IARPA in the News 2015

Quartz

Humans are inherently bad at predicting the future. It’s a defect all too apparent in the corporate world, and in the business of managing complex geopolitics.

But some people have better track records than others, and the ways in which they think about questions and arrive at their projections offer clues as to how the rest of us might become more successful forecasters.

A group of researchers isolated these traits in a study tied to a geopolitical forecasting tournament arranged by an R&D group run by the US director of national intelligence. Five university-backed teams competed; they were asked to predict 199 world events, such as whether Syrian president Bashar al-Assad would remain in power, and whether North Korea would conduct another successful nuclear weapons test.

Discovery News

U.S. intelligence analysts who track terrorists, predict wars or anticipate revolutions get things right if they work together in teams rather than as individuals.

While that may seem obvious, a new study by academic researchers challenges some common practices of the U.S. intelligence community, where analysts specialize in one topic or region and send reports up the chain of command....

Part of the problem, according to the study's lead author Barbara Mellers, may be in the way these terror-hunters and political forecasters work together. Mellers and her colleagues ran a geopolitical prediction contest sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an agency within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Participants were given a battery of psychological tests, and then asked 200 questions over two years: which foreign leaders would remain in power, whether certain political groups would take over, or even whether North Korea would launch another nuclear test.

Intelligence Community News

On January 12, IARPA posted a broad agency announcement (BAA) covering phases 2 and 3 of its HFGeo program. Proposals are due by February 20, 2015. Interested contractors should submit any questions by January 29, 2015.

American Psychological Association

When it comes to predicting important world events, teams do a better job than individuals, and laypeople can be trained to be effective forecasters even without access to classified records, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

According to the authors, the study findings challenge some common practices of the U.S. intelligence community, where professional analysts usually specialize in one topic or region and send reports up the chain of command. In what the authors call the first scientific study of its kind, researchers identified common characteristics that improved predictions by amateur participants in a geopolitical forecasting tournament. The contest was sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an agency within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that funds research to improve intelligence practices.

Military & Aerospace Electronics

U.S. intelligence experts are trying to reverse-engineer the algorithms of the human brain by blending data science and neuro science in attempts to make rapid advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Officials of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) in Washington issued a broad agency announcement for the Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) program to advance theories of neural computation.