Note: The featured video in this post replaced an earlier UnitySA Beta 0 version originally included during the first draft of this post.

Many researchers have attempted to realize cyberspace situational awareness without a proper model in place to represent cyberspace. In my research, I have proposed that we represent cyberspace as a graph, a set of nodes and edges. Keeping this in mind, I have proposed a model where the universal set of cyberspace is similar to how we observe our physical universe – outer space. In this model, cyberspace consists of countless disconnected clusters of related cyber-objects (also represented as graphs); very similar to how the universe appears to consist of countless galaxies of stars, planets and other physical matter.

My proposed cyberspace model requires a lot of graph processing and math, obviously. For example, if cyberspace is represented as a force-directed graph it will be necessary to discover the clusters and calculate the coordinates of communities of disconnected clusters of objects (for example, Ghadiri et al) . In addition, it is necessary to calculate the center of these clusters (see for example ResearchGate). It is also necessary to travel to those clusters, virtually, as we illustrate in the featured video in this post.

Unity SA Beta 4 by Tim Bass
Unity SA Beta 4 by Tim Bass

Strikingly similar to our entertainment visuals from Star Trek movies, we need to calculate the warp coordinates for each cluster. It’s amazing to me that we are talking about calculating warp coordinates of network clusters so we can warp to these clusters in VR in the year 2017.

In order to create the beta 3D visualizations featured in this post (UnitySA Beta 4 screen shot above), I hard-coded the warp coordinates into the Unity 3D game engine. However, in the future, we will need to calculate these warp coordinates by processing the graphs to ascertain what determines a “cluster” and what is the center of each cluster. We also need to calculate the size or breath of the cluster so we can warp to a point outside the cluster, if we with to warp to a point in cyberspace where we can visualize the entire cluster.

The good news is that this is a virtual representation of cyberspace, not the real physical universe (at least for now), so if we warp to the cluster and collide with a node or an edge representing a cyber-object in the cluster, at least we will not smash ourselves into a thousand pieces.

So, if you are reading this you may be thinking “Is Tim completely out of his mind?” Maybe it does not make sense to you that we need to calculate the warp coordinates of clusters in cyberspace. Maybe it does not seem feasible to you that we will travel in both space and time to clusters of objects in cyberspace by calculating the warp coordinates that enable us to fly to these cyber clusters.

Well, it makes perfect since to me and my research team, and we are thinking and working on this exciting and challenging problem nearly every day in 2017.

I would like to acknowledge and thank Jason Graves, Futurist, Experimentalist, Student of the Universe, for his excellent work on visualizing force-directed graphs using Unity 3D. In addition, I would like to thank my faithful collaborator, “believer” and overworked PhD student friend Richard Zuech for his daily collaboration and for helping me “sort things out”, both conceptually and experimentally.

May the force be forever with you, Rich.