Information Revolution impacts International Relations & Security

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London, UK - 13 May 2005, 12:00 GMT - The first international conference on the information revolution and the changing face of international relations and security in Lucern, Switzerland between 23rd and 25th May jointly organised by the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (ETH) Zurich and the Comparative Interdisciplinary Studies Section (CISS) of the International Studies Association (ISA), seeks to highlight the role of the "information revolution" as a contributory factor to the fundamental changes occurring in the international system as well as national and global security. The mi2g Intelligence Unit has been invited to contribute to the event at keynote level.

Prof Andreas Wenger, Director, Center for Security Studies, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

"The importance of information and knowledge today is forcing us to take a new look at the main actors in international relations. Traditionally, states have been the exclusive holders of power and authority. With the advent of the internet, new and diverse actors have entered the stage, and simultaneously the speed, capacity, and flexibility in collecting, producing, and disseminating information have increased. As a result of the fragmentation of authority and the altered quality of power, the traditional foundations of security have also been turned upside down," according to Prof Andreas Wenger, Director, Center for Security Studies, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. "Among other things, the information revolution has dramatically increased the dependence of developed countries on efficient national and transnational information infrastructures. The complete reliance of entire societies on information systems and networks has created a new set of 'information risks' with specific traits that make them both difficult to predict and detect - for example, the threat is not restricted by political or geographical boundaries, the capacity to inflict significant damage is readily available and relatively easy to use by those with even cursory skills and knowledge of computer technologies, maintaining anonymity is easy, and the cost of carrying out attacks is low and falling. This conference examines important aspects of these information risks and some of the countermeasures that are being drafted to ameliorate them."

The organisers at the invitation-only conference have gathered a select group of expert individuals, including European and American scholars, policy makers, and other professionals from the military, government and the private sector to engage in a cross professional and interdisciplinary discourse. Selected papers will be published in an edited volume.

Unique Perspectives

The conference engages in an interdisciplinary discourse to analyse the scope and complexity of the contemporary challenges and opportunities confronting the international community. While it is increasingly apparent that the dynamic integration of technologies into a multimedia system of communication is having a profound influence on the international system, there is far less consensus about the theoretical and practical implications of the often contradictory developments being observed.

The discourse is spread across three broad based topical areas:

1. Governing the Information Age:
This topic addresses the issue of how the information revolution challenges the supremacy of the state. Including issues such as new forms of governance; Internet regulation; and "new" forms of power including 'soft power'.

2. Security in the Information Age: This topic analyses the security implications of the information revolution. It includes subjects such as "cyber threats"; information operations; and countermeasures.

3. New Approaches for the Information Age - Challenges and Case Studies:
This topic focuses on changing circumstances and the new conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and feasible approaches towards a changing global environment. Including selected case studies on the information revolution and the transformation of global exchanges.

Chair and Keynote Speaker

The conference will be chaired by Prof Sai-Felicia Krishna-Hensel, President and Program Chair, of the Comparative Interdisciplinary Studies Section, International Studies Association. The conference will be inaugurated by Dr Victor Mauer, Deputy Director and Head of Research, Center for Security Studies, Swiss Federal Institute for Technology Zurich. The keynote speaker for the event will be DK Matai, Executive Chairman, mi2g and Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA), who will introduce the theme of "Holistic Solutions to Counter Asymmetric Threats: The Pivotal Role of Technology."

Prof Sai-Felicia Krishna Hensel - Chair

"The virtual world of cyberspace with its great potential for expanding the boundaries of our imagination, presents us with unprecedented challenges as well as a unique opportunity to assess the shape and direction of the twenty first century world,"
said Prof Sai-Felicia Krishna-Hensel, Conference Chair. "In going beyond the traditional academic boundaries and promoting a cross disciplinary dialogue, we are only acknowledging the realities of a world in which traditional state and institutional boundaries are rapidly ceasing to be impediments to meaningful global dialogue aimed at facilitating cooperation to help understand and respond to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century."

Dr Victor Mauer - Opening

"Perhaps more than anything else, the new domain of cyberspace is considered to be the ultimate symbol of globalisation. Advances in information technology have a strong influence on the way in which states, societies, and trade function around the globe. States are changing, but they are not vanishing. State sovereignty has eroded, but it is still forcefully asserted. Governments are weaker, but they can still throw their weight around. Borders have become more porous, but they still seek to keep out intruders. We think of ourselves as global, but territoriality is still a central preoccupation for many people," said Dr Victor Mauer, Deputy Director and Head of Research, Center for Security Studies, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. "Despite its importance, the 'information revolution' and its impact on business, society, the state, and international relations is still a fairly exotic field of study. In the absence of significant empirical research, anecdotal evidence is frequently offered when analysing the impact of the information revolution on international relations and security. We are challenged to further our understanding of these changes, so that prevalent feelings and assumptions may turn into an informed understanding of the causes and effects of the latest technological and policy developments."

DK Matai - Keynote Speaker

"This is a very timely conference as asymmetric threats initiated by the information revolution are growing fast and are changing the face of international relations and global security at a fundament level,"
said DK Matai, Executive Chairman, mi2g. "Entire armies of hundreds of thousands of compromised computers across the world - Botnets - can now be controlled by one sovereign individual or a very small team and this brings a whole new meaning to 'asymmetric warfare' between nation states and small groups. Many global corporations and countries have experienced partial cut-off from the Internet as a a direct result of Botnet's induced denial of service attacks and this is just the tip of the emerging iceberg. Collaboration between organised criminals, extremists and malevolents is rising much faster than what the international legal system was designed to cope with. Anonymity and global mobility are the much exploited boons of cyberspace."

DK Matai is Executive Chairman of mi2g which won the Queen's Award for enterprise in the category of innovation and DK also Chairs the Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA) that brings together members from the House of Lords, House of Commons, European Parliament, US Congress, Senior Government officials from G10 nations and outside, and over 500 CEOs from banking, insurance, defence and computing.

Second Conference in May 2006

This first international conference in May 2005 entitled "The Information Revolution and the Changing Face of International Relations and Security," combines empirical studies with innovative concepts and scenarios to evaluate the current and future direction of the international order.

The second international conference in May 2006 in the series will continue the focus on the central role of technology. It will concentrate on Global Networks, Shifting Power Nodes, and Security Initiatives in the Global community, to add to the ongoing dialogue and research agenda. Focusing on network architecture and exchange economics, this meeting proposes to carry the dialogue on the cyber revolution into the next stage.


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