Future Distributed Control Systems

Desert Deployment

Tweet storm: lispmeister/status/1378226189538582528

I’ve done a lot of thinking about command and control systems lately.
The next level of urban combat will revolve around secure p2p protocols, mesh networks with clandestine repeaters, anti-personnel mines that identify you by camera or your phone’s MAC address…

We used to play these spy vs spy games during the 90s. The game was prepared in a city by the game master ahead of time. A LARP game that used paper slips in dead drops as communication channels (pre mobile phones). You received encrypted instructions from your handler…

Depending on your role you’d observe the subject, protect the subject, plant fake mines (those were more innocent times) or kill with a rubber knife. It helped that most participants were also skilled in martial arts (injuries were frequent but minor).

The most exciting role was when your initial message read:
The amount of paranoia you can develop over a weekend, roaming a foreign city (always great locations!) is surprising. You start seeing shadows everywhere.

The after action analysis was so weird. Seeing clandestine photos of yourself, reading the activity reports on you and the synthesis of the “kill order”. Fascinating lessons in decision making. Of course all of this was sandboxed and used minuscule amounts of data.

Fast forward to the present.
In a networked society most conflict will try to stay under Jimmy Torre’s “noise floor” of an urban environment. You won’t even notice it’s happening unless you’re one of the targets.
Every participant is a node in the private overlay network.

You have:

  • battery powered HD cameras that you can glue to corners – cheap toy laser trip wires
  • remote controlled sniper guns
  • drones with cameras, onboard AI, face recognition and C4 – hard, real-time encryption
  • RFID tags to mark targets

    The deciding elements will be:
  • well trained agents that can navigate this battle space
  • decision support systems that can synthesize an integrated view for the unit help with task prioritization
  • automated mesh network deployment via drones that can tap into power lines

  • automated real-time translation and linguistic tagging of observed conversations – p2p crypto cash to pay local informants as tasks are completed
  • crawlies – tiny robots that can invade a hard target and report back via UWBR or fiber optics

    In the end you won’t be able to dominate in this space unless you have AI support that ties the human elements together into a cohesive group that can comprehend the situation.

    Incidentally @GreatDismal introduced the AI guided squad for the first time in NEUROMANCER and it might still be the best description for what is coming. Future conflicts won’t be like chess. AIs will play us like plastic toy soldiers in an incomprehensible battle space.
    The free market will provide:
  • TaskRabbit for intelligence gathering and non-invasive actions
  • Uber of short term personal security contracts (ask me about that) – Airbnb of safe houses (safety through numbers)
  • on demand printed weapons and other gear

    It is important to understand that none of this is possible at scale without cryptocurrencies.
    “Follow the money!” is an investigation strategy that will fail entirely going forward. It is hard to convey the amount of disruption we will have to live through.

    Any modern city will be a contested space where forces are at play all the time. Any city without an active immune system that engages the enemy and constantly learns and adapts will fail. A free society will need to be a vigilant society.
    How could we navigate a contested space like this as individuals?
    Maybe we need something analogous to the IFF system we use for airplanes?
    A transponder system that identifies you reliably as friendly using cryptographic challenges.
    Your phone as a secure beacon.

    The reason the above projections form an interesting scenario is:
    Many of the services to maintain a security equilibrium in a modern city state will be provided on the open market. They might be provided pseudonymously/anonymously but prices and volumes will be known.

    Once prices and volumes are known you can finally CALCULATE your risk envelope live!

    All of the above assumes the deconstruction of the security state into smaller, more agile components with much higher degrees of specialization. It assumes a means of real-time coordination beyond our current state of the art. 19/n
    The reason we can expect the atomization of the security state is the increasing need for speed. The OODA loop of the 22st cent has a much higher frequency. To gain speed we will have sacrifice hierarchy and learn to coordinate (through automation) as hoc.

    Think of it like a flash mob with a purpose. There are issues here of course: – without hierarchy we need reputation systems
  • level 3 automated decision support systems need to be invented
  • live visual annotations require robust AR systems
  • The coordinator AI will need a conversational interface with a deep language model to facilitate group “mind meld”.
  • if the city/state turns into a network we will need network intrusion detection and automated active measures in meatspace
Spread the love

Programmer. Believes in rough consensus and running code.

You May Also Like

About the Author: lispmeister

Programmer. Believes in rough consensus and running code.