PYTHIA: Predictive methodologY for TecHnology Intelligence Analysis

Project born within the Preparatory Action on Defence Research program promoted by the European Defence Agency, which aims to develop an innovative methodology for implementing strategic technological forecasts in the context of Defence.

The PYTHIA proposal is based on three main ideas:

  • It is hard to make technological forecasts because it is extremely difficult to follow all the traces left by research and development activities, from which the trends can then be deduced that make it possible to forecast future technologies
  • It is difficult to establish the accuracy of a prediction if no numbers are used to evaluate forecaster opinions and if their success is not measured using numbers
  • It is difficult to escape the cognitive biases that prevent forecasters, even in the case of well-trained experts, preparing rational responses.

To overcome these three problems, the PYTHIA methodology is based on:

  • Big Data analytics tools for recovering, synthesizing and merging large volumes of numeric and textual data in order to identify hidden trends
  • The most important advances in the field of psychology, beginning with the seminal work of Kahneman (winner of the Nobel Prize in 2002)
  • The most recent innovations regarding forecasting behavior, obtained thanks to the work initiated by the US IARPA in 2006.

The PYTHIA proposal also provides an assessment of the impact of future technologies on national and European defense, investigating its impact at various strategic levels.

The PYTHIA consortium is characterized by extensive geographical coverage, with partners from 6 different European countries. The participating organizations represent Ministries of Defense, think-tanks specializing in strategy and defense, technology providers and integrators.

In addition to the members of the consortium, PYTHIA relies on a Stakeholder Group (SG), made up of 24 organizations from 14 countries, which bring expertise in the 3 main domains (defense, strategy and technology) in which the project operates, thanks to the participation of representatives of other Ministries of Defense (Italian, Greek and Belgian), as well as of world-renowned analysts and forecasters.

Engineering has the task of coordinating all project management activities, taking account of costs, communication activities, possible risks and quality levels to enable all participants to collaborate under the best conditions. It is also responsible to interact with the European Defence Agency by providing progress reports and relevant information during the evolution of the project.

From a technical point of view, Engineering plays a role in the development of a component for the automatic generation of scenarios, in the improvement of an intelligent visualization tool for on-demand trends and forecasts that can be generated by expert or non-expert users of the system and, finally, in the integration of services and tools developed and evolving during the project.