Virtual worlds will provide real security, says Indian origin scientist

Washington, November 27: A scientist of Indian origin has determined that advances in computers are making possible virtual worlds in which defense analysts can explore and predict results of many different possible military and policy actions.

The scientist in question is V.S. Subrahmanian, a Maryland computer science professor and director of the University's Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS).

According to Subrahmanian and John Dickerson, a UMIACS computer science researcher, "Defense analysts can understand the repercussions of their proposed recommendations for policy options or military actions by interacting with a virtual world environment."

"They can propose a policy option and walk skeptical commanders through a virtual world where the commander can literally 'see' how things might play out," they said.

"This process gives the commander a view of the most likely strengths and weaknesses of any particular course of action," they added.

Computer scientists now know pretty much how to do this, and have created a "pretty good chunk" of the computing theory and software required to build a virtual Afghanistan, Pakistan or another "world," explained Subrahmanian, who notes that much of the leading edge of this work has been done at the University of Maryland.

"Human analysts, with their real world knowledge and experience, will be essential partners in taking us the rest of the way in building these digital worlds and, then, in using them to predict courses of action most likely to build peace and security in Afghanistan and elsewhere," he said.

Subrahmanian and Dickerson note that researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a number of the computing pieces critical to building virtual worlds.

These include stochastic opponent modeling agents (SOMA) - artificial intelligence software that uses data about past behavior of groups in order to create rules about the probability of that group's various actions in different situations.

These also include "cultural islands," which provide a virtual world representation of a real-world environment or terrain, populated with characters from that part of the world who behave in accordance with a behavioral model.

There are also the forecasting "engines" CONVEX and CAPE, which focus on predicting behavioral changes in groups based on validated on historical data.

The researchers said that, "US defense analysts can use such virtual worlds to interact with models of the behaviors of these groups and understand how certain actions they might take will affect the short-term and long-term behaviors of these groups."

Copyright Asian News International/