Wednesday, 3:00 p.m., The Arizona Senior Academy Building

Ivar Sanders, Moderator

The so-called World Order has changed many times in the past, from the preeminence of Egypt and Greece Before the Common Era, to Britain’s control via sea power from the 17th through the 19 th centuries, and central Europe’s primacy via railroad infrastructure in the 19th and 20th centuries. The United States has been the preeminent power militarily and economically since WW2, sustained by communication via the Internet. However, this dominance is being challenged.

Over the last three decades, almost everything associated with national security and economics has become connected to computer networks. Up to the 1980s, about 80% of most companies’ wealth was in tangible assets. Hence, land, natural resources, factories, etc. were key to wealth and power. Now, 80% of companies’ wealth is in intangible assets, such as trade secrets and intellectual property.

Military strength used to depend largely on numbers of troops and weapons. Weapons have now been computerized and networked, and they have become vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The U.S. originated cyber-warfare, first for espionage and then, via Stuxnet, to destroy Iranian nuclear equipment. Russia and China have now become key players, but with different procedures and goals.

Russia has concentrated on “systemic manipulation of public opinion through social media.” Their Internet Research Agency has been tasked with spreading pro-Kremlin posts on social media and news sites. Robert Mueller has indicted Russians for interfering with and manipulating our presidential election in 2016.

China has concentrated more on industrial espionage, attempting to gain economic dominance. Numerous U.S. companies have been hacked to steal intellectual property.

Many fundamental questions remain in the new era of cyber conflict. The Great Decisions video, from the Foreign Policy Association series, provides many insights into the great but silent “Cyberwar” that is being waged among nations for dominance.

Ivar Sanders is a resident of Academy Village and an escapee from Silicon Valley, where he was a design engineer.

March 13: Great Decisions 5: “Cyberconflicts and Geopolitics”