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Long-term forecasts of military technologies for a 20–30 year horizon: An empirical assessment of accuracy

Alexander Kott and Philip Perconti

Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2018, vol. 137, issue C, 272-279

Abstract: During the 1990s, while exploring the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union on developments in future warfare, a number of authors offered forecasts of military technology appearing by the year 2020. The forecasts covered diverse systems ranging from unmanned systems to guns to missiles to electronic warfare. This paper offers a quantitative assessment of the accuracy of this group of forecasts. The overall accuracy — by several measures — was assessed as quite high. In particular, when measured by the expert-assessed accuracy of the forecast statements, the average accuracy is 0.76. This points to the potential value of such forecasts in managing investments in long-term research and development. Major differences in accuracy, with strong statistical significance, were found between forecasts pertaining primarily to information acquisition and processing technologies, as opposed to technologies that aim primarily at physical effects. This paper also proposes several recommendations regarding methodological aspects of forecast accuracy assessments. Although the assessments were restricted to information available in open literature, the expert assessors did not find this constraint a significant detriment to the assessment process.

Keywords: Technology forecast; Prediction accuracy; Military technology; Long-range forecast; Forecast assessment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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