Authors: Joseph S. Nye
Winter 2011
Publication:
Strategic Studies Quarterly

Identifying “revolutions in military affairs” is arbitrary, but some inflection points in technological change are larger than others: for example, the gunpowder revolution in early modern Europe, the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, the second industrial revolution of the early twentieth century, and the nuclear revolution in the middle of the last century. In this century, we can add the information revolution that has produced today’s extremely rapid growth of cyberspace. Earlier revolutions in information technology, such as Gutenberg’s printing press, also had profound political effects, but the current revolution can be traced to Moore’s law and the thousand-fold decrease in the costs of computing power that occurred in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Political leaders and analysts are only beginning to come to terms with this transformative technology.