These technological interventions in politics and war had a disruptive character which changed the goal post, the conduct of the game itself and challenged the sustaining and incremental model of improvements over established technologies and industrial capability
War is a continuation of politics by other means. In both war and politics there is a common and central doctrine. Never enter a fair fight. To ensure victory there must exist, an asymmetry between the parties – in both politics and war. These asymmetries can be in the areas of will, interest on the issues involved and in the resources, most notably human and technological, available to each side. And, if these asymmetries are significant one can even win without contest. In the case of politics, we have, in the recent past, several governments come to power riding on the crest of a technologically driven campaign that leveraged cyber and social media, information dominance and data analytics to predict voter behaviour and preferences and accordingly tweak the campaign strategy on real time.
In warfare, several precedents of technological asymmetry are apparent. Industry 1.0 replaced sails and wooden hulls with steam and steel, canons and guns made fodder of swordsmen and cavalry. With the advent of the railroad the wagon industry was bust and steam ships made sail-makers obsolete, guns and canon impacted the sword and shield business. Industry 2.0 introduced electric power and revolutionised sensors and communications systems which have extinguished the oil fired lantern and candles business. Industry 3.0 brought in digital technologies which had broad spectrum applications and was characterised by a fusion of technologies impacting not just a specific sector but multifarious industries.
These technological interventions in politics and war had a disruptive character which changed the goal post, the conduct of the game itself and challenged the sustaining and incremental model of improvements over established technologies and industrial capability. Some of the empirical principles that govern the development of evolved products rely on for example Moore’s Law which predicts that ‘chip performance doubles every 18 months’. Some of the other empirical principles that govern the development of evolved products rely on
- Butter’s Law: Data Outputs from OFC doubles every 9 months
- Koomey’s Law: Number of computations per joule of energy dissipated doubles every 18 months as smaller batteries deliver higher performance computations
- Zimmermann’s Law: The natural flow of technology tends to move in the direction of making surveillance easier, and the ability of computers to track doubles every 18 months
On the other hand, as seen from the impact of the industrial revolutions, a ‘disruptive technology changes the dynamics of conflict or competition in ways that are revolutionary, profound and unexpected’. They radically alter:
- The conduct of war
- Skills, Capabilities and Capacities of Combatants
- Impact the National Defence Industrial Complex
- Change the Strategic balance between nations
As the world stands at the threshold of the Industry 4.0 it is once again a new basket of disruptive technologies that will impact naval operations and its requirements of machinery, weapons, equipment, sensors and communications which would neither permit companies nor navies simply doing ‘more of the same’ to remain in business or in the reckoning in war. These disruptive technologies can be classified in several ways.
In the next series I wil discuss each of them.