IARPA’s MOSAIC FitBit for Psych

EFF’s Dave Maass discovered this conference notice from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

Selecting and evaluating a workforce that is well-suited for the psychological and cognitive demands of the diverse positions across the Intelligence Community (IC) is an important and persistent need. This is growing in importance as the pace and complexity of the challenges facing the IC workforce grow and expand. Methods that enhance our ability to evaluate an individual’s psychological drivers, cognitive abilities, and mental wellness and resilience will enable improved capabilities to select the right person for the right job, evaluate and help maintain optimal performance throughout their career, and better understand and anticipate changes in an individual that may impact their work effectiveness, productivity, and overall health and wellness.

To address this challenge, the MOSAIC program aims to take advantage of multimodal mobile, worn, and carried sensors and the corresponding data to enable the measurement of an individual in situ, throughout their daily activities, using an aggregate of behavior, physiology, social dynamics, physical location and proximity, as well as other novel data sources. Research in this program will aim to establish convergent validity of multimodal signals across a range of researcher-defined contexts and over time to enable accurate and personalized evaluations. It is anticipated that research teams will develop and test a suite of multimodal sensors to collect a range of subject-focused and situational data; build capabilities to develop an integrated model of the subject, their behaviors, and the social and physical context; and advance methods to personalize modeling approaches to develop accurate assessments of an individual over time.

The Program, which uses the intelligence jargon “Mosaic” to stand for “Multimodal Objective Sensing to Assess Individuals with Context” would start with volunteers and then roll out better measurements, though it’s not clear whether the program, as conceived, would roll out to the IC as a whole.

It’s all very spooky, especially given that it doesn’t really say what it wants to measure. Is it going to be a running polygraph, a constant assessment of deceit of the kind the IC doesn’t encourage, if that can be distinguished from the kind it does? Will it measure how the best operatives respond to stress? What kind of spying on the spies will it enable?

But it’s nice to see IARPA making clear whether the push for things like FitBit will lead the rest of society.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

1 reply
  1. SpaceLifeForm says:

    They want to avoid further ES types. They want
    all to be pliable, complacent, and non-threatening
    so TPTB can continue their current activities.

Comments are closed.