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?

2 comments:

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.