At Danger Room, Sharon Weinberger posted this morning about sims in predicting cause and effect, notably in insurgencies.
Can modeling tools help predict (or forecast) the future? Well, that's not quite what the Pentagon wants to do, but it's similar. The goal of "Agent-Based Modeling of Irregular Warfare (ABMIW)" is to use computer models to forecast the consequences of specific actions on, for example, insurgency:
If you're interested in previous versions of an "Artificial-Life Laboratory for Exploring Self-Organized Emergent Behavior in Land Combat" that doesn't include sociological variables, you might enjoy EINSTein, the Enhanced ISAAC Neural Simulation Tooklit (ISAAC standing for "Irreducible Semi-Autonomous Adaptive Combat"), available here. (Note: this is a "very" old program.) I'm sure some of you might enjoy playing with this software, if you haven't already. It's fascinating to watch the little guys swarm.
Multiagent-Based Models (MBMs) incorporate complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory to simulate and understand. EINSTein looks at two living forces colliding, Blue v Red. Unlike EINSTein, newer versions of MBMs incorporating many sociological dimensions (tribe, sect, gang, etc) aren't freely available for obvious reasons.
Useful for programming robots, no?