Codebreaker

Bad guys are getting a little predictable

Marc Sanchez Jul 18, 2012

WikiLeaks, the controversial data dumping site, has been culled over by researchers from the University of Edinburgh to help predict war. Or possible war. They’ve been using data found in a 2009 WikiLeaks’ dump called “Afghan War Diary,” to predict where insurgent Afghan attacks will happen.  So far their predictions all take place in the future-past… huh? Gizmodo explains:

The software, for instance, predicted that in the Baghlan province of Afghanistan the number of incidents would rise from 100 in 2009 to 228 in 2010. In reality, the total for 2010 was 222. Amazingly, it’s even able to predict long-term trends in the most volatile parts of the country—though obviously it’s less accurate…


No word on whether this analysis will be used by the U.S. military, especially since the data being mined was probably, at one time, classified military information that leaked to the public. Wired adds:

the military has spent millions developing predictive tools. They don’t work very well. Darpa’s Integrated Crisis Early Warning System actually predicts few crises. Its predecessors, which date back to the 1980s, were arguably even more inaccurate. But those seek to predict big, sweeping geopolitical events. Researchers have had better luck estimating expected fatalities from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But predicting violent events with news reports as data? #Fail.


Crow might be a little tasty at the table of The Greater Good.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.