In light of the fierce technology-fueled geopolitical battles being waged on the world stage today, it is time to examine how technology facilitated imperialism at the turn of the 20th century. Specifically, in Southeast Asia, the Dutch and the British used telegraphs, lighthouses, and more as instruments of empire.
Undersea cables are the bedrock of the global communications system. Yet, they are severely under-protected. Damage to these cables could create havoc. It is of urgent importance that governments and non-state actors work together to build a framework to ensure the security of such key infrastructure.
For innovation to serve everyone in emerging economies, it must go beyond the relentless pursuit of the cutting edge. Focusing more on the needs of the majority of Asian emerging market consumers will lead to more sustainable, lasting growth.
The fashion industry's supply chain no longer meets the expectations of society and business stakeholders. More digitalization promises to bring more efficiency and transparency. But fashion factories must also foster an open culture that encourages learning and that engages workers in the process.
Southeast Asians have dwindling confidence in traditional journalism. As a result, social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp have become the main source of information for voters. A combination of wider access to the internet and declining trust in longstanding news sources is changing the dynamics of democracy across the region.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative seems to focus on connections with Africa, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. But the country’s economic future is really in “netware” technology, similar to America’s. Contrary to how BRI is viewed and talked about now, China’s more profitable path actually points, as illuminated by the likes of Alibaba and Tencent, eastward to California.
Businesses also incur massive human and economic costs during natural disasters. They can reduce these costs by diversifying geographically and technologically.
Mired in demographic crises, East Asia is looking to new reproductive technologies as a solution. But its restrictive, reluctant embrace of these technologies runs counter to evolving social attitudes.
Globalization is not just dominated by big brands. Low-cost knock-offs of popular items such as mobile phones also cross the globe, often from China to the rest of the world. Although it operates below the radar, this trade powers growth.
China has launched its "social credit system," hoping to increase social trust. But when value is calculated by opaque algorithms using vast amounts of personal data, what will happen to China, and indeed, what might it mean for the world?
In Myanmar, Buddhist nationalist groups have used Facebook to swamp public opinion with anti-Muslim speech. As elected representatives are pressed to follow these extreme views, Myanmar is showing the world how unreined social media can hurt democracy.
False information sways elections, and social media makes it worse. So governments are rushing through laws to block “fake news.” But in Southeast Asia, these laws will do more harm to elections than fake news.
Technology is transforming epidemiology. However, algorithms, satellites, and drones offer no easy solution. Ethical and political issues need to be considered to ensure that everyone reaps the benefits of these new technologies.
Despite suspicions, China's engagement in developing Africa's telecom infrastructure has not led to an imposition of an authoritarian model of information control on the continent. Concerns should rather focus on the promotion of a top-down governmental model of development, which has proved inefficient.
India steps up its space policy, shifting its position on militarization. Without adequate global governance, this could extend geopolitical tensions to outer space.
China seems to be of two minds about blockchain, cracking down on cryptocurrencies while recognizing the enormous potential of the technology behind them. Only permissioned, centralized versions of blockchain will be allowed to develop in China, but doesn’t this defeat the purpose of a technology designed to be open, in more ways than one?
Since the practice of cloning farm animals is under-regulated in countries like Argentina, Brazil, and the US, European supermarkets may be selling meat and dairy products produced from clones, despite EU banning. With better regulation at both national and global levels, more accurate data could be produced to enhance transparency and traceability.
To help workers navigate the new digital economy, governments and businesses should invest in social safety net programs and education.