Army, IARPA release REASON BAA

On March 20, the U.S. ARMY RESEARCH OFFICE In partnership with the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) released the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Rapid Explanation, Analysis and Sourcing Online (REASON)Program. Responses are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern on May 8.

The REASON Program aims to develop technology that will enable intelligence analysts to substantially increase the quality of argumentation in their analytic reports through more effective use of evidence and reasoning. In the context of an analytic report, evidence is information that supports or opposes a judgment, while reasoning is the stated justification for the judgment. Furthermore, strong reasoning is reasoning that logically substantiates the judgments while weak reasoning is reasoning that either fails to substantiate the judgments or contains logical flaws.  The technology developed by the REASON Program will automatically produce comments (feedback and recommendations) on a draft report, highlighting additional relevant evidence, and identify strengths and weaknesses in the draft’s reasoning. Analysts can use the comments to improve their reports.

Argumentation is central to the Intelligence Community (IC) Analytic Standards, which are listed in Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203.  The standards are intended to guide IC analysis and analytic production. The Analytic Tradecraft Standards focus on several aspects of evidence and reasoning, including sourcing, explaining uncertainty, distinguishing between underlying information and assumptions, and logical argumentation. Because evidence and reasoning are crucial components of every analytic report, REASON will have broader application than previous research efforts aimed at helping the IC make accurate forecasts.

Currently, intelligence analysts are encouraged to use structured analytic techniques to boost the quality of argumentation in their reports.  Many of these methods require substantial additional quantities of analysts’ time and are therefore not widely used. As contrasted with current applications of structured analytic techniques, REASON technology will automatically produce comments with no additional effort from analysts, who can use any comments they find valuable.

Some of these comments might be based on the automated application of effective structured analytic techniques, along with additional innovations.

By making specific comments on draft analytic reports, REASON technology will fit into the existing intelligence analysts’ workflow. The comments will be analogous to those made by automated spelling and grammar checks, except that REASON’s comments will focus on improving argumentation instead of writing.

Review the full REASON BAA.

Source: SAM

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