For the first time since 2011, US astronauts have been launched aboard a US spacecraft from US soil. The flight of a SpaceX capsule to the International Space Station with two NASA crewmembers has broken a long drought for crewed spaceflight. It also reduces America’s dependence on Russian Soyuz
Governments around the world are working hard to convince their populations to download the various Covid-19 infection tracing apps. As well as potentially helping to stymie the spread of the virus, the app download numbers serve another purpose: they could be read to indicate how much trust there
Politics does make for unlikely bedfellows. Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it had signed a joint declaration with the Republic of Burundi, whereby both agreed not to be the “first” to place weapons in space. Two weeks later Russia conducted an anti-satellite missile test
Coronavirus-related cyberattacks have proliferated since the first Covid-19 cases emerged in Wuhan, China. According to a recent Microsoft analysis, every country in the world has now experienced at least one such cyberattack, with the number of successful intrusions increasing daily. In a
If the 15th-century philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli were alive today, he would surely have recognised the power of surveillance technologies that states such as China, Singapore, South Korea, and others have adopted in the fight against Covid-19. Patrol robots and drones, CCTV cameras and
One of Papua New Guinea’s most prominent social media users is also one of its most prominent politicians. Police Minister Bryan Kramer etched out a profile as one of the country’s most recognisable figures first as a blogger, then as a vocal opposition MP, and now as a member of the
Chaos is a ladder, said Littlefinger in Game of Thrones. Crisis is an opportunity, Sun Tzu didn’t say in The Art of War. Either way, in the United States, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and “infodemic”, political chaos is a clear and present danger, and an opportunity, in the covert and
In the world of emerging technologies, few concepts evoke excitement like swarms. The power of the swarm is in its natural formation – from bees, to schooling fish and flocking birds – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Swarms can achieve far more complex tasks than single entities
One of the (many) astounding things that have come out of the Covid-19 crisis is just how fragile are Australia’s connections with the outside world. The government’s role in guaranteeing Australia’s communications, whether digitally or by sea or air, is one of the things that we will need to
“He already had my face, my voice, my personal information. I was afraid that he would threaten me with that information if I said I would quit.”
Even as Covid-19 dominates the headlines, people in South Korea are furious and traumatised by the news about an online sex crime scandal known as
Few in the West would have imagined two months ago that their government would consider tracking their personal mobile phones. But as Covid-19 rapidly sweeps through cities and incapacitates health systems, manual tracing of potentially infected individuals can no longer keep up. Even
As some Asian countries gear up for elections in the later part of 2020, tackling the spread of malicious disinformation is a priority. Even as South Korea battles to control the coronavirus outbreak, elections for the legislative council look set to continue on 15 April, while question marks still
Several terms have taken on newfound meaning in the grip of coronavirus. “Doom surfing” is one, to describe those who seem unable to remove themselves from scrolling the internet, and “infodemic” another, a term adopted by World Health Organization for the misinformation that
The best way to prevent the novel coronavirus? Eating garlic. Or actually, try traditional Chinese medicine. In case you hadn’t heard, a vaccine already exists but the United States won’t share it. Wait a second, the coronavirus doesn’t exist at all, it’s all a conspiracy.
How did I hear
If you’ve used the internet, you’ve accessed a .org site. The domain is associated with civil society groups and non-government organisations ranging from the United Nations to the Lowy Institute. For almost two decades, .org has been the reliable host of websites and email services for millions
As online news and social media have proliferated over the last decade, a whole new category of information has entered the popular lexicon: fake news. Online disinformation has come a long way from “On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog” to a place where a malicious article hatched from a
The recent descriptions of Russian interference in American politics, in both the Democratic primaries and the presidential campaign, are a stark reminder of the opportunities social media provides for information warfare.
This is particularly worrying given both the mountains of reports
Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a much-awaited reform package to regulate the tech giants and their immense market power. Australia was to be “the model jurisdiction” for “dealing with digital platforms”, he declared. However, strong language aside, the promised reform
Australia’s strategic geography is not what it used to be. Technology has made the “sea-air gap”, an artefact treasured since the 1980s by a generation of Australian strategic planners, obsolete.
Three developments compromise the idea that geography offers Australia defensive depth and
The endless blessings of technology – where would we be without them? Not reading this page, for a start. Several decades into the so-called digital revolution (depending where you mark the start), tech has become almost as essential to our everyday lives as air and water, and yet behind the
The Australian Senate has appointed a select committee to inquire into the risks posed to Australian democracy by foreign interference via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
We need this. That much is clear from a growing pile of international inquires and reports, including by
Observers have been waiting to see how Singapore’s Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (known more commonly as POFMA) would be applied since it was passed in Parliament in May this year, coming into effect on 2 October. But it was only in the past week that the first directive
In a widely praised and generally excellent speech last week, Sacha Baron Cohen, AKA Borat, AKA Ali G, launched a scathing attack on what he named as the “Silicon six” – six American billionaires who have made their substantial wealth from social media and data companies, primarily Facebook,
China is going berserk for blockchain these days, and doing so with oh-so-very Chinese characteristics.
The recent hype is certainly not without cause. After years of cautious support for the game-changing digital ledger technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Beijing has been
E-bills, e-signature, the electronic transfer of funds – advancements in technology are bringing about remarkable changes in the business landscape, domestically and internationally. All this change is facilitating the faster movement of goods across borders and forcing governments to keep pace.
In Malaysia, a sex-tape scandal engulfing the country in recent months has threatened to destabilise the governing coalition. While the tape has been determined by the police to be authentic, and not a forgery, it is still questioned in some quarters. The truth of the video itself is a point of
You will have seen the news, possibly on Facebook or Twitter. This week, Facebook and Twitter announced that they had addressed coordinated activity on each of their platforms which appeared to be pushing a pro-Beijing message in the face of ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Together, they removed
Make no mistake about China’s vast and continuous trajectory of technological expansionism. Even as the US aims to ring-fence Huawei’s reach into the US and overseas consumer markets, a “digital silk road” paved by Chinese tech giants has long been built to span from the Asia-
The 2019 Lowy Poll found that 62% of Australians rank cyberattacks as a threat to Australia’s vital interests. This leaves cyberattacks second only to climate change as the threat Australians are most concerned about.
It is interesting to note that the poll question focused solely on
The anniversary is upon us, with 21 July (Australian time) marking 50 years since the moment that human footprints were first placed on another world. The landing of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon was one of the most significant historical events of the 20th century, and
The recent discussion on cyber security has been focused on offensive cyber capability and the threat to critical infrastructure. But in the last several months, an equally troubling trend has come to the fore.
Internet shutdowns and deliberate disruptions have quickly become the policy instrument
We intuitively know the volume of digital information yet the increasing numbers are still staggering. In 2013, 90% of all the data in the world had been generated in the preceding two years. Forecasts suggest that by 2020, there will be as many bits in the digital universe as there are stars in the
Rare earth minerals have emerged as the latest front in the escalating US-China trade war. Nearly a decade after the Chinese government controversially suspended rare earth exports to Japan during the 2010 Senkaku dispute, similar threats are now being made if the bilateral trade dispute with the US
When the news broke that Peter O’Neill had finally resigned from PNG’s top job last Thursday, it spread instantaneously, lighting up mobile phone screens across the country.
It was social media, much more than PNG’s traditional news outlets, that had bored away relentlessly at O’Neill’s
In two dramatic policy announcements this month, the Trump administration effectively barred US companies and government agencies from buying telecommunications equipment or services from – or selling any components to –Chinese technology champion, Huawei. President Donald Trump signed a broadly
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is best known for big infrastructure projects such as train lines and ports, but in this age of omnipresence online, there is a communications counterpart running in parallel, known as the Digital Silk Road. But as with the physical manifestations of China’s big
Whatever the true situation behind the sacking of Gavin Williamson as British defence secretary over claims (which he strenuously denies) that he leaked information to the Daily Telegraph from a meeting of the National Security Committee on Chinese telecom company Huawei, one thing is crystal clear
Influence operations in the digital age are not merely propaganda with new tools. They represent an evolved form of manipulation which present actors with endless possibilities – both benign and malignant. While the origins of this new form are semi-accidental, it has nonetheless opened up
Climate change is one of the world’s most pressing challenges, and one which impacts humanity as a whole. A recent United Nations study indicates that decreasing biodiversity in our food supply is augmenting the peril posed by climate change and a growing population: nearly a quarter of wild food
From Bitcoin to YouTube, the internet has greatly altered the way humans behave and interact. This is particularly the case in China – the largest online community in the world where everything from online payments to shopping has been pioneered and taken up with gusto. While foreign policy may be
The fifth generation of cellular network technology promises much higher performance in terms of data throughput, speed, and lower latency. This will unlock a regime of new digital technologies that have been developing on the sidelines for some time.
Scholars contributing to the neuroscience in
Australia is experiencing a remarkable renewable energy transition. The pipeline for new wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity systems is 6-7 Gigawatts (GW) per year for the period 2019-21. This equates to 250 Watts per person per year compared with about 50 Watts per person per year for the
The launch of the first Israeli mission to the Moon is a milestone for lunar exploration and for private spaceflight.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/Cd8nGQwrhd — SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 22, 2019
The Bereshet spacecraft is a small lander, carrying a few instruments and some
This is an edited extract of the opening speech delivered in Sydney this month to the Chief Economists Forum, held annually by the Financial Standard.
There are three main dynamics which are shaping the changing global, economic and strategic order. Each is interacting with the other and
Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week revealed that Australia’s major political parties were the target of a recent cyber attack. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) identified a malicious intrusion in the Parliament House computer network. It was later discovered that the Liberal, Labor
I joined Facebook in 2010. As if by magic, the lives of ‘friends’ lost in time and space materialised on my laptop, so I could partake of their everyday moods, their exotic vacations, their children’s sporting events. This triumph of intimacy over distance accounted for Facebook’s
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post, marking 15 years since he hatched the social network in his Harvard dorm, claims Facebook has the potential to be “profoundly positive” for years. Certainly, Facebook has changed diplomacy by changing the way people connect and communicate.
Renewable energy is high on the development agenda for the Pacific. The Lowy Institute’s Pacific Aid Map showed that donors and Pacific Island Countries are making a concerted effort to implement ambitious renewable energy goals. For example, the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu aim to
A Chinese rover on the Moon. An Indian satellite at Mars. A Japanese commander of the International Space Station. An imminent launch of a Chinese lander to the far side of the Moon. Future Chinese plans for robot missions to Mars and Indian plans for Venus.
Spaceflight across Asia has advanced
Last month, Tencent Chairman and Chief Executive Pony Ma (马化腾) sent out an open letter, announcing a major strategic shift in direction for one of Asia’s most valuable technology firms.
“We believe that the first stage of the mobile internet, the consumer internet, is drawing to a close