Often referred to as “The Fifth Domain,” the internet, or cyberspace if you are a William Gibson fan, might just hold the keys to the next great meltdown. As Ukraine has displayed so painfully clear, warfare on land, sea, and air is on borrowed time. Shane Harris brings us “@War, The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex,” which layers the military, defense departments, hackers, and government states bent on waging a quiet war of the cyber-strike.
One of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in recent years is an F35 jet fighter rolling right over the top of my head as I stood alone in the middle of nowhere. My red Beyond jacket is a beacon of color in an otherwise neutral setting. The pilot, seeing my flame of red, broke from formation and flew directly at me, so close my 50-140mm 2.8 was useless. My audio recorder pegged to the red as the buffeting from the jet wash settled over me. Now imagine this beast being grounded by a single line of code, one of the millions that allow the machine to perform. This is the taste of the future that @War brings us.
It is far easier to just pretend this doesn’t affect us or that there is nothing we can do. Fast food, streaming services, and the endless well of distraction, otherwise known as the Internet, is more appealing. For me, I want to know. If I could do it over again I would choose to NOT be tossed from my first computer class back in 1984. (I forgot what I did to get tossed but tossed I was.) I would choose to get involved. To code, to learn, and to see into the opaque future of our “system.”
This book is short, tight, and concise, almost like the author is teasing us to dig deeper. Each episode is a chance to find more papers, more books, and more purpose in understanding what is transpiring behind doors and screens. Harris has been around the block, explains his source material, and the reality that much of what happens in this realm has never been classified and is there for those who wonder.