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The ``blast 'em'' computer video games of today all derive from a U.S. Air Force project in the late 1940s to develop realistic flight simulators.
The U.S. Air Force had pioneered the use of computers. However, the need for realistic computerized simulation demanded a much faster system than that based on the analog technology of the immediate postwar period. The USAF heavily funded a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), under electrical engineer Jay Forrester, to develop new methods. Forrester came up with ``Whirlwind,'' the first high-speed digital computer.
From the beginning of the 1950s, USAF planners became increasingly enamored with the cybernetics ideology being fed to them by the RAND Corp.--especially ideas about ``man-machine interface.'' The Air Force wanted a complete radar network to guard against Soviet bombers, but it became convinced that human operators could not handle the volume of information. Forrester was tasked with creating SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment), which allowed digital computers to analyze information before it was delivered to the human beings. The long process of getting the human beings and their moral compunctions ``out of the loop'' had begun.
Forrester was so impressed by the success with which his digital computers seemed to simulate combat, that he left MIT's computer lab and moved to the same university's Sloan School of Management. There, he developed an idea he named ``system dynamics,'' which purported to model global society, including ecological and population dynamics. But, as the saying goes, ``garbage in, garbage out.'' Forrester's model incorporated the Malthusian ideology of limited natural resources; therefore, his model's output could only confirm that overpopulation was the world's biggest problem.
This appealed to the so-called Club of Rome, the Malthusian group that sponsored Forrester and Dennis Meadows to write Limits to Growth in 1971. Throughout the 1970s, the Club of Rome and its environmental-extremist friends extensively used Limits to give a scientific veneer to their attempts to shut down industry and to commit genocide against ``overpopulated'' parts of the Third World. It is telling that Lyndon and Helga LaRouche and their collaborators spent considerable effort during the 1970s explicitly attacking Limits, and combatting the ideology behind it.
The digital technology Forrester developed lives on, in the innards of all of today's video games.
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