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By beppi
Just back from a conference where I saw a demonstration of a software simulator used in a negotiation among the institutional leaders of a city, a group of farmers and companies delivering water to the city. The negociation was about water beeing polluted by pesticides used by the farmers. I found the software very useful to elaborate scenarios consequent to the behavior of the different parties and to get the consensous of the parties on a certain scenario.

Such a software could be used to elaborate scenarios on the evolution of our planet and used by representatives of the major countries to run simulations on consequences of certain decisions (e.g. impact of production of certain gas on the ozone, impact of use of pesticides on water, impact of demographic growth of certain countries on famine...). The software should be run by an international independent body (e.g. the UN) and the simulations should allow the leaders of the countries to agree on possible future scenarios of development and avoid actions that could lead to the destruction of our planet.

Reward: let me help in the development of the process
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By Steve
To be honest I wasn't sure if this would shouldn't be placed in the SciFi pond instead. The problem with political decisions is that most things in life are either unpredictable or can be interpreted in different ways, depending on the type of model you use. Even the global warming effect (just to name an example) is something that is being wildly discussed among scientists, and while in a scientific sense there is not even final proof that it exists or is due to human activities, it is expected from politicians to take action because their responsibilities of course go beyond scientific theories.

I have my doubts that a software program can be used as a crystal ball to predict the future and help us act in a more responsible way. Software is always just as good as the data it is based upon (and as its interpretation). The same knowledge is already used at present to reach political (and other) decisions, unfortunately more often than not, the same "knowledge" turns out to be flawed .
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By Michael D. Grissom
Sorry Stephen but, I honestly thought that the software package he was talking about was a .doc file and a coin.
By beppi
Sorry for the late reply, I've been abroad for a couple of weeks.
You both have valid points, let me try to clarify my thoughts.

In the good old days at school I've actually used myself software packages similar to the one I mentioned . They're based on the theory of the systems and are quite sophisticated: they model a certain system and make it evolve from a state to another depending on the evolution of certain variables that the user can modify. We used them to model the evolution of a certain market depending on our decisions on our products and the expected reaction of our competitors.

There's two main benefits when using these packages in multilateral negociations:

1-all parties disclose information. Steve is right: decision makers not allways have access to reliable data. In the negociation seen at the conference the parties were at a deadlock because the farmers didn't want to disclose the quantities of the pesticides they were using (fear to be attacked by the environmentalist) and the water company didn't want to tell the real costs of pumping water from other locations in case of pollution of the current location (tax issues). The beauty of the software is that you do not need exact data to have a trend, rough data is enough to show where the system is heading.

2-The software is not a cristal ball but it allows you to define a list of scenarios that will be reached without any doubt if variables have certain values. The interest of this is to get all parties to agree on a certain scenario that suits everybody and then get everybody to behave accordingly. In the example seen at the conference the farmers understood that at the rate they were using pesticides the local water ponds were going to be polluted soon and in the end they would be hit hard because in that scenario the costs they would incur to get drinkable water to they farms (for their cattle) would offset their current profits with crops.

Hope this clarify things..... Maybe my wife and myself should borrow the package to use it in the "negociations" with my two children when they say they want a little sister. ;-)
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