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TikTok is part of China’s cognitive warfare campaign | Nita Farahany

Militaries are racing to develop weapons that could one day directly assault or disable human minds. We ignore this broader context at our peril

Translated Chinese military reports suggest that warfare is shifting from destroying bodies to paralyzing and controlling the opponent’s mind. Making the Biden administration’s call for TikTok’s Chinese owners to sell their stakes in the app or face a US ban just the start of a protracted Whac-a-Mole game in a broader strategy to combat cognitive warfare – with the human mind as the battlefield.

While a TikTok ban may take out the first and fattest mole, it fails to contend with the wider shift to cognitive warfare as the sixth domain of military operations underway, which includes China’s influence campaigns on TikTok, a mass collection of personal and biometric data from American citizens and their race to develop weapons that could one day directly assault or disable human minds. We ignore this broader context at our peril.

Nita Farahany is the author of The Battle for Your Brain: Defending Your Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology (St Martin’s Press 2023) and the Robinson O Everett professor of law and philosophy at Duke University

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