I've been compiling a list of qualitative and quantitative foresight (prediction) methods and the total has passed over 50.
New Scientist magazine this week reviews one quantitative method called Bayesian Game Theory, in surprisingly quite an understandable fashion, that even a lay person like me can understand...well maybe not all the math details but the overall workings are quite clear.
Ever wonder what methods the CIA uses to predict complex geopolitical events?
They turn to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a professor of politics at New York University, who back in 1979 developed a game theory based prediction model, which he calls predictioneering. He says" I can predict events and decisions that involve negotiations, coercion (lies, bluffing, reneging on promises), cooperation or bullying." The model predicts what people will do in "strategic situations" where the outcome also depends on other people's decisions ie domestic politics, foreign policy, geopolitical conflicts, business decisions and social interactions.
New Scientist writes: "
"Over the past 30 years, Bueno de Mesquita has made thousands of predictions about hundreds of issues from geopolitics to personal problems. Overall, he claims, his hit rate is about 90 per cent. So how does he do it?
Examples: Terrorism & Climate Change
"Bueno de Mesquita recently used it to make a prediction on the political situation in
In January 2008 the students fed in data on all the players, including the
US, 's then president Pervez Musharraf and other leading Pakistani politicans. Their assumption was that the Pakistan USwould offer foreign aid to persuade Pakistan's leaders to target the terrorists, and Pakistanwould try to extract the maximum amount of aid possible from the . US
The model predicted that to get maximum cooperation from
Pakistan, the would need to donate at least $1.5 billion in 2009, double the projected 2008 figure. In return for this US would pursue the terrorists on a scale of 80 out of 100, but no more. In other words, the leadership would make considerable effort to reduce the terrorist threat but not to completely eliminate it. "The Pakistani government are no fools," explains Bueno de Mesquita. "They know that the money will dry up if Al-Qaida and the Taliban are destroyed. So they will rein the threat in and reduce it, but not utterly destroy it." Pakistan
The outcome? According to Bueno de Mesquita, the
USgovernment authorised $1.5 billion in foreign aid to in 2009, and the Pakistani leadership sustained pursuit of the militants at that level. "We have done very well," says Bueno de Mesquita. Pakistan
So what of the future? Another of Bueno de Mesquita's recent predictions addresses the future of climate change negotiations up to 2050. Depressingly, he predicts that although the world will negotiate tougher greenhouse gas reductions than in the
Kyotoprotocol, in practise these are likely to be abandoned as Brazil, Indiaand Chinarise in power in relation to the European Union and the ." US
See: The Man who sees the Future, New Scientist Volume 250 No 2752 March 20,2010, pg 42