Attack of the Cyborg Insects
The dangers of science in the service of the state
In the course of promoting a conference on “Warring Futures: How Biotech and Robotics Are Transforming Today’s Military – and How That Will Change the Rest of Us,” a May 24 conference in Washington, D.C.,co-sponsored by Slate, Arizona State University, and the New America Foundation (i.e. George Soros), ASU’s Brad Allenby averred:
“Telepathic helmets. Grid-computing swarms of cyborg insects, some for surveillance, some with lethal stingers. New cognitive-enhancement drugs. (What? Adderall and Provigil aren’t good enough for you?) Lethal autonomous robots. Brain-chip-to-weapon platform control systems on a ‘future force warrior‘ platform. American military technology is getting very frisky.”
As my friend Lew Rockwell put it, “The article, a defense of sci-fi war, is a reminder, not only of how much loot is taken from us for these murderous purposes, but how many scientific and engineering brains are enlisted into Starship Trooperism. How much freer, wealthier, and more advanced our civilization would be without the Pentagon, the CIA, the whole military-industrial complex. How many people would not have had their lives ended too soon.”
Militarism distorts the development of civilization, deforming the natural evolution of culture and even science: the end result is the birth of misshapen monsters, such as nuclear technology, the love child of war and the Leviathan. Allenby’s cyborg insects are the Bizarro World version of productive achievements: they are the cancer cure, the clean power source, the life affirming and life-prolonging innovations that might have been invented, but weren’t.
Massive state intervention in the form of something like the Manhattan Project distorts the natural development of technology as it unfolds over time. It not only mis-directs resources to unproductive and even horrifically destructive activities, it upsets the natural progression of theoretical science and its technical applications, altering the sequence and tempo of the advance of human knowledge. The result is that some possibilities – e.g. a cancer cure – are aborted, while others – nuclear power and “telepathic helmets” – are unleashed prematurely on a world that isn’t ready, either ethically or otherwise, to make the kinds of moral decisions they are suddenly confronted with. It is like a young child suddenly faced with a life or death issue: he has neither the capacity nor the wisdom to deal with it.
Our elites glory in the term “technocrat” because it is synonymous with the kind of cool competence that supposedly elevates them above the common herd. Draping themselves in the mantle of science imbues their regime with an aura of ersatz legitimacy, the modern analogue of the divine right of kings. While tyrants of yore invoked Bible verses to justify the Crusades, their modern day equivalents rely on Power Point presentations of incomprehensible complexity and elaborate flowcharts. That’s “progress” for you.
Allenby argues that we can’t “stop” technology, but quite naturally fails to see these are the mutant offspring of an unnatural course of development, one distorted by the “Starship Trooperism” he epitomizes, and that every decent person rightly abhors. The consequences of this massive diversion of human and material resources are potentially fatal to the human race. We just barely escaped nuclear annihilation of much of the planet at several points during the long cold war between the US and the Soviet Union. Who knows what new monsters will be unleashed from state laboratories tomorrow?
Well, Allenby, apparently, for one, as well as the other attendees at the conference, which will doubtless attract the cream of the military-industrial-academic complex, hawking their wares and handing out their resumes to the warlords of Washington. Those telepathic helmets are sure to come in handy.
May 22, 2010
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.
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