Army Cyber Institute Employs Comic Books to Promote Discourse

The U.S. Army Cyber Institute (ARCYBER) recently issued a solicitation seeking a contractor to supply “Science Fiction Prototyping” to help the organization, the broader Department of Defense, and NATO envision operations in the environments of the future (10 years out) and generate conversation across the community about such operations.

According to the Army solicitation, Science Fiction prototyping is the “idea of using science fiction stories, movies, animations and graphic novels/comics to describe and explore the implications of futuristic technologies and the social structures enabled by them.”  ARCYBER is seeking help to create several Science Fiction prototypes to support its research on transforming into an information warfare command; Army Headquarters’ G3 Protection Teams Insider Threat education initiative; and NATO’s research into emerging destructive technology coupled with the employment of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  The Science Fiction prototypes will be used to build stories that will be conveyed in graphic novels, otherwise known as comics.  The Army anticipates one graphic novel on information warfare and two graphic novellas on WMD.

To satisfy ARCYBER’s requirement, futurists and science fiction illustrators should have proficiency in “Threatcasting” and the science fiction prototyping process, long-term strategic foresight and effects-based futures modeling, work with government, military, and academia, and experience in science fiction publishing and illustration in print and online media.

The graphic novel book on information warfare is envisioned to contain a narrative and graphically portrayed story that demonstrations Army operations in future information environments at the nexus of digital surveillance and privacy (or erosion thereof), insider threat and extremism. The comic book is intended to help Army leaders envision future information-related threats, operations, and expand the body of knowledge through futures research. The WMD graphic novellas will demonstrate Allied operations in future environments.

The idea of using science fiction and graphic novels to game out real world issues and communicate with a broader audience is not new, according to recent articles in Breaking DefenseThe U.S. Naval Academy has been hosting a sci-fi convention called NavyCon since 2017 to help the Navy think differently about the future.