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How Technology Promotes World Peace 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the everybody's-too-busy-browsing-lolcats-to-fight dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Ayesha & Parag Khanna write in the Atlantic that there are many important differences between the U.S.-China relationship of today and the U.S.-Soviet relationship before the outbreak of the Cold War. One is that the U.S. and China are deeply intertwined through geo-economic interdependence, and the rapid and global diffusion of technology is accelerating these changes. 'As the global economy has become more integrated, states have greater interest in cooperating and less interest in conflict, which can lead to a kind of mutually assured economic destruction,' write the Khanna. 'If military power is inherently competitive — the stronger your army and the weaker your neighbor's, the more powerful you become — then economic power is more cooperative. After all, much of America's power today is economic, but that power would decrease if China's economy collapses.' This economic inter-dependence, the theory goes, promotes peace, but technological power is also cooperative in this way, perhaps even more so. For example, medical research crosses borders, as do the pharmaceuticals or treatments that research can produce. China can increase its power by developing better solar panels — perhaps in part by building on foreign technologies — then turn around and sell them to other high-energy-consuming states, making us all better off. Like economics, technology doesn't just increase cooperation, it is the cooperation. 'The increasingly integrated global system is shaping the states within it, much as individual powers shape the system. The question is thus not who controls technology, but the way in which we develop, guide, and control it collectively.'"
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How Technology Promotes World Peace

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  • by Eightbitgnosis (1571875) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:02PM (#40303049) Homepage
    We just need to watch everyone....for peace
    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:23PM (#40303213) Journal

      I am not a luddite, but I still gotta say this ...

      The technologies that we have today have given us a lot of good things

      It has made our lives "better", in the sense that a lot of diseases that previously can kill us, nowadays are not that lethal anymore

      But, the consequence is that the world human population has exploded

      20 years ago, there were less than 5 Billion people

      Now, 7 Billion people, and, as we speak, the figure keeps going up and up

      Our planet simply can't support it

      Either we human completely depleted the planet and we die off - and in the process a lot of other plants and animals wiped off as well,

      Or ...

      There will be another full scale global war, that ends up cutting down the human population to more manageable size

      In other words, the "world peace" that we have today is but only an illusion - our technologies are delaying the what will have to come, ultimately
       

      • Oh, it's the technology powerhouses that are the sources of the population boom? I thought it was lesser developed countries like China and India.

        My mistake.
        • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

          You have a problem with reading comprehension?

          I never said anything about "technology powerhouse" that is overpopulated

          I said, it's technology that have rendered many diseases that previously killed a lot of human being no longer so lethal, and as a consequence, many human beings everywhere (not only those from the super powerhouse) get to live longer
           

          • by mosb1000 (710161)

            You are proposing that as new technologies are developed, population increases. But the most technically advanced countries tend to have the lowest birthrates. So your conclusion about the likelihood of a society ending calamity resulting from overpopulation brought on by advancements in technology is almost certainly wrong.

            • And our impact on the environment per person is generally diminished by technology. For instance a wood fired steam engine is probably less environmentally sound than an electric scooter.

              We're at that super awkward point where our usage of resources is higher than the inefficiencies being reduced. But I suspect we're nearing the peak of energy usage per-person.

              Imagine 10 years ago what it took to power a computer. Now many people use a lightweight tablet. My old CRT tv would heat my apartment to the

            • by tsa (15680)

              Birthrate does not equal population increase.

            • by ajlisows (768780)

              Technological advancements also lead to people living longer. That will obviously also contribution to over population.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Now, 7 Billion people, and, as we speak, the figure keeps going up and up

        Actually we've reached "peak child", so the remaining population growth will now just be the fill-up of old people. This is explained very well here [youtube.com], if we can sustain 10 billion we're good.

      • by loufoque (1400831)

        With current agriculture technologies, the Earth can provide sustenance for 20 billion people.

        • You mean, as long as we don't mind eating pesticide-infused GMO crops, foregoing beef, and hoping that fisheries magically don't collapse?

          • by loufoque (1400831)

            You mean, as long as we don't mind eating pesticide-infused GMO crops, foregoing beef, and hoping that fisheries magically don't collapse?

            We're talking about manufacturing food for a huge quantity of people as opposed to killing off four fifth of the world population. Beef? Fish? You're dreaming. They don't yield enough protein for the space they use.

        • You mean the current agricultural technologies that expend 9 cal of fossil fuels for one cal food harvested, while, at the same time, depend on irrigation drawn from fossil aquifers all over the place? Sustainable looks different...
      • by stms (1132653)

        Or...
        We need to embrace energy sources other than the Sun.
        Or...
        Figure out a way to more effectively use the Sun's energy.
        In other words, the amount of resources the earth has is irrelevant if we can engineer a way around them.

      • As populations become urbanized, the birth rate falls. No global catastrophe is necessary.

        • by HForN (1095499)

          The problem is whether it will happen fast enough. If it takes 100 years to fall to sustainable levels, we may have irreversible damage.

          • The problem is whether it will happen fast enough. If it takes 100 years to fall to sustainable levels, we may have irreversible damage.

            Once birthrates begin to fall, they often fall very quickly. A generation ago countries like Italy and Spain had among the highest birthrates in Europe. Now they have among the lowest, way below replacement levels.

            Birthrates are often high in countries with "traditional" values, where women have relatively low status. But once those women have access to contraception they have little desire to continue popping out babies for husbands who do little to help.

        • As populations become urbanized, the birth rate falls. No global catastrophe is necessary.

          Yes, urbanization is a big help. So is literacy. Illiterate women in Sierra Leone have five kids each. Literate women have three.

          I once read that if every dollar spent on solar panels was instead spent on attic insulation it would reduce CO2 by ten times as much, and if was spent on elementary schools in Africa, it would reduce CO2 by a hundred times as much.

        • As populations become urbanized, they also take more resources (various forms of energy: oil, electricity etc) to support. To the best of my knowledge, we don't have sufficient resources to maintain a universal standard of living that is equivalent to that of an average urban First World resident.

      • by mrex (25183)

        There is an alternative. As a species, if we treated all this labor, resource, and knowledge "capital" as an investment opportunity, we could direct our efforts towards goals like outward colonization. The benefits to this path would be enormous - it could be possible to forever stave off the possibility of human extinction in the event of planetary-scale disaster or even nefarious human intent, by extending the presence of human life beyond the reach of any single person or collective who might wish to har

      • by similar_name (1164087) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:03PM (#40304579)
        From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

        Tertullian, an early Christian author (ca. CE 160-220), was one of the first to describe famine and war as factors that can prevent overpopulation.[5] He wrote: "The strongest witness is the vast population of the earth to which we are a burden and she scarcely can provide for our needs; as our demands grow greater, our complaints against Nature's inadequacy are heard by all. The scourges of pestilence, famine, wars and earthquakes have come to be regarded as a blessing to overcrowded nations, since they serve to prune away the luxuriant growth of the human race.

        Knowledge and technological advance keep solving and bringing back this age old problem. I wonder if we bent all of Earth's resources to our needs how much of the biomass of the Earth could be comprised of human beings.

        • Wish I had mod points for you, this is both interesting and informative.

        • by dargaud (518470)

          Knowledge and technological advance keep solving and bringing back this age old problem. I wonder if we bent all of Earth's resources to our needs how much of the biomass of the Earth could be comprised of human beings.

          Well, there have been plenty of evaluations made over time, ranging from 500 million to 20 billion. But all the papers I've seen recently on this subject tend towards the former rather than the latter... Draw your own conclusion. Yeah, citation needed, yadada, yadada. They aren't hard to find.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          For pretty much all species, scarcity of resources (primarily food) is what keeps their populations in check. More of a food source, more of that species. Less of the food source, less of the species.

          Humans are an exception in that they have so many means of increasing our resources. Without our technology, human populations would be far smaller. No need to have war for that. War may even be a rather inefficient way of trimming populations, unless you count the famines and related diseases caused by war, wh

          • In WW1, the trench warfare started. Weapons got more powerful and have longer range and better accuracy, so you could kill a soldier from greater distance. Soldiers had to seriously search for cover, and started to dig in. A well defended trench is pretty much invincible, as the deadly fronts showed. They were stuck. Air combat was in it's infancy, so air raids to bomb an enemy trench was not possible yet.

            You're ignoring the Eastern Front in WW1.

            The problem in WW1 wasn't the accuracy and range of the weapo

            • by wvmarle (1070040)

              Eastern front also saw enormous numbers of casualties.

              And in WW2 indeed fixed defences were still used, but that was also pretty much the end of that era. WW1 saw the first tanks; in WW2 they were a major part of the battles.

              I know of the existence of numerous fixed positions, all built pre-WW2. They were used in WW2, but that's about it, it was the end of that defense tactic. The only really fixed positions the armed forces have nowadays are airfields. They're just too unwieldy to move around (except for t

      • as long as Hostess can make twinkies we as a planet will always have something to eat.

        besides as far as resources go we are always finding new ways to either recycle what we have or tap new sources/methods.

        Short of %BIGSPACEROCK% hitting us and wiping out a large portion of the planet we are going NOWHERE (could we maybe try to get to at least the Moon first??)

      • Luckily you can't get pregnant from porn nor from cute kitty videos, and given the current trends on internet, it seems that technology has already found its own way to curb the "too much human produced" problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So were does state sponsored corporate espionage fit into this "peace"? The goal of "I'm stronger, you're weaker" is still present.

    • by S77IM (1371931)

      They're mostly talking about peace between nation-states; not the internal workings of the states themselves, which can still be as tyrannical and oppressive as ever.

        -- 77IM

    • by MickLinux (579158)
      Technological and economic interdependence, in the presence of good faith, promotes peace.

      But human wickedness, the desire to be worshipped, to be self-completing, completely undoes all good faith.

      Since the authors compare economic interdependence to technological interdependence, so shall I.

      Economic interdependence in the presence of normal, mundane, human wickedness, caused world war2, and helped Roosevelt to push Japan to attack the United States. Economic interdependence helped cause the pograms

  • Technology doesn't promote world peace, that's a side effect. Free trade promotes world peace. It's that trade of goods, information and ideas that makes people respect and want to know someone else. Though societies that don't have anything to export are generally pretty good importers of said culture, throwing the "fear of god" into said places.

    • Re:Pft... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pegasustonans (589396) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:39PM (#40303365)

      Technology doesn't promote world peace, that's a side effect. Free trade promotes world peace. It's that trade of goods, information and ideas that makes people respect and want to know someone else. Though societies that don't have anything to export are generally pretty good importers of said culture, throwing the "fear of god" into said places.

      I agree with you with one caveat:

      Taking government subsidies for domestic industries such as agriculture into consideration, what many people refer to now as 'free trade' in bi-lateral and regional trade agreements isn't even close to 'free trade,' as in trade unencumbered by restriction.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Taking government subsidies for domestic industries such as agriculture into consideration, what many people refer to now as 'free trade' in bi-lateral and regional trade agreements isn't even close to 'free trade,' as in trade unencumbered by restriction.

        That's called fair trade, most people should have picked it up. But I'm glad you added it.

  • If you ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:26PM (#40303243)

    ... cooperate with me and buy my technology or pay me rent for access to my markets with your technology, there will be peace.

    If you expect me to cooperate with you, or you expect free access to my walled garden (a.k.a. the US marketplace) on your terms, there will be war.

    • Re:If you ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:32PM (#40303811)

      Sorry, doesn't work like that anymore.

      US is waging war with states they don't care about, economically: Afghanistan, Iraq. They would happily go after North Korea and most North African states are free game too. They're not getting anything vital out of there.

      China is another matter. Imagine the US waging war against China: that would lead to total destruction. First all consumers would complain that they would not be able to buy clothes, DVD players, and many other manufactured goods, as the supply from China would stop and the US doesn't have their own manufacturing anymore. Soon after the US military would come to a grinding halt due to the lack of supply of spare parts for their weapons systems, parts that are also more and more made in China.

      The US is at least as dependent on Chinese manufacturers as the Chinese manufacturers are dependent on US buyers. They can't survive without one another. China may even have the best chance of survival in such a war scenario, because at least they can produce the goods they need themselves...

    • Re:If you ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:47PM (#40303931) Journal

      I'm sorry but the wall fell in 1980. While Reagan was yelling for Mr. Gorbachev to tear down his wall, American business was ripping down ours so they could take their collective shows on the road and exploit all that cheap labor, resource and markets in the developing world. Over the next 30 years the American Corporations became truly global, no longer owing allegiance or even interest to the well being of the U.S. and as such have since been sucking off the overflow as the American economy implodes in a global economic free fall.

      There has perhaps been some recent back peddling trying to reestablish some barrier to preserve what little is left, but its too little too late, and at this point its probably just as well the American worker is now economically on a par with those in the third world. It means soon work will be coming back to the United States (in fact its already begun.) So the walled garden of which you speak only exists in a couple specific technologies, and pretty much the rest of it is a distant historical condition enjoyed by Americans who are long retired or dead.

      • by PPH (736903)

        The wall is corporate, not government. Apple and WalMart can (and do) import what they want. But you and I cannot.

        Take a look at the difference between the TSA (the people who supposedly secure air travel) and Customs (the people who check your luggage and collect import duties. TSA are little better then mall cops. Customs have the dogs and automatic weapons and do a far more thorough job digging around in your baggage. Just to make sure you aren't bypassing the corporate company store that this country h

      • by BeanThere (28381)

        Funny thing about that "exploited" labor is that it WANTS to be "exploited". Odd definition of exploitation that.

    • Odd that you say that. China is more walled today to western imports, while America is the worlds largest importers from all over the world.
      And yet, ppl like yourself ignore the facts and scream that it is America that has the walled garden.
      Just amazing. Totally ignorant and devoid of facts, but still amazing.
  • I can't be bothered to look up the reference right now, but shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, a book was published with the same thesis. That didn't quite work out.

  • Since the rich run all countries as long as trade exists there is plenty of profit to be made through trade. It's when trading stops or the "wrong" people are given contracts that the trouble begins. Once trade stops war becomes profitable as a resource grab.

  • by ranton (36917) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:43PM (#40303397)

    I remember reading speculation from dawn of the 20th century, that claimed the expanding global economy made wars between major powers unlikely (sorry, no citation). It was wrong then, and it is probably wrong now. Nucular bombs have done far more to promote world peace than economic inter-dependence.

    We have lived almost an entire century where resources were so abundant that major powers simply didn't need to fight each other. We will see what happens once these resources (oil, water, etc) start to dry up.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Nucular bombs have done far more to promote world peace than economic inter-dependence."

      Well said.

      The end result of war is... wait for it... peace.

      Our goal should be that of the winner. Unless you are a statist of course.

    • Free trade does make wars more unlikely, but war creates war and the end of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th century has plenty of wars from the Franco-Prussian war to the wars in the Balkans. The powers in Europe had no trust towards each other which led to an arms race which then exploded with violence.

      Nuclear bombs have done very little to ensure "world peace" first off it is only by the disobeying of direct orders by heroic USSR and US soldiers that a nuclear war was averted. It was only by
    • by sp3d2orbit (81173)

      In the early 1900's an Italian mathematician named Vilfredo Pareto explained the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few using a mathematical model now named after him. He and a sympathetic politician named Benito Mussolini set out to re-engineer society so that it was more fair and equitable. Similar forces, with equally noble goals transformed Russia and Germany in their own attempts to eliminate the gap between rich and poor.

      The rise of warfare and the end of prosperity is the direct result of the

  • The Proud Tower (Score:5, Interesting)

    by westlake (615356) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:49PM (#40303443)

    The same type of arguments circulated before WWI. Surely, in a modern, globalized world where German and English bankers could both own shares in Argentinian railroads, and where British citizens bought German paints and medicines, and Germans bought licences for British patented manufacturing, war could never break out.

    Comments, A_Lee [theatlantic.com]

  • Seeing as a large number of recent wars are ostensibly to control resources (oil - sorry, 'freedom'), I'm wondering if tech will ever be able to mitigate this. With a number of environmental factors at play, tech has a soft deadline to fix things before we may be forced to fight over what's left.
  • by oldhack (1037484)
    It's the one tech that kept us and the commies from going head-to-head.
  • by decora (1710862) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:10PM (#40303609) Journal

    Germany and Russia were major trading partners in the 19th and early 20th century.

    In the late 1930s, Hitler and Stalin were allies, agreeing to carve up Poland, which they did in 1939.

    In 1941, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of people. The Eastern Front of World War Two was one of the primary atrocities that the human species has perpetrated upon itself and upon the planet Earth.

    Please tell me again how their 'integrated economy' prevented war.

    When the facts of measurable reality (in our case, history) disagree with your theory, your theory must be thrown out and disregarded. In every science people to understand this, but in History they so often ignore it for some bizarre socio-bio-emotional reason. People appear to be fascinated by theories, and don't really care about the data.

    • You skipped a step. Where Russia went communist and could barely feed itself. Very little trade after that.

      • By early 30s, USSR was trading a lot with other countries (sometimes even at the expense of its own citizens, like selling food during famines).

        • That's the thing with planned economies. The trade is always in service of some political goal. Never simply about making money, it was about promoting some brain dead 'international' Stalinist organization.

          If anything it's destabilizing.

    • The US military presence in Germany and throughout the world is also a stabilizing force. European nations are not diverting financial resources to stand up their own armies and investing those savings to their economy. Also, the last time we left the Germans unsupervised, WW II began.
      • by trenien (974611)
        I have to disagree here.

        Most European nations do have their own military and France - and Great Britain, to a somewhat lesser extent - do pull their own weight.

        Don't confuse imperialism with a benevolent will to protect people : whatever the US military does is first and foremost to further the interest of the US itself (be it through control of specific regions, or simply an increase of budget going toward it). The only difference with previous Imperialist powers is that they have to be somewhat more di

  • by slew (2918) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:16PM (#40303667)

    The primary difference between the US-Soviet pre-cold war relationship and the US-China is that in the first instance, we were forced together (fighting germany in WWII) and never really developed a trading relationship, where the current US-China relationship formed from common economic forces. If you look at the US-China relationship post WWII, and pre-Nixon, it might remind you a bit of the US-Soviet relationship. Or maybe even worse (supporting the KMT/taiwan/south-korea/south-vietnam) didn't really put us into China's good graces back then...

    The turning point with china? Basically Mao's death in 1976 and US agreeing that taiwan was part of china in 1979. These have nothing to do with technology. The change in leadership and economic orientation made the economies more compatible (perhaps best summarized by the quote "I don't care if it's a black cat or a white cat, as long as it catches mice").

    The turning point with Russia? Collapse of the Soviet Union and Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin started things along, but of course Mr Putin's influence basically rendered their economy (apparently some wikileaked documents called it a virtual mafia state) incompatible with ours.

    I think we technophiles hate to admit it, but events (even in the world of technology) often revolves more around people (e.g., rms, linus torvalds, bill gates, steve jobs, in the tech world etc) than any underlying technology.

    • The turning point with Russia? Collapse of the Soviet Union and Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin started things along, but of course Mr Putin's influence basically rendered their economy (apparently some wikileaked documents called it a virtual mafia state) incompatible with ours.

      Why would a "mafia state" be incompatible with American economy? It's still capitalist, after all. Sure, you get to pay the important people for "protection" in addition to taxes, but you can just consider it as yet another tax.

  • Trade benefits from peace and trust, but also helps build mutual trust and peaceful cooperation by way of incentives.
    Because people can produce more stuff and more complex stuff by dividing the work, specializing and cooperating, trade tends to promote shared interests and cooperative dependencies.
  • Everything said in that summary is so obvious I hope the authors were given a super hero medal for figuring it out.

  • People start wars (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's individuals that start wars, not countries. Sure you might think USA invaded Iraq, or Russian invaded Afganistan but there were a few people making the propaganda to make it happen, and behind those people even fewer people, and behind those one man.

    Whenever you see a country war, it's the result of one man on one or other side that thinks they can win something in his own interests. Look at the Republicans, they follow Fox, Fox follows Roger Ailes. All the big money supports to GOP you see, they're as

  • It's amusing to watch "serious thinkers" labor under the seemingly self-imposed restriction that basically says "all important things come down to money.". Apparently , this is the only way to taken seriously in America today- do a "we' re all economically interdependent " jig ala Thomas Friedman -who turns out is wrong-o on, like, a regular basis:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2009/03/friedmans-follies [vanityfair.com]

    Look, one thing that unites us at least as much as money is porn. Porn porn porn. The porn t

  • The Romans also established peace via superior technology. The point of this article is ... ?

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:00PM (#40304031) Journal
    Economic IS peaceful, but only when the 2 economies are interdependent. Chinese leaders work hard to block Western goods, but make the west dependent on them, while building up their own economy AND military. Since China's economy has grown massively and CHina has amassed a load of dollars (us and australian) and europes, they should see their money rise relative to these money. But that is NOT the case. Likewise, in a normal economic relationship, there would be regular 2-way trade. There is not. Resources account for the vast majority of what the west trades to CHina. When something like an auto is exported there, if it is selling well, then China will put a tariff on importing that specific companies cars, until they move manufacturing there. Once it is there, they will subsidize the energy there, and then encourage the company to sell it on the global market. Just recently China put a massive tax on ALL GM cars. That is, until GM turned over the patent rights for electric cars to CHINESE GOV. IOW, GM was going to be killed from manufacturing or importing cars there, unless they allowed 100% of Chinese made cars to have free and clear access to their entire patent DB related to electric cars.

    This is NOT about economic trade. This is a cold war. Sadly these 2 idiots are like the rest of the ppl that ignore facts.

    Now to wait for the Chinese lobbyists that will post here as ACs claiming that I am lying.
  • The more people have a stake in someone else's lives, the more people can "mod down" the warmongers. It works if there is an economic investment (Foxconn and Wistron do more to guarantee peace between Taiwan and mainland China than the USA fleet), but having any stake at all - even a facebook friend - works the same way. That's how Germans in Philadelphia stopped fighting with Irish immigrants. Exposure and familiarity promotes peace.
  • One is that the U.S. and China are deeply intertwined through geo-economic interdependence

    What's the difference between geo-economic interdependence and the good old garden variety economic interdependence?

  • Global interdependencies in our economies tie us all together. The only technology required for large scale global trading are containerships and telephones. Internet, global spot trading, airmail, Bitcoin, they're all just sugar icing on top.
    • not really, photography is one of the biggest anti-war tools, kings always knew what war was like, but after photography everyone did(gradually). it's tech. so is global communications and tourism. you're less likely to start a war with some guy who can tweet you.

      internet, airmail etc are what brings those communications to ordinary citizen level.

  • "countries are too interdependent on trade to start wars"

    "dynamite is the doomsday weapon: too terrible to use" - Arthur Nobel, inventor of dynamite

    "no large war since 1815 (Napoleon). countries have learned to live in peace"

    From 1914 to 1989 Europe was in one war or another, among the deadliest in history.

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