The main idea of this book is that century and a half from 1870 until 2014 USA went through periods of huge growth and dramatic changes in Total Factors of Production (TFP) and consequently quality of life. However level of growth and improvement was unequal concentrating in period 1870-1970 with dramatic slow down in period 1970-2014 despite temporary spike in 1990s. This slowdown is inevitable due to multiple headwinds that American society encountered and so far failed to overcome. Author proposes a number of ways to fight these headwinds, but he seems to be not very optimistic that they will be implemented and would really help.
- Introduction: The Ascent and Descent of Growth
This is the book about change in the temp of American growth from high levels of change in productivity, output, and living standard in century from 1870 to 1970 and dramatic slowdown afterword. The main point is that this special century brought in changes in productivity and quality of live that could be implemented only once and would not be possible to match in the future such as implementation of electricity, automated water supply, sewer, and substitution of animal power of humans and horses with mechanical power. All following up progress that occurred after 1970 is a lot less dramatic, occurring at much lower speed, and mainly incremental. Author believes that it is the way things will continue to be in the future.
PART I. 1870-1940–THE GREAT INVENTIONS CREATE A REVOLUTION INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE HOME
- The Starting Point: Life and Work in 1870
This chapter describes demographic, production and consumption situation in 1870. All of this changed dramatically over the next 140 years from work being mainly manual in agriculture to work being mainly cognitive and in services, while consumption from food and clothing as main items to services and entertainment and communication goods that did not existed in 1870. Here are a couple of tables:
The next 7 chapters provide detailed review of all aspects of human live in America and how they dramatically changed over this period:
- What They Ate and Wore and Where They Bought it
- The American Home: From Dark and Isolated to Bright and Networked
- Motors Overtake Horses and Rail: Inventions and Incremental Improvements
- From Telegraph to Talkies: Information, Communication, and Entertainment
- Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Illness and Early Death
- Working Conditions on the Job and at Home
- Taking and Mitigating Risks: Consumer Credit, Insurance, and the Government
Entr’acte. The Midcentury Shift from Revolution to Evolution
This is about unevenness of progress that occurred, from high level of growth in productivity and output to stalling and then decline of speed of growth:
PART II. 1940-2015–THE GOLDEN AGE AND THE EARLY WARNINGS OF SLOWER GROWTH
This part provides detailed review of the qualitatively new goods and services that were invented and implemented during these 140 years and how they dramatically changed quality of live:
- Fast Food, Synthetic Fibers, and Split-Level Subdivisions: The Slowing Transformation of Food, Clothing, and Housing
- See the USA in Your Chevrolet or from a Plane Flying Above
- Entertainment and Communications from Milton Berle to the iPhone
- Computers and the Internet from the Mainframe to Facebook
- Antibiotics, CT Scans, and the Evolution of Health and Medicine
- Work. Youth, and Retirement at Home and on the Job
Entr’acte. Toward an Understanding of Slower Growth
Here author restated the important point of growth stalling starting in 1970s mainly because of dramatic changes such as electricity, water, sewer, cars, and instant communication that can happen only once and further improvement such as computers, smart phones and such being intrinsically of significantly lower value.
PART III. THE SOURCES OF FASTER AND SLOWER GROWTH
This designed to demonstrate that slower growth and improvement is inevitable and we should learn to leave with it and maybe even love it.
- The Great Leap forward from the 1920s to the 1950s: What Set of Miracles Created It?
This is look back at 1920-70s as the period of fast growth of TFP and implementation of the second industrial revolution based o electricity and mass manufacturing.
- Innovation: Can the Future Match the Great Inventions of the Past?
The brief answer is “No” because Internet, computers, smartphones, and such are inferior to previous achievement in their impact on human lives. Author also discounted fast growth of 1990 as somewhat temporary deviation from overpowering trend for growth slowing.
- Inequality and the Other Headwinds: Long-Run American Economic Growth Slows to a Crawl
The final chapter analyses in details what author calls headwinds: inequality, education, demographics, and fiscal problems and concludes that they will cause slowdown of increase in productivity and consequently improvement in income.
Here are a couple of nice graphs demonstrating changes in growth of productivity, compensation, and Total Factor Productivity (TFP):
Postscript: America’s Growth Achievement and the Path Ahead
Here author provides what he believes would be effective remedy against headwind factors, which are typical for moderately leftist approach: decrease inequality by taxing more, increase minimum wage and earned income tax credits, legalize drags, and decrease incarceration; provide better equality of opportunity via increase in educational spending and further nationalization of education. Author also proposes non-leftist measures of decreasing regulations and licensing requirements to provide for more opportunities. Here is a nice summation for his recommendations.
MY TAKE ON IT:
This is a wonderful and very well documented account of changes in productive abilities and quality of live in American society, albeit somewhat pessimistic in regards to its future. From my point of view this pessimism is not justified. One reason is the mistake of measurement: there is huge improvement between having no electricity and its availability, which is the unique event that should be put outside of measurement of progressive improvement. From this point on increase in availability of electricity at decreasing price is measurable as amount of money spent per unit of energy including minimization of environmental impact. This way it could be demonstrated that we have still lots of space for improvement. It is quite conceivable that traditional material needs could be fully satisfied at negligible price so no more improvement will be feasible and Artificial Intelligence would completely substitute humans in all routine tasks, even complex cognitive task in legal and medical professions. However the human need for intellectual and emotional consumption from self-actualization in interaction with other people could not have any conceivable limit, leaving plenty space for progress. The only real barrier that had to be overcome is the structure of society currently built on selling and buying labor, the process that rapidly becoming meaningless. In my view as soon as it would be supplemented by equal and marketable property rights for natural resources, the shackles will be taken away and improvement in quality of live will grow at increasing rate.
The main idea of this book is to answer question “what is war?” and demonstrate that it is not continuation of politics by other means, but rather it is separate phenomenon related to politics only in very special circumstances applicable only in Western society and only in very limited period of time. This phenomenon is mainly cultural and changes from people to people and from time to time. The society’s culture defines all aspects of war making and is always based on available technology whether it is horse and chariot or horse and saddle or stone axe or tank and nuclear weapon. Eventually war becomes outdated and for humanity to survive the global politics and diplomacy should remove war as method of achieving any conceivable objectives.
This is the story of author’s personal involvement with military and war mainly as historian and professor at Sandhurst Military Academy. The main point here is that from extensive interaction with military professionals, studying or teaching in the Academy, author learned that war is a tribal affair, when in contemporary world tribe is substituted by military unit.
- War in Human History
The first question author explores here is Clausewitz’s definition of war as a continuation of politics. He rejects this idea, initially analyzing behavior and attitudes of irregular forces as Cossacks and then moving to idea of war as culture that he discusses using examples of Easter Island, Zulus, Mamluks, and Samurai. After that author looks at Western culture that somehow developed new and unusual methods of conflict resolution without war: via politics, democracy, and diplomacy. While for extended time Western culture developed as two parallel and somewhat segregated parts of war and non-war with war being rules based method of continuation of politics, now with invention of nuclear weapons it moved to complete elimination of war. This idea worked fine, albeit not right away, and so far there were no wars between countries with dominant western culture since WWII However it had a very limited success when non-western countries and cultures are involved.
Interlude: Limitations on Warmaking
In this interlude author discusses limitation on war that always existed, albeit highly diverse at different times and in different places. He looks at geographical, climatological, economical, and religious factors that caused these limitations.
Here author explores human nature to answer question “why do men fight?” He even looks at biology, neurology, and anthropology trying to answer to this question. He discusses ideas of primitive warfare versus civilized, and then reviews results of anthropological research on existing hunter-gatherer tribes like Yanomamo and historical research on Aztecs and Maoris. The conclusion is that war between tribes for territory historically had a constant presence, but was very limited and often quite ritualistic, mainly because of absence of economic resources that tribe could allocate to war and very limited benefits that such war could produce. Only with development of agriculture war become a very productive way to acquire resources such as land and slaves for victorious tribe, leading to creation of states with significant stress on war making abilities, eventually leading to creation of civilization.
This interlude looks at fortifications and siege warfare and their development over time.
This chapter is about use of animals – mainly horses and related technology. It looks at historical use of horses initially in chariots and then later developments of cavalry. The main point here that use of horses supported military superiority for people who managed to do it earlier than others starting with Egyptians and their chariots and all the way to Mongols and armed Knights. Eventually horse people’s military declined quite dramatically due to improvements in various projectile technologies from crossbows to firearms.
This is discussion of various types of human organizations for military purposes. It looks at European armies of XIX centuries with their ability of population mobilization, militarized societies as Cossacks, feudal military gangs based on relationships, mercenary armies, and others from point of view of MPR (Military Participation Ratio). Author also discusses issue that often missed in historical writings – special personality types geared to soldiering.
This is discussion of technology and tactics on battlefield. It looks at historic development of materials used in close manual combat encounters from bronze to iron with tactical use of phalanx and psychological / sociological conditions required to support this tactics. It also reviews Greeks amphibious strategy that allowed numerically inferior Greek forces to succeed against Persians. Lots of attention also paid to Roman imperial military, its successes and its role as prototype of future mass military forces. At the end author analyses medieval Europe, which militarily speaking, was continent without armies that were substituted by poorly organized feudal gangs involved in limited scale warfare with fluidly changing sides.
Interlude: Logistics and Supply
This is review of development of logistics from earlier natural form when armies lived off the land by plain robbery that could support only minimal concentrations of troops to XX century warfare involving complex planning, production, and transportation operations when millions of people work under top down command structure. The results were highly effective in terms of ability of one society practically annihilate another, but highly inefficient due to impossibility to control systems of such level of complexity.
The fire here means pretty much chemistry used in warfare either in form of direct use of fire as Greek fire, napalm, and such or use of chemistry to send projectile or produce explosion. Author looks at interplay between gunpowder and fortification, development of firearms and their application, and, most important, change in use of violence caused by simplification of its use. This simplification, when use of firearm becomes as deadly in hands of poorly trained conscript as in hands of professional soldier, led to creation of mass armies of XIX and XX centuries. Eventually with development of nuclear weapons the war lost meaning as a tool to acquire resources because losses would exceed any conceivable gains for all sides. Consequently it kind of suppressed in Western societies and put under restrain by international law that would probably be valid only as long as countries with secular and pragmatic values have overwhelming control over nuclear weapons.
There is no simple way to define war since it is different for different cultures and peoples. However the war as we know it is mainly Western way of war and it become outdated and inapplicable because currently achieved level of weapons power makes it meaningless. However another types of war: guerilla wars, religious wars, and other will force international community to continue use of peacemakers and peacekeepers who should learn to use all form of warfare starting with the most primitive.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I think that war should and could be eliminated from human live, but it is possible only if developed western countries reassert dominance of their civilization, if necessary by use of force, to establish world wide its cultural achievements dearly paid for in blood and treasure over the centuries: peaceful conflict resolution through negotiations, tolerance to ways of other peoples, and forfeiture of any attempt to dictate to others how to live, what gods to believe in not only at the level of societies, but at the level of individuals. In my view currently the main impediment to the peace is paradox of extreme tolerance to intolerance demonstrated by Western countries. Whether it is Islamic supremacists or Communists or some other *ists who use violence to force other people to comply with their ideas, the outcome will always be war as soon as they feel ready to initiate it. The only way to stop war is extreme intolerance to intolerance so it would be eliminated before it acquired enough power to start a war.
The simple idea of this book is that there is no clear evidence that growth in formal education has direct positive impact on the economic prosperity and that current massive growth in government expenses on general formal education and workforce training by all countries is not really justified. A very interesting point is also made that when business get involved in government’s educational decision making it does not add value, only when businesses spent their own money on workforce training the results are somewhat positive.
- A truly world-beating industry: the growth of formal education
This is mainly statistical chapter showing that education scale grew exponentially all over the world. Here are a couple tables to demonstrate this:
- Elixir or snake oil? Can education really deliver growth?
The answer to this question is not unequivocal: it is clearly linked to greater income, lower unemployment, and other good things for individuals, but there is no such clear link for society as whole and this chapter demonstrates why: mainly because there is no demonstrable link between productivity and formal education. It seems to be function of changed occupational structure that actually responsible for income increase:
- A great idea for other people’s children: the decline and fall of vocational education
This chapter is about vocational education that politicians and overall elite promote for lower classes, but not for themselves. Author shows that it is normally not working and rational teenager with lower level of cognitive skills is better off getting general education, rather than vocational training.
- Does business know best?
This is UK specific discussion about government getting business involved in training in order to make it more relevant to needs of employers. The conclusion is that when big bureaucratic organization of government colludes with big bureaucratic organization of big business the result is use of public money to satisfy needs of bureaucrats in both of these organizations.
- Why worry about training
This is about British specific workforce training effort and support for this from government. The point here is that it is too much specific for workplace and too flexible depending on companies and technology so government should stay away from it. Besides there is no evidence except for special case of Germany that apprenticeship really makes big difference in employment and growth.
- The tyranny of numbers and the growth of the modem university
This is about massive growth of higher education based mainly on general idea that education is good, which is strongly supported by voters consequently allowing politicians to pump money into it without any serious consideration for cost / benefit evaluation. Here is a nice graph demonstrating growth of participation:
Author makes an interesting point that the main outcome of this is that higher education lost its meaning as indicator of higher cognitive abilities for employers:
Author also demonstrates that higher education still remains highly dependent on economic class of family.
- Pyramids and payments: the higher-education market
The last chapter demonstrates that in current winner takes all environment education is retained its selective function, only it is shifted from educational level to specific educational institutions with huge increase in educational expenses supporting this shift: Advantage level of just getting MBA decreed to low significance and now is provided only by MBA from Top institutions only. This is leaving majority of lower income young people at the same relative level, only at much higher cost. Here is table demonstrating it:
Overall conclusion is that education does matter, but it is possible to overdo it and that is what developed countries achieved, so their people are getting less for more during last decades of exponential growth of higher education.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I generally agree with conclusions of this book, but for somewhat different reasons:
- What is called education in non-technical fields is more often than not is just indoctrination when students do not know elementary facts, but carry very strong opinions based on misrepresentation of reality. Obviously this education has very little value on free market, even if it provides access to relatively small number of government-sponsored positions.
- The whole notion of education is unreasonably tilted to obtaining some set of knowledge usually meaningless for future activities, rather than concentrating on developing self-education abilities that would allow individual successfully reeducate oneself to whatever requirements are presented by the market and real live demands.
My second point is logically leading to an idea that if main function of education is to teach student to self-educate, then 2 levels education should be supported with first level learning generic minimal skills such as literacy, numeracy, philosophy, sociality, communication skills, and personal psychological, physiological, and financial management. The second level should be self-education under supervision for whatever subset of knowledge individual is interested in at the time, with stress on ability to prepare oneself for market success. After that education should be mainly self-directed and continuing throughout the live, allowing individual to change whatever he or she needs to change, like in my case: country, language, culture, multiple locations, and business activities (professions).
This book is designed to analyze current fracture of American republic and propose solution. The fracture is coming from strive to return to the ideal past that never really existed: progressive paradise of FDR or conservative paradise of Reagan. The solution author see is to lower the stakes for both sides and move to more decentralized solutions without dismounting institutions of big government, but rather bringing them in line with more decentralized society that we live in due to internet, easy communication, and other features of contemporary world.
PART I: OUT OF ONE, Many
1: Blinded by Nostalgia
This chapter is about nostalgia of both parties: Democrats for 1960s with its “wise” government, powerful unions, and liberal Supreme Court overriding constitution at will, while Republicans long for 1980s with Reagan’s “Morning in America” and victory over communism in Cold War. Both sides have selective memories picking up what they like and forgetting what they do not. Author rejects this nostalgia on both sides.
2: The Age of Conformity.
The age of conformity that both liberals and conservatives are nostalgic about is time for about 25-30 years after WWII when the whole industrial world but USA was in ruins leading to nearly complete lack of competition and huge needs in American products elsewhere in the world. This created conditions when it was enough for everybody: high paid union jobs, high profit for government supported monopolies, moral cohesion of society based on trust in government ideologically supported by XX century collectivistic craziness. Obviously it was unsustainable because other countries eventually restored their industry so competition put end to this paradise.
3: The Age of Frenzy
Then come age of what author describes as frenzy from late 1960s until early 2000: failures of Vietnam war, civil rights movement, oil embargo, seemingly successful progress of communism in USSR and around the world, and, the most important, increasing competition of low wage countries. Consequently cohesiveness of society failed. A century of communist / socialist propaganda and continuing advance of individuals carrying these ideas into ideological institutions of society: education, entertainment, legal system, and journalism brought its fruits. On one side it was liberalization of thought and behavior resulted in retreat and weakening of traditional values, while the new collectivistic values were not strong enough to assert their power on everybody via government coercion. While the move of the country to the left was temporarily interrupted by Reagan counterattack and following hiatus when even democratic president of leftist persuasion declared that era of big government is over, this movement restarted with the new century when undeclared alliance of left and right elite was reestablished.
4: The Age of Anxiety
However after relatively short period it began unraveling when leftists recognized what they believe is opportunity to establish complete control over the country: mass immigration from the poor countries of individuals brought up with strong collectivistic ideology and mass movement of population from active mainly independent market based productive activities to mainly parasitic existence either on welfare or within some governmental or quasi governmental bureaucratic structure. The partial dissolution of elite alliance moved country to the higher level of polarization. Here is a couple of graphs demonstrating this:
PART II THE NEXT AMERICA
5: The Unbundled Market
This chapter is about contemporary status of America economy. The main point here is that what used to be V shaped demand for labor when low and high skill level jobs were plentiful, while middle level was substituted by automatization is not a case any more. Now much more functional computerization and automation moves to substitute human labor at all levels of complexity. Obviously it makes everything cheaper and better for consumers, but practically eliminates labor. In view of this continuing struggle between public and private sectors for share of economy becomes bitterer every day. Author seems to propose non-trivial for rightist solution: to diminish fight over public versus private and move to promoting decentralization even if it is in public form. He also proposes to empower mediating institution as means to balance market, which produced lots of losers, without undermining prosperity and freedom, which are always deteriorate when public option under government control expanding in some area of society.
6: Subculture Wars
This chapter is about cultural division constantly increasing in America due not only to ideological struggles, but also to technological changes when instead of 60% of population watching the same show on TV in 1950s because there were no alternative, we now have hundreds of shows going on so even the most popular attract a small fraction of population. Author looks at multiple areas of culture to analyze trend and support his thesis that culturally America become hugely diverse, while political life lags behind and remains way too centralized.
7: One Nation, After All
The final chapter is designed to provide concise diagnosis of current American problems, some recommendations for solutions, and prognosis of future outcome. The problem as author sees it is weakening of intermediate political structures and unreasonably strong empowering of two opposites: government and individuals to do things that they are not competent to do. The result is society that is not working for its members and political polarization that prevents implementation of corrections. Author sees remedy in doing away from extreme centralization and extreme individualism and moving to localization and diversification of power that would allow to move to more competent governance and functional society much better adapted to contemporary technological, ideological, and political realities. Oh, and by the way he believes that conservative political movement will find way to move country in this direction.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I find this description of recent American political history and contemporary situation quite interesting, even if I agree neither with this logic nor with this recommendation. I think that obvious nostalgia often expressed by both left and right if mostly rhetorical tool to demonstrate where they want society to go. The real issue is that methods of creation and allocation of resources that both left and right promote are not adequate for contemporary technological levels achieved by humanity, while political structures cannot satisfy psychological and ideological needs of individual members of society in which traditional objectives of any human group such as physical survival are taken for granted and practically pushed into background by much more complex requirements for self satisfaction and psychological happiness.
The reason leftist ideas of big centralized, benevolent, and all powerful government cannot satisfy people is due to two problems: one is that government consist of humans who are always act in their own interest and the second one – complexity and dynamics of needs of millions of people and activities that required to satisfy them are so complex that no conceivable centralized hierarchical system could handle them. Only market system proved positive ability to do it at least much better than any other system.
The reason why conservative ideas of unlimited free market with somehow benign regulations would work just fine to meet human needs fails in reality is that they ignore recent technological development that increasingly makes humans uncompetitive as providers of productive labor. Since all market exchange is based on interactions between property owners and labor sellers, only one side remain valid –property owners, while labor sellers are made redundant by machines, the free market could not provide any resources for this people. There is no reasonable solution for this problem presented by conservatives so far, just unfounded believes that human labor will always be in demand.
Paradoxically leftists have solution, even if they do not recognize it: bureaucratization of labor sellers capable to obtain educational level necessary to take place in hierarchy and welfarization of those who cannot. However I believe it is pseudo solution, which is not going to work because humans could not be happy either being a small cog in bureaucratic machine or idle recipient of minimal resource allocation.
My suggestion of equal, unalienable, and marketable (rent only) rights for natural resources would make everybody property owner, therefore providing them with ability to obtain resources on free market at least at average level of natural resources consumption and, very important, leave them with ability self-direct their actions and succeed or fail using their human ability for pursuit of happiness.
The main idea here is simple: to present the story of DARPA and how it developed from its Cold War roots into technological driver of American power.
THE COLD WAR
Chapter One: The Evil Thing
The story starts with 1954 test of thermonuclear bomb. The power of the bomb was significantly underestimated leading to nearly catastrophic consequences for participating scientists in nearby area. It also describes some complexity in decision-making caused by ethical and moral considerations, but also by technological uncertainty of consequences.
Chapter Two: War Games and Computing Machines
This is about von Neumann, first computer, and research in Game theory used to define strategy for Cold War
Chapter Three: Vast Weapons Systems of the Future
This chapter is about sputnik scare that significantly increased amount of resources allocated to military research, especially to ballistic missiles
Chapter Four: Emergency Plans
This is about generally unknown research on survivability of society after massive nuclear strike: “The Emergency Plans Book”. After reviewing multiple scenarios conclusion was: it is not possible to survive. It eventually led to MAD strategy and attempts to find some kind of accommodation to prevent nuclear war by all means necessary short of surrender.
Chapter Five: Sixteen Hundred Seconds Until Doomsday
This chapter is about one of the first close calls of nuclear age when technology could cause nuclear exchange if not human intervention. One of the consequences was creation of Jason Group of top scientists to tackle wide variety of technological issues related to national security.
Chapter Six: Psychological Operations
This is about another, softer side of science use in Cold War struggle. It is related to William Godel and his role in psychological operations in Korean War and beyond. It includes side story of Dulles’ son Allen who, as young lieutenant, was wounded in Korean War and had his brain permanently damaged.
THE VIETNAM WAR
Chapter Seven: Techniques and Gadgets
This chapter describes Kennedy’s flexible response doctrine and how it led to Vietnam War. It also describes several related military research programs specifically supporting this war: various gadgets including new firearms specifically designed for Vietnam conditions. The most important effort however was chemical defoliation program.
Chapter Eight: RAND and COIN
This chapter describes ARPA non-government affiliate: RAND corporation and how it provided sociological research in support of counterinsurgency. It used experienced anthropologists well familiar with Vietnamese people, culture, and language. They come up with very good recommendations especially against the program of strategic villages. Unfortunately military and political bureaucracy rejected these recommendations.
Chapter Nine: Command and Control
This is about paralleled development of computerized control system. It was a SAGE system developed for control over strategic nuclear forces, but it also traces J.C.R. Licklider who became one of the most important computer scientist involved. One of the programs he led was related to computer analysis of behavioral patterns applied to counterinsurgency operations.
Chapter Ten: Motivation and Morale
This chapter brings in another personality Leon Goure, who seems to be a spoiler in psychological operations overriding scientific anthropological research and implementing ad hoc non-working solutions.
Chapter Eleven: The Jasons Enter Vietnam
This is review of Jasons’ participation in Vietnam and projects that they worked on from analysis of use of nuclear weapons to defoliation of jungles.
Chapter Twelve: The Electronic Fence
This chapter is about electronic fence along Ho Chi Minh Trail – one of the most consequential Jason projects. This was a set of electronic equipment that could collect and transfer information remotely practically without human intervention.
Chapter Thirteen: The End of Vietnam
When Vietnam developed into large-scale fight within American society one of the consequences was leftist attack against Jason scientists on campuses that eventually led to distancing Jasons from ARPA. Moreover the very existence of ARPA was threatened by investigations and overall attempt by communist sympathizers to permanently cripple American military power.
OPERATIONS OTHER THAN WAR
Chapter Fourteen: Rise of the Machines
This is about technological transformation of military that occurred during and after Vietnam War. It involved not only hardware, but also human training that begin to be conducted using computerized simulators, therefore allowing people to obtain experience without actual risks and expenses related to field training.
Chapter Fifteen: Star Wars and Tank Wars
This chapter is about star wars ideas and their impact on simulation technology, specifically for armored warfare.
Chapter Sixteen: The Gulf War and Operations Other Than War
This is about successful confirmation of American military development in 1970-80s that led to easy victory with insignificant loses in Gulf war, but also a non-military defeat in Somali, which demonstrated moral and public relations unpreparedness of US military to conduct operations against guerilla opponents acting among civilians.
Chapter Seventeen: Biological Weapons
This is a review of seldom-discussed issue of biological welfare. It presents story of Soviet scientists who worked on bio warfare and changed sides when USSR start falling apart.
Chapter Eighteen: Transforming Humans for War
This is about biological research to develop a new soldier who would be smarter, stronger, and more efficient on battlefield. It also reviews result of war game Dark Winter testing scenario of terrorist biological attack by Saddam against USA. Results indicated 3 mil American casualties from smallpox.
THE WAR ON TERROR
Chapter Nineteen: Terror Strikes
This is about 9-11, but with an interesting twist: attention and even panic caused by false positives for biological weapons. An interesting point is that DARPA did not fail because surprise came not from technology.
Chapter Twenty: Total Information Awareness
This is about tentative program for government to know about all information flows and PR disaster it caused.
Chapter Twenty-0ne: IED War
This chapter is about expensive high tech attempts to fight cheap low tech IED warfare with little real success. It also discusses social science side of counterinsurgency effort.
Chapter Twenty-Two: Combat Zones That See
This is about more technical details of Iraqi war
Chapter Twenty-Three: Human Terrain
This is about human side of war. It again brings in social science and attempts to build awareness about humans in war zone and their behavior.
Chapter Twenty-Four: Drone Wars
It is story of drones, but it is not limited to it. The autonomous and remotely controlled devices from extremely small to very large are the future of American war making.
Chapter Twenty-Five: Brain Wars
This is about human brains damaged in the war, but also about artificial brain that can control machines without human being on site. Obviously it creates huge problems not least of them being how not to loose control over AI killing machines.
Chapter Twenty-Six: The Pentagon’s Brain
The final chapter is about DARPA interconnection with corporate world and mutual need they have. It also points out to future development that comes down to the idea that “battlefield is not the place for human beings”.
MY TAKE ON IT:
It is quite interesting story of relationship between science, corporations, and American military that resulted in significant superiority of American military over any other country. Unfortunately leftists dominant in American elite often vilify the scientific military research, resulting in limitations on its progress. Not less important is historic inability of American society to deny its enemies either Communists or Islamists access to results produced by American technological research. Consequences are severe, for example transfer of American nuclear technology to Soviets led to trillions in expenses, tens of thousands of Americans killed in Korea, Vietnam, and other places, and millions of people perished in struggle against Communists or under their rule. So far, despite regular transfer of technology to enemies, Americans were lucky to avoid catastrophic damage, but this luck may not hold forever. I wish this issue would be treated seriously and technology and knowledge would be transferred only to civilized democratic people, but I do not expect it to happen at least until really catastrophic events occur.