All buildings remain standing but systems inside them are rendered useless. Human beings aren't killed on a large scale, but few, if any, are left standing either. And while this sounds pretty dire, it's quite likely some segment of this nation will at some time be shut down by cyber terrorists.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Adam Levin, 11/17/11)
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Drone Journalism Arrives
Now that cellphone cameras have turned every protester with a Twitter account or a YouTube channel into a potential multimedia journalist, police officers in several American cities appear to be having trouble distinguishing between activists and reporters. All of which makes it a good time to report that a Polish firm called RoboKopter scored something of a coup last week when it demonstrated that its miniature flying drone was capable of recording spectacular aerial views of a chaotic protest in Warsaw.
See the full article (New York Times, Robert Mackey, 11/17/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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