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Add cybersecurity to Doomsday Clock concerns, says Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

The human race is closer to herd suicide than it has been in history, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists warns — in part, because of cybersecurity issues, including both information warfare and insecure IoT devices. Founded by the Manhattan Project scientists who built America’s nuclear weapons program, the Doomsday Clock is a regular reminder of the existential threats to the species that humanity has created for itself. The Doomsday Clock stands at two minutes to midnight, the same as 1953, at the height of the Cold War.

The only way to prevent such an extinction event, the Bulletin argues, is evidence-based scientific research and rational debate. However, the tsunami of information warfare we are witnessing today disrupts society’s ability to know what is true and what is false. That makes fact-based solutions extremely difficult.

“The increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world,” the Bulletin writes, puts “the future of civilization in extraordinary danger…. Cyber-enabled information warfare is a threat to the common good.”

In other words, we can’t solve the problems that could kill us all if we can’t agree what the problems are, or even what the facts are.

Inconvenient facts

There are enough nuclear weapons in the world today to kill all life on earth, and despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, this threat hasn’t gone away. Nor has climate change gone away simply because of the unwarranted, widespread disbelief in the scientific evidence, the Bulletin writes. Humanity has to arrive at a fact-based consensus to solve these problems.

“The corruption of the information ecosystem is in this sense what we call a force multiplier,” Herb Lin, a senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at Stanford University, and a member of the Bulletin’s Science and Security board, tells CSO. “It makes solving these problems even harder. It’s exponentially harder if you can’t agree on the facts.”