Delegate a forecast

by amandango1 min read26th Jul 202043 comments

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EDIT: We've stopped answering questions for now, sorry if we didn't get to your question! We're still really interested in what kinds of questions people want forecasted, feedback on how useful it is to delegate forecasts, and Elicit as a tool, so feel free to keep commenting these thoughts. We also forecasted questions on the LessWrong version of this post.

Hi everyone! We, Ought, have been working on Elicit, a tool to express beliefs in probability distributions. This is an extension of our previous work on delegating reasoning. We’re experimenting with breaking down the reasoning process in forecasting into smaller steps and building tools that support and automate these steps.

In this specific post, we’re exploring the dynamics of Q&A with distributions by offering to make a forecast for a question you want answered. Our goal is to learn:

  1. Whether people would appreciate delegating predictions to a third party, and what types of predictions they want to delegate
  2. Whether a distribution can more efficiently convey information (or convey different types of information) than text-based interactions
  3. Whether conversing in distributions isolates disagreements or assumptions that may be obscured in text
  4. How to translate the questions people care about or think about naturally into more precise distributions (and what gets lost in that translation)

We also think that making forecasts is quite fun. In that spirit, you can ask us (mainly Amanda Ngo and Eli Lifland) to forecast any continuous question that you want answered. Just make a comment on this post with a question, and we’ll make a distribution to answer it.

Some examples of questions you could ask:


We’ll spend <=1 hour on each one, so you should expect about that much rigor and information density. If there’s context on you or the question that we won’t be able to find online, you can include it in the comment to help us out.

We’ll answer as many questions as we can from now until Monday 8/3. We expect to spend about 10-15 hours on this, so we may not get to all the questions. We’ll post our distributions in the comments below. If you disagree or think we missed something, you can respond with your own distribution for the question.

We’d love to hear people’s thoughts and feedback on outsourcing forecasts, providing beliefs in probability distribution, or Elicit generally as a tool. If you’re interested in more of what we’re working on, you can also check out the competition we’re currently running on LessWrong to amplify Rohin Shah’s forecast on when the majority of AGI researchers will agree with safety concerns.

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