Gamifying the Search for Strategic Surprise
Dr. John Main will present DARPA’s gamification efforts at the ARIT 2017, seeking to engage with Austria’s scientific and innovation diaspora in Austin, Texas. The article below was initially published by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
National security challenges today are increasingly complex and multi-dimensional, demanding technological solutions that reflect the combined expertise of a broad diversity of professionals. But even when such experts are available and engaged, progress towards an integrated solution can be slowed by the lack of a versatile, domain-agnostic, collaborative platform, where innovation can happen not just despite but because of the disparate mix of participants’ perspectives and experiences.
To overcome this hurdle and accelerate the interactive ideation that can reveal novel pathways to advanced technologies, DARPA is launching a new program called Gamifying the Search for Strategic Surprise (GS3). The program aims to apply a unique combination of online game and social media technologies and techniques to engage a large number of experts and deep thinkers in a shared analytic process to rapidly identify, understand, and expand upon the potential implications and applications of emerging science and technology. The program will also develop a mechanism to identify and quickly fund research opportunities that emerge from this collaborative process.
As a first step, GS3 will support the creation of a new gaming platform designed to serve as a digital crucible where ideas and insights from a wide range of disciplines can be iterated upon by individuals and teams with equally diverse backgrounds and expertise. After a period of development and testing by an inaugural group of invited players, the platform will be opened to the public to attack a variety of problems relevant to DARPA’s mission of preventing technological surprise. Ultimately the Agency intends to fund some of the ideas that emerge.
“To succeed, DARPA must always have one foot in the future, and assessing emerging science and technology is part of that process,” said John Main, a program manager in DARPA's Defense Sciences Office. “With GS3 we hope to accomplish this analysis, including the exploratory stages of research and development, substantially faster and better by creating a dynamic environment where insights from a variety of individuals can reveal unexpected opportunities.”
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
John Main is a Program Manager in the Defense Sciences Office at DARPA where he is responsible for initiating new programs in the physical sciences and fostering the R&D communities that will support those programs. Main has previously worked at technology startup Intific Inc., initially as an Executive Producer. He was an Assistant
Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky where he started research laboratories devoted to precision control of adaptive optical systems. He founded Precision Systems and Instrumentation LLC in 2001. Main received his Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics from Western Kentucky University.