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Posts Tagged ‘war’

Mathematics of War

Posted by DK on May 9, 2009

In the vein of my recent Wired For War review, I recently watched Sean Gourley make an interesting TED presentation on the mathematics of war. His team has collected data from different sources to analyze the structure of insurgencies. They find that the distribution of attack frequency vs. intensity is very common across conflicts. Of course, on the other hand, one could argue that his graph just says it gets harder for an insurgency with limited resources to kill lots of people at once, regardless of it’s motivation.¬† Nevertheless, these researchers are still in the exploratory stage. Further investigation of this data is bound to yield something interesting.


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Wired For War

Posted by DK on May 2, 2009

Wired For War seemed like a convenient update on what’s going on in the land of the military. Although the book offers the expected details on the latest unclassified military technology, I was surprised at the philosophical bent of the material. Singer raises questions like:

  • Will replacing soldiers with capital increase or decrease the likelihood of future conflict?
  • By increasing the distance between US soldiers and personal danger using drones and remote control, will we increase or decrease the morale of terrorists?
  • There is a certain democratization that follows the introduction of new technology, in the sense that these technologies increasingly use off the shelf components. What are the likely unintended consequences of these new applications?

Singer’s writing style also reflects a new generation of non-fiction writers that are willing and able to allude to American popular culture. I must be getting old. He even refers to cognitive blindspots typically covered by behavioral economists and psychologists. For example, he discusses “satisficing,” a concept I first discovered reading¬†Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart.

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