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Artificial Intelligence and

International Relations: An Overview

Philip A. Schrodt

Artificial intelligence techniques have been used to model international
behavior for close to twenty years. Alker and his students at MIT were generating
papers throughout the 1970s (Alker and Christensen 1972; Alker and Greenberg
1976; Alker, Bennett, and Mefford 1980), and by the the early 1980s work at Ohio
State was responsible for the first article to apply AI in a mainstream IR journal
(Thorson and Sylvan 1982) and the first edited book containing a number of AI
articles (Sylvan and Chan 1984). This volume provides the first collection of essays
focusing on AI as a technique for modeling international behavior,
an approach
commonly, if controversially, labeled "AI/IR." The essays come from about twenty-
five contributors at fifteen institutions across the United States and Canada; the
substantial foci range from Japanese energy security policy to Vietnam policy in the
Eisenhower administration.
The purpose of this overview is twofold. First, it will provide a brief
background of relevant developments in AI in order to provide some perspective on
the concepts used in AI/IR. Second, it will identify some common themes in the
AI/IR literature that use artificial languages for modeling. I will not deal with any of
the issues in depth, nor provide extensive bibliographical guidance, as these are ably
presented in the chapters themselves (e.g., those by Mefford and Purkitt in this
volume; Mallery [1988] also provides an excellent introduction). I will not discuss
the natural language processing (NLP) literaturewhich is covered in the chapters by
Mallery, Duffy, and Alker et al.though I will discuss projects that use text as a

Cimbala (1987) and Andriole and Hopple (1988) provide introductions oriented toward U.S. defense
concerns, but these are only a narrow part of the field of IR generally.

source of information for development of models rendered in artificial language (e.g.,
Bennett and Thorson; Boynton; Sylvan, Milliken, and Majeski). Th chapter does not
purport to provide a definitive description of the AI/I field; it is simply one person's
view of the organization of the field at th moment. In contrast to many other
modeling approaches, the AI/IR con munity is characterized by a healthy level of
internal debate. This chapti is the overture, not the symphony. I intend only to draw
your attention to themes; the details, in both melody and counterpoint, are found in
the chapters that follow.

Artificial Intelligence
The label "artificial intelligence" is, ironically, rejected by a majority of the
authors in this volume as a description of their shared endeavor. Th preferred label is
"computational modeling," which acknowledges the field intellectual roots in the
formal modeling and computer simulation literatur within political science, rather
than in the AI literature of computer science As will be noted below, the AI/IR efforts
utilize only a tiny subset of AI methods, and in many respects AI/IR overlaps at least
as much with cognitive psychology as with computer science.
The AI label poses two additional problems. The most severe is guilt by
association with "the AI hype": the inflated claims made for Al by th popular media,
science fiction, and consulting firms. The AI hype has bee followed by the backlash
of the "AI winter," and so AI/IR risks being caugh in a counterrevolution just as it is
beginning to produce results.
The second problem is the controversial word "intelligence." In the AI hype,
"intelligence" has usually been associated with superior intelligent such as that
exhibited by Star Wars robots (either the George Lucas or Ronald Reagan variety).
The most common retort I encounter when presentin AI/IR overviews to
unsympathetic audiences is: You can't model politic using artificial intelligence;
you'd have to use artificial stupidity.
As the chapters that follow indicate, that is
precisely our shared agenda! Artificial stupidity involves limited information
processing, heuristics, bounded rationality, group decision processes, the naive use of
precedent and memory over logical reasoning, and so forth. These features of human
reasoning amply documented in the historical and psychological literature, are key to
AI/IR but largely absent from optimizing models of the dominant forme paradigm in
political science, rational choice (RC). Ironically, the true "artificial" intelligence is
utility maximization, not the processes invoked ii computational models.
All this being said, one must confront two social facts. First, the term
"computational modeling" has not caught on because it is not reinforce:, by the
popular media. Second, AI/IR has borrowed considerably from this part of computer
science and the cognitive sciences which calls itself "artificial intelligence," including
the widespread use of LISP and Prolog as formal languages, the formalization of
rules, cases and learning, and a great deal of vocabulary. In the spirit of
mathematician David Hubert's definition of geometry as "that which is done by
geometers," the AI label will probably stick.

AI in the Early 1980s
The term "artificial intelligence" refers to a very large set of problems and
techniques ranging from formal linguistic analysis to robots. Researchers in "AI" may
be mathematicians or mechanics, linguists or librarians, psychologists or
programmers. Schank (1987:60) notes:

Most practitioners would agree on two main goals in AI. The primary goal is to build an
intelligent machine. The second goal is to find out about the nature of intelligence. . . .
[However,] when it comes down to it, there is very little agreement about what exactly
constitutes intelligence. It follows that little agreement exists in the AI community about
exactly what AI is and what it should be.

This seemingly original joke seems to occur to almost everyone. . . .
Research in AI has always proceeded in parallel, rather than serially, with dozens of
different approaches being tried on any given problem. As such, AI tends to progress
through the incremental accumulation of partial solutions to existing problems, rather
than through dramatic breakthroughs. Nonetheless, from the standpoint of AI/IR,
there were two important changes in Al research in the late 1970s.
First, rule-based "expert systems" were shown to be able to solve messy and
nontrivial real-world problems such as medical diagnosis, credit approval, and
mechanical repair at the same level of competence as human experts (see, for
example, Klahr and Waterman 1986). Expert systems research broke away from the
classical emphasis in AI on generic problem solving (e.g., as embodied in chess-
playing and theorem-solving programs) toward an emphasis on knowledge
representation. Expert systems use simple logical inference on complex sets of
knowledge, rather than complex inference on simple sets of knowledge. The
commercial success of expert systems led to an increase in new research in AI
generally the influx of funding helped and spun off a series of additional
developments such as memory-based reasoning, scripts, schemas, and other complex
knowledge representation structures.
Second, the personal computer, and exponential increase in the capabilities of
computers more generally, brought the capabilities of a 1960s mainframe onto the
researcher's desk. The small computers also freed AI researchers from dependence on
the slow and idiosyncratic software development designed for centralized
mainframes. The "AI style" of programming led to a generation of programmers and
programming environments able to construct compl cated programs that would have
been virtually impossible using olde languages and techniques.
All of this activity lead to a substantial increase in the number of peopl doing
Al. The American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) wa founded in 1979,
had 9,935 members by 1985 and 14,269 by 1986 growth of 43 percent in a single
year. In short, AI in the 1980s wa accompanied by a great deal of concrete research
activity in contrast to faddish techniques such as catastrophe theory.
The AI Hype
Perhaps predictably, the increase in AI research was accompanied (and
partially fueled) by a great deal of hype in the popular and semiprofessiona media. An
assortment of popular books on AI were produced by researchers such as Feigenbaum
(Feigenbaum and McCorduck, 1983; Feigenbaum and McCorduck and Nil, 1988),
Minsky (1986), and Schank (Schank and Riesback, 1981); at times these reached
sufficient popularity to be featured by paperback book clubs. Journalists such as
McCorduck (1979), Sanger (1985), and Leithauser (1987) provided glowing
appraisals of Al; these are only three of the hundreds of books and popular articles
appearing in the early to mid-1980s. Concern over the Japanese "Fifth Generation
Project" (Feigenbaum and McCorduck, 1983) provided impetus for the wildly

"Strategic Computing Initiative" of the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA, 1983).
These popular works provided a useful corrective to the outdated and largely
philosophical criticisms of Dreyfus (1979) and Weizenbaum (1976) about the
supposed limits of AI. By the early 1980s researchers had made substantial progress
on problems that by any reasonable definition required "intelligence" and were
exhibiting performance comparable to or exceeding that of humans. However, the
popularizations were understandably long on concepts and short on code, and their
explicit or implicit promises for continued exponential expansion of the capabilities
of various systems did not take into account the tendency of technological innovation
to follow a logistic curve.
Because the promises made in these popularizations were

For example, DARPA's 1983 timetable calls for the following developments by 1990: vision
subsystems with "1 trillion Von-Neumann equivalent instructions per second"; speech subsystems
operating at a speed of 500 MIPS that "can carry on conversation and actively help user form a plan
[sic]," and "1,000 word continuous speech recognition." Each of these projected capabilities is 10 to
100 times greater than the actual capabilities available in 1990, despite massive investments by
DARPA. For additional discussion, see Waldrop (1984); Bonasso (1988) provides a more sympathetic
A 10,000-rule expert system is unlikely to achieve ten times the performance of a 1,000-rule system.
To the contrary the 1,000-rule system will probably have 80-90 percent of the functionality of the large
based largely on laboratory results that had not been scaled up nor widely applied in
real-world settings, such promises set up AI for a fall.

The AI Winter
The hype of the mid-1980s leveled off by the latter part of that decade and
some segments of the AI community particularly companies producing specialized
hardware experienced the "AI Winter." However, the decline of AI was more
apparent than real and reflected the short attention span of the popular press as
attention turned away from AI to global warming, superconducting supercolliders,
parallel processing, and cold fusion. Experimental developments, most notably neural
networks, continued to attract periodic media attention, but the mainstream of AI
assumed a level of glamor somewhere between that of biotechnology and X-ray
lasers: yesterday's news, and somewhat suspect at that.
Yet ironically, the well-publicized bankruptcies of "AI firms" (see, for
example, Pollack 1988) were due to the success rather than the failure of AI. As AI
techniques moved out of the laboratories and into offices and factories, commercial
demand shifted from specialized "AI workstations" and languages such as LISP to
systems implemented on powerful general-purpose microcomputers using standard
procedural programming languages such as C or off-the-shelf expert systems shells.
AI research moved in-house and was diffused into thousands of small applications
rather than a few large ones.
Overall, the AI field remained very healthy. Although membership in the
AAAI declined in 1988 and 1989, dropping to 12,500 members, the 1989
International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the AI equivalent of the
International Political Science Association, was large enough to require the Detroit
Convention Center, fill every convention hotel in downtown Detroit and nearby
Windsor, Ontario, and all this despite a $200 conference registration fee.

system; the additional 9,000 rules are devoted almost exclusively to the residual 10-20 percent of the
Beyond the issues of popular perception, it is important to note that the future
of AI/IR is largely independent of the successes or failures of AI generally. Whether a
chess-playing program will be able to defeat the reigning human grand master or
whether simultaneous translation of spoken language is possible will have no effect
on most AI/IR research. Even if mainstream AI has some implications for the
development of computational models of international behavior, the AI/IR literature
is primarily shaped by literatures in psychology, political science, and history rather
than computer science. The techniques borrowed from computer science are only
tools for implementing those theories.

AI/IR Research: A Framework
This section will attempt to structure the various sets of problems studied in
AI/IR. For example, there has been frequent confusion outside the field as to why
discourse analysis (represented in this volume by Boynton; Thorson and Bennett; and
Sylvan, Milliken, and Majeski) should have anything to do with rule-based models
(e.g., Job and Johnson) because the techniques are entirely different. The simple
answer is that the AI/IR literature is primarily linked by underlying theories and
questions rather than by methodology. Although this is consistent with classical
Kuhnian notions of science it is decidedly uncharacteristic of formal approaches to
the study of international behavior such as correlational analysis, arms-races models,
an game theoretic models of war initiation, which are largely linked by technique.
As noted earlier, any effort to find common themes in a field as conceptually
rich and disputatious as AI/IR is fraught with the risk of oversimplification This
chapter is simply a survey of the high points. AI/IR developed in a evolutionary
fashion; the organization I have presented below is a typolog imposed, ex post facto,
on an existing literature, rather than an attempt to present a consensus view of where
the field is going.
The typology consists of three parts. The first category is the research on
patterns of political reasoning, which provides the empirical groundini for models of
organizational decision making. The second category involve the development of
static models of organizational decision making, which aim to duplicate the behavior
of an organization or system at a specific point in time. This is the largest part of the
literature in terms of model: that have actually been implemented, and it relies on the
expert system: literature in the AI mainstream. The final category contains dynamic
model: that incorporate precedent, learning, and adaptation, which can show how an
organization acquired its behavior as well as what that behavior is. These models are
necessarily more elaborate and experimental, though some large scale
implementations exist, notably the JESSE model of Sylvan, Goel, and

Patterns of Political Reasoning
The Psychological Basis. Virtually all work in AI/IR acknowledges ar
extensive debt to experimental work in cognitive psychology. Although a wide
variety of approaches are cited, two literatures stand out.
The first influence is the work of Allen Newell and Herbert Simon or human
problem solving (Newell and Simon 1972; Simon 1979, 1982). Simon's early work
pointing to the preeminence of satisficing over maximizing behavior is almost
universally accepted in AI/IR, as is the Newell-Simon observation that human
cognition involves an effectively unlimited (albeit highly fallible) memory but a fairly
limited capacity for logical reasoning These assumptions about human problem
solving are exactly opposite those of the rational choice approach, where cognition
involves very little memory but optimization is possible. In addition to these general
principles, othei work by Newell and Simon on specific characteristics of human
problem solving is frequently invoked, for example the re-use of partial solutions and
the distinction between expert and novice decision making.
The second very large experimental literature is the work of Danie Kahneman,
Paul Slovic, Amos Tversky (KST), and their associates in exploring the numerous
departures of actual human decision making from the characteristics predicted by
utility maximization and statistical decision theories (Kahneman, Slovic, and Tversky
1982). This work has emphasized, for example, the importance of problem framing,
the use of heuristics, the effects of familiarity and representativeness, and so forth.
Even though the experimental results, general principles, and concepts of
these two literatures are used extensively in AI/IR, their theoretical frameworks are
not. Newell and his students have developed a general computational paradigm for
AI, SOAR (Laird, Rosenbloom, and Newell 1986; also see Waldrop 1988), but to my
knowledge it has not been applied in the IR context. "Prospect theory," the term
usually applied to the KST work, is also rarely used. These research results are used
instead to explicate some of the characteristics of IR decision making, which, because
it is organizational and frequently involves unusual circumstances such as the
decision to engage in lethal violence, is far removed from the individualistic studies
of much of the psychological literature. Some work on group decisionmaking
dynamics has also been usedfor example, Pennington and Hastie on decisions by
juries (cited in Boynton)but in general this literature is smaller and less well known
in cognitive psychology than the theories and experiments on individuals.
Knowledge Representation. Consistent with the Newell-Simon approach,
AI/IR models are heavily information-intensive. However, the theory of data
employed in AI/IR is generally closer to that of history or traditional political science
than it is to statistical political science. Most of the chapters in this volume use
archival text as a point of departure; the remainder use secondary data such as events
that were originally derived from text using procedures similar to content analysis.
The ordinal and interval-level measures common to correlational studies, numerical
simulations, and expected utility models are almost entirely absent.
This, in turn, leads to the issue of knowledge representation, which is a theme
permeating almost all of the papers and which accounts for much of their arcane
vocabulary and seeming inconsistency. Whereas behavioral political analysis
essentially has only three forms of knowledge representation nominal, ordinal, and
interval variables AI presents a huge variety, ranging from simple if . . . then
statements and decision trees to scripts and frames to self-modifying programs and
neural networks. This surfeit of data structures is both a blessing and a curse. It
provides a much broader range of alternatives than are available in classical statistical
or mathematical modeling, and certainly provides a number of formal structures for
representing the large amounts of information involved in political decision making;
this comes at the expense of a lack of closure and an unfamiliar vocabulary. Part of
this problem stems from the fact that knowledge representation concepts have yet to
totally jell within their parent discipline of computer science. In this regard AI/IR is
quite different than the behaviorialist adoption of statistical techniques and the RC
adoption of economic techniques: In both cases stable concepts and vocabulary were
borrowed from more matur fields.
Structure of Discourse and Argument. For the outsider, perhaps the most
confusing aspect of the AI/IR literature is the emphasis on the analysis o political
argument and discourse. This type of analysis is found in the article: by Boynton;
Sylvan, Milliken, and Majeski; and Bennett and Thorson; more sophisticated tools for
dealing with discourse are found in the natural language processing (NLP) articles. At
first glance, rummaging through the Congressional Record or using Freedom of
Information Act requests to uncovei Vietnam-era documents is the antithesis of the
formal modeling approach Archival sources are the stuff of history, not models.
In fact, these analyses are at the core of modeling organizational cognition. As
such the archival work is simply specialized research along the lines of the general
psychological studies. The political activities modeled in AI/IR are, without
exception, the output of organizations. Because the AI/IR approach assumes that
organizations are intentional and knowledge-seeking, it is important to know how
they reason. Conveniently, organizations leave a very extensive paper trail of their
deliberations. Although archival sources do not contain all of the relevant information
required to reconstruct an organization's behavior organizations engage in
deliberations that are not recorded and occasionally purposely conceal or distort the
records of their deliberations it is certainly worthy of serious consideration.

Static Modeling: Rule-Based Systems
Rule-based systems (RBS) are currently the most common form of AI/IR
model, and even systems that go well beyond rules, such as the JESSE simulation,
contain substantial amounts of information in the form of rules. Contemporary RBS
are largely based on an expert systems framework, but the "production systems" that
dominated much of AI modeling from the late 1950s to the early 1970s are also
largely based on rules; early production system models of political behavior include
Carbonell (1978) in computer science and Sylvan and Thorson (1982) in IR. In
addition to chapters by the authors in this volume, other models of international
behavior using the rule-based approach have included Soviet crisis response (Kaw
1989), Chinese foreign policy (Tanaka 1986), the political worldview of Jimmy
Carter (Lane 1986) and Chinese policy toward Hong Kong (Katzenstein 1989).
In its simplest form an RBS is just a large set of if . . . then statements. For
example, a typical rule from Job and Johnson's UNCLESAM program a simulation
of U.S. policy toward the Dominican Republic has the form

IF U.S. Posture to the Dominican Republic government > 4
Stability Level >= 5 and
Stability Level Change > 0
increment CIS. Use of Force Level by 1

An RBS may have hundreds or thousands of such rules; they may exist
independently, as in Job and Johnson or production system models, but more

Conceptually, this effort is similar to the "cognitive mapping" methodology pursued in Axelrod
(1976); the "operational code" studies (e.g., George 1969; George and McKeown 1985) are other
typically are organized into hierarchical trees (for example, Hudson in this volume or
Kaw 1989). Typical commercial expert systems used for diagnosis or repair have
about 5,000 rules; most AI/IR systems are far simpler. Mefford's chapter in this
volume describes in considerable detail RBS developments beyond basic if . . . then
formulations; one should also note that the boundaries between the more complicated
RBS and other types of models (for example, case-based reasoning and machine
learning systems) are extremely fuzzy. Nonetheless, virtually all Al models encode
some of their knowledge in the form of rules.

Despite the near ubiquity of rules in computational models, this approach
stands in clear contrast to all existing formal modeling traditions in political science,
which, without exception, use algebraic formulations to capture information. These
methods encode knowledge by setting up a mathematical statement of a problem and
then doing some operations on it (in RC models, optimization; in statistics,
estimation; in dynamic models, algebraic solution or numerical simulation). The
cascading branching of multiple rules found in RBS is seldom if ever invoked; when
branches are present they usually only deal with boundary conditions or bifurcations

and are simple in structure.
Although much of the impetus for the development of RBS in political
science came from their success in the expert systems literature, rules are unusually
well suited to the study of politics, as much of political behavior is explicitly rule-
based through legal and bureaucratic constraints. Laws and regulations are nothing
more than rules: These may be vague, and they certainly do not entirely determine
behavior, but they constrain behavior considerably. Analyses of the Cuban Missile

Neural networks are the primary exception to this characteristic and are a current research focus
precisely because they offer an alternative to rule-based formulations.

For example an action A would be taken in the expected utility formation
E(A) = p(100) + (l-p) (-50)
if and only if p > 1/3; the dynamic model
= ax
+ b
is stable if and only if lal<l and so forth.
Crisis, for example, repeatedly observe that the military options were constrained by
the standard operating procedures of the forces involved.
Informal rules "regimes" or "operational codes" in the IR literature (e.g.,
Krasner 1983; George 1969) impose additional constraints. For example, in the
Cuban Missile Crisis, John F. Kennedy did not consider kidnapping the family of the
Soviet ambassador and holding them hostage until the missiles were removed, though
in some earlier periods of international history (e.g., relations between the Roman and
Persian empires, circa 200 C.E.) this would have been considered acceptable behavior.
In short, rule-based political behavior is not an "as if" proposition: I can be
empirically confirmed. However, because bureaucracies do not solely, follow their
rules in fact most bureaucracies would be paralyzed if the, attempted to do sothe
extent to which rules can capture actual behaviour and the complexity required to do
so is an open question. As the chapter in this volume and other RBS research
indicate, it is clearly possible I simulate political behavior using rules. The
complexity of these system, though substantially greater than the complexity of most
existing formal models (other than simulations) is also well within the limits of
existing RBS developed in other fields.
Despite the widespread use of rules in AI/IR models, many of the chapter in
this volume argue against rule-based formulations, or at least indicate problems with
the use of rules. This should not be interpreted as a rejection of any use of rules but
only as a rejection of depending solely on rules. This, in turn, is a reaction to
theoretical issues in AI rather than political science: A variety of approaches advocate
rules in some form as a universal standard of knowledge representation and argue that
all work in AI should use a single, unified concept of knowledge representation and
manipulator. This comprehensive approach is rejected by almost all of AI/IR work as
premature at best, given the evidence from the cognitive and organization, decision-
making literature.

Dynamic Modeling: Adaptation and Learning
Learning is one of the most basic characteristics of human cognitive behavior
but has been largely absent from existing formal models in political science.
One of
the most distinctiveand potentially revolutionarycharacteristics of the AI/IR
models is the use of learning as a dynamic element. By attempting to model not only
what organizations do but why they do it in the sense of providing an explanation
based on the prior experience of the organizationthese models can potentially
provide greater detail and process validity than those currently available.
An assortment of learning schemes are currently under development, but most
involve at least two elements. First, the basic rule of learning is "Bureaucracies do not
make the same big mistake twice." Reactions to a situation are based in part on
precedents, and the success or failure of a particular plan will affect whether it is used
in the future. Knowledge is modified, not merely acquired.
The second general characteristic is the reapplication of solutions that worked
in the past to problems encountered in the present: In the JESSE simulation this is
called "compiled reasoning." As Mefford notes, this same concept is central to
Polya's scheme of human problem solving; more recently it has been the central focus
of the Laird, Rosenbloom, and Newell SOAR project. The content of an
organization's compiled reasoning in turn depends on the problems it has previously
encountered, and so the history of the organization is important in determining what it
will do.
This emphasis on learning and adaptation provides the "path dependence"
mentioned in a number of the chapters. International politics is not like a game of
chess where future plays can be evaluated solely on the basis of the current board
position. Instead, how a situation came into being may be as important as its static
characteristics. Deductive reasoning from first principles alone is not sufficient.
Learning also partially resolves the problem of underdetermination in satisficing it

Formal models of simple learning are common in the psychological literature, but these are largely
inappropriate to the organizational learning of complex, ill-defined tasks common to political settings.
indicates not just the suboptimal character of decisions but also substantially narrows
which suboptimal decision will be made.
Learning is such a basic human activity that it is taken for granted in the
informal bureaucratic politics literature, though in recent years a number of studies
reemphasizing the importance and problems of learning as a separate activity have
emerged (see, for example, Neustadt and May 1986 on precedent and analogy;
Etheredge 1985 on learning in foreign policy; Margolis 1987 on patterns). The
difference is that the AI/IR models have succeeded in formally modeling this learning
process in a complex environment, which no other models have.

To the extent that
learning and adaptation are key human behaviors, this is a major step forward.
Perhaps because learning is so inherently human, the extent to which it can be
simulated is frequently underestimated, if not rejected outright. One of the most
popularand most inaccuratecharacterizations of computer models is "A computer
can't do anything it wasn't programmed to do." Strictly speaking, this may be true: A
computer can't do in five minutes anything a human with a pencil and paper couldn't
do in eleven centuries of sustained effort,

but for practical purposes there is a
qualitative difference. As a complex system, a computer can very easily be
programmed to perform in ways unanticipated by its programmers. By that same
token one can reject another hoary characterization, "Computers can't be creative." In
fact, there are a variety of rather straightforward techniques by which programs can
"create" solutions to problems that were unanticipated by their programmers, and the
creation of such programs has been a longstanding research tradition in mainstream

Learning is another aspect acquired from the Al tradition. One of the key elements of LISP, the
dominant Al programming language, is the absence of a distinction between program and data. As a
consequence programs could be "selfmodifying," changing to adapt to a problem at hand. This is the
essence of learning, and so models drawing on the Al tradition had a rich set of learning concepts at its
core, whereas learning was difficult to add to RC or dynamic models.

Figuring eight-hour days and a sustained rate of 100 calculations per hour for the human; a very
modest 1 MIPS for the computer.
Modeling organizational learning involves modeling at least two different
types of learning. The first, and simpler, learning is knowledge acquisition: the
process by which precedents, analogies, cases, plans, or whatever are acquired and
retained. The second and more difficult phase is modeling the adaptation of the
means by which those are invoked. In other words, the process of "reasoning by
analogy" involves both the availability of analogous situations and also the means by
which the analogy is made: Neither issue is self-evident.
Consider, for example, the situation of a failure of reasoning by anal in the
Bay of Pigs invasion. This exercise was modeled on the earlier successful CIA
overthrows of Mossadegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala. Had the Marines been
involved in the planning, analogies might have bt made to the problems of invading
islands encountered in World War leading, presumably, to greater skepticism or at
least better preparation. Hence one could say that the Bay of Pigs failed because only
overthrow precedents were used to the exclusion of "invasion" precedents.
Alternatively, one could argue that the situation itself had been incorrectly
understood in the sense that important variables were not considered: The theory that
identified the precedents was in error. If the prevailing thee indicates that two things
should match and they did not, the organization will recognize that something is
wrong with the theory and change Arguably, this occurred historically: The failure at
the Bay of Pigs was attributed to the lack of sufficient force and a clear U.S.
commitment, and therefore the next two U.S. interventions in the Third World in
the Dominicc Republic and Vietnaminvolved overt use of large numbers of troops.
These two types of learning have very different implications for th structure of
the model, and the question as to which dominates is a empirical one. Modeling the
use of precedent is relatively straight forward but organizational modifications to the
interpretation of precedent may be more important, particularly when dealing with
unexpected behaviors.
Precedent. The concept of precedent is probably second only to that of "rules"
in the discussions in this volume, and precedent is closely linked to the issue of
memory. In the simplest form, actors will simply do wha they've done before, and the
best predictor for behavior in a complex system is the patterns of history. Precedent,
analogy, and case studies have strong antecedents in the traditional political literature
(e.g., Neustadt and May 1986), as well as being formally invoked in Anglo-American
legal reasoning. As with the use of rules, precedent does not require "as if" apologies:
It is used openly and explicitly.
The use of precedent is, however, somewhat ambiguous. In foreign policy
discourse, precedent is most likely encountered as a justificationin othier words, it
is invoked as an empirical regularity. In legal reasoning and in much of the case-
based reasoning literature, in contrast, it is a plan a series of actions which should be
taken. In the latter sense a precedent is merely a complex antecedent clause of an if . .
. then clause with a complex consequent. These two uses of precedent are not
mutually incompatible in a sufficiently regular and well-defined system, the use of
precedents as plans would cause them to become empirical regularitiesbut they are
As noted in several of the chapters, empirical studies of actual policy-
deliberations find little evidence of a dominant role for precedent. Several factors
may account for this. First, in contrast to the legal arena, the international system is
neither well defined nor particularly regular, and consequently the precedents are not
necessarily clear. Furthermore, in IR discourse, a precedent such as "Munich," "Pearl
Harbor," or "Vietnam" is most likely to be invoked as something to be avoided, not to
be implemented.
Precedents used repeatedly are incorporated into the standard
operating procedures of the organization they become rules. Consequently,
precedent may be a powerful tool for decision making even if it isn't actively invoked

This can occur for normative as well as pragmatic reasons: For example, Allison (1971:197)
emphasizes the strong negative impact the Pearl Harbor analogy had on Robert Kennedy's assessment
of the option of bombing Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. "I now know how Tojo felt when he
was planning Pearl Harbor," Kennedy wrote during an ExCom meeting, and he would later write
"America's traditions and history would not permit . . . advocating a surprise attack by a very large
nation against a very small one."

in debate. The second possible problem is that precedents are probably generalized
into "ideal cases." If a decision-maker refers to the danger of a coup in El Salvador,
what is usually invoked is not a specific coup

but rather coups in general.
Compiled Reasoning and Structure. On the surface, compiled reasoning is
only a modest enhancement of existing psychological models: The notion that
individuals and organizations reuse prior successful behavior is not particularly
controversial and is certainly strongly supported by experimental evidence with
individuals going back several decades. However, the critical contribution of such
models may be in the specification of "learning-driven models" (LDMs) models
whose key dynamics are determined by learning. In particular, this might begin to
concretize the heretofore exceedingly mushy concept of "structure" in political
For example, suppose that at any given time, the actors in a system can be
viewed (or modeled) as simple stimulus-response actorsceteris paribus, given an
input, one can predict the resultant behavior. This, in turn, provides a set of mutual
constraints on those activities, which we refer to as "structure." For example in the
1970s, any Eastern European state, on the basis of Soviet activities in Berlin,
Hungary, and Czechoslovakia during the 1950s and 1960s could reasonably assume
that excessive economic and political liberalization would lead to Soviet military
intervention. From the standpoint of the actor, this is simply a rule of the system.
However, in an LDM, every event has the potential of changing those reaction
functions in other words, the system is self-modifying (either through
accumulation of cases or modification of rules). Although most events do not change
the functions, when learning occurs, the reaction functions of the system may change
dramatically. For example, by 1989, Eastern European states reacted as if economic
and political liberalization would not cause Soviet intervention after some initial

Unless there is a clear and obvious precedent: The future of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines
was discussed in terms of Marcos as "another Somoza," referring to the Nicaraguan dictator whose fall
led to the regime. Usually, however, the search for precedent eStablishment of the Sandinista regime.
Ussualy, however, the search for precedents does not go very deep.
experimentation by Poland along these lines was reinforced. Because some if not
most of the knowledge of structure is embodied in complex qualitative structures,
the change is not necessarily incremental, and it may be mutually reinforcing (as
happened, for example, in Hungary, Poland, and the GDR in the autumn of 1989,
followed later by Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania) so as to cause a series of
fairly dramatic changes.
This does not, however, mean that the situation is chaotic, a key advant of
LDMs over the other formulations. Most of the knowledge base and learning
mechanism has not changed;

only the output has changed. ' environment, the actors,
and the parameters of their decision making almost unmodified; the change is
embodied in relatively simple and predicte modifications of knowledge and rules for
interpreting that knowledge, of empirically available in the archival record.
Realistically modeling this type of behavior is a difficult task, and the AI/IR system
that comes closest embodying it, unsurprisingly, is the complex JESSE simulations.
But this objective underlies many of the chapters.

The Upshot: The Ideal Model
To summarize these points, the following is a list of the characteristics I
believe most researchers would include in an ideal AI/IR model.
The model would be consistent with the psychological literature on individual and
group decision making, in particular it would involve suboptimal reasoning,
heuristics, anchoring, and other aspects of "artificial stupidity."

In contrast consider the treatment of international crisis found in Snyder and Diesing (1977) which
uses an RC approach. For a given configuration of payoffs at any stage in acrisis, Snyder and Diesing
can analyze, using game theoretic concepts, the likely behavior of the actors in the crisis (or, more
likely, induce the payoffs from the behavior). But this approach does not provide a means of moving
from one game matrix to the next; It predict only a single decision, not a succession of decision. An
LDM approach, in contrast, would seek to model the change in the payoffs as well as the decisions
themselves. In a much simpler framework, the sequential gaming models of the RC tadition are also
trying to attack this problem using algebraic methods.

Both the actions predicted by the model and the reasoning reflected in the
determination of those actions would not be inconsistent with that found in actual
political debate.
The model would store knowledge in complex, qualitative data structure such as
rules, scripts, frames, schemas, and sequences. Among that knowledge, though
not necessarily dominant, would be precedents an cases.
The model would learn from both successes and failures: Successful solutions
would be likely to be reused; unsuccessful solutions or observations about
changes in the environment would cause changes in the rules that are used to
solve problems. This learning would be similar to that seen in actual political
The overall model would provide a general engine for the study of international
politics in other words, it would work on a variety of problems. The specific
knowledge required to implement the model, of course, would differ significantly
with the problem.
None of the existing models incorporates all of these factors, and none is
considered even close to a final solution to them. However, almost all of the chapters
in this volume contribute to this agenda, and quite a number of the components have
already been demonstrated.

AI and Contemporary Political Science
One of the most intriguing aspects of the AI/IR research is the breadth of the
substantive foci of these studies. The topics dealt with in this volume include the
Johnson administration's Vietnam policy, Dwight Eisenhower's Vietnam policy,
Japanese energy security policy, development, (J.S. policy in the Caribbean,
international relations during the early Cold War period, the international behavior
recorded in the BCOW and CREON data sets, the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee on the Persian Gulf in the 1980s, the Soviet intervention in Hungary, and
Luttwak's theory of coups d'etat. This list reads like the topics of any randomly
chosen list of articles on international relations, in distinct contrast to the arms race
and world modeling literatures, which have focused on fairly narrow types of
behavior. By that same token, there is a strong empirical focus in virtually all of the
studies. The research is grounded in the detailed study of actual political behavior, not
in techniques borrowed from economics, computer science, or mathematics.

AI and Rational Choice
The most important alternative model to that proposed in the AI/IR approach
is the rational choice approach, which presumes that political behavior, like economic
behavior, can best be modeled by assuming individuals optimize their choices within
a system of preferences and constraints without any higher cognitive processes. RC
uses, for the most part, expected utility decision making and game theory, and is
important both because of its dominant role in explaining domestic behavior and
increasing application as a theory of international behavior.
In addition to its role as
"straw man of choice" in contemporary discourse in political science, RC provides an
alternative to AI/IR in positing an explicit cognitive mechanism, in contrast to
statistical studies and most dynamic models, which merely posit regularities. This
debate between RC and cognitive psychology is not confined to IR but is found
generally in the social sciences: Hogarth and Reder (1987) provide an excellent
survey of the arguments; much of the KST agenda is directed toward falsifying RC

Supporters of the rational choice approach frequently consider it to be as pervaise in IR as in
domestic politics. Although it has dominated one problem --the counterfactual analysis of nuclear war
and nuclear detterence (see Brams 1985)it is a relatively recent newcomer in the remainder of IR,
dating mostly from the work of Bueno de Mesquita and his students, and more recently crossover
such as Ordeshook and Niou (see Ordeshook 1989). Even this work deals primarily with a single issue,
war innitiation. One need only compare the scope of the arms races bibliography of Anderton (1985),
with 200+ entries, or the dynamic simulation literature (e.g., Guetzkow and Valdez, 1981) to see how
relatively small the RC literature is in IR. Outside of IR, of course, RC is clearly the dominant formal
paradigm in political science.
assumptions; Simon (1985) deals explicitly with these issues in terms of political
Although in general AI/IR is viewed as competition to RC and this is the
position taken by most authors who address themselves to the issue the possibility
remains that the two approaches are complementary: Problems appropriate for an RC
framework might be inappropriate for Al and vice versa. Most of the discourse
analysis and NLP articles would probably concur with this characterization, and NLP
tends not to address the RC issue at all. Using AI in a situation that can be accurately
described by optimization using preferences and constraints would be using a
sledgehammer to kill a fly: The problem of nuclear deterrence comes to mind. In
relatively static situations of reasonably complete information, limited bureaucratic
infighting quantitative or strictly ordered payoffs, and repeated plays, the expects
value framework may be completely appropriate.
This assumption of complementarity is the position of many economisl who
are now using computational modeling: They maintain the basic RC concepts and
vocabulary but use computational models to deal with phenomena such as memory
and learning that confound existing mathematics techniques. If one can take the
structuring of a situation as known and static for example, the voting decision in a
stable liberal democracy doesnt include the option of changing the rules of voting
then RC will predict behavior quite efficiently. However, when self-modification is
an option, simple RC models aren't very useful.
Alternatively, the two approaches may be simply competitive; this view is
implicit in most of the chapters in this volume that discuss RC. Fundaments to
virtually all critiques of RC is criticism on empirical grounds: The "as if" approach,
though possibly acceptable when formulated by Milton Friedman in 1953, is
unacceptable when viewed in the light of thirty years of experimentation that has
failed to validate those assumptions except unds highly artificial settings. The AI/IR
literature, with its base in experiment, psychology and its heavy use of primary data,
provides an alternate formulation of political rationality with a superior empirical
In evaluating this debate, note that the difference between AI/IR and RC does
not lie in the assumption of preferences and goal-seeking behavior. The crucial
difference is in the issue of optimization: RC assumes utilit maximizers; AI/IR
assumes individuals and organization have inadequate information-processing
abilities to optimize. In addition, AI/IR generall assumes a much more complicated
and dynamic world than RC theories, which it can do because the models are
computational rather than algebraic. For example, RC models usually assume that the
consequences of actlor are known (with a known degree of uncertainty), whereas
AI/IR approaches may try to model the acquisition of that knowledge. AI/IR,
following KST postulates that the framing of a problem is a very important phase of
finding the answer and, in fact, may well determine the answer. Following the Simon-
Newell tradition, memory is not considered a constraint either in the cognitive theory
or the computational model, so huge amounts of information in complex structures
can be used. In this sense, AI/IR and RC are mirror images: AI assumes sophisticated
memory but limited processing; RC assumes sophisticated processing (optimization)
but limited memory.
On the down side, AI has far less mathematical closure than RC. RCs
intellectual coherence stems in no small part from a series of mathematical
bottlenecks imposed by the available techniques. Common mathematical tools such
as fixed-point theorems and results from game theory severely restrict the
assumptions that can be made if a model is to be mathematically tractable. On the one
hand, this gives RC an "assume the can opener" air;

on the other hand, it provides a

For the benefit of those few who do not understand this allusion, the underlying joke goes as
follows: A Physicist, a Chemist, and an Economist were stranded on a desert island. Exploring the
island, they found a case of canned food but had nothing to open it with. They decide to share their
expertise and, being academics, each gave ashort lecture on how their discipline would approach the
problem. The Physicist began, We should concentrate sufficient mechanical force to separate the lid
from the can The Chemist began, We should create a corrosive agent to dissolve the lid from the
can. The Economixt began, First assume, we possess a can opener
large body of shared assumptions so that many new results are widely applicable. RC
has a cumulativeness that is less evident in AI/IR. Because AI is algorithmic rather
than algebraic, there are virtually no constraints on the complexity of the underlying
argument; the techniques, in fact, tend to be data-limited rather than technique-
limited, a problem shared with numerical simulations, as Mefford notes.

AI/IR and Data
The AI/IR approach is strongly empirical, another aspect that differentiates it
from the RC tendency to refine theoretical concepts with little concern for empirical
testing. From a sociology of science standpoint, the empirical focus of AI/IR is
unsurprising given its dual roots in experimental psychology and the fact that most of
the early researchers, from Alker onward, initially studied politics using behavioralist
statistical methodologies. The AI/IR approach is developing, from the beginning,
testable theories with the corrective feedback empirical studies provide.
The data used in AI/IR resembles that of historical/archival research more
than that of the quantitative statistical traditions of the 1960s and 1970s. The majority
of the chapters in this volume use primary text or interviews as their data source, and
they also emphasize issues such as context, structure, and discourse. Even those
studies not using text (for example, Hudson or Schrodt) utilize very detailed
descriptive sequences with thousands of points, a distinct contrast to the annualized
forty-year time series typical of contemporary statistical studies. Almost all existing
political research has concentrated on simple data structures, usually the rectangular
case/variable data array. Even when more complicated structures were built as, for
example, in factor analysis or Guttman scaling these were done within the
constraints of linear models. However, it seems obvious that political behavior
involves complex data structures such as rules and hierarchies, scripts and sequences,
plans and agendas. The rational choice tradition has begun to work with some
complex structures for example, with agenda setting but has a very limited
empirical tradition. In contrast, most of the methods being developed in AI/IR are
general: For example, the methods of analyzing informal rules in the context of
bureaucracies or international regimes should be of substantial use to those studying
formal institutions such as Congress or the evolution of international regimes.
The question of what will be tested remains open. In general there are two
possible criteria: outcome validity and process validity. A model with outcome
validity would reproduce or predict behavior but make no presumptions that the
mechanisms through which that behavior was generated corresponded to those in the
international system. The chapters using standard IR data sets (e.g., Hudson and
Schrodt) are most clearly in this camp. A stricter, and more useful, criterion is process
validity: The mechanisms by which an outcome is reached should also correspond to
the observed in the actual system. The models strongly based in archival and primary
source material (e.g., JESSE; Sylvan, Milliken, and Majeski) a coming closer to
achieving this. A problem in testing any model of process validity, however, is the
arbitrariness and incompleteness of the empirical record: A model may produce
behavior and rationales that are entirely plausible (as evaluated by experts) but that
are not found in the actu historical record.

Despite the tendency at paradigm proliferation in the IR literature two
articles (at most) seem to establish a new IR paradigm the AI/IR literature has most
of the characteristics of a classical Kuhnian paradigm, including a new set of
questions, theories of data, and techniques. As a paradigm, AI/IR allows one to look
at old data in new ways; one could argue that it also arose out of failures of the
behaviorialist modeling techniques to deal with the contextual complexity found in
primary source material.
The projects reported in this volume are in various stages of completion.
Although the "trust me" assurances in research are quite rightly viewed with
skepticism in a new and intensely hyped technique such as AI, most of this research
has a large inductive component based in extensive primary source material rather
than data sets from the ICPSR and justifiably proceeds slowly. The completed
research, frequently of considerable complexity (e.g., Hudson, the JESSE simulation,
Job and Johnson), is, I hope, a harbinger for the results of the projects still in progress
(e.g., Ensign and Phillips). Its vocabulary is evolving and its critical concepts
emergent, yet the quantity and diversity of the AI/IR research projects have already
transcended those of most faddish modeling techniques. The research reported in this
volume opens a variety of doors to further research, and the list of potentially
interesting projects is far from exhausted.

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