Below is a video from 2009 in which Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, an applied game theorist at NYU, discusses the power of predictive models and their implications — particularly as it relates to Iran.
The New York Times had an article on Bueno de Mesquita that same year:
For 29 years, Bueno de Mesquita has been developing and honing a computer model that predicts the outcome of any situation in which parties can be described as trying to persuade or coerce one another. Since the early 1980s, C.I.A. officials have hired him to perform more than a thousand predictions; a study by the C.I.A., now declassified, found that Bueno de Mesquita’s predictions “hit the bull’s-eye” twice as often as its own analysts did…
[H]e has published a large number of startlingly precise predictions that turned out to be accurate, many of them in peer-reviewed academic journals. For example, five years before Ayatollah Khomeini died in 1989, Bueno de Mesquita predicted in the journal PS that Khomeini would be succeeded by Ali Khamenei (which he was), who himself would be succeeded by a then-less-well-known cleric named Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (which he may well be). Last year, he forecast when President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan would be forced out of office and was accurate to within a month. In “The Predictioneer’s Game,” a book coming out next month that was written for a popular audience, Bueno de Mesquita offers dozens more stories of his forecasts. And as for Iran’s bomb?
In a year, he said with a wide grin, we’ll know if he’s right.
So how did he do? Well, it’s two years later and Iran still doesn’t have the bomb.
Listen to a podcast in which GMU professor Russ Roberts discusses democracies and dictatorships with Bueno de Mesquita.
Here is Bueno de Mesquita’s latest (2011) book, The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics and the aforementioned book, The Predictioneer’s Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future.