The Digital Future of War

War. War never changes. Except for when it does – so drastically that it will scarcely resemble what warfare has been defined as throughout human history.

What do you think of when you think of war? Do you think of valiant soldiers being shipped off to fight for their countries? Or do you think of a tool used by sovereign nations to extend their influence in regions across the globe? In both cases, you’re be right.

War has long held a crucial role within the psyche of society. The notion of ones servitude to country has often been deeply woven into any particular culture, and it’s no secret that one of the easiest ways for our ancestors to claim new land, riches, and power was to outright take it by force.

After the devastation of the two World Wars, the tune of combat changed. Even Korea and Vietnam, often touted as the last examples of fully mobilized fronts battling for territory and supremacy, the scale of combatants and sheers devastation has been falling since the 20th century.

As evidenced by the excursions of major superpowers in the Middle East, the concept of fighting to defend one’s homeland has more-or-less fully eroded. The shift has lingered on the premise of “liberating” the country in question, and delivering “freedom” unto them. Of course, in time, even these reasons will ultimately fall by the wayside and the public grow increasingly at-odds with the concept of international warfare.

The reason? Globalization. As technology advances and allows for even faster transport of goods, services, and individuals from one area of the world to another, economies will exponentially become co-dependent one on another – even more than they already have. We now live in a world where much of the developed world has access to the Internet – our greatest innovation in communication since the concept of language.

As barriers continue to break down between creeds and cultures through mutual understanding, the lines that once separate us will be eroded. Unfortunately, there are most certainly individuals who profit from clearly-cut lines and divides. As such, they won’t give them up without a fight, and they’ll employ any means necessary to meet their ends.

With no land to fight over, the focus will inevitably turn to fighting over minds. The way they think, operate, perceive reality, and how they operate within it. Warfare will no longer be about putting bullets into someone’s body, it will be about shredding their ideology to bits.

In today’s world, once you’ve lost someone’s attention, you’ve lost them completely. With a near-infinite amount of causes and activities they could devote themselves to, there is no shortage of competition. The most frightening part about this potential reality is that it’s already showing signs of cresting.

Take the 2016 American Presidential Election as an example. It marks the first major successful breach of many state and federal institutions – institutions integral to the operation of the nation. Even now, a year after the election finished, the details are still incredibly difficult to piece together due to the continuous barrage of information both true and untrue. With no clear narrative path, and a multitude of voices urging us to take their side, it becomes no wonder that many younglings abhor the concept of politics. It’s sad to see, but it incredibly effective.

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Stories are either generated to push an agenda, or to elicit an emotional response that will hook the reader in by fictionalization and playing to their bias. Objective, neutral reporting still exists, but looks to be white-knuckling the desk in every way possible to stay afloat.

This is the age of spin. And when those who want to do you harm have already pulled the strings on how you think, they don’t need an invasion. They’ve already won.

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