Intelligence Community Weighing Human vs. Computer Analytics

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has announced a multi-year research effort designed to improve geopolitical forecasting “by leveraging the relative strengths of humans and machines.”

The agency said the Hybrid Forecasting Competition program “aims to improve accuracy in predicting worldwide geopolitical issues, including foreign political elections, interstate conflict, disease outbreaks, and economic indicators.”

The program will build on projects exploring both automated prediction models and “crowd wisdom” in forecasting. “By combining both approaches, we have a strong potential to be more accurate than either method alone while increasing the number of forecast problems that can be addressed,” the agency said.

“The HFC program will pit a variety of human-machine hybrids against each other in a series of competitions involving the predictions of real world events by attempting creative fusion of human judgments with information from sources such as traditional news reporting, social media, and financial indicators. Over the course of the four-year program, forecasting questions will become more challenging–increasing in geographic and temporal specificity, and will come at a faster pace–doubling over the course of the program,” it said.

The agency awarded research contracts to a number of laboratories, universities and consultants.