Friday, October 20, 2006

Much of what we call genius lies in an ability to see a perspective, that others may pass by. From a new vantage point, problems can be seen in new ways and new solutions present themselves. The Copernicus Institute, formed in 1998, is a small, private research corporation, consisting of many Fellows from across the U.S. and from across a broad set of disciplines, including economics, education, the arts, computer science, mathematics, intelligence, management, aerospace, and politics.

Although the Institute does consulting work, its primary focus is in writing, teaching, and lecturing on new ways to solve the difficult challenges of reengineering government agencies. Our list of topics range from Command and Control (C2) Design, Network Centric Warfare in the Revolution in Military Affairs, and Understanding Capitol Hill and the POM Process to multiple modules on U.S. Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) — from the rudimentary structures to the detailed architecture and applications.

Teaching may be structured as a simple speaking engagement lecture, as an interactive one or two-day seminar or as part of the “Shaping Chaos” curriculum, which fits courses into a challenging scenario-based structure that plays out in a series of multiple interactive seminars over the course of a year.

The Copernicus Group has an established practice in government and commercial operations analysis and intelligence research, and it counts among its successes running the largest scenario-based planning project in the world for a U.S. government client from 2000–2005.

New Group Advocates Better Government via High Tech

Jennifer Freer, Newsbytes News Network
April 25, 2000

A newly formed research and development organization sees high technology as the key to making a better government.

“The future of better government lies in putting high technology in the hands of talented people,” and the Copernicus Institute, “is about bringing new technology, new techniques and new intellectual capital to the nation’s problems,” said Jerry Tuttle, one of the group’s founders.

The Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit group was formed in response to requests the founders received from the departments of Defense and Education to address future government problems in new ways, said Michael Loescher, another Copernicus founder.

They said the specific problems are confidential, but that the group hopes to gather people who have proven performance in solving problems for government, he said. The founders all have a government background.

The founders are Tuttle, Loescher, Charles Thomas, Mark Loescher, John Casti and Paul Tobin. Michael Loescher is chief operating officer. He and Tuttle authored the Navy's Copernicus Architecture of the early 1990s. He and Mark Loescher own the Copernicus Group Inc. Tuttle is CEO of Forgefinder Inc. and a director at Deloitte Consulting. Casti is a member of the Santa Fe Institute and a founder of the new science of chaos mathematics. Tobin is the former oceanographer of the Navy and now is director of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Professional Development Center.

The institute’s first customers: the National Reconnaissance Office and the Education Department.

Mankind has made great progress in understanding everything except himself, his social institutions, and relationships with his total environment. Our capacity for contriving complexities through piecemeal actions has developed more rapidly than our capabilities for comprehending them — and the gap is widening.

This should not be surprising, for we have directed our energies to the creation of myriad specialties of one sort or another in the belief that an “invisible hand” would somehow tie them all together. Unfortunately, this logic has prevailed in academia as well as in business and government, with the result that we are now attempting to deal with a tangle of threatening problems through a hodgepodge of expedient studies and programs.

The fundamental question is: Can we continue to deal with problems of integrity of government, population growth, threats to human freedom and justice, economic development, stagflation, and many others, in an ad hoc way, as if they were only a collection of unrelated problems? The answer is that the course of world history testifies to the failure of piecemeal approaches to integrated problems.

There is an urgent need in every sphere of endeavor to develop and enlarge the habit and capability for thinking in the large, to confront what others have called the world problematique. This need may be particularly urgent with respect to the role of the Western democratic values of individuality, variety and political participation; values which either now or in the near future could become expedient or unintended casualties of a continued failure to address problems in a global perspective.

To be sure, society's problems cannot be shelved while we search for a deeper insight, but it should be no less obvious that much greater attention must be given to fundamental scientific studies of human social systems if we are to avoid or deal effectively with future problems.

Such studies, although drawing on ideas from diverse natural, social and humanistic inquiries, will require not simply a “holistic,” “interdisciplinary” or “multidisciplinary” approach but recognition of the unity of physical, biological and social systems in the universe and the search for fundamental laws governing the creation, behavior and interdependent evolution of such systems. The problems call for scientific thinking in the large, for the natural philosopher’s perspective, for a heretofore neglected emphasis on the systematic, integrative dimensions and methods of natural inquiry rather than an arbitrary amalgamation of disciplines and specialties. This constitutes a scientific challenge of a new and higher order.

Once again, the concern is to promote a habit of and capability for thinking in the large — for comprehending immediate problems in their larger context — and thereby to encourage a more responsible approach to planning and decision making on the part of leaders in business, government and the public at large.

“There are things that we know. And then there are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know that we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know … that is, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence … simply because you do not have evidence that something exists does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist.”

“We struggle between 1% of what we know and 1% of what we don’t know, but rarely come across the 98% of what we don’t know that we don’t know.” — Buckminster Fuller

“Because of the things we don’t know [that] we don’t know, the future is largely unpredictable.” — Maxine Singer, Thoughts of a Nonmillenarian

“Scenarios transform information into perceptions. … It is a creative experience that generates an 'Aha!' … and leads to strategic insights beyond the mind's previous reach.” — Pierre Wack

Using scenario futuring will help us see multiple perspectives and possibilities, so we can break out of traditional thinking patterns.

Future courses being developed for Academic Year 2005 include a simulation-driven course in the emerging “Proteus” concept, a set of insights for planners and intelligence analysts in the development of future plans. This course will use the Collins Hall simulation capabilities to provide the opportunity to experience these insights in a computer-assisted war-game. Additionally, the Simulations Group is developing a course in the potential use of a role-playing simulation (RPS) in an experiential education environment. This course will provide a hands-on simulation experience for students while they work through a dynamic scenario.

June 3, 2004
Gheorghe Tecuci presented “Personal Cognitive Assistants for Military Intelligence Analysis: Mixed-Initiative Learning, Tutoring, and Problem Solving” at the Proteus Workshop, U.S. Army War College.

An example of the use of scenarios as an effective tool to draw forth insights as a basis for robust strategies and planning decisions is Phase I of the Proteus Project, a recent team effort undertaken for the National Reconnaissance Office in support of the U.S. intelligence community.

Foresight Scenarios Workshop

Canadian Science and Technology Foresight Pilot Project
Imagine an experiment. Imagine a small theatre filled with eighty of the brightest, most creative and possibly most skeptical scientists and business minds in the country. Imagine that those gifted and accomplished individuals have agreed to come together to peer into the future using a new — and largely untested — methodology. And now, imagine that you are standing in front of that confident, sharp, eager and possibly cynical audience charged with the responsibility of both framing their enquiry and stimulating their creativity. You need to turn this set of individuals into teams that will challenge, think and cooperate so that you have harnessed their collective training and experience to extract and formulate the best creative concepts of eighty minds.

Proteus: Insights from 2020

Book Review from Technological Forecasting and Social Change Journal
Harold A. Linstone

The research was conducted by Litton/TASC, Deloitte Consulting/The Futures Group, and The Copernicus Institute for the National Reconnaissance Office to assist in characterizing its future operating environment and develop a critical look at its long-range research strategy. The large and diverse team included intelligence professionals and outsiders. It represents the first phase (18 months) of the Proteus Project. Phase II will focus on construction of notional intelligence systems, Phase III on developing a new gaming environment, and Phase IV on examining specific emerging technologies and scientific techniques with the aim of recommending the funding of key technologies not being developed elsewhere. Such an approach, if implemented, should give us a much higher degree of confidence in our intelligence community.

One must admire the open-mindedness that underwrote this project. It reminds one of the innovative projects undertaken by the aerospace sector half a century ago — hardly surprising in view of the involvement of The Futures Group and the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force as Director of the National Reconnaissance Office — and is a welcome contrast to much of traditional military long-range analysis characterized by hidebound planning to fight the last war over again with better weapons.

Proteus features a striking combination of depth in its insights and imagination in its view of future issues. This remarkable team effort can serve as a model for thinking about the future. Its most salient characteristic is its breaking of the chains of familiar definitions and categorizations that constrain us to view the future in terms of the past and present. It sets a standard that challenges the foresight community.

The structure used in Phase I is based on Deloitte approach — scenario-based planning for technology decision making. It has been used by corporations in relating their technology plans via alternative scenarios to markets and products to draw forth robust strategies. The new aspect is its use of a wide spectrum of creative minds in the 2020 context.

Let us hope the next phases of Proteus will be equally perceptive and well done.

Long Range Threat Assessment and Strategy for the National Reconnaissance Office

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is part of the U.S. intelligence community and responsible for the creation and development of space-based reconnaissance assets. In a three-year project from 1999 we helped the NRO create a set of scenarios that explored the national security threat space of the future and developed strategies and technology investment priorities to help the intelligence community prepare for threats not yet obvious. The threat areas studied included nation-state war, terrorism (including bioterrorism), criminal–terror linkages, and the potential for rogue corporations. Over the course of the project we held multiple strategy sessions, both classified and unclassified. Participants included not just Government officials, but representatives from the CDC, automotive manufactures, social workers, hospital executives, ministers, and many others. The unclassified interim findings of the work were published in a book, “Proteus: Insights From 2020” (Copernicus Institute Press, 2000).

Pamela Krause of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency summarized the findings of the Proteus Project. Proteus was a scenario-based futures research project sponsored by the National Reconnaissance Office to explore potential challenges for the intelligence community in 2020. The project scanned several themes — from the “role and nature of time in analysis” to new technologies and the role of money and power.

Proteus Management Group

Proteus Management Group is an international consortium and think tank focusing on the refinement, continued development and practical application of the Proteus set of established insights to:

·     Assist strategic and high-operational level decision makers, planners and analysts in “outside the box” consideration and critical analysis of national military and intelligence issues within the Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational (JIIM) environment.

·     Help the strategic decision maker, planner or analyst to:

§     Consider values and perceptions of future target audiences, and by systematically looking “outside” of the values contained in Western Civilization when considering the application of all elements of national power: Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic (DIME).

§     Identify and consider the 2nd and 3rd order effects and unintended Consequences of policy and strategy decisions.

The United States Army War College, in collaboration with the Office of the Director, National Intelligence (DNI), will conduct an academic workshop to explore the complexity of the future global security environment, its discrete threats and opportunities, and examine new and emerging Proteus related strategies and processes to meet 21st century U.S. national security needs. This workshop’s overall purpose is to vet and exchange ideas through presentation of submitted papers. The event will take place 22–24 August 2006 at the Center for Strategic Leadership, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

The Proteus Management Group, established in mid-December 2005, is a resident project within the Center for Strategic Leadership. The project is sponsored by the DNI to promote further discourse, study and research on the application of Proteus Insights (PI) to strategic issues, focusing on the refinement, continued development, and use of the Proteus lenses in future scenarios. A second objective is to assist strategic and high-operational level decision-makers, planners, and intelligence analysts using all elements of national power in creative consideration and critical analysis of future national security, military, and intelligence issues within the JIIM environment.

Educational Exercises/Experiential Learning
Learning role playing, games and simulations that either require user/student input or incorporate Proteus Insights in the simulation, course work, hypothetical case studies/scenarios and a future “Proteus Gaming.” This topic area examines course work, computer assisted learning, role playing games and simulations that incorporate PI on critical and “outside the box” thinking and support the communities listed above. Examples: Role Playing Simulation (RPS), gaming using RPS or gaming technology, real world tools development (collaboration, C2), applicable case studies, student learning models for critical thinking, smart agent technology, Protean “Planes of Influence” and doctrinal PI discussions.

Proteus related publications in education and experiential learning and decision and analytical support tools and emerging technologies.

Analysis and Decision Support
Applicability of PI in strategic and operational analysis and decision-making: i.e. decision-making toolkits, expert agents, models and/or simulation. This topic area looks at the application of PI in intelligence analysis, decision-making, and planning processes at the strategic and operational levels. Examples include National and Joint intelligence processes, perception management in Information Operations (IO), the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP), Joint and Strategic planning, Interagency planning and decision-making; expert agents and cognitive assistants that support analytic functions; cultural, social and/or psychological applications in policy scenarios that could be influenced by Protean thought, and counterterrorism or GWOT applications.

Future Research
Study into new insights and work on future Proteus applications.
This topic area will explore new Proteus related insights, refinement and development of current insights, and work on Protean applications for identifying future threats and capitalizing on opportunities. Examples include Alternative Futures planning processes, simulation and gaming using PI, development of new insights and lenses, procurement and logistics processes, robotic applications, Artificial Intelligence research and future technology convergence (Nano, Micro, Info, Bio, Cogno), threats and/or opportunities.

The Proteus Insights focus on a new way to consider problem sets and future scenarios. The ten insights (original nine, plus one) point toward a new way of considering actions or unintended consequences of strategic decisions: either commercial, diplomatic or military. These insights can be used as a set of lenses to view future issues through a different mindset, to consider issues through a different value set and to think creatively, not traditionally. The Proteus Insights and lenses have not only emerged as applicable to future planning and analysis for intelligence, but also for strategic and operational planners and decision makers within the Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational (JIIM) environment when considering the application of all elements of national power.

What is Proteus?

·   Ten insights about the future geostrategic environment of 2020

·   Analyst or decision support tool

·   Asks the questions: “What do I want to happen?” and “What do I not want to happen?”

·   Critical thinking nonlinear model

·   Provides a framework for thinking “outside the box” or “creatively in the box” in a nonlinear complex environment

Proteus Consortium

Purpose: Better option development and decision choice in a complex, multi-faction setting. From 2002 to date, the complex setting used is the conflict in contemporary Iraq.

Platform: Protean Media. This is a real-time, computer-assisted, genetic algorithm that allows players to game the “complex, multi-faction setting” without reality limiting rules. To prevent the game from getting out of hand, each faction has a facilitator to apply “common sense.”

Performance to date

·     The U.S.–Canada consortium began with a December 2002 meeting between two Canadians and a group of U.S. analysts, gaming specialists, cryptographers, CIA staff and DoD officials at the National Reconnaissance Office, near Washington.

·     The first full test of Protean Media took place in June 2003, at the Canadian Embassy in Washington. Eight teams “gamed;” seven representing factions carrying out and or supporting (legal and or illegal) violence and one — “others” — representing the UN, business, NGO, media and civil society. The “others” team won conclusively.

·     The Proteus Consortium has received funding from a strategy directorate in the CIA to hire a full-time “secretary.” S/he will be housed and resourced at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and be the point of contact and manager for day-to-day Proteus Consortium operations and administration.

·     The next test of a second generation Protean Media will be at the University of Maryland in mid-August, sponsored by the U.S. National Cryptology Center, among others. The one-day game will be the centerpiece of three days of discussion on the future of the Proteus Consortium and preparation and evaluation of the test itself. Special attention will be given to the role of bias in decision-making and how Protean Media might be used to improve security in its broadest sense.

·     The test after the August one is being planned for Ottawa in October 2005. The Office of the National Science Advisor will be the host organization. It is hoped the Canadian Defense Academy will sponsor a team for the first test in Canada.

Canadian Proteus Network

In June 2001, Jack Smith, Leader of the Office of Technology Foresight for the National Research Council of Canada attended a briefing on Proteus led by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) of the National Security Agency.

In December 2002, David Harries of the Royal Military College and Jack Smith visited the NRO and met with the Proteus Team as part of the international scoping effort for the NRC’s interdepartmental pilot project on S&T foresight.

In March 2003, Pamela Krause, the Proteus Leader visited NRC to participate in the Canada@2025 Scenarios Workshop. The NRO reported that the Canadian scenarios were very useful in helping them to refine their forward views about the nature of threats and conflicts looking ahead toward 2025.

In September 2003, Jack Smith was invited to attend a three-day Proteus II development symposium at the U.S. Navy Postgraduate School in the company of the key U.S. intelligence and military organizations involved with Proteus II development, as well as the formulation of intelligence strategy for Iraq and subsequent threat environments in a post 9/11 world. …

The U.S. agencies are presently intensifying their search for funding for Proteus development under the aegis of various mechanisms that are being aligned for the purpose of advancing the Proteus approach: Forces Transformation, CIA Analysis and Production, U.S. Military War Colleges curricula, and National Science Foundation and National Security Agency cooperation on advanced S&T projects. …

The Proteus approach is based on several aligned elements:

·     Ongoing R&D under the leadership of NGA, NRO, NPS and the AWC, with NSF and DARPA potential sources of funding

·     Strategic feedback and regular interaction with Pentagon, CIA and NSA senior strategists and operations leaders

·     Migration of the Proteus approach gradually into U.S. training curricula for officers and agents

·     Interaction with key defense and intel contractors who can provide agile deployment and adaptive updates to the methodologies

·     A network of several layers of expertise and insights derivation that reaches across all of the stakeholder organizations, with intersections at many levels

·     A tested set of tools for projecting challenges of future environments, and in motivating simulated, adaptive or anticipatory behaviour

·     An initial software media project …

·     A plan to engage senior military and intelligence leaders, generals, and advisors in working through the learning, insights and application tools of Proteus


Proteus is a largely informal and voluntary association of strategic foresight practitioners concerned with the challenges of anticipating and understanding global change, and exploring the related implications for intelligence and global security.

The vision of Proteus is to build a network that can make practical and innovative contributions to a safer and more stable world through the development and sharing of advanced knowledge applications derived from insight and foresight.

Proteus Network members are affiliated by a mutual recognition of collaborative opportunity and the prospective benefits and new vantage points offered by the leverage their diversity brings in terms of awareness, capabilities and elaboration and exploration of new ideas, technologies and methodologies for strategic foresight.

Their common ground and shared developmental commitment is based on the Proteus perspective. It is an innovative system of foresight forces, insights and global scenarios developed by the Proteus Project Team at the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office in 1999–2000.

The Proteus Network will undertake follow-on research based on the original work. The work will further develop and improve the power and efficacy of the approach so that it can be used as a strategic mechanism to support global stability and positive development pathways and adaptation to global change.

As an integrated approach, Proteus creates innovative potential in the following ways:

·     Elaborates strategic knowledge that positions global change forces within a dynamic and interactive context that can reveal unintended consequences of actions being adopted by factions within a complex environment of uncertainty and conflict.

·     Builds new media to carry Proteus knowledge of strategic choice structure, interactions and implications in the form of a complex cognitive representation. This will enable human-driven autonomous actors to simulate and interpret irregular warfare and prospective terrorist conditions and strategies. This representation could also evolve into the production of one or more innovative products that could have commercial potential.

·     Advances the technology of multidimensional scenario construction and contingency planning, and connects affiliated players for collaborative learning applied to real challenge situations.

·     Develops the base for a multilateral stakeholder foresight network starting with the bilateral U.S.–Canada strategic relationship. …

This proposal is directed toward building a more extensive institutional and methodological network to guide the next adaptation of Proteus as a complex adaptive system for anticipating change in global society. In particular, the urgent realms of national security and global intelligence about nontraditional adversaries are demanding new and more robust structures for forward strategy.

Proteus as a strategic concept is derived from Greek mythology. Proteus, the son of Oceanus and Tethys was endowed with a capacity to assume different forms and to prophesy. Proteus originated as an advanced concepts research initiative at the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office employing commercially proven scenario-based methodology provided by The Futures Strategy Group, LLC. In the course of exploring alternate future scenarios and considering possible national security issues, the project team (Pamela Krause, National Imagery and Mapping Agency; Charles W. (Tom) Thomas, The Futures Strategy Group, LLC; Michael S. Loescher, The Copernicus Group Inc.; Christopher Schroeder and Thomas Simpson, Northrop Grumman Information Technology TASC; Thomas Witherell, Veridian General Dynamics) published unclassified interim results of the work in a book: “Proteus: Insights from 2020.” The book has been used as a basis to enable further strategic research and has inspired the initiative of the Proteus Network and the Proteus Media Project described below.

The Proteus Perspective
Proteus explores strategic capacities and collaborative learning tools for anticipating and understanding global change. As a foresight facilitator it comprises a set of structural insights or perspectives — i.e. lenses — about the nature and directions of global change. The focus is on threats, opportunities and technological innovations. It can be used to construct complex scenarios of how societies and institutions are adapting. The ten insights or perspectives summarized below were identified in the initial phase of Proteus that took place 1999–2003. Additional ones are likely to emerge as the network evolves in the context of the Proteus Media project.

The Proteus approach offers a context for and an elaborative description of the uncertainties and the resulting implications and environments that are being shaped by the emerging new challenges and realities.

Central to Proteus are ten original perspectives about the propensity of threats to the stability and resilience of 21st century global culture and societies:

·     Starlight: Most current intelligence is derived from retrospective insights, however real predictive foresight capacity is turning toward the recognition of need for strategic information from a confluence of multiple planes of influence in time, space, meaning and cyber systems.

·     Sanctuary: They can run and they can hide. Information about movements may be more valuable than secrets tied to stable locations, and luminosity may be more important than stature.

·     Small Stuff: From biotech to nanotech to Internet supported infotech appliances and cognitive systems, technologies are converging to create distributed and diverse threats. The world of the small (including cellular or networked organizations) and the relatively autonomous is creating ambiguity and potential threat.

·     Veracity: Truth and knowledge are not as absolute and fixable as previously believed. Empiricism, authentication and revelation may be relative and difficult to determine when viewed in the context of their creation in the dynamic environments able to be modeled by Proteus.

·     Herds: People and ideas are on the move — affecting loyalties and affinities in complex space–time and idea–belief situations. Herds have inherent capacity for malevolence or benevolence, and Proteus can elaborate the distinctions.

·     Wealth: It’s not just money — nontraditional currencies are entering the influence planes and creating substantial shifts in global value. New currencies expressed as capacities for influence can alter strategic positions and create vulnerabilities. Proteus creates perspective upon these complex interactions and transactions and examines prospective impacts.

·     Power: As values change, the distribution and instruments of power can shift. Power is temporal, dimensional and erodable in the emerging cellular environment.

·     Bedfellows: The significance of teaming increases as global complexity is accelerating even where the U.S. is disengaging. Intelligence and security demand agility and new partners internationally in diversified arenas of information, access and alliance.

·     Parallel Universe: From networks to cyber realities and avatars, the flows of information capability and configurations of prospective threats are becoming more extensive as cyberspace assumes new and highly strategic relevance in all domains.

·     Threat–Opportunity: Watchfulness in all venues is necessary because every threat is someone else’s opportunity; a win sets in motion the opportunity for new loss. Anticipation of threat requires understanding the ecology of the continuum — accounting for both the preconditions and the manifestation of threat in terms of capacity and technology in context. More simply put, threats and opportunities arise out of specific “ecosystems” — understand the ecology, and you'll see threats and opportunities before they arise.

These perspectives were derived from a set of general scenarios for plausible, prospective global change situations that imply significant challenges for global leadership and civilized development in the 21st century.

A key task for the Proteus Network is to further develop, adapt and formulate new scenarios appropriate to the shifts that can be seen or anticipated using the vantage points of the Proteus perspective. Work has already begun on elaborating the next generation of Proteus perspectives and scenarios. As detailed below, the Proteus Media project is directed toward capturing these new abilities in an advanced cognitive representation. …

The Proteus Network will initially pursue the Proteus Media project as described in the attachment.

Proteus Media: A new media for revealing and capturing unintended consequences of factions and security actors in a dynamic, interactive environment using the Proteus perspective.

In sum, the Proteus Network will position itself as a flexible, rapid and innovative source of strategic perspective and foresight for the benefit of the members and their affiliates and stakeholders.

Proteus Media

Exploring the Unknown — Learning to Create New Mental Models
February 2004

The formation of a Proteus Consortium and the creation of Proteus Media, a research project, resulted from a two and a half day faculty research seminar in September 2003 sponsored by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and hosted by the Cebrowski Institute.

The project team identified ten Proteus perspectives, which offer the mind a new lens about the nature and directions of global change. Once the mind learns to use these perspectives, then the mind is better equipped to blend the conflicting mental models of global change. Proteus Media is follow-on research based on this work. Continuing to nurture this emerging research, the Cebrowski Institute hosted the NSF-sponsored design workshop for Proteus Media, a computer-assisted political war-game. Organized by Joanne Kim, National Security Agency Cryptologic Innovation Chair, and Pamela Krause, futures researcher in InnoVision Directorate, Frontiers Office at NGA, attendees included:

NPS faculty
Professor Dorothy Denning and Associate Professors John Arquilla and Glenn Robinson, Department of Defense Analysis
Research Professor John Hiles, Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation Institute
Capt. Steven Ashby, USN, Department of National Security Affairs

Army War College faculty
Professor William Waddell, Center for Strategic Leadership
Professor Cynthia E. Ayers, NSA Visiting Professor of Information Superiority

National Research Council Canada
Jack Smith, Leader, Office of Technology Foresight

Office of the Director of Central Intelligence
William Nolte, Deputy Assistant DCI for Analysis and Reporting

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Robert Bridges, InnoVision Directorate, Frontiers Office

George Washington University
Professor Leon Fuerth, Research Professor, Elliot School of International Relations (teleconference hookup)

Proteus Perspective
In world situations, there is a continual confluence of politics, newly formed nations, economics, environmentalism, social upheavals, biosciences and terrorism to mention a few. Fueled by technology and communications that are efficient, fast and cheaply available, the landscape of war and peace has changed forever. Small is powerful. Virtual life has become a form of reality. Going beyond the physical and terrestrial worlds, we see new opportunities for influence. They are space, spectral, psychological and virtual. Focusing on what is knowable may be more important than focusing on truth. Emergent forms of human behavior and thinking patterns are not quite understood or appreciated. Within one chronological generation, technologies, human behaviors and thinking evolve multiple generations. In this milieu, time takes on increased importance because it is the one thing that these disparate actions across multiple planes have in common. They all sit on a timeline.

The Proteus approach can prepare and equip the minds of the military and civilian forces to enable them to increase the speed of Military Transformation and the Revolution in Intelligence. It opens the door to a knowledge harvesting strategy. Using the Protean lens, the approach stretches the mind to permit the eye to recognize things it didn’t see before and to comprehend the complexities of emergent forms of human behavior and thinking patterns. It is an innovative approach to helping us develop new rational models of complex worlds.

The Proteus approach offers a context for the uncertainties and an elaborate description of the resulting implications and environments that are being shaped by the emergent human behaviors and thinking. It offers a means to discover the unknown, to see what is not recognized, to understand the complex and to comprehend the consequences. Proteus provides a rational construction to explore the unknown. Using the new lens of the ten Proteus perspectives, the propensity of threats to the stability and resilience of global culture and societies can be learned.

Proteus Genealogy

In 2003–2004, the Naval Postgraduate School, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Research Council of Canada, the U.S. Army War College and the National Reconnaissance Office formed the Proteus Consortium, a group dedicated to advancing the development and use of advanced “critical thinking” technologies in the assessment of national security intelligence. In the fall of 2004, a first computerized simulation game involving some hundred Canadian and American participants was held very successfully at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C. Proteus (the game and the concept) is the result of modeling and simulation work lead by Professor John Hiles of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. In August 2005 a series of games was held in Maryland to demonstrate the effects of bias for intelligence professionals from a number of agencies.

Protean Media Critical Thinking Game

At the turn of the millennium, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) sponsored a research project called Proteus. Insights into different ways of “seeing” things were unexpected outcomes of this research. These insights were only metaphorically described. At the Naval Postgraduate School Professor John Hiles stretched, pulled, and examined these metaphors, trying to understand their meaning, their use and how they could be thought. He gave them shape, form and meaning and put them in a context that made sense to end users. He developed definitions. Resulting from testing is the Protean Media. The first setting selected for Protean Media is contemporary Iraq. The Protean Media may be adapted to many other settings or subjects of interest.

The Aim
Protean Media is designed to give players a complex dynamic problem world in which they can learn and try out new ways of thinking and making decisions. It is designed to expose real-world complexities and unintended consequences, elicit unconventional solutions, and help decision makers overcome cognitive and other biases.

Some Protean Media Details
Three characteristics distinguish Protean Media from other games and war-games:

1.   Instead of a zero-sum game with a single well defined, overall goal, the world of this war-game may contain as many conflicting, ambiguous, and hidden goals as there are players.

2.  Insights into future requirements for intelligence (taken from the late 90's NRO Project Proteus) have been transformed into forces that guide, focus, and amplify the classical politico-military forces used in the game.

3.  Human facilitators and software combine to weave the multiple perspectives and alternate images of game play into a single narrative that is the subject of after-action review and the explicit take-away for each player.

Proteus Insights and the Protean Media Critical Thinking Game

Examining Future Complexity
Mr. Bill Wimbish — Proteus Project Manager and a Senior Analyst for Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.

Future National Security Challenges
As our Nation continues to deal with the aftermath of 9/11, the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), and subsequent supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has become harshly apparent that we have entered a new age of complexity. Leaders are going back to the drawing board to rethink how we deal and cope with future challenges spawned by the age of knowledge. Technology has enabled our foes to adapt and attack the fabric of our fundamental values, beliefs and foundations which have made our nation the global power it is today. These new age threats have and will continue to be aimed at our vulnerabilities and seams. Using idiosyncratic methods and asymmetric techniques, super empowered groups and individuals are able to hide, adapt, and strike quickly, with precision.

The question for the future is: Have we learned to cope with uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity? In order to holistically analyze our vulnerabilities and identify these threats, we must determine systemic root causes of national security issues, applying solutions and developing strategies that can withstand the long term rigors of a complex interconnected world. We must understand “what is it we want to do and what we do not want to have happen.” But if we can’t repeat patterns, and if outcomes based on constant inputs are not constant, then how can we anticipate or predict what is on the future horizon?

Today the most elusive and complex phenomena is human thought, behavior and interactive social networks within the cognitive domain. We often perceive cognitive thought and resultant human actions to be irrational or illogical. However, what may seem irrational to us may be rational within a different context — a context based on different life experiences, social, cultural and religion norms or ideologies. Can we solve complex future issues based on a constantly spinning Meta Rubik’s Cube of discrete events, related or unrelated actions, and direct or indirect and constantly changing and morphing relationships among human actors across the different domains? The answer is a qualified yes.

Proteus Insights
The qualified yes can only be accomplished if future leaders, decision-makers and analysts within the Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational (JIIM) communities are taught “how” to think about future complexity versus “what” to think. Understanding that there are and will be discrete actors, hidden patterns and complex relationships within and among domains, the coin of the future realm will be the ability to bound, frame and solve problem sets holistically using a set of insights that identify the key characteristics of the environment, complex attributes and actions of actors.

The ten Proteus Insights (PI) developed from the 1999–2000 futures study sponsored by the National Reconnaissance Office provide such a bounding framework. The PIs are more than just catch phrases or buzz words. They provide a doctrinal outline on “how” to think holistically about the future geostrategic environment, its actors, relationships and patterns. The five Proteus “planes of influence,” which closely mirror the information age warfare domains, add additional resolution, but at the same time show the complexity of multiple planes, where actors are influenced or where they influence others. These ten insights point toward a new way of considering actions or unintentional consequences of strategic decisions: either commercial, diplomatic or military. These insights can be used as a set of lenses to view future issues through a different mindset, to consider issues through a different value set, and to think creatively, not traditionally. The PIs are applicable at all levels whether developing national security policy, conducting strategic intelligence or developing military theater security assistance or campaign plans at the operational level using all elements of national power: Diplomatic, Informational, Military and Economic (DIME).

Protean Media
The Protean Media is not a total panacea for gaming or modeling complexity; however, it establishes the foundation for others to build upon. It’s ultimate goal is to develop a “scalable variable wrapper, agent based interactive” experiential education, planning, and implementation game or tool that identifies cascading second and third order effects and unintended consequences in complex environments by incorporating the complex, temporal, and changing effects of human behavior/belief systems and socio-cultural dimensions across the “planes of influence.” To do this we must continue to integrate advances of R&D from gaming theory, human factors analysis, influence, perception, and cognitive modeling, and other complex nonlinear programming efforts to create the ultimate “paradoxal” game.

In 1999, under the U.S.-based Proteus Project, experts from academe and industry, from civil, environmental, and law enforcement agencies and from several U.S. intelligence community organizations were brought together to develop scenarios for “problem space[s]” that the U.S. might face in 2020 and to devise a list of national security objectives for the U.S. in conjunction with those scenarios.

The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office initiated an intriguing project in 1998 called Proteus. It strove to develop truly fresh perspectives on intelligence needs and technologies to fulfil them. It did so using the scenario planning approach of a commercial facilitator, Deloitte Consulting. Focusing out to the year 2020, the project generated nine insights — i.e., fresh lenses different from Cold War themes. These provided new ways to consider (and then plan to address) issues in a changing world. Three workshops involving a range of intelligence professionals and outsiders helped compose five scenarios — characterizations of the world of 2020 to stimulate consideration of issues and solutions. … Follow-on stages aimed to transfer Proteus thinking to other agencies, implement gaming environments, and assess the potential of emerging technologies to contribute to multiple future environments.

An extensive study was conducted for the National Reconnaissance Office in 1999 by Deloitte Consulting (Project Proteus, Draft report, July 1999). While still ongoing, this inductively researched project includes both global and regional scenarios out to the year 2020. The research focuses on four drivers: global issues, U.S. domestic and social issues, economic and commercial issues, and communications and information technology issues. The study also draws implications for the environment, technology, economics, infrastructure, and security.

Proteus — New Insights for a New Age

In 1999, a research team from the NRO engaged in a scenario-based planning activity named Proteus to explore ideas for innovative research projects. The team also developed a set of insights into the future. They considered the insights to be facets of a system of lenses through which one could study the future. These lenses assisted the team in proposing new research directions for the agency. The construct of the Proteus lenses has reemerged as applicable to future planning for not only intelligence, but for military planners, for interagency planners, and for (potentially) private sector planners. …

In the year 1998, a group of intellectuals were brought together by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to spend time and intellectual capital looking at possible future world scenarios, and compiling a group of necessary and important insights into ways of dealing with future national threats and issues. The project took on the name of “Proteus,” looking at insights for and from the year 2020. The resultant book bearing the same name was published by NRO in the year 2000. …

Military operations in the historic American way of warfare are a thing of the past, as potential adversaries readily acknowledge that they are no kinetic match for U.S. forces. Asymmetric warfare and terrorism are the current and emerging realities of warfare, as demonstrated currently in Iraq and in other geographic regions of the world. Wealth, power, teaming relationships, the herd mentality, and the perception of the truth are areas that U.S. planners need to have a better understanding of in order to prepare for current and future endeavors. Perhaps the most important of all insights is that of “Starlight,” the ability to visualize differences in perception from differing points of view. For the U.S. to continue to look at issues through the historic and Cold War set of lenses could be militarily disappointing — not only for future warfare but also for current concerns. We must get past the “hubris” of being the “biggest and baddest,” and look at conflict through the eyes of our opponents, or at least be willing to accept that there are different perceptions of what success in military operations is. Proteus lenses will provide the vehicle for the paradigm shift required to achieve this level of understanding.