Prediction Contest 2018

by jbeshir2 min read30th Apr 20184 comments


Forecasts (Specific Predictions)Bounties (closed)Calibration

Summary: Make predictions on all the listed predictions before the end of June 2018, and if your predictions are the best you'll win $200 after they all settle in January.


This is happening! Motivations discussed in the earlier post here, I'm running a prediction contest for the rationalist and EA communities. There are 20 predictions- seven about world politics over the next year, five about technology, six about the upcoming year for EA organisations, and two about rationalist websites, for a mix of topics with a lean towards things it would be helpful to know about. They were inspired by a variety of suggested sources- particularly Socratic Form Microblogging's world politics predictions, Slate Star Codex's predictions for the year and the SSC community's reddit thread for predictions, and a handful of EA organisation blog posts about the past and their future plans.

How to Enter

Each entry in the list below goes to a prediction on PredictionBook. Using a new or existing PredictionBook account, assign probability to each of them sometime before the end of June (12:00 midday 1st July UTC being the enforced deadline, to accommodate variation in timezone). Then submit a contact email and your PredictionBook account name through this form, and you're done!

You can assign probability more than once, and I'll take whichever probability was made most recently before the deadline, so you can feel safe to make predictions early and just update them later if new information arrives (both will impact on your PredictionBook calibration calculation, but that doesn't feed into the contest). In particular, you can do this even after submitting to the form- I won't go collect assigned probabilities until after the deadline.

Tip: If predictions are daunting, you don't need to do it all in one go- you can make a handful of predictions now and then throughout the two months and they'll all be done by the end. Maybe just do one and see after if you feel like doing more.

When It Ends

All the predictions settle by the 1st of January 2019. At some point prior to the end of January 2019, I'll ensure all the predictions are settled accurately, calculate the log score for each entrant, make a new post announcing the results and listing the scores and ranks of the entrants (by their PredictionBook account- contact email remains private), and send an email to the contact email address of the winner.

I'll provide them with a random string and ask them to post it as a comment on a particular one of the predictions using their PredictionBook account, to verify account ownership, and then ask for them to provide me with a PayPal account to send the prize to (I might be able to do other payment methods, can discuss at the time).

The Predictions

Without further ado: the predictions:

World Politics

Africa - Libya still has two rival governments on January 1, 2019

Middle East - Fatah and Hamas do not meaningfully reconcile in 2018 (e.g. Fatah still doesn't control Gaza by January 1, 2019)

Middle East - Iran withdraws from the deal limiting its nuclear program before the end of 2018

Middle East – Saudi Arabia does not conduct any airstrikes in Yemen between the start and end of December 2018

South America - FARC peace deal remains in place on January 1, 2019

US - A department of the Federal Government is eliminated before the end of 2018

The investigation run by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is still ongoing by the end of 2018 (and is still run by Mueller, e.g., Mueller has not died, or been removed, or formally concluded his investigation).


Tesla will deliver at least 180,000 Model 3's to customers in 2018

New iPhone model released with lowest option priced over $800 in the US before the end of 2018

A fake picture, video, or audio sample of a famous person doing/saying “something awful” causes a scandal reported by the BBC in 2018

The price of a bitcoin is over $10,000 at the end of 2018

Ethereum market cap is below Bitcoin market cap at end of 2018

Effective Altruism

GiveWell publishes at least two reports on interventions to influence policy by end of 2018

GiveWell's end of year donation recommendations for 2018 once again recommend a majority of direct donations go to Against Malaria Foundation

Schistosomiasis Control Initiative remains a GiveWell top charity at end of 2018

Evidence Action's No Lean Season remains a GiveWell top charity at end of 2018

Machine Intelligence Research Institute raises more in a 2018 fundraiser than in its 2017 fundraiser

Over 4500 people have signed up to the Giving What We Can Pledge by the end of 2018

Rationalist Community

Slate Star Codex gets mentioned in the New York Times (by someone other than Ross Douthat) between 1st of July and end of 2018 has at least 20 front page posts approved during December 2018

Wrapping Up

The expected value of entering obviously depends on how many people do enter, which is something I'm curious to see- it could be only a couple of people or it could be tens of people (larger numbers seem unlikely, but would be great... from my perspective as a non-entrant, anyway). I'm considering this first run an experiment, burning $200 to try the idea out. If it works well, I'd hope to run a similar one next year, maybe incorporating any feedback I get on the concept here. If not, we try things.

Questions, feedback, ideas, etc, are very welcome.