At the end of a thoughtful article on the future of nuclear war, Wiesner and York (1) concluded that: "Both sides in the arms race are ...confronted by the dilemma of steadily increasing military power and steadily decreasing national security.
If the great powers continue to look for solutions in the area of science and technology only, the result will be to worsen the situation." I would like to focus your attention not on the subject of the article (national security in a nuclear world) but on the kind of conclusion they reached, namely that there is no technical solution to the problem.
An implicit and almost universal assumption of discussions published in professional and semipopular scientific journals is that the problem under discussion has a technical solution.
" It is well known that I cannot, if I assume (in keeping with the conventions of game theory) that my opponent understands the game perfectly.
Put another way, there is no "technical solution" to the problem.
It is fair to say that most people who anguish over the population problem are trying to find a way to avoid the evils of overpopulation without relinquishing any of the privileges they now enjoy.
They think that farming the seas or developing new strains of wheat will solve the problem--technologically.A technical solution may be defined as one that requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality.In our day (though not in earlier times) technical solutions are always welcome.For man, maintenance of life requires about 1600 kilocalories a day ("maintenance calories").Anything that he does over and above merely staying alive will be defined as work, and is supported by "work calories" which he takes in.The appearance of atomic energy has led some to question this assumption.However, given an infinite source of energy, population growth still produces an inescapable problem. The arithmetic signs in the analysis are, as it were, reversed; but Bentham's goal is still unobtainable.The author is professor of biology, University of California, Santa Barbara.This article is based on a presidential address presented before the meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Utah State University, Logan, 25 June 1968.I can win only by giving a radical meaning to the word "win." I can hit my opponent over the head; or I can drug him; or I can falsify the records.Every way in which I "win" involves, in some sense, an abandonment of the game, as we intuitively understand it.