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Can AI Can Help Gauge “Gray Zone” Enemy Intent?

“Gray zone” conflict sits in a nebulous area between peace and conventional warfare.

By James Nunns

The United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) this week launched a new programme designed to help predict enemy intent in so-called “gray zone” conflict, using a combination of AI and game theory.

DARPA defines “gray zone” conflict as sitting in a nebulous area between peace and conventional warfare, saying such action “is not openly declared or defined, it’s slower, and is prosecuted more subtly—using social, psychological, religious, information, cyber and other means to achieve physical or cognitive objectives with or without violence.”

As a result, it is launching a programme dubbed “COMPASS”, which will use advanced artificial intelligence technologies and game theory to “both identify stimuli that yield the most information about an adversary’s intentions, and provide decision makers high-fidelity intelligence on how to respond, the agency said.

“The ultimate goal of the program is to provide… robust analytics and decision-support tools that reduce ambiguity of adversarial actors and their objectives,” said Fotis Barlos, DARPA program manager. The COMPASS program will leverage game theory for developing simulations to test and understand various potential actions and possible reactions by an adversary employing gray zone activity.

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This does not, the agency hastened to add in a release, mean new sensory technologies, virtual reality systems or other advanced hardware.

“The program focuses rather on advanced software that would quickly present options to decision makers by assimilating a large amount of intelligence collected using existing, state of the art systems (such as standard video exploitation, or textual analysis tools) related to rapidly changing scenarios.”

“We’re looking at the problem from two perspectives: Trying to determine what the adversary is trying to do, his intent; and once we understand that or have a better understanding of it, then identify how he’s going to carry out his plans—what the timing will be, and what actors will be used,” Barlos said.

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