DARPA's Policy Analysis Market for Intelligence: Outside the Box or Off the Wall? [open pdf - 160KB]
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was born in the uncertain days after the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1958. Its mission was to become an engine of technological change that would bridge the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use (Bray, 2003). In late July 2003, the Agency backed off a plan to set up a kind of futures market (Policy Analysis Market or PAM) that would allow investors to earn profits by betting on the likelihood of such events as regime changes in the Middle East. Critics, mainly politicians and op-ed writers, attacked the futures project on the grounds that it was unethical and in bad taste to accept wagers on the fate of foreign leaders and the likelihood of terrorist attacks. The project was canceled a day after it was announced. Its head, retired Admiral John Poindexter, has resigned. This document examines some questions on the contentious debate over the Policy Analysis Market: How were the markets supposed to work? What were PAM's underlying theoretical and empirical assumptions? What was PAM supposed to produce in the way of intelligence? As the title of this essay asks, was the project an innovate way of thinking outside the box or just an off-the-wall idea?
Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Contemporary Conflict: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil
Strategic Insights (September 2003), v.2 no.9