ASPI suggests
10 Apr 2015|
Human personalities for robots?

For the best reading picks, podcasts and news in international security and defence, here’s ASPI Suggests.

Kicking off today is the Iran nuclear deal; read Martin Skold’s piece on strategy blog The Bridge that grapples with the tension between US policy goals of counterproliferation in Iran and working with Iran to counter ISIS. He argues that the US has more to fear from Sunni jihadists than Iran and consequently should walk away from a ‘resource-sapping Middle East counterproliferation policy’. Keep reading here.

ICYMI check out the extraordinary images published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) this week of Chinese land reclamation activities on Mischief Reef (overview in the New York Times here).

China’s flip-flopping on the legal status of rocks in another area of maritime disputes, the East China Sea, undermines ‘good faith’ among international actors, writes Ryan Santicola. He argues that China ought to reveal the intent behind its South China reclamation activities in the interests of promoting predictability in state–state relations. Also on AMTI, Wilson VornDick draws on Chinese history to explain why China’s territorial reclamation, known also as terriclaims, differ from other state building projects like Dubai’s artificial archipelago, Palm Jumeirah.

Melian Dialogue fans and game theory wonks, come hither! Neville Morley has a Monkey Cage piece on how Thucydides helps explains Greece’s problems with Germany.

Richard Gowan has a new policy brief for the German Marshall Fund that explores options for triangular cooperation between the US, Japan and Europe on UN peacekeeping. ASPI analyst Lisa Sharland was quoted in the piece, stating that Japan’s constitutional limitations remain a sticking point for greater involvement.

In technology, DARPA is developing underwater zombie pods (also known more blandly as ‘upward falling payloads’) that lie on the deep-ocean floor for years until triggered by an event or command.

Speaking of DARPA, Defense One is hosting an online viewcast on Monday 13 April (early morning Tuesday for Aussies) titled ‘Big data for Defense and national security: maintaining the US technological edge’ featuring Defense One technology editor Patrick Tucker, Dr Paul Cohen of DARPA and Dr Jason Matheny of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). Register to receive the link to the viewcast here.

Meanwhile, the internet and software giants are making further strides into robotics and artificial intelligence, with Google patenting a way to give robots personalities based on a deceased person and IBM testing AI software that mimics the human brain. Watch this space!


Over on, Robert Wright and Stephen Walt try to make sense of Obama’s Middle East strategy, including America’s de facto alliance with Iran in Iraq (41mins).