Current focus: Our Perspectives

What Are the Ethical Implications of Emerging Tech?

Hal 9000, the intelligent computer of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Image: OpenClips/Pixabay

This article was originally published by Agenda, a blog operated by the World Economic Forum, on 4 March, 2015.

In the past four decades, technology has fundamentally altered our lives: from the way we work, to how we communicate, to how we fight wars. These technologies have not been without controversy, and many have sparked intense debates, often polarized or embroiled in scientific ambiguities or dishonest demagoguery.

The debate on stem cells and embryo research, for example, has become a hot-button political issue, involving scientists, policy-makers, politicians and religious groups. Similarly, the discussions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have mobilized civil society, scientists and policy-makers in a wide debate on ethics and safety. The developments in genome-editing technologies are just one example that bio research and its impact on market goods are strongly dependent on social acceptance and cannot escape public debates of regulation and ethics. Moreover, requests for transparency are increasingly central to these debates, as shown by movements like Right to Know, which has repeatedly demanded the labelling of GMOs on food products. » More

Prior focus: Global Views

Everyday Life after Annexation: The Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Signing of the treaty on the adoption of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia. Left to right: S. Aksyonov, V. Konstantinov, V. Putin and A. Chalyi. Image: Kremlin.ru/Wikimedia

This article was originally published as part of the ‘Ukraine and Russia’ Collection by E-International Relations on 20 March, 2015.

Imagine for a moment that tanks roll into your state. Armed and masked men without military insignia occupy your city streets. The airport is closed. Then, after a hasty vote, a new leader, someone you understood was part of the criminal underworld, is promoted to the top executive position. Suddenly, you must turn your clocks back two full hours to correspond with the new capital, some 1,400 kilometres away. Your ATM card stops working, and then your bank closes. Familiar foods, foods you have been eating your entire life, are banned and disappear from grocery store shelves to be replaced with foreign ones. Your medication becomes six times more expensive than before. Then your cell phone stops working, and you must find a new carrier to regain service. The television station you relied on for nightly news closes. You are told you have three months to turn in your passport for a new one, or you may not be able to renew your driver’s license or return to your home after travel. This chaotic and liminal situation is not, of course, hypothetical. It is what happened to residents of Crimea following annexation by the Russian Federation. » More

Prior focus: Our Perspectives

Mediation Perspectives: Reframing the Ukraine Crisis

Poroshenko, Merkel and Putin at the 70th annual D-Day commemoration. Image: www.kremlin.ru/Wikimedia

“They say the next big thing is here,
that the revolution’s near,
but to me it seems quite clear
that it’s all just a little bit of history repeating”

Shirley Bassey ~ “History Repeating”

The board game Risk: The Game of Global Domination is an extreme representation of geopolitical power dynamics. It pits players against each other on a simplified map of the world controlled by soldiers, cannons and cavalry. Although simplified and exaggerated, Risk is a crude model of thousands of years of international history: the rise and fall of empires, shifting balances of power, alliances, betrayals and perhaps the most disturbing factor – that the widespread death and destruction controlled by the ‘players’ is portrayed as a normal and inevitable part of geopolitics. » More

Prior focus: Partner Insights

Cuba: Not a Terrorist Threat

Revolutionary propaganda of Camilo Cienfuegos. Image: 819043/Pixabay

This article was originally published by the World Policy Institute on 11 March 2015.

This blog is the first in several leading up to the World Policy Institute Board trip to Cuba in May. The trip seeks to re-open a once highly effective dialogue with Cuban leaders. WPI plans to examine the achievements of 55 years of revolutionary society and explore ways to highlight what the U.S. and Cuba can learn from each other.

As the Obama administration and Cuban negotiators examine the 54-year-old unilateral embargo (or “blockade” as the Cubans refer to it), one obstacle—particularly painful for Cubans and extremely important to American interests—must be addressed: Cuba’s continued presence on the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

President Obama directed the State Department to review this designation in December 2014, since Cuba’s removal from that list is entirely justified and long overdue. As a result, when the State Department issues its annual Country Reports on Terrorism on April 30, it is likely to be the first time in 33 years that Cuba is not designated a sponsor. » More

Prior focus: Our Perspectives

The Future of Political Demography and Its Impact on Policy

Arab Spring protests in Egypt. Image: AK Rockefeller/Flickr

This article was originally published on 9 March 2015 by New Security Beat, the blog of the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Wilson Center.

“Political demography is a discipline whose time has come,” said Rob Odell of the National Intelligence Council at a gathering of demographers and researchers in New Orleans. “You can sense this inherent dissatisfaction” with a lot of analytical and predictive tools in international relations, he said, and “political demography provides policymakers a way to think about long-term trends.”

The study of population dynamics’ effects on political affairs, from the stability of states and conflict to regime types, economics, and state behavior, is relatively new. The International Studies Association (ISA), a professional group founded in 1959 with over 6,500 scholars and political scientists today, only added a sub-group for political demography in 2011. » More

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