Magazine article Risk Management

Modeling Terrorists

Magazine article Risk Management

Modeling Terrorists

Article excerpt

The prediction and prevention of terrorist incidents could be aided by new simulators, such as first-person shooter-type games in which synthetic human agents improvise rather than floow an inflexible script; such simulators model terrorists and their accomplices through profiling of terrorist backgrounds, value systems, and other variables. The development of such simulations is fueled by a belief that terrorists' mindset, motives and organizational makeup--and thus their actions and plots--could be determined by computers equipped with the appropriate software.

Outside observers are betting that software designed to identify key members of a terrorist organization will be used by intelligence analysts to compile a list of people to terminate or apprehend so as to cripple the organization most effectively. This possibility generates concern about the moral implications of relying on such models to make life-and-death decisions however. It also raises questions as to whether analysts will even avail themselves of such technology, should it become widely available.

Experts such as Ball State University anthropologist Jim Nyce strongly doubt that these tools will be employed by the intelligence community "because the cognitive, intellectual and work requirements have not been taken into account in their design. …

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