Tuesday, July 29, 2003


Pentagon Prepares a Futures Market on Terror Attacks  

Pentagon Prepares a Futures Market on Terror Attacks


WASHINGTON, July 28 — The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists has a new experiment. It is an online futures trading market, disclosed today by critics, in which anonymous speculators would bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups.

Traders bullish on a biological attack on Israel or bearish on the chances of a North Korean missile strike would have the opportunity to bet on the likelihood of such events on a new Internet site established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Well, it seems that not everyone in Washington is infected with The Stupids. Maybe if more people there were science fiction readers, this would have happened some time ago, though whether the Internet could have handled this ten years ago is open to some doubt. Anyway, we see the beginning of the scenario painted so effectively by John Brunner in his great book Shockwave Rider. In the book, the entire world had access to just such a system, except that the results shown to the public were being manipulated by the government in order to influence public opinion, instead of using it as a weather-vane to the future. I can't see anything wrong with the system as a whole, but lets hope that they don't try to follow through on the catastrophic ending!
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