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. 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.

Can We Trust AI Judgments?

We start this episode (recorded 8/16/17) by announcing the Hybrid Forecasting Competition (HFC). Good Judgment is collaborating with IARPA to run a tournament designed to study whether human forecasters can work with machine systems to improve geopolitical forecasting. You can sign up to volunteer as a forecaster in the competition here.

We then interrupt the podcast briefly to explain that some of the podcast audio was lost due to what we believe was an attack by a rogue artificial intelligence named “Super Bert”.

Next we discuss to what extent we can believe the forecasts of AI forecasters. Robert argues that it can be hard even to know when trust human forecasters and recommends a recent Harvard Business Review interview with former US National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke on “Cassandras”, whose warnings of disasters aren’t believed. Atief makes the case that our unfamiliarity with the behavior of AI should it harder to trust AI when it gives surprising results.

We go on to talk about the “value-alignment problem” in AI design, Microsoft’s racist chatbot, Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics. We then return to the question of how much we can trust AI judgments but our discussion ends suddenly when Super Bert destroys the rest of our recording.

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.

Overtaken By Events

We start this episode (recorded (8/22/17) by talking about the difference between what President Trump says and what he believes and whether it matters. Next we discuss US policy on Afghanistan and North Korea. Then we consider whether another top white house official would leave the administration soon—Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka was subsequently fired while were editing the podcast. We end the podcast by asking whether Trump would pardon Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio for refusing to obey a judicial orders—and two days later Trump did pardon Arpaio.

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.

Twice As Bright, Half As Long

In this episode (recorded 7/26/17), we discuss the probability that Donald Trump will leave office sometime in the first two years of his term. Scott thinks PredictIt’s markets—which currently give Trump a 17% chance of leaving office before the end of 2017 and a 35% chance of leaving office before the end of 2018—are pretty well priced, but Atief thinks PredictIt’s odds of Trump leaving are too high.

We end the podcast by considering the possibility that voter suppression will have a significant effect on the midterm elections in the US; whether there is likely to be compelling evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia; and the danger of a North Korean nuclear attack on Hawaii.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes, Stitcher 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.

Football With Knives

We kick off this episode (recorded 6/21/17) with a discussion of Romanian politics and tax policy. We move on to the recent special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district to replace Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, the Republican healthcare bill’s prospects in the Senate, whether military action could make President Trump more popular, and whether Nancy Pelosi makes it harder for Democrats to win elections. We close the episode by talking about  “Trump’s Mirror”, Kansas’s experiment in conservative economics, and how the Supreme Court might rule in the upcoming partisan gerrymandering case.

Here’s a link to the Frank Rich interview of Chris Rock we mention in the podcast. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes 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.

Trump Bets and the French Election

We start this episode (recorded 4/20/17) by discussing Atief’s application to be Paddy Power’s new Head of Trump Betting. We consider possible Trump bets Atief could propose—how many rounds of golf will Donald Trump play in 2017? will Trump appoint Bill O’Reilly to an position in the executive branch? We go on to talk about what it means that House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz announced that he won’t seek reelection, the prospects for the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington’s (CREW) suit alleging Trump is violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and whether Trump will invite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the White House.

In the second part of the episode, we talk about the probability of a North Korean nuclear test in the near future, the first round of the French election and the possibility of a Frexit, the influence of corporate shareholders on politics and the importance of labor unions, and the deconstruction of the administrative state. We end the episode by talking about what kind of meat they eat in Romania and wondering what kind of person eats expensive steaks well-done with ketchup.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes 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.

Roman Hagelstein Interview

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. 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 24: Striking Syria

We start this episode (recorded 4/5/2017 and updated 4/7/2017) by discussing where the U.S. will rank next year in Transparency International’s global Corruption Perceptions Index.

Next we talk about whether we thought the U.S. would strike Syria in response to Bashar al-Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons in Idlib. Events moved quickly—the U.S did in fact launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase the day after we recorded. So we added a new segment we recorded after the attack to the discussion looking at why we didn’t think a strike was more likely.

We go on to talk about the “nuclear option”, whether the Senate will get rid of the filibuster for legislation, and the Democrats’ chances of retaking Congress. We close the podcast by putting in a plug for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and recommending you use a virtual private network when you’re online.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes 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.

Episode 23: I Have No Information

We start this episode (recorded 3/22/17) by talking about what Scott learned teaching forecasting at a Good Judgment training workshop in Sweden. We discuss the value of the Delphi method in combining the individual judgment of forecasters while also allowing them to draw on the wisdom of the crowd. We also talk about the importance of outliers, how to know if we are undergoing a paradigm shift, and the danger of giving too much weight to private information.

Next we talk about Robert’s long weekend on the island of Hawai‘i seeing lava flow into the ocean, stargazing on the top of Mauna Kea, and swimming with honu. Then we consider the prospects for a Republican healthcare bill. We talk about how we try to be objective in a polarized political environment and about whether the Trump administration is credible. We close the podcast by hearing about Atief’s trips to New York to go to museums and see the Groundhog Day musical and to Oklahoma City to see the Thunder play the Warriors.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes 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.

Episode 21: Did Trump Pivot?

In this episode (recorded 3/1/17), we talk about what Wikipedia is really good at, whether Trump’s joint address to Congress represents a meaningful pivot, the possibility of US military action against North Korea, and the theory that we’re all living in a simulation gone haywire.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes 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.