Tuesday, July 4, 2017

To Shape the Future

Crystal balls over here

Predicting the future with the wisdom of crowds
Jun 2017, phys.org

Don Moore and a team of researchers found a new way to improve that outcome by training ordinary people to make more confident and accurate predictions over time as superforecasters.

The team, working on The Good Judgment Project, had the perfect opportunity to test its future-predicting methods during a four-year government-funded geopolitical forecasting tournament sponsored by the United States Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. The tournament, which began in 2011, aimed to improve geopolitical forecasting and intelligence analysis by tapping the wisdom of the crowd. Moore's team proved so successful in the first years of the competition that it bumped the other four teams from a national competition, becoming the only funded project left in the competition.

The study differs from previous research in overconfidence in forecasting because it examines accuracy in forecasting over time, using a huge and unique data set gathered during the tournament. That data included 494,552 forecasts by 2,860 forecasters who predicted the outcomes of hundreds of events.

The Wisdom of Crowds
James Surowiecki, 2004

Swarm A.I. Correctly Predicts the Kentucky Derby, Accurately Picking all Four Horses of the Superfecta at 540 to 1 Odds
Yahoo Finance, April 2016

The Chinese Flesh Engine
BBC 2014


This kind of thing always reminds me of a passage from Levy-Bruhl's Primitive Mentality - the indigenous people he writes about are perplexed at the ability of the white scientists to "predict" a lunar eclipse.

They live in a timeless world. Hence, for example, an omen doesn’t just reveal what will happen, it is evidence that it is already happening.

They ask of the whites – how could you predict it (a lunar eclipse) if it was not you who caused it?

I have also found, among some folks who have less of a functioning prefrontal cortex if you know what I'm saying will tend to blame the person who predicts the situation as if they caused it. Take for example, an angsty adolescent - you tell them not to do something because of some probable result (don't smoke pot in the high school bathroom because you'll probably get caught) they will blame you as if your prediction actually caused the outcome. Some of us are no different from Levy-Bruhl's "primitives".

Primitive Mentality, Lucien Levy-Bruhl, 1923, trans 1966

Primitive Mentality
Network Address 2012

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