Technology in the new Call of Duty is your terrifying new reality | The Vine

284352Technology might be evolving at a crazy pace, but it’s nowhere as far-flung as it is in video games, right? I mean, science fiction isn’t about to punch us square in the face. Playing games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Hawken, Mechwarrior or the newest Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, one might seek solace in the fact that, hey, at least we don’t have mech suits and invisibility cloaks stalking our battlefields today.

This, sadly, isn’t the case.

I sat down and chatted with Morris Miseloewski, noted business futurist, about the shrinking gap between tech in games, and tech in real life.

TheVine: Morris, the first thing that struck me upon watching the trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was the exoskeletons, and how similar they look to those worn by Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in The Edge of Tomorrow. Which is, frankly, science fiction. How far off are we, realistically, from having that kind of tech out there in the real world?

Morris Miseloewski: How ’bout last week? I mean, a lot of that tech is actually on prototype stage at the moment, and is being tested… we’re not going to see it mainstream for maybe five years, maybe more, but let’s take some of the tech seen in Advanced Warfare and have a look at it. So first, we know drones are out and about, so drones at the moment are being used for all kinds of surveillance, for police use, the army… everyone uses them, and they started off just doing surveillance. But they now do tracking, and are also able to deliver things onto the battlefield, and they can also… well, they can shoot. So drone technology is very much here, and is getting better and better. But one of my favourites is the exoskeleton, which is basically a suit of body armor you put on. And that actually exists! You can actually buy one in Japan, but it isn’t used for warfare, it’s used for aged care.

Right! God, that’s eerie. There’s an anime from back in the early nineties called Roujin Z, it’s literally about that; robotic exoskeletons that care for old people. Of course, it’s anime, so the suits malfunction and go on a rampage, but otherwise, oddly prescient.

Hah! So this isn’t exactly like that, I mean, maybe they’ll get around to it. But what they have in Japan is for the carers of the old people, so the nursing staff, to help them pick up and move around the elderly, getting them in and out of wheelchairs. So this previously fantastic, unbelievable technology is now in the real world, providing the extra strength needed for carers.

There’s also quite a lot of work being done using exoskeletons to help quadriplegics and paraplegics, for the same purposes. When you talk to a futurist, and they deal with tomorrow, not today… there’s actual work being done at the moment, not just talk. Many scientists and doctors believe that this tech won’t be a panacea for everybody, but some will benefit greatly from this. And in the field of war, as seen in Advanced Warfare, there are absolutely prototypes out there. The actual mechanics we view as far fetched are out there, being used, they’re not pie in the sky.

How about some of the other tech you mentioned?

My favourite is actually invisibility cloak tech, that lets you disappear. And that exists, too, and has actually been around a little while. The fighter planes you see that are basically big, grey triangles? They can actually have cloaking on them, they disappear from radar. And there’s tech out there that Mercedes Benz tried as a stunt, but the army is trying to develop seriously; they can turn vehicles invisible, by bending or fracturing light. The eye can’t see them, nor can telescopes or what have you. But that stuff’s here, too, and there’s evidence of it being used.

Well, look… there’s no easy way to phrase this, but does this tech make war… better? By which I mean more efficient, because obviously, war is abhorrent.

It’s changed the battlefield dramatically. We’re not better off, you’re right, but what’s changed is that it used to take thousands to do what it now takes one person, and the ability to be precise. That’s the biggest difference. We’re in the midst right now of celebrating… well, commemorating, World War One. And we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people going to battle. Those were the numbers we talked about, and coped with.
Now, we have such precision, wielded by people who don’t even necessarily need to be in the mix, they’re miles away operating drones. The first person shooter experience is, in many ways, becoming closer to what war will be like soon. The individual has far more control, more manipulation, and more tech on and with them that we didn’t have before. Good, bad… that’s up to the individual, but the nature of war itself is certainly changing, and it’s becoming more like games all the time. And that’s because of technology, certainly.

So how does this affect you, as a futurist?
Much of my job is trying to describe to people things that don’t exist… yet. And what games like Advanced Warfare do, is they take tech that is out there in a very rarefied, inaccessible prototype stage, and lets you… well, not physically touch it, but interact with it digitally. So people are getting an idea of these incredible things, which in turn informs how they’ll be developed as mainstream down the line. In games, or fiction, is evidence of what we might have, what might come about tomorrow. Today, because of games, you can actually get in there amongst virtual versions of what will come.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is out this November.
Paul Verhoeven (@paulverhoeven)

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Eye on the Future - Aug 12, 2014 | All, Horizon Trends, Robots, Social, Technology
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