The Convergence - An Army Mad Scientist Podcast

The Convergence is an Army Mad Scientist podcast with a distinct focus on divergent viewpoints, a c ... more

Latest Episodes

19

September 17, 2020 00:41:22
19. The Psychology of Terrorism and Disinformation with Dr. Aleks Nesic

19. The Psychology of Terrorism and Disinformation with Dr. Aleks Nesic

In today’s podcast, Dr. Nesic discusses how humans remain at the center of great power competition — “everything else are simply mechanisms being used to influence the human element” — and how we must understand the human domain and synchronize social science in the non-kinetic, non-lethal space if we are to successfully out-compete our adversaries: The Global War on Terror (GWOT) is far from over.  In the hybrid / asymmetric space, anything can be an instrument of war. We have to be realistic and understand the human element, which we do not yet fully grasp or comprehend. We tend to look at technology as a problem, not at the people using the technology [with evil intent] as the problem. Advances in technology have allowed our adversaries to become disruptive anytime, anywhere. The so-called ‘technological disruption’ should be accepted as the new status quo, as a modus operandi, and no longer be viewed as something extraordinary. Anthropology describes, but does not explain, the cultural lenses in the way that psychology does. Understanding the “why” of how people and groups act is important for operationalizing influence. How do populations change over time? Look at the brain, the most complex organ that is still not fully understood. The brain is wired for resilience and trained for adaptation. We need to invest in the brains of our target audiences and use knowledge to build resilience against our adversaries’ bad influences. ...

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18

September 03, 2020 00:33:18
18. The Art of the Future with Dr. Claire Nelson

18. The Art of the Future with Dr. Claire Nelson

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Dr. Claire Nelson, the Founder and President of the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS). Per Forbes, Dr. Nelson “is a strategic thinker, change agent, keynote speaker and innovator,” and is listed among that publication’s 50 Leading Female Futurists. Dr. Nelson is also Ideation Leader of The Futures Forum and Sagient Futures LLC, which provides strategic foresight and development futures consulting. She is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the World Futures Review and The Journal of Futures Studies, and is an emerging voice as a Black Futurist. In today’s podcast, Dr. Nelson discusses a smart futures approach to forecasting, technologies and science in small island nations, and positive impacts on the future: Everything is a system. National challenges can be viewed from a systems approach by breaking them down to the sum of the parts and then adding them back up. You have to pick the right tool for the problem you are trying to solve. Future technology is often presented as utopian. But we need to filter that idea through the smart futures lens. What happens when the technology fails, is compromised, or hacked? There must be forethought about the legal and ethical systems and processes. All of these aspects must be part of the framework. Our brains oftentimes can’t negotiate many and varying opposing forces as mathematical equations. But if we translate engineering and mathematical concepts into a story, our minds can more readily assimilate, accept, and understand these complex concepts. Similarly, if we break complex and interconnected systems of systems down into characters in a story, we’re better able to connect with ...

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17

August 20, 2020 00:36:26
17. Bias, Behavior, and Baseball with Keith Law

17. Bias, Behavior, and Baseball with Keith Law

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Keith Law, Senior Baseball Writer at The Athletic, which he joined in January 2020 after spending thirteen and a half years at ESPN. Before joining ESPN.com in June 2006, Keith spent just over four years as the Special Assistant to the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, and prior to that had written for Baseball Prospectus. Keith Law is the author of Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball, published in April 2017; and The Inside Game: Bad Calls, Strange Moves, and What Baseball Behavior Teaches Us About Ourselves, published in April of this year. In today’s podcast, Keith Law discusses the parallels between baseball and the Information Environment, how stats skew our thinking, and the implications of anchoring bias: The brain develops cognitive biases to manage extensive information. These biases lead information consumers to draw false conclusions and ignore conflicting data. Anchoring bias occurs when the brain latches onto the first piece of information, even if it is irrelevant to what you are working on. Creating radical change in a large, traditional organization, like the Army or a sports team, is best done through an individualized grassroots effort. Radical change, especially from people new to the organization, does not usually “win hearts and minds.” Information environments are full of persistent yet harmful beliefs. These need to be addressed, as those with these beliefs are often more aggressive about promoting their viewpoints. “Credibly foolish beliefs” benefit from a "first mover" advantage. These irrational narratives are rarely challenged by ...

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16

August 06, 2020 00:25:22
16. Political Tribalism and Cultural Disinformation with Samantha North

16. Political Tribalism and Cultural Disinformation with Samantha North

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Samantha North, cyber investigator and consultant, who is completing her final year of a PhD in computational social science at the University of Bath. Ms. North’s research focuses on understanding the drivers of tribalism in online political behavior, using data science methods to analyze large data sets and behavioral psychology theory to guide the interpretation. She also explores the factors that make social media users more susceptible to disinformation. Her objective is to understand what drives tribalism in online political behavior, using a mix of data science and behavioral psychology. In today’s podcast, Samantha North discusses political tribalism online and our susceptibility to disinformation: People divide themselves into groups based on their similarities. Loyalties to these tribes increases self-esteem, and requires the designation and mistreatment of an outgroup. Disinformation targets these tribal divisions and attempts to amplify them.  Despite the rise of fact-checking and counter-disinformation efforts, disinformation is still extremely effective, exposing the ease with which adversaries can exploit human cognitive biases.  Disinformation tactics mirror digital marketing strategies. Thus, marketers and psychologists will be essential to understanding and combatting disinformation.  Conspiracy theories, like those created in local, private Facebook groups, pose a bigger dangerthan individual fake news stories, as they create real-world grassroots action.  Incentives for social media platforms to regulate disinformation based on tribalism are growing, especially as these trends are contributing to real-world actions.  The future of disinformationwill probably include rises in “disinformation for money,” deepfakes, and malinformation (true information manipulated for nefarious or misdirecting purposes).  The DoD and campaigns to counter political tribalism cannot only fixate on foreign actors because there are homegrown groups also looking to inflame divisions. There must also be more of a focus on how conspiracy theories form over time, especially ...

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15

July 23, 2020 00:23:41
15. U.K. Fight Club: Gaming the Future Army with LTC Arnel David and Major Aaron Moore

15. U.K. Fight Club: Gaming the Future Army with LTC Arnel David and Major Aaron Moore

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with guest bloggers LTC Arnel David, U.S. Army, and Major Aaron Moore, British Army, who recently penned Fight Club Prepares Lt Col Maddie Novák for Cross-Dimension Manoeuvre — describing the nascent revolution in Professional Military Education (PME) wrought by the convergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital assistants, gaming, and Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR). Using storytelling and backcasting, LTC David and Maj Moore vividly described how Leaders will seek out and leverage these technologies to hone their warfighting skills across all dimensions, enabling them to “think, fight, learn, repeat” and enhance their versatility as innovators on the battlefield. In today’s podcast, LTC David and Major Moore further discuss the convergence of technology and wargaming that resulted in Fight Club and how it is transforming Leader development:  Fight Club designs realistic wargames to remove hierarchies and encourage players to attempt innovative solutions, while also creating a safe environment to fail repeatedly and learn from mistakes. These games replicate expensive training through a virtual setting, and harness younger generations’ aptitude for technology and virtual networking. The virtual setting also allows Fight Club to better connect players of different backgrounds, making the gaming more available and accessible. The DoD should implement more gaming in training. Wargaming can be effective in more frequent, smaller-scale games to increase Service members’ exposure to these types of decision making. Wargaming helps the Army and its international partners increase interoperability without having to run large-scale, time-compressed exercises. Gaming will allow the military to push innovation and will continue to attract younger generations who thrive in interactive environments. The competitive nature of gaming can inspire action and push people to develop ...

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14

July 09, 2020 00:28:44
14. The Next Iteration of Warfare with Lisa Kaplan

14. The Next Iteration of Warfare with Lisa Kaplan

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Lisa Kaplan, who founded Alethea Group to help organizations navigate the new digital reality and protect themselves against disinformation. Ms. Kaplan served as digital director for Senator Angus King’s 2018 campaign, where she designed and executed a strategy to identify, understand, and respond to disinformation. She is one of the few people who has firsthand experience combating disinformation on the campaign trail. Ms. Kaplan has also briefed US, NATO, EU, and G-7 policy makers and officials on disinformation. Previously, she consulted with PwC for the U.S. State Department, and served as a U.S. Senate aide. In this episode, we talk with Ms. Kaplan about weaponized information as a national security problem, algorithmic silos created by social media, and disinformation as the next iteration of warfare. Some of the highlights from our interview include the following: Disinformation is a national security problem manifesting itself in politics. Open source information can be leveraged to create effective digital strategies to counter this rapidly-proliferating threat. Social media algorithms create algorithmic silos: personal echo chambers that create individual realities for users. This method of platform retention is creating more polarized information spaces. Algorithms will continue to get stronger over time, increasing the impact of this problem. Disinformation will become the next iteration of warfare, as it is comparatively inexpensive and easy to use. Bad actors can leverage algorithmic silos to target their disinformation to vulnerable populations. As a result, the government should identify vulnerable populations and develop support plans. The proliferation of fringe and conspiracy media outlets will make it difficult to know which information to trust. We should begin examining the long term impacts for ...

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