Going “Back to the Future” may no longer be just for the movies. The intelligence community has launched a new project which attempts to predict what will happen next by using crowdsourcing techniques.
According to Government Computer News (GCN), “The beta Aggregative Contingent Estimation system (ACES) website, called Forecasting Ace, is funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. It launched July 15.”
If you visit the Forecasting ACE website, you are immediately greeted with the enticing words, “Predict the FUTURE With Us.” You are also asked intriguing questions that draw you in (along with thoughtful answers provided via YouTube video):
- What is this project about?
- Why should I join?
- What is the purpose of this project?
- Why me?
The Forecasting Ace website offers several example forecasting problems by category, such as:
Other example forecasting questions fall under these categories:
- Science and Technology
What’s interesting about this website is how it draws you in. After seeing the examples, you are invited to “Try it Live.” I clicked on the box and was asked:
Which question(s) would you like to answer?
Government technology and business teams can use this technology in a variety of different ways, such as gauging public interest on various mobile applications before you spend the time and money to deploy the app. Asking someone, “Which of these three applications will do better in a year?” is similar to gauging which of the choices do they prefer now.
On a personal level, I find this concept to be very interesting and attractive. Not only is the underlying science helpful, the results have a TV game show feeling. (I find myself wanting to know what the “survey said” for each question.) Initially, I think many people in society will find this to be fun, although we’ll see if that “new” feel lasts. My gut tells me that this will become a trend for many aspects of life – from marketing products to predicting which movies will succeed at the box office.
More important, this new crowdsourcing method of scientific prediction may bring further proof to the age-old adage: “Perception is reality.”
What are your thoughts on using crowdsourcing to predict the future?