Sunday, August 16, 2015

One step forward, and there is the abyss.

The history of the world is a history of violence. Other things happened, but, far and large it was the biggest, and strongest who wrote the tale of the times. Often times it was technology that defined who was the most able to control the narrative.

The Assyrians, it is believed, mastered using iron to make weaponry, which was much more widely available than bronze, used by most armies. Of course, they used their weapons with brutal and ruthless efficiency. But, learning to forge iron gave them an advantage.

Many people feel that the Mongol bow was the premier projectile weapon until the invention of the firearm. It took a great leader to bring the widely scattered tribes into a mobile, lethal, devastating army of horsemen. But, the bow gave them an edge.

Now the pace of technical innovation has changed the way things are calculated. There is no way of knowing what the future holds, but it is safe to say there will be breakthroughs undreamed of even now.

Albert Einstein said "the release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known I should have become a watchmaker." Unleashing the awful power of the atom is the most extreme example, but there are constant breakthroughs in technology that make the destruction of our enemies easier, more efficient, and "sanitary."

Now, the Air Force wants to make drones smarter and deadlier. Killing an enemy from the comfort of an air conditioned room thousands of miles away makes a cold, calculated sense. And building in an automated response system to deal with threats is perfect. Killing, and destruction, represented in an algorithm.

War has always been about choices, would the costs outweigh the benefits. And for most of the worlds history war could be a very profitable enterprise. Countries who were good filled their treasuries with the gold from conquered nations. Now, the formula is different. Our ability for destruction has irreversibly removed any real benefit from the equation.

But, if we find a way to make it less costly in human lives (at least our human lives) will that variable change again? These weapons are here to stay, but we, as a race, the human race, need to find a way to work together without the use of explosives. Finding common grounds to work together and build is liable to be much more difficult than finding ways to destroy but we no longer have much choice.