Has the computer chip changed the nature of warfare? Will it eventually change war beyond current recognition? Adams, the former defense correspondent and Washington bureau chief for the London Sunday Times
, believes that information will become the ultimate weapon and that future battlegrounds will be everywhere we live and work. While the weapons and technology of war will improve beyond even technofiction's expectations, it's the "information warfare" that will be critical in foreign wars and in the war against domestic crime.
We've already seen some of what is to come in the Gulf War's camera-equipped smart bombs. Soldiers can now be equipped with hand-held computers that can send messages and information back to superiors. And among the weapons to come: microwave cannons; plasma guns; devices that can see, smell, and hear; and even robotic "ants" that can swarm and explode around the enemy. Soldiers will wear uniforms powered by body heat that automatically relay important information back to their base camp. Helmets will be able to locate incoming fire, help a soldier see under all kinds of conditions, and locate others in a patrol.
The ability to attack an enemy's civilian infrastructure, such as communication networks, air traffic control, bridges and dams, and electric grids, will be part of the new era of war. With the advanced state of digital imaging, misinformation campaigns in enemy countries can take on a much more convincing role. All it takes is for one country to have a few skilled hackers, and suddenly the number of troops, the hardware, and the nuclear devices don't matter. Could there be an "electronic Pearl Harbor?"
Adams's research and journalism experience has made him aware of how much information warfare is being planned for and how much is already in place. His concern, in part, is that there has been little public debate about this, even though it affects our future so dramatically. Adams says "As David proved against Goliath, strength can be beaten. America today looks uncomfortably like Goliath, arrogant in its power, armed to the teeth, ignorant of its weakness." --Elizabeth Lewis
From Publishers Weekly
In the Information Age, information has emerged as the ultimate weapon. Adams (Sellout, Hard Target, etc.), CEO of United Press International, argues strongly that the "revolution" in war making is occurring in the "virtual world" of "commerce, conversation, and connectivity." Adams surpasses even the Tofflers in his depiction of a Third Wave whose battlefields will be dominated by bytes, not bullets. It began with Desert Storm, when control of the electronic spectrum created an insurmountable imbalance between combatants. Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia demonstrated the power of information not merely as a force multiplier but as a paradigm shifter. In a country obsessed with minimizing casualties, information warfare seemed an ideal combination of mission facilitator and appropriations guarantor. Adams takes his readers on a comprehensive and enlightening tour of research establishments focusing on micro-electro-mechanical systems, non-lethal weapons and instantaneous communications. He then embarks on a darker journey into the world of high-level computer hacking and its implications for "cyberterrorism" with the potential not merely to threaten information security but, for example, to poison a nation's children through accessing the process control systems of cereal manufacturers. Less apocalyptic but equally important is the growing potential of information as a manipulative tool affecting governments and societies alike. In the cybernetic era, Adams contends, the offense outpaces the defense in both methods and principles. Adams's conclusion, that the U.S. is developing its information-warfare capacities while ignoring its vulnerabilities to the same techniques, is a strong reminder that technology depends for effect on matrices of insight, flexibility and will power?none of which can be generated by computers.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.