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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Mar 29, 2022

[thumbnail image credit: excellent nature photographer Eco Suparman, which is a great name for an excellent nature photographer!]

Information Markets

Niels Bohr supposedly said that “prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”. So why not predict the past and present instead?

Here’s a recent market on Manifold (click image for link). Taylor Hawkins is a famous drummer who died last weekend under unclear circumstances. This market asks if he died of drug-related causes. Presumably someone will do an autopsy or investigation soon, and Chris will resolve the market based on that information. This is a totally standard prediction market, except that it’s technically about interpreting past events.

Same idea, only more tenuous. We know someone will do an autopsy on Taylor Hawkins soon, and we probably trust it. But how do we figure out whether COVID originated in a lab? This question’s hack is to ask whether two public health agencies will claim it. If we trust the public health agencies, we can turn this mysterious past event into a forecasting question.