DEMOCRACY’S TECHNOLOGY DILEMMA

With the midterms now over, it shouldn’t take long for partisans on both sides of the aisle to return to what they do best—partisanship. The next two years will be full of important policy debates, from whether America should continue to acceptance migrants to the merits of free trade.


There’s one issue, though, that won’t garner as many headlines, but is more important than any other for determining America’s long-term international position: the struggle between democracy and technology.

The growing challenge for America and other democracies is that the technologies increasingly responsible for driving economic prosperity are simultaneously stoking social divisions, undermining trust in institutions, and concentrating power in the hands of a few select private sector firms. Spurred by recent privacy scandals and the use of social media and internet search to spread disinformation, the US looks likely to pursue some form of digital of privacy reform next year. At the same time, the Washington is pursuing a strategy of confrontation over Beijing’s ambitions in artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies that is pushing the two countries’ tech sectors apart – increasing the risk that they end up locked in a zero-sum, Cold War-like contest for technology dominance.

As a recent story in Wired points out (co-authored, we must point out, by our good friend Ian Bremmer), this presents a dilemma: making the digital revolution safe for democracy could also stifle innovation. The tighter the regulatory vise closes, the greater the risk that firms in Silicon Valley – arguably the most strategically economic engine for the US in the 21st century – end up at a disadvantage to Chinese competitors who are unlikely to face the same constraints on gathering and exploiting huge amounts of data. As Bremmer and Thompson point out in their piece, “there is nothing close to a serious debate about how to address this dilemma.”

How do you think democratic governments can strike the right balance?

In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known. More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to the company and serve its customers. They help create products, secure services, and manage finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.

Microsoft has told its Dreamers that it will stand up for them along with all the nation's DACA recipients. It will represent them in court and litigate on their behalf. That's why Microsoft joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that was heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court.

Read more on Microsoft On The Issues.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron said that NATO was experiencing "brain death," citing a lack of coordination and America's fickleness under Donald Trump as reasons to doubt the alliance's commitment to mutual defense. NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – was formed in the wake of World War II as a counterweight against Soviet dominance in Europe and beyond. Its cornerstone is that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all. But disagreement about burden sharing has gained increasing salience in recent years. In 2014, the bloc agreed that each member state would increase their own defense spending to 2% of their respective GDP over the next decade. But so far, only seven of 29 members have forked out the money. Here's a look at who pays what.

In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, Israel launched a precision attack in the Gaza Strip, targeting and killing a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander. In response, the terror group fired more than 200 rockets at southern Israel. Exchanges of fire have brought cities on both sides of the Gaza border to a standstill and at least eight Palestinians are dead and dozens of Israelis wounded. With this latest escalation, Israel now faces national security crises on multiple fronts. Here's what's going on:

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More Brexit shenanigans: Britons this week saw Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson endorse Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in upcoming elections. As a special bonus, they got to see Corbyn return the favo(u)r with a formal endorsement of Johnson. Most viewers in the UK will have understood immediately that these are the latest example of "deep fakes," digitally manipulated video images. The more important Brexit story this week is a pledge by Nigel Farage that his Brexit Party will not run candidates in areas held by the Conservatives in upcoming national elections. That's a boost for Johnson, because it frees his party from having to compete for support from pro-Brexit voters in those constituencies.

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80: More than 80 percent of the electronic voting systems currently used in the US are made by just three companies, according to a new report which warns that they are regulated less effectively than "colored pencils."

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