Conflict:Predicting Cvil War

Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 13:25:46 MDT

Asimov would have liked this Hari Seldon approach.

<<"Conflict index" warns when a nation faces civil war
17:00 26 October 01
Robert Adler
The dictator General Pervez Musharraf leads a country on the brink. As the
war in Afghanistan intensifies, he is torn between appeasing the US and
pacifying Pakistani rioters baying for his resignation. The danger his
country faces is obvious, but researchers in the US have devised a system
they claim could predict much earlier any countries approaching civil war.

Their "conflict barometer" gives a week-by-week measure of the scale of
unrest. Although the barometer's forecasting prowess remains to be proved,
its developers say it could have presaged the slide of Algeria and Sri Lanka
into civil war. They also believe it could help the US and Britain decide how
long to fight Operation Enduring Freedom.

Raw material for the barometer arrives daily in the form of several thousand
Reuters news stories. A sentence-analysing program called a parser classifies
events into roughly 200 categories. This task had to be automated, says the
program's developer, Doug Bond of Harvard University, since humans cannot
keep pace with reports....>


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