[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
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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