March 22, 2013

Advice from Star Trek (and Konrad Lorenz)

Remember that episode from the original Star Trek, where a planet waged its wars with computers? If an area was struck, not in reality but in the computer game, all the people in the actual area walked into extermination chambers and were killed. No mess, no splatter.

So okay, the killing part wasn't great advice. But the idea that planets or countries could have virtual wars is a good one. How about this:

Each country puts up a web site. Oh, wait. They already have such things. Okay, then countries try to attack other countries' web sites. Oh, wait. We see that all the time.

Well, let's move this activity into prime time. Let's make the game be all about attacking the web sites of "enemy" countries. No wars, and no deaths in this scenario. It's all about pride. My site is better than your site, and can withstand your attacks. So there!

Instead of arming for real wars, countries would devote their efforts to cracking code and "assaulting" the enemy site. If this was televised in some way, and hyped into a big cultural thing, it could catch on. You'd try to insult the other country with your stealthy code and by putting things on their web site to make them look stupid. (Yup, just like we already do. We just need to step up the coverage.) Countries would take great pride in their web sites and consider them beyond attack. They would posture and say nasty things. But no one would die or be harmed in any way.

In other words, let's take a page from Konrad Lorenz's book, "On Aggression". Animals settle their disputes largely through ceremonial "fights" where no one dies or is even badly hurt. In an old post about Lorenz's book, I suggested we use sports as the arena for solving global disagreements. But this could work, too. Heck, let's do both.

But whatever we do, let's stop waging actual wars. This is insanity, similar to doing nothing as climate change builds and builds and...oh, wait!

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