As reported here by Wired Magazine, the US Defense Department is paying Lockheed Martin a $1.3 million, 15-month contract to help develop the « Integrated Crises Early Warning System, or ICEWS. The program will « let military commanders anticipate and respond to worldwide political crises and predict events of interest and stability of countries of interest with greater than 80% accuracy ». The plan is to track « differences » in the global flow of digital information and generate intelligence by extrapolating evolutions paths using existing local situation specs. Much like pervasive intelligence theories, this « social meteorology » research expect to turn quantity into quality. Some experiences such as NewsFutures have already showed that the wisedom of a crowd, even a very motivated one, hardly reaches the level of expertise of a single specialist on a selected subject. Therfore I am very baffled by the money and effforts placed into developping a technology that is eager to generate misunderstandings and fatal errors. In my humble opinion, such project, if it is actually something else than a smoke layer over a money transfer from a government to the military industry, could be evaluated as a terminal proof of administrative decadence, a very harmful stuation where a self-disturbed macroorganism tries to implement sensors based on fulgy theories instead of rationalizing itself. We used to call this the Big Map syndrom where the map is seen as a true version of the territory’s reality. It turned empires into wonderful dramas. This time, it’s even more a religious tendency than a simplification of reality, an urgent need for a way to overpass human expertise, sensing and balancing. Sadly, the more we spend on prospecting the future, the more we may be surprized and pushed into negative reaction.
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