Scott at Slate Star Codex made some five year predictions.
I want to encourage a habit of people making long-term forecasts which include quantitative statements, so I’ll give probabilities for most of his predictions, comment on some of his qualitative predictions, then add some predictions of my own.
AI will beat humans at progressively more complicated games, and we will hear how games are totally different from real life and this is just a cool parlor trick.
Agreed. I expect I’ll mostly agree – games are designed to be simpler than real life; winning at go told us enough that winning more games won’t say much more.
If AI translation becomes
flawlessoutstanding, we will hear how language is just a formal system that can be brute-forced without understanding.
I predict that, regardless of whether AI translation is much better or slightly worse than human translation, people who want to deny AI is approaching human-level intelligence will focus on evidence that the AI sometimes makes dumb mistakes. Only a tiny fraction will talk about whether translation is a good test of intelligence/understanding.
Technological unemployment will continue to be a topic of academic debate that might show up if you crunch the numbers just right, but there will be no obvious sign that it is happening on a large scale. Everyone will tell me I am wrong about this, but I will be right, and they will just be interpreting other things … as obvious visible signs of technological unemployment, the same as people do now.
I’ll be more specific, and predict a 70% chance of a recession that causes reported US unemployment to exceed 6%. Roughly half of the people who comment on the causes will attribute that to technological causes. I will mostly agree with Scott Sumner that if the Fed had been more willing to increase the money supply quickly, unemployment could have been kept under 5.5% (Sumner will probably believe it could have been kept below 5%).
Yet I also predict an 80% chance that I’ll believe technological unemployment is accelerating.
1. Average person can hail a self-driving car in at least one US city: 80%
2. …in at least five of ten largest US cities: 30%
3. At least 5% of US truck drivers have been replaced by self-driving trucks: 10%
4. Average person can buy a self-driving car for less than $100,000: 30%
5. AI beats a top human player at Starcraft: 70%
6. MIRI still exists in 2023: 80%
7. AI risk as a field subjectively feels more/same/less widely accepted than today: 50%/40%/10%
1. UK leaves EU (or still on track to do so): 95%
2. No “far-right” party in power (executive or legislative) in any of France, Germany, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, at any time: 50%
3. No other country currently in EU votes to leave: 50%
Countries that may have an especially good half-decade: Israel, India, Nigeria, most of East Africa, Iran. Countries that may have an especially bad half-decade: Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, UK. The Middle East will get worse before it gets better, especially Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula (Syria might get better, though).
I’ll predict that oil-exporting countries will generally do poorly. The rest of the world will do ok, or a bit better than ok.
1. No overt major power war in the Middle East (Israel spending a couple weeks destroying stuff in Lebanon doesn’t count): 60%
2. Mohammed bin Salman still in power in Saudi Arabia in 2023: 60%
3. Sub-Saharan Africa averages GDP growth greater than 2.5% over 2018 – 2023: 60%
4. Vladimir Putin is still in charge of Russia: 70%
5. If there’s a war in the Middle East where US intervention is plausible, US decides to intervene (at least as much as it did in Syria): 70%
1. 50% (I’m rather uncertain I’ll be able to decide in hindsight whether this is true, due to ambiguity)
Religion will continue to retreat from US public life. As it becomes less important, mainstream society will treat it as less of an outgroup and more of a fargroup.
I think I agree that fewer people will treat it as an outgroup, but I don’t agree that “mainstream society” has been treating it as an outgroup.
1. Church attendance rates lower in 2023 than 2018: 90%
1. 70% (I’m assuming this refers to the U.S.; I expect the fluctuations are large compared to the weak long-term trend)
The crisis of the Republican Party will turn out to have been overblown. Trump’s policies have been so standard-Republican that there will be no problem integrating him into the standard Republican pantheon
It’s not so much that Trump has adopted standard-Republican policies; it’s more that the system shrugs off his nonstandard policies. So it’s more like they’re rejecting him than integrating him.
1. Trump wins 2020: 20%
2. Republicans win Presidency in 2020: 40%
I expect the timing of the next recession will be the main determinant of which party wins in 2020. I’m guessing that the recession will start right around the time of the 2020 election. If it’s earlier than I expect, the Democrats should win, otherwise the Republicans should win. Predicting recessions that far away is the kind of thing where I’m less than 50% confident of getting it right to the nearest year, so who knows?
1. Sanders wins 2020: 10%
2. Democrats win Presidency in 2020: 60%
It will become more and more apparent that there are three separate groups: progressives, conservatives, and neoliberals.
I expect something other than this to happen. Most likely it won’t become more apparent that there are three political groups.
Until there are enough minorities that the Democrats are just overwhelmingly powerful (no, minorities are not going to start identifying as white and voting Republican en masse).
I’m curious what will stop asians from doing this? Or aren’t there enough asian voters to matter?
Gays and lesbians seem somewhat likely to soon stop voting as members of a minority group.
1. At least one US state has approved single-payer health-care by 2023: 70%
2. At least one US state has de facto decriminalized hallucinogens: 20%
3. At least one US state has seceded (de jure or de facto): 1%
4. At least 10 members of 2022 Congress from neither Dems or GOP: 1%
5. US in at least new one major war (death toll of 1000+ US soldiers): 40%
6. Roe v. Wade substantially overturned: 1%
7. At least one major (Obamacare-level) federal health care reform bill passed: 20%
8. At least one major (Brady Act level) federal gun control bill passed: 20%
9. Marijuana legal on the federal level (states can still ban): 40%
10. Neoliberals will be mostly Democrat/evenly split/Republican in 2023: 60%/20%/20%
11. Political polarization will be worse/the same/better in 2023: 50%/30%/20%
1. 60% (I’m tempted to give a lower number, but Scott probably knows more about this than I do).
2. 25% (for at least one of MDMA, psylocibin, or LSD)
1. At least one US politician, Congressman or above, explicitly identifies as alt-right (in more than just one off-the-cuff comment) and refuses to back down or qualify: 10%
2. …is overtly racist (says eg “America should be for white people” or “White people are superior” and means it, as a major plank of their platform), refuses to back down or qualify: 10%
3. Gay marriage support rate is higher on 1/1/2023 than 1/1/2018: 95%
4. Percent transgender is higher on 1/1/2023 than 1/1/2018: 95%
5. Social justice movement appear less powerful/important in 2023 than currently: 60%
2. 10% (For Scott’s notion of overtly racist; many people will use a broader notion of overtly racist)
1. Percent of people in US without health insurance (outside those covered by free government programs) is higher in 2023 than 2018: 80%
2. Health care costs (as % of economy) continue to increase at least as much as before: 70%
1. 80% (I’ll also predict it will be between 12% and 14% of adults).
2. 80% (I’ll also predict it will be between 19% and 21% of gdp)
Somewhat relevant: Forecasting the Cost of U.S. Health Care in 2040.
1. 1 Bitcoin costs above $1K: 80%
2. …above $10K: 50%
3. …above $100K: 5%
4. Bitcoin is still the highest market cap cryptocurrency: 40%
5. Someone figures out Satoshi’s true identity to my satisfaction: 30%
6. Browser-crypto-mining becomes a big deal and replaces ads on 10%+ of websites: 5%
1. Widely accepted paper claims a polygenic score predicting over 25% of human intelligence: 70%
2. …50% or more: 20%
3. At least one person is known to have had a “designer baby” genetically edited for something other than preventing specific high-risk disease: 10%
4. At least a thousand people have had such babies, and it’s well known where people can go to do it: 5%
5. At least one cloned human baby, survives beyond one day after birth: 10%
6. Average person can check their polygenic IQ score for reasonable fee (doesn’t have to be very good) in 2023: 80%
7. At least one directly glutamatergic antidepressant approved by FDA: 20%
8. At least one directly neurotrophic antidepressant approved by FDA: 20%
9. At least one genuinely novel antipsychotic approved by FDA: 30%
10. MDMA approved for therapeutic use by FDA: 50%
11. Psilocybin approved for general therapeutic use in at least one country: 30%
12. Gary Taubes’ insulin resistance theory of nutrition has significantly more scholarly acceptance than today: 10%
13. Paleo diet is generally considered and recommended by doctors as best weight-loss diet for average person: 30%
13. 10% (I expect I have a lower opinion of doctors than Scott does)
[I’m skipping Scott’s last 13 predictions, mostly because I got tired of them and/or was poorly informed about the topics.]
Predictions on other topics:
- alz.org will say Alzheimers is preventable/maybe sometimes preventable/not preventable/none of the above: 1%/29%/25%/45% (as of 2018-02-19, it says it “cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.”)
For the following, I’m giving 80% confidence intervals. I will score them using Scott Garrabrant’s scoring rule.
- Crude oil $/barrel: 30-70
- BTC: 500-50000
- ETH: 100-10000
- XRP: 0.1-100
- SP500: 2200-3800
- Treasury bond yield: 3.1-4.8
- inflation expectation: 1.7-2.4
- Nvidia 2022 revenues: $14-$24 billion
- S&P 500 Financials weighting: 13-16%
- S&P 500 Energy weighting: 4-7.5%
- S&P 500 Technology weighting: 18-27%
- S&P 500 Healthcare weighting: 12-17%
- GiveWill + OpenPhil percent of donations going to x-risk charities [**]: 3-25
- GiveWill + OpenPhil percent of donations going to global poverty charities: 40-80
- GiveWill + OpenPhil percent of donations going to animal welfare charities: 2-20
- GiveWill + OpenPhil percent of donations going to medical/mental health charities [***]: 1-15
- GiveWill + OpenPhil percent of donations going to EA movement-building charities: 0.1-3
- Berkeley LW meetup attendance (the number of people who show up by 8pm at the most recent meetup I’ve attended before President’s day 2023: 5-14
- Number of pills I take on a typical day (excluding caffeine / coffee / tea pills): 8-16
[**] – I’ll count CFAR as an x-risk charity.
[***] – this category is intended to cover charities that are intended to improve health among people with relatively ordinary incomes, and excludes charities such as AMF that focus on delivering health-related products/services to the poorest 20% of the world.