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Doomsday Devices, Game Theory, and Human Psychology
Bar Harbor
So, it turns out that the Soviets actually *did* build a Doomsday Device. This happened back in the late 80's (the article doesn't mention a specific date, but that much can be inferred). You may be asking yourself, "Why didn't I hear about this years ago?" After all:
"The whole point of the doomsday machine is lost if you keep it a secret!" cries Dr. Strangelove. "Why didn't you tell the world?" After all, such a device works as a deterrent only if the enemy is aware of its existence.
But it turns out that there's another reason one might want to build a Doomsday Device, one that I had never considered before:
According to both Yarynich and Zheleznyakov, Perimeter was never meant as a traditional doomsday machine. The Soviets had taken game theory one step further than Kubrick, Szilard, and everyone else: They built a system to deter themselves.

By guaranteeing that Moscow could hit back, Perimeter was actually designed to keep an overeager Soviet military or civilian leader from launching prematurely during a crisis. The point, Zheleznyakov says, was "to cool down all these hotheads and extremists. No matter what was going to happen, there still would be revenge. Those who attack us will be punished."
I have long noticed how human psychology seems to be hard-wired to put a high value on 'punishment'; a value which may not be logically justifiable. Here is a strange example of two things which individually seem awful -- the desire to seek revenge at all costs, and the construction of a Doomsday Device -- combining in order to *prevent* a disaster. Food for thought.

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Yup, cod liver oil for thought.

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