Abstract: Wargames are increasingly being developed and applied to address both the military and policy aspects of nuclear weapons strategy, particularly in light of multi-domain conflict. Evaluation of how strategic decisions are made that can impact escalation from hybrid (gray zone) and conventional warfighting to nuclear conflict is critically important for understanding how military and political leaders regard nuclear weapons for deterrence and international security. These methods have also been applied beyond the military realm, to examine phenomena as varied as elections, government policy, international trade, and supply-chain mechanics. Today, a renewed focus on wargaming combined with access to sophisticated and inexpensive drag-and- drop digital game development frameworks and new cloud computing architectures have democratized the ability to enable multiplayer gaming experiences. With the integration of simulation tools and experimental methods from a variety of social science disciplines, a science-based experimental gaming approach has the potential to transform the insights generated from gaming by creating human-derived, large-n datasets for replicable, quantitative analysis.
In this talk, we will describe our efforts in building the experimental wargaming framework SIGNAL, in which players, who take on the role of a hypothetical country’s senior military/political leadership, cooperate with or compete against the other players in a virtual world to optimize their infrastructure and resources while avoiding loss of home territory to conventional militarized invasions or nuclear war. SIGNAL comes in three forms: a seminar-based game, a board game, and an online game. We will describe our results exploring the impact of nuclear weapons with tailored effects on deterrence during conflict escalation, based on several hundred online game playthroughs.
Biography: Dr. Kiran Lakkaraju is a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, California in the Systems Research & Analysis III group. Kiran is a computer scientist that focuses on studying problems of national interest using data-driven methods. He uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, modeling & simulation, online experiments, and wargaming to study topics spanning consumer purchasing decisions, language and (dis)information diffusion, attitude change, cybersecurity and deterrence. Kiran has a background in artificial intelligence, multi-agent systems and computational social science. He holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Biography: Dr. Andrew Reddie is senior member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories and an Assistant Professor of Practice in Cybersecurity at UC Berkeley’s School of Information where he works on projects related to cybersecurity, nuclear weapons policy, wargaming, and emerging military technologies. His work has appeared in Science, the Journal of Cyber Policy, and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists among other outlets and has been variously supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, MacArthur Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Science and Security Consortium.
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