Thursday, April 24, 2008

Its virtually war (just)?

I was reading today about the escalation of hostilities between chinese hacker-patriots and u.s. hacker-patriots. <>
Now, there is every possibility that this is a media beat up, grasping at virtual straws in an effort to restore interest in a populace with an imploding attention span. A few years ago, there was a big hack done on some microsoft stuff, using worms or trojan horses or some other techno-monsters. In response, microsoft supposedly sent out its own worms to follow the original worm and patch things up. Or something like that, maybe I'm making it up. But at the time, the idea of virtual warfare really interested me. And then this article reignited my interests.

If this mutual chinese v. u.s./anyone v. anyone else aggression is the beginnings of a virtual war (if being a very big if), then it raises a few questions. In virtual wars, do theories of just war apply? If not, is there a continuum between virtual war and direct warfare, with parallel evolution/devolution of just war theories? With the recent discussions on this blog about neuroweapons, do they sit in the grey area between recognised domains of just war, and virtual war? How do you determine casualties in a virtual war? Is it in economic terms (which seems to miss the point of at least some key elements of just war theories) or does there have to be human (and/or animal) suffering? What of attacks on virtual worlds like Second Life? Do avatars have souls? Can we count our dead if they are only avatars? Do avatars have rights? If not, when do they gain them?


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