Governments spying on each other is nothing new. Nor is corporate spying: The U.S. textile industry began after American industrial spies stole factory plans from 18th century Britain.
But Dan McWhorter, managing director of cyber security firm Mandiant, says the scale of China’s state-sponsored theft of data from U.S. companies is unprecedented and difficult for a democratic society to grasp.
"There’s such a firm divide between government and corporation, that it’s hard to wrap your head around," says McWhorter. "In a communist government, the government and industry are tied together and they’re hard to distinguish at times."
Innovation at all costs is what China is after, says James McGregor, author of No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers: The Challenge of China’s Authoritarian Capitalism:
"It’s hard to understand why China wants to face the world with what appears to almost be an economic war footing," says McGregor.
Equally confounding, says McGregor, is the deafening silence on the part of U.S. businesses that have been hacked.
The Mandiant report says Chinese hackers stole terabytes of data from Coca-Cola, yet the company isn’t talking about it. It’s a typical response, says McGregor, for companies who don’t want to upset their sales in China.
"By hiding under a rock and pretending it’s not happening while at the same time they’re hugely threatened, all they’re doing is inviting more of it to happen," says McGregor.
McGregor says a more appropriate response would be to tackle the issue head-on without initially making China lose face.
"If those companies had held a press conference that said ‘we’ve been hacked out of China, the Chinese government says they’re not involved in this, so we’re going to take them at face value and we’re having this press conference to ask the Chinese government to help us figure out who did this and put a stop to it,'" McGregor says, then the onus is on China to do something about it.
Or you can let the U.S. government do it.
Obama administration officials say they are planning to tell China’s new leaders in coming weeks that the volume and sophistication of the attacks have become so intense that they threaten the fundamental relationship between Washington and Beijing.
We know Google plans to make its high tech spectacles called Google Glass available this year. The price tag: about $1,500 a pair. But are these lens-less frames really a technological revolution?
"It's cool for a piece of technology," says Joshua Topolsky, editor and chief of The Verge, who took an official test run of the specs around New York City. But "it has to transcend a piece of technology because you are wearing it on your face."
Though Topolsky says the average person may not be quick to don Google Glass -- at least in its current state -- partnerships with companies like Rayban or Warby Parker could help win over mainstream users.
And then there are slick new features which could interest more than just tech geeks. Glass makes use of Google's Knowledge Graph which serves up instant, easy-to-read information when you search.
"If you ask for the weather, it won't just give you links to the weather, it will show you what the weather is on a nice stylized card," explains Topolsky.
To hear more about Google Glass, click on the audio player above.
High speed Internet in cars could soon become a feature as common as satellite radio or CD players. General Motors and AT&T have announced that so-called "LTE" wireless connections will come as an option in many Chevys, Buicks, Cadillacs, and GMC's next year.
Live traffic maps, Internet radio, and streaming movies are just the beginning for car interiors that could soon could be dominated by apps.
Ford and BMW already have something like this, as does Audi. If the GM deal finally produces a critical mass of "internetobiles," what you have is a big opportunity or a big threat for regular FM and AM radio stations that also cherish the in-car audience.
Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET, joins Marketplace Tech host David Brancaccio from Barcelona's Mobile World Congress meeting to discuss the future of car radio.
This final note on the way out. We did a thing a couple of months ago about beer, and how you could tell a lot about a person's politics by the beverage they choose.
Today, the non-alcoholic version. The polling group Public Policy Polling has some new data. Democrats apparently choose regular sodas over diet: 47 percent to 31. Republicans go 42 percent for diet, 34 for regular. Coke beats Pepsi no matter how you vote.
And soda beats beer. Which just beats me.
Another blizzard bore down on the nation's midsection early Tuesday after lashing the Texas Panhandle with hurricane-force winds, closing highways and cutting power to thousands in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Midwesterners still digging out from last week's deep snowpack braced for more.
A hot air balloon flying over Egypt's ancient city of Luxor caught fire and crashed into a sugar cane field on Tuesday, killing at least 18 foreign tourists, a security official said. It was one of the worst accidents involving tourists in Egypt and likely to push the key tourism industry deeper into recession
Since the recession, people in the timber industry have watched everything fall except the trees. Jobs, housing starts, the price of lumber itself. That’s finally turning around.
“The lumber market throughout 2012 and into early 2013 has been in a recovery mode,” says Shawn Church, who edits the newsletter Random Lengths, which tracks softwood lumber prices in North America.
Church says the cost of softwood has gone from $284 last February to $415 today.
It’s spiked because of a growing Asian market, a modest rise in home construction and a smaller timber harvest.
Jameson French, President of Northland Forest Products, says after the recession, lumber producers just aren’t ready to cut more trees.
“So you made your business leaner and meaner. And to jump back in is going to take a lot more than the signs of housing recovery in the U.S.,” he says.
French hopes timber companies don’t rush back into the woods. He worries if they do, the industry’s soft rebound could collapse with a surplus of wood that no one wants.
The debate currently raging over guns goes beyond a disagreement over policy. Advocates on both sides literally disagree on the terms of the discussion — as in, the words they use to describe it. They know that the specific phrases they use tap into deeply held values in the people who hear them.
Drone developers in upstate New York and other regions are striving to be named official testing sites for drones as the FAA creates regulations for their use. They hope to emerge as the Silicon Valleys of unmanned aerial systems, attracting billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
Pope Benedict XVI leaves office this week, the second pope to resign voluntarily. The first was Celestine V, a hermit who quit in 1294, after a brief and disastrous stint. Some scholars say Dante damned Celestine as a coward in his Inferno. Yet his example, legally and spiritually, played a major role in Benedict's departure.
Twenty-eight states and the federal government have enacted laws that provide for automatic DNA collection from people at the time of their arrest. The question is whether it is unconstitutional to do that without a warrant, for the sole purpose of checking the DNA against a national crime scene database.
A Maryland building firm automated its home design process, and now it's looking to use another company to assemble houses on-site from parts. The firm has half as many workers as before the recession.
Google is pushing Congress to require a warrant for a law enforcement agency to read a person's email. Once Americans understand how their government attains information they'll demand action Google said.
From Japan comes news of a giant isopod that knows all there is to know about the hunger game. How else to explain the fasting behavior of the animal that, his minders say, hasn't eaten in more than 1,500 days? The male giant isopod, known simply as No. 1, last ate on Jan. 2, 2009 — or, to put it in perspective, 18 days before President Obama began his first term.
Since the governors last met in July, some have shifted their views on the federal health care law. A few Republicans have even changed their minds about the potential benefits of the president's plan to expand Medicaid.
Several big retailers say the return of the full payroll tax is causing consumers to curtail spending, but so far the evidence is mostly anecdotal. Some analysts argue a variety of factors, and not any specific policy, contributed to slower growth in consumer spending in January.
As surgeon general, Koop surprised the country when he endorsed condoms and sex education to stop the spread of AIDS. He also ushered in the era of smoking bans in public places.
The center-left was favored, but there was no clear winner as the ballots were counted. Silvio Berlusconi's center-right coalition was not expected to do well, but was leading in the upper house of Parliament.
For all that we like to think that our smartphones and tablets are living, breathing extensions of ourselves, the truth is -- technology is kind of impersonal. And yet, the impersonal is about to get very personal -- as in personal health.
The medical community has begun to grapple with the prospect of more technology in medicine. Imagine IBM's "Jeopardy"-beating "Watson" computer reviewing your case history, then making diagnoses and treatment recommendations.
"I'm not saying that robots will replace your doctor. I'm not even saying they should but that we may get to a point where we are going to see some profound changes," The Atlantic Magazine's Jonathan Cohn says. His cover story in the latest issue of the magazine reports on technology and medicine and the future.
Cohn says at the very least, we'll see "very intelligent computers" and more use of data in medicine and treatment.
There are a lot of ways technology can save us money -- eliminate waste, for example. And it could change the way doctors work, those very expensive doctors. If computers and other new technologies can take over some of the work burden, health care could cost less.
But on the other hand, technology in medicine is easier said than done. Those electronic medical records haven't really panned out. And Cohn calls that a reason to be skeptical. If we can't get EMRs right, the technology built on them won't work either.
So will there be a day when Dr. Watson beeps around the corner and asks you how you feel?
Cohn says he doesn't think the future looks quite that robotic. Cohn writes more about the technological innovations that could change health care in The Atlantic's cover story, "The Robot Will See You Now."
There's no evidence that calcium supplements help prevent bone fractures in most people, a preventive services task force says. And calcium supplements boost the risk of kidney stones, and perhaps heart disease.