miércoles, 15 de mayo de 2019

"Filek: el estafador que engaño a Franco" - Ignacio Martínez Pisón

Filek: El estafador que engañó a FrancoFilek: El estafador que engañó a Franco by Ignacio Martínez de Pisón
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Como Ignacio Martínez Pisón, descubrí la existencia de Filek en la biografía que Paul Preston escribió sobre Franco. Entre las mas de 1000 páginas de la monumental obra del historiador inglés, un párrafo esbozaba la historia de un hombre que en la primera hora de los cuarenta años de dictadura fascista se había atrevido a estafar a Franco. Irresistiblemente, la imaginación quedaba capturada fantaseando con las escenas en las que una persona le hizo creer al dictador que era combustible lo que tan sólo era agua con ingredientes vegetales.

Me era imposible no querer saber más de quién era Filek. Busqué infructuosamente algún relato más detallado que sólo ahora existe con la obra de Martínez Pisón. La biografía del timador permite entender cómo todo fue posible. En la corte chabacana de aduladores de un dictador cuartelero, era inevitable que no tuviera éxito un charlatan que hacia remontar sus orígenes al imperio austro-húngaro. La escalada de engaños que constituye la de vida Filek, no deja de ser un entrenamiento para llegar a la audacia del golpe final, forzosamente destinado al fracaso.

Y sin embargo, el libro me ha resultado decepcionante. El autor escoge el registro equivocado de una fría investigación académica para relatar la historia de Filek. No me cabe duda que un relato más novelado, con dosis de ironía y sarcasmo, hubiera permitido una explotación mayor de la biografía del timador. Ciertamente más inventado y menos riguroso, pero quien no hubiese disfrutado con un relato cáustico de un diálogo entre Filek y el dictador.

Un libro necesario, pero una oportunidad perdida. O quizás tan solo el primer paso para que alguien escriba la obra que la historia de Filek demanda.

View all my reviews

miércoles, 8 de mayo de 2019

It´s not EU cybersecurity, it´s EU strategic digital autonomy

Cybersecurity has climb to the category of a major concern in Europe in 2019. The European Union has adopted a in Q1 a Cybersecurity Act and it is working in building up a Network of Cybersecurity Centers to boost up the Cybersecurity industry, that jointly with the existing NIS Directive defines an extending cybersecurity legal framework. There´s also an expanding network of institutions to take care of the Europeans Cybersecurity, that some people fear have overlapping powers and may itself be the seed for cybersecurity gaps.

It looks also that there are some rationale and evidence for these concerns. The Huawei affair promoted by the Trump administration has provoked the adoption of EU coordinated measures to reinforce cyber security in the forthcoming 5G networks. It would not be strange that in order to keep geopolitical balance that some EU coordinated cyber security measures around cloud services may be promoted after the suspicion around Amazon has been raised by the German government. But are all these concerns really about cyber security or are cyber security concerns the proxy for other bigger concern?

The described cyber security concerns reflects not only policy-makers worries about trusted digital services, it reflects that Europe has lost any possible control of the digitalisation of its economy and society. The main EU networks manufacturers are Chinese, the most popular digital services among European citizens and companies are provided by US companies and there are not any popular end-user device designed and build within the Union borders. European companies have been totally wiped out of the list of the main tech companies, none of them are in the list of the 20 most valuable Internet companies or the top 10 electronics manufacturers.

The debate on EU cyber security strategy should be the tip of an even more important debate: EU strategic digital autonomy. Although it is still a concept on the making, the usual definition of the term "digital strategic autonomy" are the capabilities to protect its digital sovereignty. Setting up this EU digital strategic autonomy should be one of the goals of the forthcoming European Commission.

Europe has been successful in one of these capabilities to protect its digital sovereignty, the regulation of the digital space. Without any doubt, the European model of a regulated cyberspace has overrun the US laissez-faire model and it is behind the call for regulation of the digital giants. However, it maybe a temporary victory without if the EU is not able to build up the enivronment where tech champions can flourish in a quick manner. 

Although ethics and European values should be at the center of European digital policy, there are not alone the decisive factor for catching-up US and China in the tech race. As Daniel Castro, ITIF vice president, wisely remember "You can have the more ethical race car driver, but if his car is not faster, you are going to lose". EU policy papers are beginning to be flooded of terms as Ethic AI or human-center data economy, but we should recognize that we are are definitively lagging behind and bet on policies for creating a EU fabric of digital firms. 

The building up of the EU strategic digital autonomy start with choosing the areas to compete with the other blocs. We should forget about Europe as a global digital competitor, neither US or China compete in every area. Although there are basic areas where Europe has to develop its own capabilities (AI, 5G or cyber security), the competition on services should be more focused, for instance forgetting about B2C and giving the battle in the digitalisation of transport or health.

The second step is creating a toolbox for promoting the development and scale up of companies in the selected areas. Europe has accumulated a set of best practices that should be connected in a coherent digital policy in order to help digital companies to flourish. The promotion of the digital talent in the nordic countries, the development of an effective high-speed connectivity policy in Spain, the promotion of digital entrepreunership in the United Kingdom or the boost towards Industry 4.0 are some of the successful models that may be replicated  in the other EU countries taking into account its own specificities. 

Beyond the toolbox to create and scale up companies, it is important to promote the connection and the joining of efforts among them. Both the big and small ones. This should be the main space for the European Commission efforts, with a wise use of the MFF instruments with a mix of the definition of Airbus-like projects in some services areas, the creation of funding instruments based on public-private collaboration and the elimination of barriers for digital enterpreuners mobility across Europe.

Digitalisation should be one of the central policies of the next European Commission. Europe is not only on the brink of losing definitively the tech race, it is on the brink of losing its strategic digital autonomy, and therefore its capability to be influent in the XXI century global policy. To avoid this destiny, we need to create a fabric of digital firms capable to compete in basic digital technologies and key services areas where competition is a real option. Maybe, it is the last call for a digital future in Europe.

miércoles, 1 de mayo de 2019

"Travellers in the Third Reich" - Juila Boyd

Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday PeopleTravellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People by Julia Boyd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fifteen years ago I read many books about the rise and fall of the Third Reich and their main characters of that dark period of European history, such as Kershaw´s biography on Hitler or the narration of that regime written by Michael Burleigh. I thought I would never pick for reading any other book related with that epoch until I saw in a shelf "Travellers in the Third Reich", but the promise of a narrative of the period trough the eyes of ordinary people was enough to convince me.

The book span Germany's history from 1919 to 1945 giving the testimonies of a collection of people who travelled those years for pleasure or business across the country, the majority of them from Britain and USA but also from places as remote as China. The selection of travelers done by the author includes people from many different backgrounds, from upper class and aristocrats to sportsmen, from religious ministers to journalists. This variety ensures a 360º perspective of what the world thought at that time of nazism and the list of events and milestones that paved the way to the Second World War.

From the pages of the book emerge a shameful view of Germany and the anglo-saxon world of that period. On one hand, a country fully anti-semitic with few exceptions that cheered and received warmly the measures to restraint jewish influence and economic power. On the other hand, a sympathetic view of the nazi regime shared by many British and American people that saw Hitler as a providencial man for Germany. In particular, the book is the accusation testimony of how the majority of anglo-saxon people chose not to see what was happened in Germany until it was too late.

However, examples of brave behavior may also be found in the book. Foreigners that help Jewish people to escape from the Reich putting their life at risk or journalist that desperately warned the world about the real face of the regime behind the image of being the lever for the courageous renaissance of a defeated country. It is easy today to be shocked by the fact that these people were a minority, but perhaps we should ask ourselves how many times we choose not to take such a brave stance about what daily happened around us.

From time to time, it is good to remember what happened in Europe between the two world wars. There are plenty of lessons of that period to be learned in order to avoid the repetition of that tragedy. Reading Boyd´s book is an usual but valuable manner to revisit that bleak period.

View all my reviews

miércoles, 24 de abril de 2019

Europe & Cybersecurity of 5G networks

Since the beginning of the year, there´s a growing concern of the cybersecurity of 5G networks in Europe. Perhaps, the best way to understand what has happened is a sentence that many time ago Bruce Schneier introduced in the quotes collection of the cybersecurity specialist,  "security is a mind state". Before US government began what we may benignly call a campaign on the need of a trusty 5G infrastructure, Europe had a blind trust in their network operators and their proceedings for infrastructure deployment. Now, this trust is broken, instability has been introduced in the European cybersecurity mind state and something has to be done to solve this trust crisis and achieve a new stable mind state.

From my point of view, it doesn't matter now the origin of this trust crisis, although we should not forget it. The center of the US campaign for a trusty 5G infrastructure has been the manufacturer which provides a growing share of the current 4G infrastructure in Europe, which will be the base for the deployment of 5G networks due to the evolutionary approach of its architecture. Therefore, although the accusations may have the smell of the "weapons of mass destruction" campaign before the second Irak war, Europe can not afford doing nothing and wait to see how it happens the first real cybersecurity incident in its 5G networks.

Due to the tiny size of each European national telecom market, there´s no space for nothing different than a shared European solution to this crisis of trust. Although Germany or UK may lead by example (as they are doing) with different national proposals for security requirements for mobile telecom operators, Europe will be sidelined of 5G race without a shared approach to a security assurance scheme for 5G networks. GSMA has politely remembered during the last MWC with its called for a proportionate and risk-based, as well as common, consistent and agreed, security assurance, testing and certification regime for Europe. It was not a surprise that all the eyes turned to the European Commission to make a proposal for this shared approach to cybersecurity for 5G networks.

However, the European Commission may has chosen the long and winding road for cybersecurity on 5G networks in Europe. Although the recently approved European Electronic Communications Code allow the European Commision to adopt an implementing act establishing armonised technical and organisational measures to appropriately manage the risks posed to the security of networks and services, the Commission has chosen to adopt only a recommendation for Member States with a set of actions to assess cybersecurity risks of 5G networks and to strengthen preventive measures in the national sphere by June 2019, with a later exchange of best practices in order to build up by December 2019 a toolbox of mitigating measures to address the identified cybersecurity risks on 5G networks. It is pretty sure that all Member States will make their best, but it has to be seen yet if this cooperative path produce a coherent approach to cybersecurity of 5G in Europe on time. Just after the publication of the European Commission recommendation, a 5G expert warned in the Financial Times that "This timescale is incompatible with the EU’s other objective to be a leader in 5G".

And while Europe is lost like a modern Teseo in the cybersecurity labyrinth, their competitors reap the first successes. Since April 3rd, 5G reduced commercial offers are available in a reduced scale in Corea and USA who passionately dispute the glory of being the first. Each month of delay in the deployment of reduced commercial offers in Europe may mean a delay in having full commercial 5G networks in the Union by 2025. This might mean for Europe a huge economic impact in the future, as the European Commission has estimated benefits of €113.1 billion per annum from 2025 in Europe from the introduction of 5G capabilities.

Someone may think that the US offensive in favour of cyber security of 5G networks would have a collateral benefit for Europe on the manufacturer area. The first market analyzes published this year are looking to confirm this approach with the dethronation of Huawei as the first mobile provider and Ericsson´s leadership in the share of expected shipments of 5G equipment. However, the security assurance of 5G networks in Europe will imply the security testing and certification of all the providers, and it is still to be see if Ericsson or Nokia would pass an strict cybersecurity scrutiny like the one that Huawei is yearly passing at the UK government.

Europe began to lose its importance as a technological competitor on the race for 4G deployment. The delay in 4G an effective spectrum assignment in some European countries blocked a uniform deployment of 4G networks across the Union preventing network operators to take advantage of the scalability of the European market.  When everything was looking bright in 5G deployment in Europe, an slow reaction to cybersecurity deployment may strike a final blow on Europe dreams of catching up US and China in the digital race.

miércoles, 17 de abril de 2019

"La Red Purpura" - Carmen Mola

La Red Púrpura (Elena Blanco, #2)La Red Púrpura by Carmen Mola
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Cuando aún estaba deslumbrado por "La novia gitana", el anterior caso de la Inspectora Blanco, se publicó su continuación, "La Red Púrpura". No pude evitar aparcar por unos días la lectura que traía entre manos para ferozmente devorarlo. El libro tiene una arranque frenético, quizás uno de los mejores en la novela negra de los últimos años, pero que de modo incomprensiblemente pierde fuelle, La pérdida de velocidad y la falta del final excepcional que tenía "La novia gitana", lastrado por las altas expectativas que generó aquella primera parte, convierte la novela en un ejercicio fallido, aunque de modo aislado podría considerarse un libro aceptable.

La novela, a pesar del sabor a decepción que deja, tiene aciertos indudables. La autora perfila mejor los personajes secundarios en la Brigada de Análisis de Casos dirigida por la Inspectora Blanco y realiza descripciones precisas de distintos ambientes de los bajos fondos. También mantiene la importancia de la banda sonora musical en la novela , saliendo además del corsé de las canciones de Mina para explorar múltiples interpretes y estilos, aunque quizás es un recurso que podría tener un mayor desarrollo en la segunda mitad del libro. No obstante, algunos de estos aciertos queda nublado por la previsibilidad de alguna de las líneas narrativas y la explotación escasa que realiza de otras que quizás podrían haber dado mayor empaque al conjunto.

Al respecto del argumento, es ciertamente la novela extrema que vende su publicidad. Dependiendo del gusto de cada cual, algunos pasajes pueden resultar de violencia excesiva o necesaria para mostrar el mal en toda su crudeza. Me inclino por lo segundo. La incorporación, además, de un enlace de la maldad del presente con la perversidad del pasado, desmitifica la culpabilidad que algunos hacen recaer sobre Internet en exclusiva de la criminalidad actual. El mal siempre ha estado aquí mutando en sus medios para ser más efectivo.

"La Red Púrpura" calmará (y quizás colmará) el deseo de continuidad que abrió "La novia gitana", sin embargo no te hará desear un nuevo caso de la Inspectora Blanco.

View all my reviews

miércoles, 10 de abril de 2019

"La novia gitana" - Carmen Mola

La novia gitanaLa novia gitana by Carmen Mola
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Leí la novela llevado por las buenas críticas que circulaban sobre ella en varios periódicos. No decepciona. Una buena idea bien desarrollada, un ritmo adecuado y las adecuadas dosis de sorpresas propias de una novela policiaca que se adentra en la novela negra. Es la novela ideal para desconectar al final del día o en los tránsitos de un lado a otro a lo largo de la jornada. Sin embargo, tampoco es la obra cumbre y gran renovación de la novela policiaca que algunos dicen. Sin ir más lejos y acudiendo a novelas del mismo estilo recientes, está un peldaño por debajo de "El final del hombre", de Antonio Mercero.

Gran elección y perfilado de la protagonista de la historia. El retrato de la inspectora Blanco es el retrato de la soledad tan frecuente en los detectives protagonistas de las novelas negras, pero que por primera vez veo bien trasladado a una mujer. Sin duda, algunas de las características del personaje son un cliché de otros detectives celebres (alcohólica, atormentada, coleccionista de relaciones sexuales), pero la autora realiza un traslado valiente a una carcasa de personaje femenino, descubriendo de modo progresivo cómo ha llegado a ser quien es. La afición al karaoke bajo los efectos etílicos de la inspectora redondea un personaje con recorrido, y obliga a leer la novela escuchando las piezas musicales que canta o recuerda de Mina, como un elemento más que da contexto a la historia.

De la trama de la novela, poco puede contarse sin reventar su disfrute. Como toda novela negra, tiene los ingredientes de despiste adecuados para despistar al lector acerca de quién es el criminal buscado, que es ocultado tras velos plausibles, facilitando al mismo tiempo los detalles para que una vez descubierto resulte coherente su identidad. La autora realiza también una perfecta preparación subterránea del camino hacia el episodio continuación de "La novia gitana", que culmina con un final de la obra que actúa como un mazazo moral al lector.

Una novela para leer, disfrutar y que impulsa a leer su continuación, "La Red Púrpura", pero esa, será otra historia.

View all my reviews

miércoles, 3 de abril de 2019

"Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" - Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus: A Brief History of TomorrowHomo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A lot of friends recommended me not to read "Homo Deus", but I did in spite of their critical view of Harari´s second book. Once I have finished it, I firmly dissent from their negative view of this essay. Of course, the book it is not as recommendable s Harari´s first book, "Homo sapiens", but probably this fact is due to the reason that it is a totally different kind of book. Do not be confused by the usage of the same didactic style, Harari´s second book a completely different kind of animal to the first one.

Yes, you can love "Homo Sapiens" and hate "Homo Deus". The first book is a review of human beings history, the kind of reading that helps you to fill the gaps in your culture and general knowledge. The later is a forecast of our collective future as an animal race, sometimes based on facts but the in great part based on the author personal ideology. Therefore, you might like the first book as a kind of history book and despise the second book as a mere exercise of science fiction. But you may also find both books readable and lightly enjoyable as it is my case.

The value of the Harari´s first book is to provide a landscape view of human beings history and what has made the humankind the master and commander of the earth, probably the unique for the majority of their readers. The value of "Homo Deus" is its invitation to reflect on our future, mainly on the impact of digitalisation and other high-end technologies on our social fabric and beliefs. Again, for the average reader of the book this may be the unique occasion when they think about these issues.

As a forecasting book, it is better not to spoil its content. However, it is needed to advance the final feeling you may feel flooded by pessimism once you have finished the book. In my case, I feel particularly worry with an undeniable fact highlighted by Harari that will frame our future: The decoupling between intelligence and consciousness. You may not be agreed with Harari´s design of the alternative futures for humankind, but this decoupling should concern you because, for instance, it is opening paths which could be fill of efficient solutions to problems but without taking into consideration the consequences for the social and economic environment.

Open your mind and read this book. Maybe, you will have a different perspective of what happens around you and its impact in the future.

View all my reviews
palyginti kainas