NONZERO  THE LOGIC OF HUMAN DESTINY  By  ROBERT WRIGHT
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PART I: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANKIND

PART II: A BRIEF HISTORY OF ORGANIC LIFE

PART III: FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The relevance of Nonzero's central themes to the events of September 11 was spelled out in this essay, which appeared in Slate magazine in November of 2001. 

At the most general level, the relevance is this: 9/11 illustrates that, as technological evolution unfolds, people and states increasingly find themselves in non-zero-sum relationships with people and states at great distances from them. To fully understand this abstract, sweeping, and somewhat cryptic statement, you will need to either read the book or, at the very least, read the Slate essay. For narrower and more concrete connections between Nonzero and 9/11, you can glance at a few excerpts from the book available on this site: 

(1) Nonzero argues that terrorism will be a growing threat in the years and decades to come.  In this fragment of chapter sixteen, two reasons are emphasized: (a) Groups with intense grievances will get stronger as evolving information technology helps them mobilize their constituencies. (A comparison is made with the way the printing press empowered groups ranging from Protestants to nationalists and ultimately helped break up empires, a process described in this chunk from chapter thirteen and in later parts of that chapter.)  (b) These groups will likely have access to more and more lethal and compact weapons. 

(2) There are things we could do to contain the threat implied by these trends, as discussed in chapters fifteen and sixteen. One example is developing tough international regimes to police weapons of mass destruction, something whose importance is stressed in this part of chapter sixteen. 

(3) This part of chapter sixteen warns that, as terrorism becomes more lethal, we may be able to preserve our security only by sacrificing civil liberties. Later parts of that chapter discuss what, if anything, can be done to soften the terms of that tradeoff, so that we can have both security and liberty in abundance.