Nowhere to Hide
As the sophistication of available technology and information increase exponentially over time, and as the ability to stop the proliferation of them also decreases, it will become impossible to stop motivated people from doing anything.
What I mean by this is, if someone wants something bad enough it’s only going to get easier for them to gain access to technologies that enable them and information that guides them. This idea comes from here, in a discussion of “superempowered individuals.”
Specifically the discussion is about terrorist organizations and their training of lone gunman operatives like the xmas bomber. It’s a frightening prospect and it changes things dramatically.
At some point in the future the ability to attack a foreign place or individual will be accessible to anyone and everyone. How do we defend ourselves in such a world? Defensive technologies, when an equal amount of money is being spent, are always on the losing end (think of the cost of a bullet-proof helmet versus the cost of the one armor-piercing bullet that went through it).
What this will mean is that our best and eventually our primary mode of defense will be winning the argument, really engaging in it and then winning it.
Perhaps a more salient example is this: Mutually Assured Destruction. Russia, US, don’t nuke eachother because they know they’ll both die so neither one ends up able to subjugate the other. Now compare that to Israel-Palestine, where Israel clearly has a preponderance of force, is able to keep the Palestinians at bay and so doesn’t have enough incentive to rectify their situation. Imagine how that would change if the Palestinians had the same military force as the Israelis? More so, imagine if they both had nukes.
It’s possible that we’ll be able to get some work done on nuclear proliferation if the ‘Bama works hard enough at it, but on a long enough timeline, the technology to build those bombs or to MacGuyver any other bomb, will leach out to the net, and be cheap enough and available to anyone with interest. At that point, the only way to stop them from blowing up a building, is by making sure they don’t want to.