"The Swarm Project" - New Research Grant
Tim and Richard are Principal Investigators in a research team based at the University of Melbourne which has secured substantial funding from the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a new platform for crowdsourcing intelligence analysis. The CREATE research program is set up as a kind of tournament very much like a previous program which focused on forecasting (see Superforecasting). Our approach is called Swarm, for Smartly-assembled Wiki-style Argument Marshalling. (Read an overview.) It builds on our previous experience not only with our core speciality, argument mapping, but also with the YourView platform, which was mentioned in previous newsletters. This will be keeping us very busy for a number of years, starting early 2017.
The Essentials Suite
Meanwhile we have teamed up with the University of Melbourne's Centre for Economic and Environmental Research (a new branch of the Centre for Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis) to offer a range of workshops for organisations grappling with complex challenges. The workshops cover structured reasoning, risk analysis, decision making, resource allocation, and expert elicitation. For more information download the Essentials Suite brochure (PDF, 3MB).
Another email to follow shortly will provide more information about these workshops.
New Online Course - The Structure of Reasoning
We have also started developing online courses. First cab off the rank is The Structure of Reasoning, which covers "what everybody should know about how reasoning is put together." The course can be used either as a complement to our workshops in this area, or in a wholly stand-alone, online mode. The course is work-in-progress, but it is ready for early adopters.
What do the experts think?
Much of our work these days is in "expert elicitation" - that is, obtaining and pooling the judgements of experts on difficult issues, in order to obtain the best possible collective view. For example, we have been assisting Defence estimate the expected "attrition" or loss rate for a fleet of aircraft which Defence may be acquiring, which for security reasons we call the Skua. This work is described in a new publication with the dry title Augmenting Expert Elicitation with Structured Visual Deliberation (free download).
How to Change Minds
Finally, our usual thinking-related closing note: On the link-sharing website Reddit there is a section called Change My View, where people put forward their sincerely-held position on some issue and invite respondents to try to... change their view. The activity in this section has been intensively analysed, and some interested results are emerging - as discussed in this excellent You Are Not So Smart podcast. Some takeaways: if you are going to try persuade using arguments, use succint bullet points, not long-winded disquisitions; and if they're still unpersuaded after five attempts, give up.