Countdown to attack: inside a simulation that mimics nuclear conflict | News

Guardian world affairs editor Julian Borger just lately discovered himself carrying a new title: president of the US. He took on the brand new position whereas participating in a VR simulation designed by researchers from Princeton, American, and Hamburg universities.

The undertaking, referred to as the Nuclear Biscuit in honour of the small card bearing the president’s launch authorisation code, was constructed utilizing insights from interviews with former authorities officers about what would possibly occur if the US appeared to be below nuclear assault. It’s designed to assist lawmakers higher perceive the realities of nuclear armament.

On the planet of a simulation, there seems to be an imminent nuclear menace requiring pressing motion from the US president, Borger explains. He tells Michael Safi that, within the position of commander-in-chief, he discovered himself pushed to make fast choices that may probably finish many thousands and thousands of lives – whereas solely having entry to incomplete data.

Although it appears like a sport, the real-world implications of the simulation are laborious to understate. In 1979, the world got here inside minutes of nuclear struggle when a coaching tape simulating assault was left to play by way of American nuclear system displays. Greater than 40 years later, the assumptions of the Chilly struggle are nicely behind us – however continued nuclear proliferation makes the specter of mutual destruction all too actual.

A US military aide carries the so-called nuclear football as he walks to board the Marine One helicopter.

{Photograph}: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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