Analysis, Conferences, International Relations, Modeling, National Security, Science

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.

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International Relations, Modeling, National Security, Science

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.

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Modeling, National Security, Seminars

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.

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Analysis, National Security

Comments on Richard Danzig’s Driving in the Dark

Last month the Center for New American Security (CNAS) published an excellent report by Richard Danzig called Driving in the Dark: Ten Propositions About Prediction and National Security. While much of what has been said in this report has been discussed elsewhere, I believe that this report provides one of the most coherent, complete, and compact discussions regarding how to cope with inevitable failures of prediction in national security policy. This posting discusses three interesting points that Danzig makes in the first half of his report. A follow-up posting will continue by examining the second half of the report.

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International Relations, Modeling, National Security, Politics, Science

The Use and Abuse of Models in International Security

Some days just appear to have a theme that constantly nags or colors everything that happens. It happens that yesterday was one of those days for me. I’m in the process of finishing up a project and I need to complete a book chapter on the validation of ABM based analysis for national security analysis. Importantly, the issue is less about the validation of the models themselves, and more concerned with whether or not analysts can use models for responsible inferences in support of decisionmaking. It also happened that the director of the Krasnow Institute where I work posted this on his own blog, and I came across this older piece in on the Wired website regarding some DARPA work that I’m familiar with. To add just a small piece more, a former government senior executive came to speak to my department yesterday about the challenges of ‘wicked problems’ in government, particularly in the design, development, and employment of new technologies and the difficulty of getting to work with the social structure of the government (building a new widget was rarely the difficult part).

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