January TASK / War in the Fifth Dimension: An Overview of the Weaponization of Information

Wednesday 29-January-2020 // 6:00 – 9:00 PM
Meeting Location: Michener Auditorium at UHN, 222 St. Patrick Street, Toronto

January TASK

Speaker: Alana Staszczyszyn
Topic: War in the Fifth Dimension: An Overview of the Weaponization of Information

What defines a cyberwar? Does cyberwarfare actually exist, or are cyber attacks just a means of enacting warfare in the kinetic world? And, more importantly, will escalating political tensions ever result in a cyber conflict, or are we already in the middle of a global cyber cold war?

War in the Fifth Dimension explores what military doctrines, academic literature, international legal frameworks, and the media have collectively coined as the newest domain of warfare. Despite this agreeance that cyberwarfare is a plausible concept in the real world, there is little surety as to what exactly counts as an “act of war” in the cyber realm. Where kinetic conflicts are defined by the injury, destruction, or loss of life of people and physically tangible “objects of war”, cyber attacks primarily target activities and “intangible” data that kinetic conflicts would separately consider to be espionage, terrorism, or psychological and economic manipulation – in other words, strictly the affairs of domestic law.

Despite some of the most paradigmatic cyber conflicts targeting electoral systems, civilian-serving infrastructure, or even the annihilation of physical buildings, international legal frameworks struggle to separate to find ways to frame these “domestic” affairs that could quickly and almost instantly have destructive effects on the international community. If the object and purpose of these regulations is to provide for the mutual de-escalation during international conflicts, then we must consider: are the current rules attractive enough for nation-states to willingly adhere to, despite the attractiveness of a cheap, fast, and effective means of attack? And what incentives might there be to inspire them to set regulatory precedent for the future of cyberwarfare?

Meeting Location: Michener Auditorium, 222 St. Patrick Street, Toronto.

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