In 2020, the global Covid-19 pandemic confirmed our dependence on computer networks and the internet. Thanks to the digital revolution, we have been able, even confined, to stay in touch with our loved ones, study or work at home, do our shopping online, cultivate ourselves or even have fun. All in all, we have succeeded in automating social cooperation virtually. However, and while digital tools kept us busy, we were able to realize at the end of the year how much they made us vulnerable. The Solar Winds cyber espionage campaign having recently hit America, the Centreon Europe affair, and several French hospitals having been victims of cyber attacks, it seems that there is something to be worried about. Thanks to the health crisis, we were able to realize that if the networking of our infrastructures had become essential, it also made them more sensitive and prone to cyber-attacks. Thus, the speed and complexity which characterize the rise of new technologies are combined with the appearance of new threats against which it is imperative to fight.
It seems curious that the United States could have been the victim for more than a year of Russian and Chinese cyber espionage, in that the country is the most dynamic and the best funded in the world in terms of strategic studies. Likewise, since 2018 the United States has had the first autonomous command in the “5th area of war”: cyber. The comparison made by John Kao in his article precisely evokes the American disillusionment following the Solar Winds affair, and denounces the lack of creativity in American offensive and defensive strategies. The article reflects how asymmetric power relations can turn against those who initially had the advantage, due to the infertility of the Pentagon’s doctrinal breeding ground and sometimes its paradigmatic complacency. Since the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, and despite his departure, the United States has understood that its strategic preeminence was less and less credible, and that it would be increasingly challenged, which made the a more aggressive American foreign policy, in order to stay ahead in the new race of powers.
However, the recent disillusion observed following the Solar Winds affair suggests that Europeans, French included, would have every interest in freeing themselves from the doctrinal dependence they maintain vis-à-vis the United States in matters of defense. The means of waging war have changed, and if France wants to obtain its “digital sovereignty” as it claims in its 2018 White Paper on Defense, it is vital that it develops its conceptual autonomy as much as its strategic autonomy. Thinking and developing its own offensive and defensive concepts, in particular on the “5th area of war”, would allow France to refine its strategic thinking according to its own interests, and no longer to relay American concepts that harm its prospective analysis of future armed conflicts.
Also, if necessity is the mother of invention, as John Kao rightly points out, invention is not the mother of safety. While France, like all countries in the world, is beset by the appearance of unprecedented threats, the technological competition between the powers is launched. Quantum computing, artificial intelligence, Big Data control, 6G… So many areas on which the Americans, Chinese and Russians are waging a technological war or at least a battle for innovation. However, for France to remain sovereign in its digital domain, it would already have to define it legally, but also be able to control its production of strategic concepts, if it does not want to be the relay and the prisoner. of American conceptions of reality.
Fortunately for France, there are geniuses of innovation who have looked into the best way to invent, and from whom France could draw some lessons. Some, like John Kao, are so innovative that they have deconstructed the very definition of innovation. For John Kao, innovation is not the creativity put at the service of a project with the aim of creating value, but the implementation of a system of tools allowing the continuous realization of a desirable future. . Defined in this way, innovation would be a set of tools that should be developed only once after determining a long-term vision of our own interests, and therefore, of what we would consider a desirable future. . This definition has the merit of allowing a reflection leading to a long-term strategy, in accordance with our situation, our capacities, and our desires. Likewise, it would undoubtedly make it possible to rethink new technologies, so that they correspond more to our values. By giving itself new means of analyzing and understanding reality, France will perhaps find a way allowing it to rethink its place in the world, as well as the necessary inspiration to breathe new life into the world. collective trajectory that it intends to take.
Complementary column written by Clara Plaine Pfeiffer
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