The Strategy of World Order - Vol. 1

By Richard A. Falk; Saul H. Mendlovitz | Go to book overview

Technology, Prediction, and Disorder

ALBERT WOHLSTETTER

The topic assigned to me joins in a familiar way science and technology. Not long ago this would have been irritating to pure scientists, and in particular to someone studying abstract mathematics. The connection is appropriate, however, because science is not very pure. Even mathematical logic turns out, to the surprise of most of those practicing it twenty years ago, to be very useful in electronic brains. Science and technology have always been linked--and inseparably. As both Leonardo and Francis Bacon at the dawn of the age of science knew very well, knowledge is not only understanding and therefore good in itself; knowledge is also power, the mastery of nature. Predicting is at least one condition for controlling, for changing things, shaping them to human ends. And since many of the purposes of men conflict, knowledge also inevitably involves the power to destroy. The duality of peaceful and warlike uses of knowledge is intrinsic.

Just listing some new and accelerating technologies today, in the standard way for all talks on the future of technology, will suggest both the duality of impending change and the enormous scale of that change: nuclear energy, synthetic new materials, the techniques of bio--and chemo-therapy, space technology, computers or information machines and the closely related technology of communication, and the possibilities of controlling weather both in the small and in the large. Let me run rapidy through this sample list.

In the development of nuclear energy, the two-fold application for peace or war is most obvious. Here the use for peacetime power has been slower than originally expected, though its long-term potential to replace fossil fuels still is very great. The tremendous scale of the change is directly visible in the use of nuclear energy in military

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