Predictive analytics is not just about forecasting what’s coming down the pike. It’s also about keeping the bad alternative futures from happening. If you can see the nasty things that might happen far enough in advance, you have a better chance of neutralizing or squelching them entirely.

In fact, many real-world applications of predictive analytics are “interdictive,” a term often used in military and law enforcement contexts to refer to tactics that delay, disrupt, or shut down an adversary’s forces or supply routes before they can do damage. Anti-fraud is one of the principal interdictive applications of predictive analytics technology. Companies everywhere rely on data mining to determine who’s been engaging, alone or in groups, in stealing money, supplies, finished goods, cellular airtime, and other valuables—and also where they’re likely to strike next. Likewise, anti-terrorism efforts rely on predictive models to sift through massive collections of historical and real-time intelligence in a Jack Bauer-like race against time and imminent disaster. You best believe that social network analysis is a key weapon in your arsenal for predicting and interdicting these sorts of malignant social patterns.

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