As a scientist, I perceive that World War III has started, and we are playing catch up. For perspective, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and we knew immediately that we had been dealt a devastating military blow. We knew we had been attacked and our nation was at risk. This new war was fought with the new technologies of aircraft, and blitzkrieg. In 2016 or maybe even before, I am uncertain about the exact date, we were attacked by Russia using a new weapon, the internet. We did not know we had been dealt a devastating blow until after November 8, 2016, I’m not sure of the exact date of this either, but the impact on our nation is severe. We are at great risk. Our greatest strength, freedom of speech and communication, has been turned against us to make us at war against ourselves. In 1941 we had a President who spoke the right words to bring us together, to inspire us to fight back. In 2018 we have a President who revels in dividing us, inspiring us to fight each other even harder. While our previous President may have been a catalyst for our division, he did try to unite us. Our situation now is much drier than it was in 1941. Can or will we survive? What will it take to reunite us?
Having made my political statement, I’d like to discuss some of the technological aspects of this war. One battle that we successfully won involved planting destructive computer code into equipment in Iran that was used to make nuclear bomb material. We set their program back by years. Someone then got that code and used it to cause computer problems around the world; yes it is a world war, not just localized. Besides working America and other free world countries over politically through Facebook and other public forums, Russia has been able to shut down the power system to parts of Ukraine. Thus, they have demonstrated the ability to do social and strategic damage.
The possible technical aspects of this war are formidable. One that has been discussed frequently in the media is the possibility of shutting down our electrical system in certain areas or damaging water filtration systems. One possibility that I have not seen discussed but seems quite simple to me involves our automobiles. All of our new cars and trucks use computer chips. From what I understand these are made in China. I could envision them deciding that on a specific date at a specific time the brakes on all vehicles would stop working. Think about the impact of that on our society. I do quite a bit of computer programming, and I can see how someone could easily hide such a “bomb” in the vehicle’s code.
My intention is not to make people afraid of everything. My point is that we are at war, and it is a completely new and different kind of war. Our democracy is at risk. We need to address this war and deal with it intelligently.