If the World Wars hadn’t happened, would today’s technology be less advanced?
Asked by Dave Gray
Almost certainly, but not entirely because of why most people think. Without doubt the technology developed before, during and just after these two wars was astounding to say the least. Automatic weapons, tanks, and the Manhattan Project are just three of many obvious examples. However, there are more important advancements that came about because of these wars. The first advance was the use of computers, which came into existence during World War II and were used to break down and decipher information, processing intelligence to help streamline the focus of both sides in the war. While the computers of this era would hardly be recognized today – massive, blocklike, expensive and inefficient – they still managed to revolutionise the world. Computers immediately had an impact, crunching large numbers and playing a major role at the UK’s Bletchley Park in cracking the Enigma machine used by the Nazis. Computer technology also became a fixture in our collective imagination, and would fuel dreams, visions, stories and the rapid advancements that accompanied this enchantment. We wished ourselves into Moore’s
Law (that computer processors have consistently doubled in power every 18 months). The second and more direct implication for technological advancement was the ensuing Cold War
between the USA and the USSR. The Second World War showed that the side with the bigger guns – or in this case, bombs – would rule the day. After the war, two clear ideological camps were established. The race to outdo the other caused rapid advancement in the sciences. We became the masters of the world around us, and in our mastery possessed the power to annihilate the very world we had tamed.