For the Crowd’s Eyes Only

October 12, 2012 By IdeaConnection

crowdsourcing intelligenceBond fans all over the globe are readying themselves for the release of Skyfall and the chance to live vicariously the life of a secret agent for oh, about two hours and twenty five minutes.

But if you have espionage ambitions there is a new crowdsourcing outlet for your inner James Bond.

Research company Applied Research Associates, has launched a website that invites members of the public to have a go at intelligence forecasting. It’s sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) which funds ideas, concepts and programs that could eventually be used by organizations such as the CIA.

The aim of the initiative is to see if there are any benefits of crowdsourcing for predicting future events.  But it’s also a partial  answer to criticism of intelligence agencies that they failed to predict such major events as the Arab Spring, and supported claims that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. The IARPA project will attempt to discover whether the crowd can provide more accurate forecasts.

Green Light for Missions

Participants sign up to the Global Crowd Intelligence website and start as junior analysts who are rewarded for the accuracy of their predictions. These rewards include access to some “missions” and reputation points which can propel them up the leaderboard.

Forecasts run the gamut from being theoretical in nature, such as war game scenarios that may be of interest to some intelligence agencies to predictions about markets, economic conditions, medical breakthroughs and political upheavals.

In a sense taking part will feel like playing a game, which is what contributors asked for on a previous incarnation of the site. They wanted something of a competitive nature to spur their efforts.

The project is a research endeavor, not actually about spying, as according to the website the data will only be used to improve forecasting methods not for anything related to intelligence operations.

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