DARPA aims to scale social science research

DARPA aims to scale social science research

Today’s wired world could give social science researchers a petri dish of epic proportions. Tapping into massive communities of gamers or students could provide a platform to study human behaviors at a previously unreachable scale.

To begin to assess the research opportunities provided by such web-connected communities, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched its Next Generation Social Science (NGS2) program that aims to build tools and methods for rigorous, reproducible social science studies.

Social science research, the agency said, has traditionally been bound to experiments involving only a few dozen participants, usually university student volunteers, or extrapolating smaller study datasets into larger ones.The reach and depth of huge massively multiplayer online gaming and massive online open course platforms could that dynamic. Using new tools that can tap those sprawling environments, DARPA believes thousands of people online can be engaged to tap unexplored ranges of topics.

The new applications could take on age-old social science challenges, including identifying primary drivers of social cooperation, instability and resilience with benefits for national security, public health and economics.

DARPA said NGS2 will initially fund researchers for three core social science capabilities: predictive modeling and hypothesis generation, innovative experimental methods and platforms, and interpretation and reproducibility of research results.

Additionally, the agency said the program will draw from publicly available data, as well as from results from other gaming platform research done with user consent.

The proposers day will be held on March 22, 2016, in Arlington, Va. Click here to read the solicitation.

This article originally appeared on FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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