Did World War I drive technology or did the technology drive World War I?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

World War I drove technology, not the other way around.  This war was not caused by technology -- it was caused by things like ethnic animosity and the desire for power among nations.

The major reason for the start of WWI was ethnic animosity and nationalism.  The killing or Archduke Franz Ferdinand was done because he was a German ruling over Slavs, not because of technology.  The war expanded because Russia supported the Serbs and Germany supported Austria-Hungary.  This was done because of ethnicity, not because of technology.

The war spread to include England and France because those two countries were worried about the balance of power in Europe, not because of technology.

Lots of technology came out of this war, but the new technologies did not lead to the war.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I find this to be a phenomenally powerful question.  Certainly, the rapid nature of industrialization throughout Europe and the United States made advances in warfare a reality.  The idea of industrialization's desire to make a world more "efficient" was inevitably going to apply to warfare and killing.  The development of the machine gun, the tank, trench warfare, and the use of chemicals in war were the result of such advances in efficiency where killing in the name of country was the business, and "business was good."  I think that there was a desire for governments to coopt this for their own benefits and be able to apply this to the growing nationalistic interests and the expansion of borders.  I think that both technology and political ends found a similar home in the advancement of warfare ends.  Both forces found one another and were able to hasten the process of World War I taking place with unprecedented force and intensity.

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