Game Theory: Are Humans Obsolete? (Ghost Recon Breakpoint)
Hmm, must’ve been my imagination What the…. Drone Bird! Attack! Want to know the weirdest part? This isn’t even a joke. See what I mean today on Game Theory Hello Internet! Welcome to Game Theory! The show that’s a little nervous about how accurate ghost recons prediction record has been in the past. Here’s the situation: “We’ve been deployed at the request of the Georgian government to help them deal with rebels on their Russian border Our area of operations will be the South Ossetian Autonomous Region.” This was the scene early on August the 8th 2008, as Georgian rockets pounded the breakaway region of South Ossetia In case you’re confused what I just showed was Ghost Recon predicting the exact area of a Russian rebellion happening seven years before it really happened. This franchise has a better record of predicting International conflict than I do of trying to predict Star Wars plots And considering that track record the question I’m exploring today is Whether history is about to repeat itself with the newest instalment in the series: Ghost Recon Breakpoint – as the series takes a close high-tech look at drone warfare A tropical drone warfare! Special thanks to Ubisoft for sponsoring this episode, giving us some access to the military minds behind the game And giving me an excuse to talk about The scary world of battlefield tech and drone combat And I do mean scary here! You all know by now that I cover a lot of spooky ghost stories on this show, especially between Petscop, Pokemon and FNAF, lately. But I gotta say this episode is the scariest ghost story of them all: A Ghost Recon story that’s absolutely terrifying because this ain’t fiction, friends. Everything we’re talking about today is incredibly real and is in use in the world around you even as I speak And, making things even more intense, this is the stuff they’re publicly talking about. Just imagine the type of tech they have access to that we’re not aware of. I mean the whole time I’ve been working on this episode, I’ve been going around saying “Man, I wish people got more excited when we covered stuff around military tech” Because these sorts of episodes are probably some of our most important episodes because not only are they touching on all the scary technology that we cover in other things in a more fictional sense, but it’s real. It’s making you more aware of what’s going on in the world around you. Now going into today’s episode, I didn’t know all that much about drones except for two things: First, that you’re not really allowed to fly them all that many places anymore due to privacy and airspace concerns; and second, that there are selfie drones that exist to track your face fly around following you and taking your picture. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you what mankind has chosen to do with our most advanced technologies in 2019. “Feed my narcissism you flying paparazzi! You capture this amazing duck face at all my different angles!” But there is so so much more here that, quite honestly, doesn’t get talked about all that much for security reasons stuff that I think you’re gonna find fascinating and frightening. I know I did and as I started to peel back the layers of drone capabilities on the battlefield. It raised the question for me: “How can humans fight back? Have we made ourselves obsolete on the battlefield?” Today’s episode is all about tech vs training – exposing the advanced capabilities of the drones and then picking apart what highly-trained real-world soldiers like the ghosts of Ghost Recon can do to fight back. Modern warfare is increasingly becoming a battle of man versus machine. Let’s just hope that man is still able to win. Let’s start with a quick look at Ghost Recon Breakpoint, where for the first time in the series’s history, the ghosts are actually at a technological disadvantage. The game takes place on Aurora, a private island owned by Jace Skell – billionaire tech genius. Unfortunately for him, though, all the money in the world doesn’t mean a thing when his tropical technological paradise gets taken over by Cole Walker a former ghost whose gone rogue hoping to, in his own words: “To secure the future with technology others developed, but were too fearful to deploy” Cole is basically like Syndrome from The Incredibles, complete with an island full of gadgets that will be happy to separate you from your head before you get the chance to say Aloha. Calling themselves the Wolves, Cole threatens international stability with an arsenal of automated tanks, well-armed super soldiers and of course a legion of highly advanced drones, all at his disposal. In short, this is a game all about our heroes survival skills being put to the test against an onslaught of computer-driven super weapons And frankly, the odds aren’t looking at all that great. So to give them, and us, as the player, the best chances of survival possible, let’s look at what the Ghost team is gonna be up against to see how their training might be able to help them survive this gauntlet. Now it’s worth pointing out that what we’re seeing in the trailers and pre-release footage aren’t some kind of fictionalized weapons. The drone technology that’s modelled in this game is based closely on real-world military tech Which honestly makes the game feel really realistic and also why it’s worth talking about. This isn’t just some far-off fictional story, this is the technology of today. Military weapons have become so advanced by now that we no longer have to imagine these super weapons They are already here. So before we can even get into anything that attacks, we have to first account for all the surveillance that Cole is going to be using across his island. The game presents us with Azrael airplane and the Cherubim quadcopters – both of which are based on real military grade surveillance drones, like the ScanEagle and the Wasp. They rely on sensors to pick out the shapes of people and sometimes even specific faces as they do their scanning. Okay, so that’s impressive but there does seem to be an easy solution, right? You just outwit their cameras by disguising your face or slapping on a little bit of camouflage – it works for hunters, so it should probably work against a drone computer too, right? Well, sort of. To understand how drones like this work, we have to know a little bit more about camouflage. Camouflage works in one of two ways either: It blends you in with your surroundings, or it helps break up your silhouette so you don’t look like a big hulking person – you just look like a bunch of small pieces of colour. When you break up your silhouette, you can actually fool computers into thinking that you aren’t there because essentially, there’s not enough of you there to register your body as human shaped. This is why even army jeeps are painted with camouflage. Obviously, that sort of paint job isn’t gonna get anyone to say “Oh my gosh, where did that Jeep go?” but when you’re flying overhead using a low res camera the splotches of different colours are mistaken for just some dirt or some foliage. Notice though that I specifically said “low res Cameras” As this technology’s improved, the cost for better equipment has gotten less and less, thereby meaning that drones are smarter now. Not only are drones using better cameras, they’re also using better AI. They are now harder to fool with camouflage; they can now sense a regular light pattern meaning that it’s not gonna matter if you’re Joseph and the Amazing Camouflage Dreamcoat down there. The drone is now gonna be able to see your shadow, which can appear even larger and more obvious than you yourself do. There are other ways though to camouflage yourself, which I like to call the Peeta Mellark method. If you have a great paint job and you do not move at all, you may be able to avoid detection. For example, this picture you see on screen right now contains a sniper. This is like real-world ‘Where’s Waldo?’. If a book of this existed, I would totally do it forever. Anyway, it probably took you a second or two to realize where he was and a computer isn’t gonna be all that much better than you. Basic 2D camo just isn’t enough to fool these sorts of surveillance cams – you need something that’s gonna break you up in three dimensions, which breaks up not only your human form – but also your shadow. Doing things like wearing branches and leaves will do exactly that. Don’t want to get caught playing with sticks and mud on the battlefield? Well, that’s why they invented the ghillie suit, which instantly makes you look like Swamp Thing or a desert thing or snow thing – depending on what environment you’re looking to hide in so that means the score is humans one, tech zero. Don’t put that score on the board just yet… You see, drone technology has a lot more tricks up its sleeve. Drones like the Azreal scene in the game modelled after drones like the predator MQ in real life are full-on, you guessed it, infrared heat sensors – and that ghillie suit you’re wearing is gonna be hot, making you stick out like a sore thumb on any thermal imaging software. I mean, we are alive and it’s kind of the idea to stay that way so your heat signature seems to be pretty locked in place. So how are soldiers trained to get around technology like that? Well, there’s actually a lot of options. The newest high-tech solution are the Ulcans: ultra lightweight camouflage net systems, which take the classic concept of military netting and upgrade it for the modern battlefield. It’s what’s known as multispectral camouflage, working to hide multiple bands of the electromagnetic spectrum: Not just infrared and visible light but also radar and other electronic signals. But this is super new and as a result, is super expensive, so what sort of training would a Ghost soldier have to handle a situation like this? Well, while we all immediately think of hiding our heat signature, when it comes to IR detection, the most effective solution isn’t to get your body to the same temperature as your surroundings – it’s to get your surroundings to the same temperature as your body. The best way for the Ghosts to realistically combat infrared tech is to travel during the hours just after sunrise and sunset, because, believe it or not, it’s hard for IR sensors to accurately read you during those times because they’re the most temperately volatile so they can’t tell what’s a person and what’s just a random hot spot. Additionally, it’s about not giving the enemy a reason to look in your direction in the first place. Highly trained soldiers like the Ghost would know that Infrared detection systems are expensive and require a lot of resources in order to operate even for short stretches of time. As a result, they’re used sparingly and mostly in areas with the highest threat. So by avoiding major supply routes and instead, taking longer less obvious routes to the target, you’re actually going to be able to encounter less surveillance. Granted, it’s gonna be harder – The routes are less obvious for a reason – but by staying disciplined and quiet, the advantage is gonna be yours. So can I finally put this point up? Humans – one, Tech- Oh, come on what now? We have upgraded. We have hyperspectral scanning now. Hyper-what now? Gah, you’re just making up words at this point. Hold on… One hour later… Okay, so my little drone friend here isn’t lying. After looking into it, the final boss of drone surveillance systems that’s starting to pop up in military drones around the world, using technology from companies like headwall here, is what’s called hyperspectral scanning. This type of technology goes way beyond just your infrared signatures and searches for unique electromagnetic patterns given off by any substance. If that sounds confusing, you don’t know the half of it. With these sorts of systems, constructing complicated data cubes to analyze whatever it’s looking at across all different ranges of spectra: visible spectra, heat, chemical signatures – the long and short of it is that it can sense unusual disturbances in the natural pattern of a beach or sand bar to sense where mines have been laid just by the uneven patterns of weathering in the sand. It can sense movement patterns through a forest based on branches that have been broken and foliage that’s been pushed through carelessly – and don’t even get me started on camouflage! Studies have shown that it’s possible to detect camouflaged objects that represent as little as 20% of a single pixel. And if you think that ghillie suit is gonna help – think again. Unless it’s made from the foliage in that exact part of the tropical island you’re hiding in, you are caught because that ghillie suits chemical makeup is gonna differ from all of the vegetation around you – it is that precise. So if the Azrael hyperspectral array picks up so much as a single pixel of one of the Ghosts, it’s gonna be able to detect them. How do you combat something that advanced? Well, bizarrely enough, the best way to beat this high-tech weapon is a low-tech solution – you hide behind a big rock. I’m not even kidding! In the gameplay reveal, we see our Ghost get a warning that the Azrael is inbound and his response is hiding behind a big rock, which is what you actually would do in a situation like this in real life. 200,000 years of human existence, ladies and gentlemen, and big rock still one of our most effective tools. Humans one, tech… Well, it’s not zero. I mean, let’s face it: It’s putting up a darn good fight and further complicating things is the fact that drones sometimes are working in groups like the in-game Stolas drones, in which a team of drones connected to a powerful network, can communicate with each other to detect changes a single one of them couldn’t. A drone flies past a spot takes a picture and then another drone flies past a little bit later and they notice that something has changed: Boom you’re caught! Unless the Ghost was super careful in his path through the landscape, you’re getting caught – rock or no rock and here’s the crazy thing… We are 5 pages into the script and we’ve only dealt with surveillance. We’re dealing with drones that are basically just a really clever internet stalker drone. Technology goes way beyond just watching you. Much of what the ghosts are gonna be dealing with in the game and what real-life soldiers deal with on the battlefield, is technology, designed to wipe you off the map in the game. They’re drones like the Andreas which has Search and Destroy Capabilities. So how the heck do you combat that? Are Ghosts and soldiers, in general, basically cooked at this point, because the soldiers that they’re fighting against now weigh 8 pounds and can fly? How do you not only avoid detection from these things but fight back against them? Well, there are a few methods us humans can use to stand a chance. First, remember that drones are lightweight and ultimately kind of flimsy because they have to stay in the air. Given that, they can technically shoot a drone out of the sky with a regular gun, but good luck with that. The challenge is that the profile of a drone is just difficult to hit since there are lots of holes and wings and stuff spinning. And instead of something that’s at least on the ground in the same plane as you, you’re trying to hit a target that’s moving in 3 dimensions over your head. Unlike bird hunting, many drones aren’t even flying in a straight line. To their credit, Ubisoft even shows us this when you see that Ghosts are having trouble hitting a drone with their sidearm. Your better option here is actually gonna be using a different kind of ammo – the aptly named Skynet shotgun shells, which can be loaded into a modified gun and then they pop open into a net after firing. That way you can look cool, not be remotely accurate and still take down your target – as long as the net hits the drone somewhere, it clogs up the rotors and brings it straight out of the sky. But if that still doesn’t seem exciting enough for you, maybe you’d prefer a more all-American solution. That’s why you gotta send in the eagles. No, that isn’t some fancy name for a new gun or new ammo. I literally mean eagles. Anti-drone Eagles. Yes. These are very real. And yes, they are kind of as crazy as they sound. Instead of picking off another bird from the sky and carrying it off for an afternoon snack, the eagles are trained to spot and attack drones in midair, usually overpowering them immediately with their size and their super eagle strength. While I would have personally opted for these as my in-game weapon of choice I can also understand why the Ghosts don’t feel like stealthing onto a tropical island, with literal attack eagles on their arms, would be the wisest decision – but still, with all these ways to fight back against the drones, it still leaves us humans in a lurch. Regular ammo is gonna make it difficult to land a shot and some of these other options are a bit more specialty. You don’t just find drone-attacking eagles laying around to restock on. Is there another way us humans can stand a chance? Well so far, we’ve been focusing pretty low tech, so maybe it’s time to fight high-tech drones with higher tech defences. EMPs or electromagnetic pulses the things that you see in the movies where a mysterious silent blast goes off and then all of a sudden every machine stops working. I actually just talked a lot about how EMPs work on a recent episode over on film theory and the new Sonic movie, so if you’re interested in the ins and outs of gamma radiation, you can totally check that out – but the long and short of it is that electromagnetism is what makes automated drones work and EMPs interfere with the existing electromagnetic radiation to overwhelm their circuit boards and shut them down. You can actually detonate BMPs like a bomb, but at the end of the day, that’s pretty inefficient and many EMPs have a very limited range. Enter Boeing’s anti-drone laser cannon which focuses all the EMP energy into a single point burning a small hole in the drone and disabling it from the inside! And here’s the thing, I don’t even care if it wasn’t able to lock on to drones and blast them out of the sky – it already has the words laser cannon in its name scientifically making it a thousand percent cooler. Humans, 2 – tech also, 2 – I don’t know? Let’s be real this scoring system is really stupid. This arms race of tech vs training just can’t be quantified with simple digits. It’s a much more nuanced problem that we’re dealing with here. After this episode, I hope that you see that the tech on the battlefield is serious force to be reckoned with. Able to pick up things with its sensors with speed and efficiency that no human could ever hope to match. Drones have no fear and as such are able to do the tasks, they’re programmed to with ruthless efficiency. But that’s exactly the point – the task they’re programmed to do. Sure tech can do all these things, but that’s where it stops in a lot of cases. What makes soldiers like the Ghosts on the battlefield so effective is their ability to adjust on the fly, restrategize and think outside the box. For every challenge that the drones threw at us humans throughout this episode, we came up with a new solution – traditional camo doesn’t work, upgrade the camo, bust it again, try an e/m mesh; having a hard time hitting a drone out of the sky, use an effing eagle! It’s the Ghosts ability to read the situation and quickly problem-solve that allows us to compete in the face of such a sophisticated and seemingly insurmountable opponent. The battlefield truly is a game of chess, you versus your opponent. And more often than not, it’s not about the tools that you have – but rather how you choose to use those tools that ultimately decide the victor. And let’s face it, in the ultimate battle of tech vs. training, you’ll know who the true winner is – drone eagles with laser cannons! But hey, that’s just a theory, a Game Theory! Thanks for watching and thanks to Ubisoft for sponsoring this video If you want to see more from Ghost Recon: Breakpoint click the box that you see on screen right now and check out how the game is put into practice all the cool stuff that we talked about today now if you’ll excuse me. I’ve got an eagle to catch.