War and Technological Growth
Aside from the misery that wars cause, history demonstrates the role of warfare in the technological development of countries
Post by on Thursday, March 24, 2022
The role of warfare in forming various world orders is well documented throughout history. From wars between small ancient civilizations to wars between empires and then wars between different countries, warfare has played an important role in the evolution of various societies. War is always painful, and no one in the world wants a war, but circumstances sometimes provide justification for countries to attack other countries, which has long-term consequences for the citizens of those countries. Aside from the misery that wars cause, history demonstrates the role of warfare in the technological development of countries. The majority of the technologies we use today are the result of investments in warfare technologies by various countries around the world. In fact, knowledge gained from the manufacture of weapons was a significant source of the industrial revolution.
The development of the Internet involved the transformation of a computer network that had been established in the late 1960s by the United States Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Similarly, during World War I, the demand for R & D for military aircraft was a significant inducement for advances in aeroplane design by the aircraft industry. When it comes to nuclear power, experts believe that without military and defense procurement, the current development would not have occurred. It is difficult to imagine that the US government would have mobilized the scientific, technical, and financial resources devoted to the Manhattan Project if Germany had not threatened to develop nuclear weapons during World War II.
Semiconductor advancements are also linked to their potential military applications. The Army Signal Corps guided and substantially funded the transition from the initial invention of the transistor to the development of military and commercial applications and integrated circuits. Almost all of the current dated technologies that make our phones smart are linked to military R&D investments. GPS on the other hand, began as a 1970s US military programme called NAVSTAR.
It is almost certain that all of the well-known technologies we use today are the result of state-funded military procurement technological projects, demonstrating the potential of state-funded R & D. No one on the planet would advocate for war, but it does provide us with a new set of lenses to see the potential of the state to foster a culture of innovation in any country. In her book ‘The Entrepreneurial State," Professor Mariana Mazzucato mentions several technologies that are the result of state funded R&D projects. While we generally see private sector as more dynamic than public sector, she debunks the myths of public versus private sector R & D, arguing that state-funded R & D can achieve any economic goal. Her more compelling argument is that previous industrial revolutions would not have been possible without the role of state R&D.
Every country in the current global economic race is attempting to catch up with the other countries, and technology has never played such an important role in the economic growth of nations, so every country is attempting to foster innovation. The larger lesson that the history of war teaches us is the potential of state-led R&D. It provides a clearer picture of how a country can achieve any large goal by investing in technological R & D. After all, all major inventions are the result of state-led technological initiatives. As a result, it is suggested that every government, particularly those in developing countries such as India, make significant investments in R&D in various sectors in order to remain competitive in this age of hyper globalization.
(The Author is M.Sc. Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, NIT Srinagar. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)