Ah, War Games—a movie ahead of its time. Produced in the early '80s, this “technology-gone-wild” thriller remains a favorite with software creators today.
The film portrays a teenage tech prodigy/hacker who unwittingly accesses a top-secret computer. The computer, code-named WOPR, models and predicts specific outcomes which it learns by the repeated play of various critical scenarios.
However, David thinks he has hacked into a particularly challenging prototype computer game. So, creative genius that he is, David cannot resist engaging in playing a few rounds with the clever computer "game."
Unfortunately, the computer’s program is not only sophisticated edging toward self-aware, it’s also the intellectual property of the Department of Defense—the United States Airforce, to be exact.
Worse, WOPR's protocol of repeated war gaming is not for fun but a means of continuously testing itself toward making more accurate decisions.
Like, decisions about why or when to launch a nuclear missile. Automated Armageddon as it were.
However, WOPR didn’t self-learn enough. Instead, it decides that David’s clever gameplay is an actual Soviet missile threat. WOPR reacts by initializing a countdown to live–time nuclear strike in retaliation.
Suddenly the term ‘software launch date’ takes on a whole new sinister aspect, eh?
Hey, but no problem-o! Just shut down the program, right?
WOPR cannot be swayed from its course of action by human intervention. Someone, in their institutionalized, overly engineered mindset decided the responsibility of our nuclear arsenal should lie entirely with a badly coded computer program. WOPR would override any attempt to terminate the countdown.
So totally against agile methods of development where people are given priority over processes!
How could anyone develop something like this?
It goes without saying a WOPR had an unlimited budget, a legion of engineers swearing allegiance to traditional development methods, a continuous and automated testing protocol, and a herd of politically motivated consultants and advisors. With all that bureaucracy, it was just a matter of time before any kind of software would run amok.
Do you think custom software can develop the attitude of its creators?
High security clearances are impressive but don’t equate creative talent. It just means you’ve never taken enough risks to make you a person of interest. And let’s just say that certain sectors—not just the government—attract mediocre developers and dissuade innovative talent as pot-stirrers.
Big budgets aren't power but can tempt one toward waste & inefficiency. More people can cause more problems; political agendas are not conducive to goal-oriented collaboration.
No wonder War Games with its ethically proper “Let’s Make Things Right” is still such a hit with savvy, forward-thinking software developers—it’s cinematic proof that agile methods of software development are best. Ahead of its time.
The best talent means small development teams are possible when you don’t have to compensate with numbers to make up for lack of genius:
- Small but talented teams are more collaborative
- Intimate collaboration between the best talent is synergy
- Going lean is cost-efficient and productive
- Talent, not testing, produces innovative working software
This computes to better developed, rapidly delivered software solutions rather than nightmare computer scenarios.
How did the movie end?
Happily, when all the above elements were brought into play to avoid disaster.
The moral of the story?
Next time, bring in the small team power at the beginning of custom software development, not after.
If your current technology is playing war games with your business or you already know that the best IT talent is the best survival strategy you can develop for your company, contact the Intellection Group or give a call at 678-283-4283.