we’re getting better at thinking about mass atrocities

Mortifying topic, but inspirng news.

securing rights

Every year, the U.S. government’s director of national intelligence, the Grand Poobah of the U.S. intelligence community, releases a public, unclassified “worldwide threat assessment.” Most years, the threat assessment is a tedious, bureaucratic document: it signals, to Congress, foreign policy priorities that are obvious to the average U.S. news-reader. Strictly speaking, it is not an analytic document, but a political one. It conveys–to Congress, to the general public, to the internal U.S. government bureaucracy–what policymakers want other political officials to find important, to fund, and to authorize. It does not capture, vacuum-like, the full scope of global threats to the national security, safety, and livelihood of the United States and its citizens.

In that sense, the document is useful because it describes the things that policymakers care about, and, more importantly, how policymakers themselves describe those things. Since 2010, the worldwide threat assessment has included a brief section about mass…

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Will Unarmed Civilians Soon Get Massacred in Ukraine?

Fascinating poll, and a worthy read. Thanks for sharing the results of your research. I’m curious to see how this plays out in the long run, and if early warning systems can actually work…

Dart-Throwing Chimp

According to one pool of forecasters, most probably not.

As part of a public atrocities early-warning system I am currently helping to build for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide (see here), we are running a kind of always-on forecasting survey called an opinion pool. An opinion pool is similar in spirit to a prediction market, but instead of having participants trade shares tied the occurrence of some future event, we simply ask participants to estimate the probability of each event’s occurrence. In contrast to a traditional survey, every question remains open until the event occurs or the forecasting window closes. This way, participants can update their forecasts as often as they like, as they see or hear relevant information or just change their minds.

With generous support from Inkling, we started up our opinion pool in October, aiming to test and refine…

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