The social sciences can play important roles in assisting military planners and decision-makers who are trying to understand complex human social behaviors and systems, potentially facilitating a wide range of missions including humanitarian, stability, and counter-insurgency operations. Current social science approaches to studying behavior rely on a variety of modeling methods—both qualitative and quantitative—which seek to make inferences about the causes of social phenomena on the basis of observations in the real-world. Yet little is known about how accurate these methods and models really are, let alone whether the connections they observe and predict are truly matters of cause and effect or mere correlations.
The Ground Truth (GT) program aims to improve knowledge of social science modeling’s capabilities and limitations. The purpose of the program is to use artificial, yet plausible, computer-based social-system simulations with built-in “ground truth” causal rules as testbeds to validate the accuracy of various social science modeling methods (i.e. the teams creating the simulations know the rules, but the teams creating the models don’t). A further goal of the program is to use a series of Ground Truth challenges to explore new multi-disciplinary teaming approaches for enabling rapid “solution-oriented” social science modeling capabilities.
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