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CHIPS Articles: Gamifying the Search for Strategic Surprise

Gamifying the Search for Strategic Surprise
DARPA to link global experts from varied disciplines via gaming platform to speed the application of emerging science and technology
By DARPA News - December 2, 2016
National security challenges today are increasingly complex and multi-dimensional, demanding technological solutions that reflect the combined expertise of a broad diversity of professionals. But even when such experts are available and engaged, progress towards an integrated solution can be slowed by the lack of a versatile, domain-agnostic, collaborative platform, where innovation can happen not just despite but because of the disparate mix of participants’ perspectives and experiences.

To overcome this hurdle and accelerate the interactive ideation that can reveal novel pathways to advanced technologies, DARPA is launching a new program called Gamifying the Search for Strategic Surprise (GS3). The program aims to apply a unique combination of online game and social media technologies and techniques to engage a large number of experts and deep thinkers in a shared analytic process to rapidly identify, understand, and expand upon the potential implications and applications of emerging science and technology. The program will also develop a mechanism to identify and quickly fund research opportunities that emerge from this collaborative process.

As a first step, GS3 will support the creation of a new gaming platform designed to serve as a digital crucible where ideas and insights from a wide range of disciplines can be iterated upon by individuals and teams with equally diverse backgrounds and expertise. After a period of development and testing by an inaugural group of invited players, the platform will be opened to the public to attack a variety of problems relevant to DARPA’s mission of preventing technological surprise. Ultimately the Agency intends to fund some of the ideas that emerge.

“To succeed, DARPA must always have one foot in the future, and assessing emerging science and technology is part of that process,” said John Main, a program manager in DARPA's Defense Sciences Office. “With GS3 we hope to accomplish this analysis, including the exploratory stages of research and development, substantially faster and better by creating a dynamic environment where insights from a variety of individuals can reveal unexpected opportunities.”

DARPA is initially seeking proposals to design a novel online platform that would incorporate gamification strategies for this new purpose. A Special Notice soliciting proposals to create that online environment was published today on FedBizOpps: http://go.usa.gov/x8QcE.

Image courtesy of DARPA.
Image courtesy of DARPA.
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