PredictIt (Will Jennings Interview)

In this episode (recorded 4/26/18), we talk to PredictIt Head of Public Engagement Will Jennings. We talk to Will about what PredictIt is and how it works; how prediction markets can be sources of news and information; which markets have been controversial; who makes money on PredictIt and how they do it; how PredictIt comes up with specific markets; and what lessons Will has learned from working on prediction markets.

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.

The Fourth Age (Byron Reese Interview)

In this episode (recorded 5/2/18), we talk to Byron Reese about The Fourth Age, his fascinating new new book on how artificial intelligence and robots will change the world. We talk about what motivated the book; what “the Fourth Age” is; the role of ideas and culture in history; whether automation will cause technological unemployment; whether automation will increase inequality; what skills we’ll need in the future; whether technological changes will be socially and politically disruptive; why computing and automation hasn’t had a larger effect on economic measures of productivity; what access to the internet is worth; where fears about AI come from: what consciousness and free will are; why Byron is optimistic about the future.

Our interview with Shahar Avin of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) about the prospects for the development of artificial intelligence is 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.

Kathryn Cochran Interview

In this episode (recorded 1/23/18), we interview Good Judgment Chief Scientist Kathryn McNabb Cochran about forecasting question design. Dr. Cochran leads Good Judgment’s question development team and helped design Good Judgment’s new Future of Europe Index.

We talked with Dr. Cochran how forecasting can make organizations more agile; about how to design clear, meaningful forecasting questions; about how forecasting makes us smarter consumers of news; about the value of forecasting question clusters; about how we could improve the forecasting ability of US intelligence; and about the Nicaragua Canal and little green men.

You can read Dr. Cochran and Cdr. Tozzi’s Center for a New American Security essay, “Getting It Righter, Faster,” here. The announcement for Good Judgment’s Future of Europe Index is 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.

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.

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.

Colin Teichholtz Interview

In this episode (recorded 8/3/17), Robert and Scott interview Colin Teichholtz, a partner and portfolio manager at global investment firm Pine River Capital. We begin by talking about how he was able to make money in college arbitraging used books and what makes someone good at identifying value in markets. We go on to talk about whether people who trade with major investment firms are suckers, what the value of financial advice is, and the advantages and disadvantages of risk parity funds.

Next we talk with Colin about what drives changes in market volatility and why political events often have little effect on markets. We go on to discuss what will happen if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and why market volatility has been low recently. Then we look at why inflation hasn’t been going up much in the US even though the unemployment rate is low and whether productivity growth in the US has stalled.

We close the podcast by asking Colin whether he thinks Mark Zuckerberg will run for president in 2020, what it’s like to work next to Trump Tower, and how he ended up introducing Michael J. Fox to Anthony Scaramucci (donate to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research here).

The exit music is a clip from “Word Up” by Cameo. 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.

Elaine Rich Interview

In this episode (recorded 7/12/17), we interview superforecaster and pharmacist Elaine Rich. Elaine started with Good Judgment in the first year of IARPA-ACE forecasting tournament after reading about the project on FiveThirtyEight. She was interviewed by NPR in 2014 about her experience with Good Judgment in a segment called “So You Think You’re Smarter Than a CIA Agent”.

We start by talking with Elaine about her experience forecasting at the beginning of the Good Judgment Project, the advantages of forecasting anonymously, why she doesn’t like forecasting subjects close to her professional expertise, and whether accurate forecasting really matters. We also talk about whether forecasting ability is something innate you are born with or something you learn or can train, whether gut instincts are any good, and the value of good journalism for forecasting. Elaine ends the interview by recommending the Joni Mitchell album Hejira—and in particular the song “Amelia”—as forecasting music.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes, Stitcher 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.

Roman Hagelstein Interview

UPDATED: German speakers can read Roman Hagelstein’s profile in Welt am Sonntag.

In part one of our interview with German economist and superforecaster Roman Hagelstein (recorded 4/14/17), we discuss how Roman’s German background affects his forecasting, how he gamed one of the Good Judgment Project’s forecasting markets, the value of “extremizing” forecasts, and why civil wars tend to last a long time.

In part two of our interview with Roman, we discuss American policy in Syria and what Germans think about German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Then we talk about the Brier Fund, a private investment fund run by superforecasters, and about the challenge of forecasting financial markets. After a digression on who will win Most Valuable Player in the NBA this year, we finish up by talking about the chance of a crisis related to North Korea in the near future.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes 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.

Episode 22: Sander Wagner on European Elections

In this episode (recorded 3/7/17), we interview superforecaster and “citizen of nowhere” Sander Wagner. Sander is an assistant professor of quantitative sociology in at Ensae ParisTech.

We start by talking with Sander about his research on intergenerational mobility. We then talk about the upcoming elections in France, the Netherlands, and Germany. We end with a discussion of future of Europe now that Trump is the president of the US.

The closing music is a clip from Wu-Tang Clan, “Clan in Da Front”. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes 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.