94
Complex Adaptive Systems and Defence
T R A I N I N G & S I M U L A T I O N
By: David Wortley
People Power
Today’s socie...
95
The European Union regards societal “Grand Challenges”
such as conflicts between the freedom and responsibility
of indi...
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Defence global august 2013 - Complex Adaptive Systems and Defence

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Today’s society is shaped by technology in unprecedented
ways. We all face disruptive changes in our lives and
new challenges which, paradoxically, can be both created
and addressed by the various digital technologies that inform, empower and influence individual citizens on a massive scale. There has been no previous period in history where millions of ordinary citizens have been
able to freely access knowledge and simultaneously share their lives and opinions with a global audience.
The empowerment of citizens through accessible and
affordable technologies represents a significant challenge to defence and security. The knowledge about weapons and explosive devices which can readily be accessed
and the powerful and portable communication tools
available today are in a large measure responsible for the phenomenon of “Asymmetric Warfare” in which
individuals and small groups with limited traditional
military resources can pose serious problems for the
far better equipped armed forces responsible for
defence and security.
It is therefore the way in which technology empowers
individual citizens with access to seemingly unlimited
information and choice that creates the tensions,
conflicts and disruptive changes in which the needs of society challenge the rights and responsibilities of the individual. These so-called “Grand Challenges” brought about by conflicts between the need for a secure
society and individual citizen rights to privacy and civil
liberties represent a potential threat to a secure and
peaceful future, as is evidenced by on-going and long drawn out conflicts in countries striving for democratic
freedom.

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Defence global august 2013 - Complex Adaptive Systems and Defence

  1. 1. 94 Complex Adaptive Systems and Defence T R A I N I N G & S I M U L A T I O N By: David Wortley People Power Today’s society is shaped by technology in unprecedented ways. We all face disruptive changes in our lives and new challenges which, paradoxically, can be both created and addressed by the various digital technologies that inform, empower and influence individual citizens on a massive scale. There has been no previous period in history where millions of ordinary citizens have been able to freely access knowledge and simultaneously share their lives and opinions with a global audience. The empowerment of citizens through accessible and affordable technologies represents a significant challenge to defence and security. The knowledge about weapons and explosive devices which can readily be accessed and the powerful and portable communication tools available today are in a large measure responsible for the phenomenon of “Asymmetric Warfare” in which individuals and small groups with limited traditional military resources can pose serious problems for the far better equipped armed forces responsible for defence and security. It is therefore the way in which technology empowers individual citizens with access to seemingly unlimited information and choice that creates the tensions, conflicts and disruptive changes in which the needs of society challenge the rights and responsibilities of the individual. These so-called “Grand Challenges” brought about by conflicts between the need for a secure society and individual citizen rights to privacy and civil liberties represent a potential threat to a secure and peaceful future, as is evidenced by on-going and long drawn out conflicts in countries striving for democratic freedom. Solving such conflicts between the needs of the indi- vidual and the needs of society is an extremely complex process which arguably requires a combination of the power of the computer to process massive amounts of data with the judgement and wisdom of human beings. Smart Society systems are being researched and developed with the resolution of such complex conflicts in mind. The European Union are funding a Smart Society project designed to explore the potential of Complex Adaptive Systems and to showcase the results through a range of gamified scenarios based around complex interactions between individual, group, organisational and societal needs. The project web site at http://www.smart-society-project. eu/ provides further details of the project and relevant contact information. Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) Complex adaptive systems are characterised by an ability to be very flexible and responsive, especially in a rapidly changing environment. Combining the power of human intelligence with the latest communication tools and technologies which monitor the key elements of the environment gives substantial leverage to those individuals with the ability to use these tools and the desire to influence the behaviour of others. Graphical Model of a Complex Adaptive System (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Complex-adaptive-system.jpg) Public disorder and insurgence have been fuelled by “flash mobs” operating like a complex adaptive system where individuals and groups communicate via social media and mobile telephony to challenge and respond to established policing strategies and this new phenom- enon has led to criminal convictions for individuals found to be involved in organising or inciting rioting or looting. London Riots Flash Mob (http://www.calwatchdog.com/2011/08/22/will-riots-inflame-california/)
  2. 2. 95 The European Union regards societal “Grand Challenges” such as conflicts between the freedom and responsibility of individuals and the needs of a secure and sustainable society as strategically important and their FP7 “Smart Society” project is an example of researching the use of CAS. The EU statement on Grand Challenges states :- “Grand challenges are not to be defined, assessed or solved by any single scientific or technological discipline or within one specific sectoral policy framework. Societies are facing complex, interlinked, global and local challenges”. See: http://ec.europa.eu/research/erab/pdf/erab-study- grand-challanages-2012_en.pdf Algorithmic and Autonomous Decision Support Solutions The Stock Market is itself an example of a complex adaptive system in which a host of different stakeholders and entities inter-operate in a complex way which adapts and adjusts to the economic environment through trading indexes and share prices. An extension to the use of computing power to support complex decision making is the development of algorithms (a form of rules and artificial intelligence) which automate trading decisions by responding faster to a changing market environment than a human trader Complex Adaptive Systems and Defence Complex Adaptive Systems have significant implications for today’s military not simply because they could be argued to be a symptom of asymmetric warfare and civil insurgency, but also because of their potential to support military training and decision making in combat situations. One of the key technologies for developing modern defence and security strategies is the use of intelligent sensor devices and real-time monitoring. Caspian Learning have been demonstrating the use of the Microsoft Kinect for a training application for NATO in which trainees develop the skills and techniques for searching suspect cargo ships. The trainees use natural hand movements and gestures to conduct the correct search protocols in a videogame simulation. The significance of the use of devices like the Kinect is not only that they make training more intuitive and engaging but also that they herald new and innovative uses of intelligent devices which will increasingly behave like complex adaptive systems and will provide military support in key conflict situations. The Kinect’s ability to respond intelligently to natural movement and gesture will rapidly mature and develop its capability for optical and audio recognition. This means that such systems would be able to provide early detection and identification of people, objects and behaviours that could pose military threat and eventually, through the use of algorithms and autonomous systems, be able to effectively conduct the work of experienced military personnel and/or act as support for skilled staff operating outside the field of conflict. War Games of the Future Complex adaptive systems in which technology provides human beings with extended powers is a rapidly advancing field. We are already able to control technology on Mars through a combination of embedded intelligence, sensor and communications technologies. In warfare, the use of UAVs or Drones controlled by soldiers thousands of miles from their targets is becoming more commonplace. All these systems rely heavily on secure computing and communications technologies. Predator Drone Firing Missile Perhaps the future of mankind will be dominated by complex adaptive systems that autonomously manage societal and military conflicts – the question is, who will be in charge of their use? David Wortley is a freelance consultant specialising in Immersive Technologies. For further information please contact: David Wortley FRSA Immersive Technology Strategies david@davidwortley.com

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