Technological optimism and the imagined future: Implication for warfare

James. L Regens, Matthew R H Uttley, Charles Vandepeer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Militaries reaching back to antiquity have sought to leverage technologies that provide advantage against their prospective adversaries on the battlefield. History is littered with examples of surprises in combat and unexpected military outcomes caused by new technologies or the innovative application of existing technologies. The new technology or novel application of existing technology may be truly revolutionary and fundamentally alter the status quo by rapidly replacing previous conditions rendering them obsolete (i.e., the new or novel may be transformative).[1] Alternatively, the new technology or innovative application of existing technology may incrementally disturb but not immediately destroy the status quo and replace existing conditions due to thorough and dramatic change (i.e., the new or novel may be disruptive). The chariot, the stirrup, gunpowder, the steam ship, the internal combustion engine, aircraft, submarines, radar, computers, nuclear weapons, the transistor, and satellites come to mind.[2] Those advantages—whether transformative or disruptive—may enhance mass through concentration and distribution of overwhelming force at the right time and place; maneuver through mobility of forces in the battlespace to obtain positional advantage over an adversary; or surprise through unanticipated strikes at times, locations, or in ways that achieve tactical, operational, or strategic success.[3]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalThe Bridge
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2020


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