Can you remember the last meaningful think tank report you've read? If you answered "no," you're in good company.
Reports have become so prosaic and mundane that Mr. Brian Katulis, a senior fellow and vice president of policy at the Middle East Institute (MEI), recently tweeted the "recipe" for a foreign policy report at a US think tank:
Recipe for foreign policy report by U.S. think tank:— Brian Katulis (@Katulis) June 1, 2022
• 3 action verbs for title
• 8 basic facts gleaned from news
• 4 vague recs not far from what’s already being done
• 3 recs that can’t actually be done by USG due to capacity
• 1 hearty exhortation on values
Katulis, who was formerly a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), added that for extra credit you can a) throw in the word "strategic" or some variation of it, b) add a list of advisors or reviewers, preferably a transpartisan group, and c) organize a panel with a former distinguished official, where the report is "treated like tablets Moses brought down from the mountains."
It often feels as if think tank reports can be generated by an algorithm, and in the future they certainly will be. Coupled with this think tank name, logo, and mission statement generator, it should be pretty easy running your very own AI-run think tank in the not-too-distant future.
Think Tank Watch can't help but wonder if the future will be filled with an army of liberal, conservative, centrist, and libertarian think tanks fueled by artificial intelligence all competing for your attention.