The Things of the Past

In: English and Literature

Submitted By jasjit
Words 1344
Pages 6
The New Face of War: How War Will Be Fought in the 21st Century
Intelligence in Recent Public Literature

Nicholas Negroponte, head of MIT’s Media Lab, observed that the information age is fast replacing atoms with bits; movies on film with packets on the Internet; print media with digital media; and wires with digital radio waves.
Negroponte does not apply the bits-for-atoms principle to warfare, but Bruce Berkowitz, in The New Face of War, does. According to Berkowitz, a senior analyst at RAND and a former intelligence officer, future wars will not be won by having more atoms (troops, weapons, territory) than an opponent, but by having more bits . . . of information.
Berkowitz argues that atoms that used to be big winners will become big losers to information technology. Reconnaissance sensors will quickly find massed troops, enabling adversaries to zap those troops with precision-guided weapons. Fortifications will tie armies down to fixed locations, making them sitting ducks for smart bombs. Cheap cyber weapons (e.g., computer viruses) will neutralize expensive kinetic weapons (e.g., missile defenses).
Berkowitz sums up the growing dominance of bits over atoms: “The ability to collect, communicate, process, and protect information is the most important factor defining military power.” The key word here is: “the most important factor.” The New Face of War gives many historical examples of information superiority proving to be an important factor in defining military power, such as the allies breaking German and Japanese codes during World War II and Union forces employing disinformation to mislead Confederates in the Civil War. But the digital revolution has transformed information from supporting actor to leading lady.
Evidence that this revolution has already occurred abounds. In the 1990 Gulf War, smart weapons turned Saddam’s strength…...

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