The Promise and Peril of High-Tech Innovation
The technology revolution has transformed one industry after another, from retail to manufacturing to transportation. Its most far-reaching effects, however, may be playing out in the unlikeliest of places: the traditional industries of oil, gas, and electricity.
Over the past decade, innovation has upended the energy industry. First came the shale revolution. Starting around 2005, companies began to unlock massive new supplies of natural gas, and then oil, from shale basins, thanks to two new technologies: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking). Engineers worked out how to drill shafts vertically and then turn their drills sideways to travel along a shale seam; they then blasted the shale with high-pressure water, sand, and chemicals to pry open the rock and allow the hydrocarbons to flow. These technologies have helped drive oil prices down from an all-time high of $145 per barrel in July 2008 to less than a third of that today, and supply has become much more responsive to market conditions, undercutting the ability of OPEC, a group of the world’s major oil-exporting nations, to influence global oil prices.
Outside Bujumbura International Airport in the capital city of Burundi, six teenagers bound for Washington D.C. to compete in an international robotics competitions locked hands with parents and relatives to pray one last time before boarding their flight. In Kirundi, their native language, Coach Canesius Bindaba asked God to bless their journey to the United States.
“I prayed that God may keep us safe on this trip,” Bindaba said.
When Bindaba uttered those words, he said he had no idea that the teens — likely with the help of their families — had orchestrated a secret bid to stay behind and possibly seek asylum in the U.S. and Canada. The squad — two girls and four boys who range in ages from 16 to 18 — went missing on Tuesday from the FIRST Global Challenge robotics after it ended at DAR Constitution Hall, and their disappearance set off a panicked search for them at Trinity University in Washington, D.C., where they were staying in dorms.
By Thursday morning, D.C. police said two of the teens — Don Charu Ingabire, 16, and Audrey Mwamikazi, 17 — crossed in to Canada and were with friends or relatives. Police on Thursday said the other four — Richard Irakoze, 18, Kevin Sabumukiza, 17, Nice Munezero, 17 and Aristide Irambona, 18 — were not yet with relatives but were still safe.
This week, police announced the takedown of two of the dark web’s largest marketplaces for illegal goods: AlphaBay and its substitute, Hansa. Through a combination of online and conventional detective work, federal agents shut down these two hubs of criminal trade and arrested the major players involved. It’s a substantial blow to the dark web’s community of consumers, who had taken to AlphaBay, and then, Hansa, after Silk Road 2 went under.
Still, this kind of website can be extremely persistent, and authorities often find themselves playing a whack-a-mole game with the various sites. Among dark web experts, there’s a general consensus that there will only be more dark web marketplaces and subsequent takedowns to come.
Despite the sophistication of anonymity tools like Tor and Bitcoin, law enforcement’s best clues in this case seem to have been the result of criminal ineptitude. In December 2016, police discovered Alexandre Cazes, AlphaBay’s apparent creator, through his hotmail email address Pimp_Alex_91@hotmail.com, which was used to send out password recovery emails for AlphaBay. That email address was also found on a French tech troubleshooting website with Cazes’ full name. That led investigators to Cazes’ LinkedIn account, where he listed awfully familiar skills like website hosting and cryptography, making his prominence as a suspect in the case only continue to grow. Despite all the skills Cazes claimed to have on LinkedIn, his drug front company website, EBXtech.com, was “barely functional,” according to court documents; and EBX company bank records showed little to no income.