Friday, November 19, 2004

Big Brother with a Gun

A Texan (surprise, surprise) has introduced the concept of Internet hunting. No, really. Here's the story from Reuters.

This may give new meaning to the phrase "hunt and peck typing." Instead of "surfing the web," we may soon "safari the web." The "fatal error" message may soon mean "fatal error." Bambi's survival may depend on the speed of a hunter's Internet connection. (Okay, I'll stop.)

What does this have to do with international relations? (Occasionally I have to remind myself that this blog is supposed to focus on IR.) I have an answer for that.

Throughout history, advances in hunting--and fishing--technology have quickly found application on the battlefield, and vice versa. The bow and arrow, used first for hunting, quickly developed into an instrument of war. Dynamite, invented by Alfred Nobel for use in war and industry, evolved into a favorite tool of fishermen. You see where this is going.

If Internet hunting works, the military will take note. The United States could one day police the world from a bank of computers buried deep within the Pentagon. Guns could be mounted on rooftops in the major cities of the world's most dangerous countries and aimed and fired as necessary from a computer half a world away. Eventually, the job of policing the world could be outsourced to a bunch of IT guys in Bangalore, India. The possibilities are endless.

Consider this postscript from P.J. O'Rourke, from a 1991 dispatch reprinted in his book Give War a Chance:

One more thing about this generation of soldiers--they grew up in video arcades. It's no coincidence that watching the Gulf War's high-tech weapons on our TV screens is so much like watching computer games. This war is the daddy of all Mario Brothers, the Gog and Magog of hacker networks, the devil's own personal core dump. And our soldiers have an absolutely intuitive, Donkey Kong-honed, gut-level understanding of the technology behind it. Thank God they do. It's why we're winning. So here's what you folks back home can do to help with the war effort. If you happen to have any kids and they're outdoors exercising in the healthy fresh air and sunshine, give them hell: "YOU GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW AND PLAY NINTENDO!" The future of our nation may depend on it.