What I’m Reading: June 2018 — Science, War, Information Conflict, Cyber Conflict, and Looney Tunes

Articles I found most interesting in June 2018:

This Is Why Physicists Think String Theory Might Be Our ‘Theory Of Everything — Medium.com, Starts With a Bang, 6/14/2018

A quick look at a very deep subject. Theoretical physics has always fascinated me. Especially string theory. I’ve often wondered if the movement along the strings could explain a “rhythm of the universe”, meaning music is in fact universal. Maybe in a multi-verse, different universes are on different rhythms.

Questioning Truth, Reality and the Role of Science — Quanta Magazine, 5/24/2018

A discussion on the importance of philosophy in science, especially quantum and theoretical physics. According to Professor Michela Massimi, science isn’t only about facts, but it is about the betterment and history of humanity. Although funding has made science hinge on function, by adding a philosophical perspective, science can be appreciated no matter it’s functional results.

The Original ‘Space Invaders’ Is a Meditation on 1970s America’s Deepest Fears — Smithsonian Magazine, 6/14/2018

This was an interesting article, but it lacked a huge piece which made me question it’s entire premise and why it was written in the first place. According to Professor Lindsay Grace, the classic video game Space Invaders was a reflection of pushing back the rising force of Japanese tech. Grace postulates that American gamers were fantasizing saving their homes from invading foreigners. But the article fails to mention the Sci-Fi alien invasion backdrop of 1950s cinema and it’s relation to opposing Soviet Communism. After all, Space Invaders forefather, the 1961 Space War was created at the height of the Cold War. To say it was all about Japan is a complete reach.

War Is Having an Identity Crisis — Small Wars Journal, 6/11/2018

Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos writes a very introspective piece on how automation and machine learning is changing warfare or at least warfare tactics. From missile guidance to military deception, AI and machine learning will have a profound impact on combat. But as machines learn, will their programming go beyond our objectives? What is the protocol? I am pessimistic there will be a pause in development as the article advocates. The money behind the technology is too alluring. Fortunately, philosophy is keeping up, so far.

What’s So Disordered About Your World Order? — War On The Rocks, 6/20/2018

Analyst Nick Danforth posits the idea that what is happening in nation-states today is not unprecedented. According to Danforth, as recently as 30 years ago, the world was in just as much chaos as it is today. While Danforth has good points that temper back the idea that the global house is on fire, he does not take into consideration globalization and the interweaving of economies. International trade and economics can be greatly disturbed by global chaos. That’s not a good thing.

Populist Narratives and the Making of National Strategy — Strategy Bridge, 6/26/2018

This article discusses how populists approach national strategy. According to the article, populists often ride a narrative that “others” caused a negative outcome and only the populist can fix it. Short term decisions are valued over long term planning and power is valued over diplomacy. Populist strategy is defined by rigidness and a lack of adaption and change.

Disinformation Wars — Foreign Policy, 5/25/2018

A good opinion piece on upcoming technology, to include AI and Blockchain, and how they will further complicate disinformation campaigns intent on upsetting social fibers. Whereas the European Union has put together some task forces, they are not covering all the bases nor working together. The rest of the world, to include the US, hasn’t done much at all. The information platform as become complete chaos.

This is where internet memes come from — MIT Tech Review, 6/11/2018

A review of a study from several academics has found where the most popular fringe groups meme derive from. These researchers used AI and other algorithms to sort through millions of memes for content and creative roots. They found that memes gain popularity through trial and error — an evolutionary process — until they are picked up by bigger sites and spread into the mainstream.

I am curious how many meme makers actually believe their messages and how many are just creating for the challenge of the game. Memes could be like old school graffiti, risky art with the potential of gaining underground prestige.

DIME, not DiME: Time to Align the Instruments of U.S. Informational Power — Strategy Bridge, 6/20/2018

Yet another article on how the United State needs to better integrate its messaging mechanisms. According to an instructor at the Marine Corps University, the Department of Defense often neglects non-military messaging. The US’s ability to control narratives would be stronger if it used the Military Information Operations, the State Department, and other offices that distribute messages.

When will Google defend democracy? — The Conversation, 6/12/2018

Researcher Ronald Robertson writes about Google’s role in informing voters. While Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies have worked with governments, Google has not. Meanwhile, tinkering with SEO can absolutely rig where information on public issues comes up on a Google search. As well, I really liked this line: “freeing the democratic process from technologically enabled influences is virtually impossible without the cooperation of modern tech giants”.

A New Paradigm For Cyber Threat Hunting — The Hacker News, 6/11/2018

Interesting article on hunting cyber threats. While prevention is a part of cyber defense, it does not prevent 100% of intrusions. Often trained professionals have to dive into their networks to eliminate threats. This article discusses a new cloud-based, wide area networking solution that allows for maximum screening of networks. It contains threat hunting to one network, which greatly reduces the entrances and exits.

Cybersecurity pros are limiting their personal use of Facebook, survey says — Fast Company, 6/26/2018

This article focuses on Facebook use, but the main story is that cyber security experts at the Black Hat USA security conference believe attacks are imminent and that your privacy isn’t safe. There are some good numbers here of those security pros who answered the survey. And what they said is a good rule to go by, since they know the field far better than most.

Annecy: Warner Bros. Announces New ‘Cartoonist-Driven’ Looney Tunes Shorts Program — CartoonBrew, 6/11/2018

This is great news. I am a huge fan of the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Newer reboots of Looney Tunes all seemed to be very corporate-driven, as if Bugs had to look a certain way and act a certain way. It was very rote and lacked originality. Hopefully this effort will be looser and more creative.

Writer. Analyst. Instructor. Sometimes serious. Sometimes creative. Just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe.