Sunday Thought Exercise – M.A.D.ness or no?
I know it’s a day to relax, enjoy a late-morning cup of coffee, and perhaps forget about the troubles of the world, so I hope you’ll forgive me for asking you to think about nuclear weapons. This article from 2009 has stuck with me ever since I first read it. Not only is it an interesting analysis of global stability vis a vis nuclear proliferation, but it raises a sociological or philosophical question or two.
In short, the fact remains that, while we view atomic weapons as terrible things, no two nuclear-armed countries have ever gone to war, not even conventional war, since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In grade school, we learned the somewhat counter-intuitive concept of Mutually Assured Destruction with regard to the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but as Jonathan Tepperman points out in his article, the principle has worked globally for over sixty years. Rather than support or criticize Tepperman’s article, I find myself asking the science fiction writer’s question. Assuming we take the oft-used premise of an alien civilization analyzing the human race as a whole, what does this global, atomic stalemate say about us? Does it imply that we must invent machines that supersede own humanity, even to the extent that we must hold a gun to our own heads to make ourselves behave?
Why do I ask on this particular blog? Because the relationship between Man and his machines is part of examining the “digital utopia.” For those who don’t follow these issues, the ideas, politics, and sensibilities of many leaders in Silicon Valley extend way beyond the matter of how to get more gadgets and apps into our hands. As we experience a period of upheaval in many political, economic, and social systems, there is an unmistakably technocratic drumbeat out there to which the next generation is plugged in and tapping its feet. This is a subject that will be examined in detail in future posts, but for now I invite your responses to the above question.
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