In actuality, we’ve been thinking about it since since civilization first emerged. When asked to write “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction,” University of Pennsylvania psychologist Philip Tetlock had no idea what he was talking about.
The Science and Art of Prediction
In 2011, a forecasting competition sponsored by a U.S. intelligence organisation was held, and he organised and prepared a group of regular people to compete.
Asking a hypothetical question like “Will North Korea launch a new multistage rocket in the upcoming year?” numerical probabilities ranging from 0% to 100% were assigned to and “Will Greece leave the Eurozone in the next six months.”
In a head-to-head contest, a team of amateur forecasters would compete against groups of academics and intelligence analysts who had access to sensitive information Tetlock’s team lacked.
Even Tetlock was taken aback by the outcomes. It was decided to solely examine Tetlock’s forecasters, the best of whom were dubbed “superforecasters,” to see what intelligence experts could learn from them because so many contestants were removed.
This conversation will centre on what it takes to develop one’s own forecasting skillsets and learn from people who are better at it than the rest of us because “superforecasters” like Tetlock are so good at making predictions about the future.
There is discussion of how superforecasters approach real-world issues like whether robots will replace white-collar workers and why government bureaucracies frequently resist using the tools of superforecasting, as well as the inverse relationship between a person’s fame and their ability to accurately predict the future.
Do We have the Ability to Make More Precise Forecasts?
It’s a question that has plagued our species since the beginning of recorded history, and it’s one that has far-reaching consequences for how we conduct business, set public policy, and even live our daily lives.
For his entire professional life, University of Pennsylvania psychologist and co-author of “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” Philip Tetlock has been trying to answer this very question.
In 2011, he assembled a group of regular people and prepared them to take part in a competition hosted by the United States Intelligence Community to predict future events.
Questions like “Will North Korea launch a new multistage missile in the next year?” and “Is Greece going to leave the eurozone in the next six months?”
were posed to participants, and they were asked to assign a numerical probability between 0% and 100%. Tetlock’s team of amateur forecasters would compete against teams of academic and career intelligence analysts, including those from the C.I.A., who had access to classified information that Tetlock’s team did not.
Take Lessons from Both Your Successes and Your Failures
The justification or rationalisation of one’s failure is simple. Don’t. Take accountability by keeping a decision log.
Your goal is to gain insight into your shortcomings so you can improve. Don’t focus solely on negative outcomes. You can learn more about your luck by analysing your successes.
Ignore questions that are too “clocklike” (where basic rules of thumb can get you close to the right answer) or too “cloudlike” (where even elaborate statistical models can’t beat the dart-throwing chimp).
Focus on questions that fall inside the “Goldilocks zone” of difficulty, where just the right amount of effort yields the best results.