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Multi-Agent Network Theory of Connective Action

PI: Neil Johnson, George Washington University

year selected for award: 2020

Total War: Multi-Agent Network Theory of Connective Action in a Cross-Domain Coupled World

Principal Investigator: Neil Johnson, The George Washington University

Co-Investigators: Yonatan Lupu and David Broniatowski, The George Washington University

Years of Award: 2020-2023

Managing Service Agency: Air Force Office of Scientific Research 

Project Description:
This cross-disciplinary project provides an integrated framework for describing future Total War that (1) quantifies the dynamics and tipping points across multiple societal domains, e.g. coupling between terrorism, extremism, nationalism, ongoing and/or emerging insurgencies and shocks or crises in the political, commercial, financial market and public health worlds; (2) embraces the new reality of a hybrid online-offline battlefield glued together by a globally connective social media that crosses countries, continents, languages and cultures, that attracts increasingly younger generations of potential anti-U.S. actors, and whose instantaneous, connective action-at-a-distance couplings lie beyond the control of any single platform (e.g. Facebook), or country, or military alliance (e.g. NATO); (3) is scalable and yet also realistic; (4) is grounded in rigorous scientific concepts that describe the collective dynamics of interacting populations, e.g. approximate self-similar scaling and renormalization; (5) is consistent with the empirical statistical characteristics of system-level data for each domain; (6) provides insight into key mechanisms driving the evolution; (7) can be used by DoD and national security stakeholders for what-if scenarios to assess quantitative impacts of real-world events, policies or interventions; (8) moves beyond the limitations of existing case studies, sampling, and single platform analyses (e.g. Twitter); (9) avoids completely the rising ethical and legal issues that face existing studies that rely on accessing individual information online; (10) draws together key published results from the team’s prior DoD, IARPA, NSF and NIH projects.