Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thinking About Chaoplexity in the Wake of Recent Events

Football is a chaotic game. The strategy and play calling, highly complex. So as your favorite teams engage in a chaotic struggle of complexity this weekend, reflect on what that might mean for warfare. A fascinating book by Antoine Bousquet, which was a publication of his PhD thesis, attempts to explain the progress of warfare through progressively more progressive stages. His thesis, The Scientific Way of Warfare, argues that scientific development has in large part shaped the way of warfare as technologies change the nature of human interactions.

His central thesis "rests on a broad social and cultural understanding of the role of science and technology in distributing and organising [sic] bodies, both human and artificial, on the battlefield as well as orienting thought on the practice of warfare.” Bousquet makes the case for four warfare transformations characterized by four metaphors: mechanistic warfare – the clock, thermodynamic warfare – the engine, cybernetic warfare – the computer, and finally chaoplexic warfare – the network. In 2007, he suggested we were entering the "chaoplexic" stage - a synthesis of chaos and complexity in a network-centric environment.

You can read Bousquet’s thesis in a weekend. Take note of chapter 8, which addresses chaoplexity, and think about the impact of a digital ecosystem. In the wake of recent ISIS related attacks in Lebanon, Egypt, and Paris along with shooting incidents, like in San Bernardino, how might the digital ecosystem change the principle of mass whereby an opponent could mass effects physically, through virtual, network means. In other words, what could global swarming look like in a connected, network-centric world? More importantly, how could a national security strategy prepare for such a phenomenon?

You can access the thesis from the London School of Economics: