William G. Kennedy  

Ph.D., Captain, USN (Ret.)  


Current Research

Characterizing the reaction of a mega-city to a nuclear WMD event as the Principal Investigator (PI). This started as a 3-year basic research project and has become a 5-year project. The work relies on the talents and work of Andrew Crooks as Co-PI, several graduate research assistants, and student volunteers. The objective of this research is to develop an understanding of a population's response to a nuclear WMD event through research on individuals' responses to disasters and implementing theories of behavior in a large computer model. The model shows how an affected population would react to a WMD event in the first hour after the event. With the two additional years, we are enhancing the fidelity of the model and intend to plausibly project their reactions over days after the event.

Ongoing Research Projects

Advancing the Understanding of Human Trust (2010-present):

  • Developing computational cognitive models of human intuition and trust of other agents, both human or advisory systems. This work began in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the George Mason University's Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition (CENTEC). Products include a paper on implicit learning and the organization of a symposium on 'beyond rational' cognitive modeling at the International Conference on Cognitive Modeling (ICCM 2012) and a paper at ICCM 2010 on the interaction between the fast and slow cognitive processes. Recent activities include a collaborative effort with AFRL to model intuitive decision-making and Krasnow fMRI experiments on trust (NSF supported). Current activities include building a cognitive model of behavioral trust in advice from human, avatar, and computer advisors with individual differences to replicate human subject data.
  • Another project focuses on trust in an advisor with the advisors ranging from other humans to obviously automated systems. The approach is to implement a theory as a computational cognitive model and give it the same stimuli use in the human study to see if we can replicate the individuals' behaviors. This work supports the Air Force Research Laboratory and George Mason University's CENTEC, (Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition).
  • Applying Agent-Based Modeling to Policy in Social Welfare (2014-present): Developing models to evaluate policy options for reducing social worker stress. Integrating a Systems Dynamics model of stress within agent-based models of individuals providing in-home care to older adults. The work has produced a paper presented at BRiMS-2015, a presentation based on abstract presented at GSA-2015, a journal article on the methodology, and a book chapter.

    Previous Research Projects:

    Advancing the specification of autonomous systems (as PI): The goal of this research was to create new language and visualization methods that will create a coherent and shared framework for the specification, design, development, management, and use of what are understandably exciting but still to a large degree unregulated new autonomous systems. The project is funded for one year and the results from this work was expected to contribute to fundamental scientific understanding of specifying complex systems and their behaviors.

    NSF Project on Social Impacts of Climate Change (2015-2016): Aiding the project management in the final stages of this 3+year project. The team has developed agent-based models of the population's migration in Canada over the last 100 years using four different sources of weather data (800AD-1300AD, last 150 years, and optimistic and pessimistic projections for the next 100 years). The project wrapped up experimentation and reporting in the Summer of 2016.

    Human Supervision of the Military's Semi-Autonomous Robots (2015): At the Warfighter Human System Integration Laboratory starting in the summer of 2015, contributed to policy discussions on use of autonomous machines and man-machine systems. Developed an expert system monitoring and advising the experimenter on changing the cognitive workload for the Naval Research Lab's experimental operator interface (SCOUT) for controlling multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This work resulted in a paper submitted to the AAAI Fall Symposium on Self-Confidence in Autonomous Systems.

    Enhancing the agent cognition in computational social science (Oct 2013-Dec 2014): Modeling human social cognition and decision-making concerning migration based on economic, violence, political issues, and social influences. This agent-based, social simulation project was done in MASON for the Air Force Research Lab and featured the application of survey data integration and synthesis, inter-agent communication, and statistically driven decision trees used by millions of agents. Paper on the methodology was presented at BRiMS-2015.

    Enhanced the agent cognition in computational social science (2008-2013): Successfully led a 5-year, multi-disciplinary team developing agent-based models of societal conflict, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief in East Africa. Developed cognitively plausible models of household decision-making for pastoralists and agriculturists using a rule-based cognitive architecture. This Mason-Yale MURI (Multidiscipline University Research Initiative) was sponsored by ONR and produced many publications and presentations as the lead author.

    Developed and applied experimental data on human judgments of tasks taking "just a moment" (2008-2011). Measured student performing a task involving walking to develop a model of how long it takes to perform a task involving walking. Then had students evaluate videos of someone leaving to perform the same task as to whether the person took too long, too short, or about the right amount of time. The results were incorporated into a robot that knew the difference between the actual performance and human perception of the time to perform the task (humans underestimate times starting at about 1 minute in length). Journal article published in 2011.

    "Like-Me" Simulations at a Robotic Theory of Mind (2005-2008). Modeled human and chimpanzee social behavior based on reasoning about another agent's decision-making using a "like-me" simulation. Journal article published in 2009. Developed a cognitive model that maintains a model of other team members' decision-making to improve its own and the team's performance. Paper published and recognized as best in track at AAAI 2008. Built on the Naval Research Laboratory's experience in static spatial perspective taking, added the ability to model another agent's movement so that a robot would covertly approach the other mobile agent. Paper published and recognized as best in track at AAAI 2007.

    Research sponsored by:

    • Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA);
    • National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) via Logistics Management Inc. (LMI);
    • Center for Social Complexity (CSC), Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, GMU;
    • Office of Naval Research (ONR);
    • Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition (CENTEC), GMU;
    • Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL);
    • Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO);
    • National Science Foundation (CO-Pi) (NSF);
    • Naval Research Laboratory (NRL); and the
    • National Academy of Science/National Research Council (NRC).