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 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  /

    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

Earliest Messages Previous Messages Recent Messages Outline (5590 previous messages)

rshow55 - 06:31pm Nov 11, 2002 EST (# 5591 of 5651) Delete Message
Can we do a better job of finding truth? YES. Click "rshow55" for some things Lchic and I have done and worked for on this thread.

From my "Putin briefing" of March 2001 - previously on this thread: (links work)

Think about the "rate of return" of "investment decisions Saddam, Iraq, Russia, other nations, and other players are facing. Some options make much more sense than others.

rshowalter - 09:53pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#350 of 367)  | 

rshowalter - 05:30pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1394

I'll imagine that you're the great leader that the quality of your thought and "staff work" indicates.

Suppose I take a shot, in the next hour, trying to speak of Russia as a "statistical ensemble of businesses -- with expected rates of return that make them unattractive" -- and discuss how you might radically increase the attractiveness of your country from a business point of view.

I'll speak of "expected rates of return" -- as in compound rates of interest -- and talk about the key thing -- which is the total RISK DISCOUNT -- make Russia more reliable, and you will RADICALLY shift its marketability upwards.

rshowalter - 05:36pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1395

Perhaps this model is simple enough for you to use -and evaluate, punching numbers on a hand held calculator. Sometimes the biggest effects are easiest to see in a simple case, where relations stand out starkly.

Suppose you think of an investment,

    where at time 0, you put in a cost, C
and after a time of t expressed in years (which could be a fraction)

    you get a Payoff, P , if you win
and the PROBABILITY OF WINNING is a value a , between no chance ( a = 0 ) and certainty ( a = 1 ) so that 0<= a <= 1

It is worth noting, and especially worth noting for Putin, how the value of a matters.

rshowalter - 05:38pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1396

Reliability is valuable (and unreliablility is very expensive ) from a gambler's (or investor's) point of view !

rshowalter - 05:41pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1397

the expected rate of return, r , for this lump model is

r = [ln( aP/c)]/t

In words, the effective compounded rate of return (compound interest) is the natural logarithm of the risk discounted payoff-to-cost ratio divided by the time between putting out the expenditure C , and getting the payoff P .

rshowalter - 05:43pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1398


    it isn't the "best case" payoff to cost ratio, P/C , it is the risk discounted payoff to cost ratio (aP)/C that the investor, if he's a rational gambler, looks at.

rshow55 - 06:41pm Nov 11, 2002 EST (# 5592 of 5651) Delete Message
Can we do a better job of finding truth? YES. Click "rshow55" for some things Lchic and I have done and worked for on this thread.

For Iraq, what would the economic payoff, P , from relaxing sanctions be? (In round billions)

How much time, t , would it take to get sanctions relaxed, if cooperation with inspections occurred?

What would the cost, C be, in money and trouble?

What are the risks or uncertainties, lumped as a discount, a , associated with the inspection option?

The "effective rate of return" is VERY high, if Saddam has the wit to execute that strategy, in a way where his regime survives - especially if it is done gracefully. High for Iraqi citizens, as well.

Now, look at the same calculation with respect to war.

The "payoff" from resisting inspections is negative , and very large - - the costs are LARGE - - it is a VERY bad bet.

Saddam is a chump and an idiot to choose war.

Russia's interest is clear, too. It is to facilitate the inspection process, corner much more oil business than would otherwise occur - and generally reduce risks and cost by helping with communication.

And if Russia wants to maximize its security - it should facilitate inspections and use the "moral capital" from that to insist on getting some key questions long discussed on this board answered.

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