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Scenario Explorer: An Imagination Support Platform for Anticipatory Thinking

Sep 5, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Scenario Explorer: An Imagination Support Platform for Anticipatory Thinking


Chris Argenta, Abigail Browning, and Matt Lyle – ARA



It is great when you can reasonably predict the future. But often the more realistic objective is to avoid being completely surprised by an unanticipated series of events and their consequences. We specifically worry about those surprises that might have been avoided if we just connected the dots in the right way. Anticipatory thinking (AT) differs from forecasting in its attention to producing and considering diverse potential futures. Some of these futures will be the most likely (which is the objective of forecasting). However, the less likely but high impact futures are also important for understanding risks and making decisions. From a forecasting perspective, this is similar to asking “What are all the key conditions for which I should do conditional forecasts to really understand the range for feasible futures?” On the AT team we are building a platform, called Scenario Explorer, for helping teams of analysts to systematically imagine and reason over large numbers of diverse futures.

The Scenario Explorer platform is a combination of technology and tradecraft designed to help analysts systematically anticipate or imagine a wide range of diverse futures. ARA has been leading the development of this prototype as part of the AT group throughout DO7 and DO8, and we would like to show the LAS community what we have accomplished. Our Futures Building technique elicits narratives from analysts in the form of a set of conditioning event. Our platform systematically combines these inputs to generate novel scenarios and project combined effects. Our Smart Query capability enables analysts to cluster futures and determine key indicators (ordered sequences of events/outcomes) that most uniquely characterize groups of related futures. Other techniques we are designing to run on this platform help expand the range of futures and assess sensitivities.

In this WRM will we will present an overview of Scenario Explorer and demonstrate of the system. We encourage you to bring your laptops so that you can interact with the system directly. We will also discuss our upcoming designs for the platform, our experimentation plan, what we are doing to collaborate with other AT LAS performers, and how you can get access to the platform today.


WEB/CONFERENCE CALL INFO: We are going to use the NC State WebEx for the web conference.Please note that this WebEx belongs to NC State and can not be downloaded directly from Cisco. Also, it should work on iPhones and iPads via the WebExApp. A good internet connection is recommended. For better audio, please join via computer and then have the meeting call your number or call in directly using one of the numbers below. When not speaking, please mute your phone to avoid background noise. When it’s time, join the WebEx meeting from here:




919-513-9329 (WolfMeeting)

Access Code: 996 474 981



Sep 5, 2018
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


Partners I, 1017 Main Campus Dr, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA
800 Main Campus Dr United States



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LAS aims to bring together a multi-disciplinary group of academic, industry, and government researchers, analysts and managers together to re-engineer the intelligence analysis process to promote predictive analysis. LAS will do this by conducting both classified and unclassified research in a variety of areas of research. The research done in this area will serve as the foundation for mission effects and integrated back into the enterprise.

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