Since the Snowden disclosures in 2013, the relationship between the U.S. government and the tech community has been strained. This Council Special Report offers recommendations for repairing the relationship and moving forward on issues such as encryption, data localization, and cybersecurity.
“Much more even than globalization, technology is going to create upheaval and destroy industries and jobs. This can be for the better, helping us create new and more interesting jobs or freeing up time for leisure and artistic pursuits. But unless we find ways to share the prosperity and help Americans adapt to the coming changes, many could be left worse off than they are,” argue Vivek Wadhwa and Edward Alden.
Our democracy is under attack by Russia, but almost no one is treating the situation with the gravity it deserves. President Obama is loathe to retaliate. Would-be president Donald Trump denies that any attack is happening. And the media are acting as enablers for the attackers.
Social media has altered the nature of war, argue Emerson T. Brooking and P.W. Singer. The viral propaganda of the self-declared Islamic State, Russian disinformation campaigns, and Chinese cyber-nationalism are all indications of a more fundamental shift in conflict—a revolution that threatens to catch U.S. policymakers and social media companies off guard.
“The challenge for ‘flyover cities’ such as Wichita; Lincoln, Neb.; Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and other places enjoying a tech-led revival is to find ways of ensuring that the benefits of their comebacks spread widely” writes CFR adjunct senior fellow Robert E. Litan.
The promises of science fiction are quickly becoming workaday realities. Cars and trucks are starting to drive themselves in normal traffic. Machines have begun to understand our speech, figure out what we want, and satisfy our requests.
Transparency has long been a rare commodity in international affairs. But today, the forces of technology are ushering in a new age of openness that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago. Governments, journalists, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can now harness a flood of open-source information, drawn from commercial surveillance satellites, drones, smartphones, and computers, to reveal hidden activities in contested areas—from Ukraine to Syria to the South China Sea.
Almost seven years after the Great Recession officially ended, the U.S. economy continues to grow at a sluggish rate. Real wages are stagnant. The real median wage earned by men in the United States is lower today than it was in 1969. Median household income, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it was in 1999 and has barely risen in the past several years despite the formal end of the recession in 2009.
Ruth Porat has taken an unusual path to the tech world. Before becoming the chief financial officer at Google in May 2015 (and then at Alphabet, Google’s new parent company, a few months later), she held the same post at Morgan Stanley, where among other roles she worked closely with the U.S. government to sort out the troubles at the insurance corporation AIG and the mortgage-financing agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the 2008 financial crisis.
The flow of data across international borders creates jurisdictional challenges and causes international tensions. Increasingly, countries have responded by imposing new requirements to store data locally, threatening cross-border data flows, which generate approximately $2.8 trillion of global gross domestic product each year. CFR Senior Fellow for Digital Policy Karen Kornbluh argues that the United States should take the lead in addressing these tensions.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 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 »