IARPA and trust detection

Neurodudes reader Jason M. sent me some information about a funding agency, IARPA, or Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, that is funding neuroscience-related research. I had never heard of IARPA before but it has existed since 2006 as something of an intelligence-focused DARPA. There upcoming funding deadline (Aug 21) is for projects on detecting trust signals between humans.

Just last night, I watched the tense but amazing film The Hurt Locker (don’t let the name disuade you, see the phenomenal Metacritic rating), which is about a bomb disposal squad during the recent Iraq War. There is one particularly stirring scene with a suicide bomber who claims that he was forced to wear a vest with explosives and doesn’t want to go through with it. The difficulty in the limited time before the bomb explosion revolves around whether to actually trust the man and the challenge of trusting someone when neither party speaks the other’s language. You can certainly at least understand (putting aside the ethics of war itself) why governments are interested in detecting nonverbal trust cues.

Details about the IARPA call for proposals are after the jump.

IARPA is soliciting submissions on the following areas aimed at
addressing the challenges of defining, understanding, and ultimately
detecting valid, reliable signatures of trust in humans:

1.) Different kinds of trust and what, if any, kinds of
neurophysiological signals might be associated with them. IARPA seeks
to understand the different manifestations that trust may take (i.e.
swift trust, conditional trust, unconditional trust, etc.) as well as
the different neurophysiological processes associated with one or more
of these kinds of trust.

2.) New models of neural systems and patterns of neural activation
related to different kinds of trust and associated neurophysiological
signatures of those activation patterns. IARPA seeks to understand the
degree to which the neural-bases of trust(s) may assist in detecting
peripheral signals of trust and trustworthiness under different

3.) Potentially novel preconscious signals or combinations of signals
– neural, endocrine, physiological, behavioral, etc. – that may be
indicative of trust or trustworthiness among people in different
contexts. IARPA seeks to elucidate signals and neurobiological
processes that humans may use for assessing trust, but which are not
yet – or are currently poorly – understood.

4.) New sensor technologies or combinations of technologies that can
assist in detecting subtle but valid and reliable changes in
neurophysiological states that may be indicative of trust among
humans. IARPA seeks to explore the feasibility of using technology to
amplify systems that humans have evolved to preconsciously assess
trust in others.

5.) Novel, ecologically-valid, but ethical “trust-based” protocols
designed to assess the validity and reliability of potential trust
signals among two or more humans. IARPA seeks to develop new, more
sophisticated processes for understanding near real-time human
preconscious assessment of trust in near real-world circumstances.

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