Web of war

Resultado de imagem para image of Working on the AN/FSQ-7 computer in a Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (or SAGE)

Working on the AN/FSQ-7 computer in a Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (or SAGE) air defence system facility. Photo by Andreas Feininger/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

How the hair-trigger nuclear age and fears of Armageddon inspired visionary cold warriors to invent the internet

Sharon Weinberger is a national security writer focusing on science and technology issues. She is currently the national security editor at The Intercept. Her writing has appeared in NatureWashington Post MagazineSlate and Discover, among others. Her latest book is The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency that Changed the World (2017).

‘We have some big trouble,’ president John F Kennedy told his brother, the attorney general Bobby Kennedy, early in the morning of 16 October 1962.

A few hours later, the younger Kennedy was staring at pictures of Cuba taken by the U-2 surveillance aircraft. ‘Those sons of bitches, Russians,’ he said, sitting in the White House with a group of officials dedicated to overthrowing Fidel Castro.

The pictures showed the telltale signs of Soviet missile launchers. The CIA had used a massive computer – which took the better part of a room to house – to calculate the precise measurements and capabilities of the missiles installed. Their dismal conclusion was that these missiles had a range of more than 1,000 miles, making them capable of reaching Washington, DC in just 13 minutes. This revelation sparked off a crisis that lasted almost two weeks. As the standoff over Cuba intensified, US military forces reached DEFCON 2, just one alert level before the start of nuclear war.

As military and civilian commanders clamoured for information on a minute-by-minute basis, computers such as the IBM 473L of the United States Air Force were being used for the first time in the midst of a conflict to process real-time information on how, for example, to allocate military forces. Yet even with the growing availability of computers, sharing that information among military commanders involved a time lag. The idea of having the information travel between connected computers did not yet exist.

After 13 days of scrambling forces to carry out a potential attack, the Soviet Union agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba. Nuclear war was averted, but the standoff also demonstrated the limits of command and control. With the complexities of modern warfare, how can you effectively control your nuclear forces if you cannot share information in real time? Unbeknown to most of the military’s senior leadership, a relatively low-level scientist had just arrived at the Pentagon to address that very problem. The solution he would come up with became the agency’s most famous project, revolutionising not just military command and control but modern computing too.

Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider – JCR, or simply Lick to his friends – spent much of his time at the Pentagon hiding. In a building where most bureaucrats measured their importance by proximity to the secretary of defence, Licklider was relieved when the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, assigned him an office in the D‑Ring, one of the Pentagon’s windowless inner circles. There, he could work in peace.

One time, Licklider invited ARPA employees to a meeting at the Marriott hotel between the Pentagon and the Potomac River, to demonstrate how someone in the future would use a computer to access information. As the chief proselytiser for interactive computing, Licklider first wanted people to understand the concept. He was trying to demonstrate how, in the future, everyone would have a computer, people would interact directly with those computers, and the computers would all be connected together. He was demonstrating personal computing and the modern internet, years before they existed.

There is little debate that Licklider’s reserved but forceful presence in ARPA laid the foundations for computer networking – work that would eventually lead to the modern internet. The real question is: why? The truth is complicated, and it is impossible to divorce the internet’s origins from the Pentagon’s interest in the problems of war, both limited and nuclear.  ARPA was established in 1958 to help the United States catch up with the Soviets in the space race, but by the early 1960s, it had branched off into new research areas, including command and control. The internet would likely not have been born without the military’s need to wage war, or at least it would not have been born at ARPA. Tracing the origins of computer networking at ARPA requires understanding what motivated the Pentagon to hire someone like Licklider in the first place.

It started with brainwashing…




Why Evolution Is Ageist


GENETIC LOTTO: The extent of epigenetic drift observed between young and old organisms causes researchers to believe other factors are at play, including those as random as selected lotto numbers. Hannah K. Lee

Genetic mutation changes from adaptive to dangerous after reproductive age.




When a Man’s Unemployed, His Wife Bears the Emotional Costs

by C. Brian Smith

She’s essentially his own personal Stuart Smalley

What’s the woman behind the man who just lost his job whispering in his ear? Most likely: “You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And doggone it, people like you.”

It’s what Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild defined in 1979 as “emotion work” — unpaid emotional maintenance that a person undertakes in their private life. Not to be confused, however, with “emotional labor,” another term Hochschild coined, which is essentially paid emotional work — managing feelings and facial expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job.

Both terms are in play these days when married white-collar men are unemployed, says Aliya Rao, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University who interviewed 25 college-educated, white-collar men and their wives for a study entitled, “The Woman Behind the Man: Unemployed Men, Their Wives and the Emotional Labor of Job-Searching.” Rao found that wives do a significant amount of emotional work at home to get their husbands in the right mindset to demonstrate to potential employers that their killers when it comes to emotional labor.

“How are you going to find a job when you have no confidence and are very emotional?” asked Emily Bader, one of the wives Rao interviewed. Emily’s husband Brian had been unemployed for more than a year, and it showed on his face. She thought Brian needed to be confident and upbeat so she would cheerfully proclaim that “any company would be lucky to have him,” all the while fearing his morose demeanor would make employers feel otherwise.

Rao explains that wives like Emily are simultaneously doing two kinds of emotion work: “Other-focused emotion work,” i.e., shaping husbands’ emotions into more positive ones; and “self-focused emotion work,” i.e., suppressing concerns and managing their own anxieties for the benefit of husbands during a job search.

We recently spoke with Rao about both, and why the phenomenon seems to only apply to unemployed men

What did Emily’s emotion work look like?
She would tell Brian that he’s a good worker, but then in interviews with me she’d say, “I know he’s a good worker, but he didn’t play the game of politics correctly. He should’ve seen that he was going to be let go and should’ve worked to protect himself and not mouthed off to his boss that way.”

She wouldn’t say this to him — at least not yet. He was still in a wounded, vulnerable stage looking for work and not finding it. So she was reminding him of the good stuff. She told me, “At the same time, it’s killing me inside because I can’t tell him what I think and have to put on this smiley, brave face when that’s not how I feel.” Brian agreed he was feeling down, but Brian didn’t know about the work Emily was doing to mask her real concern. That’s the whole point of emotion work, though: The other person shouldn’t be able to tell that you’re doing it.


How did the other wives in your study exhibit emotion work?
I found that these wives were doing several things, one of which was trying to make their husbands feel confident. They had lost their job for whatever reason and hadn’t found a new one in at least six months, so they were feeling pretty down and starting to wonder, What’s wrong with me? Wives were reassuring them that they had skills. They often used previous experiences and referenced things previous bosses or other colleagues might have said as proof of their value in the workplace, even though they were worried, too, and maybe doubting their husband’s skills. So even when the wives were cheerleading, they too were worried whether their husbands were going to get a job.

How did they manage to do both?
By doing both “self-focused emotion work” and “other focused emotion work.” The latter involves wives focusing on how he feels, cheerleading to instill confidence and a sense of professional worth in him. For example, as men were going through the job-search process — sending out a resume, having a phone interview, having an in-person interview, etc. — wives would celebrate each stage: See, you made it to the next phase! They described this as an “incremental” way of measuring progress. That way, if he didn’t get the job, it wouldn’t mean that he wasn’t a valuable candidate or a worthy worker…