[FoRK] How to spot a spook; also, minor quibble for JAR

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Fri Jun 25 15:07:44 PDT 2010

All this Cold War talk has made me a bit nostalgic.  Here's a fun bit from back in the day (very old bits) that you may find amusing if you haven't already come across it...


How quaint it seems when one realizes that all this data munging was being done on...  dead trees, with charcoal.  ;-)  Or maybe, bleeding edge...  punch cards and line printers / teletypes.

One rare and minor quibble for JAR:
> Second, we have neither the mathematics nor computer science to actually implement warfare like this in a general way.

The rate of progress in that field is absolutely mind-blowing.  RT analytics and visualization software for combat vehicles and battlespace management.  Realtime AR distilling multiple data streams from all kinds of sources, doing target identification and visualization and fire control and even active defensive armor countermeasures like you were discussing.  It is absolutely astounding;  it's, like, a peek into what most folks think is a decade out.  That's the public stuff, the stuff that gets shown at arms shows these days and sold to third parties, which means that it's at least two generations back from what they've actually got on the leading edge.  (Of course, it's still in limited deployment due to bureaucratic glacial creep.)  And the major company in the space that I'm aware of is less than a decade old.

Of course, that's the tactical angle.  There's also incredible progress on the network mapping end of things, and on the game-playing / scenario analysis / prediction / threat assessment and identification parts of it.  The "back office" of future warfare, if you will.  A couple of startups in that space worth watching that I'm aware of;  you track this stuff pretty well so you're probably aware of even more of them.

I'm sure you're aware of all this;  your cautionary note clearly relates to the obvious extrapolations of the use of this stuff as it gets more mature and better integrated.  And sure, we're nowhere near that level of maturity yet.  But do you doubt we will be, and quickly?  The effects of what's already out there are already starting to be felt.  If we were a decade further along, this would be a major factor.  Given cycle times of change in military and the constant "fight the last war" problem, we should be anticipating all this and starting to restructure and retool around it *now.*  I don't see any evidence of that happening in anything but half-measures, but perhaps I'm missing it.


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