This week we played Juggernaut by Jason Morningstar in which we portrayed a group working for the US government about to test and unveil the computational prediction machine Juggernaut. The day is 3 July 1950, shortly after the start of the Korean War. We had the full cast of characters: Dr. Chandrakar the engineering expert who built the machine, Dr. Takahashi the mathematician who created the theoretical framework supporting the machine, Dr. Dorflinger the practical programmer of the machine, Brasseau the politician determined to use the machine for his own advantage, Major Vandermeer the military man in charge of the project, and Simms the cryptic representative of an agency he will not reveal.

Juggernaut cover shows the head and shoulders of a man in a lab coat with black bars covering his eyes with the word "Juggernaut" in the black bar. The image is stamped "Secret".
Juggernaut cover image via Bully Pulpit Games

The first runs of the machine brought us predictions about our day, things that would happen to us in the computation bunker, then made a prediction about the progress of the war—when the Chinese would get involved—but most predictions stayed tied to our lives and our day. We were confused, disappointed, and dismissive of its triviality. But if the intelligence on the Chinese were true, could we use it to win the war?

We decided to test the accuracy of the machines predictions. All the predictions for today came true. Was the machine making them come true? Were these merely self-fulfilling prophecies? More importantly, was it possible to resist the prediction and change the future or was it preordained once the machine spat out the card? Dr. Takahashi postulated that the gibberish seen on some cards was an indication of the uncertainty around the prediction. Others thought it nonsense from start to finish, but acted strangely when they pulled a card that struck at them personally, and people began refusing to share certain cards. Our tests and experiments with resisting the predictions were failures. Apparently, the future is not in flux.

The Defense Department ordered Major Vandermeer to shut the project down and confiscate the machine, and once the security protocols were lifted, Simms and Vandermeer dismissed the scientists and proceeded implementing their orders.