Darkness Rises

In this episode (recorded 12/22/17), we give our thoughts about what will happen in 2018. We start by talking about how we’ve been able to make money forecasting on PredictIt before looking back briefly back at our 2017 forecasts.

Next we make some predictions about 2018: where Amazon will put its second headquarters, whether there will be more disclosures about the US government’s UFO program, the implications of the Mueller investigation, whether Anthony Kennedy will retire, whether Democrats will retake Congress in 2018, whether Bitcoin prices will keep going up, the prospects for bipartisanship in the US, the future of autonomous vehicles, whether we should expect more “doughnut politics”, and where the Star Wars franchise is going.

Our thanks to the superforecasters who talked about 2018 with us. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

No More Roy Moore

We’re back after our holiday podcast-editing hiatus with an episode (recorded 12/13/17) on color, US electoral politics, and the Mueller investigation.

We start by talking about why we got the Pantone’s 2018 color of the year wrong and why we still think Pantone should have chosen Cherry Tomato. Next we talk about the significance of Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore in the Alabama special election. Then we discuss the impact of the #MeToo movement on US politics and why it is important to focus on processes as well as outcomes. We close by discussing the prospects for and possible reaction to the tax bill that Trump ended up signing over the holidays.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Definitely Cherry Tomato

As we begin this episode (recorded 12/1/17), you can hear sirens in the background as Hawaii conducts the first test of its new new nuclear attack warning system in the background. We go on to discuss—once Robert finishes ducking and covering—the prospects for the Republican tax bill.

Next we forecast Pantone’s 2018 Color of Year. Last year Scott correctly guessed it would be Greenery. This year we all agree that the color of the year would either be Cherry Tomato or Meadowlark. In fact, Pantone announced after we recorded that the color of the year will be Ultra Violet, which—apparently—”communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future”.

We end the podcast by forecasting how well Star Wars: The Last Jedi will do on Rotten Tomatoes and at the box office. Then we guess the name of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s forthcoming baby (Alice is the favorite on Paddy Power at 8/1).

We inverted the ratio of girls to boys born at the end of the podcast and regret the error. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

PredictIt!

We start this episode (recorded 11/17/17) by catching up briefly on recent news. Then we discuss the black swan possibility of a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in light of recent events in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Lebanon. We finish by debating some PredictIt US politics questions.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Sichere Prognosen (Bruno Jahn Interview)

In this episode (recorded 11/1/17), we interview superforecaster Bruno Jahn. Bruno is a forecasting consultant with an M.A. in Islamic/Middle Eastern Studies from the Freie Universität Berlin.

We begin by talking about how Bruno got involved with Good Judgment and how he became a superforecaster. Then we go through a number of Good Judgment Project forecasting questions we did poorly on and discuss whether our forecasts were really inaccurate or whether we were just unlucky. We go on to consider whether expertise can sometimes be an obstacle to forecasting.

Next Bruno tells us about his forthcoming book on forecasting, Sichere Prognosen in unsicheren Zeiten (“Certain Forecasts in Uncertain Times”), which comes out in April 2018. Bruno says that modern forecasters play a similar social to Roman augurs and talks about the value of “common-sense Bayesianism”. He also argues that serious forecasting can serve as an antidote to fake news. We close the podcast by talking about what supeforecasters are like. whether we will see a “Jamaica coalition” in Germany, and why center-left parties seem to be collapsing in Europe.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. Links to our other superforecaster interviews are here. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Forecasting the NBA Season

In this episode (recorded 10/25/17), superforecaster and friend of the pod Welton Chang joins us to talk about the new NBA season, the LA Clippers’ chance of winning as many games as last year, the Ewing Theory, what the Golden State Warriors’ slow start means, what New York Knicks fans can realistically hope for, Russell Westbrook’s chances of repeating as MVP, which teams are most likely to be in the NBA finals, and CSU Sibiu’s chance of winning La Liga Națională.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Our Bullshit Podcast

In this episode (recorded 10/19/17), we discuss a 2015 Judgment and Decision Making paper titled “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit”. We talk about what bullshit is, why some people seem more susceptible to bullshit than others, and what we can do to become more resistant to bullshit. You can see examples of the kind of computer-generated Deepak Chopra-like statements that the paper calls “pseudo-profound bullshit” here.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Homage to Catalonia

In this episode (recorded 10/4/17), we begin with a discussion of the Catalan independence referendum (Catalan President Carles Puigdemont just issued a confusing suspended declaration of independence while we were posting this). We go on to talk about how we can reduce the impact fake news in the wake of fake stories that emerged after the Las Vegas Strip shooting. We close with a conversation about the chance of a copycat shooting and the prospects for gun control in the US.

The intro music is a clip from “Ibitha” by Lonely Island. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Shahar Avin on Artificial Intelligence

In this episode (recorded 9/27/17), we interview Dr. Shahar Avin of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER).

We discuss the prospects for the development of artificial general intelligence; why general intelligence might be harder to control than narrow intelligence; how we can forecast the development of new, unprecedented technologies; what the greatest threats to human survival are; the “value-alignment problem” and why developing AI might be dangerous; what form AI is likely to take; recursive self-improvement and “the singularity”; whether we can regulate or limit the development of AI; the prospect of an AI arms race;  how AI could be used to be undermine political security; Open AI and the prospects for protective AI; tackling AI safety and control problems; why it matters what data is used to train AI; when will have self-driving cars; the potential benefits of AI; and why scientific research should be funded by lottery.

Learn about the related work Robert does with the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute. Papers and articles mentioned in this episode include Mike Rogers, “Artificial Intelligence—The Arms Race We May Not Be Able to Control”, Dario Amodei et al., “Concrete Problems in AI Safety”, and Paul Christiano et al., “Deep Reinforcement Learning from Human Preferences”. The Asilomar AI Principles are available here.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Welton Chang Interview

In this episode (recorded 9/20/17), we interview superforecaster Welton Chang. Welton is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Penn in Philip Tetlock and Barb Mellers’ Good Judgment Laboratory. He served in Iraq and South Korea as an intelligence officer in the US Army and as analyst for the Department of Defense.

We start by talking with Welton about how he got involved the Good Judgment Project and the Good Judgment Laboratory. Then we talk about uncertainty in forecasting and Vizzini’s Princess Bride conundrum, the value of algorithmic forecasts (which we also talked about on another recent podcast), the limits of modern warfare, and whether Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are rational actors.

We go on to talk about designing training materials for Good Judgment Project forecasters, IARPA’s CREATE program on improving analytic reasoning, avoiding groupthink, the importance of diversity in forecasting, and the art and practice of applying Bayes’ Theorem. We close with a shout out to Welton’s rescue cats, Percy and Portia.

You can read Welton Chang’s essay on the Iran deal, “Go Set a Watchdog on Iran” here. You can read Evan Osnos’ “The Risk of Nuclear War With North Korea” here. You can follow Welton (@WeltonChang) on Twitter here. You can follow Welton’s cats (@percyandportia) on Instagram here.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. Links to our other superforecaster interviews are here. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.