fsdf sf
legal notes FAQ. site guide
fsdf

War Games in the Age of the Computer

Increasingly, such simulations pervade civilian life – digital and simulation technologies permeate the every day life of citizens via ‘smart phones’, Facebook and search engines which supply reports on the behavior and habits of every day users, it is clear that the data sets for simulating just about any aspect of human behavior anticipate use. While much of what gets done with this data isn’t public knowldege, there are enough reports and peripheral evidence to suggest the presence of large scale psychological manipulation.

x       x

 

VIDEO: The 1983 trailer for the film ‘War Games’. An unwitting harbinger of the dangerous meeting between military and civilian worlds through the computer?    
x     x

 

The Convergence of Simulation and Reality

In order to be able to run a simulation as effectively as possible, whenever possible, a war game should mimic reality as closely as possible. Elements of chance which may be overlooked by overly simplistic computerized models can then be avoided. Hence many ‘war games’ are played out on real battlefields under anticipated battle conditions.

However – because of the increasing role of technology as support for Battle Operations, the technological counterpart to war games can often be very effective in developing a particular strategy. An example of this might be the simulation of a jetliner running into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, which was claimed by US Forces at the time as the reason for suspending military and NORAD protocols (hence the lack of response to the actual attacks, as there was some confusion as to whether the attacks were ‘real’ or ‘simulated’). See also our section on ‘NORAD Protocols’

Increasingly however – the lines between simulation and reality present irresistible political opportunities. The possibility of feigning a simulated operation as real can have poltiical and financial benefits which are unparalleled. An example of this would be ‘Operation Northwoods’ (see link)

In commercial media also – poltiical strategies can be effectively acted upon. By presenting false or erroneous ‘stories in the media, by presenting the appropriate ‘stimulus’, any desired public response may be effected. A news story can be run the night before an election or vote for/against an issue – once the polling is closed and the ‘story’ revealed to be erroneous, political goals can be accomplished without actually involving poltiicians in misleading the public directly. Of course, this involves the complicity of the media source. But where such commercial operations are concerned, and the results of winning public opinion of such large scale consequence – the purchase of media influence is both commonplace and beneficial for both parties – see also the following link on media influence.

The War of the Worlds

x       x

 

AUDIO: Original 1938 Broadcast of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. The first foray into the gap between simulation and manipulation. The effect on the population was unparalleled. It showed that the capacity to mobilize public opinion was unlimited and potent.    
x     x

 

The original broadcast of the War of the Worlds sent 1 in 7 American households into panic. By simulating the sound of a live broadcast, Orson Welles was able to create an instant sensation (to put it mildly). Of even greater importance and psychological use is what happened in Quito, Ecuador a decade later:

In February 1949, Leonardo Paez and Eduardo Alcaraz produced a Spanish-language version of Welles’s 1938 script for Radio Quito in Quito, Ecuador. The broadcast set off panic in the city. Police and fire brigades rushed out of town to engage the supposed alien invasion force. After it was revealed that the broadcast was fiction, the panic transformed into a riot. Hundreds attacked Radio Quito and El Comercio, a local newspaper that had participated in the hoax by publishing false reports of unidentified objects in the skies above Ecuador in the days preceding the broadcast. The riot resulted in at least six deaths, including those of Paez’s girlfriend and nephew. Paez moved to Venezuela after the incident

What is particularly disturbing (but interesting) about this story is the fact that the violence was set into motion as a direct result of having learnt about the hoax. Rather than be relieved by the knowledge of the duplicitous broadcast, in a case of mass cognitive dissonance – the duped citizens chose to act upon the pent up tension by directly attacking the employees of the radio station. This is important information – and tells us the degree to which people may endure physical peril rather than accept the events as a ‘harmless hoax’. Many people would rather engage in violence rather than ‘change their minds’.

Psychological Training: Teaching Kids to Kill

According to the Independent Weekend Magazine – after WWII a study conducted by the US military think tanks concluded that only 1 in 4 soldiers actually fired on the enemy. Others weren’t psychologically ready to engage,and so they didn’t. This was a major source of frustration for the military establishment. The ubiquitous image of soldiers rushing into battle with guns blazing simply didn’t happen. Grossman, who had studied the problem, was brought in to remedy the situation. He used “operant conditioning”, a Skinnerian psychological term mixed with simulations that were closer to the actual conditions — previously gun training mainly involved shooting at distant targets and aiming carefully.

This was further refined with simulators over the years — which bore a remarkable resemblance to today’s first person shooter video games. The military’s involvement in the development of such games is suspect here. However – Grossman has since become a critic of the impact of these games, claiming that they are in effect training young players to be killing machines. The efficiency of the soldiers trained in this way quadrupled, so it is effective. He claims that games teach adolescents (and frustrated nerds) to have the killing instinct and to quicken their reactions and lower their inhibitions.

Strategy: Game Theory

We do not wish to be misleading here; the term ‘Game Theory’ has no shared origin with ‘War Games’. However – Game Theory has become an intrinsic aspect of military strategy – including aspects of planning operations for War Games and real assaults. As the lines of distinction between ‘War Games’ and real operations become blurred, it is important to understand the basic intent of applied game theory. The Rand Corporation ‘adopted’ the work of mathematician John Nash, whose work would become critically important in the development of the psychological underpinnings of the cold war in the 1960s. By adopting the models of the ‘free individual’ and ‘the free market’, and incorporating them into such scenarios, the technocrats at the Rand Corporation were able to numerically model scenarios and their outcome according to the wishes of political philosopher and Rand mentor Friedrich von Hayek – who envisioned ways of computing economic and political models. This was precisely what the engineers at Rand were hoping for.

Nash (the same John Nash portrayed in 2001’s oblique ‘A Beautiful Mind’) the developed the logistical infrastructure for being able to compute scenarios modeling human behavior- including Soviet responses to American miltary decisions. Some of the better known and heavily applied models he developed were ‘The Spanish Prisoner’ and ‘Fuck You Buddy’, both developed as part of official US Military policy and decision making while confronting the Soviet menace of the 1960s and 1970s.

 

x       x

 

 

VIDEO: BBC Documentary on the blurring of boundaries between Military Intelligence Culture and Consumer Culture and the Application of Game Theory in military strategy think tanks like the Rand Corporation. Ultimately models of such scenarios have all but taken over miltary and civilian control strategies.    
x     x

 

REFERENCES

War Games: The Military Use of Consumer Technology, The Economist, Dec. 2009.

U.S. Intelligence Will Train Super-Sleuths With Videogames

PTSD and the Price of Conditioning, D Grossman,

Teaching Kids to Kill, D Grossman, 2000

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, Grossman, 2009

CIA War Games Simulate Electronic Assault

‘Silent Horizon’ war games wrap up for the CIA

What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom? Adam Curtis, BBC, 2007

War Games: The Military Use of Consumer Technology, The Economist, Dec. 2009.

PTSD and the Price of Conditioning, D Grossman,

Teaching Kids to Kill, D Grossman, 2000

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, Grossman, 2009

 

 

 

best mba essay editing services help starting an essay online help writing history essay pay for essay writing pay someone to do your essay

                © 2003-2015        List of Members             Log in best mba essay editing services help starting an essay online help writing history essay pay for essay writing pay someone to do your essay