remarks, “Where are the opportunities, the sweet spots, in developing not only the concepts and applications of the technology but the strategies by which the information arrived at can be applied for the purposes of intervening to shape the conflict itself?”
The application of technology to many problems, including sensing and shaping conflict, has generally followed a simple three-step template, said workshop cochair Prabhakar Raghavan, vice president of engineering at Google. The first step is the gathering of information. The second is large-scale analysis of the data, a science that is still being developed. The third step is conversion of the insights that result from analysis into actionable information and transmission of that information to operators and actors in the field. This broad paradigm may sound too generic, said Raghavan, but it has actually served the field well in maintaining certain critical distinctions.
Consideration of the roles that technologies can play in sensing and shaping emerging conflict is complicated by the great breadth of activities encompassed by both “technology” and “peacebuilding,” said Lawrence Woocher, a research director at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and the other workshop cochair. Peacebuilding involves political, diplomatic, social, economic, legal, and security activities. It can be undertaken by individual actors, local groups, national groups, international organizations, and the private sector. It is not just the absence of violence but includes aspects of positive attributes such as freedom and justice. (Box 1-2 provides a perspective on the many capabilities encompassed by the term “technology.”)
Notwithstanding this diversity, Woocher identified several common elements of information used to support peacebuilding. First, it includes (or enables) a broad assessment of the relative risks of the outbreak or escalation of violent conflict. Such information can be critical for actors engaged in peacebuilding, whether they are working globally to identify regions or countries that are at greatest risk or locally to identify which neighborhood, county, or province in a country is susceptible to conflict.
Second, information for peacebuilding contains or implies some form of conflict analysis. In its most useful form, such an analysis yields insight about the roots of a conflict. Who are the actors and groups involved? What