In 1981, Harvard law professor Roger Fisher, director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, published a thought experiment in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: what if the codes to launch nuclear war were kept inside the chest-cavity of a young volunteer, and the President would have to hack them out of this young man's chest before he could commence armageddon?
There is a young man, probably a Navy officer, who accompanies the President. This young man has a black attaché case which contains the codes that are needed to fire nuclear weapons. I could see the President at a staff meeting considering nuclear war as an abstract question. He might conclude: “On SIOP Plan One, the decision is affirmative, Communicate the Alpha line XYZ.” Such jargon holds what is involved at a distance.
My suggestion was quite simple: Put that needed code number in a little capsule, and then implant that capsule right next to the heart of a volunteer. The volunteer would carry with him a big, heavy butcher knife as he accompanied the President. If ever the President wanted to fire nuclear weapons, the only way he could do so would be for him first, with his own hands, to kill one human being. The President says, “George, I’m sorry but tens of millions must die.” He has to look at someone and realize what death is—what an innocent death is. Blood on the White House carpet. It’s reality brought home.
When I suggested this to friends in the Pentagon they said, “My God, that’s terrible. Having to kill someone would distort the President’s judgment. He might never push the button.“
The Heart of Deterrence
[Alex Wellerstein/Nuclear Secrecy]
For decades, people (including me) have predicted that cyberinsurers might be a way to get companies to take security seriously. After all, insurers have to live in the real world (which is why terrorism insurance is cheap, because terrorism is not a meaningful risk in America), and in the real world, poor security practices destroy […]
One of the major contributors to greenhouse gases is the methane that cows belch up as they break down cellulose, but five years ago, research from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that adding small amounts of a pink seaweed called Asparagopsis to cows' diets eliminated the gut microbes responsible for methane […]
On Slate Star Codex (previously), Scott Alexander breaks down Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation, Marco Del Giudice's Quarterly Review of Biology paper that examines the measures that parasites take to influence their hosts' behaviors, and the countermeasures that hosts evolve to combat them.
There’s reading for pleasure, and then there’s reading for fuel; absorbing the great ideas in nonfiction books so you can apply them in your own life. In today’s hectic pace, it can be difficult to find the time to do that reading – especially for the entrepreneurs and professionals who can benefit the most from […]
Breaking into the big leagues as a project manager isn’t done overnight, but there are principles that anyone can learn, and they’re applicable to nearly any business. No matter what your field, if there are multiple teams working toward a common goal, you’re going to need a roadmap. The Project Management Professional Certification Training Suite […]
On the one hand, nostalgia is “a corruption of the historical impulse,” according to William Gibson. On the other hand, “Super Mario Bros.” will never not be cool. Luckily, there’s a way to satisfy that retro gaming while still keeping an eye on the future: The GameShell Kit. This thing is simultaneously the last handheld […]