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Subject: Computer simulations suggest war drove the rise of civilizations rss

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Ben Schomp
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Computer simulations suggest war drove the rise of civilizations
by Akshat Rathi of TheConversation.com.

"Agriculture and military technology make this model a good fit for real world data."

Story here.



I find this concept quite fascinating, yet the article frustratingly void of any algorithmic details. I'm enjoying to think of it as a 1:1, full-scale run of Conway's Game of Life.

Not sure if this is topically interesting to wargamers or civ-heads, but the simulations potential is what has me all worked up. Imagine developing software that, when run on known scenarios, generates historically accurate battle resolutions. And predicts the flow of human civilization as a result.

Isn't this predicting the future? Or at the very least, creating the greatest wargame of all time? And a killer AI at the same time?

-- A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.
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Mike Szarka
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Interesting although not very accurate. But is Asimov's dream of "psychohistory" making its first baby steps?
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John Middleton
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What's funny is that almost every book ever written about the rise and decline of civilizations has concluded the same thing.
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Enrico Viglino
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It's almost as if the designers of these games actually read some of them.
 
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Michael Matson
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Carl Paradis
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"They made a desert and called it peace" (Tacitus, discussing the Romans)
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Bill Lawson
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All we are saying, is give War a chance.
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Wendell
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Thanks for the link. Interesting article though I'm unconvinced.

Besides, everybody knows that civilization arose due to the need to secure a reliable source of beer.
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Ted Torgerson
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Wendell is right. The first wars were nomadic tribes raiding agrarian peoples to steal their stockpiles of food, mostly grains, thus establishing the strategy of attacking the enemy's BEER SUPPLY.
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Ben Schomp
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wifwendell wrote:
Besides, everybody knows that civilization arose due to the need to secure a reliable source of beer.


Are you saying that the perfect simulation wargame requires trading resource cubes of hops and barley?! whistle

Your point is well taken though, and it meshes with the mathematical model theory. Just like predicting the weather, as science/knowledge and computing processing power increases, more variables and parameters can be added to a prediction simulation. Terrain, agriculture, war, latitude, altitude, fire, beer brewing, access to water, wolly mammoth population, weather, ...

The only difference is its not a quantitative, deterministic system - its people. However, just like Mike said, Asimov's psychohistory treats a large enough population as if a gas - individual molecules doing seemingly their own thing, yet as a collection, very predictable.


Red depicts a higher probability for the existence of a civilization. Green reflects lower.


The explosion of "big data" and the recent availability of interconnected human networks such as facebook and twitter, will begin to allow us to model all kinds of behaviors. Prediction based on hard evidence.

The spread of disease? Political unrest? The stock market?


Frequency and intensity of Chinese Wars (200 BCE–1945).
Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_cycles


As the article points out (the validity of which remains to be seen), factoring in armed conflict to a simulation of the human race improved the accuracy by a factor of four.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Whether warfare *creates* new and vibrant civilisations, or whether new, vibrant civilisations inevitably lead to wars, is a matter which I suspect is capable of leading to much debate. What is not remotely up for grabs is the proposition that warfare and the growth of civilisation is inextricably linked; the proposition is undoubtedly and unarguably true. Wether it needs to remain true in the future is anyone's guess; it might be that humanity's struggles with itself as an impetus for progress will be replaced by humanity's struggles with its environment. So long as the reward for success/penalty for failure is of the same level of magnitude as civilisation-ending warfare has been.
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Joe Thompson
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dabowsa wrote:
Not sure if this is topically interesting to wargamers or civ-heads, but the simulations potential is what has me all worked up. Imagine developing software that, when run on known scenarios, generates historically accurate battle resolutions. And predicts the flow of human civilization as a result.


We can't even predict the weather. I was amused by this paper though:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.1847

They're seeing if we live in a universe that's been divided up into a lattice (much like the OP's article). Seems a good idea to check we're not simulations ourselves.
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Carl Paradis
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ShallowThought wrote:
dabowsa wrote:
Not sure if this is topically interesting to wargamers or civ-heads, but the simulations potential is what has me all worked up. Imagine developing software that, when run on known scenarios, generates historically accurate battle resolutions. And predicts the flow of human civilization as a result.


We can't even predict the weather. I was amused by this paper though:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.1847

They're seeing if we live in a universe that's been divided up into a lattice (much like the OP's article). Seems a good idea to check we're not simulations ourselves.


Oh Man.. I'm definitely taking the Blue pill!!!

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Lucius Cornelius
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A 'civilization' needs only two things: biggest stick in the neighborhood and docile 'historians'. cool
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D T P
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Isn't this an oxymoron?

If we are driven by war then why do we call ourselves civilized?
 
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Enrico Viglino
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xlhrider wrote:
Isn't this an oxymoron?

If we are driven by war then why do we call ourselves civilized?


Organized war is the very mark of civilization.

We should be striving to become LESS civilized.
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D T P
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calandale wrote:


We should be striving to become LESS civilized.


Given some of the recent events I've seen, I'd say we are!
 
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Enrico Viglino
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xlhrider wrote:
calandale wrote:


We should be striving to become LESS civilized.


Given some of the recent events I've seen, I'd say we are!


I blame the interstates.
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calandale wrote:
xlhrider wrote:
calandale wrote:


We should be striving to become LESS civilized.


Given some of the recent events I've seen, I'd say we are!


I blame the interstates.


Henry Ford's fault.arrrh
 
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