- Global Military Communications
Improbable launches research initiative bringing together UK academics to boost national resilience
Experts in modelling and simulation technologies from the universities of Oxford, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Durham are teaming up with London-based technology company, Improbable.
The new initiative – the Myridian programme – aims to help the UK and its allies analyse and overcome fluid, fast-moving and intricately interrelated challenges ranging from climate change and humanitarian crises to political interference, disinformation and threats posed by potential adversaries across air, land, sea, space and cyber.
It will do so by making the latest research and innovations from the nation’s leading academic and research institutions available, useful and usable to government – and to do so more quickly and economically than is currently possible.
Improbable will expand the Myridian programme to include more academic and research organisations, and to engage experts from across disciplines including modelling and simulation, data analytics, AI and machine learning, distributed systems, social dynamics and human behaviour, and other related fields.
“The world is increasingly unstable and threats to our security and national resilience are evolving at a frightening pace,” says Joe Robinson, CEO of Improbable’s defence division. “If the UK is to compete successfully as the world order shifts – and if it is to secure its status as a science and technology superpower before the end of the decade – we need to ensure that the world-class research and innovation from across industry and academia is made available to the defence and national security organisations working to ensure our safety and prosperity.”
Improbable’s technology platform is already supporting synthetic environments and digital twins for UK government organisations such as the British Army and UK Strategic Command. These virtual worlds bring together a range of technologies - including data, models and analytical tools - in order to simulate real-world scenarios for enhanced training, planning and infrastructure management.
The platform has been engineered to enable collaborations between technology providers and academic institutions, and supports a growing network of partners including Microsoft, Bohemia Interactive Simulations and [CAE / Adarga].
By bringing together the latest research and the most powerful innovations, and then integrating them into a single, secure technology platform that’s accessible at the point of need, the Myridian programme will give users at every level the tools they need to identify issues more quickly, analyse them more effectively, and then develop more coherent, efficient responses.
Improbable’s Chief Scientist, Professor Jordan Giddings, says, “There’s colossal potential for academic institutions and research organisations – not to mention industry players – to contribute to solving some of society’s greatest challenges. The trouble is, government organisations currently lack the commercial and technical infrastructure to fully exploit the latest advances in fields like computational modelling and simulation, data analytics, AI and machine learning. The Myridian programme will facilitate this, focussing research efforts on specific areas that complement the broader initiatives of organisations like Dstl and Defence Digital’s Digital Foundry.”
Nick Malleson, Professor of Spatial Science at Leeds University says, “Academics and researchers are all, at heart, problem solvers. This programme promises to give us – and our colleagues from across different disciplines and institutions – the opportunity to work together on some of the most exciting, difficult and important ones in existence. I know from personal experience of working with Improbable's researchers on the Royal Society's pandemic modelling initiative how valuable their expertise can be when it comes to augmenting and accelerating scientific enquiry.”
According to Doyne Farmer, Baillie Gifford Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, “Contemporary society is both more complex and more fragile than ever. But just as technology can be used to undermine our societies, it can also be used to strengthen them – whether that’s against threats to our political processes, critical infrastructure or threats arising from climate change. I’m very much looking forward to continuing our work with Improbable.”
Emma Barrett, Professor of Psychology, Security & Trust at Manchester University, says, “My colleagues and I are excited about the potential to employ Improbable’s technology to further our work on social dynamics and human behaviour. We see significant opportunities to work together to give decision-makers a more profound understanding of today’s threats as well as more useful insights into how best to counter them.”
Professor Nick Whiteley, Heilbronn Chair in Data Science at Bristol University, says, “Collaborating with Improbable is a tremendously valuable opportunity for us at the University of Bristol to benefit from their knowledge and expertise in modelling highly complex systems. We’re particularly excited about our ongoing work with Improbable on intractable agent-based models and see very bright prospects for future research together, pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence, data science and machine learning.”
Professor John Parker, Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Durham University, says, “I am very excited at the prospect of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Durham University working with Improbable. I believe there is immense scope for joint endeavours and I would like to give my full support to this partnership.”
The Myridian programme is open to prospective industrial and academic partners with specialist expertise in social dynamics and human behaviour, computational modelling and model composition, distributed simulation performance, agent-based modelling and related fields.