I would like to propose this as a thread for people to write in their predictions for the next year and the next decade, when practical with probabilities attached. I'll probably make some in the comments.

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I'm 90% confident that the cinematic uncanny valley will be crossed in the next decade. The number applies to movies only, it doesn't apply to humanoid robots (1%) and video game characters (5%).

Edit: After posting this, I thought that my 90% estimate was underconfident, but then I remembered that we started the decade with Jar-Jar Binks and Gollum, and it took us almost ten years to reach the level of Emily and Jake Sully.

Is there a reason Avatar doesn't count as crossing the threshold already?
Because the giant blue Na'vi people are not human.

You mean you didn't notice the shots with the simulated humans in Avatar? ;-)

Avatar and Digital Emily are the reasons why I'm so confident. Digital actors in Avatar are very impressive, and as a (former) CG nerd I do think that Avatar has crossed the valley -- or at least found the way across it -- I just don't think that this is proof enough for general audience and critics.
I think before the critics will be satisfied, one would have to make an entirely CGI film that wasn't Sci Fi, or fantastic in its setting or characters. Something like a Western that had Clint Eastwood & Lee Van Cleef from their Sergio Leone Glory Days, alongside modern day Western Stars like Christian Bale, or.. That Australian Guy who was in 3:10 to Yuma. If we were to see CGI Movies, such as I mentioned, with the Avatar tech (or Digital Emily), then I am sure the critics and public would sit up and take notice (and immediately launch into how it was really not CGI at all, but really a conspiracy to hide immortality technology from the greater public).
Exactly. I was thinking about something like an Elvis Presley biopic, but your example will do just fine (except that I don't think that vanilla westerns are commercially viable today).
Vanilla Westerns?!? There is Nothing Vanilla about a Sergio Leone Western! And Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven was an awesome western, as were Silverado and 3:10 to Yuma (and there are even more that have made a fair killing at the box office). Westerns are not usually thought of as Block-Busters though, but they do draw a big enough crowd to be profitable. If one were to draw together Lee Van cleef, Clint Eastwood, and Eli Wallach from their Sergio Leone days together with some of the Big names in Action flics today to make a period western that starred all of these people... I think you'd have a near Block-Buster... However, the point is really that using this technology one would be able to draw upon stage or film actors of any period or genre (where we had a decent image and voice recording) and to be able to mix actors of the past with those of today. I just happen to have a passion for a decent Horse Opera. Pity that Firefly was such crap... decent Horse Opera is really no different from a decent Space Opera. Something like Trigun or Cowboy Bebop
Not sure whether it's been fully crossed, but it's close. By 2015 we had a CGI-on-top-of-body-double Paul Walker and audiences weren't sure when the clips of him were real ones. Rogue One had full-CGI Tarkin and Leia, though those were uncanny for some viewers (and successful for others). Can't think of another fully CGI human example. (No, non-human humanoids still don't count, as impressive as Thanos was.)
You don't think that the Valley will be crossed for video games in the next ten years? Considering how rapidly the digital technologies make it from big screen to small, I'm guessing that we can see the Uncanny Valley crossed (for Video Games) within 2 years of its closure in films (the vast majority of digital films having crossed it). Part of the reason is that the software packages that do things like Digital Emily (mentioned below) are so easy to buy now. They no longer cost hundreds of thousands, as they did in the early days of CGI, and even huge packages like AutoDesk, which used to sell for $25,000, now can be had for only $5,000. And, those packages can be had for a similar price. That is peanuts when compared to the cost of the people who run that software.
I agree with you. The uncanny valley refers to rendering human actors only. It is not necessary to render a whole movie from scratch. It is much more work, but only work. IMO, The Life of Benjamin Button was the first movie that managed to cross the valley.
My reply is here. BTW, major CG packages like Autodesk Maya and 3DS Max were at the level of $5000 and below for over a decade.
I've been out of circulation for a while. Last time I priced Autodesk, was in the early 90s, and it was still tens of thousands. I'm just now getting caught up to basic AutoCAD, and I hope to begin learning 3DS Max and Maya in the next year or so. I am astounded at how cheap these packages are now (and how wrong one of my best friends is/was about how quickly these types of software would be available. In 1989, he said it would be 30 to 40 years before we saw the types of graphics displays & software that were pretty much common by (I have discovered) 1995)... Thanks for the head's up though.
Interesting, it seems that they are currently ahead with image synthesis than voice/speech synthesis.
In a way, the uncanny valley has already been crossed-- video game characters in some games are sufficiently humanlike that I hesitate to kill them.
I once watched a video of an Iraqi sniper at work, and it was disturbingly similar to what I see in realistic military video games (I don't play them myself, but I've seen a couple.)
Why such a big gulf between your confidence for cinema and your confidence for video games?
Movies are 'pre-computed' so you can use a real human actor as a data source for animations, plus you have enough editing time to spot and iron out any glitches, but in a video game facial animations are generated on-the-fly, so all you can use is a model that perfectly captures human facial behavior. I don't think that it can be realistically imitated by blending between pre-recorded animations like it's done today with mo-cap animations -- e.g. you can't pre-record eye movement for a game character. As for the robots, they are also real-time, AND they would need muscle / eye / face movement implemented physically (as a machine, not just software), hence the lower confidence level.
The obvious answer would be "offline rendering". Even if the non-interactivity of pre-rendered video weren't an issue, games as a category can't afford to pre-render more than the occasional cutscene here or there: a typical modern game is much longer than a typical modern movie -- typically by at least one order of magnitude, i.e. 15 to 20 hours of gameplay, and the storyline often branches as well. In terms of dollars grossed per hours rendered, games simply can't afford to keep up. Thus, the rise of real-time hardware 3D rendering in both PC gaming and console gaming.
Rendering is not the problem. I would say that the uncanny valley has already been passed for static images rendered in real time by current 3D hardware (this NVIDIA demo from 2007 gets pretty close). The challenge for video games to cross the uncanny valley is now mostly in the realm of animation. Video game cutscenes rendered in real time will probably cross the uncanny valley with precanned animations in the next console generation but doing so for procedural animations is very much an unsolved problem. (I'm a graphics programmer in the video games industry so I'm fairly familiar with the current state of the art).
I wasn't even considering the possibility of static images in video games, because static images aren't generally considered to count in modern video games. The world doesn't want another Myst game, and I can only imagine one other instance in a game where photorealistic, non-uncanny static images constitute the bulk of the gameplay: some sort of a dialog tree / disguised puzzle game where one or more still characters' faces changed in reaction to your dialog choices (i.e. something along the lines of a Japanese-style dating sim).
By 'static images rendered in real time' I meant static images (characters not animated) rendered in real time (all 3D rendering occurring at 30+ fps). Myst consisted of pre-rendered images which is quite different. It is possible to render 3D images of humans in real time on current consumer level 3D hardware that has moved beyond the uncanny valley when viewed as a static screenshot (from a real time rendered sequence) or as a Matrix style static scene / dynamic camera bullet time effect. The uncanny valley has not yet been bridged for procedurally animated humans. The problem is no longer in the rendering but in the procedural animation of human motion.
How would you verify a crossing of the uncanny valley? A movie critic invoking it by name and saying a movie doesn't trigger it?
An ideal indicator would be a regular movie or trailer screening where the audience failed to detect a synthetic actor who (who?) played a lead role, or at least had significant screen time during the screening.
There isn't much financial incentive to CGI a human - if they are just acting like a regular human. That's what actors are for.
I suppose Avatar is a case in point - it's worth CGIfying human actors because otherwise they would be totally out of place in the SF environment which is completely CGI.
''There are a number of shots of CGI humans,'' James Cameron says. ''The shots of [Stephen Lang] in an AMP suit, for instance — those are completely CG. But there's a threshold of proximity to the camera that we didn't feel comfortable going beyond. We didn't get too close.'' * http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20336893_7,00.html

A killer application for augmented reality is likely to be the integration of communication channels. Today's, cellular phones annoy people with constant accountability and stress, not to mention spotty coverage, but if a HUD relay over life can display text messages as they are sent and invite fluid shifts to voice conversation. When video is engaged and shared, people could also see what their potential conversation partner is doing prior to requesting attention, giving distributed social life some of the fluidity and contextual awareness of natural social life. These sorts of benefits will motivate the teenagers of 2020 to broadcast much of their lives and to interpret the absence of their friend's data streams as a low intensity request not to call. Archival will at first be a secondary but relatively minor benefit from the technology, but will ultimately widen the divide between public and private life, a disaster for privacy advocates but a boon for academic science (by normalizing the publication of all data). Paranormal beliefs will also tend to decline, as the failure to record paranormal events and the fallibility of memory both become more glaring.

Could you operationalize some of the many predictions and theories embedded in this comment? How would one judge all this? (AR apps like Foursquare are already fairly popular but don't much resemble traditional theories of what AR would look like.)
Robin Hanson makes a similar prediction in 'Enhancing Our Truth Orientation' (pp. 362-363):
On a AR theme I think there will be a high level language created within ten years for AR that will try to make the following accessible * Pulling info off the Internet * Machine vision * Precise overlay rendering People will want to mash up different AR services in one "view" so you don't have to switch between them. There needs to be a lingua franca and HTML doesn't seem suited. I'd think it likely that it will be some XML variant.
Aren't these more likely to be done by libraries than languages? I hope not. Something like JSON is far less verbose.
If AR gets any sort of popularity, even just among early adopters, I guarantee you that there will be several competing tools for doing what you describe, with more coming out every month.
It already has a sort of popularity. There are already startups working in the field. If you want to keep abreast of the field keep an eye on Bruce Sterling's Blog.
There are already plenty of supposedly "paranormal" events recorded on Youtube, as well as elsewhere. With the increase of recording devices, many more such things will be recorded, and paranormal beliefs will increase.
I think these are great predictions.

One word: subcultures.

I think we'll see an expansion to most of the First World of the trend we see in cities like San Francisco, where the Internet has allowed people to organize niche cultures (steampunk, furries, pyromaniacs, etc.) like never before. I think that, by and large, people would prefer to seek out a smaller culture based on a common idiosyncratic interest if it were an option, not least because rising in status there is often easier than getting noticed in the local mainstream culture. I think that the main reason the mainstream culture is presently so large, therefore, is because it's hard for a juggling enthusiast in Des Moines to find like-minded people.

I expect that over the next 10 years, more and more niche cultures will arise and begin to sprout their own characteristics, with the measurable effect that cultural products will have to be targeted more narrowly. I expect that the most popular books, music, etc. of the late 2010s will sell fewer copies in the US than the most popular books, music, etc. of the Aughts, but that total consumption of media will go up substantially as a thousand niche bands, niche fiction markets, etc. become the norm. I expect that high schoolers in 2020 will spend less social time with their classmates and more time with the groups they met through the Internet.

And I expect that the next generation of hipsters will find a way to be irritatingly disdainful of a thousand cultures at once.


What do you make of criticism that sales currently show the exact opposite trend?

Well, your criticism was correct. (Though some other trends have obviously reversed- streaming music ate album and single sales, which were increasing rapidly in the iTunes era of the 2000s.)
Thanks for the link! I didn't know there was already a version of this theory out there, and I didn't know the actual figures. So what do I make of this data (assuming the veracity of the Wikipedia summary, since I'm not dedicated enough to read the papers)? Well, I'm surprised by it.

I'm not especially surprised. Aside from possible confounding factors like the rise of Free & free stuff (strongest in subcultures) which obviously wouldn't get counted in commercial metrics, technological and economic development means that mass media can spread even further than Internet-borne stuff can. cue anecdotes about Mickey Mouse posters in African huts, etc.

The subcultures seem to me to appeal mostly to the restricted 1st World wealthier demographics that powered the mass media you are thinking of; one might caricature it as 'white' stuff. It makes sense that a subculture like anime/manga or FLOSS, which primarily is cannibalizing the 'white' market, can shrink ever more in percentage terms as the old 'white' stuff like Disney expand overseas into South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and so on.

If you had formulated your thesis in absolute numbers ('there will be more FLOSS enthusiasts in 2020 than 2010'), then I think you would be absolutely right. You might be able to get away with restricted areas too ('there will be more otaku in Japan in 2020 than 2010, despite a ~static population'). But nothing more.

the Internet has allowed people to organize niche cultures (steampunk, furries, pyromaniacs, etc.)

You forgot us!

Following up: I was wrong about my most testable prediction. The biggest media hits in the USA are getting proportionally larger, not smaller, though this may be mediated by streaming/ebooks taking away from the traditional outlets. (If you find more complete sources for any of these, let me know. I restricted to the US because the international market is growing so rapidly it would skew any trends.) Music: This is obviously confounded by the switch from buying physical albums to streaming music, but in any case, it looks as if I was wrong: the top albums have sold comparable numbers of copies (after averaging out by 5-year increments) since 2005, while the total number of album sales has plummeted. (Maybe people are only buying albums for the most popular artists and massively diversifying their streaming music, but in any case I would have antipredicted the top artist album sales staying constant.) Books: Total revenue for trade books has stayed remarkably consistent at about $15 billion per year for the past five years; I didn't find first-half-of-decade results as easily. Top books by print copies might be misleading, but they're easy to find retrospectively using Publishers Weekly lists like this one. And they've been increasing since 2014, though 2013 had the massive outlier of the Fifty Shades series (sigh). Another loss for the theory. Movies: Domestic box office has been growing slowly, and the biggest domestic hits have been growing rapidly. Essentially, Disney is eating the movie theater market with their big franchises. And more broadly/vaguely, the US social media landscape looks less like a land of ten thousand subcultures and more like a land of fewer than ten megacultures, each fairly defined by their politics and united on their morality and aesthetics.
So it's possible that, if we had a really huge, dense, wired city with excellent transportation, we would find a significant subculture of steampunk furries, or vampire gothic lolita hip-hop dance squads? Actually, this sounds like a lot like Tokyo. It's easy, really. Practice this phrase: "Man, what weirdos." You just have to selectively overlook the weirdness of your own subculture while recognizing and stigmatizing it in others. It's an elegant approach.

For the next decade: Videoconferencing.

Thank maths for videoconferencing, enabling working from home (at least occasionally) for every major tech company.
Videoconferencing what, exactly? I've been using it for years. I'm not sure how to correctly expand your sentence, and it shouldn't be subject to interpretation.
Eliezer seems to be predicting that videoconferencing will become common in the next decade. Yes, some use it now, but it is still not common. I predict that it will not become common until someone uses a utility to modify your appearance so that when you look at the eyes of the person on the screen, your image on the remote end will look like it is looking at the eyes of the person on the other end. This might well be developed in much less than 10 years, however.
I suspect Eliezer is making broad predictions about what is important in the next 10 years. As if someone said smartphone for the next decade in 2000. Not giving too much detail makes it more likely to be true...

Next Year

  • Holiday retail sales will be below consensus forecasts leading to some market turmoil in the early part of the year as the 'recovery' starts to look shaky (70%).
  • A developed country will suffer a currency crisis - most likely either the UK, US or one of the weaker Eurozone economies (60%).
  • A new round of bank failures and financial turmoil as the wave of Option ARM mortgage resets starts to hit and commercial real estate collapses including at least one major bank failure (a 'too big to fail' bank) (75%).
  • A major terrorist attack in the US (50%)
... (read more)
  • A major terrorist attack in the US (50%) most likely with a connection to Pakistan.

I would be very happy to accept a bet with you on those odds if there's a way to sort it out. I'd define major as any attack with more than ten deaths.

I voted all the betting comments up because I think this is awesome. Does this kind of thing happen often here?
2Paul Crowley
I occasionally offer people bets, but I think this has been the first time for me that the subject of contention is the right shape for betting to be a real possibility.
Do you have a PayPal account? I'd be willing to wager $50 USD to be paid within 2 weeks of Jan 1st 2011 if you're interested. I can provide my email address. That would rely on mutual trust but I don't know of any websites that can act as trusted intermediaries. Do you know of anything like that?
6Paul Crowley
For $50, trust-based is OK with me. How about this wording? "10 or more people will be killed on US soil during 2010 as the result of a deliberate attack by a party with a political goal, not overtly the act of any state". And if we hit an edge case where we disagree on whether this has been met, we'll do a poll here on LW and accept the results of the poll. Sound good?
I'd like to change the wording slightly to "on US soil, or on a flight to or from the US" if that's alright with you (even though I think an attack on an aircraft is less likely than an attack not involving aircraft). A poll here sounds like a fair way to resolve any dispute. I expect to still be reading/posting here fairly regularly in a year but I'm also happy to provide my email address if you want.
Do you think this was a terrorist attack? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hood_shooting
The term "terrorism" is usually taken to mean an attack on civilians, though as a legal matter, this is far from settled. This definition would exclude the Fort Hood shooting, where the targets were soldiers. In any case, the bet is over non-state, politically motivated killing, which is broader and would include Fort Hood, I think.
FWIW: The targets at Fort Hood were soldiers, but predictably-disarmed soldiers. In the area Hasan attacked, the soldiers he shot at aren't allowed to carry weapons or even have them within easy reach. So it's more analogous to shooting up a bar frequented by soldiers that takes your weapons at the door. Plus, his attack was intended to spread terror, not to achieve a military objective (any weakness he inflicted on the army capability itself was probably a secondary goal).
I was going to ask whether people would classify the recent attack on the IRS building in Texas as terrorism. It wouldn't qualify for the bet either way because there was only 1 casualty but I'm curious if people think it would count as terrorism?
Bob Murphy's post, excerpting Glen Greenwald, summarizes my position very well. In short: 1) What Stack did meets the reasonable definition of terrorism: "deliberate use of violence against noncombatants to achieve political or social goals by inducing terror [in the opposing population]". 2) Most of what the government is classifying as terrorism, isn't. Fighting an invading army, no matter how unjust your cause may be, is not terrorism. Whetever injustice you may be committing does not additionally count as terrorism. Yet the label is being applied to insurgents. 3) It's in the government's interest, in taking over the terrorism label, that Stack not be called a terrorist, because he seems too (otherwise) normal. People want to think of terrorists as being "different"; a middle-aged, high-earning programmer ain't the image they have in mind, and if they did have that in mind, they'd be more resistant to make concessions in the name of fighting terrorism.
1Paul Crowley
Excellent question! If such an attack happens this year, I'd say it wasn't a terrorist attack, but if mattnewport felt that it was I'd pay out without making a poll.
I'd lean towards saying it was a terrorist attack but I'm sufficiently uncertain about how to classify it that I'd be happy to let a community poll settle the question.
0Paul Crowley
Could you email me so I have your address too? paul at ciphergoth.org. Thanks!

Had limited Internet access over the New Year, I've sent you an email.

8Paul Crowley
I think I won this one - have emailed the address you sent me. Thanks! EDIT: paid in full - many thanks!
0Paul Crowley
Fine with me. My email is paul at ciphergoth.org. How exciting!
Re: "10 or more people will be killed on US soil during 2010 as the result of a deliberate attack by a party with a political goal, not overtly the act of any state". How come "Pakistan" got dropped? A contributing reason for the claim being unlikely was that it was extremely specific.
0Paul Crowley
From the wording, it seemed that the 50% was for any attack, not just one with Pakistan involved. I think I'm on to a pretty good bet even without it. It's not as unlikely as a US state seceding, but I didn't want to wait ten years :-)
The US State seceding is something that many of my friends sit around contemplating. We have had speculations about whether it will be a state like Mississippi, or South Carolina (Red), or if it will be a state like California or Oregon (Blue). The Red States are pretty easy to understand why they might wish to secede from the heathen atheistic socialist nazi USA... But, the motivations for a Blue State are a bit more complex. For instance, in California, I have noticed a lot of people complaining about how much money this state pays into Social Security, yet only gets back about 10% of that money. If we were able to get back all of it, instead of supporting states like South Carolina or Mississippi, we would be able to go a long way toward solving many of our own social ills. Not to mention that many in CA chafe under having to belong to the same union as states such as those I have mentioned, and thus have issues with being able to even pursue social solutions that might pay off big (Stem Cell research, Legalization & regulation of narcotics, work and skills training for inmates - and socialization skills for the same, infrastructure work to which the USA is slow to commit, and so on). All of these are also issues that Red States like to brag about being able to focus on if they were to secede. The only problem with most Red States is, just like in the Civil War, they have little to no economy of their own. Texas (Maybe Florida) is really the exception. Also, should a Red State secede, most of the best and brightest would flee the state (Academics usually don't like working under ideological bonds, for instance). It will be interesting to see what would happen should a state try to secede. I think it could be the best thing that could happen to our country if things continue to become divisive.
Oh, I see - sorry! I looked into who was going to win such a bet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assassinations_and_acts_of_terrorism_against_Americans ...looks like a reasonable resource on the topic.
0Paul Crowley
I'm not sure that the acts of a single person with no associations with anyone else are really the sort of thing I had in mind, but it's too late to refine the bet now, so we'll see whether people think such a thing counts if we need to.
"10 or more people [...] as the result of a deliberate attack" seems to suggest that 10 assassinations in 2010 would probably not qualify - unless it was proved that they were all linked. My summary of the link is that there have been few terrorist attacks against Americans on American soil recently.
0Paul Crowley
What makes your think 2010 is the year? I mean, this has even been floating around lately. And at 99%^h^h^h50% confidence!
That was 99% confidence that the response will be disproportionate to the magnitude of the attack, if an attack takes place, not 99% confidence that there will be an attack. My odds of an attack were 50%. I think an attack is fairly unlikely to be on an aircraft - security is relatively tight on aircraft compared to other possible targets.
I'll agree that if anything happens, or even if something doesn't (is thwarted), the response will be silly and disproportionate. However, I still think you're way too high with 50%.
You must specify disproportionately high, or disproportionately low.
I thought disproportionately high went without saying (but then I would with a confidence level that high wouldn't I?)
A declaration of war, curtailment of liberties, or other expenditure of resources more than ten times the loss of resources (including life, which is not priceless) it tries prevent.
Is there a standard method for assigning a numerical value to liberties?
The money those people would pay to avoid the loss of liberty, had they the option.
That's a valid measure, but it would require a fairly complicated study to actually get a value for it.
And it's complicated by loss aversion.
I've added this prediction to PredictionBook: http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1565 based on the description at http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Bets_registry
So now that 2010 is more than half over with no attack that I know of, have you or mattnewport's opinions changed? (I notice that domestic terrorism seems kind of spiky - quite a few in one year, and none the next: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Islamist_terrorism_in_the_United_States omits entire years but has several in one year, like 2007 or 2009.)
0Paul Crowley
I am more confident of winning as you'd expect. But I'm finding it counterintuitive to adjust my subjective probability for losing the bet in proportion to the portion of the year that's lapsed, which means either my initial probability was too low or my current one is too high.
Incidentally, if you have a specific probability for an event occurring in 1 out of 365 days, say, or not occurring at all, you could try to calculate exactly what probability to give it occurring in the rest of the year (considering that it's August): http://www.xamuel.com/hope-function/ / http://www.gwern.net/docs/1994-falk (Actually calculating the new probability is left as an exercise for the reader.)
  • A US state will secede (30%).

I will take a bet on this, if you like. Also, did you perhaps mean "attempt to secede", or are you predicting actual success? I'll take the bet either way.

You'll have to define what constitutes an attempt.
Perhaps a vote goes through the state legislature in favor of secession?
On further reflection I think I need to revise my estimate down somewhat. Thinking on it further my 30% estimate is conditional on general trends that I think are more likely than not to occur but I did not correctly incorporate them into the estimate for secession. I think 10-15% is probably a better estimate taking that into account. I think the political pressure for secession will stem from an extended period of economic weakness in the US and widespread fiscal crises in states like California and New York. If, as seems likely, federal aid is seen to go disproportionately to certain states that have the most troubled finances then the states that feel they are losing out will begin to see secession as an attractive option. My original estimate did not sufficiently account for the possibility that I am wrong about the economic troubles ahead however.
I would still be willing to take a bet at these odds, given some reasonably clear-cut definition of "attempt to secede".
I think we could probably hammer out a mutually agreeable definition but the decade time frame for a pay out makes a bet on this impractical I feel. I'm reasonably comfortable making a bet to be settled next January but a bet to be settled in 2020 doesn't seem practical through an agreement on a forum.
So close on Brexit, but just missed the deadline.
2Paul Crowley
Britain was in the EU, but it kept Pounds Sterling, it never adopted the Euro.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_European_sovereign_debt_crisis Not bad.
I guess now is a good time for a 6 month review of how the predictions in this thread are panning out. Retail sales were a bit worse than expected but despite a bit of a dip in the stock market in late Jan / early Feb it took longer than I expected for the recovery in the US to be seriously questioned. It's only in the last few weeks that talk of a double dip recession has become really widespread. The problems in Europe and more recently in China brought the global recovery into question a bit earlier but overall the jury is still out. I think I could argue that this prediction was correct as written but I was expecting more problems earlier in the year. I think the problems in Greece (and to a lesser extent Spain and Portugal) and the resulting turmoil in the Euro are sufficient to say this prediction was correct. The UK pound has also had a rough time but in both cases 'currency crisis' could still be argued. I expect further problems before the year is out. Hasn't happened yet. Option ARM resets will be picking up through the second half of the year so I still expect problems from that. A little less confident that it will mean a major bank failure - that is somewhat dependent on the political climate as well. The attempted bombing in Times Square appears to have had a Pakistan link. It can't really be called a 'major' attack however. I still think there is a fair chance of this happening before the year is out but odds are a little lower (my estimate of how incompetent most terrorists are has increased a little). The iPad and iBooks launch bear this out I think. Won't know until November. I think the prediction is still reasonable. The riots and strikes in Greece and strikes in Spain arguably confirm this. The prediction is a little vague however and I was expecting somewhat more serious civil unrest than we've seen so far. It remains to be seen what will happen as the rest of the year unfolds. No change here. Some early signs of this with retirement a
Shouldn't the odds go down by about half, just because half the year is used up?
The failed Times Square attack raised my probability for attempts at attacks this year but lowered my probability that any attempted attacks would be effective enough to classify as 'major'. On balance I think the odds of a major attack in the remaining 6 months are lower than 50% at this point but events since my original prediction weigh into my estimate now and so it's not a simple matter of adjusting the odds based on elapsed time.
I think this prediction has failed utterly. In the Euro zone, There are/were debt crises in Greece and Ireland, but the currency, the Euro itself did fine. A graph of the variation of the Euro against the US dollar shows no special variation in 2010 compared to its "typical" variations over the last decade. The pound maintained the value in 2010 that it had already fallen to in 2009, hardly even slightly adhering to a prediction about 2010. Those were exciting predictions. Had you predicted a sovereign debt crisis in a developed country, you would have been right, and it would have been a much less exciting prediction than a currency crisis.
There's room for debate whether we saw a true currency crisis in the Euro but 'this prediction has failed utterly' is overstating it. We saw unusually dramatic short term moves in the Euro in May and there was widespread talk about the future of the Euro being uncertain. Questions about the long term viability of the Euro continue to be raised. I'd argue that charting any of the major currencies against gold indicates an ongoing loss of confidence in all of them - from this perspective the dollar and the euro have both declined in absolute value over the year while trading places in terms of relative value in response to changing perceptions of which one faces the biggest problems. 'Currency crisis' was in retrospect a somewhat ambiguous prediction to make since there is no clear criteria for establishing what constitutes one. I'd argue that the euro underwent the beginnings of a currency crisis in May but that the unprecedented intervention by the ECB forestalled a full blown currency crisis.
I looked at Gold vs Euro from your link over 10 years. It shows a ssteady decline since mid 2004, with no change in that trend to distinguish 2010 from 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, or 2005. It seems to me that if no special effects in currency vs currency or in currency vs gold can be seen in 2010 that the most rational label for that prediction would be "wrong." YMMV, but I don't see why it should. Would you accept "this prediction has failed" if I leave off the utterly?
US states aren't allowed to secede. Not even Texas. The US government would lose so much prestige from the loss of a state, that they would never allow it. So it would require some kind of armed conflict that no one state could ever win.
Are you really certain that the federal government would send the military in to prevent a state seceding if secession was clearly the democratic will of the people of the state? I wouldn't rule out the possibility but I think it would be an unlikely outcome.
I'm pretty certain the federal government will not take the blow of a state leaving in the next decade, at least. They might be slightly more likely to let a quirky, small state like Vermont or New Hampshire leave, since clamping down on a tiny state would look bad, and the loss would be negligible. But then they would set a dangerous precedent for more important possible secessionist states like Texas (Texans are somewhat nationalistic, though also often super-american/patriotic), New Mexico (majority-minority state) or Alaska (active secessionist movement).
What exactly is the federal government going to do about it though? I think using the military to suppress a state that was attempting a peaceful secession would be very hard for the government to justify. It's a possibility but I think the probability is low that US troops would be deployed on US soil to prevent a state seceding. Plus I expect the federal government to have very major financial problems which will limit its ability to act. Few people in 1982 would have predicted that the USSR would allow its constituent republics to secede peacefully within a decade.
It is settled legally, that the states do not have the authority to secede, they tried during the Civil War. Many people thought that states could leave the union at that time. However the precedent set by Lincoln's actions are unchallenged now by the legal establishment. Anyway, the procedure would go like this: 1. State government announces secession. then 2a. Federal government challenges legality of secession in courts. 3a. Supreme court declares the secession unconstitutional. Or: 2b. Federal government charges rebels with Treason. 3b. Federal government arrests the secessionists. Using federal troops would likely not be necessary, since national guards are ultimately under the authority of the president, if he calls them up for national service. Finally, if there was an armed insurrection by natives, they would be put down as domestic terrorists. It would certainly be embarrassing, but not as dangerous as the precedent set by a state leaving the union without a shot fired. Obviously if the Federal government financially collapses in the next decade, this wouldn't be a problem. But that is very unlikely, since the government has the power to inflate away its debts. With the dollar as global reserve currency, it doesn't really have to worry about an Argentina situation.
I think this is about right. The US dedication to self determination is generally limited to small ethnic groups conveniently placed in the interest spheres of rival great powers.
I think it is likely that the dollar will not still be the global reserve currency by the end of the decade.
Looks like it is still the global reserve currency.
I don't see that happening -- which one or ones do you think are most likely to leave? Scotland may well leave the UK (10%), or the UK leave the EU (15%).
Texas is probably the most likely but I can imagine a number of other possibilities. MatthewB's post above outlines a plausible case for California for example.
Being from Texas (I was born in Texas, but moved to CA in my mid-20s), I agree with you. I noticed, when I went to school in Europe in the mid 80s that people there acted as if Texas was almost a different country from the rest of the USA. It was also easy for Europeans to recognize. When a foreign citizen, in Europe, was asked where they were from, Texans would usually answer "Texas", yet if a person from Louisiana, Alabama, Montana, Idaho, or some other more obscure state attempted to explain where they were from in the terms of their home state, it would usually devolve to "I am from the Southern USA" or "I am from the Northwest/Midwest USA". Only New York and California seemed to enjoy this same recognition in Europe. But, for Texans, they would consider themselves from Texas, first, and the USA second. Whereas most of the other US citizens from other states seemed to identify as USA citizens first, and then by their state. Texas has a really strong independence from the USA, and it is pretty much the only state with an active Federal movement (movement to recognize the state as its own Nation). California also have one, but it is not nearly as diverse nor as active as that in TX. However, despite the strong state recognition of its citizens, I think that there are other states that might lead the pack in an attempt to secede. Most of the former Confederate States still seem to have Very deep grudges against the federal gov't, and when I lived in GA for a few years back in 91/92, I was stunned at how many people I encountered who really believed that the Civil War was still not finished, and that The South Shall Rise Again! Many Republicans seem to be fomenting this sort of thinking as well, with things like the Tea Baggers, or trying to force the recognition of the USA as a Christian Nation
Referring to a (presumably) disfavored political group by a crude sexual dysphemism earned you a vote down. This is not how discourse is done here, please make a note of it.
Relevant wikipedia link
Not badly calibrated for 2010 in retrospect, though I should have realized at the time that some of your conditional probabilities were crazy: there's virtually no chance that the Democrats would have held the House if there had been "a new round of bank failures and financial turmoil", unless that happened after the elections.
I think you got that one.
This is the sort of thing I was thinking of and expect to see more of.
Haven't riots been going on in Greece pretty regularly? (eg, 11/2009) Did you put at 50% the chance that the riots in Greece would stop? Maybe it was reasonable to put at 50% the chance that the riots would stay at 2009 levels and 50% the chance that they would go back to 12/2008 levels, but it's not clear that "significant" should mean that.
Yes, Greece had riots in 2009. I expected increased civil unrest in developed countries in 2010. My impression is that there is more civil unrest in Greece now than there was last year but I don't know how to objectively measure that which makes me think I was not specific enough with my prediction in this case. Since nobody took the other side of the bet it doesn't matter too much. I'm more interested in how my investments pan out as they represent real bets on my predictions - it's not much use being right if you can't turn it into profit.
I'm going to call this a hit but it was pretty much a gimme. My 80% estimate may have been too low.
U.S. Retail Sales Unexpectedly Fall After Bigger Gain I'm inclined to call this a confirmation of the first part of my prediction but in retrospect I could have been more specific as to what would constitute confirmation. As to the resulting market turmoil that constitutes the second half of my prediction, I'd say that's unconfirmed as yet and is also rather unspecific. I'm actually now betting real money on market turmoil by buying VXX which is a bet on increased volatility so I still stand by the second half of the prediction. I'm going to attempt to continue posting updates on the state of my 1 year predictions as relevant news develops. This prediction exercise is only useful if outcomes are tracked.
I'm not going to claim this [1] as a confirmation of that prediction but I expect to see a lot more of these kinds of demonstrations and on a larger scale. Flaming torches are just the start, the metaphorical pitchforks will come. I'm curious what the response of the secret service would be to a group of demonstrators with flaming torches surrounding the White House. [1] "Fire and ice: On Monday, hundreds of people gathered outside the residence of Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson in Reykjavik, where they held torches and delivered a petition asking him not to sign the controversial debt legislation."
Great example of what I'm talking about. I'd challenge you on most of those actually, if there was a convenient and well structured betting forum, but none of them seem crazy to me.
None of the others do, but this one seems ludicrous to me.
30% probability might be around the point where we start to call things ludicrous. If you talk seriously about things that you think have a 10% chance of happening, you will be beyond the point where most people call it ludicrous, or even crazy; they simply will not understand or believe that that's what you mean.

This comment provides more confirmation for a view I've held for a long time, and which was particularly reinforced by some of the reactions to (the first version of) my Amanda Knox post.

People have trouble distinguishing appropriately among degrees of improbability. This generalizes both underconfidence and overconfidence, and is part of what I regard as a cluster of related errors, including underestimating the size of hypothesis space and failing to judge the strength of evidence properly. (These problems are the reason that judicial systems can't trust people to decide cases without all kinds of artificial-seeming procedures and rules about what kind of evidence is "allowed".)

The reality is that given all the numerous events and decisions we experience on a daily basis and throughout our lives, something with a 10% chance of happening or being true is something that we need to take quite seriously indeed. 10% is, easily, planning-level probability; it should attract a significant amount of our attention. By the same token, something which isn't worth seriously planning on shouldn't be getting more than single digits of probability-percentage, if that.

There is a vast, ... (read more)

It would of course be sacrilegious to place (8) below (9) and (10). Nevertheless even in the case of apparently overwhelming evidence, if you disagree with a mainstream belief 10^(-20) times you will be wrong rather a lot more than once. Meanwhile, quantum tunnelling is a specific phenomenon which, if possible (very likely) gives fairly clear bounds on just how ridiculously improbable it is for a marble statue to wave. Even possible improbable worlds which make quantum tunnelling more likely still leave (8) less probable than (9) (but perhaps not 10). I personally place (10) at no less than 10^(-5) and would be comfortable accusing anyone going below 10^(-7) of being confused about probabilities (at least as related to human beliefs).
Like most majoritarian arguments, this throws away information: the relevant reference class is "mainstream beliefs you think are that improbable". (edit: no, I didn't read the whole sentence) In that class, it's not obvious to me that one would certainly be wrong more than once, if one could come up with 10^20 independent mainstream propositions that unlikely and seriously consider them all while never going completely insane. Going completely insane in the time required to consider one proposition seems far more likely than 10^-20, but also seems to cancel out of any decision, so it makes sense to implicitly condition everything on basic sanity. (Related: Horrible LHC Inconsistency) (9), and (10) for some definitions of "Christianity", being more likely than (8) seems conceivable due to interventionist simulators (something I really have no idea how to reason about), but not for any other object-level reason I can think of. Can you think of others? I'd be inclined to accuse anyone going above... something below 10^-7... of being far too modest.
No, that is the reference class intended and described ("apparently overwhelming evidence"). Your prior is wrong (that is, it does not reflect the information that is freely available to you). Considering normal levels of sanity are sufficient. Failing to account for the known weaknesses in your reasoning is a failure of rationality. I am comfortable accusing you of being confused about probabilities as related to human beliefs.
I'd guess you could estimate (4) to within an order of magnitude or better from an actuarial table.
Well under 30% certainly, but I wouldn't give it under 4%. A decade is long and the US is young.
I think a draft is much more likely.
You display a pessimism much greater than I think is warranted. My predictions for some of your statements: Next decade: Next year:
These seem overly optimistic to me. Maybe increase the numbers by 50% to 100% other than 99?

My second prediction is that the largest area of impact from technological change over the next decade will come from increasing communications bandwidth. Supercomputers a hundred times more powerful than those that exist today don't look revolutionary, while ubiquitous ultra-cheap wireless broadband makes storage and processing power less important. Improvements in small scale energy storage, tech transfer from e-paper and lower power computer chips will probably help make portable personal computers more energy efficient, but for always-on augmented reality (and its sister-tech robotics) in areas with ubiquitous broadband computing off-site is the way to go.

Latency worries me, though. Bandwidth has been improving a lot faster than latency for a while now. For always-on augmented reality, I think that we're going to need some seriously more power-efficient computing so we can do latency-limited tasks locally. (Also, communication takes energy too -- often more than computation.) Good news on that, by the way: modern embedded computer architecture and manufacturing techniques are going in the right direction for this. 3D integration will allow shorter wires, making all digital logic much more power efficient. Network-on-chip architectures will make it easier to incorporate special-purpose hardware for image recognition and such. And if you stick the memory right on top of your processor, that goes a long way to speeding it up and cutting down on energy used per operation. If you want to get even more radical, you could try something like bit-serial asynchronous processors (PDF) or something even stranger.
Agree on the trend, but I'd put significant odds on some (as yet unexpected) trend being "the largest area of impact" in retrospect.
And distributed to more people. >60% of people will have at least 1 Mb/s internet access by 2020 (75%).
Do you have any ideas about how the scale of the impact from various different technological changes should be measured in this context? As far as I know, there is no standard metric for this. So, I am not clear about what you mean.

Better than even odds that in 2020:

  1. GDP per capita at purchasing power parity for Singapore will be more than US$80,000 in 2008 dollars.

  2. GDP per capita for China (PRC), will be more than twice 2009 GDP

  3. Tourism to suborbital space will cost less than $50000.


1. No.

2. Yes.

3. Hell no.

Unless I'm missing something, looks like #1 is actually correct... 2019 GDP PPP per capita for Singapore was 103,181 according to IMF, which adjusts to 84775.10 according to the first inflation calculator on Google.

Within ten years either genetic manipulation or embryo selection will have been used on at least 10,000 babies in China to increase the babies’ expected intelligence- 75%.

Within ten years either genetic manipulation or embryo selection will have been used on at least 50% of Chinese babies to increase the babies’ expected intelligence- 15%.

Within ten years the SAT testing service will require students to take a blood test to prove they are not on cognitive enhancing drugs. – 40%

All of the major candidates for the 2016 presidential election will have had sam... (read more)

I was very, very wrong.

4Paul Crowley
How many opportunities do you think we get to hear someone make clearly falsifiable ten-year predictions, and have them turn out to be false, and then have that person have the honour necessary to say "I was very, very wrong?" Not a lot! So any reflections you have to add on this would I think be super valuable. Thanks!
  1. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1689
  2. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1690
    I think you are on crack for this one. 15% ?! You seriously think there's a 15% chance that a embryo selection and/or genetic manipulation for IQ will be developed, commercialized, and turned into an infrastructure capable of modifying roughly 9 million pregnancies a year? Where the hell are all the technicians and doctors going to come from, for one thing? There's a long lead time for that sort of thing.
  3. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1691
    Ditto - America doesn't have that many phlebotomists, and would go batshit over a Collegeboard requirement like that. There would have to be an enormous national outcry over nootropics, and there's zero sign of that, and tremendous takeup of drugs like modafinil. Even a urine or spit test would encounter tremendous opposition, and the Collegeboard has no incentive for such testing. (Cost, blame for false positives, and possibly dragging down scores which would earn it even more criticism. To name just the very most obvious negatives.)
  4. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1696
    I think you forgot the part of your prediction where all the candidates we
... (read more)

All of the major candidates for the 2016 presidential election will have had samples of their DNA taken and analyzed (perhaps without the candidates’ permission.) The results of the analysis for each candidate will be widely disseminated and will influence many peoples' voting decisions - 70%

Within five years the Israeli economy will have been devastated because many believe there is a high probability that an atomic bomb will someday be used against Israel – 30%

Within ten years there will be another $200 billion+ Wall Street Bailout - 80%

I'd take the other side on any of these if we can find a way to make it precise.

I hope you paid out on your bets.
As far as I can tell, every single one of your predictions has now been falsified.
"While president, Obama will announce support for means testing Social Security - 70%" I'd be wiling to take those odds, with some refinements.
How about this - I win if before he leaves office I can point to a speech Obama gave in which he advocates means testing Social Security. Otherwise you win. The speech has to be given after today, so you don't fear this is some kind of trick. If I win I get $100 from you. If you win I give you $233. But with these odds I'm indifferent to making the bet. So for me to be willing to bet I want you to agree that if Obama makes such a speech you have to pay me right away.
That works for me, with one little change. The end of his term needs to be counted as the end of a presidential election he doesn't win, rather than the inauguration of his successor. This is because the reason I don't think its very likely is that the political effects on him would be dire, so if he does it as a lame duck president he has nothing to lose. I'm still willing to take the risk on his second term since even a second-term president is subject to some political forces. And as a clarification, I take "means testing" to mean increasing or decreasing social security payouts based on a person's assets or income. It also has to apply to US citizens to count. And since I'm not an American, I'd just like to confirm that the best is in US dollars. That works for me, and I assume it works for you too.
OK, I accept - and yes the bet should be in U.S. dollars. Please contact me at EconomicProf@Yahoo.com so we can exchange addresses.
2Paul Crowley
Hey, looks like you're still active on the site, would be interested to hear your reflections on these predictions ten years on - thanks!

We will end the decade with some mobile energy storage system with an energy density close to or better than fat metabolism.

ETA: I mean in the context of electronics.

From looking at the diagram, aren't we starting the decade with such a system (gasoline)?
You are the second person to mistake my intent. I meant in the field of mobile electronics. Take a look at where lithium ion is on this chart.
The graph you link to says magnesium and diesel already have greater energy density than fat. So, I think you have to specify how portable, how common or cheap, and maybe whether you are talking about rechargable or not - or the prediction is probably going to be vague - and subject to the criticism that it has already happened.
I meant commonly used for powering portable electronics. I don't assign a high probability to this. It is the upper bound of what I think worth discussing.
Right. TNT does not count as a mobile energy storage system. I think you're wrong; but it's a really interesting prediction. The reason I think you're wrong is that the rate of improvement of technologies in a field is more-or-less fixed within a field, because it depends on the economics, not on the science. Moore's Law exists not because there's some magic about semiconductors, but because the market is sized and structured such that you need to sell people a new system every 2 years, and you need to double performance to get people to buy a new system. This means you can look at the past exponential curve for battery density, and project it into the future with some confidence. I don't know what the exponent per year is; but my gut feeling before checking any data or doing any calculations is that it isn't high enough.
I disagree. I am typing this on a machine I bought 6 years ago. Its CPU speed is still competitive with current hardware. This lack of speedup is not because processor manufacturers chaven't been trying to make processors faster; they have. The reason for the lack of speedup is that it is hard to do. The problem is more to do with the nature of physical reality than the structure and economics of the computer industry. Consider cars. They do not halve in price every two years. Why not? Because they are designed to move people around, and people are roughly the same size they have always been. But computers move bits around, and bits can be made very small (both in terms of the size of circuitry and the power dissipated); this is the fundamental reason why the computer/communications industry has been able to halve prices / double capabilities every year or two for the last half century.
I don't think there is an exponent curve as such for battery tech. Li-ion came in about 2006? And nothing much has improved since then. The trouble with batteries is you can't just shrink components and get some improvement as you do with semi-conductors. Your components are already on the atomic scale. So more fundamental breakthroughs are needed. The prediction is based mainly on our increasing control of biology and the ability to work on the small scale. If nothing else we'll invent a way to metabolise fat or other carbohydrates to electricity and have small home bioreactors that produce carbs and make nice little cartridges for people to plug into their electronics. Maybe not in 10 years, but some substantial movement is definitely possible in this direction.
A graph of battery energy density between 1985 and 2008: http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/Battery%20Energy%20Density.jpg Extrapolate away!
What about some of the advances in micro-generators and Fuel-Cells that I have read about? For instance, I have seen one of those tiny turbine engines running to power an equally tiny generator, and it looked to provide a hellofa lotta power for its size. I know the military is putting them into some applications in the field, so it will probably not be too terribly long before we see them on things like Laptops/tablets or cell phones.
I haven't seen anything recent on these. Any keywords to google? The key thing for a consumer electronics application is ease of getting the fuel. People don't want to have to head out to the shops to get it every few days, which is why rechargeable batteries are the current winner.
Try "MIT Micro Turbine Generator". That will get you to the base technology. I tried to find the DARPA Page, but it seems to have been buried. The MIT Technology has also got a lot smaller from the 2006 initial turbines, which were roughly the size of a quarter. They know measure less than 1cm on a side. The Generator that creates the electricity from these things is roughly the same size as the turbine. It basically looks like a DVD Motor (really flat and broad). I saw them as a field power source for laser designator and weapon (a modified laser designator that could be used as a sniper weapon), and as a source for communications gear. They used the same propellant that a butane lighter uses (that stuff in an aerosol can), They were said to run much longer than one day of full use on one charge. The problems with them: Heat and noise. They make a high pitched whine that can be muffled, yet is still easy to pick up on a mic that has the appropriate filtering software. The heat can also be shielded, but it creates a problem for the user. A last rumor that I hear is that when these things fail, they can cause the propellant to burn off. I have only heard one person talking about that though. MIT is not the only one to come up with small turbines to use as power sources. some of the really small jet-turbine engines (1/2" in diameter, and 2" to 3" long) have been discovered to be excellent power sources as well when coupled to a generator. Two semesters ago, I looked into making my own micro-turbine as a project for an engineering lab (I couldn't find anyone willing to donate the Mill Time on a CAD/CAM mill to make the turbine blades, and I couldn't afford the ready made ones). This is what led to my discovery of most of these (and then friends helped with actually seeing one).

Atleast one asian movie will exceed $400 mn in worldwide box office gross before the end of the decade.

It will most probably not be a wuxia movie. My guess of its genre is urban action or speculative fiction.

Wolf Warrior 2 did $874 million in China alone; China's rapidly growing domestic market won this prediction singlehandedly.
I agree. I especially see a lot of convergence in present day mainstream Bollywood cinema with conventional blockbuster Hollywood fare in terms of both plots and production values. So expect a Moulin Rouge-like crossover musical in English with a major Hollywood box-office draw, an Indian model female lead, rags-to-riches storyline, Inception-like action sequences and CGI by studios in Hyderabad and Bangalore.
http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1708 Seems like a solid prediction. 2020 allows a lot of growth in China & India, and Bollywood-style movies already play well in the West - look at Slumdog Millionaire which nearly grossed $400M, despite being a British film on Indian matters.

I estimate 90% odds that Emotiv's EPOC will fail like the Segway did.

I have one of these puppies. It's the most fickle device I've laid my hands on. It's useless for anything except gaining nerd status points. Hey, do you guys want me to post a detailed review? :)

I'd like to see a review, but it isn't a LW thing. It would be nice to have a forum / news structure, so that we could have a section for "Off-topic posts". Heck, it would be nice to sort the posts by topic.
Isn't that what tags are for?

For the next decade:

I'd bet about a 2:3 odds that energy consumption will grow on a par or less than population growth.

Any rise in average standard of living will come from making manufacturing/logistics more efficient, or a redistribution from the very rich to the less well off. There is still scope for increased efficiency by reducing the transport of people and more automation.

I'd take the other side at those odds. Per capita energy expenditures in China are set to skyrocket as rural areas industrialize, and I expect the same of many Second World nations. I don't think increases in efficiency will dwarf that effect quite yet.
I'm basically betting that a short term lack of oil (as evidenced by reduced production in 2008 and high current price), will put a break on that expansion. Or the industrialization of china will only happen in if first would countries reduce their energy consumption to allow it, as they did in 2008. Data from the BP energy review.
Interesting consideration; but on the other hand, China isn't afraid to build nuclear power plants or burn coal.
An interesting article on china and energy. Nuclear has a lead time (optimistically ) of 3 years, so their prediction of 60-90 GWe won't be too far off. It actually looks like they are planning more wind than nuclear. I'm really curious where they expect the 500 GWe odd of energy they don't mention to come from. All coal? That'll be pretty dirty. I was probably a little overconfident in my initial bet. I do expect the ratio of energy consumption growth to population growth to trend downwards though.
Wrong. (Well, a little bit right, but wrong in all the ways that matter.) According to the article you linked, they're planning to build about 60-90 GW of nuclear capacity (let's say 80 GW to simplify the arithmetic) and 100 GW of wind. But what we really care about is how much energy they get from those sources per year, and to find that, we have to multiply the peak power generation capacities by the capacity factor for each source. Nuclear power has a capacity factor of at least 93% for the newer plant designs that China is building (or even for older plants after operators get experience), so we'll say that their average production is (80 GW) * 0.93 = 74.4 GW average. Wind power has a capacity factor of around 21% right now. Since we're talking about 2020, i.e. The Future!!, let's assume they get it up to a whopping 30%. Their energy production from wind would come out to (100 GW) * 0.3 = 30 GW average, or less than half of their projected nuclear production. The average power figures are much more meaningful than the capacity numbers, but the wind salesmen quote whatever numbers make them sound most impressive, and the news media report it. It's as ubiquitous as it is misleading.
Mea culpa. I forgot how misleading some of the energy numbers could be.
The article estimates that China's electricity capacity will double from 2008 to 2020; it doesn't seem to list an estimate for electricity production, but I'd think it would trend in much the same way, significantly faster than China's (rapidly falling) population increase. Reading this article makes me even more eager than before to take the "over" at these odds.
I'm rethinking my wager. To give you some information that I found. Which I should have looked at before. Average energy consumption increase over 15 years to 2008 has been 2.13%. This is very choppy data it varies between 0.09% and 4.5%(2004 then trending downwards). This included a doubling on energy consumption by china in 7 years (2001-2008). Average population growth is trending downwards and is at 1.1%. I was probably putting too much weight on my own countries not very well thought out energy policy. What odds would you give on energy consumption growth rate being lower for the next 10 years than the previous 10 (2.4%)?
Because of the Second World's larger growth rate (and the fact that they occupy a larger part of the total now), I think the odds of energy growth being lower than 2.4% are somewhat worse than even. I'm quite metauncertain; I don't think I'd actually bet unless someone were giving me 3:2 odds to bet the 'over', or 4:1 odds to bet the 'under'.

I predict a 10% chance that I win my bet with Eliezer in the next decade (the one about a transhuman intelligence being created not by Eliezer, not being deliberately created for Friendliness, and not destroying the world.)

I'll go ahead and claim a 98% chance that, if a transhuman, non-Friendly intelligence is created, it makes things worse. And an 80% chance that this is in a nonrecoverable way. I kinda hope you're right, but I just don't see how.
This prediction is technically consistent with my prediction (although this doesn't mean that I don't disagree with it anyway.)
In other words, one of us did not specify the prediction correctly. I don't think it's me. I deliberately didn't say it'd destroy the world. Would it be correct to modify yours to say "..and not making the world a worse place"?
No. If you look at the original bet with Eliezer, he was betting that on those conditions, the AI would literally destroy the world. In other words, if both of us are still around, and I'm capable of claiming the money, I win the bet, even if the world is worse off.
5Eliezer Yudkowsky
Yup. If he lives to collect, he collects.
Assuming that there is, in fact, a correct way to specify the predictions. It's possible that you weren't actually disagreeing and that you both assign substantial probability to (world is made worse off but not destroyed | non-FAI is created) while still having a low probability for (non-FAI is created in the next decade).
Considering that the bet includes "not destroying the world", the only fair way to do this type of bet (for money) is for you to give the other party $X now, and for them to give you $Y later if you turn out to be correct.
That's exactly what happened; I gave Eliezer $10, and he will pay me $1000 when I win the bet.
I'll put down money on the other side of this prediction provided that we can agree on an objective definition of "transhuman intelligence".
My bet with Eliezer can be found at http://lesswrong.com/lw/wm/disjunctions_antipredictions_etc/. I said there at the time, "As for what constitutes the AI, since we don't have any measure of superhuman intelligence, it seems to me sufficient that it be clearly more intelligent than any human being." Everyone's agreement that it is clearly more intelligent would be the "objective" standard. In any case, I am risk averse, so I don't really want to bet on the next decade, which according to my prediction would give me a 90% chance of losing the bet. The bet with Eliezer was indefinite, since I already paid; I am simply counting on it happening within our lifetimes.
I like your side of the original bet because I think the probability that the first superintelligent AI will be only slightly smarter than humans, non-goal-driven, and non-self-improving, and therefore non-Singularity-inducing, is better than 1%. The reason I'm willing to bet against you on the above version is that I think 10% is way overconfident for a 10-year timeframe.
Would a sped-up upload count as super-intelligent in your opinion?

In an analysis that does not account for any health-care reform bill, the Department of Health and Human Services projected that health care expenditures would double from the 2009 level of $2.2 trillion (16.2% of 2009 GDP) to $4.4 trillion in 2018 (20.3% of projected 2018 GDP). This provides us a baseline from which to predict the cost-control effectiveness of health care reform.

I'm somewhat bullish on the potential of the pilot programs and the excise tax to lower med costs for a given level of health outcomes, although I'm not supremely confident in th... (read more)

3.6 trillion in 2018 (17.7% of GDP), so we don't even need to argue about adjusting for inflation to judge these. Thanks Obamacare!
Are those figures inflation-adjusted? In order: * http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1667 * http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1668 * http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1669 (As health reform passed, I omit any consideration of #4.)

I get into UC Berkeley - 70%

http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1719 but what date should the prediction terminate on?
About 3 months ago.
o.0 OK, did you get in or no?
Congratulations to the both of us, then.

I expect that Brain-Computer Interfaces will make their way into consumer devices by the next decade, with disruptive consequences, once people become able to offload some auxiliary cognitive functions into these devices.

Call it 75% - I would be more than mildly surprised if it hadn't happened by 2020.

For what I have in mind, what counts as BCI is the ability to interact with a smartphone-like device in an inconspicuous manner, without using your hands.

My reasoning is similar to Michael Vassar's AR prediction, and based on the iPhone's success. That doesn'... (read more)

Ruling this prediction as wrong. (Only three years late, but who's counting.)
By now this looks rather unlikely in the original time-frame, even though there are still encouraging hints from time to time.
I'm not thrilled about your vagueness about what technologies count as a BCI. Little electrodes? The gaming device that came out last year or so got a lot of hype, but the gamers I've talked to who have actually used it were all deeply unimpressed. Voice recognition? Already here in niches, but not really popular. If you can't think of what interfaces specifically*, then maybe you should phrase your prediction as a negative: 'by 2020, >50% of the smart cellphone market will use a non-gestural non-keyboard based interface' etc. * and you really should be able to - just 9 years means that any possible tech has to have already been demonstrated in the lab and have a feasible route to commercialization; R&D isn't that fast a process, and neither is being good & cheap enough to take over the global market to the point of 'pervasive'
Decoding spoken words using local field potentials recorded from the cortical surface
Yep, electrodes, as in the gaming devices. Headsets is the form factor I have in mind, so not necessarily electrodes if this is to be believed. I don't want to commit to burdensome implementation details but voice isn't what I mean - it doesn't count as "unobtrusive" to my way of thinking. I envision something where I can just form the thought "nearest MacDonalds" (ETA: or somehow bring up a menu selecting that among even a restricted set) without it being conspicuous for an outside observer, and get some form of feedback from the device leading me in the right direction. Visual overlay would work, but so would a physical tug.
Three and a half years in, this.
Any updates to your original prediction?
Now this.
I think I've come round to Gwern's point of view - this is a bit too vague. The news item I posted makes me feel like we're still on track for it to happen, though I could be a few years off the mark. I might knock it down to 65% or so to account for uncertainty in timing.
Given the feasibility that currently exists for gadgets that you envision... and Apple's uncanny ability to bring those ides to market... I say 2015 is a 75% target for the iThought side-processor device. :) .

By 2020, an Earth-like habitable extrasolar planet is detected. I would take a wager on this one but doubt anyone would give me even odds.

Will anyone give me even odds if the bet is by 2015?

I think I'd give better-than-even odds for either date, and would be shocked if no one else would. How are you defining "Earth-like" and "habitable"?
I think he just meant with liquid water, some type of atmosphere, and approximately earth sized. Given this, my guess is that they find one within the next three years. If he meant "habitable" to human beings without protection, i.e. oxygen atmosphere etc., then this is extremely unlikely (less than 2% chance) that they will find such a thing by 2020.
Is it possible to have liquid water without life? I remember reading that an oxygen atmosphere was quite impossible, but am not sure about liquid water.
There could be an oxygen atmosphere without life for a short period of a planet's history (I'm not sure how long.) It wouldn't be possible for it to remain permanently. According to our evidence, Mars had liquid water for a very long period, but no one considers this to be proof that there was life there.
I went to check this - maybe liquid water is a short-term enough thing that its mere presence is still weak evidence for an active biosphere, but apparently one timeline puts liquid water as present in large quantities for >600 million years. Bleh.
0Eliezer Yudkowsky
I'm not sure we have the technology to make that call even if such a planet does, in fact, lie within range of our telescopes.
We don't. My prediction then is only almost certainly true if we define habitable as a planet in a sun's habitable zone. However, I still think finding a habitable planet, per Unknowns's definition, is likely to happen by 2020. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101493448 If Kepler does indeed find hundreds of planets in habitable zones, that should get the popular imagination going enough for the successor to Kepler to be very well funded. Kepler Mark II in the air by 2017?
At even odds I would take a loan to make the bet.
When Will the First Earth-like Planet Be Discovered? http://arbesman.net/blog/2010/09/13/when-will-the-first-earth-like-planet-be-discovered/
So by 'habitable' you meant simply in the zone?
That's a good link (maybe half-forgotten rumors of this were why I guessed so high), but I hope you're not expecting me to close the prediction as correct based on just online rumors. :)
:) Definitely not closed yet, but I figured I would put the link up just as a running update of the prediction.

I am 99% confident that AGI comparable to or better than a human, friendly or otherwise, will not be developed in the next ten years.

I am 75% confident that within ten years, the Bayesian paradigm of AGI will be just yet another more or less useful spinoff of the otherwise failed attempt to build AGI.

Shane Legg gives a 10% probability of that here: http://www.churchofvirus.org/bbs/attachments/agi-prediction.png My estimate here is a bit bigger - maybe around 15%: http://alife.co.uk/essays/how_long_before_superintelligence/graphics/pdf_no_xp.png You seem to be about ten times more confident than us. Is that down to greater knowledge - or overconfidence?
You seem to be about ten times less confident than me. Is that down to greater knowledge - or underconfidence?
I'm not very confident - primarily because we are talking ten years out - and the future fairly rapidly turns into a fog of possibilities which makes it difficult to predict. Which brings us back to why you seem so confident. What facts, or observations are the ones you find which provide the most compelling evidence that intelligent machines are at least ten years off. Indeed, how do you know that the NSA doesn't have such a machine chained up in its basement right now?
It hasn't worked in sixty years of trying, and I see nothing in the current revival to suggest they have any ideas that are likely to do any better. To be specific, I mean people such as Marcus Hutter, Shane Legg, Steve Omohundro, Ben Goertzel, and so on -- those are the names that come to me off the top of my head. And by their current ideas for AGI I mean Bayesian reasoning, algorithmic information theory, AIXI, Novamente, etc. I don't think any of these people are stupid or crazy (which is why I don't mention Mentifex in the same breath as them), and I wouldn't try to persuade any of them out of what they are doing unless I had something demonstrably better, but I just don't believe that collection of ideas can be made to work. The fundamental thing that is lacking in AGI research, and always has been, is knowledge of how brains work. The basic ideas that people have tried can be classified as (1) crude imitation of the lowest-level anatomy (neural nets), (2) brute-forced mathematics (automated reasoning, logical or probabilistic), or (3) attempts to code up what it feels like to be a mind (the whole cognitive AI tradition). My estimates are unaffected by hypothetical possibilities for which there is no evidence, and are protected against that lack of evidence. Besides, the current state of the world is not suggestive of the presence of AIs in it. ETA: But this is becoming a digression from the purpose of the thread.
Thanks for sharing. As previously mentioned, we share a generally negative impression of the chances of success in the next ten years. However, it appears that I give more weight to the possibility that there are researchers within companies, within government organisations, or within other countries who are doing better than you suggest - or that there will be at some time over the next ten years. For example, Voss's estimate (from a year ago) was "8 years" - see: http://www.vimeo.com/3461663 We also appear to differ on our estimates of how important knowledge of how brains work will be. I think there is a good chance that it will not be very important. Ignorance about NSA projects might not affect our estimates, but perhaps it should affect our confidence in them. An NSA intelligent agent might well remain hidden - on national security grounds. After all, if China's agent found out for sure that America had an agent too, who knows what might happen?
I would guess that the NSA is more interested in quantum computing than in AI.
They are the National Security Agency. Which of those areas presents the biggest potential threat to national security? With a machine intelligence, you could build all the quantum computers you would ever need.
This is my sense as well. I also think there is a substantial limit on what we're likely to learn about the brain given that we can't study brain functionality with large scope, neuron-level definition, in real time given obvious ethical constraints. Does anyone know of any technologies on the horizon that could change this in the next ten years?
0Eliezer Yudkowsky
From quote in that post: There's no reason to spread such myths about medieval history. The main characteristics of the Early Middle Ages were low population densities, very low urbanization rates, very low literacy rates, and almost zero lay literacy rates. Being in a reference class of times and places with such characteristics, it would be a miracle if any significant progress happened during Early Middle Ages. High and Late Middle Ages on the other hand had plenty of technological and intellectual progress. I'm much more surprised why dense, urbanized, and highly literate Roman Empire was so stagnant.
China also springs to mind. I have listened to documentary about the Chinese empire and distinctly remember how advanced yet stagnant it seemed. At the time my explanation was authoritarianism.
All that is fine. But 1) I'm not sure anyone has a good grasp of what the properties we're trying to duplicate are. I'm sure some people think they do and it is possible someone has stumbled on to the answer but I'm not sure there is enough evidence to justify any claims of this sort. How exactly would someone figure out what general intelligence is without ever seeing it in action? The interior experience of being intelligent? Socialization with other intelligences? An analogy to computers? 2) Lets say we do have or can come up with a clear conception of what the AGI project is trying to accomplish without better neuroscience. It isn't then obvious to me that the way to create intelligence will be easy to derive without more neuroscience. Sure, from just from a conception of what flight is it is possible to come up with solutions to the problem of heavier than air flight. But for the most part humans are not this smart. Despite the ridiculous attempts at flight with flapping wings I suspect having birds to study --weigh, measure and see in action-- sped up the process significantly. Same goes for creating intelligence. (Prediction: .9 probability you have considered both these objections and rejected them for good reason. And .6 you've published something that rebuts at least one of the above. :-)
The NSA does have some scary machines chained in their "Basement," yet I doubt any of them approach AGI. All of them(that I am aware of - so, that would be 2) are geared toward some pretty straightforward real-time data mining, and I am told that the other important gizmos do pretty much the same thing (except with crypto). I doubt that they have anything in the NSA (or other spooky agencies) that significantly outstrips many of the big names in Enterprise. After all, the Government does go to the same names to buy its supercomputers that everyone else does. It's just the code that would differ.
So: you have a hotline to the NSA, and they tell you about all their secret technology?!? This is one of the most secretive organisations ever! If you genuinely think you know what they are doing, that is probably because they have you totally hoodwinked.
Hardly a hotline... A long, long time ago, when I was very young, I wound up working with the NSA for about six months. I was supposed to have finished school and gone to work for them full time... But, I flaked when I discovered that I could get laid pretty easily (women seemed much more important than an education at the time). I still keep in touch, and I have found that an awful lot of their work is not hard to find out about. They may have me hoodwinked, as my job was hoodwinking others. However, I don't usually spend my time with any of my former co-workers talking about stuff that they shouldn't be talking about. Most of it is about stuff that is out in the open, yet that most people don't care about, or don't know about (usually because it's dead boring to most people). And, I am not aware that I have stumbled onto any secret technology. Just two machines that I found to be freakishly smart. One of them did stuff that Google can probably now do (image recognition), and I am pretty sure that the other used something very similar to Mathematica. I was really impressed by them, but then I also did not know that things like Mathematica existed at the time. At the time I saw them, I was told by my handler than they were "Nothing compared to the monsters in the garage." Edit: Anyone may feel free to think that I am a nut-job if they wish. At this point, I have little to no proof of anything at all about my life due to the loss of everything I ever owned when my wife ran off. So, you may take my comments with a grain of salt until I am better known.
Can you be more specific about what you mean by the Bayesian paradigm of AGI? Is it necessarily a subset of good-old-fashioned symbolic AI? In that case, it's been dead for years. But if not, I can't easily imagine how you're going to enforce Bayes' theorem; or what you're going to enforce it on.
Here's an example of what I had in mind by "the Bayesian paradigm" -- see especially pp.12-13. Bayesian reasoning may be the one correct form of reasoning about probabilities, just as the first-order predicate calculus is the one correct form of reasoning about the true and the false, but that does not make of it a method to automatically solve problems. I also had in mind something broader than just Bayesian reasoning, although that's a major part: the coupling of that with a goal system based on utility functions and their maximisation (the major thrust of the paper I linked).
http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1670 I don't know how one would judge this and so haven't made a prediction for this one.
Thanks for putting that up. I hadn't been aware of PredictionBook, so I've just made an account and posted a more precise prediction there myself.
Hopefully my comments and importation of predictions will lead to more PB awareness on LW.

Carry-on luggage on US airlines will be reduced to a single handbag that inspectors can search thoroughly, in 2010 or 2011.

2010 is almost over, so the odds of my being right are now considerably less.
Well, we're only 8/24 of the way to the end of 2011, so you could still be right. Ganbaru!

I would say better-than even chances that sites like intrade gain prestige in the next decade

and betting on predictions will become common ( 90% that there is a student at 75% or so of high schools in 2020 that will take bets on future predictions on any subject, 40% that >5% of US middle class will have made a bet about a future prediction)

naive guesses based largely on http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/11/case-for-climate-futures-markets-ctd.html

I predict further that I will continue to post on LW at least once a month next year (90%) and in 2020 (50%)

Is there any comparable website that you were posting on in 2000 and continue to post on today? I agree that LW is awesome, but web communities have a short shelf life (and a tendency to be superseded as web technology improves).
Probably a good reason to adjust the estimate down. On the other hand I was 11 in 2000 so I wouldn't have been on this kind of site anyway, and conditional on the prediction that news-betting becomes more prestigious rationality almost certainly will. Point taken, with the real point being that I have no sense of how long a decade is, so I'll adjust that down to a 20% I have stayed in touch with a different web community for five years, with which I'm still in touch, although only barely at the level of once a month. So my odds for awesomeness overcoming shelf-lifes may be higher than for most.
1. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1710 Kind of vague, but I suppose it's not too hard to do a search and note that the NYT only mentioned Intrade a few times in the 2000s and more in the 2010s. 2. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1709 I have no idea how one would measure this one. I'm sure that at any high school you could find a student willing to wager with you on any damn topic you please. 3. Not including a prediction for middleclasses. Already true if you count sports, as many prediction markets such as Betfair do. 4. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1711 5. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1712 Agree with orthonormal that this is seriously over-optimistic. The only site I even use today that I did in 2000 would be Slashdot, and I haven't commented there in a dog's age.
I probably meant for claim 3 to exclude sports.
Well, then you're using a variant definition of prediction market, and before I can feel confident judging any prediction of yours, I need to know what your idiosyncratic interpretation of the phrase is.
I agree that I wasn't making the most coherent claim, and since it's been a long time I can't guarantee fidelity of what I originally intended. But my best guess would be, trying to phrase this as concretely as possible, was that I meant to predict that either a) sports betting agencies would expand into non-sports venues and see significant business there or b) newer betting agencies not created to serve sports would achieve similar success I would be "disappointed" if "non-sports" meant something like player movement between teams and "excited" if it meant something like unemployment rates and vote shares in elections.

I have nowhere admitted that I have evidence of anyone else's mortality THAT I COULD PRESENT TO THEM. That is, I have no evidence for the mortality of people now alive, only for those already dead.

Hmm. You seem to be a taking the position of a radical skeptic here. Would you agree? That position is almost always associated with sophistry, and neatly explains everyone's reaction to you, I believe. AFAIK, there's really no answer to radical skepticism (that's acceptable to the skeptics).

ETA: I wish he had had a chance to respond to this. Seems like it mor... (read more)

  • By the end of 2013: Either the Iranian regime is overthrown by popular revolution, or there is an overt airstrike against Iran by either the US or Israel, or Israel is attacked by an Iranian nuclear weapon (70%).

  • Essentially seconding mattnewport: the price of gold reaches $3000USD, or inflation of the US dollar exceeds 12% in one year (65%).

  • The current lull in the increase of the speed at which CPUs perform sequential operations comes to an end, yielding a consumer CPU that performs sequential integer arithmetic operations 4x as quickly as a modern 3G

... (read more)
1. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1699 2. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1375 3. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1700 4. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1698 5. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1701
When you say sequential integer operations, do you mean integer operations that really are sequential? In other words, the instructions can't be performed in parallel because of data dependencies? If not, then this is already possible with a sufficiently wide superscalar processor or really big SIMD units. But let's assume you really mean sequential integer operations. The only pipeline stage in this example that can't work on several instructions at once is the execute stage, so I'm assuming that's where the bottleneck is here. This means that the speed is limited by the clock frequency. So, here are two ways to achieve your prediction: 1. Crank up the clock! Find a way to get it up to 12 GHz without burning up. 2. Make the execute stage capable of running much faster than the rest of the processor does. This is natural for asynchronous processors; in normal operation the integer functional units will be sitting idle most of the time waiting for input, and the bulk of the time and complexity will be in fetching the instructions, decoding them, scheduling them, and in memory access and I/O. But in your contrived scenario, the integer math units could just go hog wild and the rest of the processor would keep them fed. This can be done with current semiconductor technology, I'm pretty sure. So, either way, kind of an ambitious prediction. I like it.
Have you not heard that they discovered a way to use graphene as a one to one replacement for copper in chip production. That alone will allow speeds of 12-15GHz. I would put faster chips using multicore running at many times current speeds will be available by 2011-2012 at near 100% certainty.
This seems to be still very far from application, a quick search on your claim turned up only this paper that isn't cited by anybody yet, publicized in a few popular articles.
Let's assume they put it into practice and start mass-producing processors with graphene interconnects with better-than-copper resistivity. We've got two things to worry about here: speed and power. The speed of signal propagation along a wire depends on RC, the product of the resistance and the capacitance. Graphene lowers the resistance of a wire of a given size, but does nothing to lower the capacitance -- that depends on the insulator surrounding the wire and the shape of the wire and its proximity to other wires. The speed gains from graphene look moderate, but significant. The power dissipated by sending signals through wires will be most of the power of future processors, if current trends continue. Power is a barrier to clocking chips fast. We can overclock processors a lot, but you've got to worry about them burning up. Decreasing resistivity improves the power situation somewhat, but the bulk of the interconnect's influence on power comes from its capacitance. Transistors have to charge and discharge the capacitance of the wires, and that takes power. So on power, graphene will help somewhat, but it's not the slam-dunk that Valkyrie Ice is expecting. tl;dr: Graphene interconnect sounds good, but not fantastic.
Thank you - I was wanting to write something along similar lines in response to Valkyrie Ice's comment, but wouldn't have ended up with something this compact. I'll add that clocking is just a piece of the puzzle when it comes to making computers that compute faster.

The second estimation in each paragraph is conditional on the first.

By 2020 some kind of CO2 emissions regulation (cap and trade) will be in place in the US(.85). But total CO2 emissions in the US for 2019 will be no less than 95% of total CO2 emissions for 2008 (.9).

Obama wins reelection (.7). The result will be widely attributed to an improving economy (in the media and in polls and whether or not the economy actually improves) (.85)

By 2020 open elections are held for the Iranian presidency (no significant factions excluded from participation) (.5). The president (or some other position selected through open elections) is the highest position in the Iranian state (.5)

"The president (or some other position selected through open elections) is the highest position in the Iranian state (.5)" Qualify this. Formally, the highest position in the British state is unelected. In terms of political power, the highest position in the British state is elected.
In terms of political power.
* http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1680 * http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1681 * http://predictionbook.com/predictions/452 * http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1682 How do you plan to judge #2? It seems rather subjective. (I mean, the economy is one of the factors attributed to every president winning or losing.) * http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1683 * http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1684

For the next decade: collaborative filtering.

Just one word: plastics.
Based on this article on collaborative filtering, we already have it. Every time I buy anything online, I am told what other products people buy who also bought what I bought. It is the central component of the StumbleUpon service. So, what are you predicting?
3Eliezer Yudkowsky
I'm predicting that in 2020 you'll look back at this blog comment and say, "Wow, he sure called that one."

I think it's more likely people will say "too vague a prediction".

Too vague a prediction indeed, but also collaborative filtering seems to have become a cornerstone of modern online advertising / content recommendation services.
2Paul Crowley
I look back and say "I wish he had been right!"
I don't know. It makes sense; but I thought the same thing in 1999. There is a lot of interest in using CF to sell people more mass-market things, eg Netflix; less interest in helping people find obscure things from the long tail that they might have a special interest in; still less interest in using CF for social networking.

My first prediction is that as is usually the case, political and random events will change the way people live far more over the next year than technology will. Given the current state of the financial system, I would place about even odds on politics having more impact than technology over the next decade, but with the caveat that over such a long time scale political and technological events will surely be interwoven.

There's no separation to be had between politics and technology. The biggest influence on technology is regulation which outlaws, restricts, or places huge financial barriers to entry (as with medical research); another non-trivial influence is politically controlled financing of R&D. And arguably, the biggest influence on politics that isn't itself political is technology (case in point: modern communications, computer, and the Internet spreading censored information, creating more popular awareness and coordinating protests.) So I think political and technological events are inseparable over almost any timescale.
I agree that there is little to no separation, but I think a distinction can be made. Namely, there are two different words that mean different things. When predicting what is going to affect people you can probably find a way to split the techno-political mash usefully. This may be as simple as using one word over the other.
It seems pretty vague - do you have any ideas about how this should be measured?
That scarcely seems to be a testable prediction. Random, political, and technological events are tightly interwoven, first of all. Unless you plan to perform an experiment or do some kind of remarkably complex and research dense correlational analysis, how do you expect to determine whether you were right or wrong? For instance, if a government sponsored project produces a type of cheap, practical fusion, is that tech change or a political change? Are terrorist attacks random or political? In any case, I would guess that if you did a survey, people would more often say that technological change was more important.

Secession: If you mean a state trying to leave the US in the next decade, 5%. If you mean a state actually being allowed to leave, I put it at 0%.

Insurrection in the next decade: I'm defining an insurrection as at least 1000 people in the same or closely allied organizations with military weapons taking violent action against the US government: 30%. They'll lose. It's certainly possible that my opinion on this is based on reading too much left wing material which is very nervous about the right. On the other hand, 1000 isn't a lot of people.

All predictions... (read more)

Just as a check on 0% for a state being allowed to secede, consider this. What would you put at the probability that there would be sufficient devastation in the eastern seaboard of the US in the next decade from (for example) bio or nuclear attacks or terrorism? If that happened, what would be the probability that the US would be disbanded as a going concern? I realize you would likely assign very small numbers to these possibilities, but possibly > 0%. If you assign >0% to this, then you assign >0% to a state being allowed to secede. (recapitulating an objection voiced to me by Anna Salamon when I made a claim of extremely small probability for some risk or another).
There's a lot of ruin in a nation. The main axis nations of World War II -- Germany, Italy, and Japan -- provide some examples of nations that were really, really traumatized and damaged. Out of the three, only Germany split apart, and that only because of competing foreign occupiers. Even then it reunited as soon as it got the chance. I don't think there's enough hostility or just plain difference between most of the states west of the Mississippi to cause them to separate, especially under threat of external attack. If anything, I'd expect them to band together as tightly as possible.
I don't think the US would go away even if the eastern seaboard was nothing but glassy craters and deadly microbes. That being said, it's conceivable that some technological or ideological change could weaken the central government to the point that states would be let go, though it's hard to imagine something that drastic shaping up in as little as 9 years. I'm also not sure what change could happen which would break the federal government while leaving state governments intact. Ok, though-- in a decade, something very odd could happen. I don't think a lot of people were predicting the dissolution of the USSR before it happened. Meanwhile, sous vides don't seem to be a lot cheaper or more popular, but I didn't put as extreme a probability on that one.
Surely you mean "my estimate rounds to 0%"?
I meant 0%, but you probably have a point that I should present the chance as negligible rather than non-existent. Is there a limit, though? Does it make sense to say that there's a non-zero chance that a state will propose secession and be allowed to leave by tomorrow morning?
Yep. It even makes sense to say that there's a non-zero chance that a state seceded last month, and that we haven't heard about it yet. The word 'epsilon' is useful in such cases; it means 'nearly zero' or 'too close to zero to calculate'.
"Negligible" is a much better word, in my opinion, since epsilon is (conventionally) an arbitrarily small number, not a sufficiently small number. You could use "infinitesimal", but nothing in reality is actually infinitesimally small (including probabilities), so again you'd be inaccurate. I always get frustrated when people misuse precise mathematical words that have lots of syllables in them. The syllables are there to discourage colloquial use! I don't mind if you try to show off your knowledge, but for heaven's sake don't screw up and use that precise brainy term wrong!
You're straddling a strange line here. You're demanding a certain amount of strictness that is itself short of perfect strictness. There's no such thing as an "arbitrarily small number". There are numbers chosen when any positive number might have been chosen. In particular, a given epsilon need not be "negligible". Really, to conform to the strict mathematical usage, one shouldn't say "epsilon" without first saying "For every". Once you're not demanding that, you're not using the "precise mathematical words" in the precise mathematical way. I'm not saying that you're on some slippery slope where anything goes. But I wouldn't say that AdeleneDawner is either.
Actually, I'm fine with people speaking vaguely, I just don't want to see terminology misused. "Through adding zeroes between the decimal point and the 7 in the string '.7', the number we are representing can be made arbitrarily small." Is this a misuse of the word "arbitrarily"? The important think about an epsilon in a mathematical proof is, conventionally, that it can be made arbitrarily small. This is a human interpretation I am adding on to the proof itself. If the important thing about a variable in a proof was that the variable could become arbitrarily large, my guess is that a variable other than epsilon would not be used.
Your usage is fine, so long as it's clear that "arbitrarily small" is a feature of the set from which you are choosing numbers, or of the process by which you are constructing numbers, and not of any particular number in that set. This is clear with the context that you give above. It wasn't as clear to me when you wrote that "epsilon is (conventionally) an arbitrarily small number".
'Kay. I'm not the only one you should be ranting at, though - I picked it up here, not in a math class, and I suggested it because it's in common use.
Yep, it is probably unrealistic to expect random folks to avoid picking up multisyllable terms in the way they pick up regular words.
Don't forget "modulo". Suppose that Nancy meant 0% except for a few special cases that she didn't think should be relevant. Then she could say, '0% modulo some special cases'.
1Paul Crowley
I often use epsilon in the same informal way AdeleneDawner does, though I'm perfectly aware of the formal use. Still, I think the informal use of "modulo" is more defensible - it maps more closely to the mathematical meaning of "ignoring this particular class of ways of being different"
Could you explain this in greater detail? This way of using "modulo" bothers me significantly, and I think it's because I either don't know about one of the ways "modulo" is used in math, or I have an insufficiently deep understanding of the one way I do know that it's used.
In modulo arithmetic, adding or subtracting the base does not change the value. Thus, 12 modulo 9 is the same as 3 modulo 9. Thus, for example, "my iPhone is working great modulo the Wifi connection" implies that if you can subtract the base ("the Wifi connection") you can transform a description of the current state of my iPhone into "working great". (For your amusement: modulo in the Jargon File. Epsilon is there too.) Edit: Actually, in this case, you would have to add the base, because my Wifi isn't working, but the statement remains the same.
You can get a hacker sous vide setup for under $200 today. http://news.ycombinator.net/item?id=2058982
I think you could when I made the prediction-- what I had in mind was a sous vide cooker that you didn't need to put together.
1. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1713 & http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1714 2. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1715 3. An EU-style organization - you'll have to be more specific than that. Every region has a bunch of multinational orgs like the UN. Africa has the Union of African States, Asia has ASEAN, SAARC, BIMSTEC, etc. Maybe you would prefer a prediction like 'at least 10 nations in Asia/Africa/South America will create a new common currency and switch to it'? 4. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1716 I agree that this one is wishful thinking on your part. :) 5. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1717 & http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1718 I agree that it's perfectly possible (surely right now) to sell a sous-vide cooker for $200; I question that there is demand enough, and really have no idea about the business environment. Cynicism tells me that there is no enormous revolution in American cuisine in the offing to the point where effectively half the middle-class has a sous-vide cooker, though. I mean come on. 6. http://predictionbook.com/predictions/452 for his re-election
Thanks, mostly. I think it would have been more fair to make my predictions 1. "A state will not try to secede" and "A state will not succeed at seceding". Other than that, it's interesting to see how uncertain I am that some of my predictions are the result of my own thinking rather than emotional effects from people I've been reading. (3) What I had in mind for an EU-style organization was dropping restrictions on trade and travel. At this point, I'm not as optimistic, but that feels more like mood than new information. I don't know whether dropping restrictions on trade requires a common currency. (4) Computer-fabbed custom-fitted shoes are a lot easier than AI. If you don't think that's at all likely within 10 years, does this affect any predictions you might have for AI? Your answer is about there not being a market for them-- I'd say that the market isn't perceived. Either way, I don't get the impression that that tech is ready to do it yet. It might make more sense for a computer to measure the feet and make the pieces, but have human beings put the shoes together. :-/ I'm also assuming shoes would be mailed rather than being shoes on demand-- shoes on demand would be another jump in technology. Thinking about it a little more, the footprint in stores could be pretty small-- just the measuring device. I'm not sure how much support from store staff it would be apt to need at the beginning. This sort of development is also dependent on how much capital is available, and I'm not feeling optimistic about that. (5) The conveyor belt for new aspects of food (perhaps unsurprisingly) seems to be more efficient for prepared food and ingredients than for cooking methods. I still haven't had sous vide food myself, but everything I've heard about it makes it sound wonderful. I think there will be a sudden shift with sous vide food becoming available in mid-range restaurants followed by a lot of people wanting to cook it. ETA: The website didn't just format the
For 3, a monetary union isn't necessary; look at the US & Mexico & Canada, thanks to NAFTA. Certainly helps, though. I don't really see any areas which might do this sort of thing. Open borders and no trade barriers is a very Western 1st World sort of thing to do, and the obvious candidates like Japan don't really have an incentive to do so. (Japan has no land borders, so having passport checks doesn't really increase the cost of flying or boating to it.) For 4: I think custom-fitting is already possible, and has been since the early laser scanners came out in the... '80s? But like the sous-vide, I'm not confident in their uptake. (It's kind of like jetpacks and flying cars and pneumatic postal systems. We have them; we just don't use them.) This is part of standard markdown; you can number each item '1.' if you want! If you want a number item you can escape it with a backslash, or you can do like I did and insert a paragraph after the bullet (newline, and then indent the paragraph by 4-5 spaces).
Damn, on 3 I didn't say what I meant. The genuinely big deal is freedom to relocate and work. Do you have a source for computerized custom-fitting of shoes? The big deal isn't just the fitting, though, it's reasonably-priced manufacture. Afaik, jet-packs can be made, but carrying enough fuel for significant travel isn't feasible. As for flying cars, it finally occurred to people that there were weather and pilot safety issue. I don't see those sorts of considerations applying to sous vide or computerized custom shoes. The futuristic prediction which seems to be not happening because people just don't want it is video which shows your face while you're talking on the phone.
Someone I know has a foot problem. Her orthopedist recommended having a scan done to produce inserts to adjust the shape of her regular shoes, and said if that didn't work, then entirely custom shoes could be made. So computerized custom-fit shoes do exist, but they're considered a medical item which makes them expensive.
That sounds to me as though the inserts are customized, but the custom shoes would be made by humans.
That one's already happened. My new iPhone does video calls, and so does Skype on any computer with a webcam. That wasn't driven by demand, though, it was more that the technology all became ubiquitous for other purposes and it was easy to stitch it together to provide videophone functionality, even if it isn't actually used very much.
IIRC, I read it a long time ago in a mouldering paperback of Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave. (Or was it Future Shock?) But even without having read about clothes in particular, I have read about 3D models of statues etc. being generated through rotating the object while shining a laser on it; thus obviously one can generate a human model (I think CGI already does this), and fit clothes on that model. I would be deeply shocked if no one has ever used laser modeling to fit garments of some kind. Considerations like expense and minimal benefit don't apply? Mm, well, as Marx said, nous verrons. Figuring out whose perception of reality is clearer is one of the points of recording predictions.
You don't have to be shocked. Here is one. I think what user-specific clothing and shoes currently lacks is sufficiently advanced robotics. If you are doing the obvious, cutting out bits of material and attaching them together you have quite a few problems. You are having to manipulate non-standard sized bits of flexible material. The production line deals with many of the same sized and shaped bits of material so you can change molds/tools dependent upon the size of the shoe. The knitting machine above removes that consideration as it produces the finished garment in one piece. I found this pdf on customized shoe production from 2001 (requires login) while trying to find some videos of shoe manufacturing to confirm my ideas. I don't have time to look into it, but seems relevant to the discussion.
The hard part of computerized custom shoes might be designing the shoes rather than measuring the foot. Also note that the shoe has to fit while you're walking, though that seems like just adding difficulty rather than a whole new problem. I should have been more precise about the difference I see between flying cars and sous vide cooking. Flying cars include infrastructure and group effects in a way that sous vide cookers do not.

No predictions about the state of the environment? Is every point of contention too close to call, then?

China is the 2nd biggest economy in 2020 (99%). Note I'm counting the EU as lots of countries, not as one big economy. Counting the EU together, China will be the 3rd biggest.

Pirate Parties will have been in government for a time in at least one country by 2020 (90%)

Pirate Parties will win >=10 seats in the European parliament in 2014 (75%), and <=30 seats (75%).

The Conservatives will win a majority the next UK general election (60%), there will be no overal majority (37%), or any other outcome (3%).

2Paul Crowley
Do you have bets on Intrade or Betfair for those guesses? It's probably better for you to bet directly than for me to do arbitrage on you :-) They have around 68% Conservative victory, 26% no overall majority, and around 6% Labour victory. Betfair
Now, that's unfair. You've already won that one, and any look at the numbers would've told you this was a like 99.999% prediction or something.
No, there is a reasonable (IMO >1%) chance China could overtake the USA or EU in the next ten years.
I'm a little confused what you're predicting. China is already the 2nd biggest economy, my understanding was, unless the EU is counted as a single economy. So your 99% prediction is actually 'China will not become the world's largest economy and will remain #2/#3'?

Next 10 years:

  1. Nativism discredited (80%)

  2. Traditional economics discredited (80%)

  3. Cognitivism/computationalism discredited (70%)

  4. Generative linguistics discredited (60%)

To elaborate somewhat: By #1 I mean that in the fields of biology, psychology and neuroscience the idea that behaviours or ideas or patterns of thought can be "innate" will be marginalised and not accepted by mainstream researchers.

By #2 I mean that, not only will behavioural economics provide accounts of deviations from traditional economic models, but mainstream economist... (read more)

If we could agree on a suitable judging mechanism, I would bet up to $10,000 against you on #1 and on #3 at those odds (or even at substantially different odds). I also disagree on the latter claim in #2, but that's not as much of a slam dunk for me as the others.
Can you unpack what you mean by innate. I think babies would have a hard time surviving if sucking things wasn't a behaviour that was with them from their genes.
And more generally, the distinction innate/learned is overly simplistic in a lot of contexts; rather, there are adaptations that determine the way organism develops depending on its environment. The standard reference I know of is J. Tooby & L. Cosmides (1992). `The psychological foundations of culture'. In J. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. Oxford University Press, New York.
A few thoughts: * It would be valuable to do an outside view sanity check: historically, how frequently have research programs of similar prestige been discredited? * There are all the standard problems with authority---lots of folks insist that they're in the mainstream and that opposing views have been discredited. Clearly nativism &c. have been discredited in your mind; when do they get canonically discredited? Sometimes I almost think that everyone would be better off if everyone just directly talked about how the world really is rather than swiping at the integrity of each other's research programs, but I'm probably just being naive. * Re 3, my domain knowledge is somewhat weak, so everyone ignore me if my very words are confused, but I'm not sure what would count as a refutation or the mind being an algorithm. Surely (surely?) most would agree that the brain is not literally a computer as we ordinarily think of computers, but I understand algorithm in the broadest sense to refer to some systematic mechanism for accomplishing a task. Thought isn't ontologically fundamental; the brain systematically accomplishes something; why shouldn't we speak of abstracting away an algorithm from that? Maybe I've just made computationalism an empty tautology, but I don't ... think so. * I don't think the innate/learned dichotomy is fundamental; it's both, everyone knows that's it's both, everyone knows that everyone knows that it's both. Like that old analogy, a rectangle's area is a product of length and width. What specific questions of fact are people confused about?
I think these research programs represent something without a clear historical precedent. Traditional economics and generative linguistics, for example, could be compared to pre-scientific disciplines that were overthrown by scientific disciplines. But both exhibit a high degree of formal and institutional sophistication. I don't think pre-Copernican astronomy had the same level of sophistication. Economics also has data (although so did geocentric astronomy) whereas the generative tradition in linguistics considers data misleading and prefers intuitive judgement. What neither has is a systematic experimental research program or a desire to integrate with the natural sciences. Cognitivism is essentially Cartesian philosophy with a computer analogy and experiments. In practice it just becomes experimental psychology with some extra jargon. Nativism, too, comes from Cartesian philosophy (Chomsky was quite explicit about this). While cognitivism has experiments it has an interpretation that isn't founded in experiment (the type of computer the brain is supposed to be and the algorithms it could be said to run is not addressed) and an opposition to integration with the natural sciences (the so-called "autonomy of psychology" thesis). These research programs are similar to pre-scientific research programs but have managed to persist in a world where you have to attempt to "look scientific" in order to secure research grants and they reflect this fact. You point to many problems and I wouldn't take any bets because of these. It would be too difficult to judge who had won. On the nature/nurture debate: Empiricism evolved into constructivism/interactionism (i.e., the developing organism interacting with the environment with genes driving development), which is the dominate view in biology, and it's not obvious what, precisely, modern Nativists believe. But it is obvious that they still exist since naive nativist talk persists almost everywhere else. It's similarly diffic
First, this is the genetic fallacy. Secondly, I don't take Chomsky's authority seriously. The experimental evidence that, say, Steven Pinker presents in How the Mind Works for innate mental traits and for the computational perspective are sound, and have nothing to do with Cartesian dualism.
The point is that the views have their origins in philosophy rather than experiment. We're not dealing with a research program developed from a set of compelling experimental results but a research program that has inherited a set of assumptions from a non-empirical source. This is more obviously the case with computationalism, where advocates have shown almost no interest in establishing the foundational assumptions of their discipline experimentally, and some claim that to do so would be irrelevant. But it's also true for nativism where almost no thought is given to how nativist mechanisms would be realised biologically.
I'm not entering any of these into PredictionBook because all 4 strike me as hopelessly argumentative and subjective. (Take #1 - what, you mean stigmatised even more than it already is as the province of racists/sexists/-ists?)
Regarding 3, there's no way to find evidence against it (or for it, for that matter). You can't look at a given system and measure its sentience. The closest to that anyone's ever attempted is to try and test intelligence, but that assumes cognitivism/computationalism, among other things. I agree with orthonormal, except that I don't have $10,000 to bet.

Whatever position I'm taking (away from this thread) is irrelevant for the purposes of this thread.

Incorrect. You seem to have a concept of what rationality is that's not very close to the reality; the reality doesn't involve ignoring data, but rather giving it appropriate weight relative to the situation at hand. The high probability that you're not actually interested in learning about or doing the things that we're doing here is definitely relevant to any thread you make an appearance in.

You may say that my prediction is trite or obvious, but that'

... (read more)

next year:

  • Germanys (as of 2009) foreign minister Westerwelle will trip over a mistake in international diplomacy and the German CDU / FDP government will fall apart. -more pedestrians than ever get killed in motorcycle crashes in London, and motorcycles get banned.
  • the congestion zone will become bigger

next ten years:

  • Chinese economy collapses and plunges the world economy into its' biggest crisis ever -China colonialises Africa even further, and builds more factories. At the end of the decade, production has moved from China to Africa, leaving Billions of Chinese unemployed, Africa gets richer. This marks a turning point.
I would take you on most of your predictions on even odds. I'd gladly on 50% odds bet that: * No collapse of German government in 2010 * No ban on motorcycles in London in 2010 * No Congestion zone enlargement in 2010 * Chinese economy in 2020 is more prosperous than in 2009 * Chinese industrial production in 2020 larger than in 2009 * Non-agricultural employment in China in 2020 larger than in 2009
I was right on all of these: * No collapse of German government in 2010 * No ban on motorcycles in London in 2010 * No Congestion zone enlargement in 2010 I'm ridiculously confident about predictions for 2020 as well.