269. The Convergence: The Psychology of Terrorism and Disinformation with Dr. Aleks Nesic

[Editor’s Note: Mad Scientist Laboratory is pleased to announce our latest episode of “The Convergence” podcast, featuring Dr. Aleksandra Nesic, co-founder of Valka-Mir and Visiting Faculty for both the Countering Violent Extremism and Countering Terrorism Fellowship Program at the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), USSOCOM, and the U.S. Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School.  Please note that this podcast and several of the embedded links below are best accessed via a non-DoD network due to network priorities for teleworking — Enjoy!]

In today’s podcast, Dr. Nesic discusses how humans remain at the center of great power competition — “everything else are simply mechanisms being used to influence the human element” — and how we must understand the human domain and synchronize social science in the non-kinetic, non-lethal space if we are to successfully out-compete our adversaries:

      • The Global War on Terror (GWOT) is far from over.  In the hybrid / asymmetric space, anything can be an instrument of war. We have to be realistic and understand the human element, which we do not yet fully grasp or comprehend.
      • We tend to look at technology as a problem, not at the people using the technology [with evil intent] as the problem. Advances in technology have allowed our adversaries to become disruptive anytime, anywhere. The so-called ‘technological disruption’ should be accepted as the new status quo, as a modus operandi, and no longer be viewed as something extraordinary.
      • Anthropology describes, but does not explain, the cultural lenses in the way that psychology does. Understanding the “why” of how people and groups act is important for operationalizing influence.
      • How do populations change over time? Look at the brain, the most complex organ that is still not fully understood. The brain is wired for resilience and trained for adaptation. We need to invest in the brains of our target audiences and use knowledge to build resilience against our adversaries’ bad influences.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next podcast with Dr. Amy Zalman, discussing approaches to forecasting and strategic foresight, paradigm shifts in thinking, and the nature versus the character of warfare, on 1 October 2020!

If you enjoyed this post, check out the following blog posts, co-authored by Dr. Nesic:

Psychological Warfare in the Human Domain: Mixing AI-Powered Technology with Psychosocial Engagement, with LTC Arnel P. David and LTC (Ret) Patrick James Christian, PhD

“I Know the Sound it Makes When It Lies” AI-Powered Tech to Improve Engagement in the Human Domain, with LTC Arnel P. David and LTC (Ret) Patrick James Christian, PhD

… the following related articles, co-authored by Dr. Nesic:

Operationalizing the Science of the Human Domain, with LTC Arnel P. David

A Psycho-Emotional Human Security Analytical Framework, with Patrick J. Christian, David Sniffen, Tasneem Aljehani, Khaled Al Sumairi, Narayan B. Khadka, Basimah Hallawy, and Binamin Konlan

… and the following related blog posts:

“Top Ten” Takeaways from the Disruption and the Operational Environment Conference

In the Cognitive War – The Weapon is You!

Battle of the Brain

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