Wed, 18 May 2022 Today's Paper

Asgardia and Cyber Nation States

20 January 2022 03:21 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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As growth of technology speeds up, nationhoods built upon and within the virtual space is becoming a reality, including cyber realtors.

It is high time that Governments think of creating mirror image cyber nations of their countries and discuss the role of other cyber nations.  

 

 

You are already a cyborg.The moment you have a device in your hand your are a cyborg, I heard someone saying.  


Welcome to the world of cyber States-the virtual nation States, which is increasingly becoming a reality, these days.   


Experts say that the world is becoming increasingly digitised, and there is a rising threat from online organisations that could mimic and come to rival Governments. The Covid 19 pandemic furthered the concept of Internet-based communities and has kindled interest in the cyber States. 


Simply put, one can become a citizen of a country created in the virtual world...but rules and regulations are yet to be created. We are already living in a halfway transit place.


These virtual nations are cyber communities that have succeeded in gaining power, influence, or capital comparable to that of a nation-State, posing a unique security threat that does not respond to traditional power structures.   

 

Asgardia, also known as the Space Kingdom of Asgardia and Asgardia the Space Nation, is a micronation formed by a group of people who have launched a satellite into Earth orbit. They refer to themselves as Asgardians and they have given their satellite the name Asgardia-1. 

 

A report says that it is highly unlikely that virtual nations will be officially recognised even by 2050. As of now, there is no official recognition for virtual nations. This makes virtual nations more dangerous because there is no external accountability or regulation is present.   


The idea of virtual nations will grow in popularity as some people become disenfranchised with their State Government and search in larger numbers for organisations of other like-minded people online.   


For example, many of the cryptocurrency promoters are people who are disillusioned with the idea of Central Bank and particularly the Bretton-Woods Conference based monetary system, that the world follows now.   


Those promoters say since the US dollar pegging the US is controlling the global finances at its whims. However, cryptocurrencies so far is generally considered open source and cannot be controlled by the central banks. 

 
While cyptocurrencies becoming popular, nowadays virtual real-estate is also becoming popular. We will have to wait and see how far these concepts could become a reality (Or ‘virtual’ reality). For example one can set up a virtual museum where the NFTs are displayed. Entrance by bitcoin.   


As of now, such cyber nations do exist but as nascent tech like communities...Google, Apple, Facebook (Now Meta) and Amazon are but just a step away from evolving into such fully-fledged “States”   


Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the modern nation-state, which will not be quickly supplanted. However, the political power of the nation-State will start to decline as virtual nations begin to offer comparable services and security.   


We can see similarities of this phenomenon in early medieval Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Particularly the emergence of Vassal States. Virtual communities like Facebook exhibit an uncanny resemblance to these Vassal States.   


However, the virtual nations are not yet prolific enough to have a significant impact on operations and global society and there are several key questions that establishments should start thinking about ranging from operational to legal and moral.   


There are two broad categories of virtual nations. The first is when a nation-state digitises all of its information and government services, potentially offering programmer such as e-Residency.   


Estonia was the first digital nation and leads the pack in this technology. The second are virtual nations not supported by any Government, existing only online, such as Asgardia, which recently launched a nano-satellite into orbit containing its citizens’ data.   


Asgardia, also known as the Space Kingdom of Asgardia and Asgardia the Space Nation, is a micronation formed by a group of people who have launched a satellite into Earth orbit. They refer to themselves as Asgardians and they have given their satellite the name Asgardia-1.   


They have declared sovereignty over the space occupied by and contained within Asgardia -1. The Asgardians have adopted a constitution and they intend to access outer space free of the control of existing nations and establish a permanent settlement on the Moon by 2043.   


These organisations are called nations by virtue of sign-up based “citizenship” and political or ideological allegiance. Both categories rely on Blockchain technology to maintain their operations.   


Whether the Asgardians will ever settle down on the moon is beside the question with the deep-rooted virtual world, the notion of virtual cyber nations also takes prominence. Particularly nowadays people can do business in the virtual world and live 24/7 in social media. Where one resides in person is becoming lesser and lesser importance.   


However, this also is somehow connected to a person’s social status and wealth, which determines one’s access to the internet.   


Meta
A few months ago the Facebook Company, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, changed its name to Meta. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also spoke of a “Fantastical Metaverse” at the launch of its new branding.   
But one a few seem to understand the importance of Meta’s new move.   


Internet foundation of Matrix.(Subhead)  
Only a few can realise or understand that the alarming direction internet-based technologies are taking, though at this time the trends seem like the inevitable and logical next development.   


Conceptually it started somewhere in 1969, however, just because nobody owns the Internet, it doesn’t mean it is not monitored and maintained in different ways. The Internet Society, a non-profit group established in 1992, oversees the formation of the policies and protocols that define how we use and interact with the Internet.   
It’s been 28 years since Tim Berners Lee imagined the web as an open platform that would allow “everyone everywhere to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries.   


Today Berners Lee’s vision of a “free and open” Internet has been replaced by Government firewalls, internet service providers, surveillance and corporate data harvesting and spying while the open internet remains accessible to all with the deep and dark web becoming the underworld of cyber sorts.   


Now platforms like Meta, Google, Apple, Amazon and cyber games are trying to carve out chunks of “virtual cyber nations” within the Internet, while cryptocurrency (Blockchain) technology and NFT are increasingly taking momentum.   


Many have cast doubt over Cryptocurrencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT), some like Elon Musk are betting on these.   


The more the world becomes increasingly dependent on the internet the more dangerous it would become for example for the people unless and until proper regulations are in place to curtail and control these organisatons.   
For example already Facebook easily blocks a person for “going against its Community Standards”. The question remains who and what interests sets these “Standards”.   


Once these societies takes over complete control and once people become full members of these “Nation States” he/she is at the mercy of these Corporate businesses.   


Facebook, for example, is almost the one and the only social media network that mimics the real-world scenario.   
Asgardians, of course, are taking a different direction. They started as a fully-fledged cyber nation.   


There is simply no alternative for the Facebook as at now. That is only Facebook, not counting the Instagram and WhatsApp and other networking techs that the Meta has monopolised.   


If one looks at Facebook it lacks just its currency and retailing arms to make it a complete nation of its own. Currently, it accepts fiat currency in its dealings. It is only a matter of time. Either it creates its crypto or adapts one.   


In the same logic, Amazon has everything including rockets, it is a matter of creating its community to set up its nation.   


It is the same with Google. In fact, the world’s reliance on Google has surpassed the limits of dependency that it can bring the world to a standstill by downing its servers. However, that has its negatives Google being a business.   


If Google shuts down permanently or indefinitely, the very obvious thing that would happen is that you will not be able to look for any information – big or small.   


In addition to this, several companies and organisations rely on the trusted services of Google apps to carry out their work operations.   


These businesses would incur substantial losses. Moreover, such an occurrence will not serve Google well either, because it will cause a significant dent in its bank account. That said, one good thing (or bad according to how you look at it) is that piracy will come down substantially since Google is the preferred search engine around the world.   
The internet is not even a physical entity. On the contrary, it is a collection of several physical entities and this broad domain is constantly evolving.   


However, parts of the internet can still sometimes go offline as we see almost daily. There are several things how this can happen such as an underwater cable getting snagged by an anchor or a server crash that needs replacement or rebooting.   


Worse still is that there are only limited laws relating to internet-related issues. When Facebook went offline, many businesses would have lost.   


But are businesses like Meta and Google under compulsion to compensate the businesses in such situations remain to be seen.   

 


Future Shock   
Future Shock, it is happening.   
Future Shock is a 1970 book by American futurist Alvin Toffler, written together with Adelaide Farrell in which the authors define the term “future shock” as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies.   


The shortest definition for the term in the book is a personal perception of “too much change in too short a period of time”. The book, which became an international bestseller, has sold over 6 million copies and has been widely translated.   


Toffler argues that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a “super-industrial society”. This change overwhelms people.   


He argues that the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaves people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”—future shocked.   


Toffler stated that the majority of social problems are symptoms of future shock. In his discussion of the components of such shock he popularized the term “information overload.”   

 


FANG, FAANG, and MAMAA   
FANG was an acronym coined by Jim Cramer, the television host of CNBC’s Mad Money, in 2013 to refer to Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google.   


Cramer called these companies “totally dominant in their markets”.   
Cramer expanded FANG to FAANG in 2017, adding Apple to the other four companies due to its revenues placing it as a potential Fortune 50 company.   


Following Facebook’s name change to Meta Platforms Inc. in October 2021, Cramer suggested replacing FAANG with MAMAA.   


This included replacing Netflix with Microsoft among the five companies represented as Netflix’s valuation had not kept up with the other companies included in his acronym; with Microsoft, these new five companies had market caps of at least $900 billion compared to Netflix’s $310 billion at the time of Meta’s rebranding   
Another budding nation is Google. Google had everything including its own Social networking –the Google +. However, it failed miserably against Facebook.   


However, the Search engine monopoly still holds to create its own nation Google’s Fenced Garden as defined by David Rosenthal.   

 


FAANG and MAMAA Monopolies   
Google’s share of search queries is at around 94%. Google’s share of the traffic resulting from searches is over 55% and probably higher, according to one report. This is, by any possible definition, a monopoly.   


While FAANG or MAMAA nations could evolve into cyber superpowers, one can’t rule out the possibilities of small island nations and exclusive communities as well.   


One of the main issues is these are businesses posing as States. It is high time that Governments think of creating their mirror image cyber nations and discuss the role of other cyber nations.     

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