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.