Wednesday, November 03, 2004

By the numbers

If you have been following the three-ring circus that has been the US presidential election you may find this link with graphics and updated results from the New York Times Online useful. During the few days I spent back in Liverpool the subject of the election came up with my old school friend Joe, he predicted that Bush would win and based this on the fact that he was the bookmakers favourite. This simple deduction reminded me of the work that DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) were commissioning on the FutureMAP project (Future Markets Applied to Prediction) (you can also find out here) to predict future happening such as the risk of a terrorist attack or a regime change. Next stop, get down to your local Ladbrokes shop to play your part in the war on terror.

FutureMAP Program Objectives,

Strategic decisions depend upon the accurate assessment of the likelihood of future events. This analysis often requires independent contributions by experts in a wide variety of fields, with the resulting difficulty of combining the various opinions into one assessment.

The FutureMAP program at DARPA is investigating the use of markets and market-like mechanisms in aggregating information from diverse multiple sources. Specifically this will involve

(a) defining and running demonstration markets for proof-of-concept,

(b) conducting analytical studies to develop new market structures and features of interest to the DoD,

(c) designing and running a laboratory testbed to evaluate and validate market structures, and

(d) conducting red team exercises to ensure robustness. Additionally, FutureMAP will investigate ancillary topics such as incentives for participation, the use of information markets in conjunction with natural markets, and regulatory and logistical issues.