Predicting War – Minority Report Meets World Politics

Short thesis

"Making predictions is very difficult, especially about the future". An introduction to ethical dilemmas and philosophical assumptions of algorithmic political forecasting.


The rise of IS, the Arab Spring, 9/11 – despite ever increasing surveillance budgets, most world political events catch everyone by surprise. Or do they? Predictive algorithms are not only used to predict your next online shopping intention or high-crime neighbourhoods. With the help of Open Source intelligence, a number of companies and research initiatives are trying to make ever more reliable predictions of world political events. 

Could better predictions put end end to wars, genocides and mass killings? What if governments or corporations use the very same technology to supress protests before they have even emerged? And what does that mean for the future of revolutions, and radical social movements?

In this talk, we will do three things:

  • Introduce the current state of algorithmic politics predictions
  • Present some recent predictions and test their accuracy
  • Address the ethical problems of automated politcial forcasting.