The World We Live In

>> February 3, 2020

>> Blog Post #23

Moments when you step back from your daily lives to take a hard look at what the world really looks like are rare, I assume. At least that was the case for me until I somehow committed to fighting back a lot more.

I would like to take a look today, for a second, at where we are headed.

The goal is not to guess the future, but to look at some events taking place in the present and what they tell us about what might be shaping up for us moving forward, as they are indicative of underlying trends we rarely discuss.

I’ll make a lot of assumptions in this post, on what you might or might not know. These assumptions are made to mimic my own knowledge, or lack of, on the topic at hand.

You’ve probably heard of the Great Firewall of China, the censorship mechanism designed by the People’s Republic of China to control access its 800 million internet users have to the internet. If you’ve clicked on the above link and were able to read the page from Wikipedia, it means that either you do not live in China or that you have a VPN set up and working. Because that is what the Great Firewall of China (GFC) does, it blocks access people have to content and services that are not deemed suitable, by the government, for people living within the frontiers of their country. A standard internet user in China does not have access to sites such as: Google, Facebook, YouTube, the New York Times or Wikipedia for example. In order to do so, China relies on its technology and communications’ companies to enforce the policy it has defined centrally. The GFC enables China to control what its citizens have access to and limit access to foreign content and opinions that might be harmful to their state.

You might also know that other countries will try to limit outside influence by favoring local companies, services and news agencies, creating strong regional entities in the process:

World Map of Social Networks

I believe we live with these facts knowingly and that they do not bother us much, if at all. I actually would hate to see the whole surface of the earth covered in blue and would rather see more diversity rather than less, but that’s another story.

Depending on where we live in the world, we are all under some form of control. The level of that control will vary from country to country.

However, what we don’t necessarily watch is how much countries are strengthening their grip on the internet and getting ready to confiscate it from us, the people, at their will.

Gone are the days of the cold war, with its latent equilibrium between two forces, two blocs. Today’s inter connections are far more complex, multi-polar. You can spy on your enemies and allies alike. The exercise has become so trivial that no one seems to care anymore.

Various countries are contemplating developing nuclear weapons, increasing the risk of seeing old equilibriums be challenged. Look at what North Korea, Iran or Turkey are doing. And that might just be the tip of the iceberg for us common folk.

What various countries around the globe are doing is actively prepare for all the possibilities of cyber warfare and they are equipping themselves with information gathering tools, monitoring tools and offensive cyber weapons. I believe their scenarios are both for intervening outside of their own borders as well as inside their frontiers, against their own people. I will go into some more details about each over the next few weeks to try and extract a few lessons from what we seem to be witnessing.

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