On last Sunday’s broadcast of Global Public Square (GPS), Fareed Zakaria covered the prospect of modern warfare. The point was raised that the new bullet is hacking a computer system. Just as the world is tackling fossil fuel as a global conflict, nations of the world are moving from gunpowder to cybernetics.
The US had a good taste of modern warfare in the 2016 election. Obviously, great harm can be visited on a nation if any adversary, nation or otherwise, can disrupt basic political functions, electrical grids, economic status, or major services like health care. Ronald Reagan had a project that was to invent a bomb that would kill people but not hurt buildings. Today, why bother; a single hack can shut down the whole of Manhattan.
The key adversaries capable of a cyber invasion are Russia, China, Iran and North Korea – setting aside the European Union, Canada and Australia who can hack against the US but don’t. Frankly, none of these nations, including China, would be better off after a conventional war with the US. But now war is ongoing: recently it was reported that North Korea literally has stolen billions of dollars from other countries and corporations around the world. Here in the US, we take great umbrage when a citizen fraudulently claims tax refunds belonging to another citizen; think what a cyber invasion from a nation could do . . .
Amos thinks the antiquated Congress (and the President) has no idea how to fight wars anymore; two recent useless wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) were launched by a Congress unaware that global economics, cyber warfare and international collaboration were capable of containing internal religious conflict to be settled internally whether by war or better means. Yes, oil was a major reason for meddling but the Middle East, oil and all, could have been managed differently than with tanks, land mines and gunpowder bullets.
Many, especially veterans, remember battling for territory. Maps were important because wars had battlefields. A few veterans have had a large influence in the nation’s handling of wars; think about Eisenhower, Kennedy, the Bushes, and John McCain. A new movie is out about LBJ and how he knew the Viet Nam War was unwinnable. Barack believed he was elected to get out of wars. Donald, never a veteran, never a statesman, has no idea what war is (nuclear, gunpowder or cyber) and may cause one for useless reasons.
Today, one knows the Internet has no map. It is ubiquitous. In fact, there is a new phrase, ‘ubiquitous computing’ that allows anyone, any nation in fact, to wait until a situation presents itself then take targeted action against that situation. Simple example: cash transfers between nations. Technical example: jamming signals coming from military satellites. Social example: interjecting false information into major broadcast networks about a spreading disease or the decorum of a political candidate.
Who needs gunpowder when one can control information? Reminds mariner of all the movies about controlling the weather.
The new bullet is an automated transaction fired from anywhere, anytime for rational and irrational reasons. Information is the new cloud over the battlefield. Pun intended.
 Ubiquitous computing (or “ubicomp”) is a concept in software engineering and computer science where computing is made to appear anytime and everywhere. In contrast to desktop computing, ubiquitous computing can occur using any device, in any location, and in any format. For us old timers in programming, it means platform doesn’t matter; that an application will adapt to platform and to data status.