THOLOS OF ATHENA

Sunday, August 10, 2003

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST

Total Information Awareness was recently re-named Terrorist Information Awareness; but such an exercise in surrealism simply pales when compared to the brainchild of Pentagon DARPA chief, Adm. John Poindexter, the man who has caused such a ruckus for the past few weeks. The bureau under his supervision had begun to set up what is called the Policy Analysis Market, a subsidiary of of a division called, Futures Markets Applied to Prediction (FutureMAP). (A good description of this mechanism is found in a California weblog: Byrd's Brain). An online futures market would take bets on specific terrorist scenarios; it was meant to establish a speculative kind of game, based on probable currency of assassinations, regime changes, and a whole gamut of political violence. Poindexter's pet project would have been financed with $8 million of Pentagon money. "The Policy Analysis Market would work much like other financial markets, with investors buying 'futures' they think are likely to happen, and selling off futures as they believe events become less and less likely to happen"(Byrd). A CNN.com article also names private-sector partners in this enterprise: "Net Exchange, a market technologies company, and the Economist Intelligence Unit, the business information arm of The Economist magazine". Soon Poindexter began to feel a wave of derision, ridicule, and plain incredulity moving toward him. Both within and outside government, a consensus seemed to form. There was no question that Poindexter had gone off the rails, had left reality altogether. The uncertainty could only relate to exactly when this departure might have taken place.

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The full post of this article by Copeland Morris appeared August 04, 2003 in politx.

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