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 International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS2007)

Disrupting Terrorist Networks - A Dynamic Fitness Landscape Approach

Phil Fellman
Southern New Hampshire University

Jonathan Clemens
Intel Corporation

Roxana Wright
Keene State College, Southern New Hampshire University

Jonathan Post
Computer Futures, Inc.

Matthew Dadmun
Southern New Hampshire University

     Full text: PDF
     Last modified: August 12, 2007

Over a period of approximately five years, Pankaj Ghemawat of Harvard Business School and Daniel Levinthal of the Wharton School have been working on a detailed simulation (producing approximately a million fitness landscape graphs) in order to determine optimal patterns of decision-making for corporations. In 2006, we adapted this study, combining it with our own work on terrorism to examine what would happen if we inverted Ghemawat and Levinthal's findings and sought to provide disinformation or otherwise interfere with the communications and decision processes of terrorist organizations in order to optimize poor decision making and inefficiencies in organizational coordination, command and control.
The bulk of this study was then presented at the annual meeting of the North American Association for Computation in the Social and Organizational Sciences. We present here an updated version of that study, emphasizing the rather counter-intuitive finding that "soft" targets have almost no value and that unless one can influence key factors, an effort directed at the easy to reach elements of terrorist organizations may actually be worse than mounting no effort at all. We conclude with the recommendation that some fundamental rethinking may be required if the United States is to effectively defend itself from future terrorist attacks.

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