Since the dawn of time, individuals and groups have settled their disputes through acts of war and violence. Although the nature and methodologies of war have changed, the devastating consequences on civilians and society remains the same, with billions of people having given their life in the name of their cause of country. Now into the 21st century, we remain no closer to subsisting in a state of peace and harmony, despite the many advances that have been made in terms of liberty, knowledge, technology and science.
The Changing Faces of War
Considering that the first recorded war took place in 27AD, the concept of armed and unarmed conflict is one of the true constants of our existence, although the current guise of war is largely unrecognizable to the ones that subsisted before. In terms of historical wars, they were largely civil and fought within a nation’s boundaries, with a view to settling power disputes that often concerned politics, territory or religion. Very rarely did conflicts traverse into international waters, and the main purpose of a navy or military unit was to protect the peripheries of the nation that they represented.
Not only do disputes now rage across different continents, but also the methodology used to wage war has diversified greatly over the last century. In this time, we have seen the advent of espionage, covert operations and military intelligence, all of which have been enabled and supported by advancements in technology. The internet age has also forced nations to protect themselves from computerized security threats, such as breaches of sensitive data or even the corruption of important electronically devices designed to disrupt, injure and kill targeted civilians.
War and the Internet Age
So what we have in effect is a broadened canvas for the nature and methods of battle, allowing those who wish to perpetrate war increasing avenues through which to pursue their aspirations. Here lies a strange anomaly of technology and the online revolution, as though one of its chief benefits within contemporary society is the access that it affords to information, knowledge and historical data, it has also served to add additional methods of conflict while improving those already in existence. So while educating and empowering on the one hand, it is also helping to destroy and debilitate on the other.
This is a reason that may cite when being cautionary about the application of technology, as it has the facility to be used towards the detriment as well as the benefit of society. However, this is no fault of the technology itself, which is created with a general function that usually improves a process or overall standard of living. It is in fact individuals who learn and cultivate ways to manipulate and abuse technology for their own ends, whether it is to acquire money fraudulently or seek to impart damage on a nation’s electronic network.
The issue with this it that it gradually changes the application of technology over time, so it is viewed as something oppressive and potentially divisive by a wide portion of society. So if the intended functions of technology and science are to improve the quality of life and the interactions within everyday existence, then these slowly become distorted by the machinations of a select few in society. This is when advancements are seized upon and incorporated in advanced weaponry or covert apparatus, which unfortunately makes progression a key contributor to the nature of conflict.
War as Conflict Resolution
Two things can be surmised by the relationship between technological advancement and the history of war. Firstly, the purpose of technological progress has been manipulated over the last 2 decades, meaning that rather than using information to learn and develop new methods of conflict resolution, it is being applied to existing and innovative methodologies of war. Secondary to this, it is clear is that war can never be an adequate conflict resolution, as it often breeds animosity and mistrust between nations that can burgeon for years and only lead to further battles.
This reveals that the evolution of technology, no matter how intricate and rapid it may be, cannot change human nature or the instincts that dictate thought and action. Not only this, but it also has so far been unable to encourage individuals and governments to learn from history and previous mistakes made in war and conflict, despite the online revolution and the vast swathes of knowledge contained on the pages of the World Wide Web. This is simply down to the willful misuse of technological and scientific evolution by a few individuals in society, who force others to follow suit in order to protect their boundaries and interests.