Tuesday 15 Oct 2019 | 15:46 | SYDNEY
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Technology

Deep fakes could have real consequences for Southeast Asia

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

All may not be smooth along China’s Digital Silk Road

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-

Remembering the Moonwalk

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 “new era” of digital authoritarianism

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

The transformative potential of big data

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

Are we ready for a rare earths trade war?

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

The Pacific’s social politics

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

Huawei and the decoupling dilemma

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

Huawei reaches into Britain

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

If 5G takes a little longer in Australia, all the better

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

An Australian model for the renewable-energy transition

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 new Middle Eastern space race

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

Mark Zuckerberg and the revolt of the public

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

Facebook’s first 15 years and lessons for diplomacy

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. But, despite

Asia’s space sale

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

Beijing’s online gaming clampdown

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

Disinformation campaigns and US elections

A New York Times article this month revealed a new tactic in the US war against election disinformation. US election officials had notified Russians suspected of involvement in online disinformation campaigns in the lead up to the mid-term elections that they were “on notice”, and that their

Daylight robbery: cyber escapades of North Korea

When a gang robs a bank, it’s a crime. When a nation launches an attack on another state’s territory, it’s an act of war. But what is it when a nation state robs another state’s banks, without ever setting foot on their soil? While political leaders and policymakers are increasingly aware

China: how big tech is learning to love the party

In mid-September, rumours swirled that Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications firm, would be acquired by an unnamed Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE), effectively nationalising the company, which operates in 170 countries. The rumours were substantial enough to warrant a

Decoding the bombshell story for China

It is near impossible to find any mention of the Chinese chip hacking story in Bloomberg Businessweek that does not use the words “bombshell” or “explosive” to describe the piece. These descriptions have become cliché. But the cliché is fitting because even if the story unravels amid

China’s tech bubble

In the four decades that have followed China’s initial stage of post-Mao “Reform and Opening Up”, the world has learned to expect great things from the Middle Kingdom’s centrally-planned economy. It has established itself as the low-end “factory of the world” and orchestrated an

Electric vehicles and industrial policy 

A dramatic shift is underway in the global automotive market. Electric vehicles (EVs), once viewed as toys, are gaining momentum. There are now more than 4 million electric vehicles on the road globally, up from only 100,000 a few years ago, and 2018 EV sales alone are on track to exceed 1.6

Drones, clones, and camera phones

Public surveillance has proven to be of great value for a host of public-order interests, from traffic management in large cities to provision of vital intelligence and evidence in criminal activities. The extent of surveillance in a jurisdiction tends to reflect the values of the government

Exceptional access: Australia’s encryption laws

The Australian Government will soon unveil contentious national security legislation granting law enforcement exceptional access under warrant to the encrypted data of suspected criminals. Getting the regulatory approach wrong could leave Australians exposed to a greater security risk, or left

The technology shock

Developments in technology are challenging economists, businesses, and governments alike, confronting traditional methodologies and foundational ideas. Technology is genuinely disruptive.  There is a growing disconnect between businesses facing frenetic change and economic discussions which

What a partial internet shutdown would mean for PNG

Debate arose in Papua New Guinea last week over comments made by Communications Minister Sam Basil about the possible imposition of a month-long ban on Facebook. This partial internet shutdown, according to Basil, would allow the government to conduct research on the use of anonymous

Asia: jobs policy vs the machines

Concerns about the negative impact of technology on the labour market are not new. As early as 1817, at the beginning of the first industrial revolution, economist David Ricardo explained how jobs in the English textile industry were being lost as a result of the introduction of automatic weaving

Attack of the Twitter bots

One evening recently, over a glass of wine at an art opening, a friend who works in the cultural sector told me an interesting piece of news about my Twitter account. “Do you know my company has put you on the watch list because of your Twitter account?”, she asked. I couldn’t be more

5G dreaming

Do you dream of the day you can download a full movie to your phone in under two seconds? Or of the day you can set up your fridge to order your groceries? What about the day a renewable energy system can detect fluctuations in usage and respond immediately via extraordinarily fast data flows?

Drones level the battlefield for extremists

In early 2016, I contributed to an Armament Research Services (ARES) report on the use of commercially available drones by non-state actors in contemporary conflicts, including in Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine. We predicted that the use of commercial drones, which up until that point had been used

Is Japan’s rare earth discovery fool’s gold?

Rare earth. The term sounds like something derived from the imagination of J. R. R. Tolkien, but these composites of seventeen rare minerals are a silent but central foundation of global industry. Rare earth metals are critical to the production of a massive array of industrial goods,

Facebook’s May day

Facebook has now spent almost two years careening from public relations disaster to public relations disaster. Fake news, election meddling, radicalisation, and the relatively unknown mental health effects of using the social media network have all had their time in the media spotlight. With&