Air Force 2025 – Chapter 5 Digital Cacophony

Sent to us by Tom.

Imagine a world completely enmeshed in technology. Technological advances are rampant and the world struggles with rapid change and its effects.1 These tremendous advances in technology have led to the development of many astonishing inventions, such as an individual device that can perform a myriad of simultaneous functions. For instance, a watch phone can be used to conduct video-phone calls and teleconferences;2 monitor a daily schedule, including required tasks and to-do lists;3 display global positioning satellite (GPS) location to include altitude; and even monitor aerobic conditioning, energy, nutrition rates, emotional state, and the status of artificial organs.4 However, many traditional customs and events have faded away, erased by the extreme rate of change. Most holidays are overlooked, and Julian dates5 are the norm.  

Technological progress has led to adverse effects as well, creating almost as many problems as it has solved.6 For example, technology has produced some harmful physiological side effects for the human body, causing most humans to have at least one transplanted organ by the time they are in their mid-thirties. Fortunately, advances in biotechnology rectify many medical conditions.7 The proliferation of technology has made the world more susceptible to random violence but also has provided the means to avoid some threats. For instance, since technology provides virtual experiences better than anything live, and large crowds present a target of opportunity to terrorists and disgruntled groups, nearly all sporting events, plays, shows, and theater events are “experienced” at home.8

This world is entitled Digital Cacophony, due to its often discordant nature. Of the six alternate futures, this world is by far the most advanced in DTeK and offers the greatest promise of wealth and power for the individual. On the other hand, it is also the most dangerous for both individuals and states. Figure 5-1 illustrates Digital Cacophony’s position in the strategic planning space.

Figure 5-1. Strategic Planning Space for Digital Cacophony

In this world, technology has empowered many individuals, but at the same time disenfranchised numerous governments and organizations. Due to the Exponentialn proliferation of DTeK, everyone has instant access to global networking and the burgeoning, almost omniscient, database system.9 Unparalleled DTeK development has sparked explosive economic growth across the planet. However, those who do not fully share in the wealth of these ventures use technology to terrorize the elites, using weapons of both an insidious and overt nature. Nation-states have lost vitality as independent entities since information and wealth cross international boundaries with impunity.10 Electronic democracies are the political system of choice, with everyone having a direct vote on every issue.11 This creates “fuzzy states” with shifting policies at times. Life in this world is full of promise . . . but this is also a world of fear.

Plausible History

In the world of Digital Cacophony, technology brings people together, but also tears them apart. As seen in figure 5-2, the year 2000 was a benchmark in many ways. For the first time, the world was “wired,” and anyone could gain access to worldwide information.12 This development exacerbated social unrest globally as have-nots learned how little they had compared to the well off.13 Meanwhile, nuclear proliferation continued unabated, spreading to 20 states.14 International politics, overwhelmed by transparent information borders, could not control the spread of nuclear technology and materials.15 By 2002, ever-increasing technological breakthroughs in the genetic engineering of plants and animals led to an abundant food production capability,16 spurring population growth as a result of declining mortality rates in third world countries which previously suffered recurring famine.

Technology could not solve some old problems, as in 2009, when an influenza pandemic struck in southern China, then rapidly spread worldwide.17 Three hundred-thirty million people were affected and over thirty million died.18 No one ever determined if the virus was a natural mutation or bioengineered.19 Many feared the latter.

Figure 5-2. Plausible History for Digital Cacophony

The threatened migration of unemployed masses from second- and third-world countries continued to challenge the few wealthy states. By 2010 the United Nations dissolved due to its inability to resolve these issues and regional conflicts.20 In the resulting vacuum, bilateral and multilateral security arrangements between nation-states and interest groups flourished.

In 2012, Wall Street was hit with a super high energy radio frequency (HERF) wave, which destroyed all financial databases.21 Since advanced information warfare capability was available worldwide, a number of competitor states were investigated, but tracing the source was impossible. The US economy was in turmoil for weeks during database reconstruction, and businesses demanded federal action to prevent further attacks.22

By 2015, 48 actors had acquired several classes of weapons of mass destruction and the accompanying delivery systems.23 Threats of conflicts involving nuclear, chemical, biological, and information weapons became common. During the North African territorial war, a tactical nuclear detonation killed thousands of people.24

The world began an expansion into new frontiers by 2020. Space travel with accompanying outposts became common, and many multinational corporations established production facilities in space to exploit the solar system’s resources.25 However, space assets also became a target and required heavy protection.26 Underwater settlements were also prototyped during the early 2020s to support mining operations of hydrothermal vents.27

Many challenges face this world in 2025. Almost any individual or group can acquire weapons of mass destruction or disruption, and threats are one of the few constant things in this world.

The Nature of Actors

The ubiquity of information and the affordable nature of high technology have led to a dispersal of power in this world. Nation-states have become less important, while individuals and small groups can now have tremendous impact on world events. Everyone communicates via the global net, even using it to do all their shopping by electronically hopping around the globe. Individuals can live in one country and work for an MNC in another country “on-line.”28

Continuous terrorist threats have caused an ever-present fear, and individuals prefer not to leave the security of their dwelling, let alone meet in large groups. Seemingly, only those individuals who are either overtly adventurous or covertly claustrophobic join organizations such as the active military, which entails much travel and danger. Others interested in serving do so on-line in the reserves.

In Digital Cacophony, individuals demand direct input regarding political decisions, and the government has become a virtual location, or fuzzy state, rather than being confined to capitals such as Washington, D.C. Most democratic countries now operate on versions of the “netocracy,” or electronic democracy standard. This system allows constituents to voice their opinion and vote on every issue. The netocracy antiquated the traditional three-party political system and relies solely on electronic interaction.

MNCs also gain influence, profiting from the proliferation in commercially derived, advanced technology. Nation-states cannot control the transfer of wealth and information among internal and external groups, and as a result, state sovereignty declines.29 However, people still look to their national government and military to provide national security and ensure conditions conducive to economic prosperity.30

Nature of International Politics

Global instability increases as the threat of WMD holds under-protected information systems and populations at risk.31 However, nuclear WMD are not the primary problem in Digital Cacophony. The primary problems are the traditional “poor man’s nuclear weapons,” chemical and biological toxins, which are readily produced in this world. Information nets are also vulnerable to weapons of mass disruption (sometimes called WMd).

Cross-linked alliances, nation-state combines, religious factions, MNCs, or other actors multiply in an attempt to enhance security against numerous threats. Paradoxically, these multilayered links combine with economic interdependencies to create complex and unexpected interactions with outcomes no one can predict, effectively making the world more dangerous.32 The growing power of individuals and groups (reflecting the dispersal of power in Digital Cacophony), along with increasing population pressures, increases the number of conflicts. Every minor conflict has the potential to explode into a major regional war with the use of WMD and information disruption weapons. Millions have already died as a consequence of biological and chemical attacks.

The roles of governmental and nongovernmental organizations are constantly changing, and their power has decreased drastically. As governments focus on regional and global conflicts, nongovernmental organizations (NGO) must increase their role in disaster relief operations. The UN disintegrated due to its inability to resolve massive immigration attempts and numerous regional and global conflicts.33There is no nation-state left with the power to control world events, leaving bilateral and multilateral security arrangements which shift constantly as actors try to keep pace with changing threats. NATO still exists, but has become trivial, relegated primarily to the role of a legal secretary between countries negotiating security arrangements.

The Nature of US National Security Strategy

The US national security strategy in Digital Cacophony is two-fold, first to deter and defend against hostile actions against US citizens, companies, and property, to include the use of WMD; and second, to ensure open electronic information flows. Most Americans have strong ties and interests around the globe via information networks. These interests are often targeted by terrorists; and US citizens feel the military should protect these interests, whether they be goods, services, equipment, territory, or personnel. The military is equipped to meet all known contingencies at any location worldwide. They are directed to deter WMD through aggressive counterdetection, counterterrorism, and counterproliferation strategies.34 The national security strategy also addresses the enforcement of free and open electronic trade throughout all nations and groups. The military is well trained and specially equipped for this mission and constantly monitors nearly all information networks.

The Nature of Humanity

In this world, individuals can hold great power and are able to affect the outcome of a great many things. However, they are only independent as a single entity on the internet, as they are totally reliant on the net to function. Despite the allure of the electronic faux-life, a common dream is to “unplug” and be left alone for awhile . . . but the thought of missing the latest info-update is too enervating. Psychologists have categorized this neurosis as “infolepsis,” a condition of frequent and uncontrollable desire for information.35 People communicate freely on the net, but many have also become isolationists, unable to communicate face-to-face. The net has become the center of people’s existence. “Net-vangelism,” or internet evangelism, has become a dominant form of persuasion, competing equally with other media forms. It is often used to sway public opinion regarding proposed government policies.

Due to the rapidly changing political and technological environment, most people suffer from high levels of anxiety. Many cannot cope or are uncomfortable with Exponentialn change and its apparently unknowable impacts. Sometimes even those comfortable with technology find themselves temporarily on the outside looking in. For example, disgruntled software engineers who are replaced by artificial intelligence are able to temporarily disrupt portions of the information net, causing havoc in the transportation network.36

The Nature of Technology

Exponentialn DTeK is the key driver in this world, accelerating beyond the control of world actors. Technological advances often result in unintended consequences, such as ready access to weapons of massdisruption. In a society dependent on the global network, a disruption to that service is often more damaging than a physical attack.37

Information is a prized commodity, often used to barter, as normal power structures have become diluted. In particular, the filtering and sifting of information becomes the focus of almost every organization and individual.38 Information equals power and control, but the main information challenge is sifting through databases to clear contaminants and waste by-products, such as unwanted and unneeded information. Personalized, self-adapting information filters are at the forefront of market demand. Filters also guard against “cyberagents,” who prowl the net. Cyberagents infiltrate deep into cyberspace to detect, alter, steal, and destroy information filters and files. Since filters cannot protect against, nor detect, all “tainted” or false information, individuals have lost confidence in the information they are receiving.39

Customers force innovations in a bottom-up research and development era, and companies must remain adept at satisfying individual customer needs. Some of the most significant advances have been in the medical field.40 For example, most known diseases are detected and treated at birth; anti-aging products and services ensure a life expectancy exceeding 100 years of age; and genetic mapping allows researchers to examine the underlying causes of disease.41 Organ replacements are now performed as outpatient surgery, with a seven-to-ten day recovery time. Limb replacement patients complete rehabilitation in four to six weeks. These and other medical advances help sustain a high military operations tempo, as damaged soldiers can often be healed and recycled to the zone of operations in days. Nonmedical advances include the development of new super materials designed at the molecular level,42 miniaturization of most hardware devices,43 and robots for most domestic and manufacturing tasks.44The military relies heavily on advances in civilian technologies rather than funding their own niche research,45 and quickly adapts and incorporates any new technology to keep ahead of the competition.

Since personal residences are the focus of all day-to-day activities, most services are provided directly to the home. For instance, quality primary and secondary education is available on the net.46 This “democratization” of education has brought the world computer literacy rate to over 90 percent, and most individuals have college-equivalent degrees. Because interconnectivity is total and virtual, information technology is used for more than just power; it is also used for pleasure and intellectual fulfillment. For example, due to personal safety concerns, the majority use “sensurround systems” to enjoy sporting activities, or take vacations in the safety and comfort of their biologically filtered domicile. Sensurround is a series of biochemical and electronic systems providing a total virtual firsthand experience, more stimulating than life itself. Sensors are strapped onto the body and one can actually feel what is happening on the sport fields or while skiing the Alps, switching “locations” at a whim.

The Nature of the Environment

The rampant nature of DTeK leads to unintended chaotic effects in Digital Cacophony. A major concern is managing the unanticipated outgrowth of problems and unforeseen vectors spun off by the rapid and revolutionary leaps in technology. Consequently, this world is characterized as a “256-color” world; parts are green, parts are brown, and other “colors” just splash across the canvas. There are too many colors, and most are artificial. Also, everyone has a voice in this world, and it is difficult to find peace and quiet with those voices coming at you from every direction.

Unanticipated problems are an unfortunate outgrowth from this world, and controls are often not established in a timely manner commensurate with the dangers of technological developments. For instance, easy access to technology and materials caused a rapid spread of WMD. Another unintended consequence was when biogenetic diseases, developed for military and commercial use, escaped to the open environment. Information weapons of mass disruption also exist, and filter industries must devote ever greater resources to the problem of viruses that have escaped from information warfare centers.47 Some viruses evolve and are rarely detectable, existing as “stealth” viruses of unknown motivation, origin, or destination.48

The terrorist threat has reversed the trend toward urbanization as people have scattered across the globe. Technology makes living just about anywhere feasible. Many live underground for additional protection and environmental aesthetics. Underwater settlements are beginning to flourish in support of the various mining operations and food production sites.49

Technology has made great leaps in the day-to-day care of the environment. All trash is recycled and industrial waste has almost been eliminated.50 Water is also recycled worldwide,51 while air and water filters keep home dwellings safe. People and animals suffer from organ failure due to the extreme electromagnetic radiation from the numerous electronic devices,52 but medical advances have made this problem treatable. Energy resources are plentiful, with substantial reliance on renewable resources such as wind, solar,53 tidal, and wave energy,54 as well as the expanded use of nuclear fusion.55

The Nature of the Defense Budget

Technological advances have accelerated the growth of gross domestic products worldwide. For instance, the US GDP has risen an average of 6 percent annually over the past 30 years to $39 trillion.56Accordingly, the federal budget has easily been able to withstand a rise in defense spending to more than $300 billion in 1995 dollars (see fig. 5-3), an amount that represents less than 1 percent of American GDP. Military budgets-particularly for modernization, which is now 60 percent of the total DOD budget-rise in an attempt to stay apace with threats. Obsolescence is a recurrent problem, and some systems’ lifespans are measured in months or less. Though the defense budget has increased, serious threats from all directions, because of ready access to WMD and information disruption systems, reduce the overall security of US citizens.

Figure 5-3. DOD Budget (Constant FY95 $B) for Digital Cacophony


America’s global world view supports a technically proficient military, able to inject itself into surface, spatial, and virtual operating environments. The US has chosen to be involved globally because the fuzzy state has, in a sense, formed a fluid continuum seeping into all of the world’s nooks and crannies. The US perceives this continuum as a global neighborhood sharing one backyard,58 Physical and virtual defenses are everywhere.


In Digital Cacophony, DTeK’s Exponentialn growth has contributed to an unstable world, domestically and internationally. The proliferation of mass destruction and disruption weapons keeps the world on edge. As fears in the US escalate, individuals turn to the netocracy in dictating what military action they want accomplished. At times it is not clear who the enemy is with the rapid shifting of coalitions. Historical allies become foes and foes become allies as technology quickly determines who is currently leading the technology race and receiving the profits.

Four main concerns impact the day-to-day operations of the military: time, modernization, training, and burnout. Time is of the essence as every conflict, no matter its initial scope, has the capacity to explode into regional or global war. The decision cycle is compressed into hours, vice days or weeks. To remain ready, the military maintains worldwide vigilance. The pace of modernization is driven by the need to stay ahead in fielding the latest weapon or countermeasure. Unfortunately, the pace of modernization makes it difficult to keep personnel trained in the latest techniques and equipment. A combination of extremely high operations and training tempo causes rapid burnout of most front-line military forces. Most remain in the field only 5 to 10 years. A key challenge is the task of balancing this burnout with the need to retain individuals with “live” experience.

Information-age advances have greatly benefited certain aspects of the military. Since many military missions can be performed “over the net,” many serve “on-line.” All headquarters and command functions are performed on-line from dispersed locations to reduce vulnerability and increase efficiency. Many nonmobile functions, such as acquisition, supply, and most logistics, are transitioned to the reserves. All officer and enlisted professional military education and advanced technical training is individualized, and most student interaction is conducted via virtual videoconferencing seminars.


Digital Cacophony is a world racing to keep pace with the rampant speed of technological change. This condition results from the effects of DTeK being at the extreme Exponentialn dimension. The power grid in this world has become Dispersed, and no one actor or government can control the free-flowing information across boundaries. The American world view is Global due to the numerous threats facing the country and world. The US realizes it is part of the “global village” and must be involved worldwide to guarantee long-term security.


  1. “One group of scientists has said the rate of change in our contemporary world is running a million times faster than the rate of humans’ ability to adjust to the new situation.” Michel Marriott, “In a Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook,” The New York Times, 24 January 1996, C-1.
  2. The concept is similar to a fictional example found in Bruce Sterling, Islands In The Net (New York: Ace Books, 1988).
  3. Negroponte discusses the upcoming ability to carry “more and more computing and communications equipment on our body,” with the wristwatch being the most obvious choice. He predicts that within five years, one of the largest growth areas in consumer products will be with devices such as an all-in-one, wrist-mounted TV, computer, and telephone. Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 210.
  4. “It’s a typical day in the year 2006. After a hectic afternoon of negotiating contracts with business partners in Hong Kong, London, Moscow, and the Bronx, you step into your kitchen. What’s for lunch? You press a hand on your personal diagnostic machine, and quicker than you can say Michael Jackson does Sinatra, the unit checks your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight-fat ratio and reads out your nutritional requirements. Up pops the menus.” Marriott, C-1.
  5. Julian dates are the days of a calendar year, numbered 1 through 365 (or 366 for leap year) starting with January 1st as 001. Months are not used.
  6. Some of the 2025 advisors argued that such significant advances in technology would produce only a peaceful and nonthreatening world. They believed networking the world together would make people understand each other and be less confrontational. The Alternate Futures team feels technology will also produce negative effects. Often technology will come into the hands of those willing to do whatever it takes, whether positive or negative, to support their position.
  7. Numerous sources cite the projected development of advances in the medical field. Robert Langer, and Joseph P. Vacanti, “Artificial Organs,” Scientific American 273, no. 3 (September 1995): 100-103; Jeffrey A. Fisher, “Breakthroughs in Sight,” World Health 47, no. 5 (September-October 1995): 20-21; “In 2010,” The Economist 330, no. 7855 (19 March 1994): F15-18; and Douglas E. Olesen, “The Top 10 Technologies, for the Next 10 Years,” The Futurist 29, no. 5 (September-October 1995): 9-13.
  8. Mr Edward Cornish, president of the World Future Society, predicts that “homes will be so comfortable and so wired to the outside world with communication and entertainment equipment that people will rarely want to leave them.” Marriott.
  9. Numerous references predict expansion of global networking. Mark Nollinger, “America, On-Line,” Wired 3, no. 9 (September 1995): 158; and George I. Zysman, “Wireless Networks” and “Wireless Telephony for Developing Countries,” Scientific American 273, no. 3 (September 1995): 52; and Marvin Cetron and Owen Davies, “50 Trends Shaping the World,” adapted from Crystal Globe: The Haves and Have-Nots of the New World Order (Bethesda, Md.; St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 1-10.
  10. Walter B. Wriston, The Twilight of Sovereignty: How the Information Revolution is Transforming Our World (New York: Scribner Publishers, 1992), 1-176.
  11. Here the Tofflers’ concept of “hyper-connectivity” is extended further. The authors propose that the increased use of networking will allow average American citizens the capability to vote on every issue as opposed to sending forward a representative. Alvin Toffler and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1993), 244-246.
  12. Negroponte states, “My guess is that 1 billion people will be connected (to the Internet) by the year 2000. This is based on the fact that the fastest growing number of Internet hosts (percent change) in the third quarter of 1994 were Argentina, Iran, Peru, Egypt, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Slovenia and Indonesia (in that order).” Negroponte, 182.
  13. Researchers have shown a link between social unrest and poverty/economic growth. While social instability can and does affect the economy, this is the lesser of the two effects. Suk Hun Lee, “Relative Importance of Political Instability and Economic Variables on Perceived Country Creditworthiness,” Journal of International Business Studies, Winter 1993, 801-812. What is clear is that social unrest, caused by discovering that one is a have-not, can impact the economy of a region. Bedford N. Umez, “Has Social Mobilization Caused Political Instability in Africa? A Granger Causality Test,” The Review of Black Political Economy, Summer 1993, 33-54.
  14. “The threat of a Russian-American nuclear Armageddon may have lessened with the ending of the cold war, but fears about the spread of nuclear weapons have, if anything, intensified. ‘The bomb’ remains the power-symbol of choice, coveted by nervous governments around the world.” “Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Between the Bomb and a Hard Place,” The Economist 334, no. 7907 (25 March 1995): 23-25.
  15. David Albright, president of the Institute of Science and International Security, describes how difficult it is detecting small, nuclear facilities. He states, “Although many secret programs have been detected and thwarted, several important programs have eluded detection. In some cases, the failure stemmed from inadequate monitoring; in others, from a lack of political commitment.” David Albright, “A Proliferation Primer,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 49, no. 5 (June 1993): 14-23.
  16. “Genetic engineering has great potential in agriculture. By the turn of the century the world will be using crop products which have been honed to market specification by the addition, subtraction, or modification of genes.” Jim Peacock, “Twenty-first Century Crops,” Nature 357, no. 6377 (4 June 1992): 358. Other related articles describing genetic engineering of plants include: “A Swift, Simple Way to Engineer New Plants,” Business Week, no. 3368 (25 April 1994): 136; “Pest-Resistant Seeds Foil Insects,” USA Today (Magazine) 123, no. 2601 (June 1995): 14-15; and “Creating Shorter, Stronger Plants,” USA Today (Magazine) 122, no. 2589 (June 1994): 7-8. For information on genetic engineering of animals see Jacqueline M. Graves, “Designer Genes Go for Your Plate,” Fortune132, no. 1 (10 July 1995): 22; Hayo Cremers and Debora MacKenzie, “Europe Wrangles over Herman’s Sex Life,” New Scientist 136, no. 1849 (28 November 1992): 8; and Diane Gershon, “Genetically Engineered Foods Get Green Light,” Nature 357, no. 6377 (4 June 1992): 352.
  17. “The influenza virus is unique among viruses in being able to undergo so much antigenic change that an antigenically novel virus can sweep around the world in a year or two, giving rise to significant morbidity and mortality…. Recent and historical information suggest China, especially southern China, as a hypothetical influenza epicenter.” Kennedy F. Shortridge, “The Next Pandemic Influenza Virus?” The Lancet 346, no. 8984 (4 November 1995): 1210-1212. In addition, a very realistic plague situation is played out in “Savior of the Plague Years,” Wired Scenarios, Special Edition, 1.01 (1995): 84.
  18. A similar influenza pandemic occurred in the past. “It was a secondary bacterial infection that accounted for the high mortality in the influenza epidemic of 1918 and 1919, one of the worst human catastrophes on record. It has been estimated that more than 20 million people around the world died during the epidemic, and of the 20 million people who suffered from the illness in the United States, approximately 850,000 died.” The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., 1991, vol. 26, Macropeadia, 748(2)a.
  19. In 1995, “ninety-five percent of the wild rabbits in South Australia were killed by the accidental release of the deadly calcivirus” in less than three months. Such accidents cause great fear in Digital Cacophony, a world where information is available at the lowest level, without the infrastructure to institute rigorous safeguards. Steve Newman, “Rabbit Viruses,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3 February 1996.
  20. The Tofflers assert that unless the UN is reorganized, it will lose all its efficacy and relevance. In this world, it fails to reorganize, thus in effect disbands as the major powers in the world discontinue their membership. Toffler and Toffler, 210.
  21. “A HERF gun is a very powerful weapon in the Information Warrior’s arsenal, and it can come in all sorts of different configurations to meet one’s needs. At a very basic level, a HERF gun shoots a high power radio signal at an electronic target and puts it out of commission.” Winn Schwartau, Information Warfare (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1994), 178.
  22. Don White, an expert on electromagnetic shielding, “feels that HERF represents a real challenge for the commercial sector, especially if used by terrorists. He agrees that HERF, since it is both invisible and insidious, is a much-overlooked threat.” Schwartau, 183-184.
  23. In the 1990s, Gen Donald J. Kutyna, while commander in chief of the US Space Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the ever-increasing threat of third world tactical ballistic missile systems. In Digital Cacophony, ballistic missile technology has merged with precision instrumentation, giving so-called third world countries the capability to achieve some nuclear effects with nonnuclear devices. Maj James P. Marshall, “Near Real-Time Intelligence of the Tactical Battlefield,” Maj Glenn Cobb, ed., Theater Air Campaign Studies Course Book (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air Command and Staff College, 1995), 231-238.
  24. A territorial war breaks out in North Africa between Libya and Algeria. Libya claims the war is based on an old territorial dispute with Algeria, but both countries are really vying for the rich natural resources in Tunisia. As the tide turns towards an Algerian victory, Libya launches a Scud missile with a small nuclear warhead at the city of Algiers. This is a fictional scenario based on information gathered in Jane’s Sentinel: The Unfair Advantage, Regional Security Assessment, North Africa, 1995 Edition, ed. by Paul Beaver (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group, 1994).
  25. “Space is limitless in every sense. If we are to survive and progress as a species, then we must eventually break through the limits of our home planet and people the reaches of space.” For additional info see: Marshall T. Savage, “Dawn of a New Millennium,” Ad Astra 7, no. 4 (July/August 1995): 40-43.
  26. “Space will undoubtedly be a center of gravity in any future war with a peer. Space offers a medium for near instantaneous, cheap, worldwide communications [and] continuous surveillance . . . these are war-deciding capabilities … war in space will mirror any other kind of war. It will have offensive and defensive aspects. Militaries will attack enemy satellites while trying to defend their own satellites.” Jeffery R. Barnett, Future War (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1996), 41; and Toffler and Toffler, 99-101.
  27. The oceans have vast reserves of commercially valuable minerals, including nickel, iron, manganese, copper, and cobalt. These minerals are found most often near hot gushers, known as hydrothermal vents, spewing up a black cloud of superheated, mineral-rich water from an average depth of about 7,300 feet. Several mining companies are drawing up plans to investigate further. Michael D. Lemonick, “The Last Frontier,” Time 147, no. 7 (14 August 1995): 54-60; and Steven Ashley, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” Technology Review 97, no. 3 (May/June 1994): 13-14. As for ocean settlements, Marshall Savage, author of The Millennial Project, states the colonizing of the earth’s oceans are the first phase of space colonization. The oceans are vast, with warm water banks of energy and nutrients sufficient to provide a very large population with a high standard of living on an indefinitely sustainable basis. For additional information see Savage, 40-43. One of the 2025 advisors asked during the 7 February 1996 briefing of the Alternate Futures why people would want to live in space or under the sea. John Mauldin put it best when he said, “People will go to the stars for the basic reason that some yearn enough to endure and overcome the hardships.” John H. Mauldin, “Reflections on the Sociology of Interstellar Travel,” Ad Astra 7, no. 4 (July/August 1995): 48-52.
  28. Negroponte feels that as the business world globalizes, along with the Internet, one will start to see “a seamless digital workplace.” Bits will be borderless, stored and manipulated with absolutely no respect to geopolitical boundaries. Negroponte, 228. Also see Marriott; and Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (New York: Viking, 1995), 231-242.
  29. Wriston.
  30. 2025 executive committee brought up the point during a videoteleconference on 10 January 1996 that as people’s fear and anxiety rise, they would expect governments to do more to provide security, even if the government is “virtual.”
  31. Van Creveld points out that historically, nuclear WMD have not conferred any particular military or political advantage to their possessors, who incur debilitating financial and technical strains in producing and maintaining such systems. See Martin van Creveld, The Transformation of War (New York: The Free Press, 1991), 2-10. The Alternate Futures study team asserts that in a world of rampant TeK, the entry fee would be substantially reduced. However, nuclear WMD are not the primary problem in Digital Cacophony. The primary problems are the traditional poor man’s nuclear weapons-chemical and biological toxins-which are readily produced in this world. Information nets are also vulnerable to weapons of mass disruption (sometimes called WMd).
  32. Even strong advocates of the merits of interdependence, such as Joseph Nye, now acknowledge that “the growing interdependence of the world does not necessarily establish greater harmony.” Joseph S. Nye and William A. Owens, “America’s Information Edge,” Foreign Affairs 75, no. 2 (March-April 1996): 24; and Toffler and Toffler, 175.
  33. The Tofflers assert that unless the UN is reorganized, it will lose all its efficacy and relevance. What will remain is a hollow shell, a country club of nation-states who debate the good old days. Toffler and Toffler, 210.
  34. Nye and Owens argue that information dominance in battle has the ability to deter twists of terror and propaganda. Nye, 25.
  35. This definition is patterned after that for narcolepsy. It is a logical extension of articles in the 1990s that discuss Internet addiction. These cybernauts, lost in electronic space, would constitute a large portion of Digital Cacophony denizens. For a sample article see Diedtra Henderson, “Addicted to the Internet,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 24 March 1996. For a fictional example of the effects of being left off the net, see Sterling.
  36. Schwartau cites numerous examples of people manipulating systems as an act of revenge or for personal gratification. Schwartau, 215-248.
  37. “Information warfare is an invisible but very real war where Information Weapons of Mass Destruction are let loose, either in a focused way, to achieve specific results, or indiscriminately, to have the widest possible impact. The victims are not only the targeted computers, companies, or economics, but the tens of millions of people who depend upon these information systems for their survival.” Schwartau, 291; “Tomorrow’s terrorist may be able to do more damage with a keyboard than with a bomb.” Toffler and Toffler, 150.
  38. “Information overload is not unique to the highway, . . . you’ll be able to set up “filters” which are really just standing queries. Filters will work around the clock, watching for new information that matches an interest of yours, filtering out everything else.” Gates, 79-80.
  39. Schwartau, 1-384; and Douglas Waller, “Onward Cyber Soldiers,” Time 146, no. 8 (21 August 1995): 38-42.
  40. “The Future of Medicine,” The Economist 330, no. 7855 (19 March 1994): F3-18; John Carey, “Science-Fiction Medicine Is Fast Becoming Fact,” Business Week, no. 3399 (18 November 1994): 169; Thomas Blanton and David C. Balch, “Telemedicine,” The Futurist 29, no. 5 (September-October 1995): 14-18; Fisher, 20-21; Langer, 100-103; and Olesen, 10.
  41. Olesen, 10.
  42. Ibid., 10.
  43. Charles Platt, “The Museum of Nanotechnology: Tiny and Great Leaps for the Human Race,” Wired Scenarios, Special Edition 1.01 (1995): 102-103.
  44. Hans Moravac, professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, foresees that by 2000, robots able to find their way around open and cluttered places without using markers or devices to assist, plus being more cost effective than a person. Charles Platt, “Super Humanism,” Wired 3, no. 10 (October 1995), 144; and Negroponte, 213.
  45. Admiral Owens, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that even in 1995 the center of technological acceleration generally lay in the commercial, nondefense sector. William A. Owens, “The Emerging System of Systems,” in Maj Glenn Cobb, ed., Theater Air Campaign Studies (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air Command and Staff College, 1995), 205-209.
  46. “The information highway will help raise the educational standards for everyone in future generations. The highway will allow new methods of teaching and much more choice.” Gates, 198.
  47. Schwartau, 105-108; and Waller, 38-42.
  48. Toffler and Toffler, 150-151.
  49. “The Next Wave: Aquaculture,” Scientific American 273, no. 3 (September 1995), 185. Also see: Lemonick, 54-60; Steven Ashley, 13-14; and Savage, 40-43.
  50. The growing trend is for industries to now “design for recycling,” “design for disassembly,” and “design for the environment.” There is a shift away from the treatment or disposal of industrial waste and towards the elimination of its very creation. Manufacturers will design and produce products in such a way as to make the control of waste and pollution part of their enterprise, not just an afterthought. See Robert A. Frosch, “The Industrial Ecology of the 21st Century,” Scientific American 273, no. 3 (September 1995), 178-180; Julian Szekely and Gerardo Trapaga, “From Villain To Hero (Materials Industry’s Waste Recovery Efforts),” Technology Review 98, no. 1 (Jan 1995), 30-36; “Garbage In, Business Out,” The Economist 337, no. 7938 (28 October 1995), 94; and Michael Terrazas, “Report Outlines Global Waste Reduction Efforts,” American City & County 110, no. 10 (September 1995), 16-19.
  51. Around the world, and most especially in water-short countries, states, and cities, wastewater is meeting a variety of demands. These range from water reuse for agriculture, industry, urban reuse and irrigation, environmental and recreational application, groundwater recharge, and augmentation of potable water supply. John Meister, “Waste Not, Want Not: Putting Wastewater To Work,” American City & County 110, no. 1 (January 1995), 32; and “Reclaimed Water Requires Homework First,” American City & County 110, no. 11 (October 1995), 34.
  52. Similar to the scenario portrayed in the movie Johnny Mnemonic.
  53. “By 2025 the worldwide demand for fuel is projected to increase by 30 percent and that for electricity by 265 percent. Even with more efficient use and conservation, new sources of energy will be required. Solar energy could provide 60 percent of the electricity and as much as 40 percent of the fuel.” William Hoagland, “Solar Energy,” Scientific American 273, no. 3 (September 1995), 136-139; and Cetron and Davies, 4.
  54. Jeremy Webb, “Wave Energy Project Hangs in the Balance,” New Scientist 140, no. 1896 (23 October 1993), 8; David Ross, “Not Drowning But Waving,” New Statesman & Society 9, no. 385 (12 January 1996), 30; Jeremy Webb, “Tide of Optimism Ebbs Over Underwater Windmill,” New Scientist 138, no. 1870 (24 April 1993), 10.
  55. Harold P. Furth, “Fusion,” Scientific American 273, no. 3 (September 1995), 141-143.
  56. Based on a 1995 US GDP of $6.74 trillion. The World Fact Book (Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 1995), 144.
  57. Karl Magyar suspects that this alternate future might evolve into a fuzzy global body politic. In such a world, cooperation and consensus would strongly influence (though not necessarily determine) interactions between actors. Dr Karl Magyar, faculty, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., interview with one of the authors, 9 April 1996.
  58. In a world in which forces are constantly deployed, it becomes difficult to find the time to train for those missions. This problem is exacerbated in Digital Cacophony, where military members must not only train for a mission type, but must frequently retrain with new equipment. Standardization between upgrades and outright replacement of equipment ease the burden. Joint Pub 1, Joint Warfare of the US Armed Forces (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1991), 3.

Contact: Air Force 2025
Last updated: 1996 September 15

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