Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization, by John Robb (Wiley, 224 pp., $24.95)
Last year, I wrote a book called An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Government, Big Media, and Other Goliaths. It was a celebration of how technology empowers the little guy, though I did spend some time discussing the darker sides of this development. John Robb’s Brave New War is in a way the mirror image of my argument: it devotes a lot of space to the dark side of the technological empowerment of individuals and small groups, and much less to potential upsides.
The dark side is certainly there. In the old days, you needed many people to commit significant mayhem—something like a Roman legion, or at least a century. Nowadays, one man with an AK-47 is probably a match for a hundred Roman legionaries, and modern explosives make matters even more asymmetrical. In the foreseeable future, Robb concludes, we may even see a situation where an individual can declare war on the world—and win. Or as science fiction writer Vernor Vinge put it in his recent book Rainbows End, set in 2025: “Nowadays Grand Terror technology was so cheap that cults and criminal gangs could acquire it . . . . In all innocence, the marvelous creativity of humankind continued to generate unintended consequences. There were a dozen research trends that could ultimately put world-killer weapons in the hands of anyone having a bad hair day.”
Professor Glenn Reynolds is one of the most prolific scholars on the UT faculty and blogger at Instapundit.com. His special interests are law and technology and constitutional law issues, and his work has appeared in a wide variety of publications.