A terrifying VR experience puts you in the shoes of the US President during a nuclear missile attack.
This terrifying virtual reality simulator places you in the hot seat of the US President during a high-stress nuclear missile attack.
The 15-minute VR simulator was created by a team from two universities in the United States and Germany to experience what it's like to be in the President's war room during a nuclear attack.
The Virtual Reality (VR) experience was created to help people better understand decision-making in the event of a nuclear crisis. It was based on extensive research, including interviews with former officials.
After the small card bearing the president's launch authorization codes, the founders named their project the Nuclear Biscuit.
"You walk into that simulation and come out a changed person," Richard Burt, the US chief negotiator in arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union, said after his turn.
The Guardian's Julian Borger tested the software, which could theoretically kill at least 5 million people, and described the experience as "overwhelming," as he had to make a decision that could start a world war.
"The pressure to choose one of the Pentagon's options felt almost overwhelming," he wrote.
"At one point, one of my aides asked how I would face my country if I didn't respond."
The simulation raises the question of who, in the first place, chooses those options.
"It would be impossible to put all viable alternatives in front of a president in the 15 minutes available, so whoever whittles them down holds a huge amount of power."
The project analyzes which retaliatory options people consider valid, as well as other variables that influence people's decisions in high-stress situations, using virtual reality to immerse participants in a crisis scenario.
The VR experience was first shown in February 2020 at the Munich Security Conference, where it was used to help officials feel the pressure and uncertainty that comes with a nuclear crisis.
Sharon K. Weiner of the American University School of International Service and Moritz K14tt of the University of Hamburg's Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy collaborated on the project.
Nuclear weapons experts and former officials, as well as Princeton University students, have tried it out in Washington since then.
After hearing that Russia has launched a series of nuclear missiles, the user is placed in the war room, and military aids provide you with the Nuclear Football, which you must use to decide how to respond.
Three counter-strike options are available in football:
According to K14tt, the majority of experiment participants have chosen one of the three options presented in the experience: "limited counterforce," "full-scale counterforce," or "war sustaining industries."
"The majority of people chose the escalatory option, and only a few chose not to respond," K14tt said.
"People felt they were making decisions under duress," Sharon Weiner said.
"They wished they had more information or thought something wasn't clear, but they were under pressure to make a decision anyway."
"I believe some people choose an option simply because they want to be done with it."
The research team will present their findings to lawmakers on Capitol Hill in January, with the goal of persuading them to consider the realities that underpin US nuclear planning.
"Hopefully, members of Congress will come to see the consequences of the decisions they've made about nuclear weapons issues," Weiner said.
"They'll see that everyone in that virtual room is doing their best, but it's an impossible task."