辅导案例-FIT5057 -Assignment 3
FIT5057
REFLECTIVE REPORT V2.0


S1 2020 FIT5057 – Final Assignment 3
This assignment prepares you for adopting a reflective approach in practicing project
management in your future employment and university projects. You will learn about reflective
thinking through this final assignment.
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Reflective Report
F I T 5 0 5 7 – F I N A L A S S I G N M E N T 3
LEARNING OUTCOMES
Value Adding Fulfilment of Unit Learning Outcomes
This assignment helps you to understand the value of reflective thinking in project management. In a nutshell,
reflective thinking is a self-development skill that involves you thinking about your past actions and the impacts
on others and yourself, to engage in a process of continuous learning that increment improves you and your
skills in project management. Reflective thinking opens up leadership opportunities and sustains one’s prowess
to be successful to be top industry leaders or simply high performers who can operate at levels the rest of
society cannot do.
Unit’s Learning Outcomes Project Management Reflective Thinking Competency Areas
1. Analyse and evaluate the role of
the modern project manager in
the context of IT projects

This assignment helps you to understand what is reflective-thinking and
how to engage the techniques of reflective thinking, to bring together
PM theories and practice. Reflective thinking is a powerful self-
directed continuous “learning for improvement” strategy that will
continuously expand and deepen your PM knowledge and skills
during and after every project you have been and will be involved in.

You will need to recount the key concepts and methods of the PM
knowledge areas you have learnt, have basic critical1 abilities and
thinking with self-distancing awareness, in order to understand how
theories and practice play out in every experience of executing tasks.
Every reflection adds another layer of experience based PM
knowledge and skills enhancement, collectively cultivating your PM
wisdom.

The quality of learning for improvement will depend on how well you
have understood the PMBOKTM’s PM knowledge areas, SDLC
methodologies and PM strategies, techniques and decision supporting
tools, and case studies (all documented in your lecture resources) and
put this knowledge into practice via your near live case study in your
Assignment 2A.
2. Interpret and critique a variety of
project management
methodologies offered by
various professional bodies
including that provided by the
latest version (Edition 6) of
Project Management Body of
Knowledge (PMBOK).

3. Describe and apply the available
strategies, techniques and
decision tools used by project
managers to manage modern IT
projects based on PMBOK
methodology.


1 Critical abilities are critical thinking; analytical literacy (analytical reading and comprehension, precise and
analytical writing), and evidence-based research skills, which you were introduced to when doing Assignment 1 and
to a lesser degree Assignment 2A.
The ability to think reflectively prepares you to be a reflective practitioner of PM, always capable of
improving your proficiency in PM every time you engage with projects.
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What is Reflective Thinking?
Top leaders and high performers master the craft of reflective thinking. A reflective person looks back on past
actions and events, taking stock of emotions, experiences, actions, and responses; using that information to
evaluate their professional and personal behavioral patterns and capabilities to identify opportunities for
self-improvement. It removes the ego as it requires one to be brave and admit one’s weaknesses and also
acknowledging one’s strengths, both suited for continuous improvement.
Through reflective thinking, one can look back at what, how, who, when and why things happened. The
thinking process involves:
1. Recalling and paying attention to the practical applications of theories and behaviors in past emotions,
experiences, actions and events.
2. Applying different spectrums of critical thinking that analyses the past to identify one’s strengths and
weaknesses.
3. Engaging in inferential thinking that enables you to identify and work on self-development actions.

Reflective PM practitioners, including educationists and researchers, can always self-learn effectively from
their own experiences and rely less on formal learning and training to be knowledgeable and skillful in their
professions.

Learning reflective thinking is guided by understanding and using a single or mix of reflective models
(theories) that help frame how you can analyse your own thoughts of past experiences and identify self-
directed improvement activity. Knowing such models or theories is not just an academic exercise but is
transformed into pragmatic methods of reflective thinking.
So, what are these reflective thinking models or methods?

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REFLECTIVE THINKING MODELS
Reflective thinking models help you in the systematic deconstruction of your experiences. Before you
deconstruct your experiences, you need to define your reflective questions. These questions are framed by the
basic what, who, when, where, why and how. For example, question such as (University of Hull, 2020):
• What prior knowledge did I have?
• How did I act during the event?
• What did I learn from the event that I did not know before?
• What links can I make between my experience and other events/ideas from my studies or workplace?
• How can I use the knowledge I have gained from this event/experience in the future?
• Are there other interpretations of the event? Do I need to consider them?
• What are the implications of what happened?
• If I distance myself from the event and observe my reactions to it, does it change my perspective?
• Based on what I have learned, how should I act in future?
• What other information do I need in order to understand the implications of the event?
• What is the best way to go forward?
• Looking back, would I have done things differently? If so, what and why? If not, why not?
These questions are linked to what you want to know about your own capabilities as they are now and what
areas of improvement you want to action. The questions are your personal checklist of knowing and acting,
fuelled by your desire and will to learn or otherwise and not let ego create bias in your personal thinking.
The challenge is how to draw out the answers to these questions from past experience, such as your FIT5057
unit learning, or a more granular area of it, such as your Assignment 2A experience.
There are several commonly used reflective thinking frameworks (University of Hull, 2020):
1. Kolb’s Learning Cycle
2. Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle
3. Schon’s Framework
4. Rolfe et al’s Framework
5. ERA framework.
Kolb’s Learning Cycle (Univers ity of Hul l , 2020)
“Effective learning is seen when a person progresses
through a cycle of four stages: of (1) having a concrete
experience followed by (2) observation of and
reflection on that experience which leads to (3) the
formation of abstract concepts (analysis) and
generalizations (conclusions) which are then (4) used to
test hypothesis in future situations, resulting in new
experiences” (McLeod (2013) in University of Hull,
2020).
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Most of you would have started with Active Experimentation. If you had worked in projects, you would have
some preliminary abstract conceptualization of Project Management work from your past experiences. If you
have been doing all your workbook exercises, you would have established a more concrete experience in
your Assignment 2A project work, giving a much deeper and richer memory recall for reflections.
Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle (Univers i ty of Hul l , 2020)
Gibbs provides a genre (writing structure pattern)
for deconstructing your recount of past experience
that describes:
• A recount of what happened (the key
events)
• Your feelings/emotional response to events
and other people you interacted with
• Your evaluation of what was good or bad
in your perceptions of your own and other
responses arising during the events
• Your analysis views that make sense in
explaining what are the drivers that motivated you
and others to behave the manners you earlier
identified
• And leading to a logical conclusion and
identifying a self-improvement action plan as an appropriate next step.
Despite its writing breakdown, this framework can result in fairly superficial reflection, because it does not
involve much critical thinking when reflecting nor focus on connecting theory and practice implications. It has
been recognised to exclude assumptions that you may have about your experience, nor consider the need to
review your experience objectively in different perspectives and lead you to identify clearly how your
reflections becomes a learning experience that can result in changing your thinking, practice attitudes and
skills next them. Simply put, this model does not cultivate deep reflection.
Schon’s Model (Univers ity of Hul l , 2020)
This model motivates you to reflect during and after execution of
a task. It requires you to be proactive and aware that you want
to use a current situation as a reflective learning experience or a
given, part of your reflective practice work style.
If you have already been reflecting on your learning experiences
during this unit and making a series of reflective journals, you
could consider using Schon’s framework.
This framework is potentially an advanced reflective thinking,
reflective practitioner approach, because one is using reflection to enable learning and inform further action
after the experience. The reflective thinking can identify existing theories to explain the experience and build
new theories from analysing this interplay of existing theories.
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Rolfe et al Model (Univers ity of Hul l , 2020)
This is a simple, yet pragmatic model, often used by nurses in their
profession. By responding to what, so what, now what questions you
are able to outline an experience, relate the experience to wider
knowledge and identify implications for your practice.
It works well for reflecting on a specific event, not for
generalisation of events you have experienced.


Experience, Reflection Action (ERA) Model (Univers ity of Hul l , 2020)


This model feeds learning through reflection and to be
applied forward into future experiences. As it creates
reflections from experience in a well-structured and yet
simplistic manner, it is recommended for first time
reflective thinking learners.



Choosing Your Reflective Thinking Model

Now that you understand the commonly used reflective
thinking models, decide which one works best for you,
or you can create your own version by selecting
attributes of these models.

Whichever model you choose or design, make sure it
works for you in enabling you to:
1. learn from your experiences, including seeing
how theories can explain your experiences.
2. identify realistic and doable self-
improvement action plans to follow-up.

More importantly, commit resolve to follow through
your action plan. All that thinking without actions and
results are then wasted.

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Once you acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses, then the
next step is applying inferential thinking, ie deep and unconscious
brain thinking, metaphorically like automatic algorithmic
processing, as your brain cells fire up intensively and
interconnected with each other like a live network of
interconnecting mini-computers, processing your years of collected
implicit knowledge, which influences the scope and quality of your
formal and experience based learnings.
Inferential Thinking
Inferential thinking can be considered like a conclusion inferring technique. Typically, from your evidence
based analysis findings, you ‘draw out’ the logical conclusion (Lumen, 2020). The underlying abstract thinking
process in your headspace, is called metacognition. Metacognition is the ability of your brain to recognise
bigger picture patterns from your brain’s information processing. In that brain processing, the accuracy of the
information, which is your analysis findings, is important. When you do not understand how you came to your
analysis findings and also do not understand the underlying contexts clearly, then your brain will just process
value information and spit out a conclusion statement that is wishy washy. When assessed, you received
feedback, saying your conclusion does not logically connect with your analysis findings or body discussions.
Inferential thinking is your deep brain processing ability.
Gauging where this cognitive ability is at (weak, moderate or strong) is important, because being aware of
this capability is the first step for self-improvement planning. Some of us spend great effort and time studying
hard and still find it hard to fully comprehend the meanings of information. When doing assignments, we are
not sure:
• what topics to choose or keyword to research.
• which research information pieces to select,
• how to use research findings in an analytical manner in our writing
• when to stop covering a certain topic
• if our answer sounds right.

Conversely, we may be overly sure or confident of our abilities and get really surprised and sometimes
annoyed when we receive poor assignment outcomes. These are signs that your metacognition ability needs
addressing. When you let ego come into your thinking, it is easy to deny this cognitive issue and blame the
learning challenges elsewhere.

Researchers have found that inferential abilities are linked to reading comprehension (Soto, Gutiérrez de
Blume, Jacovina, McNamara, Benson, Bernardo Riffo & Richard Kruk, 2019). When this literacy skill is lacking,
your brain has not been adequately trained to contextualise (give meaning to) the text, visual, audio or
feeling information you read or experience, never mind storing it in your knowledge memory. Reading and
comprehension is an information pattern processing skill, not totally reliant on memorizing and recalling
grammar, punctuation and spelling rules, but also knowing language construction techniques and how to
research to recall such knowledge if unsure or forgotten.
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Researchers recommend that one can improve their metacognition abilities, though “thinking about thinking”.
This meta thinking approach is executed in two phases (Malamed, 2019):
1. Knowledge of cognition phase – the aim is knowing what you know (and do not know) when you are
thinking. This brain processing phase has three work breakdown tasks: knowing the factors that
influence one’s own performance; knowing different types of learning strategies to use; knowing what
strategy or strategies work/s for specific situations.
2. Regulation of cognition phase – the aim is consciously and continuously planning and managing your
thinking development. This brain processing phase involves setting goals and learning strategy
planning; monitoring and controlling the execution of chosen learning strategies; and regularly
evaluating the situational effectiveness of the chosen learning strategies.
Here are some other useful tips from Malamed (2019), to help improve your metacognition ability in reading
and comprehending the communicated meanings:
• “Knowing the limits of your own memory for a particular task and creating a means of external support.
• Self-monitoring your learning strategy, such as concept mapping, and then adapting the strategy if it is
not effective.
• Noticing whether you comprehend something you just read and then modifying your approach if you did
not comprehend it.
• Choosing to skim subheadings of unimportant information to get to the information you need.
• Repeatedly rehearsing a skill in order to gain proficiency.
• Periodically doing self-tests to see how well you learned something”.

Monash University also has:
1. self-directed learning resources to help you improve your reading skills – which can be found in
https://www.monash.edu/rlo/study-skills/reading-and-note-taking/effective-reading-strategies and
2. drop-in services in https://www.monash.edu/library/skills/resources/we-will-support-you/drop-in .

You can also contact the FIT learning skills advisors to assist in the matter - Bei-En Zou and Mario Sos.
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ASSIGNMENT BRIEF
Now that you understand:
• What reflective thinking is;
• How it deconstructs your past experiences into lifelong learning for continuous improvement;
• The different models of reflective thinking; and
• The underpinnings of critical and inferential thinking skills in reflective thinking;
You are about to embark on the journey of becoming a reflective project manager.
Becoming a proficient project manager needs commitment to reflective practice.
The assignment will require you, through executing 2 learning tasks, to reflect and document these thoughts.
The reflective process, as a whole, will require you to:
1. Choose or design your reflective thinking approach
2. Apply reflective questioning, whose answers frame your reflections
3. Apply critical thinking to complete the 2 tasks
4. Apply inferential thinking to conclude an improvement outline, which you then detail into a mini project
plan.
Preliminary Work
Firstly, identify your reflective thinking framework. You may choose one of the discussed models, or find
another one through research, or mix these models to customize your own. Think about whether you want to
use one common framework across tasks, or specific one for each task.

Actioning Reflective Thinking & Writing Your Reflection Repor t
You need to separate out executing reflective thinking and writing your reflection report. Both activity streams
involve writing:
1. You reflect on each task’s experience and write your thoughts
2. You use the reflections to write your final Assignment 3, in a
coherent and easy to read writing structure that demonstrates
your overall reflections, including responses to given questions.


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TASK 1
Reflective Q1 – Where am I in my critical thinking and writing capabilities?
1. Read the given news article, The New Art of i-War, in Appendix 1
2. Summarize the key concepts of the paper and indicate what is the overall message the author wants
to communicate to its news readers.
3. Analyse the original paper, guided by your summarised highlights and:
• How the key concepts correspond to the types of risks you have learnt?
• How these risks interact to relate to the risks in your Assignment 2A project?
• How would you mitigate these risks in your Assignment 2A project?
4. Reflect on your experience in executing (1) to (3) and answer the following reflective questions:
• Discuss where you are in your critical thinking and writing capabilities, justifying your own
evaluations;
• Infer and identify a self-improvement plan that you can follow up during the semester break
and after;
• Question yourself whether you are likely to follow through or not and explain why.
TASK 2
Reflective Q2 – How well did I learn PM, therefore truly understand the integration
concepts of PM?
1. Research and explain what project integration mean.
2. Review what you have written in the Assignment 2A Project Plan and explain how project integration
works, bringing all your planned knowledge areas, plus the ones excluded from your plan together in
execution, as one seamless project management workflow model. You are not allowed to ask your
tutors how to approach this question. However, you can review Assignment 1’s learning resources,
marking feedback and improvement actions that you may have taken, to help you find the leads and
tools to do this task by yourself.
3. Reflect on your experience in completing (1) and (2) and answer the following reflective questions:
a. How confident are you about your answer and justifying your response?
b. What challenges you encountered or areas you were confident of in completing the task?
c. How many challenges you felt you have resolved yourself?
d. How did you feel about your self-learning ability when completing (1) and (2)?
4. Identify at least another two reflective questions of your own you would answer, to help you
understand your learning gaps in performing this task.
5. Share these learning gaps and identify what improvement actions you can consider taking.

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Task 3
1. Use both the tasks’ reflective documentation to write your final report in 10-12 pages
including Reference List and excluding cover sheet and table of contents.
2. Your report should include your responses to Task 1 and Task 2 and your reflective analysis
of your learning; you should also include your learning improvement plan and learning gap
analysis.
3. Proof-read, check there is Table of Contents, reference criteria have been met, cover sheet
has your student ID and name , class day and time, tutor’s name before you submit.

REPORT TEMPLATE
1. Introduction
2. Reflective Questions Structure
3. Reflective Thinking Model
4. Task 1
4.1. Art of iWar Analysis
4.2. Self-Reflections
5. Task 2
5.1. Project Integration Explanations
5.2. Self-Reflections
6. Self-Improvement Plan
7. Conclusion
8. Reference List
(Note: You can deepen heading structures (and recommend that you apply TEEL paragraphing technique) to
increase readability of your writing)
RUBRIC
Introduction (5%)
State (a) the specific learning purpose of the assignment and
(b) a scope-outline of its discussions
Reflective Questions Structure (5%)
State each of the 2 given meta-question and all its sub-questions that
guide your reflective thinking
Reflective Thinking Model (10%)
~ Describe the theoretical concepts of reflective thinking model/s you
have chosen to use.

~ Visualize how you apply the reflective thinking model and provide a
summarized a comprehensible written explanation to the diagram.

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Critical Analysis & Reflective Thinking Outcomes
Task 1 (20%) Communicating Critical Analysis Findings
Instruction 2a Summary of article's key concepts
Instruction 2b Identification of Author's Key Message to Readers
Instruction 3a Mapping of article's risks to the appropriate PESTLE categories
Instruction 3b Explaining how these mapped PESTLE risks interact and create risks in
your project
Instruction 3c Ideating risk responses to the identified risks
Instruction 4 Communicating Self Reflections
OBJECTIVE: State Task 1’s learning objective
REFLECTION DISCUSSIONS: Share your reflective thoughts in well
organised structure. You may use more heading structures and make sure
your paragraphs are constructed and linked appropriate to separate
distinct discussions of your thoughts and answers to your reflective
questions
~ Include a table of your reflective Qs and answers
~ Clarity / readability of writing flow (heading & paragraph linkages)
and sentence constructs in communicating your reflective questions,
answers and learning gap analysis findings

IMPROVEMENT ACTIONS LIST: List the appropriate actions you can take
for future improvements (you can number the actions)
EXECUTION LIKELYHOOD: Rate how committed are you to follow through
your own improvement actions and give a brief justification.

Task 2 (20%) Critical Analysis Findings
Instruction 1 Explanation the definition concepts of Project Integration
Instruction 2 Explain how project integration works, bringing all your planned
knowledge areas, plus the ones excluded from your plan together in
execution, as one seamless project management workflow model
~ Provides a comprehensible visual diagram to explain an abstract
concept
~ Provides comprehensible text descriptions that elaborate the visual
diagram and simplify communications of an abstract idea to readers
Instructions 3-5 Self-Reflections
OBJECTIVE: State Task 2’s learning objective
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REFLECTION DISCUSSIONS: Share your reflective thoughts in well
organised structure. You may use more heading structures and make sure
your paragraphs are constructed and linked appropriate to separate
distinct discussions of your thoughts and answers to your reflective
questions.
~ Include a table of your reflective Qs and answers
~ Clarity / readability of writing flow (heading & paragraph linkages)
and sentence constructs in communicating your reflective questions,
answers and learning gap analysis findings
IMPROVEMENT ACTIONS LIST: List the appropriate actions you can take
for future improvements (you can number the actions)
EXECUTION LIKELYHOOD: Rate how committed are you to follow through
your own improvement actions and give a brief justification.
Self-Improvement Plan
(20%)

Consolidate the 2 tasks’ improvement actions into a cohesive mini project plan, stating:
1. Project’s Outcome, ie The personal results you want to achieve from
this plan

2. Project’s WBS & INDICATIVE Schedule, ie describe the work
breakdown structure of actions to be executed and a schedule of
milestones and timelines to manage your own self-improvement progress.
3. Project’s deadline – the end date for completing your self-
improvements
4. Project’s overall implementation risk – the chance of this project
being acted upon effectively in the near future, what causal factors
justify your risk prediction, what would you expect or do if
implementation fails.
Conclusion (10%)
Summary highlights of earlier reflective discussions
The closing concluding statement linked to the learning purpose you
indicated in the Introduction.
Next Step Recommendation.
Reference (5%)
At least 6 references, 50% peer reviewed
Cited & formatted appropriately
Overall Writing Structure, Syntax & Semantics Quality (5%)



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Appendix 1 – Task 1 Case Study
The New Art of i-War
(Modified extract from an article by Paul Monk, in The Australian, January 31, 2020)
As we enter the 2020s, one of the more pressing concerns we face is the weaponisation of social media and
the use of the internet for purposes of surveillance, both commercial and political; as well as the development
of cyber warfare and the demonstrated means for manipulating human judgment and behaviour on a large
scale. This is worth thinking about from the very beginning of the new decade, because what we have seen in
the past decade is disturbing. It’s time to get a much better grip on what is happening and why.

In late October last year, an Information Warfare conference was held in Canberra. The first day of it was
conducted under the Chatham House rule, the second was classified. Remarks, therefore, cannot be attributed
to speakers. Three things, however, stood out from the proceedings. The technological revolution in information
sciences has become:
The single most challenging arena of military strategy and national security.
• A game changer in regard to politics, public policy debate
and social cohesion, with profound implications for our ideas of
what constitute democratic government, political legitimacy, and
civil rights.
• A matter of grave importance for each of us in regard to
personal privacy and the integrity of our intellectual independence.
The thinking that governed the proceedings did not go deep
enough into the roots of these problems. But it was refreshing to find them being seriously pondered by our
country’s national security agencies and to have been invited to participate.
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Singer and Brooking, in their book – Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media, alleged that the
technological innovations we are now worried about were conceived by their inventors as wholly benign.
DREAM GONE WRONG
Twitter co-founder Evan Williams said “I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange
information and ideas, the world was automatically going to be a better place. I was wrong about that.”
But why was he wrong? Because Silicon Valley companies monetised their online platforms by making them
addictive, secretly collected data and sold it to interested parties? Because dictatorships and terrorists and
criminal cartels used the net and social media to disseminate propaganda and “fake news”? No. Those are
just symptoms of a far deeper problem.
Singer and others at the conference fell back on stock lines from Sun Tzu and Clausewitz. on knowledge,
politics and war. But if we want to understand why the information technologies have had the disturbing
effects they have, why masses of human beings are susceptible to being misled and manipulated, why
companies and governments prey on the unsuspecting, we have to go back long, long before Sun Tzu or
Clausewitz. Fundamentally, although these technologies are made possible by the use of advanced physics
and mathematics, their use and the way it spirals out of rational control can only be understood in terms of
biology, game theory and human cognitive evolution.
PRIMAL INSTINCTS
Technologies, whatever their inventors may fondly imagine, arrive in a world in which human beings behave in
a complex and unstable mixture of competition and co-operation with very deep roots in evolutionary
biology.
These animal behaviours date back even further than the Cambrian explosion, a half-billion years ago. That
seminal epoch in biological evolution saw the emergence of carnivorous predators for perhaps the first time
and an arms race in eyes, jaws, armour, camouflage and speed among predators and prey alike. Through an
immensely long lineage, we are sprung from that evolutionary pedigree. However much we may deceive
ourselves about being “sapient” or being the “children of God”, we behave, at the most fundamental level,
according to deeply ingrained and primal instincts of wariness, tacit co-operation, opportunistic defection and
predation. This can be seen at every level of barbarism and civilisation, in war and in commerce. Until the
nature of evolutionary biology was slowly discovered, between Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace’s
pioneering work in the mid-19th century and the astonishing discoveries of the past few decades, no one
could do much better than coming up with religious myths or political philosophies to try to explain human
behaviour. Nor was animal behaviour in general much better understood. Until the invention of game theory
at the RAND Corporation, in the 1950s, in an attempt to pin down the logic of arms races and disarmament
negotiations, we floundered in trying to make sense of the what determines the behaviour of states and the
prospects for deterrence and coexistence. And until Herbert Simon and others talked up the idea of “bounded
rationality”, we were generically prone to wrongly assume that every rational being saw the world and
thought about its interests in the same general way.
The invention of nuclear weapons and the apparent existential threat they presented to human survival
goaded a few thoughtful people to think harder about these fundamental matters. It was remarked of such
weapons that they had outstripped our social intuitions and capacities for rational thought. Fortunately, that
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has not been wholly so. We have muddled through 70 years of nuclear arsenals and scaled back the biggest
and worst of them. We are going to have to do the same with information technologies.
But one thing should by now be clear: basic human proclivities and irrational behaviours spring from very
ancient behavioural instincts and these will not change. Education, law, explicit agreements can put rules and
boundaries around certain egregious behaviours, but the underlying proclivities remain embedded and will
resurface given provocation, uncertainty or opportunity. Therefore, we must understand them and create
social institutions and regulatory frameworks — constitutions, broadly speaking — as well as international
agreements that factor this into their design.
And even then, we’ll have to keep muddling through. There won’t be a perfect or utopian outcome — ever.
PREDATORS ON STEROIDS
The cognitive terrain we are in, by default, whenever we venture into social media, or for that matter into
unbridled exchanges in the public sphere, is one of flawed, evolved, barely conscious brains reacting to
stimuli, floundering around among complex data they barely comprehend, becoming emotional and tribal.
This leaves us open to being deliberately misled, with strategic intent, by other parties, who seek to harvest
the fruits of irrational and emotional behaviours. That’s the way it is.
That’s the nature of life — primordially, with or without the internet. It was ever thus. What these tools have
done is put all these cognitive flaws and competitive or predatory strategies on steroids. “When will they ever
learn?” is the refrain of pacifists, in the face of recurrent violent human conflict. There is no permanent learning
in this regard. There are institutional mechanisms for coping with our nature, but there is the ever-present
danger of regression.
How, then, does this apply to our current dilemmas? What does it have to tell us about the three key problems
outlined and agreed upon at the Information Warfare conference last October? Fundamentally, it means that
if we seek international peace and order, we have to build it not on naive assumptions about human
rationality and the common good, but on realistic assumptions about competition, negotiation, predation and
the conditions under which productive co-operation will emerge or degenerate. We have to be prepared to
create institutional mechanisms for deterring or thwarting defection from productive norms or predation.
SURRENDERING PRIVACY
We need to think hard about our interests and those of other parties. We have to have an eye for our
individual and collective vulnerabilities. We have to become astute and committed to practical, not utopian
norms. In other words, we have to do the kind of hard thinking that the pioneers of the internet, alas, did not
do. And we have to work for norms that the entrepreneurs of social media and the exploiters of it did not
create and do not sufficiently practice. This thinking and this work will not occur simply by default. It will not
be something most people will even be capable of doing well for themselves. It will not become law, much less
accepted and enacted international agreement, without a very great deal of patient and strenuous work. We
have our work cut out for us and the first order of business is resilience in the face of escalating dangers.
Part of the unspoken agenda of the Information Warfare conference was to bring together more or less
actively concerned people to ponder what is to be done in this space. We must, therefore, look to our
defences.
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The concern in this regard goes beyond hacking to political interference and even strategic assault. It pertains,
as we have seen in the case of the 2016 elections, to deep intrusion into and manipulation of voting
behaviours in the democracies by malign and undeclared external parties, or by machineries acting
clandestinely for political movements. Singer and Brooking emphasise the extraordinary interference by
Putin’s Russia in the 2016 presidential election in the US. But as Brittany Kaiser points out in her recent memoir
Targeted, Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based firm with deep reach into the US and operations around the
world, was doing the very same things as the Russians.
A Democrat by conviction, Kaiser became more and more disturbed by the nature and scale of the work
Cambridge Analytica and its boss Alexander Nix did with the most reactionary and populist elements on the
Republican right. She didn’t even notice what the Russians were up to in America until the election was well
and truly over. And what Cambridge Analytica did was inextricably linked with Facebook and its use of
private information.
The matter of private information brings us right down to the individual level, of course. Back in 2007,
German sociologist and analyst of terror and dictatorship, Wolfgang Sofsky, gave us a little book called
Privacy: A Manifesto. At that point, social media as we now know it was just getting started. Facebook was
only three years old. Cambridge Analytica would not come into existence for another six years. Blockchain
would be pioneered by “Satoshi Nakamoto” in 2008. Sofsky argued not simply that surveillance and data
collection were growing but that far too many of us had already been complacently surrendering our privacy
or were complicit in its evaporation through an eagerness to divulge things about ourselves in a thoughtlessly
exhibitionist manner.
And, of course, at the private and personal level, fakery, bullying, fraud and all manner of really dark
activities raise the question as to what level of “privacy” individuals are entitled to. The recent arrest of
octogenarian business tycoon Ron Brierley with staggering quantities of child sexual abuse pornography in his
possession points to this problem.
The formation and proliferation of criminal and
terrorist, sociopathic or factually degenerate internet
groups (think flat earthers and anti-vaxxers)
illustrates the dilemmas that confront us as regards
reason, law and the web. To these problems there is
no guaranteed solution. The scale and rapid
proliferation of them are such as to require the
invention of new standards, while providing that those standards do not themselves undermine our liberties or
our social order.
APPROACHING WATERLOO
Pondering all this, in its late December 2019 double issue, The Economist ran a sage piece under the title
“Pessimism vs Progress”. Its net assessment, as it were, was characteristically sane and level-headed:
To be alive in the tech-obsessed 2020s is to be among the luckiest people who have ever lived.
Your intuitive response to that viewpoint from elite London will be a litmus test of how you see the challenges
ahead of us over the next decade — in geopolitics, democratic politics and private behaviour or safety.
Page 17
Whatever the extent of your unease and even alarm, it might help, as a thought experiment, to think of
yourself as a participant in the late October conference in Canberra, asking questions and listening
attentively to speeches. Or perhaps to imagine yourself a staff member at the Centre for International
Governance Innovation, in Waterloo, Canada, intermediate between Niagara Falls and Detroit. Are we
approaching our Waterloo2? Are we all about to go over the waterfall, at least as regards decency and
liberty? Are we headed for a world of decay like Detroit?
Or are we about to rise to the challenges we face and reinvent international governance on resilient and
evolutionarily insightful lines? Something to ponder emerging from silly season.







2 Means approach a pitched battle - a fierce battle fought in close combat between troops in predetermined
positions at a chosen time and place (Vocabulary.com, 2020)
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