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World War Three

Gigadeath War, or Third World War or World War Three, is an anticipated future event where conflict on Earth rises to intolerable levels, due to runaway technology and/or the conflicts over its use. It is distinct from the literature that anticipated "World War III", a 20th century superpower war.

A vast post-apocalyptic science fiction literature exists describing the likely aftermath of either, describing the impact of weapons of mass destruction. None of it describes a very happy world.

Albert Einstein, commenting on these possibilities, lamented that regardless of what weapons were employed in the next war, the one after that would be fought "with sticks and stones". Effectively civilization would be ended.

The term Gigadeath War, first used by Hugo De Garis[?], described a confrontation not between nations or religions but between Terrans and Cosmists, determined respectively to resist or advance artilect ("artificial intelligence" on a godlike scale) evolution beyond humans - a "technological singularity" out of human control.

This is not an isolated concept - apocalypse literature throughout the late 20th century emphasized lack of human control over war machines, e.g. Doctor Strangelove. This was a major theme of World War III scenarios, but in general, those described conflict triggered by humans deliberately, as part of a conventional concept of nation-state warfare.

The United Nations University Millennium Project[?] participants, in 2001, ranked technological runaways (gene, prion, virus, robot, software, or new molecules acting like any or all) as greater risks to human survival than intentional acts by humans. These possibilities are reflected in the term "weapons of mass destruction" which replaced the older term "NBC" (nuclear, biological, chemical) weapons.

Such a globally destructive war with such pervasive weapons ranks with Asteroid impact[?], a hostile technological singularity, and catastrophic climate change as an "Extinction Level Event". Such events were part of the study of deep ecology, but are now considered part of regular ecology of human populations.

Notable fictional literature (including film) describing scenarios for a gigadeath war:

  • Fail-Safe - US and USSR unable to escape automated oblivion
  • Doctor Strangelove - nuclear war between US and USSR started deliberately by insane US general
  • War Games - US military simulator decides to wage war itself
  • Colossus, The Forbin Project[?] - two (US and USSR) military AIs ally to blackmail humans into assembling more AIs like themselves
  • The Matrix - war of humans versus machines (who brainwash all humans).
  • The Terminator - automated military satellite system seeds a future robot culture which sends agents back in time to kill humans who had resisted them in the future.

See also: World War III, World War I, War to end all wars[?], science fiction,

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