China is also preparing for war in Metaverse

Analysis by Francesco Darigo, Director of the Italian Institute for Strategic Studies

The world’s scientific and military powers are spending billions of dollars on quantum computing research and making the Metaverse a reality. China, which has recorded various and remarkable progress in recent years, is also gaining leadership in these sectors.

In 2020, Professor Pan Jianwei, Vice President of the University of Science and Technology of China and vice president of a political party under the direct leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), conducted the first Earth-space quantum communication, using the Micius satellite, to establish a highly secure data link between two ground stations separating Between them are more than 1,000 miles.

Last October, China’s 66-qubit Zuchongzhi 2 quantum processor would complete a computation a million times faster than Google’s 53-qubit Sycamore processor. The processor was developed by a team of researchers from the Chinese Center for Excellence in Quantum Information and Quantum Physics, in cooperation with the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics and the Shanghai Institute of Microsystems and Information Technology.

These findings derive from the Beijing government’s focus on quantum computing, investing $10 billion and increasing national R&D spending by 7% over the previous year, to support the birth of many startups and their own technologies. Sector Development and Metaverse.

For comparison, the US government in 2018 allocated “only” $1.2 billion to quantum computing research as part of a new national strategy, but in an effort to bridge the gap, the Senate last year approved a bill to create a directorate for technology and innovation at the National Science Foundation, allocating 29 $1 billion for the five-year period 2022-2026, for research in quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

Industrial, social and military applications of the Metaverso . ecosystem

Although there is no universally recognized definition of the Metaverse, as it continues to evolve and evolve, according to Stylianos Mystakidis of the University of Patras, the Metaverse is a post-reality world, a permanent and multi-user environment that blends physical reality with digital virtual.” He referred to it. Others define it as “the physical internet where one not only looks at content but becomes a human person in another dimension”.

At such an early stage in the development of the metaverse, it is difficult to assess its impact on politics, economics, international norms, national security, and society at large.

In general, the private sector is attributed to the concept of the opposite goals of business competition, the growth of which can develop a new model of the digital economy, and giants such as Sony, Lego, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Meta are investing billions of dollars to achieve this. According to the specific objectives.

On the other hand, governments look at the concept of the metaverse from a different perspective, focusing on the strategic, social and economic impact and potential threats to national security. As always happens in the development of innovative technologies, the defense industry represents the interaction of economic and institutional interests.

The wars of the future, whether military or economic, will be increasingly directly affected by information warfare, that is, the ability to influence, to improve (or weaken) the efficiency of the decision-making process of the state (competitor and / or enemy). The maximum theoretical efficiency of the decision-making process depends on the strategy used to generate information from data (big data), the quantity and quality of data available and the amount of ambiguity in the data used.

In this context, the Beijing government views big data as a strategic production factor and exercises complete control over what Chinese technology companies collect. A clear example is the large-scale platforms and apps TikTok and Alipay by Ant Group, WeChat Pay and QQ Wallet by Tencent Holdings Ltd, Tencent QQ, CamScanner, SHAREit and VMate, capable of capturing the data of billions of users who have downloaded it to their devices, to understand their needs and the potential impact influence their decision-making process, especially the young and the very young.

The Chinese approach to algorithms, artificial intelligence, biometric data, and seemingly friendly technologies capable of turning them into a threatening and uncontrollable dual-use tool based on an undemocratic interaction of information, technology, power, and intelligence is a major concern for US administrations.

The threat of what could turn into a real knowledge war is so high that to protect the vulnerabilities in cybersecurity and those of American users, the Trump administration in 2020 issued an executive order regarding restrictions on the use of some of these apps. December 2021, the Biden administration, through the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Industry and Security, imposed sanctions on several Chinese technology companies “to prevent the misuse of US biotechnology and other technologies by the People’s Republic of China to support surveillance systems and military modernization that threatens national security.”

Role of the People’s Liberation Army in Metaverse

In an article in the PLA Daily, published on March 3, 2022, titled “Metaverse: New Perspectives for Future Cognitive Warfare,” authors Chen Dongheng, Di Chan, and Feng Yaru describe their research on the extent of cognitive warfare in the metaverse.

The authors of the article are researchers from the Institute of Military Political Work, Academy of Military Sciences, the most important research institute of the People’s Liberation Army, directly affiliated with the CPC Central Military Commission. The article describes PLA studies on the military metaverse, potential military applications, and future war scenarios involving this emerging high technology.

Researchers at the Academy of Military Sciences describe the metaverse as a highly developed, even hypothetical, cognitive realm as an extension of reality. According to their studies, the metaverse provides a parallel cognitive space that digitally twins real-world combat scenarios, where cognitive warfare can be effectively waged and enhanced at exponential rates. On the one hand, they are aware of the potential social and economic benefits of the metaverse, and on the other hand they also expect that it will be another ecosystem vulnerable to attack and conflict. “Attacking an opponent’s metaverse (and in cognitive warfare in general) can affect their thinking, perception, and decision-making.”

The three researchers define cognitive warfare as the integration of weapon systems with artificial intelligence to produce new combat capabilities. The concept includes the use of drone swarms, electronic warfare, hypersonic missiles, diversion and self-healing change platforms, unmanned stealth aircraft, “stealth” areas containing biomaterials, weapon systems and deception facilities 3D printed in battlefield. Futuristic weapons that will be able to seamlessly recognize, interact and adapt in any scenario, and carry out missions without any human intervention.

Analyzing studies conducted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the Institute of Aeronautics and Space Studies of the Chinese Air Force believes that Beijing is preparing for war in the Metaverse region.

According to a report by the US think tank, whose mission is to analyze the strategy, doctrine, capabilities and organization of the Chinese air force, the Chinese military sees the metaverse as a future battleground for a cognitive struggle. Limited to the realm of science fiction. The Chinese army has three types of confrontation in the Metaverse region.

The first is “platform confrontation” which includes hostile forces that use the metaverse for cognitive attacks or defense to interrupt, delay, deter, destroy and eliminate hostile hostile forces. The second is “supply chain and systems” attacks that will block the enemy’s metaverse’s key systems and technical performance, and the third is “indirect diversion” – compromising technological communication devices and using deception to alter the enemy’s performance. Metaverse system.

The article by researchers from the Academy of Military Sciences already reveals the possible attacks and potential damage that cognitive warfare can cause in the metaverse, which will become a major target in future theaters of war.

It seems that the Russian-Chinese alliance on the one hand and the United States with NATO on the other hand is destined for an inevitable competition between irreconcilable geopolitical visions and the inevitable conflict that we hope will return to a peaceful situation. Although it is still in its infancy, in the future it will become a reflection of a real society and the enormous strategic and economic interests that characterize it will be among the many areas of conflict between the powers.

For these reasons, the IT sector has already been identified as a vital infrastructure for the United States and the metaverse will be a part of when it becomes operational.

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