What you'll find below are some of the best articles on government and society that were shared in the CTOdaily newsletter in 2018.
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"The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past." These are the words of Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web. He's now working on rebuilding the web to make it easier for people to control their personal data through an open-source project called Solid. "Decentralization and control are the central principles. Solid will let developers create decentralized apps that run on data fully owned by users. They decide where to store their data and whom to share it with. The first wave of apps being built on Solid is being developed now. “I’m incredibly optimistic for this next era of the web,” said Berners-Lee in a post on Medium.
It's time for digital disruption to move to the nation-state. Estonia is leading the charge, as in the Eurpoean nation, "the only services that still require a personal interaction with a civil servant are marriage, divorce, and real-estate purchases." Did you know you could become an e-citizen of Estonia today?
This piece explores the tasks national governments are faced with in digitising the state.
- Set a clear digital strategy and set targets
- Provide common IT platforms
- Set technical standards
- Facilitate change through legislation
- Incubate pilot projects and build critical skills.
France's Prime Minister Emannuel Macron had a chat to WIRED about the country's AI strategy plans. "I want to create an advantage for my country in artificial intelligence, directly. And that’s why we have these announcements made by Facebook, Google, Samsung, IBM, DeepMind, Fujitsu who choose Paris to create AI labs and research centers: this is very important to me. Second, I want my country to be part of the revolution that AI will trigger in mobility, energy, defense, finance, healthcare and so on. Because it will create value as well. Third, I want AI to be totally federalized. Why? Because AI is about disruption and dealing with impacts of disruption. For instance, this kind of disruption can destroy a lot of jobs in some sectors and create a need to retrain people. But AI could also be one of the solutions to better train these people and help them to find new jobs, which is good for my country, and very important."
"How do you effectively govern a country that’s home to one in five people on the planet, with an increasingly complex economy and society, if you don’t allow public debate, civil activism, and electoral feedback?" Data. China is quickly becoming, if it's not already, the most technically advanced country in the world. In order to understand what's going on in the country and react accordingly, the government is using combinations of surveillance, AI, and big data to monitor people’s lives and behavior in minute detail. A lot of this information is taken and reduced to a social credit score, which could be used a signal of social status and has already prevented people from taking certain forms of transport or from sending their children to certain schools. The plan is for it to be fully implemented by 2020 across the country. “No government has a more ambitious and far-reaching plan to harness the power of data to change the way it governs than the Chinese government,” says Martin Chorzempa of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC. For a deeper dive into the topic, I highly recommend checking out the piece.
There's a joke that goes something like this: If you want 5 opinions on monetary policy, just ask 3 economists. The same can be said for the impact of automation on jobs, as the MIT Technology Review has found. They've brought together reports from organisations like Forester, McKinsey and Gartner to compare and contrast what some of the best research institutions in the world have to say about the creative destruction of job automation. One thing is for sure, though: job destruction is happening.
Traffic authorities in the Chinese city of Shenzhen have teamed up with an AI firm named Intellifusion and social media platforms including WeChat and Sina Weibo and local mobile phone carriers so it can text jaywalkers the second they offend. Police will also have the option of delivering a ticket and fine on the spot for people who are picked up by the AI system for repeat offenses. In the 10 months to February this year, 13,930 jaywalkers had their faces displayed on the screen at one busy crossing, Shenzhen police announced last month.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a sweeping law that gives European citizens more control over their personal data and seeks to clarify rules and responsibilities for online services with European users. If you're in an internet company, this is important to know as the GDPR applies to any organisation that collects, processes, manages or stores the data of European citizens. The GDPR will take effect on May 25.
NASA has released its Exploration Campaign report which summarises its near-term goals of exploring our solar system. The Exploration Campaign has five strategic goals: Transition U.S. human spaceflight activities in low-Earth orbit to commercial operations that support NASA and the needs of an emerging private sector market. Lead the emplacement of capabilities that support lunar surface operations and facilitate missions beyond cislunar space. Foster scientific discovery and characterization of lunar resources through a series of robotic missions. Return U.S. astronauts to the surface of the Moon for a sustained campaign of exploration and use. Demonstrate the capabilities required for human missions to Mars and other destinations.
Japan is teaming up with 21 companies and organizations, including Uber, Boeing, Airbus, Cartivator, and Japan Airlines, to bring aerial vehicles to the skies within 10 years. Recognising one of the biggest things holding industries like this back is regulations, the ministry said “the Japanese government will provide appropriate support to help realize the concept of flying cars, such as creation of acceptable rules."
While this is a long read, I highly recommend it given its potential global significance. A chip smaller than a grain of rice has been found in the hardware of nearly 30 companies, giving Chinese attackers a 'stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines.' The company responsible for the supply of the hardware, Supermicro is like the Mircrosoft of the hardware world, according to a former U.S. intelligence official who’s studied Supermicro and its business model. “Attacking Supermicro motherboards is like attacking Windows. It’s like attacking the whole world.” Apple and Amazon deny the truthfulness of the report linked above, however.