Thursday, December 26, 2013

the pentagon's failed "terrorism futures market" is now a ukrainian bookstore...,

vice |  In 2003, scandal erupted when two US senators went public with word that the Pentagon was planning to launch a public marketplace that would encourage investors to bet, anonymously, on the likelihood of acts of terror occurring in the Middle East. A brainchild of DARPA, the effort was called Future Markets Applied to Prediction, or FutureMAP. It was quickly dubbed the "terrorism futures market." 

The betting was to be done on a sophisticated website: PolicyAnalysisMarket.org. Users would peruse the detailed geopolitical information there—loads of data, graphs, and maps of the region—and enter bets on, say, if and when the King of Jordan would be assassinated and the monarchy overthrown. The Pentagon's rationale, it insisted, was to create a kind of Intrade for the intelligence community; something that would harness market forces to predict—and, ostensibly, to prevent—terrorist acts and other calamities.

Today, PolicyAnalysisMarket.org is a Russian language website for downloading children's books. In our own moment of failing government websites and new assassination marketplaces, the story of FutureMAP's rapid decline and subsequent transformation is especially striking.

The New York Times broke the news that DARPA was ready to start taking bets on assassinations and bombings in July 2003. The paper reported that the "Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists has a new experiment."

DARPA was already embattled at the time, due to its advocacy for pre-NSA-revelation electronic spying operations. This "new experiment," a collaboration between the then-web company Net Exchange, DARPA, and The Economist magazine's Intelligence Unit, seemed designed to stir controversy. "It is an online futures trading market, disclosed today by critics, in which anonymous speculators would bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups," wrote the Times. It was slated to go live October 1st, 2003.

''Research indicates that markets are extremely efficient, effective and timely aggregators of dispersed and even hidden information. Futures markets have proven themselves to be good at predicting such things as elections results; they are often better than expert opinions," the Defense Department wrote in a statement at the time, in an attempt to explain the project.

6 comments:

Vic78 said...

There's little hope for those children. Dysgenic's the only way to describe it.

ken said...

This is probably how evolution worked when a new species line defected from another species. The new species with no available mates to help reproduce their own new kind to preserve the newly formed species, begin to have virgin births. Perhaps with low birthrates in some countries and a move toward more feminine men we'll begin to see more virgin births as the species adapts to survive.

CNu said...

lol@ken doing performance art in the comment section....,

Dale Asberry said...

Feces appears to be his medium....

CNu said...

tsk, tsk..., you're not fully appreciating the irony and nuance embodied therein.

Dale Asberry said...

Lol, I just wanted to say "feces"

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