12 January 2007

Letter in response to "Open-Source Spying" -- NY Times

Here's a letter I wrote in response to the article below (which was never published):
I was very impressed by the recent article in the magazine section about how the
intelligence community could use collective intelligence in the form of wikis
and blogs to help combat potential threats. I think the idea of using collective
intelligence is a great one. However, I was very surprised that the article did
not mention the recent and public episode where it was suggested that Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) establish a Policy Analysis Market to
help predict terrorist threats. In the framework of magazine article, this
proposal appears to be quite prescient. Given the clear incentive of profit,
efficient markets are an even better idea for harnessing collective intelligence
than wikis and blogs. However, this proposal was strongly criticized in the
press and this lead to the resignation of DARPA department head John Poindexter.

Open-Source Spying
Published: December 3, 2006
When Matthew Burton arrived at the Defense Intelligence Agency in January 2003,
he was excited about getting to his computer. Burton, who was then 22, had long
been interested in international relations: he had studied Russian politics and
interned at the U.S. consulate in Ukraine, helping to speed refugee applications
of politically persecuted Ukrainians. But he was also a big high-tech geek
fluent in Web-page engineering...