Geopolitics - Interview with Thierry Lorho
You are the inventor of Globe Expert. Could you introduce yourself?
I have over 20 years of computer engineering experience, and have designed and developed an artificial intelligence called Mileva, a tribute to Mileva Maric, Albert Einstein’s first wife, and to all the women who have contributed to sciences without necessarily the recognition they have deserved. Globe Expert is one of the applications of this artificial intelligence, and it is an advanced cognitive system. I am also a founding member of GMAP - http://thinkingthefuture.org - an independent think-tank devoted to the analysis and future-oriented studies on the major changes of our century. I have carried out researches with Prof. Urs Luterbacher of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva). The combination of the scientific approach of the researcher (mathematical demonstration of the results, research by evidence) with the engineer’s approach (development process mastering, observance of rigorous rules, results and efficiency orientation) has accelerated the development of Globe Expert, on a mathematical level as well as a user-oriented tool. Therefore the development of Globe Expert is the fruit of a personal and steady up-skilling and updating in matter of innovation and cutting-edge researches. This approach is also definitely practical in order to achieve an artificial intelligence as mathematically complex as easy to manipulate for the end-users, a point to which I pay a particular attention as an engineer: I am a graduate of Mines/Telecom Paris and Paris Dauphine University (MBA). For those who would wish to read more about artificial intelligence and Quantum theory, I regularly publish two press reviews on flipboard: one about advanced artificial intelligence - https://flipboard.com/@tlorho/advanced-artificial-intelligence-2jtc2c42y - and one about Quantum information theory - https://flipboard.com/@tlorho/quantum-news-gbv1kr6ly -. Other information is available on Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/pub/thierry-lorho/37/209/258 - and Twitter - https://twitter.com/globexpert -.
Can you explain in a few words, what is Globe Expert?
Globe Expert has been originally designed and developed for the Swiss non-profit organisation GMAP (http://www.thinkingthefuture.org) since 2011. It has steadily and rapidly progressed in the learning of human behaviours. Its 2016 version embeds advanced techniques of deep learning, as well as the treatment of the paradoxical human behaviour by using meta-models of probability beyond the scope of the classical constraints (models of quantum probabilities that are a mathematical generalisation of conventional models of probability).
Globe Expert is dedicated to the analysis and prospective of complex situations and strategic fields: political, geopolitical, economic, social, environmental and security. It is a unique and cutting-edge cognitive system of advanced prescriptive analytics. Based on information theory, a quantum approach, different patterns and models, notably behavioural ones, it processes any issue by confronting its specific universe with global intelligence, i.e. all the information flowing in the Internet. It is used for the analysis of complex environments and carries out future-oriented studies, reveals underlying trends regarding the actors’ evolution in a given area. It also detects signs of a break and risks of major change: i.e. black swans.
Why Globe Expert? Because every day, we are provided with more and more information, and we are more interconnected. As a consequence and with respect to these “big data” that we consider as a global intelligence, the Globe Expert’s challenge consists of extracting and analysing the relevant information across an ocean of signals and in a deluge of opinions in which emotions are formed and evolve. Because every day, our world also becomes more dynamic and complex. Most of the challenges facing us – energy and climate issues, geo-economic and geopolitical developments, great social changes – are parts of webs of cause and effect entangled within volatile environments characterized by instability. This reality cannot be tackled either by piecemeal approaches or by linear reductionism that have been in force over the past decades. Therefore we need tools to understand the current political, economic and social processes, and to also understand the roles different actors play, along with their interactions with one another. We also all need instruments enabling us to anticipate the potential major risks, which facilitate an enhanced understanding of the main stakeholders and give a robust visualisation of the possible scenarios and options.
Finally, in a world of rapid and high change, we need benchmarks to manage uncertainty. Globe Expert combines the scientific process with a strong technology and makes possible to build appropriate and reliable hypotheses, capable of providing a clear picture of developing and future trends. These hypotheses incorporate obstacles inherent to complexity and this human paradox inconsistent with probabilistic logic, designed by Maurice Allais – Nobel Prize in Economic science, in order to overcome them. In short, through the implementation of mathematical models, which integrate the information theory and human paradox, Globe Expert builds informational sets that reveal the fabric of reality.
You have worked with a number of institutions: can you name a few of your partners?
Globe expert is, and has been used, as an analytical platform by public and private organisations. I cannot list them all because some of these works are confidential, but among our main partners, I will mention:
§ Le Réseau International d’Etudes sur la Radicalisation et le Risque Religieux (International Research Network on Radicalisation and Religious Risk): a joint association of researchers of the Raoul Dandurand Chair (Université de Québec à Montréal), Geneva Centre of Security Policy (GCSP), the universities of Uppsala, Beirut, and Kinshasa, for which we have analysed and identified the common denominators of radicalisation;
§ The Geneva Centre for Security Policy and Green Cross International, Mikhail Gorbatchev’s Foundation, for which we carried out analyses and predictive analyses on the critical water and security issues. These analyses have resulted in a professional seminar held at Maison de la Paix (Geneva), on June 2-3,2016. This seminar was jointly organised by GMAP, the GCSP, Green Cross International, WaterLex, the Millennium Institute (Washington) and the Geneva Water Hub.
§ The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, for which we have carried out two analyses under Prof. Luterbacher’s supervision, « Predicting the Likelihood of Financial Crises with the Help of Information Theory », September 2013, and « Bashar Al-Assad’s Possible Futures and Probabilities », September 2013.
§ The Catholic University of Lille, with Prof. François Mabille, who asked for a predictive analysis on the name of the next pope before the beginning of the conclave, March 2013.
§ The Committee of Sanctions to the Security Council of UNO, whose the question was « The Efficacy of the Sanctions Against Iran: Mapping the Future Trends », March 2012.
§ The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and more specifically its Department of Exploration of Cyber International Relations, which was interested in two predictive studies: « Amending the International Telecommunication Union’s Treaty: Which Positions for EU? », December 2011 – « Is a Collapse Possible in the Cyberspace? », January 2013.
§ NASA: we participated in the Symposium “100 Year Starship”, which took place in Orlando, and defined the « Anthropological Background of Outer Space Colonization by 2111 », October 2011.
Globe Expert has also been described and used in different papers published in magazines and journals.
§ Investnews (special issue for the Geneva Forum of Asset Managers): “Present and Future of Artificial Intelligence for Asset Managers”, September 2016.
§ Journal of Peace Economics and Peace Science (Cambridge Scholars Publishing): « Predicting Crises and Monitoring their Evolution », Valérie Fert, Thierry Lorho, Prof. Urs Luterbacher, July 2016.
§ Revue de la Défense Nationale (France): « Des mathématiques aux capacités de défense et de sécurité » (Mathematicians in Support of Defence), Thierry Lorho, Amiral Guy Poulain, Georges Uzbelger (IBM), May 2012.
§ Diplomatie (France): « Reconnaissance de l’Etat de Palestine: prospective et étoffe de la réalité » (Recognition of a Palestinian State: Foresight and Fabric of Reality), Valérie Fert and Marc Finaud, November-December 2011.
§ Diplomatie (France): « Prospective sur la géopolitique du Vatican » (Foresight on the Geopolitics of Vatican), Valérie Fert, August-September 2011.
Among the studies you published, one was on the war in Syria: what were the main conclusions? (and when did you publish them ?)
I should first point out the background of this study. Prof. Urs Luterbacher asked for a predictive analysis on Bashar Al-Assad’s possible futures in September 2013. If you remember, at that time President Obama had just reversed the American plans for air strikes on Syria. The common opinion was that Bashar Al-Assad’s days were numbered anyway. The conclusions of Globe Expert were: 1) Bashar Al-Assad was likely to remain in power, at least by 2016/2017; 2) With a possible partition of the country; 3) Russia at the centre of the game; 4) And a risk of delegitimization of the UNO as a collateral damage of the conflict.
On the basis of this first study, we carried out further analyses with Prof. Urs Luterbacher, notably by searching possible correlations between the facts on the ground and the predictive analyses established by Globe Expert. One of our findings has lied in the correlation between the evolution of casualties and the persistence of Assad’s regime. We have reported this, with uncertainty acting as a lead variable, knowing that we measure the uncertainty of information, its predictability and its informativeness. Predictability and informativeness are notions associated more closely with the quality of the knowledge extracted through the queries linked with events concerning the survival of the Assad government. We then have the following results:
Besides, as can be seen from the following table, the Assad regime was at serious risk of falling in only one year, 2012. After that, our indicators point to a stalemate in the conflict, which corresponds to the later situation.
You can read all the details of this research on the Syrian conflict in « Predicting Crises and Monitoring their Evolution », Valérie Fert, Thierry Lorho, Prof. Urs Luterbacher, Journal of Peace Economics and Peace Science (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, July 2016).
How do you explain the prospect capacity of Globe Expert?
By a lot of mathematics! In a simpler way, all crises are not intense or global. Black swans (supposedly rare events), a term coined by the finance scholar Nassim Taleb, refer to global and or intensive international crises (not necessarily financial), such as World War I or 9/11 or the Arab Spring with its on-going civil wars, which are extremely difficult to predict. Thus the question: Is it possible to devise a methodology that is susceptible to help predict them and once they occur to monitor them by generating quantitative measurements of their evolution? The prospect capacity of Globe Expert is based upon an analysis of textual data, available over the Internet, in the form of big quantities of machine-readable documents written in any language and also the notion that crises are generated through overconfident or optimistic behaviour of agents, which then foster instabilities. The idea is to try to extract a maximum of information from numerous written sources to uncover the existence of potential black swans in the form of potential crisis, instability behaviour of various agents and then to follow their evolution through time with the use of specific probabilistic indicators. The material is analysed via a Bayesian algorithm called dbacl, which looks at the concatenation of various words and concepts in a text. These are then evaluated statistically according to their probabilities of occurrence and the relationships that link them to each other. In this way the information content of each word and sequence of words can be assessed based upon Shannon’s information theory. The methodology can be applied to attempt to predict singular events as well as occurrences that evolve through time as a result of these (such as the Syrian Civil War for instance). Runs carried out with Globe Expert indicate successful results at prediction as well as calculating plausible time sequences, which correlate well with other quantitative economic or political indicators. Of course, there are many other processes, notably based on different neural and behavioural models, a quantum approach of information theory, and moreover the human paradox.
Concerning the survey on radicalization, how did you proceed to implement the capture of GE information?
Basically, for the end-user, that is to say very often the expert who will analyse the maps generated by Globe Expert, the process is very simple. It consists of defining the universe – i.e. the background and context of the issue that it is to be analysed. In this purpose, he has just to establish an analytical framework, that we call referential, divided into main areas to analyse, their different sections and the keywords associated with these sections. Then a basic question is posed. In the case of the survey on radicalization, we defined 5 main areas, subdivided as following, and asked the question: “Radicalization Common Denominators”.
On this basis, Globe Expert selected documents 6,000 qualified documents, that is to say non-redundant documents regarding their informativeness, in any language. This selection forms its documentary base. Then the calculations started to answer the question… Millions of crossings and combinations!