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India’s rise as world power
Since its drive towards economic liberalization in 1991, India’s economy has boomed, becoming the fastest growing large economy in recent years. As India is becoming a global superpower, it cannot maintain the stance of “non-alignment” that it had adopted since the Cold War. In particular, India’s relationship with the U.S. has improved since the 2000s, driven by their shared fear of a rising China. Furthermore, there are important synergies between both economies: the U.S. considers India’s buoyant consumer market as an important source of overseas expansion, while India maintains its largest current account surplus with the U.S. However, structural issues such as India’s reliance on Russian military equipment, its friendship with Iran, as well as Prime Minister’s Modi’s recent protectionist measures of India’s industries, are preventing their relationship from becoming one of full alignment. Nevertheless, both countries hope to work around their disputes by signing a new trade agreement and ensuring India will receive U.S. oil imports. With China’s growth slowing, the Indian-American relationship could become determinative in global economy and geopolitics.
Southeast Asia benefits from geopolitical competition
In two ways Southeast Asia (SEA) is benefitting from intensified geopolitical dispute. First, it is becoming increasingly clear that the trade war the U.S. started with China is a structural attempt to curb China’s growth and dominance. Consequently, manufacturing companies are fleeing China into SEA to dodge tariffs and retain their access to the U.S. Given their proximity with China and their integration with regional supply chains, SEA’s export economies thus benefit from the ongoing trade war (e.g. Vietnam). Second, Asia is rising and SEA is a critical nexus of trade and shipping routes. The region is at the intersection of trade routes promoted by the world’s largest powers, such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the American Indo-Pacific Strategy, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and the Asian-African Growth Corridor spearheaded by Japan and India. As Southeast Asian economies grow and become more independent, they will likely choose not to affiliate with specific spheres of influences of this “Great Power Competition”, but choose the middle ground to extract maximum benefits from all sides.
Blurring the lines between mind and machine
Last week, Facebook announced it will acquire CTRL-labs, a start-up that specializes in allowing humans to control computers using their brains. Other companies such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink and Kernel are also developing brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). According to QY Research, the global BCI market will reach $283m in 2025. BCIs are not a new idea; the history of brains interfacing with machines started with the development of electroencephalography (EEG) in 1924. Since then, “neurotechnology” has evolved into electronic devices that can be placed outside (non-invasive or wearable devices) or inside of the brain (invasive or implanted technologies). Early applications are emerging in gaming, the military, and especially the medical sector. Currently, most common uses are enabling motor control and communication tools for people with brain injuries. Potential future applications could be found in ‘treating’ brain diseases, such as Alzheimer, for instance by implanting a memory prosthesis. While neural interface technologies are still in their infancy, they are raising concerns over where the human ends and machine begins. Nevertheless, BCIs will transform medicine and fundamentally change how we interact with technology and each other.