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Re: Fast speeds

From: Joachim Heck - SunSoft <jheck@E...>
Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 15:44:28 -0400
Subject: Re: Fast speeds

M. Hodgson writes:

@:) > [ military computers do almost everything for you ]
@:) And whilst you're deciding the enemy fools your IFF and suddenly
@:) you can't shoot at him cos the guns "know" he's a friendly. Okay
@:) say you... Lets turn the IFF off.....
@:) Computers can lead to as many problems as they solve....

  Hm.  This is true but I don't think it's true the way most people
think it is.  More later.

@:) Specifically once you get lots of data flowing in then, yes you're
@:) computer may be able to process a lot of it, but it can only show
@:) you a limited amount of it, because you can only take so much
@:) input.

  This is certainly true, and a problem for fighter jockeys and the

@:) If you are arguing that the computer decided when to fire, it is
@:) not so far flung to presume that it has run a couple of projected
@:) simulations and also dedicates movement and target preferance -
@:) Hey who needs people....

  I think it is actually fairly far-flung to make that argument.  The
automatic weapons we have today are designed to increase the
probability of killing the target.  The Phalanx is a good example
since there's probably no way a human being could hit a target flying
towards him at mach 2.	In the situations we're talking about, FT
gunners trying to shoot at spacecraft, similar problems might exist
(note I say might because it really depends on your FT universe).
Ships are far away and moving quickly etc etc so you tell your gun
"shoot that" and it kills it.  But the idea is generally that if you
don't tell your gun to shoot it, it won't.

  One interesting point about all this is that I think FT, which,
officially at least, takes place several hundred years from now,
probably fails to represent the role computers will play in combat at
that time.  Given that the US military is at this very moment trying
to come up with ways to take pilots out of aircraft and given the
current state of the art of cruise missiles and unmanned
reconnaissance vehicles it seems likely that computers will in fact
replace humans in vehicular combat in the near future.	If the
vehicles are still driven by humans, they will probably be
teleoperated from a remote site.  That seems to be the goal anyway.

  There are lots of obvious problems with this, especially when you're
talking about vehicles that are used to repairing themselves like
ships or perhaps tanks.  And of course there's the point you mentioned
that these systems will inherently be more vulnerable to electronic
attack than current systems.  But on the other hand it keeps people
alive and I think that's where the trend is going.

  So given hundreds of years of progress, given space travel and
fantastic weapons and defensive systems, it seems to me almost foolish
to imagine that people would be operating these ships.	But that's
exactly what I do anyway.  Ogre showed us that combat could be just as
fun without the people but I think most wargamers still imagine that
human beings are involved somewhere, however unlikely that conjecture
might be.  It makes the game easier to understand and easier to relate
to real world situations.

  But it'll never happen.

  Anyway I think that at the current state of the art in computer
science, your best bet is not to make machines that do things by
themselves, but to make machines that make you do whatever it is you
do better.  Calculators make us add big numbers faster.  ABS makes us
stop with more control.  These systems solve more problems then they
introduce but on the other hand they're using old technology.  It's
when you get to the really new stuff that you start running into
trouble.  How do you distribute a complex calculation over 64,000
processors or over millions of computers on the internet?  No one
knows.	How do you simultaneously inform a pilot of his speed,
direction, altitude, nearby friends, nearby enemies, fuel level,
targeting parameters for five different weapons, vehicle damage,
orders from base and who knows what all else?  Dunno.  When you try to
deal with these kinds of problems you run into trouble.  But the fact
is that the pilot never knew all this stuff before anyway so if he
turns the system off he doesn't lose anything.	Eventually they'll
figure out a way to make this stuff make sense but by then it'll be
old hat and everyone will have it in their cars and no one will
realize it's Wundertech.


PS the short form: premeasurement is ok.

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