Friday, May 20, 2005

Current Reading: Connecting the Dots

I began reading this evening a report by the RAND Corporation called Out of the Ordinary. It looks to be an interesting application of knowledge about cognitive decision-making to create assistive software that can handle massive amounts of data in the same manner that an effective decision maker would make when tasked with the problems and issues described in the application in single-human-sized amounts. Don't know about the degree to which neuropsychological and neuroscientific knowledge are examined (relative to the evident coverage of more basic cognitive psychology), but looking forward to finding out.

John Hollywood, Diane Snyder, Kenneth McKay, & John Boon (2004). Out of the Ordinary: Finding Hidden Threats by
Analyzing Unusual Behavior
(MG-126). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Snipped from the preface:

"This monograph presents a unique approach to “connecting the dots” in intelligence—selecting and assembling disparate pieces of information to produce a general understanding of a threat. Modeled after key thought processes used by successful and proactive problem solvers to identify potential threats, the schema described in this document identifies out-of-the-ordinary, atypical behavior that is potentially related to terror activity; seeks to understand the behavior by putting it into context; generates and tests hypotheses about what the atypical behavior might mean; and prioritizes the results, focusing analysts’ attention on the most significant atypical findings. In addition to discussing the schema, this document describes a supporting conceptual architecture that dynamically tailors the analysis in response to discoveries about the observed behavior and presents specific techniques for identifying and analyzing out-of-the-ordinary information."

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