The simpsons isn’t the only show that can predict the future with chilling accuracy, as The undeclared war was able to do just that.
Peacock’s new drama is set in the year 2024 and follows Saara Parvin (Hannah Khalique-Brown), a university student who joins the UK Government’s Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) for an apprenticeship as an analyst with Danny Patrick (Simon Pegg) .
There, Saara is quickly drawn into an intense conflict between the UK and Russia when the latter hacks into the other country’s electoral system against which GCHQ must retaliate, leading to a series of cyberattacks that threaten to create a war. in large scale.
Pegg and show creator Peter Kosminsky spoke with Newsweek about how the series was able to foresee events and how “terrifying” it was to delve into the dark realities of cyber warfare.
‘Undeclared War’ Star Simon Pegg and Creator Talk Predicting the Future
Although set in the near future, the show makes several definite predictions, including the ousting of Prime Minister Boris Johnson from the Conservative Party. In fact, the show premiered in the UK the same week Johnson quit.
Kosminsky explained to Newsweek he started working The undeclared war five years ago, and he wanted to center the story on a general election sparked by Johnson’s exit from the Conservative Party.
“I wanted to start the show around the time of the next general election in the UK because obviously the Russians had toyed with the US election and there were even suggestions that they had been involved in our referendum on the Brexit,” the show creator said.
“So I thought it would be interesting to center the drama around an election campaign leading up to Election Day 2024, and that meant I had to think about what the political landscape might be like.
“I knew the Tories would always be in government unless something catastrophic happened to them. So the question really was, would Boris Johnson still be prime minister?
“And all things considered, given the kind of guy he was, the fact that he’s known to be a little frugal with the truth, shall we say, I just took a punt and I thought, actually, I think it’s likely that he might have been ousted, and in fact ousted from the right wing of his party, given the way the world is going and the rise of populism and so on at the International scale.
“What I didn’t expect was that the very week we launched the show he would quit, that level of synchronicity took me by surprise.”
Pegg said of the prediction: “Peter is such a smart creative, and very smart in terms of his political savvy and understanding how society moves and everything, I think he was kind of creating ‘what if ? with this story, but it’s so realistic.
“I mean, it couldn’t have gone better. Thank you Boris for getting kicked out when you did.”
The Impossible mission star added: “The big thing that happened after we finished filming was the invasion of Ukraine, which Peter was able to work into the story in post-production, which I think was a necessary thing to do, you know, and I think it only served to make the show more authentic.
“It’s a story, I think, that really needs to be told, and I really feel like by reading it, I learned some things about cyber warfare and the state of the art in cyber warfare terms, which I thought I should already know, I should be aware of this, everyone should be aware of this, so yeah, that seems very timely.
On Russia and Cyberwar
The undeclared war explores Russia’s cyber warfare tactics, including the use of Twitter bots to distort public debates, and Deepfake being used to impersonate a prominent figure to fake support for the Russian government.
Given Russia’s current war on Ukraine, the show’s topic seems appropriate and Kosminsky said Newsweek many of his ideas stemmed from what was really going on before the invasion of Russia.
“A lot of the research we did on what Russia’s malware arsenal might look like came from some of the thousands of cyberattacks they had launched against Ukraine over many years, in fact almost since. the development of cyber as an area of conflict,” Kosminsky said.
The creator added, however, that he would never have predicted that Russia would invade Ukraine the way it did.
Pegg felt it was “manifest destiny” for him to appear on The undeclared war because he grew up in the ‘shadow’ of the real GCHQ and had two uncles working there, one of whom watched the show and found it an accurate description of his time at the organization governmental.
“It was both fascinating and terrifying to fully understand this new theater of war that exists in everyone’s living room,” Pegg said of the series. “The idea of cyberwarfare, the idea that every major cybersecurity player on the planet has already planted exploits in each other’s cyberinfrastructure.
“The fact that it’s an incredibly difficult and dangerous war to manage when it happens, because you can’t always be sure who your adversary is because, you know, one adversary will impersonate another adversary so that you can retaliate against the wrong adversary [and] which triggers another cyberwar.
“The escalation is fast and brutal, and it’s all hanging by a thread, and I feel like we’re even more utterly and blissfully unaware of it.”
Pegg added: “It was intimidating and at the same time I felt extremely privileged to be a part of it because I think it reminded me of a show that was on when I was a kid called Sonwhich was much less melodramatic and less dark, but I think it has more things we can learn from.
“Just change our behavior a little bit, become a little more aware online, a little more cautious about how we conduct ourselves online, what news sources we listen to, who we meet online, have just a healthy caution as to who they are and if they’re even real.”
Why ‘The Undeclared War’ is essential viewing
Reflecting on the show’s portrayal of Deepfake technology being used as a weapon, Kosminsky said: “There’s no question that a world where you could have what looks like President Biden and have him say something really, really dangerous, and with the world in a fragile state, the powder keg as it is right now, is dangerous.
“But, that’s not really where my main concern was, most of the focus was on the Russian information campaign, because they group cyberattacks under the chief information operations officer at large.
“[The attacks] seemed to aim to destabilize our institutions by attacking our conception of democracy, by undermining citizens’ sense of confidence in their institutions and their elected politicians.
“And above all, and we have seen this most profoundly under the Trump administration, undermining the concept of truth in itself, what truth is.
“Well, the information operations of the Russian cyber campaign seem primarily designed to try to undermine public confidence in the whole concept of truth. What is true? What is false truth? And that worries me a lot.
“If people no longer have confidence in the concept of truth, no longer have confidence in their democracy, no longer have confidence in their politicians and their institutions, what [be the] price of civilization? So, to me, that felt like a really powerful reason to try to shine a spotlight on this particular campaign that’s been happening under the radar.”
The Undeclared War is released in its entirety on Peacock on Thursday, August 18.
Update 8/18/22: The article has been updated to include official stills from the show and a behind-the-scenes clip from the making of the series.