Other Areas

Time and space severely limit what can be described in an extremely short paper. I will just touch upon other areas that appear to me to be important in combating terrorism. All would involve nanotechnologies and information sciences, falling under the NBIC rubric, since they would probably require advances in computing power to be most effective.

One can try to apply information technology and social sciences in an effort to discern patterns of behaviors in nasty organizations. If one were to focus on correlating a large volume of diverse data that include the characteristics, motivations, and actions, could one achieve any predictive value? Predicting a specific event at a specific time is clearly unlikely, but perhaps a result could be generalized cues that would enable intelligence services to look more closely at a given time at a given group. DARPA is pursuing such avenues, as are, no doubt, other branches of the government.5 I would not call this cognition per se, but this type of effort does try to encompass, in part through behavioral sciences, how certain types of people might think in specific situations.

Finally, I would like to point to the issue of integrating architectures, applied to many counterterrorist areas. This, too, involves cognition and information science and technology. As a simple example, the security at an airport would greatly benefit from some integration of all the security activities that go on there, including alarms, alarm resolution, personnel assignments, equipment status, and so on.

On a much more complex level, the response to a major terrorist act, involving weapons of mass destruction, would benefit enormously from a generalized C4ISR (command, communications, control, computers, information, surveillance, and reconnaissance) architecture. How does one put the response all together, among so many federal, state, and local agencies? How does urgent information get down to the street quickly and accurately? How is it shared rapidly among all those who urgently need to know? How does one communicate most effectively to inform the public and elicit the most productive public reaction to events? How can one best guide the decisions of high-level decisionmakers in responding effectively to the attack? How are their decisions most effectively implemented? True, we can always muddle through; we always have. But a comprehensive architecture for emergency response could make an enormous difference in how well the society will respond and minimize casualties. And cognitive science and information technology together could

4 http://www.sciam.com/2000/0900issue/0900langridge.html, also in Scientific American, Sept. 2000.

5 http://schafercorp-ballston.com/wae/, accessed last on 27 December 2001, contains a description of a DARPA project entitled Wargaming the Asymmetric Environment.

greatly help in devising such architectures. Much talk and much work is proceeding in this area, especially in the past two months. My impression, however, is that some new thinking by newcomers to the counterterrorist field — who have the expertise in operations research, information technology, and cognitive sciences — would be highly productive.

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