Thursday, May 10, 2012

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and You: Could It Happen - Part 1

Could it Happen?
The new Call of Duty Black Ops 2 trailer is out, and there seems to be a wild rumpus on the internets about whether or not its plot, involving hacked military robots attacking the US, is too sci-fi be a realistic Call of Duty game.

Newsflash, Interwebs. It's a game. It's never been realistic. So, rather than besiege the message boards with pointless sniping, let's ask the bigger question:

Could this hacker-fueled apocalyptic vision actually happen - AND do you need to prepare your Clients in the event that it does.

While your average sensationalist Fox News anchor may say yes, I say no. Here's why...

Reason 1: Our robots just don't pack that much heat.

While I have yet to play the game (it hasn't been released), the official trailer seems to show massive gun-toting quadrapeds, high-speed fighter jets and MG-packing quad rotors shooting up greater Los Angeles. These simply don't exist in today's operational arsenal.

Driving Miss Lazy
Most robotic weapons systems today are used in reconnaissance and assistance roles. That means taking pictures, exploring potentially dangerous locations and generally doing things you'd rather not - or can't - send a human to do.

Most are remote controlled or human assisted. And most don't pack a single shred of real offensive combat capability. The largest operational units by sheer numbers, the Foster-Miller TALON explosive ordnance disposal bot and the Packbot (made by iRobot, the company that brought you such terrifying devices as the Roomba!), are good examples. Cute. Slow. And nothing more than glorified remote control cars. Like your average video game, they do their jobs based on inputs from a human operator; sometimes using an actual xBox controller.

There are always exceptions to the rule, of course. The armed TALON "SWORDS" variant was deployed to Iraq. However, three SAW-equipped remote controlled mini-tanks that have yet to fire a shot in anger do not a statistically significant threat make.

The Predator and it's bigger, meaner brother, Reaper, on the other hand, are whole different winged beasts. Able to orbit undetected high above the battlefield, they pack a pretty nasty compliment of operator-activated laser guided bombs and Hellfire missiles. Thankfully, not in US airspace. Or in the numbers needed to decimate downtown LA. (So put your military surplus Stinger away, Suburban Rambo. No need to worry.)

That said, the story itself isn't that far fetched. Some of the predicted technologies are in development. Quad-rotor swarms. Walking robots. MAARS remote weapons platforms. Autonomous command systems. And the Army has made some noise about integrating more combat ready bots into the tip of the spear. So a few years away? Maybe. Today? Not a chance.

Or maybe we should start worrying...

Next up? Reason Number 2 Skynet is still scarier than Call of Duty Black Ops 2.

Image reference: US Army, Air Force