Banking on the Future

On August 21, 2004 by christy

We’ve all thought about the future and about how society and technology will progress in some way. Some of us even habour predictions or fears and work towards either facilitating their actuation or ensuring they don’t. A website, Long Bets, allows people to put their foresight and analysis to the test by placing a bet on an scientific occurance happening by a certain time. All betters must put their money where their mouth is by paying for the right to bet, along with adhering to rules like:

The subject of the Prediction or Bet must be societally or scientifically important.

Predictors and Bettors must provide an argument explaining why the subject of their prediction is important and why they think they will be proved right.

Some bets include:

Paul Hawken predicts: “The Bet: By 2050, we will receive intelligent signals from outside our solar system.”

Nova Spivack predicts: “By 2050 no synthetic computer nor machine intelligence will have become truly self-aware (ie. will become conscious).”

Bob Rosenberg predicts: “By the end of 2012, more than 50% of the root servers on the internet will be located outside the United States.”

I particularly enjoyed the response to Mitchell Kapor’s bet that by ‘2029 no computer – or “machine intelligence” – will have passed the Turing Test’. Ray Kurzweil is heading of the challenger community with 53% disagreeing with Kapor’s prediction. So there is alot of interesting debate on this site, as well as providing a unique insight into the current state of the scientific community and their views of the future.
What is your Long Bet?