Let's play Global Thermonuclear War: lasting impacts of WarGames
July 13, 2016 9:23 PM   Subscribe

If, after the media dubbed Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (YT video, Wikipedia) as "Star Wars" (transcript) in 1983, you might quesiton his concerns triggered from another movie mere months later. But after watching WarGames, he was informed that "the problem is much worse than you think." WarGames was that accurate thanks in part to input in the script from an engineer named Willis Ware, who had concerns about network security (PDF) for decades before the movie. Reagan's fears lead to the first cybersecurity directive from any U.S. President and the first concerns about the NSA's potential role in "data base oversight" (Google books preview), as well as an attempt to regulate teenagers and teenaged technology (Gbp) that impacts US internet use to this day. And then there was the USSR computer program that nearly triggered WWIII. What a year.

If you want to play a game to take your mind off of all this, you can play Sega's SDI on Internet Archive's Internet Arcade, which also has War Games from ColecoVision.
posted by filthy light thief (20 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
Previously:
* 1983: The Brink of Apocalypse -- In 1983 the NATO war exercise Able Archer almost started a nuclear war.
* Hey, I don't believe that any system is totally secure. -- How a chance viewing of Wargames by President Reagan led to America's first policies on cyberwarfare.
* http://www.metafilter.com/71908/Flash-Friday-Fun-Pew-pew-space-lasers-Sort-of -- Planet Defender by MeFi's own justkevin.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:26 PM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, DEFCOИ
posted by infinitewindow at 9:33 PM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ah, the early 1980s. I used to wake in the night and worry that the missiles were coming. The monster under the bed had nothing on that.
posted by gingerest at 9:56 PM on July 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


You know how parents save their kids' art? I hope my mom didn't save any of my fallout shelter diagrams.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:19 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


No kidding, at work our monitoring console is WOPR themed. Launches nukes when at DEFCON 1.
posted by Tad Naff at 11:10 PM on July 13, 2016


Seems like the Reagan White House got a lot of policy inspiration from movies
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:47 PM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Reagan White House was itself inspired by movies.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:05 AM on July 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


I mean name one person who wasn't inspired by Bedtime for Bonzo c'mon
posted by item at 12:21 AM on July 14, 2016


If this topic and the post interest you, I strongly encourage checking out the new Alex Gibney documentary which is currently in theaters for a limited run and also out on video on demand through various services.
posted by trackofalljades at 12:29 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


SDI pretty much ripped off the 'bounce the lasers off a mirror' from showco/vari*lite.
posted by mikelieman at 3:45 AM on July 14, 2016


All right, Lightman. Maybe you could tell us who first suggested the idea of reproduction without sex.

Umm... Your wife?

What? Are we not just doing WarGames quotes in here?
posted by Chrysostom at 5:52 AM on July 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


Remember you told me to tell you when you were acting rudely and insensitively? Remember that? You're doing it right now.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:16 AM on July 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


What kind of an asshole lives on an island and doesn't even own a boat?
posted by sara is disenchanted at 9:49 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I feel like they saw WarGames and took exactly the wrong message from it. Not "all systems are fallible, so let's not have push button end of the world" but "let's lock up anyone who pokes at our push button end of the world." It's like the USAF having all zeroes for the codes to remove the interlocks. The message is fail deadly is beyond stupid. That MAD is a fool's game that will kill us all.

Anyway, how about a nice game of chess?
posted by Hactar at 10:28 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hactar: I feel like they saw WarGames and took exactly the wrong message from it.

That was my take-away, too, especially in light of USSR's RYAN program that almost triggered major conflicts, partially in response to the Reagan administration's provocations during The 1983 [Soviet] War Scare.

Step away from easy computer-controlled responses, instead of trying to stop anyone from (accidentally) accessing sensitive systems that were now networked assets.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:28 AM on July 14, 2016


Goddammit, I'd piss on a spark plug if I thought it'd do any good!

Corbin ad libbed that line! So great.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:33 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Thats a surprisingly anti-nuclear-holocaust message from someone named Hactar...
posted by thefoxgod at 11:50 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mr. McKittrick, after very careful consideration, sir, I've come to the conclusion that your new defense system sucks.
posted by Mitheral at 5:55 PM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Mr. Potato Head — MR. POTATO HEAD! Back doors are not secrets.
posted by mubba at 7:16 PM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


John! Good to see you. I see the wife still picks your ties.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:07 PM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


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