back to article DARPA wants Matrix style virtual world for cybergeddon

The US military's famed scientific wingnut farm, DARPA*, has released full details of its planned "National Cyber Range" - a mighty network which could be configured to simulate the cyberspace battlefields of the future. This would allow America's fighting nerds to train for the net conflicts of tomorrow, mounting attacks on …


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  1. John Latham

    I don't get it

    Usually when the USAnians want to field-test new death-tech, they start a war.

    Why the change of strategy just because the battleground is online?

    Can't they just pick on real world targets, having arm-twisted the requisite UN resolutions into place (malware of mass destruction etc)?

    Maybe start with the spammers/botnets. Bit of collateral damage obviously, but you can't make omlettes etc...


  2. Adam Hill

    No fate ..

    Smells like Skynet to me... its the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!

  3. Horridbloke


    ... will these replicants know kungfu?

    Mine's the long coat with the guns. Lots of guns.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do I join???

    No, not this half-baked lunacy - I want to join DARPA and be paid obscene amounts of money for coming up with half-baked lunacy of my own.

  5. Schalor Visari

    Arpranet all over again

    Looks like this will definitely spill over into civilian lives, no contractor worth any of their salt would deny the possible revenue which joe bloggs would throw at something as detailed and above and beyond what is about today.

  6. rasputinsDog
    Black Helicopters

    I smell a new hollywood franchise.

    This reads more like a sci fi script. Is this for real? Maybe the war commanders of the world have come to their senses and decided to fight all future wars in cyber space.

    Those Second Lifers are harboring weapons of mass destruction. We will go after them with a coalition of the WoWers and MySpacers.

  7. Jason Harvey

    They've been watching too much Tron and GitS*

    *Ghost in the Shell

    next they'll want to create cyberbrains

    mines the one with the built in thermal-optic camouflage.

  8. Dave Bell

    I know what it is

    They're trying to build a holodeck.

  9. Justin White

    Re: I don't get it

    "Usually when the USAnians want to field-test new death-tech, they start a war."

    Actually, I thought the standard operating procedure was to place the stuff in Nevada so people will mistake it for aliens (convenient, since aliens are actually supplying the stuff, but I digress).

  10. Chris G


    If the nerdnet works as well as the requirements DAFTA are asking for they will have solutions to a large number of problems before they start. it also seems that they would like to be able to model ( for example Iraq ) before they even go there, knowing what they are going to do wrong may help to prevent it happening but I doubt it.

  11. Steve Coffman
    Black Helicopters


    Good thing Replicants only have a 4 year life span....

  12. ImaGnuber


    I want to see this in action. No, really, I SERIOUSLY want to see this in action. It has the potential to make any existing game look like a flip-book cartoon.

    Admit it - wouldn't many of you drool at the chance to wage cyber-info-system war on a safe but reality duplicating system?

    As for any nay-saying it'll-never-work critics - pfft!

    And I'd like to have a look inside the new IARPA when it has been running for a couple of years.

    I'd probably be shot if I got within ten feet of the door but that won't stop me from dreaming.

  13. Colin Brett


    I seem to remember in the old Arthur C Clarke "Mysterious World" series that the technology to needed to build a gramophone existed in the time of the Roman Empire. It's just that no-one thought of bringing all the components together at that time.

    Now look at the NCR:

    Didn't El Reg recently report on a Quake-style tool for systems administrators? (Mentioning at the time the old Doom admin-interface.) These would form useful front ends to the DARPA cyber Range.

    From there all we need is a neural interface to "jack in" to the Range. In fact, the Beeb has already reported on the first steps to this:


    Bring all these components together and Operation Screaming Fist is go.

    Mine's the one with Case's fake ID and a shuriken in the pocket.

  14. John Jardine

    Isn't this just Core Wars for the big boys?

    Way back in the 8-bit world we did something similar:

    Of course then it was all hand-coded assembly, with simulations of simulations to tune your bot. Nobody ever paid me the big bucks to do this though - sniff

  15. Fuion

    RE: amanfrommars

    I would suppose they would reply.

    Last time I was watching TV I did notice the show was about to end.

    I would guess if a reply was requested, the inital email would have to come before the end of the show.

    Less than 24hrs left of this funny show I am watching here...


    Can you imagine their reply, or can you imagine that they would even reply [for they are reputedly a somewhat paranoid schizophrenic bunch] Go on, spoil yourself and tell us what you think Intelligence, would do in such an Instance. Run away and hide undercover or Boldly Go and Take to AI like proverbial Ducks to Water?

  16. AngrySup
    Black Helicopters

    Have you ever played on SimNet

    Back in '92, there was a warehouse filled with a battalion of tank simulators (4 crew in each), with all of the electronics and visuals. This was integrated with a nearby base that had the same for helicopters. You want to talk about a MORPG.

    'course you had to be in the service, or you'd get shot within 10 feet of the door.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    How cute... simulation wants to create its own nested simulation.

  18. Seán

    It's a series of tubes

    Santa is their only hope.

  19. Nick Davey
    Paris Hilton


    Surely all the basement based uber geeks would rather slip in an errant letter and create the National Cyb0r Range instead? Who knows what kind of simulations they would run with their "variety of technology thrusts"......

  20. Anonymous Coward


    If you actually built one of these, it would be a computer system and it could be attacked. So you'd need to build an even bigger one to simulate it... etc...

  21. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Er, yeah, sure.

    "Given a never-before-seen physical computing device, [the Range must] create logical instantiations of the physical native machine that accurately replicates, not only the software on the machine, but hardware to the interrupt level, chipset, and peripheral cards and devices."

    Great idea. Feed Windows into the Range and instantly you have clean-room clone. Feed a whole PC in and you have a free VmWare replacement. Combine all this with the time-machine facility and you can even make the clone run faster than the original.

    Sheesh. I'm glad I'm not paying for these clowns.

  22. DZ-Jay

    Revolutionary technologies

    >> "potentially revolutionary cyber research and development technologies"

    I wonder if Ethereal and tcpdump put that in their promotional material. Time to bring out the glossy pamphlets!


  23. DZ-Jay

    Re: Nerdwars

    >> "If the nerdnet works as well as the requirements DAFTA are asking for they will have solutions to a large number of problems before they start."

    That's a big "if". Let's try some others, shall we?

    If I had a lot of money, I'd be richer than Bill Gates right now.

    If my job didn't suck, I'd be happier.

    If my boss wasn't such a cheapskate, he'd give me a raise by now.

    If pigs had wings, they'd be flying.

    If cold-fusion (the science, not the framework) were possible, we'd had cheap energy by now.

    If nuclear waste and reactor by-products weren't radioactive, atomic energy would be perfect.

    If we could figure out how to stop people from needing food, we could solve world hunger.

    If we stop using oil and switch off all our lights forever -- right here, right now -- perhaps the price of gas would come down.

    Man, this is fun.


  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Paris to run DARPA

    IF Paris was running the show she'd had just come out and said "we want a holodeck" and it would have saved pages of drivel.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    War Games

    Just get Matthew Broderick to hack into it with the back door password "joshua" and play chess with it.

  26. TrishaD


    It all sounds very far-fetched...

    But, the last time DARPA got creative with the wish-list they were looking for a totally resilient network running a simple network protocol and linking lots of Unix boxes together. And we ended up with that there internet thingie...

    If this particular piece of wild wishful thinking actually ever takes off, who knows what it'll end up like

    And thinking about the 'time machine' element. Obviously that worked and its what that William Gibson chap's been using all along...

    Mine's the one with the fletchette pistol and btw I NEVER lose my sunglasses.......

  27. ImaGnuber


    "But, the last time DARPA got creative with the wish-list they were looking for a totally resilient network running a simple network protocol and linking lots of Unix boxes together. And we ended up with that there internet thingie..."

    Exactly - and I bet at the time there were probably more than a few folks going on about their stupidity, cash-cows & pork barrels etc.

    "btw I NEVER lose my sunglasses......."

    Nice one.

  28. Matthew Newstead


    This actually reminds me of the star trek film in which captain kirk hacks the attack simulation to change the outcome.

    makes me wonder, if this is an uber network, but the first interface layer (which actual human's use) is based on (say) DARPA buying up a few thousand dell laptops for it's staff, then isn't it like putting a Lambo engine into a 1970's trabant?

    anyway, the physical layer is the weak spot - cyber terrorist teams would be hard pressed to do better than digging up the roads by each other's data centres to cut the fibre lines. remember the amount of financial damage done when a BT exchange in Manchester had a fire a few years ago?

    My firewall is like a shield of steel :)

    Crap my comms have gone off.......

    mine's the hi-vis jacket, with hard hat and pneumatic drill ;)

  29. storng.bare.durid
    IT Angle

    This must be some kind of joke...

    But I just looked at the calendar and it's not April first... wtf?

  30. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Cyber teams digging up roads? ..... In your dreams, dream on ......

    "anyway, the physical layer is the weak spot -" ... By Matthew Newstead Posted Thursday 8th May 2008 13:12 GMT

    You cannot be serious, Matthew. The weak spot is always the intelligence/lack of intelligence layer.

    The Space Place where Tempest and Serpent can unravel and revel in a System of Broken Promise and Unrequited Love of Greed. A Most Unpleasant and Disagreeable Waste Management System favoured by the Intellectually Challenged and the Morally Bankrupt.

    Moral Hazard Territory for Prize Chumps and Performing Chimps.

    At least Canada appears to have Champs in Control .....

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