Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How hard can it be?

Just how hard it can be to predict the dynamically changing landscape of the War on Terror -- in which military action, politics and religion are interrelated -- is illustrated by the complexity producers face in trying to produce a hit movie. Techdirt talks about the latest attempt to write software which can predict hits in advance, of course.


With so much Wall St. money going into Hollywood films, there's a lot of interest in ways to figure how the business can be made more profitable. Investors would love to find a magic bullet to guarantee a hit, but that seems unlikely in light of the random nature of box office returns and the fact that not even big stars can guarantee a hit. We've written about people who claim to have developed software that will predict whether or not a song or a movie is going to be a hit. Now, more companies are getting into this space, saying that the science of neural networks is making this technology feasible. If this were true, it would be a fantastic breakthrough, as studios and record labels would release only the material that had a high likelihood of offering a substantial return. But unfortunately, there's reason to be skeptical about this approach. The backers have scant evidence that it actually works, just a small sample of works that they claim (without independent verification) to have accurately predicted.

Crafting a winning strategy to fight the War on Terror is at least on the same order of complexity as coming up with the formula for a hit movie. Of course just as it is certainly possible to come up with a box office hit, it is also possible to create winning strategies to win against terrorism. But it is a craft, not a science. And the same formula may work in one place and not another. It is conceivable that a remake of Iraq in other circumstances might work, while Afghanistan: the sequel may not necessarily fly. The specifics, timing and execution are probably as important as the strategy itself. One clear area where the comparison fails is that unsuccessful campaigns cannot go straight to DVD.

4 Comments:

Blogger RWE said...

"One clear area where the comparison fails is that unsuccessful campaigns cannot go straight to DVD."

Actually, that approach seems to work quite well for Al Queda, Hezbolah, et. al.

Lose, declare it a victory and let the MSM publicize it as either a victory - or as an unjustified mauling of innocents by the ruthless U.S. and its client states.
Or better yet, do both.

10/17/2006 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia", but only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line."

10/17/2006 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

maybe not strictly GWOT material; but, I would think a matrix of globalization actualization probability could be developed...

...for instance, what if the large portions of the moslem world were just waiting to break onto the world scene in economic terms?

what?? you say?

If the measure of a country's economic viability is measured in terms of a codified ability to trust someone to do what they say they are going to do - that is, the most basic premise of contracts, and thus ecomomic activity and trade, perhaps the moslem world has some innate strengths that up till now have been overlooked...

...for instance, moslems have been known to be: moral (do you pray five times a day?); shrewd, but upright merchants; trustable (note how the Tribals of Pakistan sheltered/gave sanctuary to OBL or how their system of money transfers works), prolific/high birth rate (maybe if our women weren't tired from work, they'd have more!); etc,

...however, they have some hindrances to overcome; for instance: xenophobia (the trust of those within the clan must be extended to those without); lack of honest leaders that have not in some way been corrupted, or somehow warped in their world view; lack of westernized education; lack of women in the workforce; etc.

I believe that a matrix of viability probability for a given population or state could be developed; however, as demonstrated in Iraq, the influence of outside forces, and the basic unwillingness of those with any bit of power to relinquish it (see lack of leaders above) have proven that it is anything but a scientific calculation...

10/18/2006 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Well, the analogy catches some of the flavor, but there are a few missing pieces. The producers win if they can get large numbers of people to cooperate by paying their money, sitting peacefully through the screening and subsequently recruiting more customers. I suppose that competing studios would be analogous to Iran, China and Russia, always trying to shift the customers in their direction, sapping the available customer base and attacking your reputation.

Unfortunately, in the GWOT there are also the kind of competitors that shoot your customers as they are waiting in line, people who are willing to do absolutely anything to sabotage your production, your presentation, your recruitment and your audience. If you then dial up the pressure and incentives to get the customers in, they dial up the counter-measures. If you find ways to suppress their actions without eliminating the source, they will find new ways to interfere. Since they know no bounds, they might even come into your back yard and shoot the dog.

The question then becomes, how much do you want to succeed? If your determination outmatches your enemy's, and your resources are greater, then success is inevitable if costly. It may hurt for now, but maybe you'll make back your money on the next production.

10/18/2006 12:10:00 PM  

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