CCRC speaks at ISA Annual Asia Pacific Conference 2019

KGRI Project Assistant Professor Mr. Tobias Burgers, and CCRC fellow Dr. Christopher Hobson attended the International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Asia Pacific Conference in Singapore on July 4-6, and presented some of the ongoing research projects at the Cyber Civilization Research Center. The 2019 ISA conference was in collaboration with Nanyang Technological University.

Mr. Tobias Burgers presented a follow-up version of the paper at EWIS 2019 in Krakow. Incorporating commentaries from the EWIS conference, he sought to present and discuss the concept of deterrence in cyberspace and the implications of this flawed concept. He argued that the absence of credible deterrence theories, as well as the difficulty of establishing adequate threat perceptions. This indicated that the existing international relations security theories are difficult to apply to cyberspace conflict dynamics. This has created a knowledge gap on this subject – It is important to address this in order to understand the risks involved with (destructive) cyber conflict. The absence of such, currently creates a situation akin to the early days of the nuclear age: an age in which risks were poorly understood and a general fear towards the use of new technologies was the standard. Mr. Burgers argued that we sought to learn from prior experiences in order to address possible destabilizing consequences of unchecked destructive cyber conflict.

On the third day of the conference, he presented a second paper on China’s role in the armed drone export market. In this paper, currently under review, he, together with co-author Romaniuk, from the University of Alberta, made the argument that China slowly, but gradually increased export of armed drones over the course of last decade has contributed to a growing number of armed drone strikes. From Iraq to Nigeria, among others, drone strikes have now become an accepted anti-terrorism tool, with a limited debate on the effectiveness, as well as legal and ethical considerations. Through its exports, China has indirectly helped to facilitate to create a global momentum for drone strikes, resulting in a growing normative acceptance of drone strikes as a tool within anti-terrorism operations.

Dr. Christopher Hobson gave a presentation on the changes in governance in the Asia Pacific regions, focusing on a series of significant problems democracies face. He looked at the way that globalization and technological advancement are undermining fundamental features of established democracies. One of the key issues Dr. Hobson discussed was the influence of the development of AI, big data and the IoT, explaining how these changes were reshaping the way people receive information and exchange ideas, which threaten the foundations on which democratic dialogue and communication exist. A parallel problem is likely to emerge as AI plays a larger role in society, as it blurs and challenges basic political and moral categories about agency, responsibility, and personhood. These problems are reinforced by the growing use of big data and algorithms rise to trouble concerns about surveillance and manipulation. When combined with other major political, economic and social changes considered by Dr. Hobson, he suggested there is a need to consider a range of possible futures open to established democracies.