Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis-- military dimensions

From: Peter C. McCluskey <>
Date: Thu May 28 1998 - 09:22:48 PDT (Carl Feynman) writes:
>Actually, never-before-used weapon systems have often been decisive in
>their first use. For example, blitzkreig and the A-bomb. Also the use of
>laser-guided bombs against bridges in Vietnam.

 My impression is that few people had confidence that they could predict
how well the A-bomb worked when it was first used (I think many expected
them to work less efficiently and reliably than actually happened).
 I don't know enough about the first use of laser-guided bombs to tell
how they would have worked in an all-out first-strike.
 Blitzkreig sounds like it required it was a combination of learning from
the mistakes of the previous war and the use of new technology, rather
than a single innovation. It sounds like a better model for a technologically
triggered military victory than one based on a single innovation.

>argument applies to spy satellites. If a moderately large country, say
>France or South Korea, suddenly developed the ability to produce spy
>satellites and TNT-tipped ICMBs for ten cents a pound, it could rapidly and
>secretly produce a force of millions of missiles guided by thousands of
>satellites, and train tens of thousands of people in their use and
>maintenance. This would give them offensive and deterrence capability at
>least equal to, and arguably greater than, the current superpower, the
>United States. Given the 'exemplar molecular manufacturing device'
>described by Drexler in 'Nanosystems', it would only take days or weeks to
>produce and deploy the system. Planning the deployment and training the
>troops would take months, but could be done before the manufacturing.
>I specify 'a moderately large country' because a sufficiently small
>country, or most subnational entities, wouldn't be able to conceal the
>preparation stages long enough.

>duplicating the anti-missile systems sufficiently, you might be able to
>survive an all-out nuclear attack by a mere few thousand missiles.

 These anti-missile systems seem to be an essential part of the strategy,
but I don't see how anyone can know in advance how reliably they will
work. It seems likely that once people guess that anti-missile systems
could be in place, they will program some of their retaliatory missiles
to do things like make random course changes that are hard for the
anti-missile system designers to test under simulation.

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list
Received on Thu May 28 16:34:29 1998

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