The question: How does the concept of individual superempowerment apply to warfare?Bill Lind (the "father of 4GW"), in a recent article, defines a superempowered individual as a lone gunman. He cites recent examples of this:
Between February 8 and February 14, four American schools suffered attacks by lone gunmen. The most recent, at Northern Illinois University on February 14, saw five killed (plus the gunman) and 16 wounded. Similar attacks have occurred elsewhere, including shopping malls.He follows this definition with critique of the argument that superempowered individuals may form the basis of a fifth generation of warfare. His main line of attack? That these individuals in comparison to the guerrilla/terrorist groups we see globally:
- share a similar motivational source (isolation, alienation and the decline of the state)
- offer no qualitative improvement in warfare (the lone gunman only operates on a smaller scale)
- technology is merely a facilitator of alienation/isolation.
In short, Bill decries the use of superempowerment (mainly from me, and recently Hammes), or any similar attempt, as a means to define a fifth generation of warfare. 'It's just too early to call,' he claims. I don't disagree that it may be too early, however I do disagree strongly with Bill's definition of a superempowered individual.Superempowerment is a much richer and more complex phenomenon than a mere reduction in scale (down to a single attacker). Instead, superempowerment describes the process by which individuals and small groups are using;
- rapidly improving tools (the doubling rate of Moore's law applied to technologies accessible to the average individual),
- connectivity to a global community and its resources (how to use those tools from MIT courseware to Jihadi "how to" sites),
- and newly accessible forms of economic activity that transcend state control,
NOTE: Read self-replication as the ability to "manufacture" millions/billions of daemons/bots/virii/bacteria with increasingly complex behavior at nearly zero cost (take a look at Storm). These "manufactured armies" will become exceedingly dangerous as superempowered designers begin to introduce processor/software combos into their creations that exceed equivalent levels of biological intelligence we see in the natural environment (insects, small mammals, etc.).