Investing In the Futures of Security
Investing In the Futures of Security

Aug 1, 2003 12:00 PM

It's hard to believe that the Pentagon would seriously propose setting up a commodity-style trading market in which investors would, in effect, place bets over the Internet on what terrorist events would take place. But it's true.

If you predicted correctly, for example, that Yasser Arafat would be assassinated, you could win big bucks under the Pentagon's proposal. Or if you correctly predicted a missile attack by North Korea, you would get the prize (unless presumably you were unlucky enough to be within the aforementioned missile's target).

The so-called Policy Analysis Market (PAM) was proposed as a joint program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and two private companies. Not surprisingly, there was a huge uproar right after the proposal became public and the plan was dropped.

As security professionals, we are always looking for ways to predict the unpredictable. Therefore, I propose the SAM project (Security Analysis Market) that would project future security events based on a market-based assessment. What follows are some events on the soon-to-be-launched SAM Web site (followed in parenthesis by the odds they will occur):

  • Someone at a national research lab will be accused of stealing government secrets (4:1)

  • A streaker will emerge from the Super Bowl crowd and run down the 50-yard line (10:1)

  • A workplace shooting incident will grab national headlines (2:1)

  • Security will take the blame for all of the above (even money).

  • A corporate security director will get enough resources to do his job (400:1)

  • The Department of Homeland Security will reorganize again before getting any actual work done (even money)

  • The country will go to red alert, but scale it back to a muted taupe because red is seen as too hysterical (3:1)

  • A security camera will catch a Hollywood actor in the act of shoplifting (all bets are off).

  • The actor will claim to be researching a movie (even money).

  • A movie will come out centering on the wacky adventures of a hapless shoplifter (50:1).

  • The movie will break all records in overseas grosses (10:1).

  • The security industry will complain about how it is portrayed in modern films (5:1)

  • Someone will actually search out the SAM Web site and try to place a bet (zero our readers are too smart for that!).


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