Monday, September 11, 2006

 

Long Bets

Over on Centauri Dreams there's an interesting post about the Long Bets Foundation, a "partial spin-off" from the Long Now Foundation which I've blogged about before. As described on its site, the Long Bets Foundation is "as an arena for competitive, accountable predictions," and covers everything from cosmology to finance. On the Predictions page, folks posit falsifiable predictions about things they believe will (or won't) happen in a given amount of time. Then, on the Bets page, people put their money where their mouths are, wagering nontrivial sums of money that a particular prediction will or won't eventuate (with the winnings awarded to the winner's choice of charity).

The bets include things like Mitchell Kapor and Ray Kurzweil wagering whether a computer will pass the Turing Test in the next 27 years, and John Hogan and Michio Kaku taking sides over whether a work on superstring theory, membrane theory, or some other unified theory will will a Nobel Prize by 2020.

Some of the predictions have already been proven one way or the other, like the one Brian Eno unfortunately won, about a Democrat being President of the US by August 2005. The one that'll probably take the longest to determine one way or the other is likely the wager over whether the universe will eventually stop expanding, though the bet over whether a human alive in 2000 will still be alive 150 years later is going to remain undecided for a while, as well.

There's some fascinating stuff here. Well worth checking out, if only to contemplate for a moment the notion that there's still be someone standing around when the universe either does or doesn't stop expanding--whether human or human-derived intelligence--who could then turn to the intelligence next to them and say, "See, I told you so. Now pay up!"

Comments:
Kind of reminds me of the bets for a million dollars that we used to make in grade three.
 
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