Technology, Business, and War:
The Role of IT Industries in Russia’s War on Ukraine
November 17, 2022
Zoom (Registration Required): https://illinois.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAqdOqvrD4pGdILNs87jhYRlyEqcvt6w_rE
In mid-October, Elon Musk announced his companies could no longer support Starlink services over Ukraine. This immediately threatened to sever communications systems on which Ukraine has depended since Russia’s invasion last February. Musk himself has also sought to intervene in geopolitics in other ways–reportedly consulting with Russian President Vladimir Putin before proposing his own thoughts on a Ukraine peace deal on Twitter. While Musk more recently said that Starlink services will continue, the incident highlights the mounting power of IT industries and their owners in all aspects of modern life, including war. As the Washington Post as recently noted, “With tech giants amassing stratospheric levels of influence over global affairs, they are morphing into a species of geopolitical actor, with uncertain long-term consequences.” This raises the question whether a new, “technopolar” world is emerging outside of states, transcending the geography of the post-Cold War era.
This roundtable will explore these issues, with reference to the ongoing war in Ukraine as well as events across contemporary Eastern Europe and Eurasia. How are information technologies and industries shaping war and politics? What roles are being played by transnational information technologies and industries in the region,, and how has this evolved over the course of the war in Ukraine? What lessons does this experience have for the world at large, as it considers how to react to the rapid accumulation of money and power in the IT sector?
Please join us for a Current Affairs Roundtable discussing these issues, with perspectives from both IT and area studies disciplines.
This roundtable will feature remarks from the following individuals:
- Jessica Greenberg (Anthropology)
- Karrie Karahalios (Computer Science)
- Ben Krupp (Anthropology)
- Matthias Grosse Perdekamp (ACDIS)
- John Randolph (History/REEEC)
- Nora Webb Williams (Political Science)
Part of the IGI Series on Global Responsibilities: Russia's War on Ukraine
Co-Sponsored by The Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center and The Program in Arms Control & Domestic & International Security