Wednesday, June 20, 2012

An Old Story with a New Twist: Weapons of Mass Technology

Long ago,  the amount of harm a single individual could do was relatively limited.  A man with a club could kill, but not very efficiently.  Over time, humans developed arrows, metal armor, guns and tanks.  In the last century, we invented nuclear weapons that could destroy entire cities, and indeed threatened to wipe out all of human civilization.  Somehow, we managed to avoid that fate, at least so far.  Yet, the mere existence of nuclear weapons alters the way in which we respond to rogue states, such as North Korea.

Recently, the story of ever-increasing power to destroy has taken a new twist.  High tech weapons such as drone planes, cyber attacks and biological weapons have been in increasingly in the news.  This morning, NPR suggested that drone planes may soon be the size of insects.  While the specifics of these new weapons and methods of attack are unclear, at least to me, the overall path of history is plain for all to see.  As we humans become more sophisticated in general, we will become better and better at inflicting damage on each other.  It will become easier and easier for fewer (and less intelligent and less well-financed) individuals to inflict more harm on others.

Certainly, we can work on defensive measures.  Cyber security can counter cyber attacks, at least to some extent.  Radar can, one hopes, detect some drone planes.  But it seems clear that offensive weapons will always outstrip defensive ones.  And, as weapons become more effective, the damage done when just one offensive weapon gets through increases.  

The only solution I can see is to discourage people from using these weapons in the first place.  We must create a world in which people see all other humans as part of the "in-group."  We must create more wealth equality, so that everyone has something to lose.  It is not an easy solution, by any means, but it is the only one that can work.  

1 comment:

PlanetBH said...

Nicely put, BRAVO!