Avatar-Based Modeling of Digital Communication in Political Conflicts

Avatar-Based Modeling of Digital Communication in Political Conflicts

Ekaterina Yuryevna Aleshina, Vardan Mkrttchian, Leyla Ayvarovna Gamidullaeva
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1104-6.ch004
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Many of the findings within the data have generated more questions than answers; but in doing so, illuminated several paths of further investigation that may provide greater insights into the complexities of stabilizing troubled states. This chapter then, is a starting point on a journey to discover more effective means to deliver humanitarian and development aid to conflicted societies without doing greater harm in the process. Holland discusses the utility of flight simulators in helping commercial airline pilots experience a variety of scenarios that would be unthinkable to expose passengers to in the real world. The value of the pilot's experience in the simulator depends on how closely the simulator matches the aircraft it models. With even greater numbers of lives and resources at stake, utilizing agent-based modeling as a policy simulator would allow leaders to experiment with numerous response and intervention strategies in a very short period of time.
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Pacification, nation building, stability operations, counterinsurgency operations – these are all various names for the activities a victorious military force finds itself undertaking at the cessation of hostilities. This is especially true of the belligerents in a civil war. The international community steps in in an effort to contain the hostilities and deliver humanitarian aid to the refugee population that is inevitably created by the hostilities. Frequently the outcome of a war cannot truly be known for several years after the guns have fallen silent. Does the defeated state rebuild its capacity for governance and join with its former antagonist in peaceful and mutually prosperous relations or does it descend into the Hobbesian hell of a failed nation state; a pariah to the world community? There have been examples of errors made by victors, such as the Treaty of Versailles, that have set the stage for future conflicts that have lessons applicable to humanitarian interventions initiated by the international community.

Troubled nations pose a complex dilemma for policy makers in international organizations. The humanitarian urge to intervene to relieve suffering is strong but it also has a dark side. The delivery of aid to a distressed population in a troubled nation is never neutral: there are always winners and losers. The difficulty in formulating policy lies in the complexity of these types of scenarios. The cause and effect are frequently widely separated in either time or space. Compounding the complexity are the multiple feedback loops surrounding the problem. It is frequently impossible to determine which feedback loop provided the correct linkage between cause and effect until the scenario has played itself out.

The purpose of this study is to identify behavior patterns for the various entities operating among the population where there are varying degrees of stability operations being conducted and utilize these patterns in creation of behavioral models. Agent-based modeling is derived from complexity science. If complexity cannot be readily defined, some of the behavioral elements can be defined. The behavioral elements derived from the literature review are utilized to create the behavioral rules that the agents, or adaptive actors utilize in the simulations. Avatar- Based modeling utilizes five principles that guide development:

  • 1.

    Simple rules guide agent behavior and can generate complex behaviors;

  • 2.

    There is no single agent that directs the other agents – there is no agent hierarchy;

  • 3.

    Each agent has bounded rationality in that each can only respond to local situations in the environment and other agents in close proximity;

  • 4.

    There is no global rule for agent behavior.

From these principles, agent-based modeling builds a macro social inter- active structure from the interaction of individual units from the bottom-up versus the top-down approach typically taken in typical social science studies (Epstein & Axtell, 1996).

These types of simulations could provide a viable method for assessing risk of various strategic and operational strategies as well as reducing the level of uncertainty associated with counterinsurgency and stability opera- tions. The promise of allowing analysis of patterns of structural emergence and destruction is real and provides an improved adaptive response to the environment (Kiel, 2005). These agent behavioral models are utilized in agent-based modeling simulations to help identify emergent behavioral outcomes of the agents in the population. By varying the level of coordination between the NGOs and the Governmental agents (United Nations Development Pro- gram, USAID, military), different strategies can be identified to increase the effectiveness of those agents and the utilization of resources in the execution of rebuilding a war-torn society. This dissertation uses agent-based modeling to run simulations involving NGO / government coordination policies and their effects during stability / counterinsurgency operations. The goal is to develop a better understanding of whether a high level of coordination between military and NGO activities has a force multiplying effect. Further conditions examined are: Does the level of violence present in the area of operations or the levels of legitimacy for both the indigenous government and/or the insurgency movement, have an impact on the levels of effective- ness – if any – derived from this military-NGO coordination?

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