Infinity Mirror

Simulation and planetary intelligence

Simulation is a fundamental component of planetary intelligence. This is the conclusion of the Infinity Mirror project: a history of simulation technology produced by the interplay between military strategy, video games and climate science.

During the anthropocene Earth’s “critical period,” computing devices augmented by graphics processing units (GPUs) became the substrate on which a new kind of spatial intelligence was built, enabling the capacity to forecast, feed back and modulate behaviors at planetary scale.

Yet as the size and complexity of target systems grew – from armies to landscapes to the coupled systems of the entire Earth – so too did the energy and computing power required to model them. Over several decades a machine was constructed, a supercomputer capable of making “predictions born of experience.” What follows is the pre-history of that machine.

Viewed with the benefit of hindsight, the construction of such a device might seem inevitable. But in the early days of simulation science, it was far from obvious what was being built.