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Are new technologies undermining the laws of war?

the-taranis-drone_smallby Braden R. Allenby via Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Throughout history, new military technologies have had profound ramifications: The rise of gunpowder and cannon created economies of scale that encouraged the emergence of nation-states, and Prussia used railroads to surprise the Austrians at Königgrätz, beginning the end of the Austrian Empire.

Today, emerging military technologies—including unmanned aerial vehicles, directed-energy weapons, lethal autonomous robots, and cyber weapons—raise the prospect of upheavals in military practice so fundamental that they challenge assumptions underlying long-established international laws of war, particularly those relating to the primacy of the state and the geographic bounds of warfare. But the laws of war have been developed over a long period, with commentary and input from many cultures. What would seem appropriate in this age of extraordinary technological change, the author concludes, is a reconsideration of the laws of war in a deliberate and focused international dialogue that includes a range of cultural and institutional perspectives

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Great Books for Far Out Futures

Here are some of my favorites in the “not so distant” and still “far out” genre of science fiction literature:

Ready Player One

VR-storyline with immensive amounts of references to the best of eighties geek culture. 

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

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2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

The new book “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years” by Jorgen Randers raises the possibility that humankind might not survive on the planet if it continues on its path of over-consumption and short-termism. 

In the report author Jorgen Randers raises essential questions: How many people will the planet be able to support? Will the belief in endless growth crumble? Will runaway climate change take hold? Where will quality of life improve, and where will it decline?

Read more about the book on The Club of Rome.

5GW and Norwegian Terrorism

The atrocities committed against innocent civilians in the recent terrorist attacks in Norway shows how much harm and disruption one person can do against an unprepared society. Is the attack a precursor for a general transformation and individualization of terrorism?

According to the evolution of military theory advanced surveillance, intelligence and sophisticated weaponry is useless against terrorists like Anders Behring Breivik (ABB). This was confirmed by the chief of the Norwegian chief of internal security (PST) admitting that even the STASI secret police couldn’t have stopped the attack.

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OECD: Future Global Shock – Improving Risk Governance

In this project, public and private experts explore how to increase resilience to Future Global Shocks. The Project will generate options for governments to enhance capacity to identify, anticipate, control, contain and/or mitigate large disasters.

The project recognises that shocks can provide opportunities for progress, not just negative consequences. Amongst the inputs from which the final report will draw are six background papers and case studies on the following themes: Systemic Financial RiskPandemicsCyber RisksGeomagnetic StormsSocial Unrest and Anticipating Extreme Events.

Read the entire report: “OECD Reviews of Risk Management Policies: Future Global Shocks“, PDF.

The Perfect Storm and Black Swan Theory

The BP oil crisis in the Mexican gulf, deadly heat waves in Russia, earthquakes in Haiti (7.0 Mw) and Chile (8.8 Mw) and flooding in Australia caused almost 300.000 deaths from natural disasters in 2010 (1).

A few months into 2011 New Zealand is hit by a 6.3 Mw earthquake followed by the Japan 9.0 Mw earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The situation in Libya, Syria and many other Arabic and African countries adds uncertainty to global stability. The complexity of the situation demands a new approach to early warning systems for natural disasters and reduction of global systemic risk.

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Reducing Systemic Cybersecurity Risk

The report “Reducing Systemic Cybersecurity Risk” is part of OECD’s “Future Global Shocks” series, in which thinkers from various disciplines assess whether events in their fields might become as damaging to the world as the recent financial crisis or a global pandemic.

Single online events, such as a major DDoS attack, are unlikely to have such worldwide effects, but the combination of something like a botnet DDoS attack, a major EMP, and specific attacks on SCADA or other computer-controlled machinery, and some form of real-world “kinetic” attack might well shock the world.

Via Ars Technica. Download the report (PDF) “Reducing Systemic Cybersecurity Risk” from OECD.

Why you already live in a cyberpunk future

Our perception of a cyberpunk future is shaped by the foresight of luminaries like William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and Bruce Sterling. Their vivid scenarios of ubiquitous computers, high tech weaponry, corporate tyranny and social disintegration have never been closer to reality than in the world of 2011. Here’s a few facts that will make you question the very fabric of our contemporary existence and learn to embrace the promise and perils of an increasingly cyberpunk reality.

A reality filled with high technology run by low life.

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