The apparent suddenness of the eruption of unrest in the Arab world raises a question: Is it possible to forecast unrest? Analysts say that the upheavals in the Arab world are the perfect opportunity to put the best models of human conflict to the test.
New Scientists reports that, unfortunately, only those with access to classified intelligence documents will find out the results.
It is a problem that has troubled the field of conflict modeling for years. Many military funding bodies, notably the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), bankroll attempts to forecast revolutions, terrorist activity, and other conflicts — but results emerge into the public domain only piecemeal, if they come out at all.
Take the Political Instability Task Force, funded by the CIA and based at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Since it was formed in 1994, it has used historical data on conflicts, political structures, and economics to rate the stability of countries around the world. Details of the model are publicly available, but the forecasts that the task force hands to the CIA are not.
Labels: CIA» DARPA» George Mason University» Political Instability Task Force