The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which oversees and directs the work of the 17 agencies and organizations responsible for foreign, military, and domestic intelligence for the United States, has a growing interest in research from the social and behavioral sciences (SBS) that may be beneficial to the Intelligence Community (IC). To develop a systematic understanding of these potential benefits, ODNI requested that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conduct a decadal survey of SBS to identify research opportunities that show promise for supporting national security efforts in the next 10 years.
A decadal survey is a method for engaging members of a research community to identify lines of research with the greatest potential utility in the pursuit of a particular goal. The National Academies pioneered this type of survey with a study of ground-based astronomy in 1964.1 Since then, committees appointed by the National Academies have conducted more than 15 decadal surveys. The Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security represents the first opportunity to apply this approach to SBS. Its purpose is to develop an understanding of the lines of research in these fields that offer the greatest potential to enhance
the capabilities of the IC. To carry out this work, the National Academies appointed the Committee on a Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security (Decadal Survey Committee); the committee’s charge appears in Appendix A.
The Decadal Survey Committee has pursued many avenues in collecting information about the needs of the IC and relevant cutting-edge SBS research. As part of its information-gathering process, the committee held a series of six workshops—the first three on October 11, 2017, and the second three on January 24, 2018.2 These workshops, for which planning began early in the committee process, were designed to explore areas about which the committee wished to learn more and to allow the committee to engage with a broad range of experts. The topics selected for the workshops do not necessarily indicate the ultimate direction of the committee’s deliberations. The six topics addressed by the workshops were
- changing sociocultural dynamics and implications for national security,
- emerging trends and methods in international security,
- leveraging advances in social network thinking for national security,
- learning from the science of cognition and perception for decision making,
- workforce development and intelligence analysis, and
- understanding narratives for national security purposes.
Separate steering committees, whose membership included both members of the Decadal Survey Committee and additional experts in the topics to be addressed, were appointed to plan these workshops. Each of these committees was guided by its own charge. All were asked to bring their expertise to bear in identifying specific areas of promising research and experts with deep knowledge who could offer a range of insights.
This Proceedings of a Workshop, prepared by the workshop rapporteur, summarizes the presentations and discussions at the fourth workshop, on the science of cognition and perception.3 This workshop was planned by the Steering Committee on Learning from the Science of Cognition and Perception for Decision Making, whose charge is presented in Box 1-1. The workshop’s purpose was to explore the current state of research on how individuals and teams gather information and make sense of data (particularly large amounts of data) for decision making. It should be noted
3 The archived webcast of the workshop and available presentations can be found at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/BBCSS/DBASSE_184653 [April 2018].
that the steering committee’s role was limited to planning and convening the workshop, and that the views contained in this proceedings are those of individual workshop participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all workshop participants, the steering committee, or the National Academies. The agenda for the workshop appears in Appendix B; a list of individuals who attended the three workshops held on January 24, 2018, is presented in Appendix C; and biographical sketches of the steering committee members and speakers are provided in Appendix D.
In an opening session for the three January 24, 2018, workshops, the chair of the Decadal Survey Committee, Paul Sackett, University of Minnesota, and sponsor representative William “Bruno” Millonig, ODNI, provided background information on the objectives for the six workshops.
Sackett observed that the Decadal Survey Committee will rely heavily on input from experts in the communities of national security and behavioral and social science research. Given the breadth of the committee’s charge, he explained, it must cast a wide net, extending well beyond the specific expertise of its members to seek feedback from many sources. He described the six workshops as an important part of the effort to gather ideas. The workshops would support the committee by helping to identify
promising research areas and allowing the committee members to engage in discussion with experts in a wide range of areas salient to its work.4
Millonig expressed appreciation to all those contributing to the committee’s work through the workshops and other activities, noting that the participation of the full range of experts in the intelligence and behavioral and social science communities would be needed to make the decadal study successful. His remarks focused on the importance of SBS to the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other automated tools. As an example of the value of such research, he noted that research on modeling behaviors and interactions is “fundamental to our ability to move forward [in utilizing these tools].” The research discussed at the workshops, he said, will help the IC understand the current and future contributions of these sciences.
INTRODUCTION TO THE WORKSHOP ON LEARNING FROM THE SCIENCE OF COGNITION AND PERCEPTION FOR DECISION MAKING
The workshop steering committee planned the workshop to gather input on the fundamental limits of human cognition and perception and issues of human–machine interaction as relevant to the work of intelligence analysts. The committee recognized that intelligence analysts must make sense of global information and anticipate or forecast possible events and activities and they have access to a large amount of potentially useful information and data, as well as a large amount of irrelevant information. In the past, analysts had tools and techniques that could be used to filter the incoming stream of data, limiting it to a manageable amount for analysis. Today, the volume of data has increased to the point where new tools are needed.
The steering committee recognized that for human–machine interaction to be effective, the computational tools used must be reliable, and the analyst(s) must have confidence in the output. To learn from scholarly work on how people would use, judge, and trust the tools, the committee invited presenters to describe recent advances in their areas of work and consider the gains that could be achieved with future research investments.
This proceedings follows the structure of the workshop. Chapter 2 summarizes a presentation and subsequent discussion on the nature of data
and analysis in the IC. Chapter 3 turns to research on forecasting and anticipatory thinking. It summarizes three presentations addressing the challenges of forecasting and preparing for events that impact national security. It also considers opportunities to improve the performance of intelligence analysts, who must make sense of data on possible events. The four presentations summarized in Chapter 4 addressed the science of trust, examining individual trust and trends in interdisciplinary and computational research, offering insights on how individuals trust data, automated analyses, and sources of research findings. The final four presentations, summarized in Chapter 5, focused on the perceptual and cognitive constraints of both humans and machines to derive insights on models and tools for effective human–machine interactions.
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