Interest in research on information and influence to help the federal government is not limited to commercially-offered solutions and operational capabilities. The Department of Defense Basic Research Office is soliciting for multidisciplinary fundamental research to better understand future information warfare and the tracking and prediction of attempts at social manipulation. The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) released July 16 by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, seeks mathematical and social science solutions to analyze and predict human behaviors in dynamic environments. Proposals are expected to produce novel disruptive frameworks to combat disinformation and cyber influence.
The BAA includes the following examples of the types of research it may fund:
- “Carefully designed mathematical abstractions based on behavioral science for modeling the agent’s psychological and social variables, e.g.: emotional and cognitive states, human intent and belief, and group dynamics. These models should include approaches to multi- scale clustering for accurate comprehension and modeling of aggregate behavior, e.g. individual – group – nation.”
- “Game-theoretical and Machine Learning concepts, e.g. multi-agent reinforcement learning (RL) or distributional RL, as well as other innovative ideas that can consider a hybrid distribution of irrational and rational agents, including artificial ones (e.g. bots).”
- “Efficient mathematical methods and algorithms to detect malicious intent and learn agent behavior and objectives from limited and noisy observations.”
- “Concepts and methods for strategy optimization (inverse design), which may include counter-messaging, network-based intervention, or other means.”
Proposals are due by August 28, 2020 at 4:00 PM EDT. Awards of up to $1.5 million for a period of three years are anticipated. Submissions are limited to accredited, doctoral degree-granting U.S. institutions of higher education and University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs). The full BAA is available at https://www.grants.gov/ under solicitation number “BRO-20-SOMAII.”