sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, November 27, 2009

Can Computers Predict the Future?


Military planners have long used war games to plan for future conflicts. Beginning in the 1950s, defense analysts began to develop computer-based models to predict the outcomes of military battles that incorporated elements of game theory. Such models were often restricted to two opposing forces, and often had a strict win-lose resolution.

Today, defense analysts face situations that are more complex, not only in that conflicts may involve several opposing groups within a region, but also in that military actions are only part of an array of options available in trying to foster stable, peaceful conditions. For example, in the current conflict in Afghanistan, analysts try to estimate how particular actions by their forces—building schools, burning drug crops, or performing massive security sweeps—will affect interactions between the many diverse ethnic groups in the region.


I'll grant you that the smartest computer in the world could not have predicted on September 12, 2001 that a quasi Muslim - call him a Muslim of convenience - Barack Hussein Obama (mmm.mmm.mmm) would have risen to be the next American President.  That notwithstanding, can our outlandish behavior, given that we frequently act against our best self-interest, be predicted by computer gaming? Can virtual worlds help us to avoid pitfalls by "gaming" the outcome?



Do you believe that this sort of game-related activity could predict voting behavior of the American public in the future?

8 comments:

  1. A computer is very good at predicting what's going to happen, when the other side is also using computers to do its thinking.

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  2. Very interesting questions. Gaming may give us a glimpse at what the future may hold for us. Whether gaming can effect voting outcomes, I am not quite sure about. Some games are very surreal and possibly can give be more truthful than our politicians would want us to see and believe. So, you never know what the gaming experience might reveal about the future.

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  3. Predicting the future consists of coming up with an educated guess. It is still a guess, but the more input and analysis, the closer it may come to reality. Or not.

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  4. The Luddite in me believes there are too many variable factors that prevent from trusting such data.

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  5. I'm sorry I missed this one, LL ... I must've slept.


    Your point is a great one. I prefer to think of computers as tools. It's funny because I teach (or taught) as if machines have a "life". But in this sense (imho), they are tools which help humans predict ... maybe better, if not faster. The best computers can do (again, imho) is to extrapolate based on inputs provided. Humans can do that by themselves. AI has not yet developed to the point where a computer can act scientifically on a "hunch".

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It's virtual - it's a mirage - it's life