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International press review Extrema Ratio June 9, 2023

Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including geopolitcs, military, cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law & national security.


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Extrema Ratio

Pechino punterebbe sul sud-est del Paese, dove sono presenti numerose installazioni militari. In più ha ottenuto dall'Argentina il decreto di autorizzazione all'apertura di una base polivalente nella terra del fuoco.

Martedì scorso le forze militari di Cina e Russia hanno effettuato un significativo "pattugliamento strategico aereo congiunto" nella regione dell'Asia-Pacifico, inviando la sesta pattuglia aerea sul Mar del Giappone e sul Mar Cinese orientale.


 

"U.S. forces operating in international waterways or airspace are seeing an alarming increase in the number of risky aerial intercepts and confrontations at sea by Chinese aircraft and vessels, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said he's worried over chances of miscalculation at a conference in Singapore last week".


There has been an increase in unsafe and unprofessional intercepts of U.S. and allied forces lawfully operating in international zones throughout the Indo-Pacific region, said U.S. Indo-Pacific Command officials.

The officials said there have been "scores of dangerous incidents in the air and at sea over the past 18 months alone." They include:

  • In February 2022, a Chinese naval ship directed a laser at an Australian P-8A Poseidon aircraft operating in Australia's exclusive economic zone, endangering the health of Australian airmen.

  • In June 2022, a Chinese J-16 fighter cut across the nose of another Australian P-8A Poseidon that was operating in international airspace over the South China Sea. The Chinese jet released a round of chaff, which was ingested into the Australian aircraft's engine.

  • Recently, the Chinese coast guard employed water cannons, military-grade lasers and erratic conduct to try and intimidate the Philippines from lawful operations within that country's exclusive economic zone, Indo-Pacific officials said.

  • In December 2022, a Chinese Navy J-11 pilot flew in front of — and within 20 feet of — the nose of a U.S. Air Force RC-135, which had to maneuver away to avoid a collision. The Air Force jet was lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace.

  • Just last month, a Chinese J-16 fighter pilot performed an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver during the intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft. "The PRC pilot flew directly in front of the nose of the RC-135, forcing the U.S. aircraft to fly through its wake turbulence," Indo-Pacific Command officials said.

  • In June, the American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon and Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal conducted a routine transit from south to north through the Taiwan Strait when the Chinese destroyer Luyang III executed unsafe maneuvers in the vicinity of Chung-Hoon. The Chinese vessel overtook Chung-Hoon on its port side and crossed the Chung-Hoon's bow at 150 yards.

"These are not isolated incidents, but patterns of behavior that significantly increases the risk of accidents and constitute a grave threat to regional security," Indo-Pacific Command officials said.


U.S. officials use communication channels to discuss these dangerous encounters with the Chinese military. Still, the Chinese have limited contact between U.S. and Chinese military officials. "The Department of Defense is committed to opening lines of military-to-military communication with the PRC in order to responsibly manage the defense relationship between the two countries," DOD officials said.



In the meantime, the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate – safely and responsibly – wherever international law allows. U.S. forces "will continue to fly in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law," DOD officials said. "We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law."


 

Martedì, in relazione al nuovo patto dei soci cinesi di Sinochem in Pirelli, il gruppo aziendale del Partito Comunista Cinese di Sinochem ha tenuto una riunione ufficiale e rilasciato un comunicato stampa. Bisogna costruire nella società Sinochem un sistema di supervisione dell'audit "centralizzato, unificato, completo, autorevole ed efficiente" che promuova il ruolo unico del partito nell'auto-rivoluzione e attui fino in fondo gli importanti dettati del segretario generale Xi Jinping "come un dito, come un'ombra e come un tuono nelle orecchie".

E' la galleria del vento più potente del mondo e può generare velocità del flusso d'aria di 10 km al secondo; è in grado di far avanzare rapidamente le ambizioni ipersoniche della Cina.




Photo: Oct. 1, 2019 Xinhua/Li Yibo
Photo: Oct. 1, 2019 Xinhua/Li Yibo

China's world-leading hypervelocity wind tunnel, which is expected to significantly contribute to the country's development of aerospace transport systems and hypersonic aircraft, recently passed an acceptance check, marking the success of the project.

The National Natural Science Foundation of China organized an acceptance check meeting about the JF-22 hypervelocity wind tunnel at the Institute of Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, the institute said in a press release on Saturday.


A delegation of 16 experts from various institutes and organizations unanimously approved the acceptance check, noting that the project team finished the development and reached its research goals on time and completely, with the wind tunnel reaching world-leading levels in terms of comprehensive performance parameters including effective experiment time, total temperature, total pressure and the size of the nozzle flow field, according to the press release.

Photo: Oct. 1, 2019 Xinhua/Li Yibo

Sponsored by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and undertaken by the Institute of Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the JF-22 hypervelocity wind tunnel is a major national scientific research instrument development project.


The project was launched in 2018, and in five years it led to the construction of a super-large experiment instrument with a length of 167 meters, a nozzle exit of 2.5 meters and a test cabin diameter of four meters.

The JF-22 hypersonic wind tunnel could potentially benefit the further development of China's WZ-8 unmanned aerial vehicle. Western intelligence classifies the WZ-8 as a supersonic aircraft. However, Chinese media claims that the WZ-8 is a hypersonic vehicle. Photo: Oct. 1, 2019 Xinhua/Li Yibo

Capable of testing airflows of three to 10 kilometers a second, or as high as Mach 30, the wind tunnel can powerfully support the development of China's aerospace transport systems and hypersonic aircraft, the press release said.


The combination of the JF-22 hypervelocity wind tunnel and the previously developed JF-12 reproduction wind tunnel has become the only ground experimental platform that can cover all flight ranges for near-space aircraft, the institute said in the press release.


The WZ-8 reconnaissance drone is seen at Airshow China 2021 in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province on Tuesday. Photo: Yang Sheng/Global Times

Project leader Jiang Zonglin said on China Central Television in August 2021 that aerospace aircraft reduce the launch cost of satellites and spacecraft by 90 percent, while hypersonic aircraft will be able to fly at Mach 5 to 10 and arrive at any location in the world within one or two hours.


Chinese aerospace expert Fu Qianshao told the Global Times that hypersonic aircraft could see civilian uses like transport in addition to military applications like reconnaissance and attack when related technologies become mature.



Photo: Oct. 1, 2019 Xinhua/Li Yibo

World

Cuba to host secret Chinese spy base focusing on US The Wall Street Journal Warren P. Strobel and Gordon Lubold China and Cuba have reached a secret agreement for China to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island, in a brash new geopolitical challenge by Beijing to the U.S., according to U.S. officials familiar with highly classified intelligence. An eavesdropping facility in Cuba, roughly 100 miles from Florida, would allow Chinese intelligence services to scoop up electronic communications throughout the southeastern U.S., where many military bases are located, and monitor U.S. ship traffic.

  • White House denies report that China is building a spy base on Cuba Bloomberg Jenny Leonard and Jordan Fabian The White House pushed back on a report that the Chinese government cut a deal with Cuba to set up a spy base on the island that would target US military bases and communications. ‘I’ve seen that press report. It’s not accurate,’ White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in an interview on MSNBC.

U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chair Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chair Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released a joint statement urging the Biden Administration to take steps to prevent Chinese intelligence services from establishing such a presence.


  • Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), chair of the Homeland Security committee, introduced a bill yesterday along with Mike Braun (R-IN) and James Lankford (R-OK), which would require U.S. government agencies to tell people when an agency is using artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to interact with them. The bill also requires agencies to create a way for people to appeal any decisions made by A.I. Reuters reports.

  • The Pentagon yesterday dismissed the China-Cuba eavesdropping report as “inaccurate.” The Pentagon has said it was not aware of any eavesdropping efforts. “I can tell you, based on the information that we have, that that is not accurate, that we are not aware of China and Cuba developing a new type of spy station,” said Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder. Reuters reports.

Deutsche Welle

The Cuban and US governments have both denied a Wall Street Journal report saying Havana and Beijing agreed to establish a Chinese electronic eavesdropping facility in Cuba, some 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Florida.

Voice of America

The Pentagon says reports that China and Cuba have reached a secret pact allowing Beijing to build an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island that is 160 kilometers from the United States are "not accurate."

  • Sweden will allow NATO to base troops on its territory even before it formally joins the alliance, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Defense Minister Pal Jonson said yesterday. Reuters reports.

China Chinese and Russian bombers conducted a joint air patrol on 6 June. The Russian bombers subsequently landed at an unidentified airbase in China. (Japan MoD/Janes) Russian and Chinese strategic bombers concluded a major joint patrol with fighter aircraft over the Sea of Japan (East Sea), the East China Sea, and the Philippine Sea.

According to information published by the Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD), several Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) fighter aircraft participated in the joint air patrol at various legs of the operation.


The joint patrol was split into two phases, according to the Japan MoD. Phase one of the patrol was conducted on 6 June. During this phase, two Xi'an Aircraft Company (XAC) H-6K bombers of the PLA rendezvoused with two Tupolev Tu-95MS bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) over the Sea of Japan (East Sea), the Japan MoD said. However, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) placed the number of aircraft in the joint patrol as four Chinese and four Russian aircraft.

Reuters

China's largest naval training ship sailed for the Philippines on Friday, its last stop of a regional "friendly" tour, amid growing unease over Chinese maritime activities in the South China Sea.

CNN

The Southeast Asian bloc ASEAN will hold its first-ever joint military exercise in the South China Sea, its chair Indonesia said on Thursday, the latest multilateral security drills at a time of rising tension and uncertainty in the region.

China Military

The closing ceremony of the 16th seminar for senior military officers from LAC countries hosted by the Chinese Ministry of National Defense was held in the International College of Defense Studies of the PLA National Defense University on June 7.

China Military

The Chinese naval training ship Qi Jiguang (Hull 83), which is on a cadet training and visit mission in far seas, departed for the Philippines on Thursday after successfully concluding its goodwill visit to Brunei.

Forbes Forbes is out this week with our 20th Global 2000 list of the world’s top publicly traded companies. One of the most striking trends in the past two decades is gains by China. Including Hong Kong, the number of Chinese companies totalled 346 this year, compared with only 43 two decades ago. During that time, China’s economy has been one of the world’s fastest growing and now ranks as the world’s second largest after the United States. China’s presence on the 2023 Forbes Global 2000 list is second only to the U.S., which has 611 members.

Apple’s AirDrop in the crosshairs of China’s national-security crackdown The Guardian Yoko Kubota Apple’s AirDrop and similar file-sharing programs that were used by protesters in China and Hong Kong in recent years face tighter controls under rules proposed by Beijing, the latest communications technology to fall foul of a broadening national-security clampdown. The planned regulations released by the Cyberspace Administration of China target wireless technologies that allow users to instantly send files, images and other data to multiple nearby devices without the need for an internet connection. The rules, which were released only in Chinese, don’t mention AirDrop or its local rivals by name.

CNN

China’s cyberspace regulator plans to issue new rules clamping down on the use of wireless file sharing functions such as Bluetooth and Apple’s AirDrop on national security grounds.

Belt and Road

USA

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken is planning to travel to Beijing as soon as next week, two people familiar with his schedule have said. The trip would be the highest-level visit of a U.S. official to China since that of then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018. The Biden administration has been working to renew high-level diplomatic relations following a near breakdown over the Chinese spy balloon incident in February. Phelim Kine and Doug Palmer report for POLITICO.

  • The U.K. and the United States yesterday agreed to a new “Atlantic Declaration” for greater cooperation on pressing economic challenges in areas like clean energy, critical minerals, and artificial intelligence. Reuters reports.

  • U.S. Agency for International Aid is suspending food aid to Ethiopia because donations are being diverted from those in need. According to a leaked memo, Ethiopian government agencies and the military are behind the diversion scheme. Some 20 million Ethiopians facing severe food shortages because of war and drought will be affected. BBC News reports.

Reuters

Legislation to strip China of its status as a "developing nation" at some international organizations was passed by a U.S. Senate committee on Thursday, as members of the U.S. focus on competing with the Asian power …

C4ISRNET

The Marine Corps is mulling future amphibious concepts and platforms, even while a Pentagon study on the near-term acquisition of amphib ships is ongoing.

Senators say TikTok may have misled Congress on handling of U.S. user data The New York Times Sapna Maheshwari Two senators sent a letter to TikTok’s chief executive on Tuesday, accusing the company of making misleading claims to Congress around how it stores and handles American user data, and demanding answers to more than a dozen questions by the end of next week. The letter, from Senators Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, and Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, focused on how sensitive data about American users may be stored in China and how employees there may have access to it.

Montana banned TikTok. Now these Montanans are fighting back. The Washington Post Lisa Bonos Montana last month became the first state to outlaw TikTok, citing concern that the app could allow the company’s Chinese owners to hoover up Americans’ personal data and become a font of anti-American propaganda. At first glance, Montana seems like an unlikely place for the TikTok drama to play out. Only a million people live here; the state is one of the nation’s largest by area and least densely populated. Its dominant industries — agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and gas extraction, tourism — are more rooted to the land than tethered to the cloud.

Louisiana passes Bill that would require parental consent for kids’ online accounts The New York Times Natasha Singer Over the last year, state legislators concerned about a mental health crisis among the nation’s young people have passed a raft of children’s online safety measures. A new Utah law would require social networks to obtain a parent’s consent before giving an account to a child younger than 18 while a new California law would require many sites to turn on the highest privacy settings for minors.

White House needs to urgently fix nation’s approach to protecting critical infrastructure, group says CyberScoop Christian Vasquez U.S. government policies designed to protect critical infrastructure against hackers are woefully outdated and inadequate to safeguard sectors such as water and transportation against cyberthreats, according to an influential congressionally mandated group of experts. In a lengthy and detailed report released Wednesday, the commission pointed to the 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, which crippled gas deliveries across the country, as a key example of how current policies and government agencies aren’t optimized for the nature of today’s threats.

State Department offers $5 million for information on key Anom distributor VICE Joseph Cox The U.S. State Department is offering $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of an alleged key distributor for Anom, an encrypted phone company the FBI secretly managed in order to wiretap thousands of criminals globally. Many underground phone sellers sold Anom devices without knowing the company was actually an FBI plot. This allegedly includes Maximilian Rivkin, the Swedish gangster the State Department is targeting.

DeSantis ad uses fake AI images of Trump hugging and kissing Fauci, experts say ArsTechnica Jon Brodkin A Ron DeSantis presidential campaign video shows three pictures of Donald Trump hugging and kissing Anthony Fauci, all of which seem to be fake images generated by artificial intelligence. One professor told Ars today that there is ‘no doubt’ the ad uses fake AI images. As reported by AFP yesterday, media forensics experts say the images, which the DeSantis ad passed off as photographs taken during Trump's presidency, have telltale signs of AI. Even non-experts may notice oddities, such as incomprehensible text on a sign that should say ‘White House’ and ‘Washington.’

  • Former President Trump has been charged over his handling of classified documents after he left the White House. Trump faces seven charges, including the unauthorized retention of classified files. The charges are not yet public. It is the second indictment Trump faces and the first federal indictment of a former president. George Bowden reports for BBC News.

Americas

Janes

The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND), which is reviewing its six-year-old defence policy, has received more than 1,500 public comments as part of the process, according to a DND spokesperson.

The DND is “taking into account these submissions in crafting” a defence policy update (DPU), the spokesperson told Janes on 8 June. The DPU “is currently under way and we look forward to releasing it in due course”.

North Asia

The Defence Post

Chen Wen-Jia, who works with the Institute for National Policy Research, said the country’s weapons and equipment should only be deployed to the field in the event of a conflict.

He further stated that Taipei would likely be targeted by Chinese precision missiles, making its military assets vulnerable to destruction before they had a chance to be deployed.

For the army, strategic locations to hide assets include mountains, bridges, culverts, and underground facilities.

The Defence Post


Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy's Cheng-Kung-class frigates. Image: Creative Commons

North Korean hacking group Lazarus linked to $35 million cryptocurrency heist The Record by Recorded Future Daryna Antoniuk The notorious North Korean hackers of Lazarus Group could potentially be responsible for the $35 million cryptocurrency heist from the decentralized wallet platform Atomic Wallet, according to analysts. Atomic Wallet users’ wallets were compromised earlier last week. According to the company’s statement, less than 1% of its monthly active customers were affected by the hack. In total, Atomic Wallet has 5 million users worldwide.

South Korea vows support for its chip sector amid China-US tension Reuters Joyce Lee South Korea pledged support for its chip sector on Thursday, with President Yoon Suk Yeol describing competition in the industry as an ‘all-out war’ amid heightened Sino-U.S. tension. Earlier in the day, Yoon met with about 60 industry leaders, lawmakers and ministers to discuss how to maintain South Korea's lead in memory chips, foster development of system semiconductors, and secure materials, equipment and labour. The government plans to help expand research and development, bolster smaller players, strengthen legal protection for chip technology and set up a chip testing facility, the industry ministry said in a statement.

  • Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s today approved a revision to the Development Cooperation Charter, its development aid policy, to focus on maritime and economic security and its national interests. The charter, usually updated every 10 years, is being revised two years early, indicating the growing concern over China and other global challenges. Under the revision, Japan will focus on combating climate change, food and energy crises triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, strengthening maritime security, supply chain resiliency, and digital transformation. Mari Yamaguchi reports for AP News.

South & Central Asia

Janes

Azerbaijan has agreed a deal with Leonardo for the procurement of the C-27J Spartan airlifter, the manufacturer announced on 8 June.


Seen in Romanian service, the C-27J will now be operated by Azerbaijan. (Leonardo)

The procurement is part of a wider modernisation plan for the Azerbaijan Air Force (AzAF) and Air Defence Force, and was agreed during a visit to the Caucasian country by an Italian delegation.

“The agreement is part of the extensive modernisation programme of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, which are increasingly looking to the products of Italian industry,” Leoanrdo said.

Leonardo told Janes that it was unable to divulge details as to the number of aircraft involved in the deal nor the delivery timeline. It did note that the aircraft will be the Next Generation (NG) standard, which was launched in March and is now the new baseline configuration for all new customers.

Cybercrime group ‘Asylum Ambuscade’ adds espionage to its activities The Record by Recorded Future Jonathan Greig Cybersecurity company ESET is warning about Asylum Ambuscade, a cybercrime group that has operated since at least 2020, targeting businesses, banks and cryptocurrency firms in North America. Lately the group has conducted espionage against government entities in Europe and Central Asia, ESET said. The report does not link the group with a specific country. The group’s 2022 espionage campaigns targeted government officials in multiple European nations that border Ukraine. ESET researchers said the goal is to steal confidential information and credentials used to log into government webmail platforms.

Pakistan’s 4-day internet shutdown was the final straw for its tech workers Rest of World Zuha Siddiqui Although the internet shutdown was temporary, it brought the country’s IT industry to a grinding halt. Tech workers from Pakistan told Rest of World they were concerned about its lasting effects on jobs, and the tech industry as a whole. After a year of record-breaking funding in 2021, the internet blackout has taken the country’s tech ecosystem ‘10 steps back,’ said experts, fueling fears that international investors might reconsider investing in Pakistan.

Australia

Defence cranks targets for women in technical roles InnovationAus James Riley With more attention and more money being applied to building local defence capability, the Department of Defence has set ambitious new targets for getting more STEM-qualified women into technical roles across the service.

Ark’s Cathie Wood says AI will bring about deflation within a year The Australian Paulina Duran Artificial intelligence poses a big opportunity to quickly bring global inflation down and regulators need to be careful not to thwart ‘the greatest innovation of all time’, one of the world’s most high-profile technology investors said. Ark chief executive Cathie Wood says AI will be adopted ‘in every area’, bringing with it productivity to industries around the world and leading to falling prices globally.

Russia - Ukraine

  • In a letter to President Biden yesterday, nine Republican and Democratic lawmakers urged the administration to greenlight the sending of controversial long-range munitions to Ukraine quickly. Biden recently signaled he might be open to sending these munitions. However, national security adviser Jake Sullivan last year suggested that sending long-range munitions could cause World War III because the weapons could strike deep inside Russia. Lara Seligman and Joe Gould report for POLITICO.

  • The Ukrainian military’s long-anticipated counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces has begun. Ukraine’s troops intensified their attacks on the front line in the country’s southeast. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukrainian forces tried to break through the lines of the Russian army in the Zaporizhzhia region, using up to 1,500 troops and 150 armored vehicles. Shoigu’s claim could not be immediately verified. Samantha Schmidt, Adela Suliman, Leo Sands, Rachel Pannett, Claire Parker, Sarah Dadouch, Isobel Koshiw, and Ben Brasch report for the Washington Post.

  • Russian forces shelled the flooded city of Kherson yesterday, striking close to an evacuation point where rescue efforts are underway. Witnesses said that Hundreds of people gathered near an evacuation point at Ship Square, in the heart of the city, scrambled for cover when explosions rang out. The shelling occurred only hours after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the city to witness the destruction of a dam on the Dnipro River. Marc Santora and Maria Varenikova report for the New York Times.

Europe

The Financial Times

In May 2018, three years after ChemChina’s $7.7bn takeover of Italy’s Pirelli, the chemicals group’s founder and chair Ren Jianxin celebrated the companies’ “wonderful marriage” as he hosted the tyremaker’s chief executive Marco Tronchetti Provera at the …

State aid: EU Commission approves up to €8.1 billion of public support by fourteen Member States for microelectronics and communication technologies European Commission The Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, an Important Project of Common European Interest to support research, innovation and the first industrial deployment of microelectronics and communication technologies across the value chain. The Member States will provide up to €8.1 billion in public funding, which is expected to unlock additional €13.7 billion in private investments. As part of this IPCEI, 56 companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups, will undertake 68 projects.

  • German firms to receive 4 bln euros through EU microelectronics push Reuters Miranda Murray Over 30 microelectronics projects in Germany will receive about 4 billion euros ($4.29 billion) in funding after the European Commission approved a support scheme for such technologies, the German Economy Ministry said on Thursday. ‘The 31 microelectronics projects from 11 federal states strengthen Germany as a microelectronics location across the board and are an important industrial policy milestone,’ said Economy Minister Robert Habeck.

EU's Breton demands Meta act against online content targeting children Reuters Foo Yun Chee EU industry chief Thierry Breton will meet Meta Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on June 23 and demand that he act immediately to tackle content targeting children, as Meta's voluntary child protection code seemed not to be working. Social media platforms such as Meta's Instagram, ByteDance's TikTok, Snap's Snapchat and Alphabet's YouTube have stirred concerns among regulators and users over content targeted at young children.

Aix-Marseille, France’s largest university, hit by cyberattack The Record by Recorded Future Alexander Martin Aix-Marseille University, one of the oldest in France, announced on Wednesday that it had been hit by a cyberattack, sending staff home as they could not access the university network. The institution’s management described the attack as coming ‘from a foreign country’ but said its security systems triggered an alert allowing them to take the network offline before ‘great damage’ was caused.

  • E.U. interior ministers yesterday agreed to radical “historical” reforms of its migration and asylum laws, including charging member states that refuse to host refugees €20,000 per person. Lisa O’Carroll reports for the Guardian.

UK

UK to host major AI summit of ‘like-minded’ countries POLITICO Esther Webber Britain will host key players for a summit on artificial intelligence in the fall as Rishi Sunak seeks to position the U.K. as a power broker on the subject. Confirming plans for a conference first reported by POLITICO last week, British officials argued the U.K. would be ‘well-placed’ to convene discussions on the future of AI. They cited Britain’s departure from the EU as allowing the U.K. to act quickly in response to a rapidly changing market. Ministers want to carve a path between strict EU regulations and the lighter touch U.S. approach.

Warning firms may use brain data to watch workers BBC Chris Vallance Companies in the future may use brain-monitoring technology to watch or hire workers, the data watchdog says. But there is a real danger of discrimination if ‘neurotech’ is not developed and used properly, the Information Commissioner's Office says. Workplace monitoring is one of a number of hypothetical future uses of neurotech explored in the report. It comes as companies such as Elon Musk's Neuralink explore new ways to let computers connect to human brains.

Stay ahead in AI race, tech boss urges West BBC Tom Singleton A major tech company, which has just announced extra UK investment, has rejected calls to pause the development of artificial intelligence. Fears about the technology have led to demands for new regulation, with the UK calling a global summit this autumn. But the boss of software firm Palantir, Alex Karp, said it was only those with ‘no products’ who wanted a pause. Mr Karp told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the West currently held key commercial and military advantages in AI - and should not relinquish them. ‘It's not like if we slow down, the AI race will stop. Every country in the world - especially our adversaries - cannot afford for us to have this advantage,’ he said.

Africa

  • A large rebel force mobilized in Sudan’s South Kordofan State residents reported. The rebel force, the SPLM-N, is led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu and is estimated to contain tens of thousands of men and heavy weaponry. The mobilization raises fears that internal conflict could spread in the country’s southern regions. Reuters reports.

Demand for VPN connectivity surged by 60 000% after deadly protests in Senegal News 24 Lenin Ndebele Senegal's virtual private network demand increased by more than 60 000% on 2 June compared to the daily average after the government restricted access to social media platforms and messaging services. The platforms were blocked because they were used to mobilise the protests that rocked the country after the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. Sonko's two-year sentence for ‘corrupting youth’ following allegations of sexual assault triggered violent clashes between his supporters and police in numerous cities across the country.

Middle East

Gulf states spending big on AI: Opportunity or oppression? DW Cathrin Schaer Saudi Arabia and the UAE are becoming some of the world's biggest spenders on artificial intelligence. At the same time, concern about AI's misuse in authoritarian states is also increasing. Recent high-profile cases involving Saudi Arabia include the country using digital technologies to spy on dissidents and their families overseas, as well as trying to infiltrate Twitter in order to identify government opponents using anonymous accounts. This is why there are concerns about what the country's government might do with its increasingly rapid deployment of artificial intelligence, or AI, a technology whose implications are already regularly questioned by digital rights activists.

Big Tech

Instagram connects vast pedophile network The Wall Street Journal Jeff Horwitz and Katherine Blunt Instagram, the popular social-media site owned by Meta Platforms, helps connect and promote a vast network of accounts openly devoted to the commission and purchase of underage-sex content, according to investigations by The Wall Street Journal and researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Pedophiles have long used the internet, but unlike the forums and file-transfer services that cater to people who have interest in illicit content, Instagram doesn’t merely host these activities. Its algorithms promote them. Instagram connects pedophiles and guides them to content sellers via recommendation systems that excel at linking those who share niche interests, the Journal and the academic researchers found.

As the AI industry booms, what toll will it take on the environment? The Guardian Maanvi Singh AI programs can seem incorporeal. But they are powered by networks of servers in data centers around the world, which require large amounts of energy to power and large volumes of water to keep cool. Because AI programs are so complex, they require more energy than other forms of computing. But the trouble is – it’s incredibly hard to nail down exactly how much. As they compete to build ever-more sophisticated AI models, companies like OpenAI – which created ChatGPT – Google and Microsoft will not disclose just how much electricity and water it takes to train and run their AI models, what sources of energy power their data centers, or even where some of their data centers are.

Ground rules for the age of AI warfare Foreign Affairs Lauren Kahn Traditional military systems and technologies come from a world where humans make onsite, or at least real-time, decisions over life and death. AI-enabled systems are less dependent on this human element; future autonomous systems may lack it entirely. This prospect not only raises thorny questions of accountability but also means there are no established protocols for when things go wrong. When the inevitable happens, and a partially or fully autonomous system is involved in an accident, states will need a mechanism they can turn to — a framework to guide the involved parties and provide them with potential off-ramps to avert unwanted conflict.

Misc

‘No regrets,’ says Edward Snowden, after 10 years in exile The Guardian Ewan MacAskill Edward Snowden has warned that surveillance technology is so much more advanced and intrusive today it makes that used by US and British intelligence agencies he revealed in 2013 look like child’s play. He expressed concern not only about dangers posed by governments and Big Tech but commercially available video surveillance cameras, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and intrusive spyware such as Pegasus used against dissidents and journalists.


 

The rise of the People's Republic of China represents the most significant foreign policy challenge of the 21st century. In all spheres, from the economy, to technology, to security and the environment, engaging with an increasingly dominant China is both necessary and inevitable.


Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? (Italian)

Gabriele and Nicola Iuvinale

ASE 2023

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