Military Embedded Systems

ONR sponsors crowdsourcing collaboration focusing on 'Singularity'


March 16, 2017

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

ARLINGTON, Va. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) will sponsor the launch of a multiplayer online war game. The goal is to recruit a community of more than one thousand players to collaborate on solving real-world problems that the U.S. Navy faces. Officials say, "Think of military-themed multiplayer games, and first-person shooter successes like 'Call of Duty' or 'Halo' likely come to mind."

The collaboration officially launches on March 27 and is scheduled to last one week. Interested players can enroll at The game can run in any web browser on a personal computer or laptop.

The Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI) exercise will crowdsource online players to determine ways to address what's known as the "Singularity," which is the potential future emergence of "greater-than-human" intelligence resulting from increasingly powerful technology.

"Technology has advanced to the point that we can see the Singularity on the horizon," says Dr. Eric Gulovsen, ONR's director of disruptive technology. "What we can't see, yet, is what lies over that horizon. That's where we need help from players. This is a complex, open-ended problem, so we're looking for people from all walks of life-Navy, non-Navy, technologist, non-technologist- to help us design our Navy for a 'post-Singularity' world."

During the game, players can post ideas, and interact with each other to build, counter, debate, re-direct or call for further expertise. Ideas that prove especially popular and achieve a critical mass can be elevated to action plans for further development or adoption.

"Singularity" is the latest topic tackled by MMOWGLI since it first was launched in 2011. Past games focused on combating piracy off the coast of Somalia; reducing the Navy's reliance on fossil fuels; and streamlining the acquisition process. Last year, MMOWGLI focused on recruiting young talent in a cyber-centric world. Read the blog: Who’s willing to break the Internet with MMOWGLI?

"MMOWGLI was designed to identify solutions to difficult challenges by tapping into the intellectual capital of a broader community," says Garth Jensen, director of innovation at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock, who is leading the project. "It can be applied to any scenario.

"We mainly want to understand what occurs when your insights merge with the observations and actions of another player," he adds. "Will that combination yield a game-changing idea or solution, or will the MMOWGLI platform teach us something about our traditional thought processes?"

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