Ankit Dixit
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Can Data Science Prevent Wars from Happening

Can Data Science Prevent Wars from Happening

Ankit Dixit's photo
Ankit Dixit
·May 17, 2022·

8 min read

The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia served as a grim reminder that global peace is a fickle entity. On top of that, wars like this one and the Israel Palestine Conflict, and the Afghanistan Conflict are known by the average person only because of the large amount of media coverage they get. Wars in countries like Ethiopia and Yemen are ongoing to even this day, getting minimal coverage and hence, low investment of the global audience in helping the citizens affected by it.

The consequences of war are widespread and brutal in the short and long term. Civilians residing in areas near war zones are forced to displace their homes. Violence, sexual assault, and loss of economic assets are extremely common for them. As for countries, all the parties involved in the war take a major hit. Loss of infrastructure aside, funding war causes is an extremely expensive endeavor, both in terms of economic and human resources. Stock Market suffers harsh dips all around the globe, imports and exports reduce causing a rise in prices of various commodities, etc. Not to mention, there is always a chance of a war escalating to the usage of nuclear weapons. For the aforementioned reasons, it is of utmost importance for all countries to attempt to prevent war, whether they would be directly involved in it or not.

Data Science is a domain of study of the extraction of useful information using mathematical and statistical methods and algorithms from raw data. It also involves activities like analyzing, updating, and/or modifying the data. Over the last few years, data science has witnessed exponential growth and is now expanded its use to the fields of banking and finance, education, e-commerce, healthcare, etc. With such a wide range of applications, the market for data scientists is in high demand and very lucrative.

The vast areas in which data science can be applied begs the question – “Can Data Science play a role in preventing wars?” Wars among conflicting nations cannot be prevented by the concept of Data Science itself. However, several technologies apply it to function. These technologies, with the use of data science, can play their part in preventing and/or stopping wars. Assuming that the current trend of the rising of Data Science continues for the foreseeable future, the majority of technologies that will be used to prevent wars will be using some of the other aspects of Data Science. We shall go over some of the applications of Data Science that achieve the prevention of wars.

Social Media

Social Media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, etc are some of the most profitable and fastest-growing online services out there. In the year 2020, approximately 3.6 billion people used a social media platform worldwide. It is predicted that this figure will reach 4.41 billion by the year 2025. Markets like Asia have the highest mobile social media penetration, followed by America and countries in Northern Europe. Approximately 144 minutes per day are spent on social media and other messaging applications, making it a prime platform for spreading news and information.

Social Media serves as a platform that can provide publicity for conflicts that occur all over the world. The acceptance of the fact that conflict shapes social media, and then social media influences the dynamics of that conflict is increasing day by day. Communication is cheaper, the speed of the news spreading is faster, and the algorithms at work in the background make sure that the trendiest topics are given preference when being recommended to random users (in this case, news about war). In addition, this news shapes the opinions of the Social Media Platform’s users, usually settling down at an anti-war sentiment. Pushing these anti-war messages brings forward the public’s opinion on current issues to the government, forcing them to take action even when they are not participating in the war, which usually is a public declaration where they condemn the war taking place.

Social Media applications need to perform a variety of operations like data discovery, data collection, and data preparation for analyzing it. Performing these operations allows the social media platforms to notice trends going on among the users. Sharing political news (news about wars in this case) is a brilliant way of spreading awareness about these issues. A very recent example is the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, whose rise in popularity took place largely through Social Media Platforms.

Telecommunication

Telecommunication (which is also known as Telecom) refers to the exchange of information over a large distance using mediums like voice, video, data, etc. This is a term that encompasses a large variety of technologies like television, satellites, radio, etc.

While social media is widely used by the younger demographic of society, television is mainly a source of information for the older people of society. Information about the war, and the suffering that the citizens of the involved countries have to suffer play a major part in shaping the anti-war sentiment among parties that are a spectator to the conflict. The governments of these countries bear witness to the formation of public opinion around the war. To pander to the will of the people, the government declares its condemnation of the war and uses its diplomatic powers to force the countries involved to reach an agreement and stop the war.

The satellite industry has witnessed continuous growth since its usage for broadcasting digital content on televisions began. While platforms like Netflix, Hotstar, etc have been gaining a lot of popularity over the last few years television still pulls ahead of such online platforms due to its stronghold over the entertainment industry. Data Science is also highly utilized in telecommunication. Prediction and analysis of data are done by telecommunication and satellite operators to create more lucrative ways of gaining customers. AI-aided content analysis and distribution are done by observing trends among users and then curating the content shared so that it appeals to as many consumers as possible. In the case of wars, journalism about these wartime events ends up taking most of the airtime.

Government

While public opinion provides the push needed by the government to take anti-war measures, the executive power is held by the government. It is in their hands to take measures that prevent the war from either occurring or continuing. Usually, the countries directly involved have their hands tied and cannot do much in terms of stopping (except the aggressor retreating). It is upon the countries that are not directly involved in the war and/or have diplomatic power over the matter or on the countries to take steps to stop the war.

Data Science is used in multiple ways for achieving this goal. The government analyses data gathered from intelligence sources to predict further moves of the aggressing side of the war. Data analysis is done on public sentiment to gauge how receptive would the public be towards wanting their country to stop the aggression towards the other country. Countries use data science to generate maps and visualize the gathered data. Besides, that intelligence agencies are also tasked with collecting data from countries that are potential threats for the sole purpose of preventing a war from occurring by analyzing the gathered data.

Nuclear Deterrent

At first sight, nuclear technology seems like the opposite of something that would be used to maintain peace. The attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and the fact that nuclear weapons are way more devastating compared to their initial versions today, lead most people to believe that someday, inevitably, a nuclear war would occur and that would signal the end of humankind.

However, on further investigation and research, it has been shown that the relation between global peace and nuclear technology goes deeper than this. This is where concepts like Nuclear Deterrence and Second Strike Retaliation Capability start to come up. Essentially, the crux of this argument is that the existence of nuclear weapons will lead to assured mutual destruction of the two parties at war, as long as a country can retaliate to a nuclear attack with nuclear warheads of their own (Second Strike Capability). This means that the civilians of both the country act as hostages, preventing either of the two countries from attacking each other using nuclear weapons. This also causes countries to be forced to not engage in a wide-scale attack against nuclear powers and also allows nuclear powers to exert political pressure when their non-nuclear allied countries are being threatened.

Data Science is applied in Nuclear Technology in multiple avenues. Nuclear warheads are fired in a ballistic trajectory either from land in case of ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) or from submarines in the case of SLBMs (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles). These missiles reach the target through tracking systems, utilizing satellite systems that run with the help of data science. Along with that, visualization and research of the data while the development of nuclear warheads is also done through data science.

At the end of the day, the countries that are directly involved in the war have their hands tied. The majority of those countries’ resources are invested in either sustaining the aggression or surviving the aggression. A load of taking measures to prevent the war falls on other countries, which will not be directly involved in the war. Data Science cannot be used directly to stop the war. Technologies that utilize data science (whether directly or indirectly) have to be utilized to open avenues that lead to the war being prevented. At the end of the day, sustaining a war is a very taxing endeavor neither of the countries involved usually want to go to war and use it as a last resort. The spectating countries are supposed to take responsibility in these scenarios and do what they can to put a stop to the war.

 
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