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Wacky Poindexter DARPA Deal

What are the odds? Huh. One of the principles of all good gambling is competition between oddsmakers. This is a sham book. Gamers, beware!
See  http://www.policyanalysismarket.org/pam_home.htm

Defense Dept. Program Taking Terror Bets
Program Models 'Futures' Markets

POSTED: 3:20 p.m. EDT July 28, 2003 - WBAL Baltimore

A new Department of Defense program allows traders to bet on the likelihood of future terrorist attacks.

The department's "Defense Advanced Research Project Agency" designed what it calls the "The Policy Analysis Market."

The program works much like the financial markets where traders buy and sell "futures" based on the possibility of a specific event in the Middle East, 11 News reported.

Some of the examples listed on the agency's Web site include the assassination of Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat and a missile attack by North Korea. Bidders would profit if the events for which they hold futures occur.

Defense officials said the market-based system is highly accurate when assessing such things as political and civil stability, economic health and military disposition of Middle East countries.

Participants would only have to pick a username and password to participate and the agency said it won't have access to their identities or funds.

But critics said this allows terrorists who are planning an attack to profit on the assault or even make false bets to mislead authorities.

Members of Congress said the market idea is not only wasteful, but repugnant.

"I think this is unbelievably stupid. That is a gentle thing to say about a program that is so devoid of value," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, said. "It combines the worst of all our values in my judgment. It's a tragic waste of taxpayer money. It will be totally offensive to almost everyone."

"[The] idea of a federal betting parlor on atrocities and terrorism is ridicules and grotesque," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said. "The bizarre plan we are describing today is a waste of taxpayer money and it needs to stop immediately. The program's intent is clear: the federal government is encouraging people to bet on and make money from atrocities and terrorist attacks."

Registration for the site begins Friday and will be limited to the first 1,000 traders. Actual trading will begin Sept. 1 and the Department of Defense plans to open the site to 10,000 traders by Jan. 1, 2004.
i can't believe i'm reading this. not bizarre, but sick. 28.Jul.2003 19:24

this thing here

is this true? this just blows my mind. from the website:

>The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is interested in improving on existing techniques for predicting future events and for assessing the issues that underlie and influence what might happen. DARPA has funded the development and operations of PAM. U.S. government agencies will not be allowed to participate in PAM and DARPA will not have access to the identities or funds of PAM traders.<

so DARPA funds the entire idea, yet cannot take part in it. i have never seen a more clear of sign of corporatism. a government security agency developes a capitalist trading system that bets on the security policies of the very same government in the hopes of using it to make anonymous traders wealthy and, according to the website, predict and influence future events by "using market forces".

this entire project reeks of greed, psychopathy, and corporatism.

there are some very, very sick people in washington.

Sucker born every minute 28.Jul.2003 22:07

Tom

As the poster indicates, the essence of gambling is competition among the odds makers-- which can only happen if the outcome is unknown.

Suppose you gamble (enter the "futures market") on whether Yasser Arafat (or for that matter, a European president) is assassinated. Someone in the government knows for a fact whether, and when, this will happen. They aren't gambling; they will pick up the money-- just as the shadowy figures who "bet" on airline futures prior to 9-01-01 pocketed some major change.

This is not gambling, it is corporate crime. If you ever wondered whether the US Government is an arm of the Mafia, then this should end that concern.

Exactly my point, dude 28.Jul.2003 23:11

Foo

Right. We take it for granted the government is been hijacked, our tax dough is burnt paying off the squealers in Iraq, etc. But to shovel in on the pure streetcorner J P Morgan racket of a fixed game is so low it's sillyfying. It's a giggle-test.

Are you high? Enough? Yet?

Don Delillo is out of a job. There is no fiction which can surpass John Poindexter. What if James Bond were Gomez Adams, and we all believed that switch was good and true?

Yup 29.Jul.2003 12:27

James

It's truly strange for the government to be creating such a system. (For the reasons you've all mentioned, and Sen. Dorgan's point about relying on individual views of media reports instead of gathered intelligence).

It's also twisted to apply it to specific and violent events like assasination. I think I might be a bit displeased if Internet traders were wagering on the likelihood of my being shot in the head.

But if it was a private group taking trades on the political futures of world leaders, it might be fun.

 http://www.intrade.com/jsp/intrade/contractSearch/xml/ContractSearch.jsp

InTrade has basically the same idea and has been doing this for a while. It seems to be pretty accurate, and the 2000 election results were predicted quite well. Right now, you can goto InTrade and buy futures in any of the Democratic Primary candidates. (Or many other political events).

Similarly, the Iowa Electronic Market has been trading political futures for a while:  http://www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem/

"Facing outraged Democratic senators, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said he learned of the program in the newspaper while heading to a Senate Foreign Relations hearing on Iraq."

'I share your shock at this kind of program," he said. "We'll find out about it, but it is being terminated.'"

I think perhaps Adm. Poindexter should be terminated as well, as he seems to continually come up with stupid ideas. ( http://www.darpa.mil/iao/TIASystems.htm)

Supposedly this is canceled... 29.Jul.2003 12:27

Anax

 http://www.quicken.com/investments/news_center/story/?story=NewsStory/dowJones/20030729/ON200307291307001376.var&column=P0DFP

Warner Says Pentagon To Scrap Terror-Futures Market Plan
Tuesday, July 29, 2003 01:07 PM ET Printer-friendly version

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon will abandon a plan to establish a futures market to help predict terrorist strikes, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday.

See the link for the full story.

Supposedly this thing is DOA. My bet is that, if it does not already exist, it will be a private affair...


Offline coverup 29.Jul.2003 12:51

Foo

Well, the site for this deal is offline according to  http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/29/politics/29WIRE-PENT.html and see for yourself at  http://www.policyanalysismarket.org/pam_home.htm.

Someone should find this site using the Wayback Machine - keep it available for everyone to see. I can't seem to make it work today.

Well, I'm off to burn books.

over the top 29.Jul.2003 16:01

Sue Donim

It's hard to believe. It's also ironic, because this is EXACTLY the scenario described in "Assassination Politics," an essay by a libertarian, Jim Bell, that landed HIM in jail on bogus charges for years! 'Cept now, it seems the guvment that jailed him is seeing the usefulness of the idea for their own ends! Will ironies never cease! Still, something tells me that this won't be the truly FREE MARKET so eulogized by our rulers nowadays, but rather a HIGHLY REGULATED one. There won't be any bets allowed to be placed on the assassination Tricky Dick Cheney, for instance, or his copilot.

Stunned at the ignorance of the critics 01.Aug.2003 12:54

Dr. Peabody

It's not surprising that politicians in the opposite camp have seized upon a respectable experiment and used it to further short-term personal political gain at the expense of the country. That's what politicians do. Back in the 60s and 70s, Senator WIlliam Proxmire destroyed the careers or a good many scientists by ridiculing their work with his "Golden Fleece" awards. He knew he was attacking good research. He just didn't care.

What's really surprising is the apparant ignorance of the responders in this list, who I assumed would be a fairly well educated lot- not the type to respond to appeals to emotion and igniorance. This sort of experiment- using a futures market to gather information- has been done many times in academia and in industry. In fact, groups of economists have been running experiments like this for years. Read and educate yourselves:

 http://www.ncpa.org/pd/govern/pd071700f.html

I don't think anyone really understands what is going on here 02.Aug.2003 20:27

Rick Parente Ph.D. rickparente@earthlink.net

I have done several studies on the accuracy of the Delphi Method, which is used to predict future events. My recent studies focused on predicting terrorism. The Delphi Method is commonly used by government think tanks to forecast the likelihood of events that could impact on the welfare of the US. The phenomena of Delphi involves asking several panelist to predict the probability and likely time course for hypothetical but possible future events (e.g., a terrorist attack). Usually, the consensus opinion of the group is more accurate than are most of the individual panelists' predictions. My last study with Delphi was able to predict the outcome of the Clinton/Lewinski impeachment hearings along with critical facts surrounding the invasion of Afghanistan with about 90% accuracy. Another study found that providing monetary incentives improved significantly the accuracy of the panels. My sense is that this study is designed to enhance the effect of the monetary incentive effect. Although this may sound like a horrible thing to do, the defence department study may be a good way to predict the likelihood of future terrorist attacks.