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United States Technology

US Military Builds MMO Earth Simulator 525

Posted by michael
from the one-is-not-enough dept.
transient writes "BBC reports that the US military is creating a second Earth with help from There. At the moment, only Kuwait City has been modeled, but the ultimate goal is to model the entire Earth using existing terrain data and a super-accurate physics model. While combat will be part of the game, 'the emphasis in the artificial Earth will be on human interaction rather than conflicts involving lots of military hardware.'"
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US Military Builds MMO Earth Simulator

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  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:02AM (#8362017) Homepage
    Which do you think will win the War on Terror--guns or minds?

    It makes sense that they'd do this. After all, there have to be a few people at the Pentagon who understand that you can't make people stop hating you at gunpoint, and that they'd do well to have a simulator that allows them to get a feel for the social environments where terrorist organizations have the best luck in recruiting. The more they understand the role society plays in terrorism, the better they'll be able to counteract it.

    Break recruitment, and you're dealing with a handful of international criminals rather than a terrorist network.

    • by segment (695309) <sil @ p o l i t rix.org> on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:12AM (#8362112) Homepage Journal

      The more they understand the role society plays in terrorism, the better they'll be able to counteract it Firstly my two cents... You have Santa who controls the presents delivered around the world for millions of kids, and then ... Osama who controls the world's terrorists? Give me a break.

      You're forgetting that it would not be in the military's best interest to live in a Utopia because the world would not need armed forces. Aside from that, when it comes to the US military, put your filtered Americanized book down and learn the truth for once. If you look at the majority of conflicts in this world, you would know the US played a major role through clandestine actions. Take the cold war for example. The United States engaged Russia to implode. Certainly their researchers had to have known about the nuclear factor that would come out of it concerning a splinter of countries with nukes. It would be moronic to think the collapse of the Soviet Union would make their arms disappear. So what do we have now, nukes on the black market. Irrelevant here, but you should know the role of the MIC (mil. ind, complex) a bit better from an outside perspective before you believe that the army is doing this in order for all of us to sing "I'd like to teach the world to sing...".

      The ambitious project aims to help the US Army plan future conflicts which are unlikely to involve set-piece battles and instead be smaller in scale. Translation, lets simulate different combat scenarios here, so we'll know how to fight/kill (INSERT YOUR TERM HERE), when the time is appropriate.

      • by Wellspring (111524) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:35PM (#8362831)
        The Blame America school of foreign policy isn't terribly accurate. More importantly, from an American policy-maker's point of view, who cares? If everything that goes wrong is our fault anyway, then we might as well pursue our national interest like everyone else.

        Blame America is based on a unique variant of American exceptionalism: that we're uniquely evil-- that China, or the USSR, or Syria have no control over their own destinies becasue it's all Our Fault. History was pretty bleak before we came along; I like to think we've had a good impact overall, but we're not omnipotent.

        The civil war in Sudan had nothing to do with us, or the violence in Rwanda, or the Kurd separatism in Turkey. Where we have been involved (Afghanistan, the Korean Penninsula, Taiwan, Eastern Europe) there is a good defense to be mounted.

        Either way, the idea that the military creates global chaos so that it can justify its own funding is ill-conceived claptrap. Why not prop up the Soviet Union to keep the Cold War going?

        War and chaos and death is a reality of the human condition. Even if all weapons were somehow destroyed, people would get boards with nails in them and start the whole thing over. The US military is trying to think of clever, weird ways to approach conflict to make it more decisive and with fewer dead innocents. Three cheers for that.
        • by rsborg (111459) on Monday February 23, 2004 @02:13PM (#8363977) Homepage
          Blame America is based on a unique variant of American exceptionalism: that we're uniquely evil-- that China, or the USSR, or Syria have no control over their own destinies becasue it's all Our Fault.

          Pardon me, but that's bullshit. Blame America says we're uniquely evil simply because we're uniquely powerful. What other country has significant numbers of armed forces around the world? What other country spends anywhere NEAR as much as the US does? What other country effectively controls the worlds oil supply (either economically or militarily)? What other country has more nukes than the rest of the world combined (and then claims that other countries don't have the right to pursue nuclear technology)? The US is the ONLY remianing superpower.

          And I hope you remember what they say about power and corruption [bartleby.com]...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:28AM (#8362282)
      you can't make people stop hating you at gunpoint

      Like hell you can't - it's all too easy to make someone stop hating you at gunpoint. Just pull the trigger. It ain't pretty, it ain't nice, it's hard to do thoroughly, but it works despite protests over its obvious brutality.

      And remember that Osama bin Laden comes from a family of billionaires, and Mohammed Atta's father is a millionaire.

      "Violence never settles anything" is such a dumbass, incorrect cliche. Ask the ancient Carthaginians if violence ever settled anything. But only ask after the Romans are through destroying their city, salting the earth, and putting the entire population into slavery. That "violence" sure settled that the Europe and the Mediterranean basin area would evolve from Latin roots instead of Phoenician ones.

      Ask the six million Jews that Hitler gassed if violence ever settled anything. They're dead. That's pretty damn settled, now isn't it?

      If "violence never settled anything", people wouldn't use it!!!!. And it sure as shit get used all the damn time.

      Hiding from the real world because you don't like it isn't going to make it better.

      • by dave420-2 (748377) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:09PM (#8362599)
        Any idiot can kill someone - it takes brains and dedication to talk someone over.

        If the US is fighting for democracy and justice, it has to play by the rules, otherwise its demonstrating a massive love for hypocrisy. Killing people because some people were killed is only going to make things worse. By your logic, there would be peace in the middle east by now.

        Just because it's easy, doesn't make it right. Your argument is very immature, and short-sighted.

        This "war on terrorism" is more than people fighting people, but ideas fighting ideas. You can't shoot an idea.

        • by brennan73 (94035) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:42PM (#8363551)
          Right. So, good luck talking al Qaeda over - I'm sure you'll be able to convince them, through logic and reason, that Sharia isn't really a good system of government, and that women should have full rights as citizens. Oh, and that there isn't a worldwide conspiracy of Jews plotting against them.

          Not every conflict demands a gun, but nor can every conflict be settled by a friendly conversation over tea. His argument may be immature and short-sighted, but yours is breathtakingly naive and at least as dangerous as that of the shoot-firsters.
          • Sure, you'll never convince Osama that he's wrong. So what? He's one person and he will eventually get old and die.

            But you CAN work to establish and support governments that are NOT based upon religious teachings and that DO have rights for women. If you do that, al Queda and other organizations like them will die within a few generations because no one will WANT to be a part of them.

            The problem is that it will take a few generations and none of the politicals in the US are willing to put effort into a pr
      • by j0n4th4nb34r (744555) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:12PM (#8362624)
        Maybe Violence settles the argument in the short term. But to settle all your arguements your gonna have to kill 6 billion people because for each person you kill your gonna piss 10 more off.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:18PM (#8362657)
        > you can't make people stop hating you at gunpoint

        Like hell you can't - it's all too easy to make someone stop hating you at gunpoint. Just pull the trigger. It ain't pretty, it ain't nice, it's hard to do thoroughly, but it works despite protests over its obvious brutality.


        Different issue. You can stop someone hating you by killing them, but for every person you kill, more will begin to hate you. The only way to stop people, in the plural, hating you, using violence, is to kill everyone who doesn't support your policy of mass murder. That's not going to do much for the future of the human race.

        That's why the "war on terror" will never be won with military power. Even the evil terrorist bastards you kill were the parents, siblings, or children of someone who will hate you for killing them. And for every evil terrorist bastard we've killed recently, they've also killed or wounded dozens of innocents: how much love do you think they're going to have for us for that?
      • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:19PM (#8362663) Homepage
        Ask the six million Jews that Hitler gassed if violence ever settled anything. They're dead. That's pretty damn settled, now isn't it?

        Why yes, indeed it did settle that matter. In fact, I can't recall hearing about a single bit of pain, suffering or conflict related to Judaism since. No, I can't think of a single person, family, nation, or Holocaust survivor who feels that things weren't settled by Hitler's actions. Not one, anywhere.

        Of course, had Hitler managed to completely wipe out the Jewish race and faith, then yes, there wouldn't be an Arab-Israeli conflict today. Total genocide does make for neat, tidy endings, doesn't it? Unless, of course, you have spineless sympathizers who fail to see the necessity of eradicating those who are at odds with you.

        If "violence never settled anything", people wouldn't use it!!!!. And it sure as shit get used all the damn time.

        If violence settles things, why the hell do we keep coming back to it? You'd think violence would have settled our differences centuries ago. What happened--was it an outbreak of accursed peace or something?

        Violence only succeeds when you completely eradicate your opposition. If you don't, all it does is breed hatred amongst the survivors. Unless you track down and kill every last person who opposes your will, you're going to have to deal with those who hate you because you've destroyed their lives and families. Is this what you're advocating--the wholesale slaughter of every terrorist, their families, and all those who cared about them? Think you can keep up the pace?

        I invite you to register for a free Slashdot account. Even a pseudonym lends credence to one's comments.

      • by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:30PM (#8362757) Homepage Journal

        Yea, and we know there's never any backlash or circular problem as a result. After all, it's not like the muslims started, no the christians started! No, you started it! Nuh uh, you started it!

        Yea, of course not, this violence hasn't been going back and forth between Western and Middle Eastern cultures for the last millenium, no. Each time violence erupted, it sure settled things.

        There are two reasons you're not a social scientist: 1) You have no clue how psychology, social anthropology, etc. contribute to the collective behavior of a society and 2) you're an idiot who's confusing settlement between two individuals and entire societies. Go ahead - argue that you can just nuke entire societies out of existence. I dare you.

      • by voss (52565) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:33PM (#8362791)
        You got the quote wrong...

        The correct quote is "violence never solves anything".

        Violence may wipe people off the face of the earth but it does not solve problems. Sure rome destroyed carthage but their politics never let them have
        long-term peace and the cost of their military might eventually bankrupted them.

        While the Republic of Venice did fight some wars their politics allowed them to find solutions that were much less costly than wars. Venice as a small state still lasted over a thousand years from the height of byzantium to the coming of Napoleon.

      • by tassii (615268) on Monday February 23, 2004 @02:32PM (#8364215)
        The point here that everyone seems to be missing (including the US Gov) is that terrorists fall into 3 basic categories:
        1. The Sheep: These are those who are lead around by the noses and don't know any better. An example of this would be people that actually believe the 71 virgins crap (which was created by the man who institutionalized the concept of the Assassin) and the extremist "schools" that teach hate to children. The Sheep tend to be illiterate.
        2. The Desparate: These are those who have lost all, real or imagined, and have nothing to lose. They are ideal for recruitment as suicide bombers.
        3. The Manipulative: These are those who take #1 and #2 and manipulate them for their own power. Osama is a good example. He and his lieutenants manipulate the passages of the Koran to suit their needs and objectives, tricking the Sheep and the Desperate to carry out attacks.
        Violence will only solve #3. It will not solve #1 or #2. Only education and active peace will fix that.
    • you can't make people stop hating you at gunpoint

      Well, duh! Of course holding someone at gunpoint doesn't stop them from hating you.

      It's when you pull the trigger and splatter their brains all over the place. *That's* when they stop hating you.

      Sheesh! Wadda they teachin' youse kids in skool dese days?

      • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:57AM (#8362499) Homepage
        Awww, c'mon. What of the sudden rash of Chechen suicide widows? Y'know, the wives of the guys who had their brains splattered all over the place by the Russians. They should've killed them at the time, too.

        ...and the children, as too many of them would grow up and want to do nothing more than avenge their parents' deaths...

        And the brothers and sisters...

        And the best man from their wedding...

        And their drinking buddies...

        Hold up a sec--you're gonna need another clip or two.

        • by siphoncolder (533004) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:28PM (#8362736) Homepage
          These are actually 2 very good arguments. The parent to this poster (the AC) posts that violence DOES work, and he's right - but only to an extent. His point about the Romans & Carthaginians is very apt, and proves the point exactly - that violence solved the dispute, but that's because it was COMPLETE AND UTTER destruction of not just a subset of people, but an entire culture. They didn't just take out the military - they took out civilians, too. With a passion, they took out men, women, children, the elderly - no mercy for anyone. That's how that was solved.

          That's the problem: the US & other like-minded states lack the lack of heart & conscience to do what the Romans did. They're not into genocide, they're not into complete and utter violent domination of cultures. That's what they stand for - everyone getting along, and removing those who don't want to get along.

          As the parent rightly mentions, you can't just kill the one person - you have to kill them all. I'll go out on a limb here and say that we will never see the entire Middle East wiped out of existence by any military force.

          The approach of working smarter and not harder fits better with the goals set out in search of a free world. Bullets work, but since we don't want to do that anymore and because we really probably CAN'T, this might be a better approach.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If they can't understand the real people, what makes you think the programmers are going to understand them well enough to recreate them?
    • by Nadsat (652200)
      Regarding all the talk of "get Bush out of the office, and make the world a better place." While Bush does need to go ASAP, projects such as this Earth simulator necessitate understanding of a finer point: Technological Inertia.

      Just becuase we can do something, does not mean that we should. We ought to categorically oppose all technology used for the sake of automated control (red light cameras, airport profile scanning, etc). Unfortuantely, because we can do it, we do it anyway... obsessive-compusliv
  • by Mick Ohrberg (744441) <mick,ohrberg&gmail,com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:03AM (#8362023) Homepage Journal
    Oh MAN, imagine the MASSIVE deathmatch games you could play! Or even better - BF1942!
    • by ScottGant (642590) <scott_gant AT sbcglobal DOT netNOT> on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:17AM (#8362164) Homepage
      Morpheus said that he didn't know what year it was, but some time early in the 21st century the war with the machines takes place...at least now we know how the Matrix is started.

      Ok, that was an obvious observation. But they're making an online world that mirrors our own world. It reminds me some years back when I went to Siggraph in Chicago and Virtual Reality was the "next big thing". Someone showed a demo on a virtual world where you could walk in, pick up a book and flip through it. Someone remarked wouldn't it be cheaper just to buy a book...

      So wouldn't it be cheaper to build a fake city with actors playing a part for the people being trained to interact in? Be employed by the US Army for acting in a simulated city so they can better understand how to weed out terrorist and help people in need, yet do so in a safe environment. Also, working with actors trained themselves in certain ways AND with the ability to actually "think" would be WAY better than AI in a game.

      Just a thought, but probably a stupid thought on my part.
      • by Smidge204 (605297) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:05PM (#8362560) Journal
        The problem with the book analogy is scope.

        It is definately cheaper to print a book than create a virtual world to intereact with a virtual book. Especially at that time.

        It might be cheaper to build a fake city and staff it with actors than to build a virtual world. But considering the state of the art right now in VR worlds, it likely won't be.

        It's definately cheaper to build an artificial world to model the entire planet than it is to build a fake planet and staff it with actors. Not to mention where you're going to put it and what you're going to make it out of... (Chia-Earth, anyone?)

        It's all about scope and purpose.

        The biggest problem I can see is keeping the model up to date. Geography, cities and populations are always changing. If their intent is to have a virtual world that can be used to study the real world, they're going to have their work cut out for them. Frankly, I can think of better things to spend money on.
        =Smidge=
    • by AndroidCat (229562) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:27AM (#8362269) Homepage
      Quake? I want to watch people's faces when the system announces that North Korea has launched a zergling rush.
  • So... (Score:2, Funny)

    by physicsboy500 (645835)

    None of this is real?

    So that,s residual self image

  • by Black Rabbit (236299) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:04AM (#8362035)
    Isn't this the flipside of building the Earth 2 to solve the Great Question of Life, The Universe and Everything, for which the answer is 42?
    • by Speare (84249) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:30AM (#8362299) Homepage Journal
      Not exactly-- Earth2 was just a replacement for the first Earth computer. The Earth we're standing on is the computer which was commissioned by the mice and predicted by Deep Thought to solve the Great Question. The Golgafrinchans crashed into it after boot-up and knocked the computation a bit early on, but the Vogons destroyed Earth (er, wioll haven destroy it*) five minutes before the Question could be retrieved.

      (ref. vis. Dr. Dan Streetmentioner)

    • Re:Deep Thought (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zx75 (304335) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:08PM (#8362575) Homepage
      Not quite... it just means that our process just made a recursive call to itself.

      I wonder what the stopping condition is? And I sure as heck don't want to be around when the garbage collector comes to destroy our objects because the reference broke.
  • by dapyx (665882) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:04AM (#8362038) Homepage
    BBC reports that the US military is creating a second Earth The first one already got blown up by the Vogons?
  • Oh crap (Score:5, Funny)

    by LNO (180595) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:05AM (#8362040)
    I hope they don't model my apartment, or else anyone can login and find out where I've hidden my porn.
  • by millahtime (710421) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:05AM (#8362041) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if they will simulate in extreme detail. Like all the nude beaches in Europe or the Playboy mansion. If terrorists attack the Playboy Mansion during a party they have to know how to handle that. If so, I wonder if they are taking resumes.
  • Dup? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029)
    You mean like this story here?
    http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04 /02/18/ 2330228
    Which talked about stuff from here
    http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/ 01/16/ 1951256
  • The Sims (Score:5, Funny)

    by parawing742 (646604) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:05AM (#8362044) Homepage
    Now if they would just make the earth data available as a plug-in for The Sims, I would never have to leave my computer again!
  • by Space cowboy (13680) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:05AM (#8362050) Journal
    If as they mention, soldiers will be ultimately trained using this system, it's inevitable that commanders and people not-on-the-ground will start to treat the theatre-of-operations more like a game - that's just how humans are wired. I'm not sure that blurring the distinction between war and games is really such a good idea...

    War is terrible. Games are fun. Ne'er the two should meet. IMHO.

    Simon.
    • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:12AM (#8362115)
      Already combat training takes on gaming aspect with tools like the MILES, the classic sandbox and tools like Major H's Tac-Ops

      http://www.battlefront.com/products/tacops4/taco ps 4.html

      "TacOps 4 is the commercial version of "TacOpsCav 4", an officially issued standard training device of the US Army. It is a simulation of contemporary and near-future tactical, ground, combat between United States (Army and Marine), Canadian, New Zealand/Australian and German forces versus various opposing forces (OPFOR), simulating the Former Soviet Union, China, North Korea etc. Various civilian units and paramilitary forces are also included."

      Gaming doesn't blur the distinction anymore than the training to take orders and it's "Us vs. Them" does for a soldier.

      Since 1942 the US Army has trained at Ft. Irwin in wargames. Commanders already see the theatre of operations as a game, thats how they deal with the massive amounts of people, equipment and casualties they will deal with. At the lower level, situtations have been gamed for hundreds of years and numerical values have been established to units, ships and fortifications have been in use since at least the 1750s.
      • by Space cowboy (13680) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:32AM (#8362309) Journal
        The first few paragraphs are interesting :-) I've seen some of the s/w the military in the UK was using about 10 years ago when I used to work in the Defence division of Logica. The quality was simply awful. I don't doubt it's MILES better now (pun intended :-) but that doesn't negate that I consider it a problem...

        Gaming doesn't blur the distinction anymore than the training to take orders and it's "Us vs. Them" does for a soldier.


        I disagree. If you join up, you know the risks involved. There are many reasons for someone to join the armed forces, but fundamentally everyone knows the deal. You do as you're told. You might get killed. You might have to kill others. That's no real problem for a human - the veneer of civilisation is a very thin one, and we can easily regress into the 'kill or be killed', 'fight or flight' primitive responses. No problems there.

        If however, you start to present these lethal environments as a game, you're making a flank attack on the soldier's psyche. You're saying "this isn't real", when it patently is. You're lowering the barriers for doing things that even soldiers do not do. ("Shall we waste the villagers ?", "Sure why not, let's see what happens"). People do things in games that they would never countenance in real life, even in real-life battle, even if it's simply to see what the programmers have in store for you if you do...

        Your last paragraph is talking about game-theory. I have no problem with viewing a conflict using game-theory - this is a mathematical model to count losses and victories, a way to count the cost; I'm all-for ways to count the cost.

        Using game-theory is very different from treating war as a game, one is a deplorable attitude, the other is responsible accounting. Troops die in war, and you may sacrifice company A so that B,C,D all get through. Fine, this is war. Sorry they died, but it was necessary. Unless you have a cost model, you can't even say it was necessary...

        Simon.
    • I'm sure that's deliberate.

      It's much easier to get your troops to take part in the nastiness of war if they are trained to think it's all a game...

      /greger>

      • No matter how much training a soldier receives, when real bullets start whizzing over their heads all that "it's a game" crap goes right out the window. The primitive brain will continue to know the difference between real and virtual until we move to total immersion.

        The easier way to get soldiers to think it's a game is not to train them ahead of time, but to build a shell around them that distances them from the real sensory input. Power armor, heavily enhanced vision, etc. You put a barrier between t
    • I remember watching the short video clips of the "Shock and Awe" operation in Iraq. I can't seem to find it at the moment on Google [slashdot.org].

      Sure looked like a video game to me. Point, click, and BOOM.

      Office buildings? Homes? Hospitals? No, those are merely designated targets, blips on a map.
    • by *weasel (174362) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:21AM (#8362205)
      The nastier questions begin at the point at which an 'earth simulator' like this could have the control mechanisms tied to reality unbeknownst to 'pilots' within the sim.

      You thought you were running through the sim... you had no idea you just took a UAV on a live mission and actually killed 2 dozen people. Missions take place, with perfect human guidance - and not even the soldiers involved knew it actually happened.

      Worse yet - consider the game world altering the appearance of targets. Your strike deep in the Tora Bora mountains may have been a cover for an FBI raid on a militant compound in Colorado. The four phillipino terrorists you just greased with an armed unmanned terrestrial rover... well who in the hell were they?
    • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:12PM (#8362623) Homepage Journal

      War is terrible. Games are fun. Ne'er the two should meet.

      To achieve that you're going to have to turn the clock back to pre-history and start fixing it there. Games have always been about war, whether individual or group conflict, and military training has always been done with games. The essence of any good game is conflict, and warfare is obviously conflict taken to its most extreme level. In that sense war is the best game ever invented, unlimited conflict between people who are intelligent and supremely focused.

      I'm not trying to glorify war, because it truly is terrible, but there is a fundamental connection between war and games, which are really a microcosm of war.

      For this reason, soldiers have always used wargames to prepare for war. Whether it's wrestling, footraces and javelin-throwing, jousting, field maneuvers against an OPFOR or computerized versions of any of the above, the only way to really prepare for war is to practice, and although individual fighting skills can be practiced to some degree without actually creating a contest, learning how to fight effectively requires the enactment of battles. Real battles are too expensive, of course, so soldiers use games which to the participants become almost as engrossing as a real war would be.

      War and gaming are intimately related in another way as well. To some extent, good commanders have to be able to treat real war as though it were a game. Good commanders must really, truly care about the individual men they command, both because that caring creates loyalty that is critical to unit integrity and because commanders who don't care tend to waste their men. On the other hand, a good commander must also be able to view the conflict abstractly, like a game, so that they can expend their men's lives when necessary. Overly cautious generals kill more of their own men than overly aggressive generals. The best commanders in history are those who've been able to achieve a remarkable balance between caution and audacity while simultaneously inspiring their men to do things that no sane person should be able to do.

      The subtext of your comment, though is "I don't want the soldiers and their commanders to think war is fun, because then they'll want to go to war all of the time". I understand where you're coming from, but that notion makes no sense, either.

      In the first place, soldiers always understand better than anyone else exactly what the cost of war is, and the field commanders are up to their elbows in it. The rear echelon element also gets a good second-hand taste of it, plus they were all field commanders at one time and had plenty of years to think about, if not experience, the horror. All good soldiers are interested in going to war to test themselves, to find out if they're really up to the challenge, but given a choice between going to war and resolving issues peacefully, they'll choose not to fight.

      But soldiers don't get that choice, at least not in any country I'd want to live in. They are asked for their professional opinions about what may or may not be achievable, but the the decision as to whether or not to go is in the hands of civilians, most of whom do *not* have the same understanding of war.

      In summary: If you want to make sure that the military can achieve victory in the shortest possible time and with the least possible damage, let them play the games and get prepared. If you want to make sure that they never have to go to war, keep the *civilians* away from the wargames so that they don't get hooked on the fun of war.

      • The only thing I'd point out is that most of the time, countries are not at war, which is why we have war-games. If field-commander X has had all his training tightly integrated to a computer-simulation that looks sufficently similar to a computer game that (s)he can't tell the difference, then when a real war comes around I believe problems will arise due to that.

        I don't know if it's clear or not, but I wasn't arguing against wargames. I'm all for them: the military have to practice, in order to successfu
    • "War is terrible. Games are fun. Ne'er the two should meet. IMHO."
      I'm sure someone else will point it out but this wonderful book by Orson Scott Card really comes down to this.

      It make so much sense though doesn't it? Currently UAV's are remotely flown why not place the pilots in an immersive 3d environment giving them access to all kinds of terrain data from various perspectives they otherwise wouldn't have access to?

      The further step, and the step Ender's Game takes, is that as weapons become increasingl
  • by thehe (305416) <harg@stu d . n t n u.no> on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:05AM (#8362054) Homepage
    Will this make the US the first dual-world superpower in history?
  • peeved (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) * <mark@seventhcBAL ... net minus author> on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:06AM (#8362056) Homepage

    I'm so glad to be living in the US, just to know that my tax dollars go towards making a version of The Sims on crack.

    But the part that pisses me off is that they won't let me pl

  • Huh.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:06AM (#8362058)
    And yet, even with this technology, nothing will beat ACTUAL, REAL experience of the REAL world. No amount of virtual training will compensate for complete lack of awareness of the rest of the world. This is, IMO, the wrong thing to do at this point. We should be giving money and influence for the diplomatic corps so more people actually WANT to do the job.

    If you don't understand another culture, talk to people who do. The gov't ignores those people, and just decides that it will decide things with an imaginary, "faith-based" approach. It doesn't work, guys!

  • by p_millipede (714918) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:06AM (#8362060)
    Now all we need to do is convince the world's military, terrorists, militia's etc. (anyone who might be interested) to hold all their confilicts in this virtual world and just let the outcome of virtual wars be accepted as if it had really happened (minus the loss of life).

    Obviously, we'd need to make sure the Americans aren't using cheats. Just imagine the standard procedure before entering combat. Press tilde, type 'AmericaRulesOK 1' followed by '/god', '/allweapons' and '/allammo'

    • Re:Virtual Wars? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nukem1999 (142700)
      let the outcome of virtual wars be accepted as if it had really happened (minus the loss of life)

      If both sides were trusting and trustworthy enough to follow those rules, there wouldn't be a need for war in the first place.
    • Re:Virtual Wars? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lay (519543)

      Pretty much useless, if you ask me.

      What are the UN for? Isn't it supposed to serve the purpose of finding peaceful solutions for conflicts? At least in theory...

      It boils down to the point of pure animal instinct: until you realise that your instistence in trying to win is going to inflict some serious phisical harm on you, there is no way in the world you, as a human, will stop fighting to get to the top of the food chain.

      You could say "OK, and we just accept it as final", but if you lost, I bet you'
    • Yea, we could convert all of our conflicts into computer simulations, install disintegration booths, the whole nine yards.

      ... but then William Shatner would drop by and screw up the whole thing. Then he would sing "Lucy [pause] in the Sky [pause] with Diamonds" just to rub it in.

      - Dave

  • BBC huh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by millahtime (710421) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:08AM (#8362072) Homepage Journal
    This may a little off subject but why does the BBC report first about the US Militarys earth simulator?
    • Not first. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bazzargh (39195)
      Read this [army.mil] - a press release from the US army STRICOM dated Nov. 19th. 2003 - there was probably some other US coverage at that time. The article's a bit more informative than the beeb one actually, as it shows the size of the There contract ($3.5m - which I guess puts it as something between 6mo. and a year, depending on the team size - its interesting that There haven't even put a press release about it), and that the Army are funding this speculatively - there is no group that actually wants this for trai
  • by Rican (666150) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:08AM (#8362074)
    Would I be able to "create" myself as a Wood Elf Druid chick even though I'm a 250lbs guy in real life?
  • by rpg25 (470383)
    The detailed simulation will be drawn from a real-world terrain database and will be drawn to the same scale as the original.

    Um, what is that supposed to mean?

    Echoes of Jorge Luis Borges, who wrote in a story about a map of the world that was as big as the world itself....

  • Why bother. (Score:3, Funny)

    by glen (19095) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:09AM (#8362083)
    Why spend all that money?

    We already know the answer is 42.

  • ...can I sign up for beta?
  • Interaction (Score:2, Insightful)

    If putting a bullet in someone's head isn't "interaction" I don't know what is...

  • The Point? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    Perhaps I've become an old curmudgeon, but what exactly is the point of There? Clicking on their "What is There" buttons gives the following blurb:

    There is an online getaway where you can hang out with your friends and meet new ones--all in a lush 3D environment that's yours to explore! Check out the pictures below for just a glimpse of what you'll find in There. Then sign up for a free trial and see it all for yourself!

    Maybe it's just me but everyday I open up the door I enter a "lush 3D environment".

  • human interaction (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KillerCow (213458)
    the US military is creating a second Earth.... the emphasis in the artificial Earth will be on human interaction rather than conflicts involving lots of military hardware.

    Riiiiiight. Why would the military whant to model the earth for combat training? It's clearly for human interaction. Or did they mean squad-level interactions?
  • by RareHeintz (244414) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:14AM (#8362135) Homepage Journal

    Does this bring to mind, for anyone else, that nifty piece of software Hiro had in Snow Crash [amazon.com]? I mean, of course, the model of Earth updated in real-time with satellite imaging data, etc...

    Eerie.

    OK,
    - B

    • by jafuser (112236) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:20AM (#8362202)
      That's the first thing I thought too...
      From Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
      There is something new: A globe about the size of a grapefruit, a perfectly detailed rendition of Planet Earth, hanging in space at arm's length in front of his eyes. Hiro has heard about this but never seen it. It is a piece of CIC software called, simply, Earth. It is the user interface that CIC uses to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns - all the maps, weather data, architectural plans, and satellite surveillance stuff.

  • by millahtime (710421) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:14AM (#8362139) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if they can give the detail of Grand Theft auto. They I could play dropped down in Iraq going after Sadam and Bin Laden. I could steal a tank and run them over. Maybe get some Iraq hookers. Grand Theft Auto Iraq.
  • by ch-chuck (9622)
    Um, in order to really do it accurately, the model would have to include the military base, building and facility in which the earth II simulator resides, and the model would have to have a model of that etc to infinity - like what you get with two mirrors.
  • .. when destruction could be so much more fun. I wonder how far the sim will allow people to take this. Will players be allowed to get their hands on nuclear weapons, or will the scenarios be strictly regulated. If the former, I suspect there'll be Clans set up to see who can cause the most destruction to the virtual world. And what would happen if significant parts of world got nuked? Would it be reset, or would the simulation continue? Now, I'm off to watch 'The Thirteenth Floor' so I can completely break
  • From TFA, "Mr Gehorsam said the world being created will not be a game but instead will be a "massively multi-user persistent environment" that will model real world physics as closely as possible.

    A sample of life in There's game world
    The emphasis in the artificial Earth will be on human interaction rather than conflicts involving lots of military hardware."

    So we're basing 'human interaction' on an MMO game? How exactly does someone model "h4h4h4h4h4!! r0x00r3D ur @$$!!!" into -human- behaviour?
  • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:18AM (#8362174)
    "While combat will be part of the game, 'the emphasis in the artificial Earth will be on human interaction rather than conflicts involving lots of military hardware.'"
    Yes, I expect you do need a lot of super-accurate physics to figure out the various aspects of "human interaction," like....um....well...simulating football games and handing out relief packages. ????

    Maybe they're talking about military tactics or something when they say "human interaction," but to me it seems like they're trying to say "no, really, it's not a military-oriented project." Come on people, this is the Army. If this system is mainly for military purposes, then just come out and say it, ok? Really, we pay you guys to worry about situations that involve "lots of military hardware." There's no need to pretend that you're really trying to solve world hunger or something.
  • by aldousd666 (640240) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:18AM (#8362177) Journal
    Didn't the Golgafrinchans (sp?) try this once? All we got out of that deal was '42'
  • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:18AM (#8362179) Homepage Journal
    There mandates the use of MSIE [there.com] to access There.

    Evil. Evil, I say!

    This claimer: Having MSIE bundled with Windows poses no problem for me, I see it as they include Notepad instead of Word and Calculator instead of Excel. So why not let them include Internet Explorer instead of a [browser.org] real [opera.com] browser [mozilla.org]? However, I dislike sites that require it. It's like mailing around text files that need Notepad to read... Rude.

    • Re:There = Evil (Score:3, Informative)

      by mbbac (568880)
      The bad thing is that the McAfee site requires MSIE. I was helping my brother try to rid his computer of tons of adware so we naturually go there only to be refused since we were currently using Firefox.

      It's like McAfee doesn't want to do business with you if you aren't running a well-tested virus vector.
  • by maiden_taiwan (516943) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:19AM (#8362186)
    The mice will be furious!
  • Sims (Score:3, Funny)

    by lcde (575627) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:21AM (#8362203) Homepage
    Heh, see even the US goverment plays SIMS games :D
  • Hrm (Score:5, Funny)

    by BenBenBen (249969) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:22AM (#8362217)
    The detailed simulation will be drawn from a real-world terrain database and will be drawn to the same scale as the original.
    They're going to need a bloody big monitor.
  • by abb3w (696381) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:23AM (#8362224) Journal
    ...of Terry Gilliam saying "It's only a model". [geocities.com]
  • by Wordsmith (183749) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:36AM (#8362349) Homepage
    ... this could be used for the best game of Populous EVER.
  • by vlm (69642) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:38AM (#8362361)
    Imagine "Blackhawk Down" set in 2005.

    What if the troops have no idea how to get home when their chopper is shot down or the natives put up another barricade?

    A 3d environment like this is a very effective and fast way to memorize the map and layout of the city.

    Also good for convoy training, preparing for ambush training, etc.
  • by fudgefactor7 (581449) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:44AM (#8362403)
    If the US army is behind this, then you can guarantee that there is a strategic element behind the decision making that went into OKing this project, much like America's Army.

    Perhaps this will all turn into a real-life version of the episode of Star Trek (original series) that had a centuries old war all played out on computer...and the citizens in the killed areas would disintigrate themselves as it was more clean (and real bombs have the habit of destroying the structures--which is never fun.)
  • by Lord Satri (609291) <alexandreleroux@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:26PM (#8362722) Homepage Journal
    Of very related interest is http://vterrain.org , a great open source terrain modelling. It uses remote sensing and geomatics data. It is also related to http://www.openplans.org/, the Open Planning project.
  • by melted (227442) on Monday February 23, 2004 @02:19PM (#8364044) Homepage
    Why would anyone need this and how this is supposed to improve the interaction of personnel any more than real excercise is beyond me. Sure, launching rockets and stuff is cheap in a simulator, but they will NEVER make it as accurate as the real life, by definition. Thus the soldier mostly trained in the simulator (for cost reasons) will be unprepared for the real action.

    I'd rather see my tax money invested into helicopters that don't crash into each other and cannons that can't do "friendly fire".

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