[FRIAM] Friam Digest, Vol 38, Issue 3

Marcus G. Daniels mgd at santafe.edu
Mon Aug 7 10:27:11 EDT 2006

Phil Henshaw wrote:
> OK, so let's take half the defense budget and spend it on Bucky's
> 'livingry' rather than weaponry.   How much you need?   It certainly
> couldn't be more of a waste than spending it threaten fanatic community
> groups to obtain nuclear weapons...  

Half the U.S. defense budget is $209 billion and half of Homeland 
Security is $15 billion.   Together $50 billion is being spent on 
domestic defense.  


For starters pull an amount of 1% of the scale of the domestic defense 
budget from the larger defense budget.  That would be $500 million 
dollars.  Plenty to buy the best supercomputers and a team of a few 
dozen project managers, political scientists, intelligence experts, and 
modelers.  Take say $100 million to reimburse the CIA and NSA for their 
time on data collection.
> I'd still have some major doubts about the adequacy of present modeling
> assumptions.  No one seems to have recognized that growth systems are
> locally invented compounding instabilities to themselves yet, or that
> natural system networks are mostly linked opportunistically rather than
> deterministically, or that the variables of our relationship statements
> generally refer to things that keep changing definition with little
> notice.  I don't think it's an easy problem.
I agree there is a lot that can't be modeled effectively without heavy 
data collection and lots of focused attention.  And some social 
phenomena are probably too fleeting to capture and the precedents too 
silent.  But consider elections in this country.   Usually it is pretty 
clear how things will go once some exit polls are taken.   I'm thinking 
of how to study the demographics of change as a function of military and 
civil violence, occupation, propaganda and relief efforts.   Situations 
where known perturbations have been made to the system, and then an 
effort is made to model how those perturbations can be used to predict 
rates and intensity of near and medium term disruptive events.   
Insurgency, say, must have some common properties and unfold in ways 
that are a function of the number of young people prepared to die, 
explosives, technology, and money available and so forth.  I imagine 
such models not so much for precise prediction on the ground, but to be 
developed over a long periods to fit abstract scenarios.  To help 
planners understand social risk as well as direct tactical risk.

I know some programs like this are already underway, but it's unclear to 
me the degree of funding. 


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