Cyberspace: Tangled web.
Also: China, the UK, Ireland and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
CYBERSPACE. Tangled web.
Scandals and confusion are a magnet for regulators.
Regulatory experts warned Thursday of the need for tighter rules after a week of high-profile technology controversies. Binance's CEO resigned on Tuesday after a $4.3 billion fine. Sam Altman returned to the helm of OpenAI on Wednesday.
INTELLIGENCE. Advances in artificial intelligence, digital currencies, semiconductors, social media and cybersecurity have eclipsed policymaking, but now regulators are seeking to catch up, or at least slow runaway innovation. Rumours that Altman’s brief sacking was due to the nondisclosure of a breakthrough in artificial general intelligence (AGI) has enlivened concerns over existential risk, bringing politicians, as well as technocratic regulators, into the fray.
FOR BUSINESS. OpenAI did not respond to the AGI rumours and Google researchers this month cast doubt on AGI’s feasibility, due to basic constraints in machine learning architecture. But even in a world without the Terminator, advanced tech needs advanced rules and public fears may drive a more draconian approach than Silicon Valley would like. A key test will be whether the EU’s forthcoming AI Act regulates artificial intelligence on its use, or its capability.
Written by former diplomats and industry specialists, Geopolitical Dispatch gives you the global intelligence for business and investing you won’t find anywhere else.
CHINA. Cough cough.
Amid worries over human health, take a look at the farms.
Beijing on Thursday said it had not found any novel pathogens following an unusual World Health Organization request for information around reported clusters of pneumonia among children in the capital and the province of Liaoning.
INTELLIGENCE. Headlines have warned of another Wuhan moment, which is what Chinese authorities are at pains to avoid, but so far there is little to justify a panic. Within China’s pig population, on the other hand, the warning signs are there to see. Hong Kong on Thursday ordered the cull of 1,900 pigs after the second case of African swine fever in a month. While endemic in parts of the world, ASF’s spread to East Asia in 2018 has kept regulators worried.
FOR BUSINESS. Low agricultural standards have long crimped China’s exports and kept food self-sufficiency out of reach. Pig production, on the other hand, exceeds requirements. With 26-storey farms and market distortions, local media reported this week China’s breeding herd stood at 42.1 million. Hog prices are down 40% year-on-year, tipping overall CPI into deflation in October. ASF may not dampen capacity, but it does suggest broader regulatory failure.
With the brevity of a media digest, but the depth of an intelligence assessment, Daily Assessment goes beyond the news to outline the implications.
BRITAIN. Autumnal signs.
A budget for a falling government.
FTSE stocks rose slightly on Thursday after Britain's chancellor handed down his Autumn fiscal update. The UK announced bigger-than-expected tax cuts and increased welfare payments, but growth was forecast to remain sluggish.
INTELLIGENCE. After 13 years in government, the Conservatives look as tired as the budget. Labour under moderate Keir Starmer won’t present a radical break, should it win next year’s expected elections, but the mood is souring and Downing Street is out of silver bullets. An attempt to shake apathy through culture wars and border reform has ended with the sacking of Suella Braverman. Scandals in the Scottish National Party have so far only favoured Labour.
FOR BUSINESS. Brexit’s effects have been overblown, but it remains a political albatross only a change in government can fix (though fiscal restraints and stubborn costs mean Labour won’t be able to shift growth or debt, meaning new scapegoats will need to be found). Still, a silver lining of slow and boring is that these are virtues in times of crisis. With Europe and the US hurtling towards populism, the UK may become a relative winner by this time next year.
IRELAND. Hot potato.
Riots in Dublin express a groundswell of anger.
Anti-migrant riots broke out in Dublin Thursday after three children and a woman were stabbed near a school. Boxer Conor McGregor on Tuesday criticised the government over the trial of a migrant who killed an Irish woman in 2022.
INTELLIGENCE. The riots were provoked by a small group of activists, but dissatisfaction over Ireland’s border policies has grown in recent years, with 75% of voters saying the country accepts too many refugees. Anti-migrant sentiment is highest among Sinn Féin supporters, despite the party's left-wing stance on asylum seekers and backing for causes such as Gaza, illustrating a global tension between working-class nationalism and progressive ideology.
FOR BUSINESS. Ireland’s blistering growth has been supported by migration and EU membership (though not of the Schengen Area) yet many locals have been squeezed by a housing shortage (after years of oversupply) and stubborn inflation. Ireland has a centre-right government and is almost unique in lacking a far-right movement. But populist protests in September, and discord over hate speech laws, suggests fertile ground for one to belatedly take root.
Emailed each weekday at 5am Eastern (9am GMT), Daily Assessment gives you the strategic framing and situational awareness to stay ahead in a changing world.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. Chart of starkness.
25,000 candidates, 44 million voters, 2.3 million km2, and a GDP smaller than Slovenia.
Campaigning began this week for simultaneous elections on 20 December for Congo's president, national assembly, 26 provincial assemblies and 300 councils. Rebels in Congo's east claimed to have seized a major town on Wednesday.
INTELLIGENCE. Elections in the DRC are hard to manage at the best of times, which these are not. A Rwanda-backed rebellion in the east is exacerbating multi-faction violence and exploiting the departure of 15,000 UN troops, which have also been blamed for perpetuating a state of conflict. Last month, eight peacekeepers were charged with sexual abuse. This month, WHO leaks showed 104 women were given $250 each after being abused by Ebola responders.
FOR BUSINESS. The elections, even if fair and peaceful, won’t solve Congo’s deeply rooted problems. Firms operating in the east continue to face immense challenges. Firms in the southern copper belt are more secure, but the presidential candidacy of the region's popular former governor, Moïse Katumbi, could stoke divisions. Katumbi faced a range of obstacles when he last ran in 2018, including charges of rebellion, denial of re-entry and attempted murder.