Mobile Phone is The Modern Battlespace

Way back in 2012 I gave a presentation called “Big Data’s Fourth V“, which really was meant to kick-off my “new” book about how hard data integrity is in the emerging technology space.

In it I described how the mobile phone is the modern battlespace, using charts like rapid adoption of technology in the island of Vanuatu makes it kind of a prime target for attempting coup through disinformation.

Don’t ask me why Vanuatu. Long story.

No kidding, in 2012 I was speaking about disinformation being the problem with big data on giant platforms and predicting political destabilization of countries with rapid tech adoption lines.

And by 2014 I was going inside the big data platforms, visiting HQ, observing bad habits and warning staff to get on top of things (move beyond focus on confidentiality alone) or they would accelerate harms dangerously.

Obviously my wolf-crying didn’t go far… perhaps I should have just finished the book instead but I ended up becoming determined to deliver answers to my own warnings.

The “so what do we do about it” has always been the most fascinating aspect of my book writing journey. It would not have been satisfying to just cry wolf, which seems to be what so many have been doing lately (the wolf does eventually come, so again I’ve tried to spend my time figuring out that eventuality).

This is what was on my mind while reading a new report on Afghanistan

Even though the ANDSF have superior numbers, superior weapons, and aircraft, this balance is generally irrelevant on the information battlefield, one where superior skill in visuals, social media, and narrative will win. As one Afghan officer quipped, “Every Talib has a cell phone, and they are using them more than us.” The fate of the republic may depend upon this battlespace.

Don’t get me wrong. All this kind of stuff was what I studied in the early 1990s, including research on methods going back to the early 1900s (although my focus mainly was 1940-1943, like how Rommel actually sucked).

Rommel was a reckless and impulsive leader who believed a failure to grasp logistics wouldn’t interfere with his aggressive “success” narratives, yet he failed completely against any real force or equal determination.

News on a mobile phone is an obvious next step on a long continuum of disinformation for battle, not something I alone expect to have predicted. Surely others were saying the same as early or earlier than me, I just haven’t seen or met any of them (yet).

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