Quantitative & Qualitative Collide to Solve MDA

Solutions to complex problems such as Maritime Domain Awareness are best approached with a combination of creativity and quantification.  Harvard Business Review’s article Learning to Live with Complexity (SEP 2011) suggests that in attaining better risk mitigation of complex systems in the business venue, four elements make sense.  These include storytelling and triangulation – which is a powerful combination of what they refer to as combining “soft” and “hard” approaches.

Storytelling and counter-factuals are visualizing potential shock events and sharing anecdotes of “near-misses” respectively.  This aspect of mitigation is relevant to capturing the risk that is “unlikely but potentially catastrophic.”  This dream weaving and arm chair quarterbacking is creative and interpretive.

Triangulation then reigns in the infinite array of possibilities that can be woven.  Triangulation asserts varying methodologies and perspectives through technical or algorithmic lenses.

This risk mitigation concept marries well with game theory and its application to military strategy.  The numerous elements at play in a given situation are mapped out and given weighted probabilities.  Decision making is then aided with rigorous calculations to provide substance to consequence engagement.  

To that extent another methodology derived in 2007 that could be utilized is computer generated fiction.  Computer software is fed scenario elements and probabilities.  The fiction novel then crafts original stories based on computerized representations of emotions and tensions between characters.

The premise then in looking for solutions to Maritime Domain Awareness is creating the elements that derive the “characters” and “emotions” of the maritime domain and then quantitatively weighing them.  This  which is within the cognitive ability of the individual players and then applying these types of algorithms to triangulate the unlimited potential into strategic plans or comprehensive courses of action.

To further address the challenge of identifying the “dark” vessels of Maritime Domain Awareness then lies with citizen science and crowd sourcing to feed random and specific data points to these lines of possibility.  The data points then twist the algorithms to fit real time events.

Because MDA is not an isolated issues but one shared with the world’s maritime forces, using the ISS as the forum for storytelling and counter-factual collection is an opportunity integral to solving the “dark vessel” gaps.