ASPI suggests
25 Jul 2014|

Are killer humanoid robots around the corner?Headlining today’s wrap-up is a new International Crisis Group report on evolving tensions between China and Japan. The report looks at mutual perceptions and canvasses opportunities for building better ties. No surprise, its first recommendation to both China and Japan is to refrain from escalatory actions near the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, which includes giving clear instructions to their respective coast guards to avoid collisions and conflict.

Sticking with China and Japan, Evelyn Goh weighs into the China Choice debate, arguing that the Abbott government has swung to the extreme in its embrace of Japan. In her view, ‘There is a world of difference between being forthright with China and creating the basis for a counter-veiling [sic] coalition with Japan to contain China.’ Keep reading here.

Indonesia has elected the ‘everyday man’, Joko Widodo, to be its next president. But opponent Prabowo Subianto is ready to launch a Constitutional Court challenge, demanding a revote in areas where massive fraud is alleged to have happened. New Mandala’s Liam Gammon has a useful rundown of why this is happening and how this might unfold for the retired military general.

If you’re interested in how Myanmar’s reforms are panning out, read this NBR commentary on the country’s economic integration. Koji Kubo outlines some of how Myanmar’s formal and informal economy works and how external players like the US can facilitate further reforms in order to stimulate both military and non-military businesses.

The Islamic State continues to be a violent force in the Middle East. To understand more about its leadership, read this David Ignatius profile on Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader, whom, Ignatius suggests may be more violent than his mentors, Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarkawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq: ‘The ISIS leader, in sum, is a clever, disciplined, violent and charismatic man—with an eye for manipulating Muslim public opinion.’

In House of Cards Season Two, the US-China relationship is woven through the storyline via a number of diplomatic and commercial threads. But what does this tell us about the way America sees China? Discussing the hit political drama, Ben Coulson observes: ‘The show presents a nuanced (even if in hyperbolized terms) understanding of China and circulates growing American concerns with China through a financialized orientalism.’

Brain scans could help prevent insider attacks, according to applied neuroscience company, Veritas Scientific. The Virginia-based outfit have a new truth-detection system called HandShake which monitors changes in the brain. Developed by a US Army counterintelligence agent, the system, relies on the presumption of a connection between the brain and criminality but is still years away from application to complex environments like Afghanistan and Iraq, reports Defense One. Read more about it how it works here.

DARPA’s humanoid robot plan is going too well, apparently. According to Roll Call, teams who are designing robots for disaster missions as part of the Robotic Challenge are exceeding expectations. DARPA has extended the deadline and raised the requirements to get the most out of the brain pool. Read the developments here. (Meanwhile, Robert Farley and Charli Carpenter talk killer robots over at here.)


Does credibility in international politics matter? Robert Farley and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross grapple with the broader question of reputation before turning to Obama’s infamous ‘red line’ remarks and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Check out the discussion on growing tensions between China and North Korea with Yong Kwon and Steven Denney.


Canberra: Lieutenant General David Morrison AO, Chief of Army, Dr Susan Harris-Rimmer, Director of Studies at the ANU Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, and Ms Veronica Fynn, a PhD scholar at the ANU College of Law, will discuss the protection of women in conflict on Thursday 31 July at 5.30pm, registration and details here.

Are we sleepwalking into a catastrophe? Prof Joan Beaumont, Dr John Moses and Prof Hugh White will discuss whether, in light of escalating strategic rivalry in the Asia Pacific, there are parallels between 1914 and today. Hosted by the AIIA ACT, the event is on Wednesday, 6 August at 6pm, registration and details here.

Natalie Sambhi is an analyst at ASPI and editor of The Strategist. Image courtesy of Flickr user Alex Eyl.