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Wednesday, January 04, 2023

How Wide is Computing Divided?

 Short review extract:

Computing Divided: How Wide the Chasm?     By Andrew A. Chien

Communications of the ACM, January 2023, Vol. 66 No. 1, Page 5    10.1145/3572994

Andrew A. Chien, past Editor-in-Chief of CACM

In January 2019, I described the computing community on the cusp of a new era of growing division.2 The prognostication proved accurate. Four years have seen accelerating division and growing real fissures, driven by international geopolitics, dramatic spy cases—incarceration and increasing technology and trade restrictions. Examples include:

China's crackdown on tech and covert suppression of opinion abroad,1,4 and

China's threatened invasion of Taiwan and bullying of Lithuania.6

If you are not concerned yet, in February 2022 we saw an outbreak of a regional conflict akin to that which caused World War I;7 Russia invaded Ukraine with no justification. The invasion created overt alignment of warring alliances: China in a no-limits partnership with Russia, Iran, Belarus, and Syria, and the U.S., Europe, and the West joining to support Ukraine. China, the economic leader of Asia and major regional military power, spread a chill across Asia by siding with an imperialist "might makes right" alliance. All nations are now rethinking defense, investment, trade, and technology policies toward China.

The world is at an inflection point. These are indeed times for caution and careful reflection on where are we going. There are three major possibilities:

Catastrophe! (Future #1). Open hostility, fully separate trade (and travel and technology) partitions. Unthinkable? Recall this was the world order from 1950–1980 (Soviet Block—USSR and Eastern Europe, the Western Alliance—U.S and Europe, and China), disjointed ecosystems with little trade or travel. This isolation was self-imposed by both the Soviet Block and China, out of weakness to maintain control over their citizenry. Such division would be a terrible outcome. Tragic individually for billions of citizens of the closed systems, a painful quandary for those with ties spanning, and it would impoverish all culturally.

It is undeniable that Russia has gone into such isolation in just 12 months (trade and travel have stopped). China's no-limits alliance, actions against its tech companies, and overt international belligerence, suggest little commitment to a rules-based international order. Is China ready to undertake isolation? Unthinkable? Such isolation might make China's rulers feel more secure.  ... '  (more below at link)  

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