CAT-22 Call For Collaborators

Situation

During a time of rapid change in the global research and innovation ecosystem, new approaches for research funding, implementation, and communication are desperately required.

The USA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a long history of using catechisms (structured question-and-answer documents) as the basis for innovative research (e.g. the Heilmeier Catechism). From the point of view of a research agency such as DARPA, catechisms enable effective multilateral communication among research funders, managers, practitioners, and other stakeholders. Catechisms provide points of structural alignment among projects so that team-based projects can be compared prospectively, and useful discoveries, technologies, and patterns of successful projects can be elucidated retrospectively. From the point of view of an established or emergent team, catechisms provide alignment on situation, mission, approach, consequences, and logistics of project implementation. 

In the early 2020’s, the epistemic crisis and global context present unprecedented threats for cognitive security of researchers and research communities in academia, government, and beyond. While the modern digital operating context does present many challenges for carrying out high quality research, it also comes along with a powerful set of new affordances and capacities. There's an urgent need for new kinds of tools for sensemaking and managing the relationships among research funding, experimental design, scientific analysis, research communication,  commercialization,  and community education. Some of the relevant technologies include pervasive high-speed internet, audio-visual conferencing,  versionable documents,  interactive notebooks,  graphical rendering tool kits, advances in cyber-physical security, and  action-oriented organizational design frameworks such as those of Active Inference and Systems Engineering (Vyatkin et al. 2020).

Cognitive Security and Education Forum (COGSEC, https://www.cogsec.org/) is a civilian-organized effort formed in response to the testimony of Rand Waltzman in 2017 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, entitled “The Weaponization of Information: The Need for Cognitive Security”. During 2019, 2020, and 2021, COGSEC has pursued a catechism-based research agenda and process. A historical perspective on high-reliability operations lead to the development of a novel catechism format, the Facilitator’s Catechism (FC) was produced during COGSEC’s 2020 initiative (Cordes and Friedman 2020, FC Playbook, FC Github repo). Also included in this initiative, was a modification of the FC tuned towards entrepreneurial settings called the Innovator’s Catechism (Cordes, Friedman, and Phelan 2020, Innovator's Digital Playbook 2021) demonstrating the capacity of the catechism format itself to be modified into disciplinary and applied contexts. 

Catechism-based research for emergent or instantaneous remote teams presents an actionable and scalable framework for modern collaboration, consistent with values of rigor, accessibility, inclusion, and participation.

Mission

To advance and extend the “catechism paradigm”, used within DARPA and elsewhere, through the production of research and tools that improve information sharing among research-oriented organizations of all kinds.

Approach

In 2022, the primary COGSEC initiative will be “Catechisms for Open Source Science Integration” (CAT-22), building upon the research in prior years. In CAT-22, COGSEC and collaborators will explore applied research and the scalability of the project catechism approach and the development of tools related to their implementation.

Additionally, COGSEC will continue the 2021 NIM initiative by integrating its research interests and objectives in collaborations with the Verified Information Exchange Environment (VIE) Program being conducted by the University of Washington Applied Physics Lab’s Information Risk and Synthetic Intelligence Research Initiative (IRSIRI). IRSIRI, as a part of its participation in the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Convergence Accelerator, is hosting an experimental, crowd-sourced research program which frames the global information environment as a market for information in need of exchange protocols and local standards setting in order to de-risk, reduce volatility, and increase trust in digital information transactions. The program aims to create the conceptual foundation for an exchange-house, or verified information exchange environment (VIE), which would increase trust in digital information exchanges through the use of an eclectic ensemble of information sharing, curation, and research tools.  

This integration will allow us to further test and refine the catechism methodology with a much larger number of collaborators, to continue to facilitate research on NIM and adjacent areas, and to pursue COGSEC’s mission of influencing the development of tools. COGSEC will next seek out partnerships with other organizations which may benefit from the methodology being integrated into funding, work, and reporting processes, and look to develop tools which help facilitate adoption and implementation. 

Administration, Logistics, and Communication

We are actively seeking collaborators across a wide range of areas related to both CAT-22 and NIM. Given our focus on interdisciplinary research, please do not hesitate to respond to calls for collaboration or to reach out if you are interested in contributing to solutions but are not necessarily specialized in what may be assumed to be related domains.

Please see the VIE program for more information on contributing to research on NIM and influencing the development of information sharing tools.

Please see our contact page for updated information on participation in CAT-22 or any other COGSEC initiative.

We also offer our collaboration or consultation on any area where our perspectives and efforts might contribute toward broader goals of research ecosystem integration.

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