Narration: Report on Running a Forecasting Tournament at an EA Retreat, part 1

by D0TheMath1 min read13th Jul 2021No comments

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Original post by Hamish Huggard


Podcast Description

Narration & editing by: Garrett Baker

*This post describes a simple forecasting tournament I ran during the 2021 Effective Altruism New Zealand retreat as an experimental exercise in improving judgement and decision making. I asked players to predict whether certain events would occur within the span of the retreat, like whether Peter Singer would post to Instagram, or whether anyone would lose their hat.

The tournament was surprisingly fun, and went in many unexpected directions. I would strongly encourage other EA retreats and similar gatherings to run their own prediction tournaments, and I provide some resources to get started.

A summary of this post:

  1. Motivation for the tournament.
  2. Summary of the rules, questions, and scoring system I used.
  3. Outcomes of the tournament: strategies used by players and the scores obtained.
  4. Discussion of stuff I found interesting or surprising, and changes I would make to future iterations of the tournament.
  5. Conclusion and promises for follow-up posts.
  6. Appendix: the outcomes of the prediction questions.*

Motivation

The art of forecasting is an important part of the Effective Altruism extended universe. There are at least three reasons for this. First, if you can predict which problems are going to be important in the future, then you can start preparing solutions now (unaligned AI, runaway nanotech, engineered pandemics...) Secondly, if you can predict the future conditional on your actions, then you can choose interventions which do more good for longer (if we transfer cash to poor countries, will this help them build a self-sustaining economy, or will it foster dependence and fragility?) Thirdly, in a broad sense, good forecasting requires clear thinking and improves decision-making, which are virtues we want to cultivate in building a wiser society. In other words, cultivating forecasting skills is an act of everyday longtermism.


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