Metal Gear Solid
Image: Konami

If you've played any Metal Gear Solid title, you'll know it's a series that takes itself very seriously indeed – but it punctures that pompousness with moments of genuine hilarity.

Whether you're distracting enemy soldiers with copies of Playboy or hiding in a cardboard box in plain sight, the game manages to straddle the line between 'hard' science fiction and humour – but, as daft as hiding in a box might sound, it turns out this tactic has some merit.

Shashank Joshi – who is the Defence editor at The Economist – has been leafing through Paul Scharre's book Four Battlegrounds (thanks, Jean Snow) and came upon a section which discusses DARPA's real-world efforts to work with (and against) AI.

During one exercise, Marines were tasked with trying to fool an AI robot which was parked in the middle of a traffic circle. The objective of the eight Marines in the exercise was to reach the robot without being detected and touch it. All eight managed to complete the task using more than one method – the most impressive being Metal Gear Solid's famous 'cardboard box' disguise.

Two Marines hid in the box and could even be heard giggling as they approached the robot, yet it didn't detect them as a threat. The reason? Well, the algorithm powering the robot wasn't programmed to treat a cardboard box – moving or otherwise – as human.

So there you have it; Hideo Kojima really is a genius.

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