Sep 24, 2009

When Game Theory Goes Horribly Wrong

Remember the Doomsday machine in Dr. Strangelove? Remember how Kubrick’s fictional Soviets kept it secret to hilarious, world-ending effect? Funny fact: such a device actually exists.

Wired Magazine has a great article on Russia's very real Doomsday device, code named “Perimeter.” In theory, the mechinism would allow the “dead hand” of the Soviet Union to retaliate against a surprise nuclear attack. And yes Kubrick fans, the real life Kremlin also kept it a secret.
"By guaranteeing that Moscow could hit back, Perimeter was actually designed to keep an overeager Soviet military or civilian leader from launching prematurely during a crisis."

Cold War aficionados will note that many of these details have been exposed over the last two decades. But the best part: “Dead Hand is still armed.”

By the way Lavrov, how are those START negotiations progressing?


Sublime Oblivion said...

This is old. There have been articles on this from the late 1990's (e.g. search for "Yamantau").

Pirates(and)Diplomats said...

Indeed! Like I said, Cold War aficionados will know all about this.

But it's a great reminder of the stakes in START talks.