DARPA proposed to allow experts to put their money where their mouths are on issues of terrorism by creating a "market" - which is a euphemism for a gambling game - in which an expert with a very strong belief that some event will or will not occur is able to quantify the strength of that belief in a way that profits him or her if it turns out to be correct.

I have heard no one defend the idea, and I think this is because it is clear that some players of the game would profit from the suffering of others. The people that came up with the idea were trying to solve one of the biggest problems in the intelligence game: there is no mechanism to coalesce all the valuable little bits of information that these experts have. Imagine a gigantic meeting of these experts, all trying to contribute their assessment as to the amount of resources that should be spent in the various areas of defense and security. Ideally, there would be a list of possible candidate areas and they would each be given a score which reflected the opinions of the experts. "Vote with your pocketbook" leads directly from this ideal description to FutureMAP.

It seems to me that the current and widespread disparagement of the program is an episode of killing the messenger. Essentially, we have a group of players who will profit from, say, a dirty bomb being detonated before the end of the year. Immediately, instinctively, we hate these people. The problem is that we are not discriminating between those who are causing the terrorism and those who are paying attention. I personally have no problem paying those experts who turn out to be right about something bad if they are willing to share their opinions in a way that makes it easy to coalesce them with the opinions of others and thus give us a chance to be better prepared.

If the gambling game is too distasteful, let us try to find some other mechanism of coalescing the opinions of experts in a way that encourages the experts to quantify the strength of their opinions. Perhaps one of the cooperative websites would be a good start.

Excalibre points out that the opinions that would be coalesced may reflect the moods of the rich more than the real situation the game was designed to illuminate. I do know that it was to be restricted to experts, but there's no information on how those experts were chosen. This once again leads us in the direction of an opinion coalescing system such as E2 or E-ThePeople, where the amount of money you have to play with is not a factor in the weight of your opinions.