IPA Board Members Recommend Research Ideas

IPA Board Members recently compiled a list of research ideas for information professionals to consider. We will update this with new ideas periodically.

These topics represent pressing areas of interest related to operations in the information environment. Doctoral, Master’s, and undergraduate college students who are interested in contributing to the body of knowledge can use these ideas for inspiration.

A list of research questions and ideas related to operations in the information environment follows:

  1. The cyber domain is only one means of information dissemination that uses well understood heuristics to influence human behavior. Has national strategy development been influenced by an understanding of this ability to influence human behavior in the information environment?
  2. What has been the impact of the availability of information (volume, speed of availability, and ubiquity on the battlefield) on decision-making at the Battalion and below level in tactical operations and decision-making? Does our current structure create vulnerabilities in this information-saturated environment?
  3. Does current U.S. policy discouraging influence activities in physical and cyber domains at the operational and tactical levels create vulnerabilities to achieving military goals in future military operations?
  4. Should the organizational structure of the U.S. national security establishment created by the National Security Act of 1947 be replaced with new legislation that recognizes the challenges of the 21st century? How does the current structure create advantages for our adversaries in reducing our will to fight in the IE?
  5. How do cultural differences in online information consumption affect the ability to influence potential adversaries in the cyber domain? (note: can build upon past research in this area and focus on one region).
  6. Desert Shield/Desert Storm represented a turning point in the immediate impact of the availability and volume of information available to friendly forces and global audiences. How did U.S. strategy adapt to take advantage of this, or did it adapt?
  7. Joint Task Force ARES: Lessons for organizing operations in the information environment in an information age.
  8. “The Metaverse: The Next Disinformation Frontier” (Possible title/topic)
    • Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) immersive environments, collectively known as the “Metaverse,” have been around for some time; efforts like Second Life represent early attempts to make such environments viable. There have been great advances in the development of the supporting technologies needed to make the Metaverse a practical (not virtual) reality. This fact and the major commitments of companies like Microsoft and Facebook make the advancement and widespread adoption of the Metaverse likely in the not too distant future. The Metaverse will provide rich opportunities and fertile ground for disinformation, deception, and manipulation of a type and at a scale that have so far not been experienced. The time for understanding information operations in the Metaverse and development of potential tactical and strategic approaches to both offensive and defensive information operations in the Metaverse is now. The purpose of the research and the thesis is to identify and examine the future characteristics of information operations in the Metaverse.
  9. Through aggressive actions the past decade, peer competitors exposed the amazing interchange of the information and physical environments. As a result, we are increasingly: a) seeing the true potency of the former as a nefarious tool, and b) recognizing that manipulation of the information environment can significantly impact the physical. Artificial intelligence, in particular, remains a core enabler, mainly the ability of peer competitors to apply AI to shape, respond to, and assess phenomena in a merged information-physical strategic space. Can DoD learn from AI-driven practices/methods in other domains to better address these peer competitor activities? Would authorities/policy changes be needed to accomplish these efforts? How can we re-imagine data science, social science, and computer science (among others) to achieve such ends?