The first image we are confronted with when imagining a third world war is a big mushroom cloud followed by radiation poisoning, but our consciousness has strayed from the dynamics that define a war.
The Oxford dictionary provides three definitions for war:
- A state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country.
1.1 A state of competition or hostility between different people or groups.
1.2 A sustained campaign against an undesirable situation or activity.
South African political activist, Steve Biko said that “the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed.” And, since the end of the Cold War, we have seen a single ideology dominate the world order – Capitalism.
Now, before you dismiss me as a socialist or conspiracy theorist, consider the concept of war to be a state of competition or hostility between different people or groups.
These ideas have already been covered by Fukyama, in his “End of History” essay, and Huntington in his “Clash of Civilizations” hypothesis.
Every day we live our lives we suffer, in varying degrees, depression and anxiety, because (in part at least) your happiness correlates to your income.
Consumerism, entertainment, and information have become the opiates of the masses. Televison, music, sex and popular culture have redifined what happiness is.
The Nuclear War strategy has become outdated and the Cold War proved that nobody is actually willing to drop nuclear bombs anywhere, because it is essentially a scorched earth policy. Complete devastation serves nobody’s self interest.
The most significant human development since the end of the Cold War has been the creation of the internet. And Science fiction seems to have been spot on; the next major war will be a cyberwar. Every major country partakes in cyberwarfare and there is a growing ammount of evidence to support that Russia interfered with the 2016 US elections by employing hackers not to change the voting system itself, but rather reframe the minds of the voters, creating an element of bipartism that feels almost unprecedented. Similarly, Leave votes in the UK referendum to leave the EU, aka Brexit, were shown to correspond to the higher presence of online presence in social media for accounts supporting the Leave vote.
There is no denying that technology and the internet have a tremendous influence over our lives and there is a major element of hostility in it, with very little space to actually govern it fairly.
And this has a clear effect on the structure of the global economy, with digital empires like Google, Facebook, Amazon et al at the forefront of the biggest businesses today. Furthermore, Amazon is the first trillion dollar company and didn’t pay a cent in corporate taxes. The Trump administration may be threatening nuclear war in a manner of speaking, but his support of corperate fascism has already been signed into legislation.
War may be defined by deaths, but this war will slowly allow mankind to eat itself.
Karl Marx spoke of the division between the proletariat and the ruling class, which is absolutely undeniable, but the Marxist revolution hasn’t come, because the ruling class control our minds through the media and all of the information that we absorb on a daily basis.
It won’t be long before we find ourselves in a state of society where there is a clearly drawn line between a small handful of oligarchs and the masses, over which they reign by taking ownership of their very identities. This is where the real warfare begins…
Our reliance on technology and the internet has seen us submit to handing our identities to tyrants that are invisible to us. Many of the websites that you sign up for have gathered your contact details and other private information, such as your browser history. With unprecedented access to this information, a third party has the means to destroy your life and hackers will become the new soldiers. Coupled with the emergence of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, we won’t even be monitored only by our browser history, but our location, our cameras and our microphones that will be following us wherever we go and keeping track of all that information in a cloud.
Furthermore, machines and artificial intelligence will be doing all of our jobs for us. After the Industrial Revolution, we found that, even though machines were doing our labour, new jobs that required human thought, intelligence and purpose were created. With machines that are capable of human-like thought, self awareness and the ability to fulfill their functions at an exponentially faster rate, there will be no more jobs and our incomes will dry up until we starve, while the elites look on with indifference.
However, my favourite topic of discussion, the Blockchain, offers a solution.
By design, a blockchain is inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.
Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) has opened up the possibility of creating self-sovereign digital identities, where you have complete control over who has access to your information with an automated database that will make your life far easier to navigate in an online environment and even in your access to government services. The technology encrypts your information in a Blockchain, making it inalterable, unduplicable and unaccessable to anybody but you, while you are able to take full control of the information that you are willing to share. Furthermore, the anonymity that has made the internet such a dangerous place, and that has allowed hackers to pass by completely undetected, will be a thing of the past, as hackers’ digital identities will need to check out and their activities will be traceable much like the way we can dust for fingerprints at a crime scene.
The major concern for me is that the lack of knowledge, understanding and sheer exposure to this life-changing technology is a clear sign that we aren’t ready to adapt. The Blockchain/Digital Identity movement has the potential to be a sustained campaign against an undesirable situation or activity.And when World War 3 arrives, we might even notice it.