Excerpt from “The Next Decade” - Innovation and Military
"The second problem in this rate of innovation, oddly enough, lies with the military. In the nineteenth century, the development of the steam engine and the development of the British navy (and its imperial reach) moved hand in hand. In the twentieth century, the United States was the engine of global technological development, and much of that innovation was funded and driven by military acquisitions, and almost all of that had some spin-off civilian application. The development of both the aircraft and radios was heavily subsidized by the military and resulted in the subsequent birth of the airline industry and the broadcasting industry. The interstate highway system was first conceived of as a military project to facilitate the rapid movement of troops in case of Soviet attack or nuclear catastrophe. The microchip was developed for use in the small digital computers that guided both nuclear missiles and the rockets needed to put payloads in space. And of course the internet, which entered public consciousness in the 1990s, began as a military communications project in the 1960s.
Wars are times of intense technological transformation, because societies invest — sometimes with extensive borrowing — when and here matters of life and death are at stake.”
- George Friedman, The Next Decade