Commentary

Cyber Space, Global Injustice, Peter’s principle and some other stuff.

This article paints one of many potential scenarios of future of the cyber space and highlights some very interesting links between the global economic development and information technology. The concepts in the article are inspired from the talk given by Barry Pavel, a member of Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security in front of the Atlantic Council. (How will our Cyber Future be Different from Today?)


The question “How can the cyber space be used to create a more equal world” is simple to answer:

  • Prevent Barriers from appearing and a network of closed networks to emerge.
  • Facilitate the access to the cyber space and a deep technical skill to dealing with it to all humans on the planet.

Most likely, these two points will lead to an increased violence on the web in the for of cyber attacks. The answer to the question who will win on the grand scale – the security industry or the cyber attackers – is largely determined by who attracts the smarter people and leverages their abilities better. This is a function of perception on equality and justice in the global system. The attractiveness of either side must be – at least in part – be defined by the level of justice in the overall system, given that technically adept individuals do have the capacity to think in human terms rather than self-interest.
But even more important, with easier access to technology behind typical and effective cyber attack vectors, the number of individuals that are living in a system of strong inequality will likely increase the threat of their collective actions. This will create attention and the mere need to resolve the inequality issues.

Will this impact the global equality alone? No. Because what matters is how the losers of the global economy handle their own stories. Nothing is easier than to develop an ecosystem to draw these intelligent rogues into the productive ecosystems of those more priviledged and nothing but their mental ties to their less fortunate peers will decide if they will change the sides or not. If they feel isolated from their peers and have no emotional attachment or moral obligation to their environment, they will likely snitch and change sides very fast and the entire effect will be lost.

So the third dimension of the two already mentioned (making interconnected open systems a necessity, and building access and capability) is teaching humans to be humans again, to ignore the concept of “snobbish” selfishness and to accept that ones own roots may matter more the happiness and success in life than any form of proclaimed material success. In the end, it is more intellectually challenging and rewarding to bootstrap education systems and skills in your underpriviledged regional ecosystems and performing future hacks than it is to change the sides, get a ton of equipment and yes-sayers around you and be threatened to perform well in the counter-intelligence against cyber attacks. So humanities are important as well. Not only technical ability.

But this only sets the outline. How could this be done on a grand level and with a system?


Understanding the actual problem

I do not want to write this article in the spirit of a “good system” vs “bad system”. I believe that nothing in this world is systemic. I think the core of the problem is that systems are governed by individuals and that social closeness is still a lot more relevant to decision making than moral grandschemes. SO the current problem is regulated by (a) The Peter principle and (b) empathy. The Peter principle may be considered a moral risk, but (b) certainly is a relevant and morally acceptable human trait. It would simply be ludacris to attack empathy. So what are the results of both principles combined:

  • The Peter principle highlights that our promotion capability is inefficient. (A) We lack transparency and data to understand when and why an individual is no longer fit for a specific promotion and he should stay where he/she is.
    (B) We still believe in the idea of “progressive development” where a person can only reach “level 3” when when has already reached “level 2”. This simply creates the problem that if “level 2” individuals are of highest fit for their position, and “level 3” are no longer, the “level 1” individuals with highest fit for “level 3” will never reach “level 3”.
  • The (B) problem is the direct effect of (A) and empathy. We are unwilling to demote a “level 2” person by promoting “level 1” to “level 3”. And that is a problem really of inability to make a clear judgement why “level 1” is a perfect fit for “level 3” and our inability to ignore our empathy for “level 2”. It is a direct contradiction to meritocracy where merit allows one to progress step-by-step from junior to senior levels. This is a question of technological advancement and taking away the absoluteness of the meritocratic-progression metaphor.

There is currently one stream that counters this problem: no longer thinking in levels. But this model does simply not fit all current organizations. The proponents of this system proclaim that organizations working with “level” systems are unfit for society per se, which they are certainly not. It is perfectly fine and useful in systems organization to have hierarchies. The problem is the percolation of skill flaws in this system that creates the Peter’s principle.
The result is not only the Peter principle applying for some individuals, but the fact that inapt individuals govern parts of the social ecosystem where they should not. That creates injustice on the entire 1-st to n-th order effect range for each position where the Peter principle strikes.


So why talking about Cyber Space?

So basically the problem I describe is the one above. This article features a story about cyberspace because I simply can picture no institutional path of getting rid of the problem. There is no central government and it is unlikely that the Peter principle will be somehow solved in the current economic system by mere good will and innovations in companies and governments. So my take on solving the Peter principle problem is to use the dialetics in cyber warfare and how it relates to the global economic development. This may be overboard, but why not do the thought exercise.

++++ TBC +++

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