Cultural Semiotics for Counter
Insurgency Operations & Intelligence
Frank Stech, Principal Investigator
Deployed troops, interrogation teams, document exploitation teams, and
intelligence analysts encounter symbols daily. Current support tools and
methods are incapable of searching for or retrieving non-literal symbols
and images. Analysts need capabilities (tools and methods) to identify,
collect, tag, index, categorize, and disseminate information about non-literal
We will build a prototype socio-cultural symbol system to tag, index,
search, retrieve, and aid analysis for socio-cultural intelligence and
information operations support. We will adapt and extend cultural intelligence
taxonomies and ontologies to include the semiotics of symbols. We will
adapt the prototype for social symbol analysis of insurgency/terrorist
groups; and test the prototype through an analysis exercise.
We will research cultural analyses of symbols across various disciplines
(e.g., sociology, anthropology, ethnography, archaeology) and will categorize
and evaluate existing technologies for symbol identification, indexing,
and retrieval. We will develop a prototype software capability and will
conduct an analysis experiment with the prototype.
This analysis tool will support the cultural preparation of the environment.
More generally, it will provide an initial software capability for social
and cultural intelligence and the analysis of culturally based indications
and warning. This capability will support first-, second-, and third-phase
exploitation of non-literal, non-linguistic graphic symbols in conjunction
with other social and cultural intelligence, and in support of information
Approved for Public Release: 05-1260
Human Behavior Modeling in a Virtual
Charles Worrell, Principal Investigator
Using quantitative methods to represent human behavior for the purpose
of predicting expected reactions has proven difficult. This occurs in
part because of the wide range of motivators, mechanisms, and outcomes
that have the potential to influence the reactions people display in any
This project presents a method for quantitatively representing selected
human behaviors. It demonstrates that analyses of system environments
that consider behavior of the human components lead to better understanding
than analyses including only system components. Project outputs will allow
estimates of how people's reactions to new information in both enterprise
and conflict environments are likely to change over time.
The project will first specify existing models of human behavior appropriate
for use in this research and then design the simulation framework. We
will develop a prototype for proof of concept and validation and perform
a proof-of-concept demonstration.
Outputs of this project will allow estimates of how people's reactions
to new information in both enterprise and conflict environments are likely
to change over time. This may add value to simulations used to plan enterprise
communication efforts and military information operations.
Approved for Public Release: 07-0281
Intentions, Motivations, and Unconventional
Marianne Abbott, Principal Investigator
Existing risk assessments of the use of chemical and biological weapons
are based on assessments of capabilities (characterization of current
and likely new technologies available to the global scientific community)
and vulnerabilities (safety and regulatory mechanisms; levels of emergency
management personnel, equipment, and materials preparedness). What is
missing is a characterization of the intent and motivation of the adversary.
This project will analyze the intentions and motivations of groups that
use chemical or biological weapons. We will use standard social science
methods to measure these variables (focusing on factors already identified
as critical to intention and motivation), integrate them into models of
group behavior, and extend the tools and models to analyses of networked
We will analyze texts produced by international and domestic groups identified
as having used chemical or biological weapons, including comparison with
matched groups. We will develop and evaluate automated systems for these
analyses, with application to longitudinal data; test relationships among
variables identified for analysis of distributed networks and "leaderless
groups;" and extend the analyses to nation-states.
The project will develop capabilities and work products of interest to
multiple MITRE sponsors. Risk assessments will include estimates of the
intentions and motivations of adversarial groups.
Approved for Public Release: 07-0127
Modeling Phase Change Behavior
Lashon Booker, Principal Investigator
We hypothesize that the social group is an external representation of
a subset of human behavior that serves to simplify human decision-making
by reliance on group influences. This project aims to better understand
the dynamics of groups such as "leaderless resistance groups," which are
not organizations as much as ideologies that depend on external communications
such as the Internet.
We will test a framework for modeling social group formation, recruitment,
adaptation of belief upon recruitment, group competition, and group utilization
of communications technology to further group objectives. Testing will
start with a potentially simple domain such as the formation of an "invisible
college" in scientific publication patterns and expand to resistance group
The initial domain will be similar to group recruitment, but much simpler
in terms of data collection and extraction. Data on group formation and
use of electronic communications media for recruitment purposes will be
acquired from other sources. The modeling framework will seek to replicate
various known aspects of recruitment. Modeling results may give insight
into intervention strategies.
U.S. agencies are showing increased interest in modeling of complex systems,
taking a more quantitative approach to social and behavioral research.
There is potential to move beyond entity-relationship models for data
representation. In the war on terrorism, the target of intelligence has
changed in ways that make entity-relationship models less applicable.
Approved for Public Release: 05-1219
Social Cognition and Neuroeconomics
Julia Hiland, Principal Investigator
Social Contexts of Enterprise Systems
Jo Ann Brooks, Principal Investigator
The Government programs that MITRE supports are suffering changes in requirements,
cancellations, and shifting work areas. These difficulties reflect shifting
interactions among powerful stakeholders who have competing interests,
with no one effectively in control. While MITRE has always managed social,
organizational, cultural, and political aspects of its business in tandem
with the technical, these needs exceed our existing skill set.
The objective of this research is to develop social science capabilities
complementing MITRE's increasingly sophisticated technical capabilities
for enterprise systems engineering (ESE). We plan to develop a database
of metadata about cases of ESE, extend Renee Stevens' Mega-Systems Framework,
and develop a "Roadmap" for ESE within its social contexts, through adapting
results developed by MIT's Lean Aerospace Initiative (LAI).
We will generate case studies of enterprise systems engineering efforts,
highlighting key participants, events, decisions, and outcomes. Data will
be gathered through interviews, ethnography and workshops with MITRE site
staff and interested members of sponsor organizations and contractors.
During the third year, we will apply and test the value of our insights
and products in field experimentation through partnering with an ESE effort.
This MSR will baseline how the discipline of ESE is currently being applied
across a range of sponsor programs while it advances social science research
as a complement to MITRE's technical ESE efforts. The MSR will also strengthen
MITRE's relationship with MIT's Engineering Systems Division and Lean
Aerospace Initiative through the active participation of two MIT researchers.
Approved for Public Release: 05-1215
Understanding (Arabic) Nonverbal
Dan Loehr, Principal Investigator
A ubiquitous communication channel of interest to the national security
community is under-exploited: nonverbal behavior. Current successful use
(such as the denial of U.S. entry to the alleged "20th hijacker") is based
primarily on intuition. Relevant knowledge is largely confined to islands
of specialized research focusing on Western culture, with no bridge from
the laboratory to sponsor applications.
The project's primary objective is to enable the national security community
to recognize, interpret, and exploit information embodied in nonverbal
communication (beyond intuition). To achieve this, there are two supporting
objectives: (1) provide enabling technology for analyzing nonverbal behavior,
and (2) use that enabling technology to understand and exploit nonverbal
behavior for specific cultures, starting with the Arabic culture.
The approach for enabling technology is fourfold: refining a methodology
for nonverbal analysis, investigating tools for such analysis, creating
further tools for sharing analyses, and devising a knowledge base for
storing and sharing nonverbal analyses. For the culture-specific objective,
the approach involves collecting videos showing Arabic speakers in scenarios
tailored to sponsor needs, and performing micro-analysis using the enabling
This work will increase the safety and effectiveness of U.S. forces by
providing a clearly documented understanding of Arabic nonverbal behavior
and the first instance of an infrastructure that allows this knowledge
to be used in real-world situations. No other organization has the combined
understanding of technology, social sciences, and sponsor needs; hence,
MITRE is uniquely positioned to move this field forward.
Approved for Public Release: 05-1504