This report is a compendium of expert insights regarding opportunities for investing in science and technology to increase U.S. ability to engage in long-term competition in undergoverned spaces. This exploration marks an initial step toward developing a functional perspective on determining whether new approaches to strategy and engagement are warranted, and what the implications of those steps might be.
Adaptive Engagement for Undergoverned Spaces
Concepts, Challenges, and Prospects for New Approaches
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- What are UGS?
- Why should the United States engage in UGS?
- How can engagement be done more effectively?
In this report, several authors explore the concept of undergoverned spaces (UGS) and the concepts, challenges, and prospects for developing new approaches to long-term competition in open-ended or infinite games within the context of UGS. This exploration marks an initial step toward developing a functional perspective on determining whether new approaches to strategy and engagement are warranted, and what the implications of those steps might be regarding the actions considered, the rationale for choosing among those actions, and the ways that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and National Security Enterprise (NSE) organize to perform them.
This report is divided into four parts, each presenting different perspectives on the challenges posed by UGS and the opportunities to improve how the United States competes within them.
- There are many approaches to describing and understanding UGS.
- UGS will remain a strategic challenge regardless of whether U.S. national strategy emphasizes great power competition, the promotion and expansion of international governance institutions, the countering of extremist violent groups, or other objectives.
- UGS challenge the decisionmaking processes of DoD and the NSE, and effective engagement will require greater emphasis on being adaptive regarding how decisions are made, who participates in making them, and how policy and operations are executed in complex, open-ended competition.
- Long-term competition will require new concepts and approaches that improve the integration of research, analysis, operations, and strategy.
- Investments in the social sciences are crucial to better competing in and understanding UGS.
- UGS will require new tools and rationales for policymaking that pay explicit attention to uncertainty and seek robustness and adaptiveness as a means for coping with it.
- Artificial intelligence will be important but will have a limited impact on strategic decisionmaking and planning in UGS because of their open-endedness.
- Research and analysis to support UGS will need more-robust infrastructure and organizations that can continue to accumulate knowledge and support the development of technologies as policy organizations adapt their structures, goals, and operations at a faster pace.
Table of Contents
Perspectives on Undergoverned Spaces
Undergoverned Spaces: Problems and Prospects for a Working Definition
Undergoverned Spaces and the Challenges of Complex Infinite Competition
Perspectives on State Governance, Undergovernance, and Alternative Governance
Adaptation, Complexity, and Long-Term Competition in UGS: Perspectives from Policymakers and Technologists
Building Strategies for Long-Term Competition: Infinite Games and Adaptive Planning
(Social) Science Investments for Undergoverned Spaces
Science and Technology Planning for the Future — Operating in Three Realms
The Need to Invest in Social Science Infrastructure to Address Emerging Crises
Why Reasoning Under Uncertainty Is Hard for Both Machines and People — and an Approach to Address the Problem
Supporting Long-Term Planning in the Face of Uncertainty and Change
Designing a Robust Decision–Based National Security Policy Process: Strategic Choices for Uncertain Times
Toward an Analytic Architecture to Aid Adaptive Strategy for Competing in Undergoverned Spaces
Multi-Stakeholder Research and Analysis for Collective Action in Undergoverned Spaces
Centering Decisions in Analysis for Adaptation and Competition
Using Technology to Improve the Agility of Force Generation Processes
Authentically Describing and Forecasting Human Behavior for Policy Analysis: A Review and a Path Forward
Short-Term Opportunities, Medium-Run Bottlenecks, and Long-Time Barriers to Progress in the Evolution of an Agent-Based Social Science
Difficulties in Analyzing Strategic Interaction: Quantifying Complexity
Evolving Security: Societal Immunity and Competing Demons or Cooperating Angels
Gaming Undergoverned Spaces: Emerging Approaches for Complex National Security Policy Problems
Research conducted by
This research was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).
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