Did Google Maps Spark a War?
Where once only two rocks marked a sleepy border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, recent days have witnessed an escalation in tension between the Central American neighbors over the tiny Isla Calero at the mouth of the Rio San Juan, which both nations have claimed since 1850. Nicaragua began to re-dredge the San Juan in October in order to restore its channel route, a move justified by the Google Maps portrayal of the border location, which it turns out was off by about 2.7 kms (1.6 miles).
No, this is not a techno-geopolitical Woody Allen farce, but a reminder that borders are still a strong source of pride, even hostility, well into the 21st century. Since Costa Rica abolished its military in 1948, even an old school Nicaraguan guerilla leader like Eden Pastora was able to lead the incursion, claiming he relied on maps dating to 1858. Ironically then, while the Organization of American States (OAS) sprung into mediation mode, the Nicaraguan foreign ministry was quick to blame the U.S. State Department (the source of the border demarcation used by Google Maps) for attempting undermine the government of Daniel Ortega. Google has apologized and is working to re-issue the map using corrections from the State Department. But Nicaragua has asked Google not to make any such adjustments, evidently stalling while it alters the facts on the ground.
The still unfolding episode falls into a broader pattern of how technology is affecting traditional international relations issues from border disputes to civil wars and revolutions. The role of Twitter in the Iranian election street protests in the summer of 2009 is still hotly contested, for example. Less known is the Malaysia-Indonesia dispute over the Sipadan and Ligatan islands, which in 2005 flared up and caused mass hostilities—in Internet chat rooms, that is, where the war of words was intense and tempers flared.
It’s too early to tell whether the Internet can fully sublimate passions away from the battlefield as football/soccer has done in Europe. Right now, bother are occurring at the same time. Remember that in 2005, Chinese protestors trashed the Japanese embassy in Beijing over the perennial issue of Japanese visitors visiting the Yasakuni war shrine in Tokyo. A more low-key version of this is currently underway in the two nations’ dispute over the capture of Chinese fishing boat near disputed islands in the East China Sea.
The technology-geopolitics nexus will only become more central in 2011 as all nations are required to formally log their exclusive maritime border claims in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Look for GPS technologies to be widely deployed as nations seek to make their maps more precise—but potentially challenging even settled and accepted boundaries in the process. Technology map yet lead to a world mapped with precision, but it could unleash more Banana Republic type episodes along the way.
Ayesha and Parag Khanna explore human-technology co-evolution and its implications for society, business and politics at The Hybrid Reality Institute.
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.