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Isn’t the answer to the last question just that most journalists don’t know what forecasting engines are or think they are valuable? And even for the few who do, they know their audience doesn’t know or care?

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The rationalist fascination with Aella is bizarre to me. I really don't have a better explanation than 'nerds enamored with only cute girl to pay them any attention'. She gets treated like she's some sort of intellectual, but watching the Lex Fridman podcast episode that featured her, it's very clear that she's...not. Does she have any kind of impressive prediction record that I'm ignorant of or something?

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I'm tickled that Destiny is the kind of guy who gets invited to speak at conferences these days. The last time I remember hearing about him, he was "that Starcraft II streamer who keeps getting in hilarious fights with Deezer and CombatEX over Skype."

Just gotta try hard and believe in yourself, I guess.

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The Economist now regularly cites Metaculus in exactly that way!

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I wish metaculus had a more general LK-99 replication question. It seems silly and short-sighted to restrict to only the first replication attempt, knowing how slow and difficult the process can be.

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re: "why would any agency give a no-action letter now". Because it forces the targets to engage in expensive, time-consuming legal and regulatory activities to fight back, and a lot of times targets won't or can't. Then the precedent gets established for free. Basically it's an end-around the regulatory process. The PredictIt case isn't exceptional. Agencies often do this kind of thing (they all have their own mechanisms) before initiating regulatory proceedings, just to see if it works. It costs them very little, especially compared to the normal regulatory process. Worst case, a judge tells them to do it better, so they do. Worst-worst case, they step back and follow the process they should have followed to begin with.

Obligatory not a lawyer, but I have spent a lot of time working with regulatory data and processes. Things like no-action letters are already considered legally binding commitments to a degree (I don't think this is a novel ruling), and agencies are held to something resembling normal standards of justification. Biggest difference is that they don't need to go through the public comment process this way, which is tedious and annoying and which they mostly hate. Because, as you note, a bunch of wingnuts spam them and they have to (are supposed to, at least) prove they've responded to every comment.

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You think there are "lizardman" problems with play-money prediction markets?

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I would just like to formally register that there is rather little steel in either the 757 (American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93) or 767 (AA Flight 11 and UA Flight 175).

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Amazing that LK-99 has 25~30% probability. When I first read it in Korean news I obviously thought it would be some ridiculous scam. Then I read that superconductivity related stocks are soaring. And now the prediction markets. If this resolves true, I would be seriously impressed, in both ways.

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Speaking of questions, I'd like to pose something of a metaquestion to everyone here:

Of the following two questions, which do you think is more important?

A) Whether Trump's legal troubles prevent him from running or serving as president again or not?


B) Whether the "LK-99" superconductor really pans out as an ambient pressure, room temperature superconductor or not?

Which do you think is more important? :-)

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Re journalists, I think it's pretty simple. English/history kids who are afraid of math and numbers become journalists who are afraid of AI taking our jobs, and numbers. The intersection of people who write articles for mainstream publications and people who read publications like this/know much about prediction markets is vanishingly small. Not to mention, there's a bandwagon effect: no one wants to be the first one to start using this weird probability thing when no one else is doing it -- especially considering the hate the weatherman, Nate Silver, etc. get for "being wrong". There's little incentive to do it, and plenty not to.

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Update: the Manifold market is WAY up, based on this paper: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2307.16892.pdf

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Lol thanks for featuring my extremely uninteresting comment but unfortunately my name is not Muhammed Wang, it is indeed just a pseudonym that I use sometimes

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Sure enough, the Metaculus superconductor question just resolved No.

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The Metaculus question has just resolved to No: https://www.metaculus.com/questions/18090/room-temp-superconductor-pre-print-replicated/

Gaia says: "Resolves NO, since neither of two replication attempts published on the ArXiv today by teams in India and China, respectively, were successful:

Synthesis of possible room temperature superconductor LK-99: Pb9Cu(PO4)6O

Semiconducting transport in Pb10-xCux(PO4)6O sintered from Pb2SO5 and Cu3P"

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It's mildly amusing that, due to the manifold markets being a live, updating link, at the time I'm reading this, rather than being within a few points of each other, the manifold market is up to 50% while the static polymarket view is still showing 24% (although it has also increased to a little over 30% at the time of writing...must be some news for them both to increase!)

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Aug 1, 2023·edited Aug 1, 2023

Baba Vanga is famous in post-Soviet countries; so much that in Russian her name turned into a verb meaning "to predict baselessly/ironically".

Although I'm of the opinion that she was a KGB asset (https://www.vagabond.bg/russia-brings-vanga-3460) to influence leaders who base their decisions based on mystics, astrology and such; and nowadays a common psyop method.

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Noting as well some Metaculus questions with broader resolution criteria are opening soon:

Any LK-99 replication by 2025: https://www.metaculus.com/questions/18177/room-temp-superconductor-replicated-by-2025/

Date room-temperature and -pressure superconductor discovered: https://www.metaculus.com/questions/18169/date-for-room-temp-superconductivity/

Maximum critical temperature for ambient pressure superconductors by certain years: https://www.metaculus.com/questions/13668/high-temperature-superconductor-progress/

Commercial application for room-temperature + ambient pressure superconductor by 2025: https://www.metaculus.com/questions/18170/commercial-use-of-room-temp-superconductor/

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Re: election betting, maybe there’s a legitimate fear that already-partisan people may exaggerate their positions more if their own money is directly tied to the election. If a media editor has $250,000 riding on an election, they might be less motivated to resist their outlet’s biases in pursuit of truth. That seems like a really high limit to me.

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Naive question: Which *fundamentally new capabilities* has current-generation AI got which were not already present in expert systems, Markov chains, etc? I see the ChatGPT responses, and all I can think of is "cute, that's a bit like the dozens of articles back in the day about how we can generate fake Italian-looking names, except with whole articles."

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Taking about the use of Kalshi as a way for businesses to hedge against world events (like elections), does this distort the market as a pure prediction market? I have no economic knowledge about how hedging impacts say stock or commodity futures markets, but obviously hedging is a big part of the trading that goes on there and those tend to be accurate. But there the “bet” made when trading is directly tractable to the outcome being predicted, i.e. the future value of a company or commodity adjusted for risk, and hedges represent a form of risk adjustment that is directly related. It seems to me like substantial hedging on events that resolve to a yes or no would change the dollar value of a position in the prediction market from purely representing the market’s predicted likelihood of that outcome occurring to “the likelihood of this event occurring weighted by financial risk to the participants in this market if the event does occur” so there’s information being represented about things beyond the event itself. Maybe that balances out when market participants have risk on either side but for your example if Bernie Sanders we’re elected I would think all of those Wall Street betters are assuming the same direction and a very similar magnitude of the financial risk it represents for them. Of course if the market gets too skewed someone comes in to take the other side, but is the balance of the seesaw still weighted toward market-wide directional risk like this? Or am I not understanding how hedging impacts a prediction market (would be easy for me to do)?

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lol at "a couple of times a day I check the prediction market on [superconductors]" as if it were the stock market or expert opinion or anything except the agglomeration of what some random retards online think

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(1) " Nobody worries about guys who have put $1000 on Labour at the local Paddy Power."

Because Paddy Power's is a bookies, we know how bookies work, and people absolutely do try to rig race results:


"It’s always “We Are Various Prestigious Economists, And Have You Considered That Economics Tells Us That Prediction Markets Are Good?”

Feck it, now I am *doubly* against prediction markets if the economists are out there telling us we should have them.

Look, the Smart People want their fancy betting markets because they're too high class to step inside William Hills and put 50p each way on the outsider in the Gold Cup? Sure, let them, but let's not kid ourselves this is anything other than "I want to use my Giant Brain to make money" and not a way of "we will find out the best way to decide 'is arsenic a health supplement?' by using the forces of the market".

(2) Robert Miles will be at this bunfight, eh? Maybe he can give you all a selection of his hits:


(Yes, I'm sure he's never heard *that* joke before).

(3) I do absolutely want to get some informed opinions on the superconductor. My priors are that this is going to turn out to be a hoax, fraud, or over-enthused reporting of minor results like the previous efforts. If anyone can give me a semi-solid "nah, this looks sorta legit" rundown I'd appreciate it.

(4) "I ran into some finance people at the NYC meetup this week and asked why they weren’t using more advanced forecasting technology - prediction markets, superforecaster tournaments, calibration training, that kind of thing. A common reply was “who says we aren’t using it?”

That's the part that makes me repose even less confidence in "Allowing election bets makes Wall Street less interested in elections, not more!" As you say, knowing the outcome of elections is worth hundreds of millions to them. If they have their own internal markets, which live or die by being correct, and that market is telling them "X is likely to win the next election", it may well be in their interest to try and make sure Y is selected instead of X during the primaries, or to help out Z to get elected instead. Maybe they throw money at Z's campaign, or they run advertising, or they put out subtle influences to influence *other* prediction markets, or they get polling companies to do polls crafted to return "Z is the people's choice!" and then release those results.

My take on it is that if there's a lot of money riding on the result, then hell yeah somebody will try and influence the outcome:


New fears over postal vote fraud


Electoral fraud since 2010


PC Returning Officers Scandal


Returning officers to be questioned over votegate


Kenya Decides: Electoral Returning Officer missing

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I am very confused about the US government's overregulation of prediction markets. Is there any rhyme or reason for them to come down so hard on this compared to other countries, when the general rule (or general perception anyway) is that the US regulates most things much less than most other western countries?

Also, is this extreme hostility to gambling (political betting is downright illegal, which I was very surprised to learn; it's a completely normal part of political campaigns in Australia) primarily seen as a left-wing socialistic thing, or a right-wing moralistic thing? I'm guessing the former, based on the tone of all the rhetoric, but if it were the latter that would at least (sort of) fit better with common preceptions of US governance. I'd still find it very weird, though.

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Thanks for linking to https://fatebook.io! Interested to hear people's impressions

Also - the "who says we aren’t using it" anecdote about using Metaculus in finance is surprising, I'm curious whether this extends beyond the intersection of ACX readers and finance people.

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For those betting on LK-99 - russian anime girl(?) anon claims reproduction on her kitchen (yes, we are in weird timeline)

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Aug 1, 2023·edited Aug 1, 2023

Oh, sweet lord. I don't know this Sinclair Chen, but good grief: we have no god but Mammon?

"Capital markets today serve a function not just of allocating investments, but also of aggregating information. They incentivize smart ambitious professionals to work hard, grinding 60 hour weeks in their glass towers, striving be the best predictors of the value of assets - and yet, any American from any background, whether black or white, straight or gay, christian or atheist, female or male, can beat the market so long as they see or infer something that the NY suits don't see. And by beating the market they improve it. It is the purest meritocracy and the purest truth-finding machine and there's nothing else quite like it in the world."

All hail the blessed and divine market! Let none gainsay the market, for in Mammon our pelf there is neither gay nor straight, black nor white, or male nor female! There is nothing like it in this world for it is not of this world but comes from the one true holy source of all motivation - getting stinking rich*!

No wonder they go for "you have blood on your hands" over the top J'Accuse! How many ordinary Americans read the stock market or base their behaviour on "Ah, I see Disney stock is down"? Yet we are supposed to give full credence to "a bunch of math nerds playing with a toy market would be followed, understood, and believed by the man in the street, who would then have changed his behaviour about masks and Covid"?

Lady, I wore a mask. I got vaccinated. I isolated during the lock-down. I still got Covid, and no bunch of smart maths predictions would have prevented that.

*If those smart ambitious professionals got paid in "here's an apple and a pat on the head", how many grinding 60 hour work weeks for the pure truth-seeking sake of it would they put in?

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I'm reminded of this excerpt from "A Cynic's Guide To Fintech", particularly the first few sentences of the second paragraph:

"Fintech business model #5. Assuming that the regulators will be more inclined to listen to your whining than to the incumbents'

"Usually a bad idea in financial services. Regulators basically don't like small financial services companies. There are severe diseconomies of small scale in supervising them, they are more prone to blowing up and they don't do very much for your career. And financial services is an intrinsically regulated industry where consumer protection is often very rigorous for a good reason. So the whole Uber idea of just blatantly breaking the law and then sending out a press release about how uncool and obstructive everyone is being is not going to go down well. Several fintech startups have already found out that there is no exemption for tech companies from the money-laundering or consumer finance laws, and that regulators usually don't care if they've driven someone they regard as a rule-breaker out of business. The existence of financial regulations also tends to mean that fintech companies need to have a lot more capital lying around than they would if they didn't need a financial services licence."

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To be honest the superconductor thing is a big embarrassment for the prediction markets. I am a physicist, and among people who are experts in superconductivity (myself included) I can't find anyone who is remotely optimistic. The data looks way too fishy and does not really resemble the usual data for confirmed superconductors, it has logical inconsistencies, the authors are clearly ignorant of relatively basic concepts in superconductivity, and this report is part of a long history of dozens or perhaps 100 "unidentified superconducting objects". If this forecast had been made only by experts in superconductivity there's no way it would have gone above 1-2%. To see the prediction markets at 50% makes me inclined to dismiss the whole approach as anything that can remotely be described as "predictive".

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> Although I like the result of this decision, I’m worried about the ruling that no-action letters constitute binding commitments whose amendment or cancellation requires careful agency action with every t crossed and every i dotted.

What is it that you like about the decision? It seems to me that the bad thing you describe in the second clause here is the primary result of this decision, so I don't know what there is to like about it.

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The LK-99 market on Manifold is going absolutely crazy right now. It's a weird dynamic, where hundreds of newly registered users are throwing in 500 mana on yes (that's the initial play money allocation), sometimes even buying mana for this purpose, while established users already feel overleveraged and don't have the liquidity to correct the market.

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Replying only to say that this -- "although 180 of those were by a person named Chris Greenwood who somehow submitted the same message 180 times. This is probably a metaphor for something" -- made me LOL.

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I'm surprised you didn't mention that the Salem prediction market contest ended yesterday.

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> Why would any government agency ever give a no-action letter now?


> A no-action letter is a letter written by the staff members of a government agency, requested by an entity subject to regulation by that agency, indicating that the staff will not recommend that the agency take legal action against the entity, should the entity engage in a course of action proposed by the entity through its request for a no-action letter.

This makes a no-action letter sound like something that should exist (i.e. you ask an agency if something is legal, rather than guessing and fighting a long legal battle later) but if I remember, this case makes it seem like they don't actually do that? You wrote last year (https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/mantic-monday-81522?):

> On August 4, the CFTC reversed itself, saying the PredictIt had “not operated its market in compliance with the terms of the letter” and that it had to shut down by February

And then wrote that it wasn't clear why this reversal had happened since they stuck to the stated rules, but that it seemed like some sort of regulatory capture happened, or the agency just changed its mind. If these things can happen, then what's the point of such a letter? It doesn't actually reduce uncertainty. Rather than engaging in legal bone-reading around what laws say and what (if any) precedent exists, now companies have to engage in psychological bone-reading around how binding the commitment is. Making them binding is the only way for such a letter to be of any use.

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The Manifest speakers & special guests page has added Robin Hanson and the CEO of the Forecasting Research Institute (Tetlock's new organization).

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Man, this story is wild. I can't imagine how much of a field day Matt Levine would have had with it if it had happened in a real-money market.


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The question: "Will Israel pass the judicial reform bill?" is not very well formed, since "Israel" is a diffuse entity. The parliament (Knesset) might pass the bills, but the Supreme Court (Bagatz) might rule them unconstitutional, which is weird, since Israel doesn't have a constitution. Then... well, forecast that.

Some people say Civil war.

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Dating apps + prediction markets makes sense culturally. The kind of microeconomists who care about matching algorithms also love prediction markets.

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Most hedge funds, index fund managers, and mutual fund providers have theirs filthy green hands in the pockets, arseholes and mouths of both major presidential candidates by Election Day.

Since these organizations are soon going to own all the property in America and make us rent our lives away, I think it’s fair to say no entity can exceed their investment and capacity for over handed and underhanded force should the situation call for it.

Rigging the election might be possible with either large Russian or Chinese intelligence investment, but really only with the explicit compliance of a major town square owner like Musk or Zuck. But why on earth would they stick their neck out for a state that just experienced a minor coup, and a state with its own private internet where they don’t stand to profit much. Especially not Musk who would lose SpaceX overnight if he was ever discovered to being letting the enemies of the US tamper with ... twit... twi.... X ‘gag’.

Suffice it to say, it would need a trial run with oversight, but it’s prob fine to bet on the election. Maybe a little funny too since both parties seem to be competing to see who can jam their own foot in their mouth harder.

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Would a rationalist content search engine be something you, reader, would pay a small amount for? Say $2-6/month. Imagine it has all the features you want.

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I don't get it. Who are these people who are anti-prediction market and how do they profit from blocking them?

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>"Why would any government agency ever give a no-action letter now?"

Cynically, perhaps because it'll be binding(ish) on your successors who might otherwise be inclined to more energetic enforcement than you would prefer?

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> Anyway, Vanga’s other predictions for 2023 include:

> ...

> A powerful solar storm

Article I'd read earlier today:

> Giant Solar Storm Struck Earth, Moon And Mars Together For First Time In History: Study

This marked the first time that a solar event was measured simultaneously on the surfaces of Earth, the moon, and Mars.


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Just came across this interesting article profiling several highly successful traders on PredictIt. It's amazing how much trouble people will go to to win money on PredictIt.


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