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Bruce Bueno de Mesquita Uses Games To See the Future

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the shall-we-play-a-game dept.

Math 134

parallel_prankster writes "Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is a professor of politics at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. In his new book, The Predictioneer (The Predictioneer's Game in the US), he describes a computer model based on game theory which he — and others — claim can predict the future with remarkable accuracy. The website also has a game page where he provides an online version of the game and information on how to play." The (semi-paywalled; may need to register) New Scientist has a story on de Mesquita, too; a snippet: "Over the past 30 years, Bueno de Mesquita has made thousands of predictions about hundreds of issues from geopolitics to personal problems. Overall, he claims, his hit rate is about 90 per cent."

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Bruce Bueno de Mesquita predicted this first post. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533314)

..................what an amazing individual!

If he isn't already rich then he's lying (4, Funny)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533320)

But then, he knew I'd say this.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (3, Insightful)

red_blue_yellow (1353825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533390)

From TFA:

How is such accuracy possible? What Bueno de Mesquita is not doing is predicting random events such as lottery draws. Nor does he claim to be able to forecast the movement of stock markets, the outcome of general elections or the onset of financial crises - events where millions of people have a small influence, but none is able to move the market on their own.

Rather, he confines himself to "strategic situations" where relatively small numbers of people are haggling over a contentious decision. "I can predict events and decisions that involve negotiation or coercion, cooperation or bullying," he says. That includes domestic politics, foreign policy, conflicts, business decisions and social interactions.

Now, that's not to say that he couldn't make money using the predictions, but maybe he's actually more interested in the science/mathematics side of it than the business potential?

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (3, Interesting)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533494)

So I guess he doesn't need funding then? Oh and doesn't have any good causes he feels could benefit from donated earnings?

As for not predicting the movement of stock markets, if you can predict business decisions you can predict selected market movements. Will XYZ get the contract? Their stock will go up. Will Mr. suchandsuch decide to buy company z? You can bet company Z stock is going to rise. When you make or lose money based on your predictions every prediction is documented - if you're up you're right and if not you're wrong.

The value of a "90 pct hit rate" can only be reasonably compared to a combination of other forecasting methods and random chance. Documentation of every prediction, wrong and right is essential.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (5, Funny)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533524)

You used 'lose' instead of 'loose' when the correct word is 'lose'. Is the interweb broken? Next we will see someone in a car analogy slowing the vehicle by applying the 'brakes'.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533642)

Not if they specify Toyota.

Irrelevent - English is dead (-1, Troll)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534040)

It's been killed with doubleplusgood words like "predictioneer" because neither the author, editor or a string of others could be bothered to notice that dictionaries exist.
USA - stop teaching fucking ebonics and teach your children how to read and write English instead. It's not just the poor in LA that got shafted by Reagan and everyone since on education, it's the whole lot of you.

Re:Irrelevent - English is dead (-1, Troll)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534290)

oh fuck off you ignorant pedantic troll.

The english language has no governing body.
If a word or phrase is used by a decent portion of the general population then it's english.
No ifs.
No buts.
The oxford english dictionary is just a private organization with no power to say what is and is not english.

It doesn't matter if your enlish teacher thinks different, that just means he's been too lazy to keep up with the changes in the language.

As such every single fucking time some moron on slashdot tries convince people that against all the evidence he has a triple digit IQ by piping up with pedantic drivel about how something isn't popper english he does nothing but demonstrate his utter ignorance of the matter.

Re:Irrelevent - English is dead (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534702)

So who else is using "Predictioneer" then?
Convince me that it's not just dumbed down bullshit to take advantage of the poorly educated and you'll have a point.

Re:Irrelevent - English is dead (1)

chilvence (1210312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31535264)

Don't be so high and mighty. The English language owes all of its current fame to flexibility. At one point in its history it completely resembled German through and through, and then various cultures had their way with it, expanding the vocabulary and refining or simplifying the pronounciation. English scholars of that era liked that so much, they even developed their own habit of coining new words from foreign languages, which is probably one of the secret reasons why even after it was long dead, Latin was still being taught religiously in England until last century - it gave us a handy source of vocabulary to draw on when our own ran out. All the languages of the world are made from other languages, and new words come into existence every single day, surviving for as long as other people recognise their use and intelligability, sometimes even by accident as foreign learners introduce words that make logical sense, but had not been in use for whatever reason.

  One can only hope that those un-indoctrinated people will use their initiative, and finally break the back of our pompous, contrived, third rate and ridiculously incongruous spelling system for us, the worst in modern Europe, ridiculed by people in countries that have half our literacy rate , since all we can do is stand up on high and piss all over anyone who doesn't give it 100% respect.

Re:Irrelevent - English is dead (2, Funny)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534314)

Oh, a kingdom for the option to mod a post ironic, no matter how irrelevant it may be.

Re:Irrelevent - English is dead (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534606)

Odd that you reply that way to a post about why a lose/loose mistake doesn't matter at all.

Re:Irrelevent - English is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31534846)

You really need to read the "lose/loose" post again.

Re:Irrelevent - English is dead (1)

rve (4436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534352)

English no longer belongs to native speakers, get used to it.

Re:Irrelevent - English is dead (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31534566)

If not Him, then who?
or Hoo!

Re:Irrelevent - English is dead (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534924)

If not Him, then who?
or Hoo!

Dr. Hu

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (4, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533818)

I read part of his book since his book uses what one would call behavioral economics. A very interesting field. What I don't like about him is that he manipulates (read the book). And as such believes that manipulation is everything. I stopped reading half way because I hated his style. That is his flaw since not everybody can be manipulated. People can act irrationally. That he does not account for in his model, and is what I would think is a major flaw. It is sort of like saying, "Greece will be bailed out, Greece will be bailed out" Why? Because that the logical choice and would be according to this guy who does predictions.

What they all forget is Germany... Germany is now saying, "hey Greece head over to the IMF" It is at that point the financial community says, "ooops..." But if you are investing money it is a big f****g oops! And that big f****g oops is what causes financial companies to loose money...

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533862)

What I don't like about him is that he manipulates (read the book).

Nice try, prof. de Mesquita, but we know about sarcasm.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533880)

You keep using the word "loose" - it doesn't mean what you think it does

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534140)

"behavioral economics. A very interesting field."

Sounds like BS. The idea that you could apply a mathematical formula to something as unpredictable as human behavior, even in group situations, is somewhat absurd if given a properly diverse set of people.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534366)

"behavioral economics. A very interesting field."

Sounds like BS. The idea that you could apply a mathematical formula to something as unpredictable as human behavior, even in group situations, is somewhat absurd if given a properly diverse set of people.

Actually it's not - it looks at human behavior related to decision making as as part of the way to explain economic decisions; and seeks to understand apparent irrationality in the market, for example. As such, it is somewhat at odds with efficient market theory which makes Chicago's mens tennis doubles team of Fama / Thaler an interesting combination.

Not surprisingly, human behavior is often not that unpredictable as people may think, especially in larger groups. There's a large body of research on decision making and economics that is quite fascinating and illuminating.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31535646)

You cannot predict the future. You can predict behaviour pretty accurately.

As Redd Foxx said...
"Oh you don't curse, huh. Well let me take you out to the parking lot and slam your fingers in the door. You will say God Damned and Mother Fucker!"

Great teller of future events.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (0, Redundant)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534936)

"The idea that you could apply a mathematical formula to something as unpredictable as human behavior, even in group situations, is somewhat absurd"

Old news, it's Psychohistory,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory_(fictional) [wikipedia.org]

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 4 years ago | (#31535154)

Human behavior isn't truly random, it can be predicted, though not with a high degree of individual precision.

Offer to give 500 dollars to each person with no strings attached, I think everyone here can make a pretty darned good prediction of whether or not a person would take it. It may not be a 100% accurate prediction, but the outcomes certainly aren't random. This point is just to establish that human behavior forms trends that can be predicted.

After you conclude that there are trends in human behavior, you just need a large enough sample group to find them. You don't need everybody in the sample group to neatly line up on the same response. Let's say 90% take the money, and 10% reject it. You've got a 90% chance of predicting what they'll do. If you want to improve it, figure out why the 10% are really rejecting it. Perhaps they don't trust you, so maybe you can sign a statement attesting that you place no obligation on them for taking your money. If half of that 10% group find this to be enough to accept the money, you can predict that 95% of people will accept 500 dollars if you offer them a signed statement of no obligation with it. You tease out the source of deviation then account for it in the model to get closer to truth.

If you find that in the real world, 20% are rejecting the money, then the model is off and you just need to find out why and account for it, you need to expand the sample set be broad enough to represent the general population and capture all the errors. That's a lot! Or, just get a sample of the set of people you're going to use the model on. If you want to make predictions on Indians, get a sample of Indians. An American may not fit the model, but you wouldn't need to account for his deviation since you aren't planning to use it on him anyway.

It's a monumentally difficult task, but that's not the same as impossible. Simple and relatively obvious predictions can be made, but over time, more factors can be accounted for. It's also why the summary sounds like a load of crap, because I don't believe one man can close the massive gap of unknown factors all by himself, even with a lifetime of work.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (2, Insightful)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534386)

Yeah, it's like the turkey predicting that tomorrow it will go to sleep well fed. It will be wrong only once after all. Just before thankgiving. Not a bad score, right ?

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534414)

If his theories are based on manipulation, manipulation based theories should have NOT predicted the market bubble, as everyone was being manipulated into being rich. Further manipulation should have predicted an increasing, never-ending bubble. Sounds like he and the banks use the same theories; whoops, model wrong.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31535456)

I have found if you rub peanut oil on your balls, cover them with powdered sugar, and then hold dangle them them out by the monkey cage at the zoo you will see visions of the future.

--- The Great Ballzinei... has spoken

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533500)

Now, that's not to say that he couldn't make money using the predictions, but maybe he's actually more interested in the science/mathematics side of it than the business potential?

I've heard that sort of excuse a lot, but I don't buy it. (heh.) You can buy pretty much anything with money. Saying you're not interested in money is saying that you're not interested in anything you can buy with money. The only person who genuinely have no interest in anything you can buy with money are the people who already have it all, and even they would start being interested in money if they lost it all.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1, Insightful)

koxkoxkox (879667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533654)

You can buy pretty much anything with money.

I really don't want your life ...

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533680)

How do you mean? All that jazz about "the most important things in life are free"... sure, if you're comfortably fed, clothed, and protected. Romantic walks on the beach, religious activities, whatever else it was that you were thinking of that money can't buy - I can guarantee that they would not be too high up your list of priorities if you were freezing, starving, or in physical danger.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (2, Funny)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533856)

As MAD Magazine said years ago: "The best things in life are free. The expensive part is paying for the dinner and movie that comes first".

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1)

koxkoxkox (879667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534164)

Remember we are talking about the possibility of a guy saying : "ok, I don't want that much money, I have enough". Of course, if he doesn't have a home and enough to eat he should to have more money.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (2, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533824)

In my early investing career I asked in a forum, "if somebody has a money making strategy why would they not use it themselves?"

Two answers:

1) They don't have enough capitalization and are trying to attract money.
2) Snakeoil...

1 does happen, albeit not that often, but it does. 2 is the more common answer.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (2, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533858)

Yeah. Like that 'rich dad poor dad' guy. He thinks he's a financial guru but what he really did was make a modest fortune by sniping mortgage foreclosure auctions (in essence, ripping off the struggling families who'd just lost their homes), and then when that stopped working, he switched tactics to making money by selling "how to make money" books and giving seminars.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31535120)

Ther's a third option:

They have a method that works, but not as well as selling snakeoil. So they apply their method, and sell it as a miricle cure in parallel to make even more money.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533518)

Money isn't inherently evil - just like how guns don't kill people. If he is interested in a "science" of prediction, shouldn't he try his algorithm on the problem most resilient on any prediction method so far - the stock market?

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (3, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533672)

His model seems to do well in cases where a relatively small number of people have significant influence on the outcome and since accurate predictions about the stock market require a model that both accurately predicts events in industry/production as well as the influence of large numbers of stockholders it probably wouldn't be wise to apply his model to that kind of situation; he even admits as much, that it's only good for fairly small groups.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533834)

The fundamental reason the stock market is not a predictable system is that it is illogical. There are all sorts of manipulations and human errors that defy any logical definition thus predicting them in a logical system (software etc) is impossible. It's like trying to predict which way a ball will fall when dropped off a building when god is randomly inverting gravity.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533392)

it's all government of the 1st world who have machine to manipulate mind.
if you manipulate two powns, thew will thought that each other is the manipulator.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533412)

you spell like a nigger. you probably smell like one too.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533498)

Agreed. Anyone who can predict the stock market with 90% accuracy should be able to make himself a billion dollars in a few months.

Re:If he isn't already rich then he's lying (2, Interesting)

jandersen (462034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31535696)

Why would you assume that the first thing anybody with a good idea would do, is to go and make money from it? Things like altruism and curiosity for its own sake are arguably some of the traits that make humans "human"; and there are many things that are much more interesting and satisfying than money.

That aside, the purpose of game theory as such is to predict the behaviour of systems, so it isn't so surprising that they achieve some success. The big problem, as far as I can see, is to create a model that is realistic enough, pretty much like when you predict the weather, although the method is different. And then you have to know which questions to ask, since the answer may well be something like "42".

Prediction is not actually that difficult in itself; you do it every day when you say things like "Tomorrow I will go to a meeting" - and sure enough, next day you do go to a meeting. This is trivial, of course, but that is all there is to it; the rest is down to how many data you have and whether you are able to take it all into account.

And that, funny enough, is why using a techique like Tarot or I Ching can sometimes be amazingly effective. When you lay out Tarot cards, it is of course entirely random, but that is exactly why it works; because when you try to think about the consequences of some important problem, you are likely focusing too strongly on only a part of the available data, and trying to interpret the random set of images you've laid out breaks you out of the box you have created for yourself - it is, in effect, a form of brainstorming.

Already been done. (4, Funny)

dynamo52 (890601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533338)

Hari Seldon invented psychohistory.

Re:Already been done. (3, Interesting)

Forthac4 (836529) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533374)

I saw an interview with him on The Daily Show and he made mention of the parallel with Seldon.

Re:Already been done. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533656)

Hari Seldon invented psychohistory.

Sounds more like the Moneytron [wikipedia.org] in the 1980s [ivarhagendoorn.com] .

Re:Already been done. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31535910)

Pack your backs. We're heading Terminus.

B.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533342)

In theory, sure, with enough information and accurate models, we can predict things. But we have neither. What he's good at is predicting that if he wants better book sales, he should talk himself up.

rly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533346)

I bet he didn't predict that his web server will be dead soon from the slashdotting.

So, if it works, this is like... (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533352)

...Psychohistory?

90% Accuracy (0)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533368)

Ok, he claims he has 90% accuracy.

What do, you know, independent evaluators of his claims say?

Re:90% Accuracy (5, Informative)

red_blue_yellow (1353825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533418)

Well, actually, they say 90%. From TFA:

According to research by the CIA, Bueno de Mesquita's model is more than 90 per cent accurate (British Journal of Political Science, vol 26, p 441).

Is that independent enough for you?

Re:90% Accuracy (2, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533454)

>>Is that independent enough for you?

Then that should have been posted in the summary instead. Whenever I read self-written claims of a model's accuracy, my bullshit meter goes off.

In related news, Miss Cleo predicts ongoing instability in the Middle East, conflicts over water rights, and people being unhappy with those jokers in government.

Re:90% Accuracy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533474)

>>Is that independent enough for you?

Then that should have been posted in the summary instead. Whenever I read self-written claims of a model's accuracy, my bullshit meter goes off.

In related news, Miss Cleo predicts ongoing instability in the Middle East, conflicts over water rights, and people being unhappy with those jokers in government.

In even more related news, you made a false assumption and are trying to justify it.

Re:90% Accuracy (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533662)

>>In even more related news, you made a false assumption and are trying to justify it.

No, my point was that if you make easy predictions, then it's easy to get a high success rate.

Re:90% Accuracy (1)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534870)

It might have been a false assumption, but it was a logical one to make. What kind of BS summary talks about self claimed accuracy when an independent organization's claims are just as accurate?

Re:90% Accuracy (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533698)

Its a journal of political 'science'. Thats no more a science than social science is. Given the very qualitative nature of some of his predictions/confirmations:

How are things going in Pakistan? The analysis in the penultimate chapter of The Predictioneer’s Game indicated that IF — a contingent forecast — the US gave Pakistan $1.5 billion in aid then the Pakistani government would turn away from making side deals with the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan and, instead, go after them but not wholeheartedly. This is what has been happening.

http://www.predictioneersgame.com/blog

I would say its fairly easy to spin events to get his 90% rate, and I'm not entirely convinced that a journal of a non-quantitative science would necessarily pick up on that Let me know when he gets published in Nature

Re:90% Accuracy (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534176)

"Its a journal of political 'science'. Thats no more a science than social science is."

Just for the record, political "science" IS one of the social "sciences". They call it science because it makes predictions but as you have rightly pointed out testing those predictions is more often a subjective art than an objective measurement.

Re:90% Accuracy (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533430)

What do, you know, independent evaluators of his claims say?

Well he hasn't submitted anything about his computer model to peer review so I'd imagine that it would be something along the lines of show us how or it didn't happen.

Re:90% Accuracy (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534032)

I think the model can be very simple (basically multiply some probabilities). Asking the right questions and getting accurate data is the hard part.

It's very easy to end up with a GIGO situation.

When you predict enough, you gotta be right (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533376)

At least sometimes. If I make a thousand predictions (the more they contradict each other, the better) and only publish them AFTER the results are in, I can easily claim that I can predict the future. It's a simple magician's trick. Ask a person to think of a number between 1 and 10 (or pick a card, or whatever), then hand him a sealed envelope telling him you knew he'd pick that number (or hand him an envelope containing the card). You couldn't write it down and give him that envelope after he chose, so you have to be able to predict it, else you could not have written it down before the show, right?

What you don't hand him are the other envelopes containing the other numbers/cards.

Re:When you predict enough, you gotta be right (1)

MoeDumb (1108389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533584)

What about magicians who leave the sealed card with the answer in plain sight all through the trick? Dai Vernon for one could do it. Can you explain that?

Re:When you predict enough, you gotta be right (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533758)

One method is to write the number on different parts of the object containing the answer.

Re:When you predict enough, you gotta be right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533594)

All your premises -- publish after, only mention positives -- are invalid. He doesn't make that stuff up in his head as he goes.

Re:When you predict enough, you gotta be right (1)

madpansy (1410973) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533618)

Sports picks hotlines also claim to predict the future, and they have to publish well before the results so their customers can place their bets. It's just too bad that every week half of their free picks for first timers are wrong.

Re:When you predict enough, you gotta be right (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534194)

That's actually a well known scam. Someone stands in front of a casino and tells someone a "secret" in exchange for a cut. He claims that he has a deal with the croupier that he fixed the game so it will land on red more often than on black. Of course, he tells the same story to another sucker, in reverse. And when it's time to cash in, he will of course only contact the one who actually really won...

Re:When you predict enough, you gotta be right (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534092)

Nostradamus has prior art

better: predict the opposites (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534334)

If you predict the opposites you can be 99% correct.

If I write 2 opposite predictions for an event that could really only have 2 outcomes (with a very small chance of something else happening altogether) and then in the future I show everyone one of the two, the one that ended up happening, I'd be almost 100% successful at predicting 'the future'.

Re:better: predict the opposites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31534396)

Oh really?! Talk about screwing up statistics... If you make two opposite predictions for an event with a yes/no kind of possibility then only one of the two will be right. And in that case you'll have at best a 50% success rate.

Re:better: predict the opposites (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534742)

dumb ass. I will have a prediction success rate that is very close to a 100% based on many yes/no predictions because there is a possibility that a very remote third thing will happen that I may not even know about, but you missed the whole point.

I make 2 contradicting predictions, make sure that there is a proof of the date when I make the predictions and then based on the outcome of the event I select the prediction that actually happened.

Example: will a stock go up or down? I say it goes up in the envelope A, I say it goes down in the envelope B.

Why is it possible that none of the above things happen? Because a stock maybe blocked or delisted, a company can disappear, a terrorist may strike or a meteorite may take out a city with the company in it. Those are the remote 3rd possibility.

If the stock goes up, I show my prediction A, if the stock goes down, I show my prediction B.

I predict (1)

Crash McBang (551190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533394)

That his 90% hit rate will shrink now that he has the Internetz attention.

Bet he didn't predict *that*...

The future (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533404)

So what of the future? Another of Bueno de Mesquita's recent predictions addresses the future of climate change negotiations up to 2050. Depressingly, he predicts that although the world will negotiate tougher greenhouse gas reductions than in the Kyoto protocol, in practise these are likely to be abandoned as Brazil, India and China rise in power in relation to the European Union and the US.

No word on what we could do to avoid such a fate. It would be interesting to see what if anything could be done to avoid a prisoner's dilemma type situation in the case of AGW mitigation. If the model he's usin could predict such an outcome accurately, it can also predict what could be done to avoid such a negative outcome.

Re:The future (0)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533424)

I'm assuming you're talking about the fate where those countries pass us by because we've deliberately shackled ourselves, because we felt guilty about our own success?

Sure. The way to avoid it is to not do that.

Re:The future (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533544)

Not everything that is your immediate self interest is in your or your species' long term interest. Thievery, fraud and property destruction being perfect examples of this. So while it may benefit the fossil fuel industries to pretend nothing is our doing, the people that have to live with the consequences of pollution in all its forms surely don't. Even the most hard core libertarians admit that pollution is a form of rights violation; the *only* question are whether high levels of CO2 constitute such a case and the science seems to say "yes." As for how to reduce emissions to avoid such property damage, this is less clear cut.

Re:The future (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534206)

"As for how to reduce emissions to avoid such property damage, this is less clear cut."

Yes, in the long run the tradgedy of the commons is a more destructive failure of politics than war.

Re:The future (1)

red_blue_yellow (1353825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533460)

I do think the Prisoner's Dilemma is a very good model for the global warming situation. If you think of it strictly in those terms, the only way to change the Nash equilibrium is to alter the benefits of the different strategies for all players. This could either mean some type of guaranteed punishment for defectors or some type of guaranteed benefit for cooperators. I think most people instinctively realize this -- but enforcing the benefits/penalties on a global scale is the difficult part.

Re:The future (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533558)

guaranteed benefit for cooperators

That's pretty much what I've been saying about the subject of AGW for quite some time now. China and friends are not going to "do the riht thing" unless there's money in it. Find a way to make meaningful AGW mitigation profitable and the problem largely solves its self.

Win 7 SP1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533414)

I'll bet he predicted Win 7 SP1.

Ahmadinejad (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533444)

He "predicted" that Ahmadinejad wouldn't be reelected to the presidency of Iran, because he's group had no popular support. We all know how that ended.

Re:Ahmadinejad (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533482)

He "predicted" that Ahmadinejad wouldn't be reelected to the presidency of Iran, because he's group had no popular support. We all know how that ended.

I'm sure he assumed the elections were fair. ;)

In any case, regimes with leaders like that don't need to get reelected. They just declare themselves dictator-for-life.

Re:Ahmadinejad (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533574)

We all know how that ended.

Well technically, he probably wasn't wrong on that point. It is quite possible, if not likely, that Ahmadinehad wasn't actually elected by the people of Iran but remained in power because the elections were rigged and didn't really matter anyway.

Re:Ahmadinejad (1)

mgvrolijk (215830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31535094)

He probably should have toggled the Cheating Bastard check box.

Re:Ahmadinejad (1)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31535616)

Yeah picking on him for missing that prediction is like harping on somebody for predicting Nancy Kerrigan would win the 1994 US Skating Championship.

Spanish-speaking cannibals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533508)

I predict that if Bruce ever get eaten by cannibals, he would taste good barbecued with mesquite.

Not "the Future" (3, Insightful)

plasticsquirrel (637166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533536)

He doesn't claim to be able to simply "predict the future." Accurate information is only given in situations where a limited number of people are making a decision, and where accurate information is available on them for input. The key is basically that it assumes that serious decisions are made primarily according to the players' own interests (a reasonable assumption). Given the limited problem set, it doesn't seem too unrealistic to believe that one could make a very simple, basic model with some level of accuracy. Even without elegant theories, if accurate inputs and outputs from past events were available, a statistical model could probably be generated automatically.

I wonder if eventually every government will spend significant time consulting these machine-oracles? It reminds me of the various mathematical methods of prediction that still exist in China and India. Some of the Chinese models still require a significant amount of abacus shuffling, and a large set of reference books for all the possibilities. These were probably formed from similar basic methods of trying to gather data, compare it, and map inputs to outputs.

Re:Not "the Future" (1)

madpansy (1410973) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533718)

I wonder if eventually every government will spend significant time consulting these machine-oracles?

It's certainly not new. I remember reading about John von Neumann's interest in game theory and some of his work at RAND developing it for use in analyzing international relations. For example, it was the RAND corporation that used game theory to support the strategy of mutually assured destruction as a nuclear deterrent.

Re:Not "the Future" (1)

mugurel (1424497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534608)

Right! And if he were to predict the future, we would stop calling it future. What use is a future if you can predict it?

I predict... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533540)

I predict that the people who pay attention to geo-politics and have a decent grasp of historical parallels can make an awful lot of money accurately forcasting the future by pretending to rely on mysterious and magical/scientific means.

We've never seen this sort of thing in history *cough cough astrology cough cough* have we?

Care to buy my "game theory"? I can give you 90% accuracy, just ask my "independant" buddies at the CIA... after all, what do they know about future political events? ;)

in7ormativ3 goatgoat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533542)

series of deba

What's he predicted? (4, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533748)

I can believe a 90% hit rate. I can predict the future, and so can you, with 90% accuracy. See, if you don't claim to be able to predict EVERYTHING then you can easily "predict" obvious things.

I predict that tomorrow someone will die in the world.
I predict that tomorrow at least one person will spend $100 on a TV somewhere in the US.
I predict that tomorrow the temperature will be higher than 32 deg F in California.

Tomorrow look up these details and see how many I get right. I CAN PREDICT THE FUTURE!!

This guy claims to be able to predict "only certain things" which really means he's predicting things obvious even if it's not obvious that they're obvious. For example, he claims to be able to predict foreign policy. Did he predict foreign policy, or did he just watch the news and make some predictions based off of what all the political analysts are saying?

From TFA "These [predictions] include whether or not North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong II, would dismantle his nation's nuclear arsenal" How stupid do you have to be to believe that he "predicted" this? Everyone and their fucking aunt is watching the news, everyone is reporting on it, the government is doing fucking insane amounts of research and analysis as to what foreign leaders' views are regarding nuclear weapons. It's not that hard to make a guess as to what's going to happen when you have that much information available to you.

Re:What's he predicted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533886)

Predictions are of course possible.

But it's all based on probability, so what it does, is give an indication of what to come. You can reach very high levels of probability as well, but unless you have all the data of the universe (and a machine to process it), it will be a qualified guess.

I think its a good prediction, if you, through a model and a few billion pieces of information, a few days of processing and pattern search, can predict the effect on a segment on people, even if only 70% actually do as predicted. It's still a huge help. You can detect all kinds of disasters through this kind of prediction, detect coming diseases in people so that tests can be made in good time etc. In other words, it's not just fancy magic. It's mathematics that truly helps in a plethora of things, where you want to prevent or react on possible future events.

I'd say go for it. The better we can guess about tomorrow, the better we can prepare.

yuo :fa$il it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31533792)

YOUR SPARE TIME if desir3d, we Create, manuf"acture about half of the enjoy the loud

This method is NOT 'future seeing' (2, Informative)

nido (102070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533844)

From the /. story headline (emphasis added):

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita Uses Games To See the Future

Having read the fine links, it seems Mr. de Mesquita doesn't actually "see the future". He gathers data and throws it into his computer, which applies game rules to determine the most likely outcome. To me, "seeing the future" implies predicting the unpredictable - assasinations, a meteor taking out a major area, the abdication of a king (so he could marry his American sweetheart), etc.

Indeed, here's a quote from the New Scientist article:

According to political scientist Nolan McCarty of Princeton University, this is the real strength of the approach. "I suspect the model's success is largely due to the fact that Bueno de Mesquita is very good on the input side; he's a very knowledgeable person and a widely respected political scientist. I'm sceptical that the modelling apparatus adds as much predictive power as he says it does."

Methinks Mr. de Mesquita's method works because he meticulously gathers excellent data. If his data was sloppy, his rate of successful "predictions" would be much lower than it is.

Sometimes events which are 'unpredictable' happen. In retrospect we say, 'oh yes, this event was the only logical event to have taken place'. But such an event is typically unthinkable before it happens. Mr. deMesquita's model doesn't allow for the unpredictable, and is therefore NOT 'future seeing'.

I have a book on seeing the future. Here's a quote from the first couple pages that I typed up for a 2008 election prediction poll on K5 [kuro5hin.org] a while back:

Your Nostradamus Factor, by Ingo Swann [biomindsuperpowers.com]

Chapter 1: Jumping The Time Barrier

Like many others, I've had good reasons during my life to assume that the future can be seen. But if I had any doubt it would have vanished as a result of an astonishing forty-five seconds when I found myself in Detmold, then in West Germany, in the spring of 1988.

Detmold is near the beautiful Teutoburger Forest and a famous pre-Christian shrine, Horn-Externstein, which is a pile of towering rocks riddled with sonorous caves. Until the time of Charlemagne it is said that Nordic kings came to Horn-Externstein to consult seers about the future.

I was invited to Detmold by Herr Manfred Himmel in April 19988 to give a series of lectures about psi research. This was Herr Himmel's fifth "esoteric" conference, and it was well attended by several hundred people. Herr Himmel was ardent about psychic matters, and the talks of his other speakers were interesting to me. Some of these speakers were also practicing psychics who were busy giving individual "readings" and making predictions about the future.

I was billed as the famous American superpsychic who had "astonished scientists" since my first formal laboratory experiments in 1970. But I have never given individual "readings," and I never made predictions about the future.

Many of Herr Himmel's conference attendees were visibly disappointed that I did not give the expected readings and did not foresee the future. Although I had studied "prophecy" and predicting for many years and had even experienced some novel insights about it, I was well aware that most predictions turn out to be wrong. I felt I had a scientific reputation to protect, which would be damaged if I accumulated a list of erroneous predictions. Moreover, I didn't view myself as a future-seer in any professional sense, and I though that predicting should be left to those who were or at least tried to be.

I gave several lectures and workshops at the conference, as well as the keynote address. I had worked hard at preparing this address, entitling it "Revising Psychic Research Methods and Expectations in the New Age," and even gave the opening statements in German before continuing in English with the aid of a translator.

This was, I thought, and important lecture. And, indeed, the audience listened attentively. When the talk was over, I asked for questions. The hall was silent -- until an elderly woman sitting in the second row stood up and meekly asked: "Herr Schwann, won't you give us at least one prediction?"

Caught very unexpectedly and in clear view between the proverbial rock and a hard place, I began grasping for a diplomatic way to get out of making a prediction.

I was quite angry to be put in this position. But as my anger rose, there was a "noise" or rushing sound around me, and I had a sense of getting "larger." Then there was a clarity of some unfamiliar kind, which somehow was liquid -- and in this liquidness what seemed like a thousand pictures flashed through my consciousness. I had the distinct, lightninglike impression that most people in the audience already knew the future at some "place" deep within them. And I knew that their conscious minds were disconnected from this deep place.

And I knew what they knew, so to speak, and one aspect of this hidden knowledge boiled up into my intellectual consciousness. Without deciding to do so, I said: "Okay! You want a prediction? Here's a prediction. The Berlin Wall will come down in eighteen to twenty-four months." I spat this out intensely and fast, holding on to the podium with both hands.

The translator standing by my side looked at me with wide eyes. My own narrowed. "Translate it -- translate it NOW!"

She did. When it appeared that the audience had not heard it correctly, she translated it again somewhat nervously. The initial silence of the audience was complete. Then they began to rise to their feet, one by one. Someone began to clap, and in the next moment the audience lost its composure and became unglued. Several burst into tears and began to hug each other. And some rushed to the podium and began to hug me. "Wait a moment," I tried to yell into the melee. "It's only a prediction."

And when it was over, I was absolutely astonished that I had spoken the words in the first place. "Lord," I thought, "my colleagues back in the States are going to think I've lost it. And the skeptics will have a field day." In April 1988 the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall seemed destined to ride intact into the twenty-first century.

Once back in New York, I was glad enough to forget that I had made this rash prediction. And it was doubly rash because I had given it a time-window -- eighteen to twenty-four months as of April 1988. Anyone could have predicted that the Wall would come down at some indeterminate future time -- and it probably would. But I had said when.

Nineteen months later, the Berlin Wall came down almost overnight, a historic event that caught everyone (including the CIA, MI-5, the Mosad, and even the KGB) by complete surprise, if the media are to be believed. And I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life -- lying in bed eating potato chips, watching my prediction come true on real-time television right before my eyes. Somehow, something in me had spontaneously foreseen a bit of the future, and that part had ultimately manifested itself in the physical universe.

How does what begins as a mind-image in someone's inner sensing systems ultimately become or manifest itself as fact in the physical universe? How is it that our inner sensing systems can transcend the "absolute" linear time of our physical universe? And why is it that this awesome and important faculty, reported since the dawn of human activity on earth, has the low esteem it does today?

What is involved here are mysterious processes that we do not know about or, if we do, understand very well. Could everyone foresee better if they understood those processes? And why didn't I realize that I could future-see -- even though I had studied predictions and seers for over thirty years (as part of my overall interest in psychic matters)?

I am not, of course, the first, nor will I be the last, to foresee some completely unanticipated bit of the future. ...

There is a later section on "the late, great united States?" where Mr. Swann examines the possibility of the breakup of the United States as a cohesive political entity. It's been a while since I've read it, so I don't remember the specifics of that prediction very well. But how many people would ever have thought that the United States would break up (over the next 100 years) soon after the book was published in 1993? How many people think that the "last remaining superpower" won't last forever today? I'm sure you'd all agree that more people consider breakup an imminent possibility today than 17 years ago....

more points from the fine article (2, Insightful)

nido (102070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533950)

The last few paragraphs of the fine article validate my post above. Here's a quote:

So what of the future? Another of Bueno de Mesquita's recent predictions addresses the future of climate change negotiations up to 2050. Depressingly, he predicts that although the world will negotiate tougher greenhouse gas reductions than in the Kyoto protocol, in practise these are likely to be abandoned as Brazil, India and China rise in power in relation to the European Union and the US.

One 'black swan' that Bueno de Mesquita's prediction dosen't take into account are technological developments which solve the energy problem.

Suppose a backyard inventor develops a thermodynamics-compliant engine/transmission that gets 3x better fuel economy with 1/100 as many parts (conventional reciprocating piston engines have 1000's, this invention has 25 or so), and allows for mechanical storage of 95% of a stop's kinetic energy in a hydraulic pressure tank.

Or what if there is a worldwide surge of volcanic activity in the 2030's, which makes human production of CO2 insignificant?

I, for one, am Not impressed. 'tis time for me to go to bed - maybe I will have some prophetic dream tonight.

Re:This method is NOT 'future seeing' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31534918)

Very often "unthinkable" is the same thing as "unaware." In other words you just simply lack all the information.

Re:This method is NOT 'future seeing' (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31535326)

Chaos Theory Suggests Otherwise(tm)

Oh ? Prediction beats logic now? (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534262)

Apparantly Bruce seems to use logic to predict ... so do predictions beat logic now ?

Bible Predictions (1)

allcaps (1617499) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534562)

This seems a lot like the Bible Code by Michael Drosnin. Turned out his method could be used to predict famous assassinations from the pages of Moby Dick (something Michael said would be silly). http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/moby.html [anu.edu.au]

NY Times story, Daily Show, TED (1)

Eharley (214725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31534966)

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