IARPA launches Mercury Challenge to develop innovative forecasts for events across the Middle East

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, announced on July 11 the launch of the Mercury Challenge. The challenge seeks innovative solutions and methods for the automated production of forecasts for a series of event classes across eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The events include military activity in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Bahrain; infectious disease in Saudi Arabia; and daily, weekly or monthly counts of non-violent civil unrest events in Jordan and Egypt.

Participants are encouraged to develop and test innovative forecasting methods that ingest and process publicly available data sources to predict events in each class. IARPA will maintain a public scoreboard that compiles performances against the evaluation metrics and will use it to rank the top 10 participants.

The challenge will officially conclude after 9 months from its opening. Solvers who are eligible to win a prize and with the most accurate and complete solutions will be eligible to win cash prizes from a total prize purse of $100,000. To be considered for these prizes, the solver or solver team must first provide a three-page white paper describing the data sources, algorithm, and training process used to create their warnings.

“The amount of publicly available data on social phenomena currently exists at an unprecedented level. There are concerted social and data science efforts to leverage this data, but current state-of-the-art approaches are largely lacking when it comes to tying this data to the prediction of large-scale, societal events. We hope the Mercury Challenge will upend this status quo and produce new and effective event indicators and warnings that are of interest to the global scientific community,” says IARPA Program Manager John Beieler.

To learn more about the Mercury Challenge, including rules, criteria and eligibility requirements, visit www.iarpa.gov/challenges/mercury.html.

Source: IARPA