For a while, it seemed that the world of networks would contain a greater degree of democracy, Silicon Valley leaders reassured us that the technology they make would make dictatorships obsolete, and create a transparent society whose users enjoy expressing their opinions, but this did not happen, as soon as the traditional wars ended, wars of a new kind erupted, which will be the subject of an episode entitled "Network Warfare" from the series "Our Tangled World" presented by Al Jazeera Documentary.
In it, we will try to answer three important questions:
Why were networks created to make them vulnerable to attack?
Will the world war be a cold war against rival Chinese networks?
– And why can a network only be defeated by a network like it?
Espionage wars. U.S. Electronic Warfare Doctrine
Conflicts were previously between the armies of two hierarchically organized states, and orders passed from commanders through the ranks to the front line, but enemies now have decentralized networks that are difficult to destroy, and after the events of September 11, the first reaction of the Bush administration was to pursue the Taliban in Afghanistan, and began a large-scale military invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The task seemed simple when Major General Stanley McChristall arrived as commander of Special Forces in 2003, but that was before they knew who their new enemy was. "We witnessed the emergence of a terrorist network that later became al-Qaeda in Iraq, and we studied its composition and found that it follows the hierarchical organization used in similar organizations, and in January 2004 we discovered that this sequence does not exist," says McChristal.
Major General Stanley McChristal, commander of special forces in 2003, talks about ISIS networks
He continues: We thought that the injury of their prince or their second man may disturb the harmony between their ranks, but we discovered that their network is flexible so that they adapt to new situations and expand, and we discovered that they have a structure and means to deliver information at an exceptional speed, so we decided that we need to be a network as well, and we searched for the fastest ways to deliver information to network members effectively and credibly, and we discovered that this will only be with information technology.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq appeared to have been defeated and its network destroyed, but the rapid withdrawal from Iraq and McCrystall's shift to another mission in Afghanistan caused the remnants of the al-Qaeda network to regroup what was left of its members into another, more vicious network, ISIS.
Over the years, the US military has developed a doctrine of electronic warfare that focuses on the role of viruses and malware in spying on and possibly controlling the enemy's computer network, and there was fear of the emergence of a hostile force penetrating the software that runs on the American infrastructure, but all this focus on electronic power led the West to neglect an alternative form of network warfare, which is information warfare.
"It turns out that an army of robots is respreading the news." War of rumors
A new breed of hackers realized the potential of social media, not to recruit a new generation of extremists, but to penetrate Western politics itself, and they viciously exploited the weakness of networks, and the city of Twinfalls, Idaho, was one of the goals of the campaign, making it the epicenter of a storm of fake news.
The city has taken in a number of Iraqi and Sudanese refugees as part of the federal resettlement program. Nathan Brown, a journalist who covers politics and Rotary Club meetings in the city, says: "We are in the Founrock apartment complex, in June 2016 three refugee boys assaulted a five-year-old girl in a laundry room, and when the news came out it sparked a political storm.
Fake news spreads through social networks and affects societal attitudes and even election results
The girl was a white American, the boys were refugees, a fact that generated a storm of fake news that swept through the city. The presidential election was underway, and migration and refugee resettlement were key issues in those elections, so they were on people's minds here.
The mayor says the police station was investigating in a regular operation, and at one point someone paraphrased the story as follows: "A five-year-old girl was raped by refugees after threatening her with a knife," and it turned out that the alleged online account was never accurate: the boys were not Syrians, the girl was not raped, and there was no knife.
The mayor adds: Then I received a call saying that I am on the front pages of several news sites, some of which support the Trump campaign, and we became exposed to a number of sites, each of which composes the story according to his mood, and the city became the talk of the people, and the subject of receiving refugees - especially Muslims - which finds a wide echo in the corridors of the Trump campaign, interacts heavily on social media platforms, and it turns out that an army of robots is re-publishing the news.
Internet Research Agency. The Army of Disgruntled with American Politics
It was a real battle, its warriors are fake accounts and robots, and its land is social media, and the targets are many, including the mayor himself, whose wife received a death threat over the phone, and a clear division appeared in the city after the news spread. It was not only politicians who contributed to the spread of these lies, but there are other hidden parties with an interest in spreading these rumors.
In August 2016, the Facebook site "Secure Borders" organized a protest in front of the mayor's building under the slogan "Citizens before refugees", and the fingers of accusation extended towards American populist groups, and it was later found that this site was fake and was registered in the city of St. Petersburg in Russia, specifically in the Russian provocative publications factory at the Internet Research Agency.
American populist groups publish provocative posts against refugees on a fake website registered in St. Petersburg, Russia
René Dayrista of the Stanford Internet Observatory studied how to penetrate Russian disinformation tactics: They had teams and account managers called experts, they were trained to weave certain events in American society, and they came with instructions on how to communicate as Americans.
Ben Nemo, a counterintelligence expert at the Atlantic Council, says that at the height of its power, Russia's Internet Research Agency employed 900 people in a four-story building, whose operations are extensively run and involve experts fluent in nine languages.
Alex Stamos, a former Facebook security official, comments: "Setting up a provocation farm was not easy, as the Russian agency had to create an army of disaffected young Russians with English language skills, to study American society and claim to be Americans. There was a section for cartoons, and these are important things to influence a foreign society.
Spreading fake news during elections. Cold War methods
It is not surprising that Russia intervened in countries on such a scale, especially with the presence of a Russian president who was a former KGB agent, and this was a tactic of malicious propaganda that emerged during the Cold War, when each side on both sides of the Iron Curtain tried to tarnish the image of the other. This was evident in the eighties when the Soviets published a paper accusing Americans of manufacturing AIDS to get rid of homosexuals.
This paper has spread in 80 countries and in 220 periodicals in 25 languages, and despite the fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Russian economy, the new leaders have not forgotten the effectiveness of spreading malicious rumors in American society, especially after the discovery of the fragility of American social networks on the Internet.
In 2016, old-era tactics cost millions of dollars, backed by an army with hundreds of thousands of fake accounts to destabilize American society, and over two years on end established new populism and tribalism. Some accounts praised the police, those unknown soldiers who sacrifice their happiness for citizens, while others claimed the brutality of the American police with people of color, for example.
Paper accusing Americans of manufacturing AIDS to get rid of homosexuals published in 80 countries and in 220 periodicals in 25 languages
In the US presidential election, a huge mass of interconnected accounts launched a campaign of fake and systematic news on social media platforms, and Facebook admitted at the time that Russians shared thousands of fake accounts and ads. Twitter admitted that Russians tweeted more than two million times during the election. In fact, the Russians did not influence the election by more than 1%, but the Americans used the platforms in their battles.
As the head of Brightpart, Steve Bannon had already been involved in spreading fake news about the Twinfalls story, and his anti-immigration idol was candidate Trump, resigning to lead Trump's election campaign, and effectively using the platforms to get Trump to the White Leg, the same platforms that led to Brexit. Yes, it was Facebook that led Trump to victory.
The world of artificial intelligence. The Dragon of the East defeats America
To defeat enemy networks, you have to create your own network, the giant Silicon Valley companies are under attack, but the impact of Russian networks on the US elections will seem small if compared to the impact of Chinese networks, in the new conflict over networks, Silicon Valley faces China's technological capitals Hang Ju and Xingjin, so welcome to the new network war.
Xingjin in southern China on the border with Hong Kong is one of the main centers in the connected world, and what is happening in it confirms that China has done more than it is a tradition for American companies in the field of online shopping, there are "Baidu", "Alibaba" and "Tencent", which are companies that have surpassed their American counterparts in some aspects.
Eric Schmidt Google Google into China and then took it out in protest against Chinese government censorship: We realized that China was growing at high rates, and that the huge population would bring huge profits to the companies operating there, so the three big companies: Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent came out.
In the Sun, giant companies compete with their American counterparts and may even surpass them
So how did this happen? Is the famous Chinese game "Guuichi" the cause? Perhaps, a game based on intelligence and an unlimited number of possibilities of moves, far more than chess possibilities, and in May 2017 the world champion in the game - a Chinese teenager named "KG" - challenged a computer program called "Alphago", designed in London for a company owned by Google, and the program beat the Chinese champion three times.
Since then, Chinese investors' money has flowed in favor of artificial intelligence research, and within one year China accounted for 48% of all AI funding globally, overtaking America for the first time, mainly due to the huge number of computer engineers in China.
China's leadership. Enormous human energy and compelling party power
David Li, an economist at Tsinghua University in Beijing, says: First, we have to understand that China has the largest number of engineers ever, every year 3.6 million engineers and technological researchers graduate, out of 8.2 million university graduates, while in America they do not exceed 200,<>, and secondly there is a huge number of consumers, and third, the Chinese leadership has all the technological culture, and in return, more Western leaders are lawyers.
We looked at the secret analytics of one of China's largest social networks, Sinawibo, a mixture of Twitter, Instagram and Twitter, totaling 465 million users in April 2019, publishing about 3 billion posts in the same month, and more than 8 billion interactions in the same month. But like any other network it was affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party.
China's leadership has a technological culture, while most Western leaders are lawyers
The first priority of the Standing Bureau's committee is to deal with what the Communist Party fears most: political protest; in the past, Chinese leaders adopted the authoritarian system of government established by Mao Zedong, who established a strict control system that affected every corner of people's lives, but today the Party has had another weapon.
While the West uses social networks to identify people's desires and use them as customers of products, the Chinese government uses social networks to strictly monitor people, find out their political leanings and detect those who have a tendency to cause trouble, the government said.
It was common knowledge that the era of networks would harm the Chinese Communist Party as it harmed the Soviet Union, but this was completely wrong, as Chinese social networks follow strict rules in monitoring the content under discussion, on the one hand obliging users to follow these rules strictly, and on the one hand giving themselves the absolute right to delete and circumvent everything that the network deems contrary to its rules.
Clinton once joked that "by watching the Internet, China would be like trying to stick the piece of jelly on the wall," apparently he was wrong to joke.
Huawei. The tech giant that terrified the West
If you have the right app on your phone in the city of Langfamm, south of Beijing, you can identify defaulters in their exact details, within a radius of 500 meters. A credit app like WeChat can identify defaulters, what merchandise they've bought, from which store, and what they say in their conversations. Any violation they commit will reduce their credit balance.
While those who adhere to the instructions and those with high points enjoy preferential credit benefits from Alibaba, those who violate the instructions can be punished by cancellations and travel bans. The idea of Telescreen in George Orwell's 1984 novel sounds more optimistic than the Chinese censorship system, but this modern censorship, which the West sees as a violation, seems acceptable and normal in Chinese society.
The Chinese company Huawei is the most and fastest rising and expanding in the world
Huawei, based in Chengjin, remains among the most troublesome tech companies to the West, the world's largest telecommunications company, dealing with 180 countries, its 180,50 employees own shares in the company, earn an average of $<>,<> a year, higher than the average income in America, and enjoy an hour and a half lunch break.
Huawei is a pioneer in artificial intelligence, as well as in the fifth generation of communication technology, with data transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps.
Joe Kelly, Huawei's vice president, reassures the Western press that Huawei is not a tool in the hands of the Chinese government as America promotes: If we accept that the future is based on artificial intelligence, and its weapon is data, we must accept the existence of a network capable of transferring this data efficiently, and this is what Huawei is doing, a 5G network that can control airport and rail traffic, monitor traffic in cities and propose solutions to crises.
"We've made our share of mistakes." Human Rights at Risk
The economic war launched by Trump on China is no longer important, the information war has become more important, and Americans are realizing that Apple's saying: (Technology was born in California, and China barely collects pieces) is not accurate, so did the Cold War between China and America begin? Schmidt says: America is the leader, and China wants to dominate in 2030, as they say, and money is flowing in abundance, and the important thing is that it remains the lead for us.
It is the battle for hegemony on the planet between the American and Chinese networks, and here we hear the voice of some lawmakers saying: the wings of social networks should be cut and centralized. Zuckerberg answers: We have made our share of mistakes, but subjecting networks to government regulation will tempt us to Chinese companies.
The real battle is the battle for hegemony on the planet between the American and Chinese networks
This competition is evident in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where some encourage the American model, others tend to the Chinese experience, some compare according to the political balance, and others from commercial perspectives. But what is certain is that Africa, which began with Western technology, now has more than 90% of its citizens who own Chinese tools, without which their communication technology would not have reached what we see today.
The next war is not conventional, nor is it a struggle over land and resources, but rather a network war, whose domain is virtual space, and whose weapons are smart guided aircraft, which choose its victims from the influential by identifying their face prints, and strike deeply among the ruling elites of politicians and finance, but democracy is not necessarily the last victor, nor that human rights are safeguarded in the end.