National Security Report
Testing will remain a key tool for those managing health care and making health policy for the current coronavirus pandemic, and testing will probably be an important tool in future pandemics. Because of test errors, the observed fraction of positive tests, the surface positivity, is generally different from the underlying incidence rate of the disease. We model, using both analytical and simulation tools, the process of testing to address (1) how to go from positivity to a point estimate incidence rate; (2) how to compute a reasonable range of possible incidence rates, given the models and data; (3) how to compare different levels of positivity in light of test errors, particularly false negatives; and (4) how to compute the risk (defined as including one infected individual) of groups of different sizes, given the estimate of incidence rate. Our approach is based on modeling the process generating test data in which the true state of the world (incidence rate, probability of a false negative test, and probability of a false positive test) is known. This allows us to compare analytical predictions with a known situation, thus providing confidence when the tools are used when the true state of the world is not known.
National Security Perspective
The US government and its social media partners are bolstering their defenses against foreign election interference and campaigns to corrode democratic governance. Those efforts are vital but inadequate for the emerging security environment. The United States should also account for the risk that in intense regional crises, adversaries will use information operations (IOs) to coerce US and allied behavior. In particular, opponents will seek to convince US and allied policymakers that unless they back down, their nations will suffer punishment that dwarfs any gains they hope to achieve. If adversaries cannot prevail through IOs alone, they may fulfill their threats and launch increasingly destructive cyberattacks, paired with warnings that further punishment will follow until the US and its allies capitulate.
The US military is rapidly improving its ability to conduct coercive operations against US opponents. Yet, the federal government has barely begun to develop strategies and capabilities to defeat equivalent campaigns against us. This study examines the vulnerabilities of the US public and policymaking process to coercive IOs and analyzes Chinese and Russian technologies to exploit these vulnerabilities with unprecedented effectiveness. The study also proposes options to defeat (and, ideally, help deter) future coercive campaigns, in ways that uphold the Constitution and leverage progress already underway against electoral interference and the corrosion of democratic governance.
National Security Report
Situational awareness during disaster response is critical as it enables the response community to rapidly and efficiently assist those in urgent need during the time-sensitive, acute phase of a disaster. New technologies can drastically improve the effectiveness of response operations: satellite imagery to quickly map the destructive path of a hurricane, social media tracking to identify communities of increased need, and computer modeling to predict the route of a wildfire to inform evacuations. The US government has prioritized implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) systems throughout the federal agencies, including those technologies that may assist in disaster response. In this report, we contribute a technological road map for delivering to the response community near- and more distant-future AI-enabled technologies that could aid in SA during disasters. By exploring current and historical technology trends, successes, and difficulties, we envision the benefits and vulnerabilities that such new technologies could bring to disaster response. Given the complexities associated with both disasters and AI-enabled technologies, an integrated approach to development will be necessary to ensure that new technologies are both science driven and operationally feasible.
National Security Report
Even though vaccines for coronavirus are increasingly available, it will be many months before sufficient herd immunity is achieved. Thus, testing remains a key tool for those managing health care and making policy decisions. Test errors, both false positive tests and false negative tests, mean that the surface positivity (the observed fraction of tests that are positive) does not accurately represent the incidence rate (the unobserved fraction of individuals infected with coronavirus). In this report, directed to individuals tasked with providing analytical advice to policymakers, we describe a method for translating from the surface positivity to a point estimate for the incidence rate, then to an appropriate range of values for the incidence rate, and finally to the risk (defined as the probability of including one infected individual) associated with groups of different sizes. The method is summarized in four equations that can be implemented in a spreadsheet or using a handheld calculator. We discuss limitations of the method and provide an appendix describing the underlying mathematical models.
National Security Report
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory commissioned "Measure Twice, Cut Once: Assessing Some China–US Technology Connections," a series of papers from experts in specific technology areas to explore the advisability and potential consequences of decoupling.
In each of these areas, the authors have explored the feasibility and desirability of increased technological separation and offered their thoughts on a possible path forward. The authors all recognize the real risks presented by aggressive, and frequently illegal, Chinese attempts to achieve superiority in critical technologies. However, the project also represents a reality check regarding the feasibility and potential downsides of broadly severing technology ties with China.
The project was led by former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig, initially in partnership with Avril Haines, former Deputy National Security Advisor. This compilation of papers was authored by experts from across the nation, and the views of the authors are their own.
APL has published the event summary for the inaugural National Health Symposium, which brought together more than 160 experts from government, academia and industry to discuss ways that advances in research and development can translate into better delivery of health care.
In recognition of APL’s Centennial Vision, this special issue looks toward 2042. Our world is rapidly changing in many dimensions, bringing emerging global challenges, such as climate change; increased individual access to technologies once accessible only by nation states; new states of matter and new phenomena; increased commercially funded research worldwide; commercial space exploration ventures; espionage and cyberattacks with increased sophistication and proliferation; increasingly autonomous health care leading to more medical research breakthroughs; and increasingly AI-driven weapons being developed by nation states. There has never been a greater need for creative and persistent innovations to highlight this country’s preeminence. In the face of these challenges, APL is finding new ways to explore, create, and collaborate to conceive revolutionary concepts and to persistently move them forward. The articles in this issue offer a glimpse into exciting pursuits that could lead to the Lab’s future defining innovations.