As coronavirus cases flared up in some cities, China implemented a tough approach. But many worry the threat lies outside the country


Whether they intended to or not, China’s athletes made a statement earlier this month when they arrived at a Tokyo airport covered head to toe in full PPE.

As the images of the national gymnastics team popped up on social media, it elicited a bemused response from some Japanese media commentators.

Others were struck by the contrast to other international teams, who had largely donned face masks.

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But China’s National Sports administration said in a statement the measures reflected the seriousness with which Japan was also taking the pandemic and stressed that the team took off their protective gear once clearing customs.

A few commentators drew comparisons with the offence some in China took to American athletes arriving for the Beijing 2008 Olympics with face masks on to guard against air pollution.

And in the weeks since, it has become apparent that this was not an isolated incident, but part of a broader trend.

A further two sports teams — both Chinese top-tier soccer clubs — were also covered head to toe in hazmat suits, goggles and gloves to travel to the United Arab Emirates for Asian Champions League matches.

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The editor of the China Story blog at the Australian National University, Yun Jiang, said it was a sign of how seriously Chinese authorities were taking the virus.

“The Government wants to be seen as doing all it can to control the pandemic spread and protect the population,” she told the ABC.

“And this can contrast with what is happening in the US, where mask use and lockdowns are still being debated.”

Even as the average daily number of COVID-19 cases has crept up into double digits, it has remained remarkably low for a country of China’s size and density.

Many in China believe the ‘West’ is doing a lot worse in containing COVID-19

This week a commentator sparked an angry backlash online for laughing about China’s comparatively low COVID-19 death rate compared to Europe and the US.

Academic Li Yi told an online forum in Shenzhen that China’s official coronavirus death toll of around 4,000 people was “equivalent to zero” given the country’s vast population.

“1.4 billion people and only 4,000 deaths is equivalent to no-one dying, no-one getting sick,” Mr Yi told the live-streamed forum before laughing about America’s general aversion to face masks.

His hubris didn’t wash well with China’s online community, which slammed him for reducing the heartache of thousands of Chinese families to a boastful figure.

In response to the criticism, Mr Li blamed “hostile foreign forces” within and beyond China for twisting his meaning.

“Many people in China do believe that other countries, especially countries in the ‘West’, are doing a lot worse in containing COVID,” Ms Yun said.

The heavy, top-down approach authorities in cities across China have repeatedly taken to any potential new outbreaks was on display again this week at Shanghai’s biggest airport.

Scenes on social media showed Shanghai airport workers pushing back against health officials.(AP)

After two people, including a cargo worker, tested positive, officials made a snap decision to test more than 10,000 workers, triggering unruly scenes.

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In comparison, however, Ms Yun said there was a sentiment in China that “foreigners” were not as ready to follow rules.

China pushes an unproven hypothesis on origin

With significantly lower reported case numbers than Europe and the US, Chinese government health officials are increasingly trying to suggest the virus came to the outbreak city of Wuhan from abroad.

Workers in protective suits prepare to administer a COVID-19 test
Recent flare-ups have shown that there is still a risk of the virus returning, despite being largely controlled within China.(AP: Mark Schiefelbein)

The Government has recently ramped up claims of coronavirus entering China on imported food packaging.

It comes amid news that China may finally be getting closer to allowing a WHO mission of 10 experts into the country.

Australian Immunology and infectious diseases expert Dominic Dwyer, who is based at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital and has previously worked on various WHO missions including the SARS outbreak in China in 2003, will be part of the delegation sent over. He was unavailable for comment.

Neither the WHO nor China’s Government has confirmed when the experts will be permitted to travel to China for the joint-mission, nor what sort of access they would have in the city of Wuhan, where the global pandemic began late last year.

Under an agreement with China, local scientists will carry out the on-the-ground Phase 1 investigations for the WHO team to later study.

While rejecting “politicisation” of the virus origins and insisting it’s a “question for science”, China has increasingly pushed an unproven hypothesis that it may have been imported from abroad on frozen food packaging into Wuhan.

A woman wearing a mask and a fur lined coat holds her phone as she walks holding her phone.
China reported two new coronavirus cases in the cities of Shanghai and Tianjin as it seeks to prevent small outbreaks from becoming larger ones.(AP: Ng Han Guan)

The issue with food packaging first emerged in June, with China removing some salmon from supermarkets shelves after linking it to a COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing.

To date, the WHO hasn’t endorsed the claim that people can be infected from packaging.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand said: “There’s no evidence COVID-19 can be contracted through food or food packaging.”

But Chinese officials attribute multiple cases to the handling of imported goods — including two workers said to have been infected after cleaning a container from North America in Shanghai, and another two people who were infected from imported pig heads in Tianjin.

National Health Commission officials at a media conference in Beijing this week took question after question from government-media reporters about whether it’s “safe” to eat imported frozen food, reflecting widespread concerns within China that the pandemic is far worse abroad.

‘Better story is their ability to control the spread’

Officials answered that screening of imported food packaging showed the presence of the virus on only 0.48 packets for every 10,000 tests and hosed down fears about the risk.

“I don’t think we should give up eating for the fear of choking,” food safety official Li Ning said.

But despite the low risk, news headlines have been pushed around China’s internet from state media outlets highlighting that a WHO official proclaimed Wuhan was only the point of discovery and that the virus in the initial stages was potentially present throughout the world.

A headline from China’s Communist Party media-outlet People’s Daily claimed: “All available evidence suggests that the coronavirus, which has infected more than 59 million people in 190 countries, did not start in central China’s Wuhan, experts reiterated.”

China’s Government is extremely sensitive about the pandemic beginning on its watch and officials have even previously tweeted conspiracy theories about the virus being brought to China from the US.

“I think the Government is still not overly keen on drawing the attention to the origin,” Ms Yun said.

“For the authorities, the better story is their ability to control the spread.”



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Adam Treloar trade raises questions over Collingwood’s approach to his family issues, says employment lawyer


An employment lawyer says Collingwood’s concerns that Adam Treloar’s family circumstances might have impacted his ability to play football are unfair and potentially discriminatory.

Treloar was one of four Magpies players forced to find new clubs on a frenetic final day of the AFL’s trade period last week, as Collingwood tried to release pressure on its salary cap.

Despite having five years remaining on his contract, there had been intense speculation about Treloar’s future, after his partner Kim Ravaillion announced she was moving to Queensland with their infant daughter to continue her Super Netball career.

Ravaillion is rejoining the Queensland Firebirds — where she won two premierships prior to the start of Super Netball — in 2021 after three seasons with Collingwood.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley told SEN radio on Monday that Treloar’s family situation was “a catalyst in some shape or form” for the club’s decision to considering trading the midfielder to another club.

Buckley said there was no way Treloar’s split from Collingwood could have been done “without trauma or pain”.

Giri Sivaraman, an employment lawyer at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, said Collingwood’s approach was not fair to Treloar.

“I’m very surprised,” he told the ABC.

“Effectively what he seems to be saying is: ‘We can’t keep you here because you might at some point have to support your wife, and or your child, and we can’t accommodate that.’

“Firstly, I wonder if that’s discrimination on the basis of carer responsibilities, and secondly, I think it’s just asking too much of someone. Whether it’s discriminatory or not, it certainly seems unfair.”

Mr Sivaraman said every employer had an obligation to accommodate carer responsibilities, and Collingwood’s approach would not be appropriate in any other workplace.

“There’s not even been an attempt to accommodate it here,” he said.

“They’ve just made the assumption that because his partner is moving interstate — just for the netball season I assume — that that’s just something they can’t accommodate.

“It’s like saying to someone who’s pregnant: ‘Well, even though you’ve said to me when you come back to work that you’ll be able to manage your job and care responsibilities, I just think you won’t be able to, therefore I’m not going to have a job for you when you come back.’

“Many women I’ve represented have been in that position and I’ve always said it’s unlawful.”

Nathan Buckley (left) signed off on Adam Treloar’s departure from the Magpies last week.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Buckley said it was Collingwood’s responsibility to work out how Treloar’s family situation would affect his job.

“We are within our rights to have an assessment of that given our knowledge of Adam and the experiences we’ve shared since he came to the club,” Buckley said, alluding to Treloar’s history of anxiety.

Mr Sivaraman said under workplace law employers also had an obligation to attempt to accommodate an employees’ mental or physical impairments.

“[Collingwood] has taken a different approach and decided, well it’s just not going to work and we don’t want what they perceive as a liability,” he said.

“I just think that’s disappointing.”

Mr Sivaraman said the management of Treloar and his family exemplifies how AFL clubs demanded a player’s “mind, body and soul”.

He said that ran counter to the general treatment expected from employers in 2020.

“What this year has shown us is that things that weren’t thought possible certainly are,” he said.

“The number of flexible work arrangements has stratospherically increased.”

Pies players treated ‘too good’: McGuire

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire rejected criticism the club had mistreated players it had traded.

“If there’s a criticism of what Collingwood did with its players in recent times it’s that they’ve looked after players too good as far as the salary cap was concerned,” McGuire told Triple M’s Hot Breakfast radio program.

“And the players have been sensational back-ending their contracts to make it happen because there was a window of opportunity [for a flag].”

McGuire suggested the fallout over the Magpies’ trading period was a media beat-up.

“It’s a big story because the other stories have been done to death for 10 days and Collingwood didn’t do a whole lot on (AFL) Trade Radio and things like that,” he said.

“The media always like to come after people who aren’t racing to be on those types of things.

“Nuance is everything. We could’ve gone on with the salary cap, so it wasn’t as if it was a fire sale. We changed, we pivoted and we’re looking ahead.”



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Eta to strengthen back into tropical storm Saturday, will approach Florida Sunday


Rainfall totals in southern Florida could exceed a foot of rain.

Eta remains a tropical depression Saturday morning but is forecasted to strengthen over the coming days. The system is 250 miles west-southwest of Grand Cayman and has winds of 35 mph.

Tropical storm watches have been extended northward into southern Florida, including the Florida Keys. The current forecast track expects Eta to approach the Cayman Islands Saturday, likely becoming a tropical storm once again.

Eta will then move over Cuba Saturday night and Sunday, and then be near southern Florida by Sunday night and Monday.

There are already some outer bands of Eta moving into southern Florida Saturday morning. Some of these bands could contain gusty winds and heavy rain. Additionally, isolated waterspouts and tornadoes will be possible in some of these outer bands.

Rainfall continues to be the main threat from Eta. Parts of Central America could see another 2 to 5 inches of rain before Eta moves far enough away from the region. This could bring isolated storm totals of 40 inches in parts of Honduras and Nicaragua.

Rain totals in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands could approach 15-25 inches, with most of that rainfall having already fallen. Locally, up to 2 feet of rain could fall in Cuba as well. This amount of rainfall will continue to bring the risk for life-threatening flash flooding, as well as mudslides and landslides.

Rainfall totals in Florida could exceed a foot of rain, especially in extreme southern Florida. It’s important to note that southern Florida is capable of absorbing a good amount of rainfall. However, October was a very wet month for the area. That, combined with the likelihood of intense precipitation, could lead to flash flooding, especially in the more urban areas in the Miami metropolitan area.

A storm surge of 2 to 3 feet will be possible in parts of southern Florida as well.

The forecast track brings Eta into the Gulf by Tuesday and Wednesday, where it likely will be able to remain its tropical storm status. It is unclear exactly where Eta will go at that point. However, it is likely to remain a tropical threat to parts of the Gulf, especially Florida, through the middle of the week.



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Why taking a layered approach delivers the best IT security protection


When it
comes to cybersecurity, it’s tempting to yearn for a silver bullet – one tool
that can provide complete protection against all threats. Unfortunately, that
isn’t realistic and is one of the main reasons chief information security
officers talk about levels of risk and risk acceptance, rather than in
absolutes.

Just like building a winning sports team, effective security requires careful selection of components with different strengths. It’s also essential for those components to work together as a cohesive whole. Having the right solutions in place can also have a force multiplier effect, enabling an increase in detection performance, intelligence gathering, and incident response that would otherwise be cumbersome to perform manually. The sum will be greater than the parts.

Endpoint protection tools and network detection techniques like deception have changed the game for security teams. But nobody does it alone, and even the staunchest proponents of such controls would never argue they are the only solution a customer requires.

Likewise,
focusing entirely on in-network protections would make it too easy to
infiltrate the network, potentially overwhelming those in-network tools.

Instead,
a balanced approach would be more successful, with an outer layer of security to
serve as the first line of defence by filtering out known threats. Next, there
should be a middle layer capable of identifying unusual or suspicious endpoint
processes. There should also be internal security that can detect lateral
movement and privilege escalation.  

Such
layered security can significantly improve an organisation’s detection
capabilities. While deception technology and endpoint protection are both
independently valuable, experience shows that having one layered over the other
dramatically improves detection rates.

Growing
threat sophistication

The need
for such a layered approach to IT security increases because attackers are
growing more sophisticated. This trend is concerning, but also expected.

Cybercriminals are constantly evolving and looking for new ways to break into
IT infrastructures.

For this
reason, being too reliant on any one security control or technique means your
organisation remains prone to attack. Instead, endpoint protection solutions must
create a complementary and highly effective detection net.

An
attacker might be able to evade one layer of defence (perhaps even two), but
with proven protection at every layer of the network, they’ll have a hard time
accomplishing their goals. Obfuscating the attack surface makes it especially
true, and deceptions can control the attacker’s path away from valuable systems
and data stores and towards a decoy.

Taking a
layered security approach also means carefully allocating available budgets to
ensure that organisations adequately resources each control. Paying too much
for one tool will leave one short when putting other elements in place. Take
time to evaluate the value of each solution carefully will deliver and portion
budgets accordingly.

It’s
important to remember that different tools offer specific capabilities but
putting the right combination of those tools together will deliver the best
possible security outcome. One must also recognise that this combination must likely
change over time. The threat landscape is continually evolving, so things that
might deliver adequate protection today may not be up to the task tomorrow.

In the
same way that a sports manager builds a team over time and understands that the
interplay between the individuals leads to a greater whole, a security manager
can achieve cohesive set of systems by following a layered approach and continuously
monitoring its performance.  It is
possible to build and maintain a robust security infrastructure that will
deliver the levels of protection your organisation requires, both now and in
the future.

Jim Cook, ANZ Regional Director, Attivo Networks 





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Barrett slams “rubbish” approach from Adelaide over Crouch free agency


AFL Trade Radio’s Damien Barrett has slammed Adelaide’s “rubbish” public stance on wantaway midfielder Brad Crouch.

The Crows on Wednesday afternoon opted not to match St Kilda’s free agency bid for the on-baller, which ends a two-year saga that almost saw him traded to Gold Coast last year.

They will now receive pick 23 as compensation for the best and fairest winner.

Adelaide has publicly maintained Crouch could return to the club if a trade couldn’t be achieved in the event they matched the offer.

But after Adelaide opted to let him walk to Moorabbin, Barrett was strong in his criticism of their approach to the deal.

“The Crows didn’t want him and he didn’t want them,” he said on AFL Trade Radio’s The Late Trade.

“For this rubbish they’ve been trotting out for two years about ‘he could come back and play and he doesn’t want to leave’, he’s been trying to get out for two years.

“They were happy for him to go last year and they just couldn’t strike the deal, we now get to this year and we’re going to thump our chest out as much as we can for weeks and months … 5pm comes and goes and they’re copping pick 23.”

Adelaide will receive a second-round compensation pick as a result of Crouch’s departure, which currently stands at pick 23.







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NRL 2020: NSW Blues, Isaah Yeo, Penrith Panthers, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Trent Barrett approach


Penrith lock Isaah Yeo is humbled that incoming Canterbury coach Trent Barrett wants him to sign at Belmore but believes he owes it to the Panthers to stay.

Yeo was surprised when reports surfaced suggesting Barrett is keen to lure him to the Bulldogs when he comes off-contract at the end of 2021.

The Dubbo-born forward is a free agent from November 1, but he feels like his future belongs at the foot of the mountains.

Get all the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now >

Grand Final

“I’m still on contract at Penrith, and I’d like to think my heart is there,” Yeo said.



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Leonora-based Nyunnga-Ku women’s group tackles mental health using cultural approach


Small-town living can have its benefits, like knowing your neighbours, but when it comes to accessing help and support, it can be a barrier.

Colleen Berry, who lives in the small inland community of Leonora in Western Australia’s Goldfields, said people often felt “shame” in asking for help — and she wanted to do something to change that.

So the proud Wongutha woman founded Nyunnga-ku, a community group for the women of Leonora where they can chat, sew, drink cups of tea and speak freely.

As more women came to the group, Ms Berry said she realised how many were struggling with mental health and other issues.

Service providers and community members cook kangaroo tail for lunch.(Supplied: Jen O’Mullane)

Creating connections

Ms Berry wanted to empower her community with knowledge in a way that would be socially and culturally appropriate, which is how Nyunnga-Ku women’s camp was born.

This camp, now in its second year, brings service providers in law, health, mental health and wellbeing together with the community.

Ms Berry says the aim is to break down the barriers between these services and the women who need their help.

Two young Aboriginal children wearing cultural paint.
Quinton and Jasalia Williams enjoy a cultural day on country at the camp.(Supplied: Jen O’Mullane)

“When we have camps like this the service providers can come out on country, sit around, and the community can get to know them on a different side,” she said.

“If they need to talk to a counsellor they can go off and talk to a counsellor instead of going into an office, where they [feel] shame.

“So the more knowledge they have of it, it’s better for them to cope.”

At the camp during the day, women sat together under shady marquees making worry dolls, talking about bush medicine, and having massages and facials.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner was provided by a local mining company, but some traditional foods were cooked too, including kangaroo tail and goanna.

At night, everyone sat around campfires yarning about their lives and — sometimes — revealing their pain.

A woman sitting on a chair at a camp.
Vicki Abdullah says the camp helped her to find a path to access help.(ABC Goldfields: Madison Snow)

Being on country

On day two, the service providers spoke about what they could offer the women in the community.

Many of them shared personal stories about what had led them to their career choices, including mental health, family law, self-care and domestic violence.

Some women were moved to tears.

“They can cry if they want to and no one’s going to judge them.

“It’s wonderful you’ve got everybody that will support you.”

A group of women and children standing in the desert.
Women from the Nyunnga-Ku camp visit significant sites around Sir Samuel.(Supplied: Jen O’Mullane)

Vicki Abdullah, who attended the camp this year, said the freedom of being on country put the women at ease.

“Some people don’t like speaking in four walls in offices or in hospitals.

“It’s really good to be sitting and talking to people out on country because you feel so relaxed.”

Removing shame

Leonora Lives Matter suicide prevention chair Kathy Beaton attended the camp and said creating space for people to talk about their problems was integral to addressing mental health issues.

“They are the ones who will walk forward and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’.”

A small white dog lying on the red dirt.
Colleen Berry’s dog Missy enjoys her freedom at the women’s camp.(ABC Goldfields: Madison Snow)

Ms Abdullah said it was a “powerful” experience hearing from the women at the camp.

“It’s so amazing to hear a lot of stories,” she said. “Stepping up to do their own thing.

“Talking and don’t be shamed. I find that most people feel ashamed to talk.”

Ms Abdullah says she had benefited from meeting with service providers at the camp.

“I feel a bit better,” she said. “I think the first step is to get help with what I’ve been going through.

“I’d like to see more camps and more people to come and express their feelings.”



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Call for caution on “one-size fits all” approach for insolvency


The Law Council of Australia has called on stakeholders to move away from the current one-size-fits-all approach when dealing with SMEs that are facing insolvency under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act).

In consultation with its Business Law Section’s Insolvency & Restructuring Committee, the Corporations Committee and the SME Business Law Committee, the Council has welcomed the Treasury’s draft exposure bill that acknowledges the alternative actions that would allow SMEs to restructure, or transition to liquidation in a more cost-effective manner.

In a recent submission to Treasury on the Corporations Amendment (Corporate Insolvency Reforms) Bill 2020 and its explanatory memorandum, Law Council President, Pauline Wright, said that the current economic circumstances facing SMEs, provide just cause for these reforms to be fast-tracked.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for some enterprises to remain solvent,” Wright said. “Therefore, timely changes to the Corporations Act will assist businesses that need to either restructure to remain viable or transition to liquidation, in a way that will cause the least financial damage.

“The Law Council is pleased to work with government and believes the independent counsel of expert lawyers in this field will assist Treasury in finalising the detail of the reforms within the very limited timeframe available,” Wright added.

Suggested changes to the Bill include a criteria for qualifying companies to be laid out in the primary legislation, and clarifying whether a company that fails to have a restructuring plan approved should fast track direct to liquidation or voluntary administration, among other proposals.

“The Law Council believes the current economic circumstances and the likely consequences that will be experienced in the coming year make it imperative that further insolvency reform is needed,” Wright said. “While Treasury is to be commended for tackling the issue of SME insolvencies, with the overall objective of providing greater flexibility, it should not be assumed that the existing forms of external administrations are always suitable for all larger companies.”

She concluded, “There are a number of aspects of the draft amendments which may also have some relevance for larger businesses. Consultation should ensue in respect of broadening the categories of companies that may be better suited to more flexible solutions.”





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A Measured Approach to Regulating Fast-Changing Tech


Executive Summary

Innovations driving what many refer to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution are as varied as the enterprises affected. Industries and their supply chains are already being revolutionized by several emerging technologies, including 5G networks, artificial intelligence, and advanced robotics, all of which make possible new products and services that are both better and cheaper than current offerings. Unfortunately, not every application of transformational technology is as obviously beneficial to individuals or society as a whole. But rather than panic, regulators will need to step back, and balance costs and benefits rationally.

Paul Taylor/Getty Images

Amid the economic upheaval caused by Covid-19, technology-driven disruption continues to transform nearly every business at an accelerating pace, from entertainment to shopping to how we work and go to school. Though the crisis may be temporary, many changes in consumer behavior are likely permanent.

Well before the pandemic, however, industries and their supply chains were already being revolutionized by several emerging technologies, including 5G networks, artificial intelligence, and advanced robotics, all of which make possible new products and services that are both better and cheaper than current offerings. That kind of “big bang” disruption can quickly and repeatedly rewrite the rules of engagement for incumbents and new entrants alike. But is the world changing too fast? And, if so, are governments capable of regulating the pace and trajectory of disruption?

The answers to those questions vary by industry, of course. That’s because the innovations driving what many refer to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution are as varied as the enterprises affected. In my recent book, Pivot to the Future, my co-authors and I identified ten transformative technologies with the greatest potential to generate new value for consumers, which is the only measure of progress that really matters.  They are: extended reality, cloud computing, 3D printing, advanced human-computer interactions, quantum computing, edge and fog computing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, and smart robotics.

Some of these disruptors, such as blockchain, robotics, 3D printing and the Internet of things, are already in early commercial use. For others, the potential applications may be even more compelling, though the business cases for reaching them are less obvious. Today, for example, only the least risk-adverse investors are funding development in virtual reality, edge computing, and new user interface technologies that interpret and respond to brainwaves.

Complicating both investment and adoption of transformative technologies is the fact that the applications with the biggest potential to change the world will almost certainly be built on unanticipated combinations of several novel and mature innovations. Think of the way ride-sharing services require existing GPS services, mobile networks, and devices, or how video conferencing relies on home broadband networks and high-definition displays. Looking at just a few of the most exciting examples of things to come make clear just how unusual the next generation of disruptive combinations will be, and how widespread their potential impact on business-as-usual:

  • Health Care: Low-cost sensors and increasingly advanced 3D printing are revolutionizing artificial limbs, providing cost-effective, bespoke prosthetics that are improving outcomes for patients including wounded veterans, survivors of strokes, and injured athletes. In the long-term, customized replacement organs, skin, and other tissue may become commonplace.
  • Housing: The next-generation 5G mobile networks, sensors, and artificial intelligence that make up the Internet of Things will improve energy efficiency and security in communities of all sizes. In the home, the IoT is helping older populations age in place longer and more safely. Applications will remind seniors when to take medications, keep them connected to family, friends, and entertainment, and allow for remote health monitoring and treatment.
  • Agriculture: A combination of drones, robots, AI, advanced geolocation services, and cloud computing pushed to the edge of the network is expected to revolutionize farming, improving yields and reducing waste in fertilizer, water, and other key inputs. Farmers will soon have up-to-the-minute data analytics that evaluate soil conditions, animal health, weather patterns, and market changes, helping to feed growing global populations more affordably and sustainably.
  • Transportation: Self-driving cars and trucks will not only relieve the boredom and stress of traffic jams and road works, but, combined with Internet-connected roads, traffic lights, and other infrastructure, will save both time and fuel. The true potential of autonomous vehicle technology, however, is more profound. In the U.S. alone, nearly 40,000 people lose their lives each year in traffic fatalities, most caused by driver error. Learning algorithms in autonomous vehicles will soon overtake the abilities of most human operators, if they haven’t already. Safer roads and more predictable traffic flows will transform insurance, vehicle design and manufacturing, and public safety, to name just a few.

Regulating the Revolution

Unfortunately, not every application of transformational technology is as obviously beneficial to individuals or society as a whole. Every one of the emerging technologies we identified (and plenty of those already in mainstream use) come with potential negative side — effects that may, in some cases, outweigh the benefits. Often, these costs are both hard to predict and difficult to measure.

As disruption accelerates, so too does anxiety about its unintended consequences, feeding what futurist Alvin Toffler first referred to half a century ago as “Future Shock.” Tech boosters and critics alike are increasingly appealing to governments to intervene, both to promote the most promising innovations and, at the same time, to solve messy social and political conflicts aggravated by the technology revolution.

On the plus side, governments continue to support research and development of emerging technologies, serving as trial users of the most novel applications. The White House, for example, recently committed over $1 billion for continued exploration of leading-edge innovation in artificial intelligence and quantum computing. The Federal Communications Commission has just concluded one its most successful auctions yet for mobile radio frequencies, clearing bandwidth once considered useless for commercial use but now seen as central to nationwide 5G deployments. Palantir, a data analytics company that works closely with governments to assess terrorism and other complex risks, has just filed for a public offering that values the start-up at over $40 billion.

At the same time, a regulatory backlash against technology continues to gain momentum, with concerns about surveillance, the digital divide, privacy, and disinformation leading lawmakers to consider restricting or even banning some of the most popular applications. And the increasingly strategic importance of continued innovation to global competitiveness and national security has fueled increasingly nasty trade disputes, including some between the U.S., China, and the European Union.

Together with on-going antitrust inquiries into the competitive behavior of leading technology providers, these negative reactions underscore what author Adam Thierer sees as the growing prevalence of “techno-panics” — generalized fears about personal autonomy, the fate of democratic government, and perhaps even apocalyptic outcomes from letting some emerging technologies run free.

Disruptive innovation is not a panacea, but nor is it a poison. As technology transforms more industries and becomes the dominant driver of the global economy, it is inevitable both that users will grow more ambivalent, and, as a result, that regulators will become more involved. If, as a popular metaphor of the 1990’s had it, the digital economy began as a lawless frontier akin to the American West, it’s no surprise that as settlements grow socially complex and economically powerful, the law will continue to play catch up, likely for better and for worse.

But rather than panic, regulators need to step back, and balance costs and benefits rationally. That’s the only way we’ll achieve the exciting promise of today’s transformational technologies, but still avoid the dystopias.



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