Predicting Civil Wars

May 24, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

The Economist reviewed some of the computing technologies that are being developed to predict civil wars. Some of the more notable ones include:

  • Tribal links are necessarily strong in Iraq and Afghanistan as it’s difficult to trust the motives of people from other tribes. This means that bombs will be planted in tribal territory, close to the places they are made. Using data about previous bomb locations and the ethnic-lingual distribution within the region algorithms can predict where ammunitions dump can be located.
  • In East Africa a computer program called RiftLand tracks the migration of people and analyzes who they might clash with in times of conflict and drought, helping the US navy to predict conflict.
  • Another system called Condor tracks data from social media, ranking the individual users based on their influence, and identifying the types of messages they send out. Based on this data it is possible to predict how long protest movements will last. In particular when tweets become cynical it means that a protest movement will soon burn out.
  • Lockheed Martin is developing a system that can forecast “riots, rebellions, coups, economic crises, government crackdowns and international wars.”

To read many more examples, some of the advantages and drawbacks of these systems, a system that can recommend strategies to deal with conflicts, what this means for terrorist networks, and the $10 million bounty that might soon be won by one of these computer systems, click here.

Source: The Economist

Via: Chris Blattman