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Cyberneticizing the American war machine: science and computers in the Cold War
Birkbeck College, UK.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7682-5349
2008 (English)In: Cold War History, ISSN 1468-2745, E-ISSN 1743-7962, Vol. 8, no 1, p. 77-102Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

American victory in World War II was perceived to be due in large part to its scientific and technological superiority, best exemplified by the development of the atom bomb. Throughout the Cold War, scientific theories and methodologies were recruited even more extensively to weigh on military and strategic affairs. Cybernetics, along with operations research and systems analysis, sought to impose order and predictability on warfare through the collection, processing, and distribution of information. The emergence of the notion of command-and-control epitomized a centralizing approach which saw military organization purely as a vast techno-social machine to be integrated and directed on the basis of the predictions of mathematical models and the deployment of cybernetic technologies. Preparation for a nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union was the primary focus of this conception of warfare but it failed spectacularly the test of Vietnam, thereby dramatically revealing its theoretical and practical bankruptcy. Indeed, cybernetic warfare was deeply flawed in its restrictive assumptions about conflict, its exclusive focus on quantitative elements, its dismissal of any views that did not conform to its norms of scientificity, and its neglect of the risks of information inaccuracy and overload.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 8, no 1, p. 77-102
Keywords [en]
Political Science and International Relations, History
National Category
History of Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-10512DOI: 10.1080/14682740701791359OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-10512DiVA, id: diva2:1618967
Available from: 2021-12-10 Created: 2021-12-10 Last updated: 2021-12-19Bibliographically approved

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Bousquet, Antoine

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