Technology vs. Pirates

Unmanned aircraft may be the best bet to fight Somalian piracy

3 min read

Over the past few months, the popular image of pirates has morphed from drunken swashbuckler to Somali bandit, as raiders in the Gulf of Aden, off the Indian Ocean, have brazenly taken on larger targets—like the oil tanker Sirius Star—and more of them. During the first nine months of 2008, there were more than 120 pirate attacks off East Africa, compared with 60 in 2007 and 13 in 2004, according to the International Maritime Organization. Military missions haven’t succeeded at stemming piracy so far, but could there be a technological fix?

Combating pirates has proved tricky for several reasons. The sheer length of the Somali coastline—just over 3000 kilometers—makes it hard to cover. Pirates typically operate from mother ships resembling legitimate fishing vessels, from which the bandits send out speedboats. This allows the pirates to cover a huge area and to capture ships far from the coast. Also, the merchant vessels they target often have small crews and don’t see the pirates coming until it’s too late.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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