Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative

  • Whither America: A Strategy for Repairing America's Political Culture

    On December 11 the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security launched the thirteenth volume in the Atlantic Council Strategy Papers series.


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  • Engelke Joins the TRT World to Discuss Future Access to Water


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  • People Power Movements and International Human Rights: ICNC Monograph Launch

    On January 25, 2018, Dr. Mathew Burrows, director of the Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, welcomed the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) for the launch of their latest monograph “People Power Movements and International Human Rights: Creating a Legal Framework.” Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, a senior director of education and research at ICNC moderated the event. Dr. Bartkowski spoke of the evolution of this monograph series since its initial launch in 2015. The monograph’s author, Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, a visiting scholar from Rutgers Law School, presented the core arguments to the audience.


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  • Top Risks of 2018

    Risks are not predictions, but many of the threats posed to global security and stability highlighted in early 2017 have unfortunately materialized over the past year.

    Despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attempts to try to fill US shoes as it walks away from the world stage and defend globalization at last year’s World Economic Forum, it is clear the international community is drifting toward a “leaderless world.” China has taken a selective “a la carte” approach to filling the vacuum as Washington retreats from trade deals and plays hard to get with traditional US allies.

    As the United States turns inward and a multipolar world takes hold, liberal values—their endurance constituted a major risk in 2017—have certainly retreated. However, one bright spot in this regard has been Europe. In early 2017 the risk of an imploding Europe posed a major concern, though happily that did not happen. Still, European Union (EU) reform appears to be slowing down.

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  • Keeping a Global Competitive Advantage with STEM Education

    Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers play an integral role in maintaining or advancing a nation’s economic and societal competitiveness. A recent report of the eight most valuable startup companies in the US further emphasizes the impact of STEM disciplines in the creation of new industries and domains. The success of a majority of these startups heavily relies on STEM skillsets that include software/app development, data analytics and machine learning expertise, and the seamless integration of technologies that enhance user experiences. While the demand for STEM degrees continues to increase, the time needed to attain a higher education degree remains relatively constant and typically exceeds fifty-two months, well beyond the...
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  • Burrows and Burwell Quoted in World Economic Forum on the Future of Europe


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  • Striking a Balance Between Privacy and Security

    In an age of increasing connectivity and data-collection technologies, policymakers must grapple with the central tension between the public’s desire for privacy and the need for security.

    “We’re going to have to make this fundamental trade between how much do we value national security and protection, versus how much do we want to behave in a free society,” said Robert Schukai, global head of design and digital identity solutions at Thomson Reuters. “Technology can solve a lot of problems,” said Schukai, “but if we can’t figure out the rules of the road… it’s an asymmetric battle.”

    Leslie Ireland, who served as assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the US Department of the Treasury in the Obama administration, said “there needs to a broader conversation in our country about what needs to be done for protection and what that cost can be to your privacy.”

    “I wonder if there’s going to have to be such a [large-scale] privacy breach...

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  • Big Data: A Twenty-First Century Arms Race

    We are living in a world awash in data. Accelerated interconnectivity, driven by the proliferation of internet-connected devices, has led to an explosion of data—big data. A race is now underway to develop new technologies and implement innovative methods that can handle the volume, variety, velocity, and veracity of big data and apply it smartly to provide decisive advantage and help solve major challenges facing companies and governments.

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  • Cognitive Systems and the Policy Challenges of the Twenty-First Century

    This blog is the first in a series exploring the implications of different policies on the development and deployment of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive systems.

    The term “cognition” is defined as “of, relating to, being, or involving conscious intellectual activity”.1 Our world is surrounded by cognitive organisms that range in complexity from an ant to the most intellectually-capable cognitive organism that is known today – a human. A fundamental characteristic of cognitive organisms is their ability to form higher-level abstractions of cognition that mimic or surpass their individual levels of cognition.2 A cognitive system is a human-made system that is able to interact with their human counterparts and understand human expression mechanisms that are primarily delivered via visual, audial, and textual communication.3 For clarity,...

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  • Why Bot Makers Dream of Electric Sheep

    Using fake social media accounts to attract real users

    Social media “bots” have repeatedly made headlines over the past year, accused of driving traffic and distorting debate on social media platforms, especially Twitter, in the US, French, and UK elections. But what are bots, and how do they work?

    In social media terms, a bot is an automated account set up to make posts without human intervention. Such bots can play a range of roles, including sharing poetry, spreading news or attempting satire; many...

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