"People do not generally have a good intuition for small probabilities, and to be fair, computing them can be quite challenging. Groups, organizations, and society as a whole have no good way of making accurate predictions of events based on complex dynamics that are not amenable to scientific modeling, nor forecast by markets. Yet research shows that optimal aggregation of individual expert (or non-expert) predictions can be extremely effective. The impetus behind Metaculus is that there is a need for the most accurate possible forecasts of the timing, nature and impact of scientific and technological advances and breakthroughs." -- Anthony AguirreIn corporate America, there is no greater superpower than predicting the future, especially with regards to technological innovation. Analysts, economists, and professionals across the board need to know how emerging technologies could fundamentally change the economy, society, and their professions, how to prepare organizations for this disruption, and how to build hyper-targeted products and services for tech-savvy, fickle consumers whose attitudes are changing in lockstep with technologies.
Just the same, forecasting world events is crucial for shaping public policy. Policymakers face a multitude of challenges drafting legislation for a complicated, geopolitical world, increasingly managed by Artificial Intelligence, which we barely understand.
The best leverage for the future is good predictions. The problem is most people are terrible at predicting the future, and predicting the future has never been more complicated than it is today. Futurists advise that CEOs (addicted to quarterly results) need to be thinking at least 5-10 years down the road. It's hard enough to act on solid information about the past. But the difficulty increases tremendously when managers are asked to use or consider predictive futures rather than projections based solely on on past performance.
Big companies like Google, Microsoft, GE and Ford have experimented with using prediction markets (also known as information markets, decision markets, idea futures, event derivatives, or virtual markets) to help define their innovation strategies and, according to research, have done so with great success. And researchers have explored the potential of prediction markets in global warming and climate policy, US Intelligence Capabilities, biomedical research, and governance.
Billionaires like Elon Musk (who has a habit of making probabilistic predictions), Warren Buffet (nicknamed the Oracle of Omaha because he’s proven to be gifted at predicting how markets will evolve and which companies will succeed), and Bill Gates, all make accurate predictions frequently that analysts follow closely. It's worth noting here that Metaculus (a prediction engine website and a community dedicated to generating accurate predictions about future real-world events) built an interactive timeline that tracks all of Elon Musk’s predictions for the future. So far, the Metaculus community has been correct nine times and incorrect three times about predictions related to Musk, and another 13 predictions are yet to be determined.
How can companies help employees to become better at forecasting future events using prediction platforms for product innovation and corporate governance? How can companies leverage the data from predictive platforms in conjunction with other algorithmic platforms? How can employees benefit from improving their predictive skills. At Tech 2025, we've explored this topic at past events including, Impact: Forecasting the Future and Adapting to Accelerating Technological Changes and The Signals are Talking: Forecasting the Future with Amy Web. Turning employees into futurists is not difficult. It takes practice and asking right questions!
> Intro and brief presentation on prediction platforms at Google, Ford and other companies, and how the government (including the defense department) is investing in finding citizens who are skilled at predicting the future (Charlie Oliver);
> Breakout groups to play IMPACT board game (designed by futurists primarily for policymakers, IMPACT invites players to take on jobs of the future and navigate technological change in order to achieve their character’s preferred future state);
> Presentation on prediction markets, forums, platforms and decentralized (blockchain) prediction platforms by Anne Griffin;
> Conversation, product strategy and Q&A session with Dr. Anthony Aguirre who will join us via LIVE VIDEO.
JOIN US for this special session where we'll continue our exploration of predictive tools with Metaculus (a prediction engine website and a community dedicated to generating accurate predictions about future real-world events) and guest speaker, Anthony Aguirre (physicist, author, co-Founder of Metaculus, Future of Life Institute, and Foundational Questions Institute), who will join us via live video to demo and discuss Metaculus and how we can learn to ask more probabilistic and strategic questions about the future that will lead to substantive answers and valuable data.
Following his presentation, we'll have an interactive Q&A (moderated by Anne T. Griffin, Lead Product Manager, OpenLaw) where attendees will get to ask Dr. Aguirre questions and offer feedback on Metaculus. We'll discuss the differences between prediction markets and prediction platforms (or forums), how data from prediction platforms can be used to tell better stories, how to use these platforms for long-term planning, how prediction platforms can benefit employees, how using these platforms might help us to better understand and work with predictive AI, and more.
The Blockchain Effect: Decentralized Prediction Markets. Anne Griffin, who works for OpenLaw (legal blockchain platform), will discuss the growing trend and enthusiasm around decentralized prediction markets. What are decentralized prediction markets and are they going to be as disruptive as analysts and experts believe they will be?
Group Play and Discussions (30 minutes). Before our Q&A with Dr. Aguirre, we will break out into small groups and play IMPACT. Designed by futurists primarily for policymakers, IMPACT invites players to take on jobs of the future and navigate technological change in order to achieve their character’s preferred future state. This will incite much discussion and get us pumped for our Metaculus session and Q&A with Dr. Aguirre. Learn more about the game and our previous session here and view photos here.
[NOTE: this is an interactive session where we'll be using Metaculus so bring a laptop or mobile device to participate. Lite bites and beverages included.]
Physicist Anthony Aguirre studies the formation, nature, and evolution of the universe, focusing primarily on the model of eternal inflation—the idea that inflation goes on forever in some regions of universe—and what it may mean for the ultimate beginning of the universe and time. He is the co-founder and associate scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute, which supports research on questions at the foundations and new frontiers of physics and cosmology.
Anthony is also a co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, an organization aiming to increase the probability that life has a future, and of Metaculus, an effort to optimally aggregate predictions about scientific discoveries, technological breakthroughs, and other interesting issue. Aguirre is also the author of numerous books including the recently published, Cosmological Koans: a Journey Into the Heart of Physical Reality (W. W. Norton & Company).
Twitter: @anthonynaguirre / Website: http://www.anthony-aguirre.com/
Anne T. Griffin (Moderator)Anne (Lead Product Manager at OpenLaw) is a human and product manager, in that order, who studied engineering at the University of Michigan. She is passionate about the human aspects of technology and building machine learning and AI products rooted in the realities of the human experience.
She is also an Emerging Tech Correspondent for Tech2025, a platform and community for learning about, and discussing emerging technologies such as AI. Empathy at a product level and a cultural level is a key value.
Her current focus is to explore what "fairness" means at a product level and how teams can integrate empathy and awareness of the impact of bias into the creative and development process. She has worked with major companies such as Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz, American Express, Comcast, and Colgate-Palmolive.
Twitter: @atgrif / LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/2GmDZb8
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