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US intelligence group wants software to decide who is trustworthy

Mar 05, 20144 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMobile SecuritySecurity

IARPA opens $50k public competition to build “trust” algorithms

In the security business one can never have enough trust. And one government group now wants your help in developing a software program that could help decide who’s trustworthy and who isn’t.  

A software competition announced recently by the Intelligence Advanced Research Project Activity (IARPA) group is looking to the public to develop what it calls an “algorithm that identifies and extracts such signals from data recorded while volunteers engaged in various types of trust activities.”

You may recall that IARPA is the high-risk, high-reward arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

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The Investigating Novel Statistical Techniques to Identify Neurophysiological Correlates of Trustworthiness (INSTINCT) Challenge asks members of the public to develop algorithms that improve predictions of trustworthiness, using neural, physiological, and behavioral data recorded during experiments in which volunteers made high-stakes promises and chose whether or not to keep them.

The IARPA challenge specifically looks to develop software algorithms that can detect, measure, and validate “useful” trustworthy signals in order to more accurately assess another’s trustworthiness in a particular context, IARPA writes. Improving the accuracy of judgments about whom can be trusted and under what conditions could have profound implications for not just the Intelligence Community, but society in general, the group stated.

According to the rules of the challenge, competitors will have access to a series of recent research studies funded by IARPA, where voluntary participants interacted with other volunteers while undertaking a number of tasks that required each of them to assess the other’s trustworthiness, IARPA stated.

“In turn, each participant had to decide whether they would act in a trustworthy fashion towards their partner.  Importantly, both participants could gain or lose stakes based on the combined consequences of each person’s willingness to trust and each person’s willingness and ability to keep specific promises made to the other. Neural, psychological, and physiological data were collected in parallel with these tasks, with participants’ behavior serving as ground truth (i.e., partners did or did not keep their promises). 

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has conducted preliminary analyses of these data, and now joins IARPA in inviting the public or what they call “Solvers” to explore the data in greater depth.

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From these results IARPA expects to see “innovative algorithms and analyses that use data from one participant in order to predict whether that participant’s task partners will act in a trustworthy manner. Solvers will be provided with sample data including labeled trustworthy and non-trustworthy behaviors. They will be asked to develop techniques and models based on these data, and then submit predictions for an unlabeled test set,” IARPA stated.

The challenge accepts submissions through May 5th, 2014. Throughout the challenge period, competitors may submit algorithms for evaluation against our test dataset and revise them for resubmission. At the end of the competition period, up to 25 of the top scoring solutions (no more than one per solver) will be identified and invited to submit their algorithm and documentation for validation and award consideration, IARPA stated. Three prizes will be awarded : $25,000 for the algorithm that best predicts trustworthy behavior in our data, $15,000 for 2nd place, and $10,000 for 3rd.

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