BAE Systems Tapped to Develop New Decision-Making Software (UPDATED)

By Sonja Jordan

Photo: BAE Systems

BAE Systems has been awarded a contract to develop a new decision-making tool for potential use by U.S. warfighters, the company recently announced.

The software tool, Causal Modeling for Knowledge Transfer, Exploration and Temporal Simulation, also known as CONTEXTS, is being sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory. The aim of the Causal Exploration of Complex Operational Environments program is to develop automated software technologies to model dynamic situations that could lead to conflicts.

AFRL awarded BAE a $4.3 million contract for phase one of a three-phase program that is expected to last about four years.

With the new software, military planners will be able to test different avenues of approach for complicated situations in a simulated operational environment, Jonathan Goldstein, senior principal scientist in the autonomy, controls and estimation group at the company, said in a June 12 interview.

As operational environments continue to become more complex, military personnel will be able to use the technology hone their decision-making and conflict resolution skills, and avoid unwanted outcomes, BAE Systems said in a press release.

“This is more of a preplanning activity that is more exploratory in that developing … insights about an operational environment, deciphering the root causes of a scenario, and then providing the frame for the high-level approach that informs the planning process. That’s DARPA’s goal with the program,” Goldstein said.

Conflicts are dominated by human dynamics, which can be both military and non-military, he noted. Political, social, economic, ethnic and religious factors can all come into play.

“Understanding the human part is just as important if not more important” than understanding other components of a military situation, he added.

The software, which will utilize algorithms and other automation tools, is expected to be particularly helpful in terms of quick decision-making, Goldstein said.

“Generally, when a crisis erupts or some new situation occurs that requires an initial response, there’s very little time” to react, he said. Military personnel must “rapidly achieve a deep understanding in order to come out with an effective response in a short amount of time,” he added.

To build the simulation model, the BAE development team will use subject matter experts, open source data, academic theories and intelligence reports. Once that model is complete, “reasoning algorithms can help the design team understand the underlying root causes or complex dynamics of the situation,” Goldstein explained.

Once the final phase of the DARPA project is completed, the technology could be handed off to the Army or Special Operations Command for further development, he said.

Clarification: An earlier version of the story did not clearly state that the name of the software was different from the DARPA program.

Topics: Information Technology, Infotech, Emerging Technologies, Defense Innovation

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