Funding for Work on Technologies to Improve Reasoning in Government Intelligence

Steven Rieber, a former philosopher who is now a program manager at Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a part of the United States government’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is heading up a new research program that might be of interest to philosophers.

Carnap… Rudolf Carnap

The program, “Rapid Explanation, Analysis, and Sourcing Online” (REASON) aims to “develop novel technologies that will enable intelligence analysts to substantially improve the evidence and reasoning in draft analytic reports.” It is seeking research teams to fund that will build systems to help “analysts discover valuable evidence, identify strengths and weaknesses in reasoning, and produce higher quality reports.” Here is some more information about the project:

Intelligence analysts sort through huge amounts of often uncertain and conflicting information as they strive to answer intelligence questions. REASON will assist and enhance analysts’ work by pointing them to key pieces of evidence beyond what they have already considered and by helping them determine which alternative explanations have the strongest support. It will do this automatically and on demand by providing evidence and reasoning suggestions as the analyst works on a report. The program will exploit recent advances in artificial intelligence, not to perform the analysis or write the report, but to help analysts do it even better. As a result, decision-makers will receive analytic reports with the highest accuracy, clarity and timeliness.

Decision makers rely on the Intelligence Community to help them understand a wide variety of complex issues. Intelligence analysts face numerous challenges in their efforts to produce high-quality analytic reports. One major challenge is finding all relevant evidence from an ever-growing collection of often uncertain and conflicting information drawn from classified and unclassified sources. A second challenge is making well-reasoned judgments in the face of uncertainty. REASON will develop technology that analysts can use to discover additional relevant evidence (including contrary evidence) and to identify strengths and weaknesses in reasoning.  

REASON is not designed to replace analysts, write complete reports, or to increase their workload. The technology will work within the analyst’s current workflow.  It will function in the same manner as an automated grammar checker but with a focus on evidence and reasoning.

The deadlines on this are coming up quickly. If you are thinking of proposing something for it, the deadline to register as a proposer is January 6th, and the proposals will be presented January 11th. You can find out more here.

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