Machinechild: Ground Truth Essay
global developments confirm the superior performance of the
American way of life. The Gulf war and the collapse of communist
Russia, the soaring performance of the US Stock Market, the
leading US role as peacemaker in the Middle East and the Balkans
are examples, not to mention the recent helping hands of brotherly
financial underwriting for devalued Asian currencies. It is
no coincidence that economic well-being at home is paralleled
by financial outreach to those less fortunate abroad. America
is home to the technological and industrial shepherds for
the worlds free market flock. The global presence of
the internet and satellite communications systems is enabling
distributed and remote cultures to join the fold, to subscribe
to Americas extended family.
caretakers of this "good will web" recognize the
need to keep it freely accessible to all members, and secure.
The American recipe for financial and political security is
one of long-range investment. Instruments are being invented
and installed today which will return benefits to their makers
for years to come. It is only natural for less fortunate cultures
to bond with the systems that help them get back on their
feet. Today there is an investment parallel between private
sector "global shepherd" causes and a bullish stock
market on the one hand, and the increased Congressional funding
for military information systems on the other. Government
agencies that once shied away from defense funding are now
embracing the climate change toward defense allocations of
taxpayer dollars. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA),
which funded the CAVE™ and other computer interfaces,
was recently promoted from ARPA to DARPA with the blessings
of Congress (the "D" is for "Defense").
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA),
Americas leading-edge site for high performance scientific
computing and Internet 2, recently established a contract
office for DoD Mod (Department of Defense Modernization) projects.
And institutions of Higher Learning including MIT, UC Berkeley,
U of Michigan and U of Illinois, have recently formed research
consortia with Lockheed-Martin, Rockwell International and
other military systems integrators. These consortia are sponsored
by the ARL (Army Research Laboratory) Federated Laboratories
program  (FedLab).
the Gulf war the Armed Services have been incubating a modern
identity to replace the role they aborted in Vietnam. US armed
forces are the logical global defenders of our 21st-century
technodemocracy. This rebirth is capitalized by a funding
strategy whereby public monies are divested from legacy military
hardware and software. Instead, tax dollars are invested in
"Dual Use" technologies, modular, lightweight, and
distributed, with commercial intellectual property rights
that are not usurped by military R & D. Dual Use doctrine
ensures that military technology also meets the needs of civilian
industry. US consumers, under the protective investments of
the private sector, will reap the benefits of technologies
developed initially for military applications. These technologies
will be eventually transformed into home appliances or other
attractive commodities. In this way Congress maintains Investment
Equilibrium between military and civilian economies. Dual
Use is a striking example of the tactical merger of the marketplace
and the battlefield.
extending this scenario to the funding of artistic projects.
In May 1998 DARPA published a Program Solicitation for proposals
to develop a Command Post of the Future (CPOF) . The DARPA
CPOF BAA (Broad Agency Announcement) advances a vision of
an extended cyber-commander, VR-empowered, sensing, comprehending
and responding to instantaneous conditions on the battlefield.
This capability is known as Battlefield Visualization (BV).
To achieve a seamless BV will require cognitive engineering
of sensors, transmitters and information displays such as
computer graphics and computer-generated sound. Cognitive
engineering describes the crossover from soft intelligence
to wet intelligence (from artificial to biological information
processing). If DARPA is reaching its R&D audience, then
content providers, even artists, will recognize this opportunity
to leave their creative mark in history while serving their
country. The CPOF BAA anticipates the realm of artistic possibilities.
On page five the BAA suggests "developing general principles
of visualization from principles of human perception and experience
in graphic art, advertising, news broadcasting, story telling
and entertainment." Cinematography, animation, computer
games and location-based entertainment may prove worthy of
Dual Use. Visionary artists could leverage Dual Use to accommodate
the decency-in-funding requirement of the NEA (National Endowment
of the Arts). Decency-in-funding was prescribed by Congress
and recently upheld by the US Supreme Court. The questionable
morality of art funded by taxpayer dollars has proven a sore
point for certain American constituencies. The morality of
public funding for military projects, however, and the fundamental
decency of defense-related research, are beyond question.
artistic perspective is important for the solution of complex
representational problems. Representational skill is necessary
to clarify the display of excessive amounts of information.
Supported by military funding, artistic techniques could constitute
a Representational Strike Force to maintain Information Dominance
through Knowledge Management. In time-critical maneuvers and
in training, representation tools might include live performance
to demonstrate the coordination of an ensemble of assets and
devices. A live performance by an instructor demonstrating
a hypothetical virtuoso commander in action, might be described
as a literal theater of war.
we speak of technology we often focus on tools and techniques.
They are easier to refer to, due to the conventional ways
of making references by turning to the namable objects and
well-defined methodologies. However the primary inquiry of
technology is in forming questions, generating cases, and
creating problems that may not fit in existing paradigms.
It is this aspect of technology that makes it an open discourse
in a broader context in which scientific and engineering practices
can be revisited. Technology includes "illiterate" practitioner's
inventions as well as theories. For example the people who
invented the compass were illiterate, meaning in the practice
domain of compass as a tool, they were not scientists. The
word "illiterate" is applied to people here. Let's note the
term also applies to the practice for which descriptive language
is not yet available. When the practice is indescribable we
are illiterate to the need for the solutions to the problems.
When we are illiterate to such problems, we call them ill-defined
problems. Bringing ill-defined problems to well-defined problems
is a beginning of an involvement with technology, necessarily
involving our linguistic practices.
Truth is a semi-automated installation and a real-time
performance in distributed virtual reality. It demonstrates
the application of visual and auditory representations in
a multi-modal decision-making environment. The environment
is a dynamical multi-agent simulation. Multiple workstations
provide visual, auditory and tactile interfaces. Movement
sensors allow an observer to schedule state changes in system
components. Gesture-based interactive queries may be performed.
State changes automatically propagate from one region to another.
Visualization and sonification of current states of numerical
simulations determine the display.
Truth simulates the immutability of economics as combat.
In the Ground Truth simulator, Economy is at
war with Uncertainty. Information must be reduced to generate
profit. Market share must be reduced to refresh the source
of raw information. Participants may choose sides, and vote
for Prosperity or for Uncertainty. The core simulation is
composed of scientific and military software driving an economic
simulation, acted upon by observers from a distributed workstation
array. Each workstation is a Tactical Operations Center (TOC)
where participants experiment with military simulations and
numerical models of uncertainty. Battles are fought in economic
arenas using military force, financial instruments and media
webcasts. TOCs allow participants to select military
courses of action, to make financial investments, to edit
and webcast multimedia, and to negotiate uncertainty in a
physically-based model of resource delivery.
multiple models in Ground Truth are arranged
in three layers of real estate. Each layer visualizes a system
that commanders contend with to orchestrate a combat mission.
At bottom is the Battlefield or Marketplace terrain layer.
At top are the Cloud Cities and Factories, a resource renewal
and repository layer. Between them is the Uncertainty layer,
a turbulent flow field that can obscure the terrain and divert
resources transmitted between the Cloud Cities and the terrain.
The layers interact by exchanging 3D tokens that represent
information quanta. The tetrahedron is the information atom.
Geometric bonding of quanta forms three classes of information
currency: media, military and economic resource tokens. Rigid
body and particle dynamics simulate mass, velocity and acceleration
of information quanta. Currency tokens are affected by gravity
and simulated flow. They collide with other currencies and
with bounding surfaces. Avatars provide an immersive view
for each TOC workstation, where participants shepherd the
information into desired repositories. Tokens are expended
in a battle or invested in a Cloud City to fortify the civilian
economy. Currencies descend from the Cities to the Terrain
in a Resource Rainfall Cycle of taxation-as-precipitation.
Battles are executed using FOX, an automated Course-of-Action
planner that applies genetic algorithms to calculate optimal
troop maneuvers. The Media TOC transmits resources up to the
cities in the form of publicity, determined by the newsworthiness
of the conflicts on the battlefield.
military doctrine, "ground truth" is the technical
term for an elusive state of complete information. It is the
absolute knowledge of the momentary state of a battle. Ground
truth is unattainable, but it determines which party best
meets their objectives in armed conflict. In war, military
forces periodically contend with one another, whereas they
immediately and continuously contend with uncertainty. At
Bell Labs in 1949, Claude Shannon demonstrated that information
is the statistical measure of uncertainty in a communications
channel . Every communication involves a ratio of signal
to noise. Meaning must be encoded to resist decay under this
ratio. The decay of a relevant message into noise is inherent
to the entropy of transmission. There are many forms of noise,
some recognizable, others masquerading as content. Uncertainty
arises when meaning cannot be distinguished from noise in
a communication. To the significant degree that communications
are required to conduct a military operation, uncertainty
plays a role in the outcome. Predictions have been made that
our children will wage war in cyberspace , but in terms
of information, noise, and entropy, war is conducted in cyberspace
now, today. Whether the combatants are soldiers, or stock
brokers, or news networks and politicians, global turf is
staked, defended and conquered in a binary-coded alphanumeric
medium. The digital medium is regarded as an almost-physical
substrate for decision-making. In the ebb and flow of the
binary stream, the forces that master uncertainty carry the
bring uncertainty within grasp, military scientists and engineers
are designing systems to approach ground truth on an infinite
arc. The mastery of uncertainty follows a path that can be
likened to a curve approaching but never intersecting its
asymptote. As working technology advances along this curve,
a transformation of the battlefield is taking place. The machines
that are devised to sense, evaluate, and report ground truth,
are becoming a substitute battlefield. The machines are becoming
a replacement for the conditions they are designed to measure.
The physical state of war is evolving into a staging ground
for informational battle. Compression algorithms and search
engines reduce geography, forces and events to a pure form
of asynchronous message consisting of pointers to previous
messages. The new battlefield relies upon temporal mechanics
for articulation in a chain of reference without closure,
the event horizon for a recursive theater of war.
For resisting the description of an artist as "content
we wish certain content to be present
must prepare the condition
which the content could be accounted for.
term "medium" has specific implications associated
with the technology such as mass media, where the term presupposes
a quality of being transparent and a premise to simply mediate
with no interference. Through the observations of mass media
practices we have learned the implication of such premises
is no longer feasible for supporting any medium as an objective
representation tool for the world. Similarly, we wish to revisit
whether any medium can be an objective tool for artistic expressions.
Can a compositional idea be independent from the medium it
predicts? One might say it doesn't matter what an artist uses
to create a work of art as long as he or she gets the result.
This premise may be compatible with the description of an
artist as a content provider often for an industrial demand.
The role of an artist is reduced to the role of demonstrator
for proving the utility of certain tools and software for
commercial promotions. The conceptual ground for such premises,
however, is irrelevant for practitioners and artists in a
computation environment, particularly when one faces the machines
that take nothing for granted beyond the specifications of
their internal states, inputs, and product set. The specifications
of the machines are unique to the compositional problems.
With the prevalence of multimedia there is a similar concern
in presenting a work of art using certain tools as objective
tools for achieving certain effects. We wonder how much tools
shape the final results, when we note how certain packaged
products keep our students of art busy collecting data and
sampling. Not to eliminate the possibility of many tools,
what has to be examined and included in our discourse is the
composability of, and with, the tools and conditions that
leave a trace in works of art and this is not necessarily
undesirable. It simply means the composability of the tools
has to be taken into compositional criteria, and this is desirable.
Thus we attribute the distinctions between "a composition
for a medium" and "the composition of a medium". For
the former the composition assumes a well-defined medium for
its presentation, for the latter the composition explicitly
addresses the construction of its medium of presentation.
The word "medium" is applicable in a wide range,
from the substances appealing to our basic senses, to instruments,
genre, and tonality. I do not intend to categorize different
uses of the term. The discussion starts from the following
A medium requires an observers action for its presence
to be witnessed.
Let the action be a performance.
composition will involve the construction of a medium as a
sphere circumscribing subsystems and structures of action,
by which the systems will behave. With this task definition
of composition, what do we mean by content? When we input
content such as soundfiles or images and retrieve them it
will be nothing more than utilizing technology of data storage
and sampling. When we speak of dynamical models as subsystems
and complex interaction we do not think of content in terms
of what to be input or provided. Content is not what we put
into the composition, rather we prepare the system and structure
in ways the content will be brought up by ways of representing
systems behaviors. The systems behavior again is not the content-oriented
goal itself. It is the product of complex interactions involving
internal structures of the complex system in which the interaction
relativity assures us there must be a temporal gap between
"now" in one location and its report elsewhere.
Transmissions of signals cannot overcome this interval. A
military operation occurs across a sequence if such intervals.
The commanders intuition masters time by anticipating
future events, as if bringing about the expected in advance
of its occurrence. In the case of physical transmissions,
information overload results from the latency between ground
truth and information display. This is due to the accountability
of the variable n. If a commander could be n
places at once, where n > 1, then interpretation
and decision would receive timely execution. However, if n
= 1, the commander acts in real-time. In military doctrine
a commander may substitute n-time execution with recursive
time, in the form of a Prioritized Information Request (PIR).
A PIR is a recursive query. It asks a big question, the big
question in turn asks smaller questions, and so on down the
chain of command. Eventually the smallest answers report to
bigger answers, and so on. When enough answers return, a decision
is made at the top. But there is rarely enough time during
battle to complete the recursion. Decisions are made with
less than complete knowledge. In place of knowledge, the commanding
officer relies upon information display. Information display
may be thought of as a representation of time as knowledge.
But this knowledge is implicit, as it is a representation
of uncertainty. The difference between available information
and knowledge required for a decision, is the unknown quantity
in the display.
the Ground Truth installation, uncertainty is
represented. This uncertainty is the asymptote of the research
curve. The military term for the uncertainty curve is Situational
Ideals and their Application
is a history of artists who step forward to support the cause
of battle, such as those who shouldered arms against Franco
in the Spanish Civil war. There is also a history of artist-activists
opposed to the formerly-named "military-industrial complex".
The climatization of artistic to military practices reminds
me of an anecdote told by a professor in a documentary film
class. The class had just finished screening The Battle
of Anzio by Frank Capra (Its a Wonderful Life
and other films). Anzio was part of the "Why We
Fight" cinema newsreel series, produced during World
War II by the Department of Defense. Various Hollywood directors
produced installments in this series as part of the war effort.
Narration and raw footage was provided by the DoD. According
to the story, officials were unhappy about an apparent time
offset in Capras work, between the narration and the
silent newsreel footage. The timing of the narration, they
protested, unduly emphasized the soldiers difficulties.
The results were less than inspiring to prospective soldiers.
Capra is said to have replied, "You didnt expect
me to make a movie promoting war, did you?"
research is supported by the Army Research Laboratory and
the Army Intelligence and Security Command via the Advanced
and Interactive Displays Consortium. Consortium sponsored
by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory under the Federated Laboratory
Program, Cooperative Agreement DAAL01-96-2-0003. The views
and conclusions contained in this document are those of the
authors and should not be interpreted as representing the
official policies, either expressed or implied of the Army
Research Laboratory or the U.S. Government.
live in a society with the generally accepted definition of
adaptation (Lorenz, 1965)
is the process which molds the organism so that it fits
its environment in a way achieving survival.
computer technology is advanced enough to update various simulations
based upon complex phenomena, the logical processes based
on biological explanations or "real-world" understandings
come to the front line of discussions. Subsequently the metaphors
such as "environmental fitness", "mutations",
"memes", "adaptation", and "survival"
cross over many disciplines. Lets not forget metaphors
are often used for explanatory designations. The uses of metaphors
that are heavily dependent on explanatory powers tend to be
often mistaken as prescriptions for the subsequent thoughts.
The production of art differs from the production of explanations
and I can not elaborate this here. However, as a composer
I stand closely by the following reference. Not necessarily
contradicting the preceding reference, as an alternative,
in the early 1960s Ross Ashby stated
there is not a single mental faculty ascribed to Man that
is good in the absolute sense. If any particular faculty
is usually good, this is solely because our terrestrial
environment is so lacking in variety that its usual form
makes that faculty usually good.
absurd it appears to be, at least at first sight, this statement
seems to contradict our common acceptance of nature as unpredictable
in detail and uncontrollable by its nature. Note that the
assertion adaptability is "good" often shadows the
examination of the condition under which certain adaptability
is "good". Further the value association obscures
the fact that a generative process starts from the stipulation
of constraints. The stipulation of constraints gains freedom
and generative power. Performance may generate metaphor but
is not constructed on explanation-based metaphor. In composing
a medium, generating performance cases is preferred to explanations
for examining the explainers conditions under which
the performance is generated. The criterion for composing
a medium is to create the conditions such that, certain human
capacities are facilitated otherwise the particular capabilities
to observe might not be attainable. In creating this condition,
performability is more of our concern than survivability.
art of a dreamer requires more than
adaptability for survival.
might have to refuse to survive under certain
in order to construct an alternative.
advised he, who has survived. He could be.