USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, February 2 - 8, 2012

Table of Contents

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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

Iranian Scientists Afraid to Leave Their Homes
Iran's Foreign Minister says Tehran wants the assassinations of its scientists to receive official international recognition. Iran also wants external legal cooperation in investigating the deaths of its nuclear experts. "According to my sources, scientists in Iran are now fearful of going outside, conducting the everyday business. After all, one of the scientists was shot sitting in his car, waiting to pick up his daughter from a daycare center," [Trinity College director of International Studies] Vijay Prashad explained.
See the full article (RT, 2/7/12)
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Sanctions, Technology and Human Rights in Syria
Media exposure and name-and-shame public pressure on companies whose surveillance technology is used by Assad's security forces [has] led to some voluntary actions. This exposure of tech sector actors pointed out a critical gap in current international sanctions and raised the question: what responsibility do information and communications technology companies have to ensure they are not directly or indirectly supporting regimes sanctioned by the U.S. government and the international community?
See the full article (The Hill, Bama Athreya, 2/7/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "A Year of Turmoil: Challenges of Post-Conflict Reconstruction " on February 16 at 7:30am.
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Hactivists Are Like Criminals, Kaspersky Lab CEO Says
What's the difference between the global hactivist groups and true blood cyber crime? Not much, says Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, a major Russian IT security firm. "They (hactivists) do the same thing in the internet life as those protesters do for free assembly and free speech. And as a result, their hacking is a big damage to services and to the economy."
See the full article (Forbes, Kenneth Rapoza, 2/7/12)
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Defending Virtual Borders in Age of Cyber War
If cyberspace itself is now a weapon of mass destruction, how can we protect ourselves from an electronic Armageddon? That's one of the many disconcerting questions raised by a major new report just published in Europe. The Belgium-based think-tank Security & Defence Agenda (SDA) has produced a large-scale flagship report based on 80 interviews with senior specialists and 250 experts from around the world and attempts to answer the unanswerable: how to govern cyberspace.
See the full article (NBC, Tazeen Ahmad, 2/6/12)
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Google Launches "Solve For X" Website, the New Home for Its Global Innovations Conference
Solve for X, according to the description provided, seems similar in format to the series of conferences from TED, but with more of a scientific focus. The invite-only gathering is designed to attract global innovators who present short, technology-focused presentations. The website describes Solve for X as: "A place where the curious can go to hear and discuss radical technology ideas for solving global problems. Radical in the sense that the solutions could help billions of people."
See the full article (TechCrunch, Sarah Perez, 2/6/12)
Click to read "Climate Change as a Conflict Multiplier," a USIP Peace Brief by Amanda Mayoral.
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US Said to Target Rescuers at Drone Strike Sites
British and Pakistani journalists said Sunday that the C.I.A.'s drone strikes on suspected militants in Pakistan have repeatedly targeted rescuers who responded to the scene of a strike, as well as mourners at subsequent funerals. The report, by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, found that at least 50 civilians had been killed in follow-up strikes after they rushed to help those hit by a drone-fired missile.
See the full article (New York Times, Scott Shane, 2/5/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Bigger US Role Against Companies' Cyberthreats?
Legislation set to come out in the days ahead is intended to ensure that computer systems running power plants and other essential parts of the country's infrastructure are protected from hackers, terrorists or other criminals. Authorities are increasingly worried that cybercriminals are trying to take over systems that control the inner workings of water, electrical, nuclear or other power plants.
See the full article (AP, Lolita C. Baldor, 2/5/12)
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Robot Ethics Won't Clean Up Combat
Technology is often described as a way to reduce war's costs, passions, and thus its crimes. But we shouldn't be seduced into thinking advanced technology can make war something it isn't. Whether it's being fought with sticks and stones or Predator drones, war is still a story of humans: our causes, our decisions, our losses, and our ethics. And, just the same, our problems of war are not going to be easily solved by any silver bullet solution.
See the full article (Boston Globe, Peter Warren Singer, 2/5/12)
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Innovations in Drone Technology
The modern unmanned aerial vehicle in the U.S. can track its roots back to the Civil War and has been heavily influenced by innovations in Israel. See a series of photographs on how drones have evolved.
See the full article (Washington Post, 2/4/12)
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Nokia Publishes Policy on Conflict Minerals
Nokia has acknowledged the issue of illegal trading of conflict minerals and listed the steps it is taking to avoid supporting these transactions. The conflict-minerals debate centers on Congo, where some warlords have profited from the sale of mineral ores containing tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold to component suppliers who make parts for electronics.
See the full article (New York Times, 2/3/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Drone Technology Reaches New Heights
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are replacing boots on the ground in some wars. Commercially, UAVs are being used for things like crop-dusting and flood mapping. Experts discuss advances in drone technology and how to address legal and privacy concerns that stem from their use.
See the full article (Science Friday, 2/3/12)
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Can Science End War?
From designing brain implants to urging us all to have more sex, scientists have spent decades searching for a cure for conflict. Biological theories of war have inspired a slew of bio-solutions, which aim to repress, vent, or redirect our allegedly innate urge to fight. [But] biologically-based solutions cannot solve war, any more than biologically-based theories can explain it.
See the full article (Atlantic, John Horgan, 2/2/12)
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