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“Science court”-style software from the CIA

Longtime Foresight supporter John Gilmore writes: “I noticed a story that reminded me of something Foresight wanted to encourage in society.  Wired reports that the CIA uses decision analysis software ‘Analysis of Competing Hypotheses’, and has funded a rewritten version for shared networked analysis by many people.  But the gov’t contractors got into a hassle over who owned the code, so its developer is dumping it out into the open source world:

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/cia-software-developer-goes-open-source-instead/

http://www.competinghypotheses.org

“It’s not *quite* released yet, but in theory it will show up there.

“Here’s how the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses process works:

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/psychology-of-intelligence-analysis/art11.html

Analysis of competing hypotheses, sometimes abbreviated ACH, is a tool to aid judgment on important issues requiring careful weighing of alternative explanations or conclusions. It helps an analyst overcome, or at least minimize, some of the cognitive limitations that make prescient intelligence analysis so difficult to achieve.

ACH is an eight-step procedure grounded in basic insights from cognitive psychology, decision analysis, and the scientific method. It is a surprisingly effective, proven process that helps analysts avoid common analytic pitfalls. Because of its thoroughness, it is particularly appropriate for controversial issues when analysts want to leave an audit trail to show what they considered and how they arrived at their judgment.

“This reminded me of the ‘science court’ process that Eric [Drexler] described decades ago in Engines of Creation.  It sounds like it may have found an institutional home in the CIA and may be able to break out into broader society.”

Thanks for this, John.  We’ll watch it with interest!  —Chris Peterson

2 Responses to ““Science court”-style software from the CIA”

  1. TimS Says:

    Very interesting… here’s hoping we can get our hands on it at some point. Though I have to say it sounds more like a methodology of spreadsheet use than anything really ‘software-based’.

  2. Ruthann Pintor Says:

    Great thoughts on technology. Excited to have located your site and add it to my reader. Cheers!

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