Essay: The Code Book
Step back and view the world; it is clear that the information age is upon us. Information is available to the average person and it is available instantly. Computers and portable devices with “always on, instant access” are the norm. This has had an effect on the news industry; it has reshaped it. The public’s expectation of instant information has been formed. The “information age” is not confined within the boundaries of the United States. It is actually global. Since we as a global community now reside in the “information age” the following statement is deserving of attention: “It has been said that the First World War was the chemists’ war, because mustard gas and chlorine were employed for the first time, and that the Second World War was the physicists’ war, because the atom bomb was detonated. Similarly, it has been argued that the Third World War would be the mathematicians’ war, because mathematicians will have control over the next great weapon of war—information.” (Singh, xi) . Although the quote includes correct statements; the quote on a whole is not entirely true. All wars could be mathematician’s wars.
The above statement seems to have its basis in “first uses” of a military tactic. World War I might be defined as a chemists’ war due to the utilization of gas. World War II might be defined as a physicists’ war due to the utilization of the atom bomb. If one subscribes to this theory, that a World War is defined as the first time a tactic is utilized, then the statement claiming that World War III will be a mathematician’s war has to be false. In fact, control of information has already played crucial roles in both World War I and World War II.
In 1917, Europe was engulfed in World War I. Th...
... middle of paper ...
... information by mathematicians, was clearly a large part of World War II.
In these two wars the mathematician’s role has seemingly been labeled a secondary role, at best. “Mathematicians have been responsible for developing the codes that are currently used to protect military information” . However, mathematicians have always been responsible for developing these codes used by the military. Obtaining this information has always been a part of war. Attempts to obtain military information has always been considered crucial. A nicely illustrated account of this during the Cold War is talked about in the book “The Cuckoo’s Egg”. Taking into account current politics and the many reports of rouge, independent code-breakers, a more accurate statement may be: “World War III will be the war of hackers and code-breakers, fought in part by civilian, non-military personnel.”
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