With a population of 11 thousand million, THS Earth will be no stranger to competition and conflict. The actual nature of such conflicts may, however, be very different to that we might expect.
For an illustration of a possible conflict in Transhuman Space. let us consider two hypothetical corporations that are in dispute:
Corporation A has a considerable investment in fish-farming.
Corporation B is well on the way to marketing a cloned fish flesh product: a “fauxfish”.
It is in the best interests of Corporation A that Corporation B’s program fails.
Most of the conflict between the corporations will be non-violent. Wars are often won or lost in the minds of the combatants. Much of this conflict may take the form of memetic operations.
Corporation A secretly initiates or encourages a “Campaign for Real Food” movement. Celebrity chefs wax lyrical on the superiority of real fish. Pop idols and actresses often mention the topic in interviews, and so on.
Various infowar and cyber-attack techniques are applied against B. Important shipments of supplies for the research centre are often redirected. Embarrassing information about key researchers and executives may be made public, destabilising and disrupting the corporation structure.
These measures may be the limit of hostilities, but for purposes of this illustration we will consider A opting for more direct action.
A has a virus with a modified DNA sequence. If this virus is introduced to a fauxfish culture it will cause the cells to manufacture unpleasant tasting compounds. It will also cause fauxfish to exhibit rodent antigens, giving a false-positive result to tests for the fish being contaminated with rat meat. The future, well-timed revelation that “fauxfish contains rat” is hoped to cause a fall in Corporation B’s stock that A can exploit.
How to bring the virus and the fauxfish together?
One method might be to use the virus to contaminate something that was used to grow the fauxfish, If the production process used sterile glucose solution, for example, a batch of this could be contaminated with the virus. The glucose is probably produced by a supplier, so the contamination could be performed well away from the security of Corporation B, or even while the order was in transit.
The second method is to have someone at the research lab introduce the virus to the fauxfish culture. Most espionage and covert actions are performed by “natives”, in this case an existing employee at the research centre.
There are numerous ways to recruit a “native” including but not limited to blackmail and bribery. Corporation A’s data-miners will have been scrutinizing databanks for likely candidates. The asset may not have to contaminate the culture directly. Possibly a robot system at the lab could be clandestinely reprogrammed to do the task.
If an asset already working at the research centre cannot be found, a job opening might have to be created.
A member of the staff might be hit by a car. The health of a relative might be caused to deteriorate, causing a staff member to take time off and a replacement to be needed.
In the absence of a turned asset, a professional operative will have to be introduced to deliver the virus. This can either be done by impersonation or a clandestine break-in, although both methods pose problems.
Corporation A may be tempted to use even more direct methods than clandestine sabotage.
Military actions between corporations are not going to involve armoured columns clashing in a field.
The likely action will be a raid against B’s research centre to destroy materials and seize information. This will be a covert operation since it is in A’s interests that it is not implicated. Ideally a proxy or patsy group can be found. Perhaps some radical religious group that opposes cloning can be induced to make the attack if provided with information, supplies and encouragement. Failing this, mercenaries or criminals can be hired anonymously, perhaps with a false identity as a radical group created on the web. For additional security A may use its own security personnel to conduct the raid as a false flag operation.
Our illustration has described a conflict between two commercial groups, but similar techniques can be used by conflicting nations or between a government and an opposing faction.
In the next post I will look at some of the “tools” that can be used in the above operations.