Those who know me, who have played games with me anyway, can tell you I don’t like to be restricted by a small board. For example, I dislike chess because I find the board too small and crowded. I think I may have found the game that really suits my personality, Ingress.
Ingress is an augmented reality game (really an overlay of Google maps created by Google’s Niantic Labs) that uses the real world as it’s game board and an Android smart phone as it’s interface. Nominally the point of the game is to link portals that appear at notable locations to create fields that either control (for the Enlightened/Green/ Frogs team) or protect (for the Resistance/Blue/Smurfs team) the population using/from the influence of XM, or exotic matter. Control of territory by way of insurgent warfare sounds very strategic, and it is, but the true heart of the game is logistic. To me this is the future of gaming.
Maybe I’ll find time to post about some of my Ingress adventures, if I stop playing long enough.
“What if you could remove all the ugliness in the world? It’s not a hypothetical question. Researchers at Ilmenau University of Technology in Germany have developed a new augmented reality technique that erases images from real time video. Called Diminished Reality, the software can take any area selected in a video feed and use photo-shop like adjustments to copy the surroundings into its place. Where once you saw an object now you see the object has been removed. A piece of your world has been erased. Diminished Reality records video from a camera and displays the modified result on a screen with only a 40ms delay. To your eyes it’s effectively instantaneous. Watch a demonstration of the augmented reality editing program in the video below. I’m blown away by how well it works in these early examples.”
Talk about giving with one hand and taking away with the other. Most of the applications I have come across for Augmented, and now Diminished, Reality are gaming / entertainment and advertising in the form of virtual pets, virtual LARP-type activities, and virtual advertising banners that can be highly targeted to individual persons. This demonstration seems closer to the espionage application of the really ugly shirt that played a key role in William Gibson’s novel Zero History (my review here) by rendering the character wearing it invisible to video surveillance by triggering a computer program deep in the London surveillance camera system (see questions five and six of this interview with Gibson) . It may not exactly be to that stage yet though it seems to me this is a very long step in that direction.
Considering this is a potentially very long, twisty, branching and strange road, the ability to modify reality in this way seems to have limitless implications. The 5GW theorist lurking in my brain (and clapping on the sidelines), also has to wonder about how easy it may one day become to seamlessly and unobtrusively cause distortion between perceived Observation and actual Observation before that information feeds into Orientation. Understanding the mechanisms of 5GW may be instructive in harnessing this type of power, it may also be vital in learning to protect against it.
Originally published 8/6/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
Halting State is set in the near furure and centers initially around a bank robbery. That in itself isn’t especially SciFi or even 5GWish except that this particular bank robbery was carried out against a bank in an MMORPG virtual world by a band of Orcs backed up by a Dragon. As the investigation starts to gain a clear picture of what actually happened this has very serious national security implications.
Much like Daemon, the 5GWish aspect of Halting State involves how communications technology, MMORPGs, Augmented Reality (AR) and other concepts that people now use for, or look to be the next wave in, entertainment and work, can be easily and invisibly turned into platforms for warfare. Especially warfare by proxy.
Not to spoil any plot aspects of the story but those interested in 5GW should pay very close attention to SPOOKS, an espionage game played by two of the main characters and STEAMING, a game that is under development at the beginning of the book.
Originally published 5/5/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
There have been other works of fiction discussed in 5GW circles that, to some extent or in some part, contain elements that could be used as examples of Fifth Generation Warfare theory. Ender’s Game and other books of the ‘Enderverse’ come to mind. Daemon by Leinad Zeraus, however, doesn’t just contain elements of 5GW thought; it is a book that embodies nearly every aspect of a 5GW conflict.
All of the elements of Fifth Generation Warfare are here. The Daemon controls a highly distributed organization that works by proxy and in secret. Even when its targets know the Daemon exists and is attacking them they themselves are forced to keep its existence secret. The Daemon uses the rule-sets of its opponents against themselves so that when they attempt to respond to it they are doing exactly what the Daemon wants them to do. The Daemon’s proxies resemble everything from multi-national corporations to Global Guerillas and are sometimes, willing, sometimes unwilling and very often unaware.
For 5GW thinkers this is a great opportunity to see some 5GW thinking in (if only fictional) action. Truly, a must have for the 5GW bookshelf. There are that many lessons to be learned, and examples to be illustrated upon. For those who are not 5GW thinkers, this is just, plainly put, a really excellent book. One of the best reads I’ve had in a long time.