Weapons of mass destruction of the XXI century

“I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”.

From the letter of A. Einstein to the US President Harry Truman, 1945

Apparently, the sad experience of the use of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the confrontation between the two nuclear powers — the United States and the Soviet Union — the Cold War has left an indelible imprint on the world view of the great physicist. It is obvious that under the arms of World War III Einstein meant namely nuclear weapon, when he wrote to Harry Truman, the 33rd president of the USA, what we read in the epigraph.

However, if Einstein was referring to a nuclear war, then the following sticks and stones cannot be mentioned. There was just no one to fight — life has completely disappeared from the face of the Earth.

Being a genius, Einstein understood that humanity can invent much more powerful and terrible weapons. He just did not know what it will be. However, he realized that the use of those weapons also would lead to the collapse of civilization, and he was right about what these weapons would have the same 6 damaging factors, similar in the effect with exposure to nuclear weapons:

1. Light radiation

2. Shockwave

3. Ionizing radiation

4. Electromagnetic impulse

5. Residual radioactive contamination

6. The psychological impact on the human

So, we know that during the explosion shock wave with the lightning speed covers a huge range, bringing death or progressive infection of all living things provoking mutations and subsequent decomposition of the human body. The explosion of a nuclear bomb creates an electromagnetic impulse that causes psychological distress, and exposes to the light radiation, which can lead to vision loss and dizziness.

It is very familiar, is not it?..

Do not you think that the mass media have just the same impact on the human (including social networks)? Their classification is very similar to the classification of nuclear weapons. So, in the arsenal are the followings:

- Ultra-small (less than one kiloton) — comments;

- Small (1–10 kt) — blogs;

- Medium (10–100 kt) — NGOs (Amnesty International, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, etc.)

- Large (100 kt-1 Mt) — the international Mass Media (CNN, AlJazeera, BBC, etc.);

- Extra-large (more than 1 Mt) — social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit).

These weapons are based on uncontrolled sharing chain reaction (share) and the synthetic reaction (make it public).

Many researches have been conducted on the negative effects of these weapons, and even more scientific works have been written on this topic, however, its use is not prohibited by any convention. On the contrary — its development and enrichment for peaceful purposes is mandatory, and the slightest deviation from this global process (by the way, harmful to the environment, particularly in countries with “high seismic activity”, i.e. with the transition regime), is severe criticized by the world community.

Annually is compiled the rating of the freedom of speech in the world countries. Just these alluring figures and percentages invite (if not force) to become part of the process of globalization, what is the world of degradation and decomposition of the human mind. And the speed, with which all this is happening, does not leave experts time to analyze the events and give them at least an initial assessment. They are simply thrown away; now decisions are made intuitively, at the level of mass instincts. Simply said, the fight is carried out with sticks and stones which Einstein spoke of considering the degradation of humanity because of its technical progress. Indeed, the Internet was created as a result of the invention of a nuclear bomb. Back in 1969 United States Department of Defense decided to get a reliable transmission of information in the event of war. Thus was created the ARPANET — for a more secure and stable connection that can withstand a nuclear explosion.

Now let us remember cases when the Internet was used as a weapon. Recall the “Arab Spring”, the revolutionary movement, which was coordinated through networks of Facebook and Twitter, and a vengeful crowd at that time, in full compliance with the classics, was fighting with sticks and throwing stones. The same was taking place in Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan…

The Internet, and in particular, social networks have made the world so small that today the theory of six handshakes reduced to four and a half. Today, the voice of one can be heard by millions in three minutes. One piece of news can change the whole world within an hour. And if yesterday an event comparable only to a nuclear explosion could shake up the world, today, a butterfly’s wing beat is enough to provide a psychological tsunami.

That is why states spend millions of dollars to support national security, the MM, NGOs, the formation of public opinion, the creation of new online platforms that combine “under one roof” millions of users with common interests. Here is included everything: blogs, hashtags, comments, social status, videos, photos, articles and reports. They create the effect of a nuclear bomb. After all, if in the material world everything starts with an atom, in the virtual and the spiritual world — “In the beginning was the Word”.

And here arises the main question of our times — if mankind has realized that in order to preserve our fragile world the use of nuclear weapons should be banned, then why there are not such mechanisms constraining the dissemination of information, having the same (if not more) effect?

There is no answer to this question, although this question is lively discussed today by the world community. And we can only hope that the golden mean between the principle of respect for human rights and the mechanism governing freedom of speech will be found. In the end, as Spinoza wrote, “Freedom is the conscious recognition of necessity”. And the word “conscious” is the key word here.

And if we do not realize it? In this case, sticks and stones will go for a long time…

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Urkhan Seyidov

Urkhan Seyidov

Millennium Leadership Fellow at Atlantic Council | Consultant on Innovations and Strategic Communications