Although the United States leads the world in technology innovation, it may fall behind if the government does not address emerging gaps in innovation policy and invest more in scientific research, argues a new progress report and scorecard from the Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) Renewing America initiative. The report is authored by Renewing America Associate Director Rebecca Strauss and CFR Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow and Renewing America Director Edward Alden.
President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the Clean Power Plan on August 3, 2015. The plan provides a toolkit for states to implement to reduce the carbon emissions from existing fossil-fueled power plants. This plan is an update of the 2014 proposed plan and a step in the larger Climate Change Plan.
The United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) released this consensus report (A/70/172) on rules of behavior in cyberspace, particularly during peacetime. The report recommends that nations should not use information and communication technologies to attack critical infrastructure or interrupt the information systems of emergency services.
National People's Congress of China released this draft text on July 6, 2015, and it will be available for public comment through August 2015. The law outlines the Chinese government's goals for security standards for technical systems, networks, and user data. It requires companies with operations in China to comply with government requests for regulating and restricting technology use. See also the broader National Security Law passed on July 1, 2015.
In recent years, frugal and reverse innovation have gained attention as potential strategies for increasing the quality and accessibility of health care while slowing the growth in its costs. Thomas J. Bollyky argues that the demand for these types of innovation is increasing and outlines three practical questions for policymakers seeking real investments and results.
Robots have the potential to greatly improve the quality of our lives at home, at work, and at play. Customized robots working alongside people will create new jobs, improve the quality of existing jobs, and give people more time to focus on what they find interesting, important, and exciting.
As advanced economies become more automated and digitized, almost all workers will be affected, but some more than others. Those who have what the economists Maarten Goos and Alan Manning call “lovely jobs” will do fine, creating and managing robots and various digital applications and adding lots of value in service sectors such as finance.
In the beginning, drones were almost exclusively the province of militaries. At first little more than remote-controlled model planes used in the World War I era, military drones advanced steadily over the decades, eventually becoming sophisticated tools that could surveil battlefield enemies from the sky. Today, the terms “drone” and “unmanned aircraft system” denote a vehicle that navigates through the air from point A to point B and is either remotely controlled or flies autonomously.
Starting with the Soviets’ launch of Sputnik in 1957, early space missions were funded exclusively by national governments, and for good reason: going to space was astronomically expensive. Setting up a successful space program meant making major investments in expertise and infrastructure, along with tolerating a great deal of risk—which only the superpowers could do.
The use of social media and other Internet-enabled communications by the self-proclaimed Islamic State is pushing the United States and other democracies to react to the abuse of liberal freedoms by illiberal forces. CFR Visiting Fellow David P. Fidler outlines ways to counter the Islamic State's online onslaught through policies anchored in free speech, transparency, and accountability.
For fifty years, Moore’s Law has governed the startling pace of innovation in the computer chip industry. That Moore’s Law is an extraordinary phenomenon, unique to a single industry, is often forgotten by clean energy commentators who misappropriate it for predicting the progress of technologies like solar panels and batteries. Varun Sivaram argues that this sort of analogy is misleading, and that the clean energy sector should aspire to Moore-esque advances.
Whether it’s finding our way around with the help of a GPS, sending large files through e-mail, or flying across the country, we all benefit from technologies that were originally developed for military use. Our lives would be very different without inventions such as the Global Positioning System, network packeting, and the jet engine. These “dual-use” technologies have proven to be winners in both military and commercial contexts—they help us to fight better and live better. As we look to the future, we will undoubtedly see many more of these technologies emerge. The predominant path for their development, however, is changing in a profound way.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on February 26, 2015, on rules governing regulation of U.S. broadband networks. The FCC published rules (FCC 15-24) regulating this order on March 12, 2015. The rules ban the ability of broadband companies to prioritize traffic from sources that pay more and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, subject to regulation under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC news release states that the rules are focused on making networks "fast, fair, and open."
If knowledge is power, we should all be feeling more powerful. The defining trend of our time is the ever-increasing connectedness made possible by technologies such as the Internet, satellite communication, and cell phones.With this connectedness comes instant access to a large portion of the world’s knowledge.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2015 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »