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I don't know if the prof or the PR office is at fault for overclaiming,
but as Valdis tweeted about this: oi vey

Alberto Barabasi, where are you?

 Barry Wellman

  S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC               NetLab Director
  Department of Sociology                  725 Spadina Avenue, Room 388
  University of Toronto   Toronto Canada M5S 2J4   twitter:barrywellman             fax:+1-416-978-3963
  Updating history:

New discipline' of 'Network Science' birthed by US Army

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Military to ensure the revolution will not be Twitterised

By Lewis Page • Get more from this author

Posted in Data Networking, 27th October 2009 13:43 GMT

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Assorted American boffins and social scientists armed with supercomputers
and US Army funds will come together to create "the new discipline of
Network Science", according to those involved. The new Centre for Social
and Cognitive Networks will be founded at Rensselaer Polytechnic in New
York State.

Rensselaer profs were chuffed as ninepence to announce the $16.75m in
funds from the Army Research Laboratory. The new social'n'cognitive net
lab will be headed up by Boleslaw Szymanski, who rejoices in the title
"Claire & Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor of Computer Science" at
the Polytechnic.

“We are creating the new discipline of network science,” said Szymanski.
“The center will be in the leading position to define this new discipline
in all its complexity. Rensselaer researchers are very pleased to be a
leading part of this transformation.”

According to the Rensselaer statement:

    The Center for Social and Cognitive Networks will link together top
social scientists, neuroscientists, and cognitive scientists with leading
physicists, computer scientists, mathematicians, and engineers in the
search to uncover, model, understand, and foresee the complex social
interactions that take place in today’s society. All aspects of social
networks, from the origins of adversarial networks to gauging the level of
trust within vast social networks, will be investigated within the center.

“The impact of our work will be far-reaching," says Szymanski.

"We are in an entirely new world where Twitter, cell phones, and wireless
communication change the way we interact with each other. Together and
with the support of the ARL, the researchers in the center will be able to
investigate how technology enhances social interactions and how those
technologies and relationships can be used to better measure and
understand people’s interactions with each other.”

The Centre will apparently be able to draw on diverse resources, including
the Rensselaer Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations
(described as "one of the largest academic supercomputing centers in the
world") and also "visualization and simulation capabilities" offered by
the Institute's Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center.

The US Army, which is expected to spend as much as $35.5m on the research
over the next 10 years, will apparently benefit hugely. To begin with, it
will learn to manage and command itself more efficiently, as the boffins
and sociologists and so analyse it in terms of a huge social information
network composed of "mobile agents".

Then there's the matter of knowing the enemy - the "adversarial network".
According to Rensselaer spokespersons:

    This research has important implications for the Army in dealing with
terrorists and other hidden groups within a society. The research will
seek ways to monitor the activities of adversary networks, to map the
composition and hierarchy of the network, and to understand their dynamics
and evolution over time. The work will bring together expertise ranging
from computer science to game theory.

“Adversary networks can be discovered very early in their development by
careful social network analysis,” Szymanski said. “Studying the
technologies they use and how they use them will allow us to act well
before the adversary network has reached maturity. This will greatly
minimize their impact within their society as well as our own.”

Other areas of interest for the new Centre will include the impact of
"trust", "human error" and "bias" on social networks.

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