callousness is taken to new heights

If the Defense Department’s policies in the Middle-East often sound like a big game, well, maybe there’s a reason:
“The Pentagon is setting up a stock-market style system in which investors would bet on terror attacks, assassinations and other events in the Middle East. Defense officials hope to gain intelligence and useful predictions while investors who guessed right would win profits. (…) The market would work this way. Investors would buy and sell futures contracts essentially a series of predictions about what they believe might happen in the Mideast. Holder of a futures contract that came true would collect the proceeds of investors who put money into the market but predicted wrong. A graphic on the market’s Web page showed hypothetical futures contracts in which investors could trade on the likelihood that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would be assassinated or Jordanian King Abdullah II would be overthrown.”
The program is called the Policy Analysis Market, and it is run by convicted felon John Poindexter. You can read the AP wire here.

Of all the things the Pentagon could have thought of to handle the Middle-East I never thought I’d see a situation in which suicide bombers and their acolytes could be guilty of insider trading.

Update: CBS is reporting that the program will be stopped


3 Responses to “callousness is taken to new heights”

  1. James Bennett Says:

    Never underestimate the wisdom of the Invisible Hand. I read an article indicating that this scheme was extremely effective for finding Soviet submarines during the Cold War. I’ll send you a URL if I can find it. Or is that “an URL”, Mrs. Linguist?

  2. moorishgirl Says:

    Heh. I don’t believe in prescriptive grammar, so it’s all good.

    I know that similar schemes to this new DARPA project have been used to predict other kinds of events, but this particular program seems morally revolting (hence the title of my post.) Also, I’m not sure the same science that is used to predict election results can be used to predict political events (such as coup d’etats) which, when all is said and done, depend on a small number of people rather than on the patterns of a larger number. I could be wrong.

  3. Alan Says:

    Hmm… of course this whole thing could backfire. One could predict peace and tranquility against the “odds” and make a bundle. That would show ’em.

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