Terrorism Futures: Stunts and Hunts

There’s two gaming opportunities receiving wide coverage these days for their crassness: one lets you bet on the probability of new terrorist events, and the other gives you the opportunity to hunt naked women in the desert and then shoot them with paint guns.

The first is a real proposal. DARPA believes that extending their existing FutureMap program (Futures Markets Applied to Prediction) to include actual betting on scenarios involving “the economic, civil, and military futures of Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Iraq (news – web sites), Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey and the impact of US involvement with each,” says DARPA.

The other is a much-protested and controversial game based on a video called Bambi Hunt, in which men hunt and shoot naked women with paint guns. I received many emails asking me to comment on the games – but I never did, except to say that the whole story stank of a good Media Virus. (This opinion never made it into any of the articles for which I was interviewed, lest it discredit the merits of the story.) Of course, the controversy over whether Las Vegas should have granted a gaming license to men who intended to shoot paint balls at naked women did turn out to be a publicity stunt intended to promote the video in which this activity was photographed.

Might DARPA’s efforts be a similar lure? The Futures program is to be supervised by Poindexter and crew – the same guys charged with Total Information Awareness. What use might they have – not just for futures data – but for knowledge of who is betting against US interests, and when? I can’t think of which would be worse: losing money in a terrorism futures market, or the knock on the door after having won.

There some things it’s going to get increasingly dangerous to predict.

(Thanks to Aaron Naparstek for sending me the Darpa article this morning.)

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