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    Warning Will Robinson!

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    This article jokes about the project, but I think it has interesting connotations:

    Navy Wants Insurgent-Predicting Program

    Recent work has applied and extended discrete choice models originally developed for use in econometrics to predicting the spatial probability of criminal activity. These point-pattern based density models have also been applied to the military domain for prediction of terrorist strikes and IEDs. The result is that the geographical patterns established by past events can be used to build threat maps showing where future strikes are most likely to take place, with accuracies notably better than hot-spotting techniques. The same basic strategy seems likely to be applicable to prediction of the timing of such activities as well as their location.

    The person that noted the article went on to say:

    I'd like to be able to pick the terrorist out. I'd like a detector 'tricorder' for intent or evil. I'd like to know ahead of time that this person is planning to hurt other people with the use of IEDs," Office of Naval Research chief scientist Starnes Walker told the magazine.

    This project won't do that, of course. But getting it right "will not only contribute to defensive operations, saving lives of civilians and U.S. servicemen, but will also contribute to quick and effective counterstrikes to weaken and eliminate enemy forces," the Navy notes. "The same techniques can be applied to civilian law enforcement to counter gangs, organized crime, and other groups with the capacity to adapt their patterns of behavior through experience."

    Maybe it could even predict politicians' behavior, too.

    Okay, he laughed, but now I will tell you something very serious. Old fashioned detective work used to put pins in a map to locate similar crimes and come up with "hotspots" in the civilian world and the military picked up on it. Several years ago, a group of people including officers of the law and profilers, actually came up with a program similar to what the Navy is looking for in which specific parameters of similar crimes were in put. In particular, serial rape. By noting common characteristics of rapists behavior based on the crime such as, did the rapist take his time, did he enter and leave the home easily, did he seem to disappear easily from the immediate vicinity, etc, etc, etc, all of these things indicated a familiarity with the area, the streets, the homes, etc. The rapists was comfortable and that usually means that he lives within the community.

    They were able to solve several high profile serial rape cases with this program. Using this technique and behavioral patterns gleaned from thousands of interviews with other criminals, the program has been rather successful in the civilian world.

    For sometime I have been thinking that the military needed a similar program that was easily accessible, portable and could be used from any FOB or at Centcom. We already know somethings like how close a person would have to be to detonate an IED with a remote control, even the phone variety (particularly since phone service in Iraq is not 100% guaranteed in every area plus those detonations require some sort of line of sight ability to know when to set it off); we know that a guy putting IEDs in a water drain running underneath the road indicates a familiarity with the area beyond simply driving by and dropping a package.

    Of course, the FBI is already giving us a hand with investigative techniques identifying bombers by their bomb blue prints.

    This is not an unusual tool to have and may help speed up the process in the same way that other programs have allowed the military to triangulate on groups of terrorists, leaders, financiers, etc by building on intelligence, interviews, etc that relate these people to one another.

    This is not a joke and may be extremely handy in the future.

    Thus, this gentleman may laugh, but in the future of fourth generation continuous warfare, it might be the best idea they've had yet.

    COOL TECH THIS WEEK: Armor, Predictions, and Hyperspace
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