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Conference Paper on Computational Simulation and Producer/Consumer Relations Added

I've added a DRAFT paper that was prepared for the ISA ISSS-ISAC conference in Washington, DC in early October. I was unable to circulate the paper at the conference itself. It still needs work with respect to the design of a true research and development program in order to bring the ideas put forward to life, but there seems to be a strong desire on the part of many I've spoken with to explore the relationship between analytic tradecraft, technology, and the interface between intelligence producers and consumers. Read the rest of this entry »

Kenneth Waltz, Iran and Nuclear Weapons

As I’ve been in the final months of completing my dissertation, I’ve had far less time to devote to the blog and topics that I’d like to spend more time thinking and writing about. While it is now beyond the news cycle, Kenneth Waltz’s recent essay in Foreign Affairs was quite interesting, but also misleading. At first glance, the policy prescriptive nature of the article was eye catching and challenging, and essentially continued his long-running debate with Scott Sagan and the rest of the international security studies community over the spread of nuclear weapons. The problem with Waltz’s argument, however, is less about his particular conclusions, than the broader problems of academic theory, models in general (both formal and informal), and their relevance to policy in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning

Thomas Davenport and Jeanne Harris’s Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2007) (hereafter COA) was a surprising read. I found the foreword by Gary Loveman, the CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., to be very engaging and insightful, and lifted my expectations for the chapters that followed. Indeed, the conclusion of his introduction was exceptionally relevant to the problems that policymakers, and the analysts that support them, face in the international system: The challenge for those of who attempt to employ analytic capabilities is to ensure that they are oriented forward, where the problems are least well defined and the data is scarce, rather than backward, where the work is easy and the risk is low. Read ahead. There is much to learn. (p. xi) Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with John Hanley, Director of Strategy for the ODNI (retired)

Discussion with John Hanley (JH), Director of Strategy for Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Prior to joining ODNI, JH served as an officer in the US Navy and held senior positions in the DOD. I asked John broad questions that primarily focused on three topical areas – the difference between analysis and analytic communities within the DOD and Intelligence Community (IC) based on his experiences, his perspectives on the current state of the IC given his role and position within the ODNI, and general comparisons between intelligence analysis and academic scholarship. Note: since the time of this interview on February 9, 2012, Dr. Hanley has retired from the ODNI. Read the rest of this entry »

Observations on Quantitative Modeling in Defense and Intelligence Analysis

Over the last couple of weeks I had the opportunity to participate in a two conferences that focused on the role of formal modeling in intelligence and defense analysis. The preparation for these events kept me away from the blog, and I’m hoping to have a chance to write more as the majority of my time and attention return to my dissertation for the next several months. Read the rest of this entry »

Commemorating Desmond Saunders-Newton

Today, November 24th, marks the one year anniversary of the passing of Desmond Saunders-Newton, a dear friend and mentor who left this world far too soon. Dez, as he was known, possessed a unique combination of vision and ability to think big, and yet connect with people on the most human and personal of terms. He first introduced me to complexity theory, Agent-Based Modeling (ABM), and computation in general, creating the lens through which I see the international system through. I don’t fully know how to characterize my years of working with Dez, or the depth of the pain felt by his absence, but wanted to acknowledge his role in my life in some way on this Thanksgiving holiday. Read the rest of this entry »

Computational Social Science Seminar Posted

Last Friday I gave a presentation on the challenges of strategic intelligence, and how Agent-Based Modeling fits within and can improve current analytic tradecraft. The slides have now been added to the website, and can be found on the Papers and Presentations page. The slides are somewhat sparse and are mostly talking points. There is a layer in the file that contains speakers notes that contain more information and bibliographic credit where graphics, quotes, and images were taken from other sources. Likewise, the abstract for the presentation can be seen on the Department of Computational Social Science website here. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-Paper-Scissors and Arms Races Part 6

Previous posts had examined the replicator equation as the basis of agent behavior in an arms race defined by a game of rock-paper-scissors (RPS). This post begins a follow-on examination regarding the use of best-response as an alternative behavior or strategy on the part of competing agents. In some ways, best-response may be unrealistic with respect to how agents can adapt, especially if they are capable of making large jumps or changes to strategies in short-periods of time that are not reflective of real-world organizations. However, in other ways, the strategy is quite realistic for social actors because it affords them opportunities to revive dead or eliminated strategies when suitable while the biologically based replicator loses them forever once extinct. Read the rest of this entry »
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