Simulating the Israel-Palestine Conflict as a Strategy Game

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 30 Oct 2023

Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Experimental Use of ChatGPT to Develop a Realistic Game

Introduction

26 Oct 2023 – It is curious to note the extent to which authoritative guidance has been sought through global modelling of climate change and the COVID  pandemic. The methodology can of course be criticized, and especially the extent to which the results have been biased by the sponsors of such modelling — readily presented and perceived as authoritative beyond criticism (Misleading Modelling of Global Crises, 2011). The validity of any criticism is of course denied.

It is to be assumed that major use is made of simulation and artificial intelligence (AI) by government agencies, intelligence agencies, and the think tanks they variously sponsor. In contrast with the frequent citation publicly offered with respect to strategies in response to climate change and COVID, very little such reference is made with respect to the Palestine-Israel crisis, the Ukraine-Russia crisis, or other such strategic challenges.

Exceptions, seemingly held to be of little relevance at this time, include Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator (ConfMEPS), Simulation on The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (United States Institute of Peace), and Peace Maker: Israeli Palestinian Conflict. The conflict has even been presented as a video game (Asi Burak, What I Learned Turning the Israel-Palestine Conflict into a Video Game, Kotaku, 28 July 2014).

The case for such simulation has however been argued by Ronit Kampf, et al. (Learning about the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict through Computerized Simulations: the Case of Global Conflicts, Social Science Computer Review, 36, 2016, 1; Computerized simulation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, knowledge gap, and news media use, Information, Communication and Society, 18, 2015, 6) and by Eryk Dobrushkin (A Game Theoretic Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Harvard College, 2019).

A more general framework is provided by the International Middle Eastern Simulation and Modelling Conference (held annually and partially online since 1999) and organized by the European Multidisciplinary Society for Modelling and Simulation Technology (EUROSIS).

The merit of simulation for teaching and learning has been clarified in that regard (Eytan Gilboa, Studying the Middle East Conflict by Simulation, International Journal of Political Education, 2, 1979, 2; William James Stover, Teaching and Learning Empathy: an interactive, online diplomatic simulation of Middle East conflict, Journal of Political Science Education, 1, 2005, 2; Chad Raymond, et al, The Use of a Middle East Crisis Simulation in an International Relations Course, Salve Regina University, 2008). Given the UN’s planned Summit of the Future (2024), in the light of the Secretary General’s report Our Common Agenda (2021), of relevance is a simulation of Our Common Future (Simulation Game Development: different perspectives on the “Middle East Conflict”, CRISP-Berlin, 2019).

At the same time, much is now made of the potential dangers of artificial intelligence and the need for its urgent regulation (Yoshua Bengio, et al, , “Large-scale Risks from Upcoming, Powerful AI Systems”: Managing AI Risks in an Era of Rapid Progress, Global Research, 25 October 2023). Media have focused on the recent assertion by Henry Kissinger in the light of his involvement in the World Economic Forum (AI Will Replace Humans within 5 Years, Slay, 28 October 2023). Such are purported to be the dangerous consequences that the UK government is urgently hosting an AI Safety Summit of leaders in the field at the iconic location of computer innovation in response to the threat of World War II (BBC, 28 October 2023). It is unclear whether any form of AI will be used there to enhance the quality of discourse typical of such events (Use of ChatGPT to Clarify Possibility of Dialogue of Higher Quality, 2023).

Very little is said about how AI might contribute to the alleviation of crises of global governance — in contrast to concern about how it will exacerbate them, most obviously through cyberwarfare and dissemination of disinformation. However the case is strongly made for extensive investment in AI as a means of defence against cyberattacks — and presumably to enable responses to them, most obviously by crafting narratives through disinformation. Nothing is seemingly indicated about the potential contribution of AI to innovative strategic remedies to ongoing major conflicts such as Ukraine-Russia, Palestine-Israel, or those which are held to be imminent.

The concern here is with the use of AI to develop a simple strategy game to enable the Israel-Palestine conflict to be explored otherwise — and despite the disinformation circulated by different parties in that regard. The question explored was how ChatGPT would respond to prompts regarding the possible development of such a game. The interaction is indicative of a process available to all. The process is seemingly avoided by bodies with particular expertise in such simulations — presumably because of a vested interest in promoting a particular narrative.

The interaction presented here developed a simple strategy game through the progressive introduction of additional relevant factors — rendering the game progressively more realistic. The major learning is through the responsiveness of ChatGPT to the introduction of such factors. This frames the question as to what factors have not been appropriately designed into the game — and how might this be achieved whilst ensuring that the game does not become excessively complex.

As the simple prompts to ChatGPT make evident, the point to be emphasized is that anyone could engage in this process with ChatGPT (or some other widely accessible large language model). The further point is why such exploration is not widely suggested in order to enable people to frame the conflict otherwise in the light of their own understanding. How many insightful variants are possible — especially with the engagement of higher orders of expertise?

The prompts to ChatGPT in the following exercise do not specify “Israel” or “Palestine”. They could be applied to other controversial conflicts such as Russia-Ukraine, or China-Taiwan. Consideration of several such conflicts could highlight factors to enrich the game and render it more realistic.

In this exercise emphasis has been given to the distinctive perception by players of long-term and short-term factors and their possible denial or emphasis. Rather than any single “referee”, the possibility of several “adjudicators” has been foreseen — with contrasting biases in favour of one or other player. Emphasis has also been given to the collective identity of the players — and the possibility of its affirmation or erosion. Of particular interest is any motivation of factions “within” one or other player in favour or against transcending the conventions of winning or losing — so characteristic of many games.

The exercise follows from an interest in experimental reframing of competitive ball-sports in which each side endeavours to “thrash” the other — to the delight or dismay of their respective supporters (Alternatives to “2-stroke democracy” suggested by 4-sided ball games, 2016). Of interest in that respect is the little-known existence of three-sided football, three-player chess (and four-player chess), or multi-player go — and of their three-dimensional variants.

Given the entrenched gender bias in sport, it is also surprising that no effort is made to experiment with 4-way variants in which two teams of men play across two teams of women. Ways of usefully complexifying the pattern of interaction have also been a feature of the role of mathematics in highlighting other options (And When the Bombing Stops? Territorial conflict as a challenge to mathematicians, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 61, 1999).

The progressive text presentation of the game by AI (below) could in the near future presumably be enhanced, and rendered more comprehensible, through the use of AI to illustrate the game through schematic diagrams (ChatUML: AI assisted diagram generator, and alternatives). One approach to such schematics has been presented separately through animations in 3D (Middle East Peace Potential through Dynamics in Spherical Geometry, 2012).

Of further interest is the possibility of using AI to cluster the variety of such games in the light of their illustration of contrasting biases. This could be understood as a form of metagame — a game about a game (Stanislav Costiuc, What Is A Meta-Game? Game Developer, 12 February 2019; Nadav Brandstater, Meta-Game: The Game Beyond The Game– and the key to fueling engagement, Forbes, 10 February 2021). Metagaming has been used to describe players discussing a videogame, sometimes simply rules discussions, other times causing the characters they control to act in ways they normal wouldn’t within the game. As described by Brandstater, citing Costiuc:

For game developers, the meta-game (also known as meta) refers to systems and mechanics they create to wrap the main gameplay with a set of rules and logic… They are “looping systems that wrap themselves around the core gameplay — they can affect it, but they don’t take part in it”. Even though the meta will be inevitably connected to the core game, it will run independently. This helps developers add a layer of complexity that wraps the gameplay.

Of potential relevance is the popular engagement with online gaming — as reframed through mythological and archetypal figures (How ancient mythology has inspired online gaming, Project Nerd, 25 May 2021; Online gaming and the exploration of mythology, K Games, 21 September 2023; Mythological Games, Armor Games; Anthony M. Bean, Video Games: the new mythology, Psychology Today, 4 November 2020).

Given the degree to which media coverage of tragic global conflicts now takes the form of “infotainment” — evoking a perverse form of obsessive addiction — a further possibility may result from any psychoanalytical interpretation of the game, whether or not that perspective is integrated into the game:

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