Monday, September 07, 2009

New models (1)

Sadly, the game-theory cynics may get the last laugh: we may be stuck in a suboptimal equilibrium—stuck because we are incapable of rising above our immediate, narrowly defined self-interest. But there is a wild-card escape possibility. It requires leadership. Players high up in the political system—who really do want the best-possible forecasts—could decide that it is worth investing a nontrivial share of their intelligence agencies’ budgets into a series of long-term forecasting tournaments designed to distinguish the more from the less promising forecasting approaches across policy problems. Strictly speaking, this would not be a rational choice for these leaders to make—because the budgetary reallocations will evoke howls of protest, and those responsible will be out of office long before the forecasting tournaments start yielding practically useful results. But building a robust capacity for learning—and learning how to learn—is not a bad legacy.
-- Philip Tetlock

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