According to a ( US government report there will be 35% more IT jobs in the United States by 2012; meanwhile software developers fear that offshore outsourcing to India, China, and elsewhere will cost them their jobs. Which will it be? Millions of developersand degree students would like to know whether they should switch to something else or soldier on. An online game called the Foresight Exchange( may hold the answer(

The Foresight Exchange is an idea futures market. Players trade contracts based on claims about the future--such as whether or not there will be another terrorist attack against the United States, how many IT Jobs there will be in 2012, or whether Scaled Composites will win the X-Prize. Players who profit by correctly predicting the future achieve a high score that proves their omniscient wisdom.

It's not just fun and games, though--the exchange provides an overall market consensus prediction. Anyone can create a new claim to help them gain insight into the future. As a software developer I worried about my future job prospects and so I created the ITJOBS market to find out what will happen. The claim pays out from $1 to $0 depending on whether the number of IT jobs paying over $50k/year grows or shrinks by up to 35%. Currently the symbol trades between $0.65 and $0.75 which translates to a market consensus of about 1% annual job growth annually. However, since the claim just began trading thare not yet enough market participants for this prediction to be significant--you could help change that! Sign up and test your foresight.

What's even cooler is that the foresight exchange has a programmable API and documented protocol so that you can write automated trading bots. Since it's play money you have nothing to lose but your self respect! There are many such bots trading on the market now, some of them having been running for years. The ( Shimari Project includes a Java API that can be used to programatically access the exchange; writing one for your own favorite langauge would also be quite easy. Note though that there is a limit of one account per human player--you can't have a bot and also have a human trading account. This is to prevent various kinds of cheating.

The Foresight Exchange is not just a fun (and free) online game, it's also a useful source of information about the future. If you think you can predict who will win the next election, or you just want to know what the consensus opinion is, sign up and find out. The more people who participate in this market the more accurate its predictions will be.

Disclaimer: I have no relationship with the Foresight Exchange other than that I am a player, a member of the unrelated Shimari Project, and the author of the ITJOBS claim--which I created because as a software developer I wanted to know what the future held in store for me!