For thousands of years man’s capacity to destroy was limited to spears, arrows and fire. 120 years ago we learned to release chemical energy (e.g. TNT), and 70 years ago we learned to be 100 million times+ more efficient by harnessing the nuclear strong force energy with atomic weapons, first through fission and then fusion. We’ve also miniaturized these brilliant inventions and learned to mount them on ICBMs traveling at Mach 20. Unfortunately, we live in a universe where the laws of physics feature a strong asymmetry in how difficult it is to create and to destroy. This observation is also not reserved to nuclear weapons—more generally, technology monotonically increases the possible destructive damage per person per dollar. This is my favorite resolution to the Fermi paradox.
Andrej Karpathy, Review of Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Goodreads, December 13, 2016
It might be a familiar progression, transpiring on many worlds—a planet, newly formed, placidly revolves around its star; life slowly forms; a kaleidoscopic procession of creatures evolves; intelligence emerges which, at least up to a point, confers enormous survival value; and the technology is invented. It dawns on them that there are such things as laws of Nature, that these laws can be revealed by experiment, and that knowledge of these laws can be made both to save and to take lives, both on unprecedented scales. Science, they recognize, grants immense powers. In a flash, they create world-altering contrivances. Some planetary civilizations see their way through, place limits on what may and what must not be done, and safely pass through the time of perils. Others are not so lucky or so prudent, perish.
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, New York, 1994, pp. 305-306