## Backdrop Human society is in the process of change due to the advent of the [[../Concepts/Information Age|Information Age]]. We do not know what form it might eventually take. The spectrum of options ranges from: - a world of netions: sub-national, trans-national political communities that I [spoke about](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTJkCGlzQ8k) a long time ago - a world of nation-states: similar to what we have today - a world of global government: supra-national government that fatally undermines an important leg of milennia-old political realism. Thus strategy at this early stage of the Information Age must not only consider international relations in the extant world of Westphalian nation-states driven by different civilisational understandings of international politics, but also keep an eye on what kind of political order and structures will emerge in the future. This is quite different from the 20th century where strategists had the luxury of a relatively static fundamental political order (empires making way for nation-states constructed on the basis of national self-determination). The starting point for Strategy in the Information Age is the perspective of nation-states engaged in age-old competition for greater power in a world that does not have a global government. It is important to remember that it is only the starting point. [[The Fundamental Conundrum of Information Warfare]] must be kept in mind as we think about the subject. ## The goal of information warfare Like all warfare, information warfare is politics by other means. The high level political objective *is to achieve a desired outcome without having to suffer violence in the process.* - the desired outcome itself does not necessarily have to be lacking in violence or physical destruction; rather, in the ideal case, information warfare should allow the attainment of this outcome without having to suffer casualities or physical damage. - Genghis Khan deployed an information weapon when deliberately exaggerated accounts of Mongol cruelty would cause cities to surrender without a fight. - Information weapons can be used to compel, persuade, dissuade or deter other actors, based on their prior disposition. ## Levels of Information Operations We can think of four levels at which information operations play out: - Grand Epistemological: (or at the broad knowledge level) where other actors' cognitive filters, preferences, morality and understanding of reality are shaped according to one's own interests - Contextual Epistemological: (or at the specific contextual level) where other actors' knowledge in a specific context is shaped - Decision-making: where the desire, perception of choice sets and payoff calculations of decision-makers are shaped - Action: involving disruption, degradation or destruction of communication networks, sensors, data, feedback systems, situational awareness, chains of command, critical infrastructure, execution processes and so on. This is mostly what falls under Cyber Warfare today. #### Artificial Intelligence - The four levels apply in a world of artificial intelligence as well: manipulating data sets and hacking algorithms to interfere with AI epistemology and decision-making. #### Soft Power - It is tempting to treat soft power as an information weapon at the grand epistemological level, but it is not clear to me that it can be weilded at all. It can be helpful in reducing the defences to grand epistemological operations, but by itself is not an instrument. - One way to look at soft power is as a "narrative line of communication" or NLOC, similar to sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in the maritime domain. Soft power is not "power" but an established route to the target's mind #### Question - Are the four levels analogous in some way to grand strategic, strategic, operational and tactical levels in Industrial Age warfare? Or are they orthogonal to these? ## Related My developing thinking on [[Conceptualising Information Warfare]] and what I think is [[The Fundamental Conundrum of Information Warfare]] and the [[The big questions in technopolitik]] Some raw notes on [[Information Warfare in the Age of Cyber Conflict]], [[Protecting Democracy in an Era of Cyber Information War by Joseph Nye]], [[Russian perspectives on Information Warfare by Ofer Fridman]] and the [[The Gerasimov Doctrine]] ## Colophon Status: [[Bean]] #InformationAge #geopolitics #mythoughts