Doomsday Clock Moves Close to Midnight as New Study Warns Hackers Could Trigger Nuclear War
We're living in dangerous times: North Korea is finally able to hit the US with ICBMs, the US is accusing China and Russia of building weapons to sabotage key defense satellites, and Russia is accusing the US of militarizing space. In the midst of all this, the Chatham House think tank has released a new report warning that hackers could pose the greatest threat to nuclear security. On top of that, the global Doomsday Clock has advanced to two minutes to midnight, the closest its been to the supposed apocalypse since 1953 when the US began developing the hydrogen bomb.
But let's take this in steps.
First, the hackers. According to Chatham House, the incorporation of new technologies into nuclear defense systems across the world means that new vulnerabilities will be discovered by hackers, who might exploit these weaknesses in a warning system to simulate a fake nuclear attack on a country (like Matthew Broderick in War Games) or just bypass the whole thing entirely and trigger a nuclear launch themselves.
If countries can't ensure control of their nuclear arsenal, there will always be the possibility that a nuclear crisis will be out of a country's hands...providing a convenient excuse for a country that wants to launch a nuke with no consequences and blame it on hackers.
Now, on to the Doomsday Clock.
If you didn't live through the Cold War (or aren't a fan of Alan Moore's Watchmen), the Clock is a symbolic device maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists whose minute hand gets closer or farther away from midnight depending on how close humanity is to an apocalypse. Here's the official description:
The Doomsday Clock is a design that warns the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making. It is a metaphor, a reminder of the perils we must address if we are to survive on the planet.
According to the BAS, the minute hand was advanced 30 seconds today in part because Donald Trump has thrown the world into chaos:
"Neither allies nor adversaries have been able to reliably predict U.S. actions or understand when U.S. pronouncements are real, and when they are mere rhetoric. International diplomacy has been reduced to name-calling, giving it a surrealistic sense of unreality that makes the world security situation ever more threatening."
North Korea's nuclear ambitions, tensions between India and Pakistan, and the recent Iran nuclear deal were also cited as factors moving the minute hand closer to midnight. It's unclear if the Chatham House report played a factor, too, but we're sure it doesn't help...