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Philosophy

Computational wars of attrition…

London, during “The Blitz”

Can the future be extrapolated from the past in such a linear manner as to suggest that the (many and tragic) wars of attrition that once were, will be again? The question is not so much as to what shape or duration future conflict might take as of what role conflict (and other such forms of dissonant catastrophe) fulfils in the complex information and energy-processing systems that nation states, their tributary tribalisms and emergent cults of personality embody.

Technological and cognitive systems are now vastly more complex than any that came before and with this complexity comes an aggregate entropy (as high-dimensionality) many orders of magnitude vaster than that which previously existed. Prediction is problematic; complexity breeds uncertainty and even the most evenly-balanced peer competitors are hardly able to negotiate the multi-trillion-parameter phase spaces that modern conflicts surely inhabit.

A question, again, is to what extent such a vast and complex computational system can find any kind of knife-edge “balance” as extended strategic stalemate. Perhaps these vast and hyper-inflating complexities of contemporary conflict might find a perilous symmetry in the ways that the unified information system they compose develops its own emergent global properties of harmonic oscillation and self-propagation.

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