MIT Technology Review @techreview A media company making technology a greater force for good. Get our journalism: Oct. 24, 2019 3 min read

Can technology be a force for good even in something as evil as war? That’s the question we ask in our special issue on war and peace. 

… Yes, says one school of thought.

“Today’s weapons may be more lethal than ever, but it’s thanks partly to their lethality and accuracy that advanced nations no longer send young men to kill each other by the tens of thousands" - @glichfield 

Moreover, technology may be able to help predict emerging conflicts, as @TateRyMo explains, and help repair the damage after those that do take place. 

Finally, of course, countless civilian technologies began life as military projects. 👇

The prototypes of brain-computer interfaces researchers are developing for tomorrow's troops are allowing paralyzed people to regain the use of their limbs, as @ptullis reports. 

s inside account of the extraordinary surgical effort behind one of the world’s first penis transplants shows how medical advances for war veterans are likely to end up helping many civilians. 

However, many of the advances in this thread could have happened if some of the vast spending on military hardware went into peacetime research. And the costs of high-tech weaponry aren’t only financial. Think Afghanistan. 

Unlike Vietnam, Afghanistan is almost absent from the national debate. That’s thanks in part to the drones that allow most US troops to stay at home. Yet the drones’ supposedly scalpel-like precision is a myth, @alibomaye reports from Afghanistan. 

And in a powerful essay, Anthony Swofford, who served as a Marine in the Gulf War and wrote the memoir Jarhead, argues that advanced weapons like drones create a “moral distance” from the killing, and thus enable more of it. 

Blind reliance on warfare technology can go awry in other ways. 👇

The deep-learning algorithms that power a growing array of smart weapons contain basic flaws that could be exploited to turn them against their owners, writes @willknight. 

Activists have used digital tools to document the Syrian regime’s war crimes in unprecedented detail, reports @Eric_Reidy, yet it continues to commit them with impunity. 

interviews a US paratrooper turned professor, @seanmcfate, and Britain’s former top soldier on the failures of international diplomacy and military strategy that technology can’t fix. 

And @Enugu62 reports from Nigeria on how techniques for “deradicalizing” violent extremists do little good when the social conditions that radicalized them remain unchanged. 

In our cover story, @weinbergersa shows how @amazon is cementing its influence in Washington by providing digital infrastructure for US intelligence and law enforcement, and aims to do the same for the Pentagon. 

explains how memes have gone from silly jokes to serious geopolitical weapons. 

looks at why dogs still make better bomb-sniffers than any electronic gizmo. 

And @HowellONeill canvasses national security experts on how the US might respond to a real cyberwar. 

Finally, a piece of short fiction by Jasper Jeffers, a serving @USArmy colonel, imagines a new breed of technologically augmented super-soldiers. 

“Once again, the lesson is clear: when human judgment fails, no amount of technology can make war more successful, or more moral,” writes @glichfield in this editor’s letter, which introduces the special issue. 

You can follow @techreview.


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