THE JOYFUL REDUCTION OF UNCERTAINTY

Five More Years

Those yearly “predictions for next year” posts are starting to reach the limit of their usefulness. Not much changes from year to year, and most of what does change is hard to capture in objective probabilistic predictions.

So in honor of this blog’s five year anniversary, here are some predictions for the next five years. All predictions to be graded on 2/15/2023:


AI will be marked by various spectacular achievements, plus nobody being willing to say the spectacular achievements signify anything broader. AI will beat humans at progressively more complicated games, and we will hear how games are totally different from real life and this is just a cool parlor trick. If AI translation becomes flawless outstanding, we will hear how language is just a formal system that can be brute-forced without understanding. If AI can generate images and even stories to a prompt, everyone will agree this is totally different from real art or storytelling. Nothing that happens in the interval until 2023 will encourage anyone to change this way of thinking. There will not be a Truckpocalypse before 2023. Technological unemployment will continue to be a topic of academic debate that might show up if you crunch the numbers just right, but there will be no obvious sign that it is happening on a large scale. Everyone will tell me I am wrong about this, but I will be right, and they will just be interpreting other things (change in labor force composition, change in disability policies, effects of outsourcing, etc) as obvious visible signs of technological unemployment, the same as people do now. AI safety concerns will occupy about the same percent of the public imagination as today.

1. Average person can hail a self-driving car in at least one US city: 80%
2. …in at least five of ten largest US cities: 30%
3. At least 5% of US truck drivers have been replaced by self-driving trucks: 10%
4. Average person can buy a self-driving car for less than $100,000: 30%
5. AI beats a top human player at Starcraft: 70%
6. MIRI still exists in 2023: 80%
7. AI risk as a field subjectively feels more/same/less widely accepted than today: 50%/40%/10%

The European Union will not collapse. It will get some credibility from everyone hating its enemies – Brexit, the nationalist right, etc – and some more credibility by being halfway-competent at its economic mission. Nobody will secede from anywhere. The crisis of nationalism will briefly die down as the shock of Syrian refugees wears off, then reignite (possibly after 2023) with the focus on African migrants. At some point European Muslims may decide they don’t like African migrants much either, at which point there may be some very weird alliances.

1. UK leaves EU (or still on track to do so): 95%
2. No “far-right” party in power (executive or legislative) in any of France, Germany, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, at any time: 50%
3. No other country currently in EU votes to leave: 50%

Countries that may have an especially good half-decade: Israel, India, Nigeria, most of East Africa, Iran. Countries that may have an especially bad half-decade: Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, UK. The Middle East will get worse before it gets better, especially Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula (Syria might get better, though).

1. No overt major power war in the Middle East (Israel spending a couple weeks destroying stuff in Lebanon doesn’t count): 60%
2. Mohammed bin Salman still in power in Saudi Arabia in 2023: 60%
3. Sub-Saharan Africa averages GDP growth greater than 2.5% over 2018 – 2023: 60%
4. Vladimir Putin is still in charge of Russia: 70%
5. If there’s a war in the Middle East where US intervention is plausible, US decides to intervene (at least as much as it did in Syria): 70%

Religion will continue to retreat from US public life. As it becomes less important, mainstream society will treat it as less of an outgroup and more of a fargroup. Everyone will assume Christians have some sort of vague spiritual wisdom, much like Buddhists do. Everyone will agree evangelicals or anyone with a real religious opinion is just straight-out misinterpreting the Bible, the same way any Muslim who does something bad is misinterpreting the Koran. Christian mysticism will become more popular among intellectuals. Lots of people will talk about how real Christianity opposes capitalism. There may not literally be a black lesbian Pope, but everyone will agree that there should be, and people will become mildly surprised when you remind them that the Pope is white, male, and sexually inactive.

1. Church attendance rates lower in 2023 than 2018: 90%

The crisis of the Republican Party will turn out to have been overblown. Trump’s policies have been so standard-Republican that there will be no problem integrating him into the standard Republican pantheon, plus or minus some concerns about his personality which will disappear once he personally leaves the stage. Some competent demagogue (maybe Ted Cruz or Mike Pence) will use some phrase equivalent to “compassionate Trumpism”, everyone will agree it is a good idea, and in practice it will be exactly the same as what Republicans have been doing forever. The party might move slightly to the right on immigration, but this will be made easy by a fall in corporate demand for underpriced Mexican farm labor, and might be trivial if there’s a border wall and they can declare mission accomplished. If the post-Trump standard-bearer has the slightest amount of personal continence, he should end up with a more-or-less united party who view Trump as a flawed but ultimately positive figure, like how they view GW Bush. Also, I predict we see a lot more of Ted Cruz than people are expecting.

1. Trump wins 2020: 20%
2. Republicans win Presidency in 2020: 40%

On the other hand, everyone will have underestimated the extent of crisis in the Democratic Party. The worst-case scenario is Kamala Harris rising to the main contender against Bernie Sanders in the 2020 primary. Bernie attacks her and her followers as against true progressive values, bringing up her work defending overcrowded California prisons as a useful source of unpaid labor. Harris supporters attack Bernie as a sexist white man trying to keep a woman of color down (wait until the prison thing gets described as “slavery”). Everything that happened in 2016 between Clinton and Sanders looks like mild teasing between friends in comparison. If non-Sanderites rally around Booker or Warren instead, the result will be slightly less apocalyptic but still much worse than anyone expects. The only plausible way I can see for the Dems to avoid this is if Sanders dies or becomes too sick to run before 2020. This could tear apart the Democratic Party in the long-term, but in the short term it doesn’t even mean they won’t win the election – it will just mean a bunch of people who loathe each other temporarily hold their nose and vote against Trump.

1. Sanders wins 2020: 10%
2. Democrats win Presidency in 2020: 60%

It will become more and more apparent that there are three separate groups: progressives, conservatives, and neoliberals. How exactly they sort themselves into two parties is going to be interesting. The easiest continuation-of-current-trends option is neoliberals+progressives vs. conservatives, with neoliberals+progressives winning easily. But progressives are starting to wonder if neoliberals’ support is worth the watering-down of their program, and neoliberals are starting to wonder if progressives’ support is worth constantly feeding more power to people they increasingly consider crazy. The Republicans used some weird demonic magic to hold together conservatives and neoliberals for a long time; I suspect the Democrats will be less good at this. A weak and fractious Democratic coalition plus a rock-hard conservative Republican non-coalition might be stable under Median Voter Theorem considerations. For like ten years. Until there are enough minorities that the Democrats are just overwhelmingly powerful (no, minorities are not going to start identifying as white and voting Republican en masse). I have no idea what will happen then. Maybe the Democrats will go extra socialist, the neoliberals and market minorities will switch back to the Republicans, and we can finally have normal reasonable class warfare again instead of whatever weird ethno-cultural thing is happening now?

1. At least one US state has approved single-payer health-care by 2023: 70%
2. At least one US state has de facto decriminalized hallucinogens: 20%
3. At least one US state has seceded (de jure or de facto): 1%
4. At least 10 members of 2022 Congress from neither Dems or GOP: 1%
5. US in at least new one major war (death toll of 1000+ US soldiers): 40%
6. Roe v. Wade substantially overturned: 1%
7. At least one major (Obamacare-level) federal health care reform bill passed: 20%
8. At least one major (Brady Act level) federal gun control bill passed: 20%
9. Marijuana legal on the federal level (states can still ban): 40%
10. Neoliberals will be mostly Democrat/evenly split/Republican in 2023: 60%/20%/20%
11. Political polarization will be worse/the same/better in 2023: 50%/30%/20%

The culture wars will continue to be marked by both sides scoring an unrelenting series of own-goals, with the victory going to whoever can make their supporters shut up first. The best case scenario for the Right is that Jordan Peterson’s ability to not instantly get ostracized and destroyed signals a new era of basically decent people being able to speak out against social justice; this launches a cascade of people doing so, and the vague group consisting of Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, Jonathan Haidt, etc coalesces into a perfectly respectable force no more controversial than the gun lobby or the pro-life movement or something. With social justice no longer able to enforce its own sacredness values against blasphemy, it loses a lot of credibility and ends up no more powerful or religion-like than eg Christianity. The best case scenario for the Left is that the alt-right makes some more noise, the media is able to relentlessly keep everyone’s focus on the alt-right, the words ALT-RIGHT get seared into the public consciousness every single day on every single news website, and everyone is so afraid of being associated with the alt-right that they shut up about any disagreements with the consensus they might have. I predict both of these will happen, but the Right’s win-scenario will come together faster and they will score a minor victory.

1. At least one US politician, Congressman or above, explicitly identifies as alt-right (in more than just one off-the-cuff comment) and refuses to back down or qualify: 10%
2. …is overtly racist (says eg “America should be for white people” or “White people are superior” and means it, as a major plank of their platform), refuses to back down or qualify: 10%
3. Gay marriage support rate is higher on 1/1/2023 than 1/1/2018: 95%
4. Percent transgender is higher on 1/1/2023 than 1/1/2018: 95%
5. Social justice movement appear less powerful/important in 2023 than currently: 60%

First World economies will increasingly be marked by an Officialness Divide. Rich people, the government, and corporations will use formal, well-regulated, traditional institutions. Poor people (and to an increasing degree middle-class people) will use informal gig economies supported by Silicon Valley companies whose main skill is staying a step ahead of regulators. Think business travelers staying at the Hilton and riding taxis, vs. low-prospect twenty-somethings staying at Air BnBs and taking Ubers. As Obamacare collapses, health insurance will start turning into one of the formal, well-regulated, traditional institutions limited to college grads with good job prospects. What the unofficial version of health care will be remains to be seen. If past eras have been Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Information Age, etc, the future may be the Ability-To-Circumvent-Regulations Age.

1. Percent of people in US without health insurance (outside those covered by free government programs) is higher in 2023 than 2018: 80%
2. Health care costs (as % of economy) continue to increase at least as much as before: 70%

Cryptocurrency will neither collapse nor take over everything. It will become integrated into the existing system and regulated to the point of uselessness. No matter how private and untraceable the next generation of cryptocurrencies are, people will buy and exchange them through big corporate websites that do everything they can to stay on the government’s good side. Multinationals will occasionally debate using crypto to transfer their profits from one place to another, then decide that would make people angry and decide not to. There may be rare crypto-related accounting tricks approximately of the same magnitude as the “headquarter your company in the Cayman Islands” trick. A few cryptocurrencies might achieve the same sort of role PayPal has today, only slightly cooler. Things like Ethereum prediction markets might actually work, again mostly by being too niche for the government to care very much. A few die-hards will use pure crypto to buy drugs over the black market, but not significantly more than do so today, and the government will mostly leave them alone as too boring to crush.

1. 1 Bitcoin costs above $1K: 80%
2. …above $10K: 50%
3. …above $100K: 5%
4. Bitcoin is still the highest market cap cryptocurrency: 40%
5. Someone figures out Satoshi’s true identity to my satisfaction: 30%
6. Browser-crypto-mining becomes a big deal and replaces ads on 10%+ of websites: 5%

Polygenic scores go public – not necessarily by 2023, but not long after. It becomes possible to look at your 23andMe results and get a weak estimate of your height, IQ, criminality, et cetera. Somebody checks their spouse’s score and finds that their desirable/undesirable traits are/aren’t genetic and will/won’t be passed down to their children; this is treated as a Social Crisis but nobody really knows what to do about it. People in China or Korea start actually doing this on a large scale. If there is intelligence enhancement, it looks like third-party services that screen your gametes for genetic diseases and just so happen to give you the full genome which can be fed to a polygenic scoring app before you decide which one to implant. The first people to do this aren’t necessarily the super-rich, so much as people who are able to put the pieces together and figure out that this is an option. If you think genetics discourse is bad now, wait until polygenic score predictors become consumerized. There will be everything from “the predictor said I would be tall but actually I am medium height, this proves genes aren’t real” to “Should we track children by genetic IQ predictions for some reason even though we have their actual IQ scores right here?” Also, the products will probably be normed on white (Asian?) test subjects and not work very well on people of other races; expect everyone to say unbelievably idiotic things about this for a while.

1. Widely accepted paper claims a polygenic score predicting over 25% of human intelligence: 70%
2. …50% or more: 20%
3. At least one person is known to have had a “designer baby” genetically edited for something other than preventing specific high-risk disease: 10%
4. At least a thousand people have had such babies, and it’s well known where people can go to do it: 5%
5. At least one cloned human baby, survives beyond one day after birth: 10%
6. Average person can check their polygenic IQ score for reasonable fee (doesn’t have to be very good) in 2023: 80%
7. At least one directly glutamatergic antidepressant approved by FDA: 20%
8. At least one directly neurotrophic antidepressant approved by FDA: 20%
9. At least one genuinely novel antipsychotic approved by FDA: 30%
10. MDMA approved for therapeutic use by FDA: 50%
11. Psilocybin approved for general therapeutic use in at least one country: 30%
12. Gary Taubes’ insulin resistance theory of nutrition has significantly more scholarly acceptance than today: 10%
13. Paleo diet is generally considered and recommended by doctors as best weight-loss diet for average person: 30%

There will be two or three competing companies offering low-level space tourism by 2023. Prices will be in the $100,000 range for a few minutes in suborbit. The infrastructure for Mars and Moon landings will be starting to look promising, but nobody will have performed any manned landings between now and then. The most exciting edge of the possibility range is that five or six companies are competing to bring rich tourists to Bigelow space stations in orbit.

1. SpaceX has launched BFR to orbit: 50%
2. SpaceX has launched a man around the moon: 50%
3. SLS sends an Orion around the moon: 30%
4. Someone has landed a man on the moon: 1%
5. SpaceX has landed (not crashed) an object on Mars: 5%
6. At least one frequently-inhabited private space station in orbit: 30%

Global existential risks will hopefully not be a big part of the 2018-2023 period. If they are, it will be because somebody did something incredibly stupid or awful with infectious diseases. Even a small scare with this will provoke a massive response, which will be implemented in a panic and with all the finesse of post-9/11 America determining airport security. Along with the obvious ramifications, there will be weird consequences for censorship and the media, with some outlets discussing other kinds of biorisks and the government wanting them to stop giving people ideas. The world in which this becomes an issue before 2023 is not a very good world for very many reasons.

1. Bioengineering project kills at least five people: 20%
2. …at least five thousand people: 5%
3. Paris Agreement still in effect, most countries generally making good-faith effort to comply: 80%
4. US still nominally committed to Paris Agreement: 60%

And just for fun…

1. I actually remember and grade these predictions publicly sometime in the year 2023: 90%
2. Whatever the most important trend of the next five years is, I totally miss it: 80%
3. At least one prediction here is horrendously wrong at the “only a market for five computers” level: 95%

If you disagree, make your own predictions with probabilities. I’m tired of people offering to bet me on these and I’m not interested unless you provide me overwhelmingly good odds.

Current list of updates here.

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601 Responses to Five More Years

  1. onyomi says:

    I would definitely bet on a Trump 2020 victory at 4 to 1 odds. Probably 3 to 1. I’d bet a 2023 bitcoin, but that complicates things.

    • Anonymous says:

      A bitcoin is always a bitcoin!

      • onyomi says:

        Yeah, silly me. I was thinking about an election day-2020 bitcoin but wrote 2023 because Scott got me thinking about where bitcoin would be in 2023.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      10-15% chance Trump (currently 71) is too physically/mentally frail to run three years from now.

      10-15% chance Russia or something else catches up to him to the point where he’s either impeached or too discredited to run.

      10-15% chance something else stops him from running – he doesn’t feel like it, a challenger miraculously wins the primary, etc.

      So only ~66% chance Trump runs. I think he has well below 50% chance of winning if he runs – historically unpopular, lost popular vote last time, economy’s well-timed to have another recession before then, % minority is always increasing. If he’s got a 35%-40% chance of winning conditional on running, that makes him about 25% chance total, which I rounded down to 20% given the bins.

      • Radu Floricica says:

        Or you could take priors from history, and that gives a lot smaller numbers. Plus, well, seeing 20% on Trump winning gives a lot of flashbacks to his early campaign.

        https://www.quora.com/How-many-Presidents-in-U-S-history-have-decided-not-to-run-for-re-election-simply-because-they-didnt-have-the-desire-to

      • onyomi says:

        Good points. I might be slightly underestimating all the ways he could not run in the 2020 general (though I think you’re slightly overestimating them), but I think you’re underestimating his chances of victory if he does, because of:

        My strong prior in favor of even vulnerable-seeming incumbent victory, especially if said incumbent is charismatic (I thought Obama was more vulnerable than he really was in 2012).

        My expectation that the Democrats will likely nominate a bad candidate after a nasty primary fight for the reasons you state.

        It does seem like we’re overdue for an economic downturn, which for me raises a hypothetical: if the housing bubble had burst soon before the 2004 election rather than soon before the 2008 election, would Bush still have beat Kerry? My best guess is yes, and Bush is less charismatic than Trump.

        I think there’s no doubt the crash helped Obama, but he was also a charismatic candidate running against an uncharismatic non-incumbent. I expect Trump to be a charismatic incumbent running against a non-charismatic and/or deeply flawed challenger.

        • Watchman says:

          Relevant to this: socialists Labour) in the UK do worse in elections in economic downturns, so if this effect holds for the US a downturn may favour Trump.

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            The relationship of presidents vs economics right now in US popular opinion seems to be similar to Chinese “mandate of Heaven” concept – if the things are good right now, it means the President is good, if they suck – the President is screwing up (or not fixing it up enough if it was already screwed up when he came in). So if the economy would turn bad – especially after it was doing pretty good so far, and Trump took credit for it – it would be very hard for him to not appear like he screwed up. Of course, many people would vote for him anyway, but bad economy wouldn’t benefit him in this position.

          • christhenottopher says:

            Recent experience in US presidential elections seems to be going the other way. Democrats won big in the really bad economic years of 2008 and 2012. Republicans got closer victories in the OK economic years of 2016 and 2004 and also won (though again in a tight race) the pretty great economic year of 2000.

          • Nornagest says:

            The crash happened pretty late in 2008 — Lehman Bros collapsed in September, with the biggest single-day stock-market losses following closely, but arguably it wasn’t in full swing until after the elections. Certainly most of the worst consumer-level impacts (foreclosures, job losses) wouldn’t have been felt by then.

            I seem to remember 2012 being one of the “jobless recovery” years, but I’m less confident of that — I had other things on my mind that year.

      • Randy M says:

        10-15% chance Trump (currently 71) is too physically/mentally frail to run three years from now.

        10-15% odds a 71 yo in good health with good care goes to quite bad health in 3 years? That seems slightly high to me. Life expectancy for a 50 year old male is about 30 years, based on a random site. So 10% odds of death or debilitating illness over 3 years ain’t a bad approximation but is probably a touch high (given more mortality would be expected later).

        • Brad says:

          Per the social security administration for a 71 year old man there’s a 2.5% chance of death in the next year and life expectancy is 16.66 years. At 72, there’s a 2.7% chance of death in a year, and at 73 a 3% chance of death in a year. So over the next three years there’s a 7.9% chance of death.

          In terms of adjustments, he’s got great health care, doesn’t smoke or drink, and doesn’t drive himself, but he’s overweight and doesn’t seem to do much or any exercise. Not sure how that all works out, but given that it’s mortality plus disability 10% doesn’t seem unreasonable.

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            > 2.5% chance of death in the next year

            Is that for average male or for one with clean bill of health so far and access to pretty much any healthcare one would want, with no regard to costs or availability? Because these can be really different, statistics usually talk about populations with diverse health histories and varied ability to access prime healthcare.

          • Brad says:

            Is that for average male or for one with clean bill of health so far and access to pretty much any healthcare one would want, with no regard to costs or availability?

            What do you think?

          • quanta413 says:

            How much would it even shift the needle anyways to compare the average American at 72 to the richest American at 72?

            Well, I think the preexisting health issues would matter, but I kind of doubt access to Medicare vs access to anything money can buy actually makes much difference.

          • SamChevre says:

            Social Security is going to be aggregate (population) mortality. Current health status is fairly predictive in the early 70’s: looking at IAM (Individual Annuitant Mortality–one of the tables designed for purchasers of annuities, who tend to be healthier than average, so tending to show longer lifespans) gives me 1.38% mortality for 71-year-old males, and that ~60% ratio to aggregate is about what I’d expect.

            I’d move health knock-outs down to something closer to 5% over 3 years.

          • Brad says:

            Using the IAM numbers there’s a 4.5% chance of death over the three years. Are you saying there’s only a .5% chance of disability over that time? Or do you think that even 4.5% is significantly too high given what we know of health history?

          • SamChevre says:

            I’d expect IAM numbers to be too high–significantly too high. IAM is an aggregate table, so what it says is that “at some point, this person was healthy enough to consider buying an annuity.” A select and ultimate table like the 2017 CSO shows much lower mortality for a 71-year-old who was underwritten as preferred this year–0.3%; a man underwritten as preferred 25 years ago at age 46 , so 71 now, has 1.3% mortality. (Entry age is in the left column; duration goes across; once you get to the right column you go down the column.)

            So yes–I’d expect Trump to be healthier than the IAM average

        • engleberg says:

          10-15% chance a 71 year old male goes from good to bad health in three years?

          By natural causes, that’s high for a rich guy, but lots of D party loyalists want Trump dead. I’d give at least 20% that a D party believer kills Trump or hurts him badly enough that at 71+ he doesn’t heal right. Thirty percent if he gets a second term and they will target him in retirement. I think he gets a kick out of the risk.

          I don’t think it’s just the usual D party line that the R party President is Hitler. Trump’s effort to control immigration triggers a bad conscience among progressives who don’t want to know they are using immigration to hold wages down. And it’s not like Trump’s private life is a model of gravitas and a mirror of intimidating respectability; general badmouthing feels socially acceptable, and wishing ill blends into wishing death. Pretty bad for the Republic when the country’s major political party supports political violence.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’d give at least 20% that a D party believer kills Trump or hurts him badly enough that at 71+ he doesn’t heal right.

            20% is probably high. This isn’t the Sixties — we’ve gotten a lot better at preventing assassinations of presidential-level figures. I do think the risk is high enough that it deserves being factored in, though.

          • Iain says:

            Trump’s odds are improved by the fact that the people who hate him most don’t tend to be particularly good at guns.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            20% seems awfully high.

            I’ll give 2% left wing attack and 2% anti-Semite who doesn’t like Trump’s fondness for Jews.

            “Trump’s effort to control immigration triggers a bad conscience among progressives who don’t want to know they are using immigration to hold wages down.”

            I really don’t think that’s going on.

          • John Schilling says:

            US presidents get shot at a rate of about 2%/year, and that hasn’t changed since JFK’s death made the Secret Service up their game substantially. 80% of US presidents who get shot, die – substantially higher than average for gunshot wounds, but people who shoot presidents tend to really specifically want them dead. Modern medical care would probably make some difference, but ditto modern weaponry and in the opposite direction.

            20% is almost certainly too high, and 20% for “D party believer” specifically is definitely too high, but for Donald Trump and including long-term disability outcomes something in the 5-10% range is probably about right.

            On top of the normal health issues.

          • engleberg says:

            @ 20% is probably high-

            Um.

            @Trump’s odds are improved by the fact that the people who hate him most don’t tend to be particularly good at guns.

            Kissinger will probably die in bed, yes. And he’s got the Nam vets. I could see 2% odds that an incredibly bungled attack on Trump or his family kills a huge number of innocent bystanders, D party faithful, or something weird.

            @I’d give 2% left wing attack and 2% anti-Semite who hates Trump getting along with Jews.

            Anti-Semites who badmouth Trump for liking Jews exist all right. I’d put their odds of attacking Trump about equal to ‘I wanted to impress a lesbian actress’ attackers. Meanwhile the softball shooting, the Paul Ryan attack, the white powder sent to Trump’s kids- that’s not 2% any more. And I’m sure you don’t want to have a bad conscience about progressives using immigration to hold down wages. Just doesn’t sound progressive. What happened to Mickey Kaus?

            @20% for ‘D party believer’ is specifically too high.

            I wish.

          • John Schilling says:

            Trump’s odds are improved by the fact that the people who hate him most don’t tend to be particularly good at guns.

            Three out of four successful Presidential assassins weren’t particularly good at guns either.

            Assassination by sniper is an extreme anomaly; what almost always matters in the real world is being good at getting close to celebrities without triggering a “hey, watch out for that guy, he looks particularly sketchy” response in observers. If you can take the shot at all, it’s usually from hand-shaking distance or close to it.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            And I’m sure you don’t want to have a bad conscience about progressives using immigration to hold down wages. Just doesn’t sound progressive.

            There’s a helpful literature on the effect of immigration on wages. If you believe it to be the major political issue of our day you should at least dip into it. This provides a useful primer:

          • engleberg says:

            @There’s a helpful literature on the effects of immigration on wages. You should at least dip into it.

            The law of supply and demand doesn’t apply to labor supply and wages because Miami had a cocaine boom? If you like snorting this stuff I won’t change your mind.

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        Trump seems to be of a reasonably good health, though of course President is pretty unhealthy job. And he doesn’t seem to be affected with any debilitating mental illness, all propaganda aside. He’d be 73 in election year, Quuen Elizabeth is 89, Mugabe was 92 when he left (and he’s still alive), Raul Castro is 83, Thai monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej has been reigning for about the same time as Trump has been alive, etc. They all seem to be able to function. Of course, US president’s job is different, but I don’t think 73 is that high risk of an age, if he made it this far is good health. 15% is way high IMHO.

        Russia investigation chances are close to zero to dig up something substantial. If there was there there, we’d know about it – any speck of anything is leaked within hours. Since nothing has leaked so far that is in any way implicates Trump personally in anything, or describing anything more than regular politics, only with Russians – there’s a very high chance there’s just nothing to find. And all non-factual propaganda has already been spent, so there’s nothing new one can say about it by now. Again, 15% is way high. Even 5% would be on a high side.

        Trump does not seem to be a kind of a person who decides he doesn’t feel like being a president. From what it looks like, he loves being the President. It is certainly theoretically possible that somebody could beat him in the election, but who? Certainly not any of Rubio, Cruz, etc. – they couldn’t beat him when he was a crazy upstart with no experience and everybody saying he’ll most likely sell us to Putin and start nuclear war with Putin at the same time. How would they beat him when he’s experienced, proven that he can get through 4 years of presidency with no more shocking developments than occasional silly tweet, passed tax reform and whatever he’ll pass in next couple of years, etc. etc.? I don’t see where that miracle worker would come from, but ok, 10-15% there, maybe.

        So 66% Trump runs is way too low. It’s more like 75-80%.

        • Rob K says:

          I love the “any speck of anything is leaked within hours” on the day that a bunch of indictments get published with no advance warning.

        • uncle stinky says:

          Not nitpicking, offered purely in the spirit of informing, but the king of Thailand died in October of 2016.

          • Allen K says:

            And, for further clarification, all of the other numbers: Queen Elizabeth is 91, Raul Castro is 86, Mugabe was 93 when he was forced from office, Donald Trump would be 74 by election day…

      • VolumeWarrior says:

        10-15% chance Trump (currently 71) is too physically/mentally frail to run three years from now.

        You probably know a lot better than me since you’ve worked in hospitals, but the 75 year olds I know aren’t fit to do much of anything, let alone one of the most demanding jobs in the world.

        Trump appears to be able to use a smartphone, which is very impressive for a person his age. Still, my estimate is at least 50% that he just becomes dysfunctional relative to the demands of office. As in, can’t keep a meeting schedule. Can’t function on irregular/low levels of sleep. Can’t remember the 9999 things his advisors tell him every day. Etc.

  2. jml says:

    I will bet that Bitcoin is still the highest market cap cryptocurrency at 2:1

  3. Thomas Jørgensen says:

    The crypto-currency prediction is extremely likely to be wrong. To a first approximation everyone buying in are expecting it to take over the world, or alternatively, expect to sell to people who are expecting it to take over the world. This means that any signs of becoming boring should precipitate mass exit and collapse. I mean, I can see ways it could transition into being a normal financial product… for example, becoming a shelling point for converting from one minor currency to another minor currency, but all of them together do not amount to a hill of beans in my estimate of the future fate of bitcoin. Its 90 + % triumph or bust, and overwhelmingly bust.

    • onyomi says:

      I agree that his Bitcoin predictions seem bad by paradoxical virtue of their conservatism. I think crypto prices being kind of on the order of magnitude they are today is a very unlikely outcome on a 5-year horizon. For any given crypto, including bitcoin, I’d wager it’s much more likely to be either much higher or else essentially worthless five years from now than it is to stay in the same neighborhood. Of course, bitcoin has gone through flat periods, but not five-year flat periods.

      While it feels sort of like bad prediction practice to privilege big changes over “things basically stay the same,” I think rapidly developing, new, notoriously volatile markets are probably an exception.

      The reason I didn’t suggest betting e.g. 1 bitcoin on Trump 2020 victory above, for example, is because I think it’s too likely that such a bet will be either meaningless or else more significant than one wants for a “just for fun” bet.

      • Inside a semicircle of displays says:

        >Of course, bitcoin has gone through flat periods, but not five-year flat periods.

        After the 2013 crash, it took Bitcoin something like three and a half years to reach its previous high again. I wouldn’t discard that scenario out of hand.

        • onyomi says:

          It’s possible, of course, but given how much more mainstream awareness there is, and how many more competitors to BTC there are now than then, it seems a lot less probable that it will just sort of putter along at a steady rate rather than falling really low or going really high.

        • onyomi says:

          Related, I think I also disagree with Scott’s estimation that blockchain technology will remain relatively niche in no small part due to my agreement with his idea that the gig economy will become a bigger deal, and skirting regulation an increasingly important part of the economy.

          Blockchain technology has a lot of potential to do things like insurance in a less official way that may skirt a lot of regulations.

      • Anon256 says:

        I think at this point the main plausible use case for Bitcoin is not as a substitute for dollars (it’s pretty clearly useless as a medium of exchange given transaction fees etc) but as something more like a substitute for gold, a store of value and relatively uncorrelated asset resilient to certain kinds of legal/systemic risk (e.g. as the answer to the question Eliezer asked here). Currently its total market cap is around 2% that of gold, which I think is within an order of magnitude of the likely long-term market for that use case (gold will retain certain advantages and obviously isn’t going away). Furthermore, Bitcoin gets more appealing for that use case the longer it stays within an order of magnitude of current prices. So I think Scott’s predictions sound about right.

    • j1000000 says:

      I agree it’s likely to be wrong, but how many early BTC supporters ever predicted it could get to $10k without being accepted anywhere relevant online and pretty much absolutely nowhere in person? The whole thing remains baffling to me.

      • onyomi says:

        Almost all its valuation right now is speculative–a gamble on it achieving much more widespread adoption. I just think in five years it will be fairly clear whether it’s doing so or not, and tend to move toward one of two extremes (though the BTC chain will probably never be worth literally zero due to collector’s value).

        My estimation is also complicated by the existence of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and other alternatives, like Dash. I think a lot of the non-BTC market cap is coming straight out of money that would otherwise have been bet solely on BTC. That makes it a much more difficult horse race for BTC, as it’s racing not only to prove itself relative to Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal, but relative to the other options out there.

        Right now BTC is actually quite poorly functioning relative to Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal, to say nothing of some of the other cryptocurrencies. Future high BTC price not only depends on widespread adoption of crypto, but on those involved fixing BTC so it enjoys the widespread adoption rather than one or two of the others.

        Privacy currencies like Monero have already largely replaced BTC in its old bread-and-butter arena of buying drugs and guns online, so it seems unlikely to just sort of hang out at a steady level of niche but real demand like it did for a few years prior to 2017. More likely it will fix its problems and keep moving up or else get replaced and drop to a very low level.

  4. Sniffnoy says:

    It will become more and more apparent that there are three separate groups: progressives, conservatives, and neoliberals.

    Oh hey, this looks like basically the same political triangle I’ve espoused elsewhere (as Leftists, traditionalists, and liberals). 😛 I’m going to copypaste [a somewhat edited version of] my comment from there here (yes this is a bit tangential, hope that’s OK) for greater visibility:

    So, my own personal model of political-space is one of three poles. The usual alternative to a one-dimensional spectrum is one built around multiple perpendicular axes, but I think this is a mistake. Paraphrasing Taymon Beal, opposing ideologies don’t see each other in reverse, they see each other at an angle. “Opposite” ideologies don’t exist. Libertarians label their opponents “statists”, but who calls themself a statist? There’s no such thing as statism. And the same phenomeon holds more generally. Thus I speak of poles rather than axes. Or to put it another way — think simplices, not cubes. 🙂

    I tend to label the three poles I see as “liberalism”, “leftism”, and “traditionalism”, although take note that these are just the names I’ve assigned them and should not be taken as definitions (my “leftism” pole is much broader than leftism proper; the “liberal” pole includes many called conservative; etc). (Elsewhere on the internet I’ve previously called the third one “authoritarianism”, but I’ve decided now I don’t like that name; regardless, none of these names should be taken as definitional, they’re just my attempt to point to something. If you don’t like the names I can use different ones or just arbitrary labels like “A,B,C”.)

    There’s a few things worth noting about this 3-pole model. One is an explanation of a type of outgroup homogeneity bias. Different ideologies care about different things. Each pole sees the thing it cares about as the most important thing — and thus the axis of “cares about this thing vs. does not” as the most important axis. Thus all of a pole’s opponents look similar to it; leftists lump everyone they disagree with as “the right”, libertarians as already mentioned talk about “statists”, etc. These groupings do reflect a real similarity but are ultimately a mistake when taken beyond the context where that similarity is indeed the most important thing.

    Another thing it explains is the horseshoe theory (ugh). Rather than orienting oneself around a “agrees with us vs. disagrees with us” axis, you might orient yourself around a particular opposition between two poles (so that rather than your two alternatives looking the same, instead one looks halfway to the other). So now imagine that you’re a liberal, seeing things primarily in terms of liberal-vs-illiberal; but also you’ve got this left-right (leftist-traditionalist) political spectrum in your head, i.e. a leftist-traditionalist axis (on which liberal would appear in the center if you take a projection), and the latter is the one you think of as the political spectrum. Then when you judge it based on what’s actually relevant to you — liberalism vs illiberalism — it sure seems like the “ends” have more in common with each other than they do with the “center”, doesn’t it? But rather than bending your line into a horseshoe to explain this, the more sensible thing to do is not project onto one dimension (and especially don’t project onto one dimension while actually judging similarity based on a different dimension, that’s just a road to confusion). Liberalism is not in the center; that’s just an artifact of your projection.

    (Note: I don’t actually think the three poles I set out are actually completely symmetric with respect to one another; there are some definite asymmetries there that I see, but I’m going to skip talking about those here.)

    • azhdahak says:

      “Different ideologies care about different things” is an important point.

      I know a guy whose politics are mostly about community. Sometimes people talk about places like Berkeley as places where “everyone is a fellow traveler”, and sometimes people fondly remember their subcultures or summer camps — think that sort of thing. The less extreme version is Paul Graham judging cities by the quality of their eavesdropping.

      He cares about things that he thinks will probably have an effect on community — lower immigration, lower crime, more distributed local systems (especially media) and fewer centralized national ones, and so on. But if you ask him about the tax code, he’ll be confused, figure it’s complicated, and won’t really care.

      I know someone else, an economist, for whom it’s completely reversed. Policies should be judged based on their economic effects. Immigration is complicated, so we should be cautious, but we can’t really draw any conclusions. And the tax code is the most important thing in the world.

      The first guy tends to come out as a boring centrist on the political compass, because most of the things on the tests don’t tie into what he cares about. The elderly are abandoned, the young are friendless, family ties are weakening, all of America’s neighborhoods have been replaced with long-term hotels, and demographic representation talk has been weaponized against the few tiny subcultures that still remain — and none of that has anything to do with abortion, the tax code, or Iran.

      The economist, on the other hand, comes out as a far-right extremist, because the tests do measure things that she cares about — but only on one dimension. And we can imagine a social conservative who hasn’t yet been folded into the Republican party, and has no particular opinion about welfare or the like, but cares a lot about the other dimension — abortion, no-fault divorce, and so on.

      From the communitarian’s perspective (he’d object to “communitarian”, but there really isn’t a better term), people generally don’t care enough about community, and aren’t taking enough care to guard against atomization. From the economist’s perspective, people generally get too close to the stinking pinkos, and aren’t taking enough care to guard against Venezuelization. From the social conservative’s perspective, people are generally too accepting of modernism, and aren’t taking seriously enough the concept of sin. And from the leftist’s perspective, they’re all disgusting virgin fascist untermenschen and probably also rapists, and they all need to get a fucking bullet.

      There are a lot of dimensions in the space of potential political views — more than can be readily codified, I think — but people generally only see one or two as salient. I don’t think you’d find someone who sees atomization, economic decline, temptation to sin, and murdering all the people who weren’t nice enough in middle school the exploitation of the proletariat as about equally salient, unless that person sees them as not very salient, and cares about another dimension instead.

      • mupetblast says:

        Yes. Back when I was involved in libertarianism there was an insistence that communists and fascists really represented the same thing: anti-individualism. I came to realize later how blinkered this view was, even anemic. It’s devoid of all the cultural content that most people consider important to assessing the morality of government.

        This problem to some degree haunts those who are simply and broadly “liberal” and would never identify as libertarian.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          Since the problem is a mixture of outgroup homogeneity bias and “Bad Things All Cause Each Other”, I’d expect it to haunt people of all political faiths.

        • whateverthisistupd says:

          But if what you care about is individualism and think that government is immoral, it’s basically true.

          “It’s devoid of all the cultural content that most people consider important to assessing the morality of government.”

          Right. Because it’s primary value isn’t something the other views hold as a value.

          This is all basically the same idea, that political/ethical ideologies all look at each other as wrong because they don’t care about the same thing.

          I forget who wrote this, but they codified the modern views as essentially being views of dichotomy that aren’t talking to. In this model it as conservative=civilization vs barbarism, left=oppressors vs oppressed, libertarians= individual vs state/group. This seems about right to me.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Yep, clusters are better than axes when it comes to analyzing people.

        (A fine-grained, causally traced, approach is even better, but is much more difficult.)

    • rlms says:

      I have a similar model, with the poles being liberals, socialists, and conservatives. Libertarians are liberal/conservative, social democrats are socialist/liberal, and “fascists” (in a broad sense that includes Trump without the implication that he is comparable to Hitler in badness) are conservative/socialist. I think the opposites this gives (libertarian-socialist, neoliberal-conservative, fascist-liberal) make sense. The one thing I can’t figure out is where anarchists fit in.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        I’m having some trouble making sense of your model. What’s meant by “conservative”, for instance? I put “liberal” as one of the poles, with libertarian being an extreme vesion of such because well… I mean, libertarianism really works as a pole, doesn’t it? One idea taken to an extreme; I don’t see it as a mix of anything.

        Like, yes there is the Republican party, and they call what they do “conservative”, and they mix together libertarianism with traditionalism (or rather they bolt the one onto the other — they don’t seem to really mix well); to me that’s obviously a mix (or Frankenstein’s monster) with two components, rather than a pole that might be mixed with something else to form libertarianism. And if you mean something else by conservatism, you’re going to have to explain it, because I honestly don’t know what you might mean.

        • rlms says:

          I broadly agree with your assessment of the Republican party. But I think that part of the reason it is a fusion of conservatives and libertarians rather than something else is because they share an attitude of “people get what they deserve” (they also share a dislike of government intervention, but that’s incidental). I don’t think there is any major faction representing my liberal pole in the US, but there are several European parties that follow it. One major difference between my liberalism and libertarianism is that have tolerance as a core value but libertarians don’t.

          • LadyJane says:

            That’s not true. Tolerance is a core pillar of American libertarianism, and libertarians tend to be very liberal on social/cultural issues like immigration and LGBT rights. From the Libertarian Party platform:

            Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.

            Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.

            We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation.

            Libertarianism is seen as a mix of liberal and conservative views because it combines social liberalism with fiscal conservatism (i.e. laissez-faire free-market economics), but it’s more accurately viewed as a form of pure classical liberalism, without any of the socialist/social democrat influences present in modern left-liberalism.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            I’d like to take LadyJane’s point and expand on it. Like, consider “thick libertarianism”, you know? I will grant you that there are a number of people who go around calling themselves libertarians but don’t seem very libertarian by this standard, people who want the government out so they can rule over their own little feodum, rather than out of any ideal of personal freedom. But, that just means that “libertarian”, taken as a category encompassing both of these, is not a very natural category at all; and the oen group should not reflect on the other. (And to my mind those latter sort of libertarians are an interpolation between libertarians and traditionalists. From here on out, when I speak of libetarianism, I’m going to be implicitly excluding these people, for simplicity.)

            Basically it seems to me that you are making the following mistakes:

            1. I’d say the difference between the sort of liberalism that our host endorses (and that I would endorse) on the one hand, and libertarianism on the other hand, just isn’t actually as large as you’re making it out to be. (Where again here I’m using the word “libertarianism” as described above.) Libertarian values are liberal values, tolerance included. Hence why I’ve grouped them both under the “liberal” pole, with more conventional US liberalism having a fair bit more influence of the “leftist” pole.

            2. I think the similarity you note between libertarians and traditionalists, that both are often concerned with desert (and may in some cases fall into the just world fallacy), is a real one (to some extent, anyway — see below). But, any two corners of the triangle will have some real similarities by virtue of not being the third. As I said above — the similarities Xism and Yism that Zists point out are indeed real, they’re just not so important to the Xists and the Yists. Or often actually they’re true only at a broad level, and I think this one falls into that. I think if you dig into the libertarian’s notion of desert and the traditionalist’s notion of desert you’ll find they’re quite different.

            3. I’m not sure you appreciate just how truly different what I’m calling the “leftist” pole — which includes both leftist proper, SJers, and others who think similarly to them — is from liberalism. Like, compared to this, the difference between liberals and libertarians is small. That is a minor difference, this is a major difference. As for what that difference is… well, I don’t have the best grasp of this pole, myself, so I don’t know that I could easily summarize it, but I gave some examples in this comment below.

            Moreover I think you’ll find that in fact the leftist pole is frequently quite intolerant. This is by no means universally the case, there are definitely those falling under “leftist” who believe in an ideal of tolerance, but much of the leftist pole is concerned with equality of groups, not tolerance for individual weirdos within those groups, and it shows. See also the bit about the “Copenhagen interpretation of ethics” — ideas like “if nobody’s been made worse off then it’s a good thing it happened” are definitely not leftist values.

          • rlms says:

            @LadyJane
            Those quotes illustrate exactly what I’m talking about!

            “Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals”
            “individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government
            Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation.”

            Libertarians are certainly opposed to government discrimination, but that’s because they’re largely opposed to government anything. They are also largely not racist/homophobic/etc. on a personal level, but that’s because of demographics rather than ideology. They might pay lip service against intolerance – “we condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant” – but when push comes to shove and opposing intolerance requires government intervention (e.g. the Civil Rights act), preferences are revealed. This isn’t necessarily bad! They may well be right that a lot of the time government intervention to decrease discrimination would have net negative effects. But the point is that they pretty much rule it out regardless.

            The claim that libertarianism is just classical liberalism gets made a lot. I think it’s mostly irrelevant: even if every single modern libertarian were a clone of Locke, the Categories Were Made For Man/A Rose By Any Other Name means that wouldn’t imply too much about how we should use the term “liberal”. But I don’t think you want to make it anyway. Equating the two ideologies means you have to own e.g. Locke’s blank slatism and his Letter Concerning Toleration (Except Of Catholics And Atheists), which sound more like modern liberal ideas to me.

            @Sniffnoy

            But, that just means that “libertarian”, taken as a category encompassing both of these, is not a very natural category at all; and the oen group should not reflect on the other.

            I agree that there are some LINOs, but the fact that they call themselves libertarians is meaningful. The exact same goes for a lot of people who call themselves e.g. socialists (“liberal” in the US is slightly different, as that has actually changed meaning).

            1. I’d say the difference between the sort of liberalism that our host endorses (and that I would endorse) on the one hand, and libertarianism on the other hand, just isn’t actually as large as you’re making it out to be. (Where again here I’m using the word “libertarianism” as described above.) Libertarian values are liberal values, tolerance included. Hence why I’ve grouped them both under the “liberal” pole, with more conventional US liberalism having a fair bit more influence of the “leftist” pole.

            I agree that Scott’s liberalism (if that is still how he identifies, which I’m not sure) is very close to libertarianism. That’s because he’s a very libertarian-leaning liberal! Normal liberals don’t have David Friedman commenting on their blogs! See my response to LadyJane for more about why tolerance isn’t a *core* libertarian value.

            3. I’m not sure you appreciate just how truly different what I’m calling the “leftist” pole — which includes both leftist proper, SJers, and others who think similarly to them — is from liberalism. Like, compared to this, the difference between liberals and libertarians is small. That is a minor difference, this is a major difference. As for what that difference is… well, I don’t have the best grasp of this pole, myself, so I don’t know that I could easily summarize it, but I gave some examples in this comment below.

            I think you’re confused about my claim.Here’s a low quality diagram. As you can see, the difference between liberalism and socialism is twice the size of that between liberalism and libertarianism. Liberalism and socialism are as different as conservatism and socialism; liberalism-libertarianism is comparable to e.g. conservatism-fascism.

            Moreover I think you’ll find that in fact the leftist pole is frequently quite intolerant. This is by no means universally the case, there are definitely those falling under “leftist” who believe in an ideal of tolerance, but much of the leftist pole is concerned with equality of groups, not tolerance for individual weirdos within those groups, and it shows. See also the bit about the “Copenhagen interpretation of ethics” — ideas like “if nobody’s been made worse off then it’s a good thing it happened” are definitely not leftist values.

            Again, I agree! Tolerance is a core liberal value, not a core socialist one.

          • quanta413 says:

            @rlms

            Tolerance is taken pretty seriously by libertarians. They don’t want to mandate it through government, but would you say liberals aren’t in favor of equality because they won’t seize the means of production? Or that Catholics aren’t really in favor of Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit because they aren’t converting people at swordpoint anymore? Your argument is a non-sequitur.

            Libertarian principles also means they are much more likely to prevent government from mandating intolerance. The south was full of laws banning blacks from everything under the sun and requiring segregation; with a minarchist government, you wouldn’t have had any of those laws in the first place. Those laws took time to come into place after reconstruction. The government sometimes had to force companies to follow them. There’s a tradeoff. By having a principle to not use the government as a hammer to attempt to solve a lot of problems, you avoid an enormous number of government caused problems.

          • rlms says:

            @quanta413
            Well, I wouldn’t say that equality is a core value for liberals, but that’s because I’m using the correct definition rather than the American one.

            Claims about which values different groups have implicitly involve comparisons. It doesn’t make sense to say group A has core value X unless there are groups B and C that evidently value X less (this is why it would be silly to say “not eating babies is a core libertarian value”, even though most libertarians very strongly believe in it). In this case, I’m comparing libertarians and liberals. The latter dislike paternalist government (in contrast to conservatives and socialists), but are willing to use government intervention to enforce toleration. But when libertarians are faced with the choice, their anti-government principles win out. They might say things like “libertarian principles also means they are much more likely to prevent government from mandating intolerance” and claim that their opposition to government is actually better from a tolerance perspective anyway, but that is really just dodging the question. Given a hypothetical least convenient world where government intervention would increase tolerance, they would either deny the premise or pick intolerance (see Barry Goldwater, who took the intolerance option pretty wholeheartedly).

            Here’s another way of looking at it. Can you imagine someone who has impeccably centrally libertarian beliefs, except that they want their ideal libertarian country to be all-white? Yes, probably >1 person fitting that description comments here. Can you imagine a central liberal who thinks the same? No, that would be oxymoronic.

          • quanta413 says:

            Claims about which values different groups have implicitly involve comparisons. It doesn’t make sense to say group A has core value X unless there are groups B and C that evidently value X less (this is why it would be silly to say “not eating babies is a core libertarian value”, even though most libertarians very strongly believe in it). In this case, I’m comparing libertarians and liberals. The latter dislike paternalist government (in contrast to conservatives and socialists), but are willing to use government intervention to enforce toleration. But when libertarians are faced with the choice, their anti-government principles win out. They might say things like “libertarian principles also means they are much more likely to prevent government from mandating intolerance” and claim that their opposition to government is actually better from a tolerance perspective anyway, but that is really just dodging the question. Given a hypothetical least convenient world where government intervention would increase tolerance, they would either deny the premise or pick intolerance (see Barry Goldwater, who took the intolerance option pretty wholeheartedly).

            Just so we’re clear then, would you say that if there were Catholics who converted people at swordpoint, then they would obviously be the ones who cared about Jesus, The Holy Father, and the Holy Spirit more than current Catholics?

            Because as far as I can tell, the logic of your argument generalizes perfectly to that situation by swapping some nouns and phrases, but I disagree with it there. Thus, I must disagree with it in this case as well.

            Here’s another way of looking at it. Can you imagine someone who has impeccably centrally libertarian beliefs, except that they want their ideal libertarian country to be all-white? Yes, probably >1 person fitting that description comments here. Can you imagine a central liberal who thinks the same? No, that would be oxymoronic.

            Actually I can easily imagine either. But I can only imagine the libertarian being stupid/honest enough to say it. The living situations of some of the richest liberals are remarkably close to 100% white. Revealed preferences and all that.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            @rlms:

            Regarding libertarians:

            They might pay lip service against intolerance – “we condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant” – but when push comes to shove and opposing intolerance requires government intervention (e.g. the Civil Rights act), preferences are revealed.

            I think many libertarians, perhaps even central-libertarians, at least if you restrict it to those who have actually thought about it, are like me. I condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant, but I am a four-square error analyst about it — the way to get to a world in which these ills are minimal is through thought, argument, and persuasion, and attempting to fix them by top-down fiat is ineffective and probably even harmful in the long run.

            We see government intervention less as an illegitimate way of dealing with bigotry than as an ill-considered way. I will grant that this opinion is probably informed by our assessment of the effectiveness of government intervention in a myriad of other arenas, but it is at least uncharitable to see this opinion as proof that we are unconcerned about bigotry. It is possible for you and I to disagree about the best way to combat it.

          • LadyJane says:

            Can you imagine someone who has impeccably centrally libertarian beliefs, except that they want their ideal libertarian country to be all-white?

            No. A few white nationalists might claim to be libertarian, they might even think they’re libertarian, but they’re inevitably going to depart from libertarian beliefs in some very significant ways. For one thing, they’re likely to be staunchly against open borders and support strict government regulations on immigration. And removing all non-whites from any given country is going to inevitably require the use of force, either by the state or by the mob. So they can’t really be considered true libertarians in any meaningful way.

            There are white nationalists who call themselves socialists too, that doesn’t make it true. (In fact, I’d argue that ethno-nationalistic “socialism” contradicts socialist ideals less than ethno-nationalistic “libertarianism” contradicts libertarian ideals.)

          • rlms says:

            @quanta413

            Just so we’re clear then, would you say that if there were Catholics who converted people at swordpoint, then they would obviously be the ones who cared about Jesus, The Holy Father, and the Holy Spirit more than current Catholics?

            I think converting people indicates care about their immortal souls rather than about the trinity, but so far as the situations are comparable, yes, obviously! The problem here is that the Catholics who don’t go around doing swordpoint conversion presumably don’t just think that the benefits outweigh the costs, but that it is intrinsically unable to achieve the goal of saving souls. In comparison, libertarians just think that government intervention to increase tolerance wouldn’t be worth it, not that it could never have any positive effect at all on tolerance. So a more accurate comparison would be Catholics who rob banks to fund proselytisation of heathens vs those who talk a good game but don’t do anything. I’d definitely say that the former care more.

            Actually I can easily imagine either. But I can only imagine the libertarian being stupid/honest enough to say it. The living situations of some of the richest liberals are remarkably close to 100% white. Revealed preferences and all that.

            Don’t be silly. Would it be remarkable if the 97% white citizens Leslie County, Kentucky were not racist?

            Note that LadyJane also disagrees with my main point, but disagrees with this hypothetical in the opposite direction. So I’ll let you two hash things out.

            @Doctor Mist
            Sure, the central libertarian (excluding Sniffnoy’s “thick libertarians”) probably has a disgust reaction to obvious forms of bigotry. But that’s cultural (it comes from having a Blue Tribe background) rather than an inherent part of the ideology. My model is focusing more on what I see as the inherent parts. If we were to go the other way and look at what Americans who call themselves libertarians do/believe, I think they’d be correctly placed much close to the conservatives.

            Two other points:
            Firstly, most of the people I see trying to increase tolerance through “thought, argument, and persuasion” are liberals (or the US’s bastardised version), not libertarians. Judging by this comment section, the typical libertarian reaction to these attempts is “this is heavy-handed patronising nonsense” rather than praise or even “ineffective and awkwardly phrased, but obviously has laudable intentions”. Likewise, look at reactions to government intervention in the service of bigotry (e.g. the bathroom bills). Libertarians seem to get a lot less worked up about that kind of thing than liberals. Looking at Reason’s articles on various bathroom bills, they are mostly opposed to them, but on the grounds of government-meddling-bad rather than worries on about discrimination. And the comments are hardly a beacon of tolerance..

            Secondly, while it may be reasonable to believe that a world with no government intervention would have less bigotry than one with it, that isn’t the choice we face in the real world. Actual decisions are about the marginal impact of individual laws. To oppose e.g. the Civil Rights Act specifically, you either have to make a pretty novel argument about the unintended negative effects on tolerance it would have, or say that you’re a deontologist (in which case I think we’ve found a much bigger difference between liberals and libertarians than valuation of tolerance).

            @LadyJane

            No. A few white nationalists might claim to be libertarian, they might even think they’re libertarian, but they’re inevitably going to depart from libertarian beliefs in some very significant ways. For one thing, they’re likely to be staunchly against open borders and support strict government regulations on immigration. And removing all non-whites from any given country is going to inevitably require the use of force, either by the state or by the mob. So they can’t really be considered true libertarians in any meaningful way.

            Imagine a group of freely associating white land owners who decide not to let non-whites on their property. If non-whites decide to enter it anyway, they are justified in responding with force, same as any other case of trespassing. No libertarian principles are being violated here.

            There are white nationalists who call themselves socialists too, that doesn’t make it true.

            I agree that the Nazis weren’t socialists, but they had that name for a reason. I can easily imagine genuine nationalist socialists, in fact they’re a priori more plausible than nationalist libertarians, there are just fewer of them in the US at the moment for other reasons. The only point on my triangle I’m claiming can’t be racist is liberalism, which is not the same as socialism (the distance between those two is greater than that between liberalism and libertarianism).

            In any case, since you and quanta413 both disagree with my main point, but disagree with this hypothetical in opposite ways, I’ll get out of the way and let you discuss it.

          • quanta413 says:

            So a more accurate comparison would be Catholics who rob banks to fund proselytisation of heathens vs those who talk a good game but don’t do anything.

            (A) We clearly have a disagreement about what “doing anything” means and about the nature of morals or principles. Libertarians are often on the forefront of fighting police overreach. A lot of them tolerated homosexuality before it was cool. And I wouldn’t view the people who rob banks as caring more. Having fewer morals or principles doesn’t mean what you lack in principle is somehow magically redistributed to whatever you’ve got left. There’s not some fixed well of morality you split up.

            Don’t be silly. Would it be remarkable if the 97% white citizens Leslie County, Kentucky were not racist?

            It’s extremely suspicious when they also happen to devote a great deal of effort to keeping people not like them out (except as servants). Like Malibu. And I’m not saying that everyone in such a community must be racist, but I’d be very, very surprised if there was no one in such a community who was racist.

            The only point on my triangle I’m claiming can’t be racist is liberalism

            Unless you’re not willing to consider many people of that past who would typically be thought of as liberal as liberals or willing to radically redefine other terms, then this claim is blatantly false. Lord Acton, famous confederate sympathizer? And if that is your claim, it’s pretty much either redefining terms or a game of No True Scotsman. Did no liberals exist before the 1960s or something?

            The disagreement between me and LadyJane I’m pretty sure is a matter of her thinking in terms of platonic ideals and me thinking in terms of “who actually gets away with calling themselves X and appears sort of vaguely like it?”

          • LadyJane says:

            Imagine a group of freely associating white land owners who decide not to let non-whites on their property. If non-whites decide to enter it anyway, they are justified in responding with force, same as any other case of trespassing. No libertarian principles are being violated here.

            This is moving the goalposts. Originally you talked about libertarians who wanted their entire country to be whites only. There is virtually no feasible way to make that dream a reality without the use or threat of force. Even if you lived in a hypothetical country that was already 100% white, you would still need to use force to keep non-whites from moving in, either through strict government regulations on immigration or through the use of criminal violence and coercion.

            Now if you’re saying that libertarian principles would allow white nationalists to form small private enclaves where non-whites aren’t allowed, you’re correct, but that’s very different from your original example. Furthermore, there’s still an important distinction between what libertarianism allows and what it endorses. Libertarianism also allows people to kill themselves or destroy their health through extreme substance abuse; that doesn’t mean it supports self-destructive behavior as a value.

          • Matt M says:

            Originally you talked about libertarians who wanted their entire country to be whites only.

            True libertarianism is not really compatible with the existence of “countries” as we currently know them. To paraphrase an old English saying – Every libertarian’s private property is his country!

          • rlms says:

            @LadyJane
            Not all countries are size/ethnic makeup of the US (I agree that wanting to make the entire US a white ethnostate requires breaking core libertarian principles). But AFAIK, most American white nationalists (libertarian or not) instead promote dividing it into smaller ethnostates which people will do without coercion.

            I’m certainly not saying that libertarianism entails white nationalism, or even that there’s any close intrinsic relationship between them! There’s a pretty close relationship in practice, see e.g. here, but that’s incidental. I’m just objecting to your original claim that they inherently contradict.

          • quanta413 says:

            There’s a pretty close relationship in practice, see e.g. here, but that’s incidental.

            This article is ad hominem junk attempting to sound reasonable by using weasel words. I can find democrats who turned into secret Soviet spies, but that doesn’t mean there’s a close relationship between Democrats and Bolshevism.

          • LadyJane says:

            My point is that libertarianism and white nationalism do, in fact, contradict one another. The two ideologies are wholly incompatible. Racism is a form of collectivism, and libertarian philosophy is fundamentally based around an individualist ethos.

            Many libertarians believe that racists (and sexists, homophobes, transphobes, etc.) should have the right to express their opinions and act upon their beliefs, because using force or coercion to prevent them from doing so would violate their freedom of speech and freedom of association. But by definition, libertarians cannot be bigots themselves, because judging people based on their group identity is antithetical to the principles of individualism that libertarianism is built upon. Note that the vast majority of libertarians are perfectly fine with speaking out against bigots, publicly shaming them, boycotting them, denying them platforms, and generally opposing them using any method that doesn’t involve either government decree or mob violence.

            To put it another way, libertarians tend to be more tolerant of bigots than left-liberals not because they don’t have tolerance as a core virtue, but because they value tolerance so much that they’re willing to tolerate the intolerant.

          • rlms says:

            @quanta413
            If you can find Democrat/Soviet spies who were as prominent as Democrats as Milo, Gavin McInnes and Richard Spencer are in the alt-right, you’d have a point.

            @LadyJane
            If you define libertarianism as being built on principles of individualism that racism is contrary to, then yes. I don’t think that’s a good definition. Firstly, because racist libertarians exist (as discussed above), and racist-adjacent libertarians (and racist libertarian-adjacents) exist and are pretty influential. Secondly, it prove too much. “judging people based on their group identity” includes judging people for being e.g. socialists.

            I do agree that libertarians tolerate different *ideas* as much as liberals. But that doesn’t extend to tolerance in general.

            Note that the vast majority of libertarians are perfectly fine with speaking out against bigots, publicly shaming them, boycotting them, denying them platforms, and generally opposing them using any method that doesn’t involve either government decree or mob violence.

            Unless you’re using “mob violence” figuratively, that’s definitely not true of the libertarians here, who see Eich and Damore as martyrs, despite that any suffering they experienced was just a consequence of the proper and efficient functioning of the market/marketplace of ideas/people freely (dis)associating.

          • Matt M says:

            Define “prominent”

            Alger Hiss was a literal spy. Harry Dexter White certainly allowed a lot of spying to happen. You have academics who were card-carrying communists and whose work is still prescribed reading today (Howard Zinn). If you’re looking for people who are relevant to pop culture and attract headlines, someone like Jane Fonda might qualify.

          • quanta413 says:

            If you can find Democrat/Soviet spies who were as prominent as Democrats as Milo, Gavin McInnes and Richard Spencer are in the alt-right, you’d have a point.

            (A) Matt M already has multiple examples. And you still haven’t answered my question about how your categorization works when the 19th century was full of racist liberals. You haven’t even given a reason to reject the example I gave (Lord Acton).

            (B) You’ve forgotten that they also need to be libertarians for your claim to not be nonsense. It’d probably be good if they actually identified as alt-right too. All three of your examples are bad. Milo and Spencer aren’t libertarians and haven’t been. Milo and McInnes are not white nationalists or supremacists and haven’t been; neither is “alt-right”. So Milo fulfills neither side of the needed equality, and Spencer and McInnes each fulfill only one. But let’s get nitty-gritty on just how bad the categorization you use is.

            Milo doesn’t claim to be a libertarian in general. He calls himself a “cultural libertarian”. He was a bog standard Republican (except gay) before his whole outrage inducing schtick. He explicitly said he isn’t a libertarian in the reason article linked by the article you linked (which just says “some have billed him as a libertarian” but neglects to mention this was by conservatives trying to pawn him off as a libertarian because the conservatives needed to disassociate themselves from him). This is like the New York Times reporting that “some have described Obama as a secret Muslim” and passing this off as evidence that Obama is a secret Muslim.

            The article’s evidence linking Spencer to libertarianism is that Spencer was ejected from a libertarian conference. And that Spencer said he liked Ron Paul once or something. Just to beat a dead horse, this is the equivalent of saying Democrats are closely linked to terrorism because William Ayers and Obama met. Oh, except imagine if the University of Chicago had told Ayers to fuck off instead of hiring him.

            McInnes called himself a libertarian a couple of times; there isn’t really any other sign he should be thought of as a libertarian that I can find. No activity with the libertarian party; not a matching set of beliefs, etc. Yet this makes him your strongest example yet. But he explicitly denies being alt-right, told any proud boys who went to Charlottesville they were out, and is some sort of weird punk Kipling politically or something.

            So 0/3.

            Alger Hiss is crushing it in comparison by being an actual registered Democrat and bona fide communist spy.

            And once again, how do you explain the 19th century if liberalism and racism can’t go together?

          • Sniffnoy says:

            OK, replying here without having read all the replies here, hope you don’t mind. But, briefly, a lot of this looks like arguing over definitions. I’d just say, there’s multiple sorts of libertarians, I stated which sort I mean by my liberal/libertarian pole, the others I regard as interpolations (because, you know, they’re poles, hence my talk of simplices), I don’t really care about the rest.

            The one specific reply I want to make is to rlms:

            I agree that Scott’s liberalism (if that is still how he identifies, which I’m not sure) is very close to libertarianism. That’s because he’s a very libertarian-leaning liberal! Normal liberals don’t have David Friedman commenting on their blogs! See my response to LadyJane for more about why tolerance isn’t a *core* libertarian value.

            Look, I don’t really care. It’s a pretty fairly core value of the position I’m setting out as one of the poles — things that are more or less classical liberalism, basically; I don’t really care what you call that pole. I called it the “liberal” pole but you can call it what you want, it’s a cluster and not defined by any one thing.

            I think you’re confused about my claim.Here’s a low quality diagram. As you can see, the difference between liberalism and socialism is twice the size of that between liberalism and libertarianism. Liberalism and socialism are as different as conservatism and socialism; liberalism-libertarianism is comparable to e.g. conservatism-fascism.

            Yes, that diagram matches what you previously wrote, no confusion there. I just think it’s wrong.

            I may have been mistaken as to how far away you were placing things. But differing meanings of “liberalism” may be part of the problem here. I suspect you’re using it in a way different from what I am, I get the idea you mean something much closer to mainstream American liberalism, like the Democratic party, which is not what I mean (that’s not something I would place at a pole).

            So, in more detail as to why I disagree with your diagram/placement:

            1. Once again, I think you’ve you’ve put at the poles things that are definitely not polar. I mean — you’ve put fairly mainstream positions at two of your poles, with two real weirdo positions being interpolations. That doesn’t seem right at all. I think it’s the unusual positions that are extreme, that are based around a single unifying idea, with the mainstream positions being mishmashes that are therefore all a bit more central.

            2. I’d be suspicious of exactly-halfway placements. E.g. to use my scheme I’d put the Republicans as falling between liberalism and traditionalism, and the Democrats as falling between liberalism and leftism; placing the Republicans is hard, but I would definitely put the Democrats as substantially closer to liberalism than to leftism.

            I’d include what I said above as an instance of #2 but the overall distortion of distances due to regarding different things as poles vs interpolations makes it a bit hard to formulate as purely an instance of #2. But that is worth pointing out in itself; a particular consequence of #1 is that I think your distances are wrong.

          • quanta413 says:

            @myself

            A correction. I made a mistake. Hiss may or may not have been a registered democrat. He worked for Democratic administrations and was in their circles, but I don’t know if he was registered.

            And back to the broader point, it’s that using Hiss as evidence that democrats are closely linked to communist (or say because FDR and Uncle Joe were allies) would be an incorrect inference. In the same way that if we can find a racist libertarian that doesn’t mean much about libertarianism in general. We can find racists everywhere.

            EDIT: Really, I regret letting myself get baited into this game. I will try to do better in the future.

          • Alger Hiss is crushing it in comparison by being an actual registered Democrat and bona fide communist spy.

            I don’t know if Hiss had party registration, but he had served in multiple government positions under Democratic administrations (FDR and Truman) and was president of the Carnegie Endowment before Chambers denounced him as a Communist. So more prominent in liberal circles than any of the alt-right people were in conservative or libertarian circles.

          • rlms says:

            @quanta413
            Firstly, I think I said that there is a close connection between libertarianism and white nationalism. That’s too strong a claim, I should have referred to the alt-right instead (I don’t think Milo or Gavin McInnes are white nationalists). My point is that Milo and Spencer are the two most prominent figures of the alt-right, so to make a comparable point about Democrats you would need to show someone like FDR going commie. Secondly, the connection is one way. Libertarianism is a major influence on the alt-right, but not vice versa.

            Saying that Milo called himself a “cultural” libertarian is splitting hairs. Does Richard Spencer have nothing to do with white nationalism because he prefers the term identitarian? Spencer was ejected from a libertarian conference after being invited by the “Hans Hermann Hoppe Caucus”, who may have been trolling but nevertheless were named after “an anarcho-capitalist philosopher”. But here’s a better example. What do you think of this manifesto?

            1. Slash taxes
            2. Slash welfare
            3. Abolish racial or group privileges
            4. Take Back the Streets: Crush Criminals
            5. Take Back the Streets: Get Rid of the Bums
            6. Abolish the Fed; Attack the Banksters
            7. America First. A key point, and not meant to be seventh in priority.

            Stormfront seem to like it!

            Acton isn’t a gotcha anymore than the existence of Jewish Nazis proves that anti-semitism wasn’t an intrinsic part of their ideology. Non-central examples exist. But furthermore, people have to be judged by the standards of their time. Not tolerating Catholics is incompatible with modern liberalism, but Locke could get away with it because his society was different.

            @Sniffnoy
            My liberalism isn’t supposed to be represent American liberals. I don’t think Democrats fit into my model very well, because the US is weird (the economic Overton window is further right than it *should* be, and it has weird stuff with race going on). The British Lib Dems are reasonable representatives of it, probably the Canadian Liberals are too.

            1. Once again, I think you’ve you’ve put at the poles things that are definitely not polar. I mean — you’ve put fairly mainstream positions at two of your poles, with two real weirdo positions being interpolations. That doesn’t seem right at all. I think it’s the unusual positions that are extreme, that are based around a single unifying idea, with the mainstream positions being mishmashes that are therefore all a bit more central.

            That’s an interesting point. I think my poles were chosen to be the most influential schools of thought. This means they will be popular in the sense of having their ideas represented (except in the US where socialism is absent), but not necessarily that they will have major groups representing them specifically.

            2. I’d be suspicious of exactly-halfway placements. E.g. to use my scheme I’d put the Republicans as falling between liberalism and traditionalism, and the Democrats as falling between liberalism and leftism; placing the Republicans is hard, but I would definitely put the Democrats as substantially closer to liberalism than to leftism.

            Yes, I don’t mean to imply that any of my edge positions are halfway between the points. I think they’re probably in the middle third, but I wouldn’t want to be more specific than that (and I don’t think it is even possible to be objectively specific when you’re talking about ideologies in general, because the boundaries are subjective).

          • quanta413 says:

            @rlms

            Firstly, I think I said that there is a close connection between libertarianism and white nationalism. That’s too strong a claim, I should have referred to the alt-right instead (I don’t think Milo or Gavin McInnes are white nationalists).

            My point is that Milo and Spencer are the two most prominent figures of the alt-right, so to make a comparable point about Democrats you would need to show someone like FDR going commie. Secondly, the connection is one way. Libertarianism is a major influence on the alt-right, but not vice versa.

            No, I wouldn’t. Milo and Spencer are nobodies from a libertarian point of view and didn’t even start libertarian. I’d just have to find some internet communists who were once kind of vaguely Democratic by your logic. But your logic is invalid. Your argument appears to be

            libertarians like low taxes and so does Milo —-> libertarians are a major influence on the alt right.

            Using such logic, I could make another claim

            Democrats expanded health care access and Richard Spencer likes that —–> Democrats are major influence on the alt-right.

            Or how about

            Libertarians advocate free speech and so does the Supreme Court —–> Libertarians are a major influence on the Supreme Court.

            I could go on all day, but I trust my point is made to any possible spectators left for this…

            Saying that Milo called himself a “cultural” libertarian is splitting hairs. Does Richard Spencer have nothing to do with white nationalism because he prefers the term identitarian? Spencer was ejected from a libertarian conference after being invited by the “Hans Hermann Hoppe Caucus”, who may have been trolling but nevertheless were named after “an anarcho-capitalist philosopher”.

            You confuse linguistic similarity with political similarity. Would it be splitting hairs if I insisted that Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was neither Democratic nor a Republic? The question answers itself.

            “The Han Hermann Hoppe Caucus” was not part of the event. If antifa invites people to the same physical area as a white nationalist rally, that’s not because the antifa are secret white nationalists. It’s because they are trying to fuck up their enemies.

            But here’s a better example. What do you think of this manifesto?

            1. Slash taxes
            2. Slash welfare
            3. Abolish racial or group privileges
            4. Take Back the Streets: Crush Criminals
            5. Take Back the Streets: Get Rid of the Bums
            6. Abolish the Fed; Attack the Banksters
            7. America First. A key point, and not meant to be seventh in priority.

            Do you realize that 4, 5, and 7 are basically the opposite of libertarian thought? Maybe you could read the part of their 2016 platform under “Crime and Justice”? Maybe read the sections on migration and military too while you’re there. The whole thing has some pretty nutty parts, but those parts aren’t that odd.

            Some libertarians want the first half of 6 (Ron Paul probably said some crazy shit at least similar to this; I think it’s implied by the party platform), but you can also easily find those who don’t want 6 (Scott Sumner, Tyler Cowen). I’m not even sure what the “attack the banksters” second half means.

            3 is a position shared with radical malcontents like John McWhorter. (Click both links.)

            1 and 2 are also republican positions so I suppose you…

            Stormfront seem to like it!

            Oh wait, I forgot you’re just trying to throw shit by associating people with White Nationalists and Neo-Nazis. That’s cool I guess. I mean I could’ve sworn you said something about…

            Firstly, I think I said that there is a close connection between libertarianism and white nationalism. That’s too strong a claim, I should have referred to the alt-right instead

            Well, I guess you changed your mind after you had written a few hundred words.

            Acton isn’t a gotcha anymore than the existence of Jewish Nazis proves that anti-semitism wasn’t an intrinsic part of their ideology. Non-central examples exist. But furthermore, people have to be judged by the standards of their time. Not tolerating Catholics is incompatible with modern liberalism, but Locke could get away with it because his society was different.

            Acton isn’t a weird non-central example. Many British liberals of the time favored the confederacy. It’s as if many Nazis were Jewish. If that had been true, we’d tell a rather different story about WWII. But ok, let’s say we cut off everyone before 1900 from the liberal designation just to be safe. Liberalism hadn’t found tolerance or non-racism before then apparently. FDR’s new deal was definitely tolerant and pro integration right? It wasn’t? well shit. Let’s move up to 1970 so we get past the civil rights era then. So you have a category of political thought now cut off from hundreds of years of its intellectual and political heritage, in favor of the past 45 years.

            At this point, I’m going to need you to specify who is currently the in-group for toleration and who is the out-group for toleration before I waste time accidentally bringing up people who are exceptions to the rule of tolerance. Ditto for racism. I’d hate to bring up a bunch of racism against Asian or white people when that doesn’t count because of the standards of our time. I need to know who you think the modern Catholics are.

            Most liberals aren’t racist and most are vaguely tolerant of others. But the same is true for libertarians. And I’m not going to have trouble finding racist or intolerant behavior from either. It’s going to be especially easy for liberals because there are a lot more of them and they are in many more positions of power. Your classification doesn’t work on this axis because when modern liberals say “tolerance”; it doesn’t extend any further than it would for libertarians. It’s not even going to be true for your platonic ideal liberalism unless you carefully circumscribe who exactly is to be tolerated and who isn’t.

      • whateverthisistupd says:

        Depends on the anarchist. The main theoretical unifying thing that is “anarchist” is the dislike of a centralized state, but beyond that, there’s a whole world of anarcho-sub-divisions who don’t even consider the other anarchists to be allies in any sense.

    • Deiseach says:

      I think the “conservatives/traditionalists” lumping of everyone on the other side into one big splodge needs to be refined a little.

      I think you have a mass of centrists who are, if I may coin a phrase, Andrew Sullivan-type conservatives (sample: “I campaigned for gay marriage because Love Conquers All and that is perfectly fine, but I don’t get all this transgender stuff and am a bit wary about it”), they very slowly move with the Zeitgeist so that compared to parents or grandparents they’re liberals, but by current norms of the day they’re conventional and even perhaps a little stodgy, and get left behind as society moves on and their once-liberal attitudes of a few years ago become the conservative views of today (again, see Andrew Sullivan and the snark in the article here about how he’s no longer thirty). They’d be Democrat-voters for one particular candidate who matched their values/perceptions/wishes, Republican-voters for another (think of the Reagan Democrats). The urban middle-class that Labour in Ireland (and New Labour in Britain) decided to woo as voters and supporters instead of the old traditional working-class base.

      In other words, the kind of floating voters that the vast efforts of political campaigning are meant to try and sway to get them to vote for Candidate Smith instead of Candidate Jones.

      Then you have the very traditional set of voters/population who are not as large in numbers, even if sometimes they do ride a wave of popularity/influence (see the Moral Majority and the Religious Right, whose influence and numbers have waned, whose leaders have aged, died or left the stage, but who are still being held up as the stock bogeymen running the Republican show – the Evangelicals for Trump notion). These can be a much more mixed set of uneasy bedfellows, where you do get the ‘guns, God and gays’ set mixing with others who don’t have the same agenda but are co-operating out of “we’re both the weird kids and loners in the class so we’re forced to hang out together” mindset.

      Pro-life movement bringing Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics together kind of thing.

      Mainly what I’m carping about is that if there is a split on the centre-left/left side between progressives and neo-liberals, so too is there a split on the centre-right/right side and we’re not all one big mass of conservatives.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        This is a good point!

        On the one hand the first sort seem like they fit in fine as an interpolation (they’re poles, you can interpolate between them 🙂 ). On the other hand, it’s a different way of thinking, and if that’s what I really care about, then…?

    • neonwattagelimit says:

      You know, I think three-pole/three-group model explains a lot about political conflict over the past ten years or so. For the purposes of talking about this I’ll use Scott Alexander’s rubric: progressive/neoliberal/traditionalist.

      From the 1980s until the 2000s in the US, the neoliberals basically ran shit. I don’t mean this in the sense that there was some kind of cabal, but politics generally occurred on the neoliberals’ terms. The main, meaningful, conflict was between right-neoliberals and left-neoliberals. There were meaningful differences between these two groups, in areas like taxation, foreign policy and the proper scope of government, but the mostly agreed on some basic tenets: overt racism is bad, free markets usually work, the US has some level of global responsibility. Very few major national political figures questioned these fundamental premises, and those who did (eg Pat Buchanan) didn’t get very close to power. “Conservatives” were right-neoliberals, “liberals” were left-neoliberals.

      But there were some asymmetries. One was that, during this period, there were significantly more traditionalists than progressives. This meant that the right-neoliberals who ran the Republican Party had to pay more attention to issues (abortion, gay marriage) that mattered to the traditionalists than the left-neoliberals who ran the Democratic Party had to pay to the concerns of the progressives. The traditionalists were the vote army for the Republicans, but sometimes could be swayed to vote for left-neoliberal Democrats due to economic concerns or cultural affinity (Bill Clinton successfully capitalized on both). There weren’t enough progressives to really matter, though, so the Democrats could mostly take them for granted. So you had all of this focus on blue-collar traditionalist swing voters in the Midwest, Democrats trying to win the South, etc.

      Cracks in this facade started showing during the Bush era, when a right-neoliberal government spectacularly failed. In 2008-2009, left-neoliberals mistakenly believed that this was their vindication – the “conservatives” were discredited, who else was left?

      Then the Tea Party happened. The Tea Party was, essentially, a traditionalist revolt. But right-neoliberal Republican leaders were never able to get a handle on it the way they could with, say, the Christian Right. Part of this was probably due to the internet, which made groups more diffuse and more resistant to centralized control. But the biggest reason simply was that the right-neoliberals were discredited by the failures of the Bush administration, and the traditionalists didn’t trust them anymore.

      Then Occupy Wall Street, the progressive revolt, happened. And left-neoliberal Democrats, who had mostly ignored progressives for years, didn’t know what to do with that. Occupy was far less enduring than the Tea Party as a political phenomenon, but I think it led to an increasing awareness among progressives that their power was on the rise. This was due to a combination of factors: the rising generation was more progressive to begin with, the Great Recession and its anemic recovery radicalized people, progressives were frustrated by years in the political wilderness.

      From about 2010-2014, the traditionalists and progressives largely battled it out in the background, on the internet, in local elections. The traditionalists were better at winning elections, and the progressives were better at gaining mainstream cultural currency. The Obama administration kind of kept a lid on things by throwing the progressives bones from time to time, while pursuing a conventional left-neoliberal agenda mostly competently, placating a fair number of neoliberals. This fed a perception among traditionalists that the neoliberals and the progressives were on the exact same side, and probably winning, which further enraged them (it also fed into some smugness among progressives and left-neoliberal types).

      In 2014-2015, the wheels came off. I think the first sign was the Black Lives Matter movement. And the problem here for neoliberals goes to what Scott Aaronson said about different ideologies caring about different things: progressives are heavily invested in denouncing police violence, traditionalists are heavily invested in defending police. Neoliberals may shade toward one side or the other, but it wasn’t really something that was on their radar, so they tend to form sort of qualified opinions about it, which neither traditionalists nor progressives want to hear (note how Obama’s sympathetic-but-measured statements about BLM were often ignored or taken out of context). You could say something similar about the various gender issues that have cropped up in the past few years. Neoliberals tend to care about wonky stuff, free speech, and reason; start shouting to them about sexual harassment and the response will often be a confused “uhh, that sounds bad, I guess.”

      There is a subset of left-neoliberal that has mostly committed itself to making common cause with the progressives, but a lot of neoliberals are somewhat bewildered and reluctant to discuss these things lest they be insulted by one side or the other. Scott Alexander certainly hasn’t been reluctant to speak out but I think you see a bit of the bewilderment in the statement “we can finally have normal reasonable class warfare again instead of whatever weird ethno-cultural thing is happening now?” As I said, neoliberals are squirmy about this stuff; we’d rather talk about economics or climate change or something like that. We’re probably going to have to find a way out of this problem if we are to truly reassert ourselves.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Hm, to my mind opposition to police violence is definitely a liberal thing; also a leftist thing, yes, but definitely still very much a liberal thing (see e.g. Reason magazine…). I’m worried there’s a liberal/centrist confusion here. Like, you talk about liberals have been in power for some decades, yet what the people in power have done doesn’t seem to match well with what liberals have called for. (Look at copyright laws!) Seems to me that while the people in power had been more liberal than leftist or traditionalist, what they basically are is centrists, where the center is defined by what other actual people in the country think and not by any sort of principles; that better explains a null position on police violence for instance. (I didn’t emphasize this above, but I said “poles” so one might interpolate between them. 🙂 )

        (Also, you seem to have mashed together my and Scott’s terminology, and possibly also confused me with Scott Aaronson? 🙂 )

        • neonwattagelimit says:

          Your link to Scott Aaronson’s blog threw me off – just realized that was a comment there, too. Sorry about that! Also I was explicitly using Scott’s (Alexander’s) terminology here but I think it maps reasonably well onto yours and you’re both making a similar point. For the rest of this post I’ll mostly use Scott’s, to avoid confusion.

          Anyway, I think the people who are in power mostly haven’t been liberals in the American sense, but they’ve been neoliberals of a sort. Kind of like this:

          “Neoliberalism” isn’t the most well-defined of terms. It loosely refers to free-market economic ideas, combined with a technocratic, incrementalist approach to fixing market failures and redistributing wealth.

          The people I refer to as left-neoliberals (ie, Democrats) are more concerned with fixing market failures and redistributing wealth, obviously. But even right-neoliberals (Republicans) have had to justify their policies in these terms to some extent – trickle-down economics, Laffer curves, that sort of thing.

          I agree that people in power tend towards the center and haven’t always done exactly what neoliberals would do in a vacuum. But in many instances (for example, your mention of copyright) that can be explained by power asymmetries: there’s a small, very powerful, group that cares a lot about this thing and most people don’t care much either way, so the powerful group gets what it wants mostly. I think the general mindset of most people in power, especially from the 1980s to 2000s, has been neoliberal, albeit often with a leftward or rightward tinge, and with political incentives pulling them towards the center. Also, remember that traditionalists significantly outnumbered progressives during this period, so that had an impact, too.

          I don’t think liberal or neoliberal = centrist, though. I’d call myself a neoliberal – in the terminology I’ve used here, I’d pretty much be a left-neoliberal – but I don’t think I’m particularly centrist. It’s more about a mindset and certain core premises than it is about being, as you note, at or near the center of what other actual people in the country think. Put it this way: People in power are (or have usually been) usually centristish and neoliberalish, but not all neoliberals are centrists.

        • whateverthisistupd says:

          It may not register, but there’s definitely an “element” of the right that cares alt about police violence, although you might classify them as liberals. The free state, copwatch, anarcho-libertarian types.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Yes, exactly, like I said I don’t find left/right a useful distinction; when I say “liberal” I mean that in a more or less classical sense and am considering libertarianism as one variant of such, even if a number of libertarians are called “right” or “conservative”. There is such a thing as libertarianism with traditionalism mixed in but I’m regarding that as, well, as I just described it, as an interpolation!

          • neonwattagelimit says:

            Just for the record, I am using the term “neoliberal” to mean something like “classical liberalism updated to deal with the complexities of modern society.” I recognize that this is not the most common usage of the word. Left-right is a different axis (perhaps you could say it’s the answer to the question “how do you deal with those complexities?” but this is just off the top of my head). Libertarianism is compatible with this, and I don’t see libertarians as being opposed to neoliberals, necessarily.

            I’m not familiar with those groups, but it doesn’t surprise me that there are those elements on the right (or at least arguably on the right). We’re dealing with generalizations and slippery terms here; there’s bound to be exceptions.

      • yodelyak says:

        Hm. I definitely feel this reluctance, and that I need to find a way to reassert myself. And I’d say the way Bill Clinton’s perfect confidence–you could always see it in his body language, that there were only two types of people, friends, and soon-to-be friends–I think that melted off at some point before the 2016 primary had really gotten going. I always attributed that to his health changing, or his personal life having caught up with him.

        Somewhere around 2013 or 2014 I lost my impression that I could talk to everyone, and usually could be relatable and persuasive (!) no matter which group I was talking to. Instead, I was increasingly being baffled both by the tea party’s fact-free existence, and even more so by people on my left flank, who I guess are the leftist progressives that y’all are pointing out. I guess that makes them the Jill Stein voters and the people who loved seeing Richard Spencer get punched.

        So recognizing myself as very much a “neo”, and probably on the liberal side… that explains a lot.

        • whateverthisistupd says:

          “Neo” is being used here as “centrist” which isn’t really the common usage. In terms of conventional political lexicon, “neo” conservatives and liberals are both big supporters of managed word trade agreements and globalism, which has lost support on both the bases of the left and the right, although it’s increasingly off the radar for the left as their concerns are increasingly amero or euro centric and identity politics based. It’s still a sort of thing for the right base, but it manifests in the public consciousness more about immigration then global economic policy.

          Regardless, neither party wants to have the “neo” label attahced, although they largely still hold to those tenets, except to some degree the Trump crowd, but even he/they make concessions to the existing global power structure of finance and corporations.

    • christhenottopher says:

      What you’re describing here matches very closely with the standard historiography of European revolutions in the late 18th to early 20th centuries. Typically the break down is “left” were the urban poor+radical intellectuals, “liberal” were traditional commoners who start getting wealthy off the industrial revolution, and “traditionalists” were the traditional aristocracy+the rural poor. This basic typology works pretty decently for revolutions in Europe though it tends to break down elsewhere (hard left guys in East Asia like Mao, Pol Pot, and Ho Chi Minh had bases of support with the rural peasants rather than the urban poor for instance). In that period of history, the liberals typically acted as early instigators of the political violence, and who they sided with shifted based on the political question being brought up. If the question was “should individual negative rights be codified and upheld?” they were with the leftist urban poor against the traditionalists. If the question was “should property be redistributed or abolished” they swung rapidly back to the traditionalists.

      When revolution actually hit though, only in rare circumstances were the liberals really the winner.

      The American Revolution is one of those circumstances, but that’s probably because American society was weird and the rural poor were quite well off by European standards with a strong support for property rights (the exception of African slaves being a minority with enough limitations and controls placed on them to make them politically impotent). This meant for once the liberals had a majority of the populace on their side (a situation generally not replicated elsewhere in Europe, arguably until the mid-20th century if one starts counting the modern center-right and -left of Europe as effectively liberals). Another circumstance is the 1830 July Revolution in France, which was stable for a while, but collapsed into revolution again 18 years later.

      In the 20th century liberals won across the Western World. The “problem” for them though is that liberals tend not to be particularly bloodthirsty, even in putting down a riot they try to stop at the minimum force needed to restore order (one big reason they kept getting crushed by leftist or traditionalist rivals in most revolutions, revolutions only work if you will do more violence than your opponents). So under liberal regimes, leftists and traditionalists are allowed both to live and be free and even to try and change the political system. Under traditionalists, they ruled for centuries over societies with fairly limited class conflicts and so only needed occasional force against those trying to rise out of their place. Leftists however had the problem where they didn’t have the money of liberals nor the long term political/social structures of traditionalists, so their victories got really bloody, really fast (traditionalists who took over societies from liberal rule got pretty bloody fast too).

      In the long run in the West at least, liberal societies seem to win out because they are most economically productive option. Leftists who kill their liberals soon find they need a new crop of liberals to run their economy (for an example see first Lenin then Stalin killing off the “kulaks,” aka farmers who knew what they were doing, and “wreckers,” aka managers/engineers who knew what they were doing, then turning around to retrain people into those roles again to keep things running), or they stagnate forever (see North Korea). Traditionalists wind up becoming dependent on the liberals for money, and therefore have to gradually give concessions to keep their liberals productive. This eventually sees the traditionalists losing power, especially as all their rural backers move to the cities and join either leftist or liberal groups.

      So where does that leave the modern West? Honestly, in pretty good long term shape for the liberals since immigrants in seem to prefer liberals to leftists regardless of their poverty or success. Clinton beat Sanders among minority voters. The act of immigrating is a rather individualist type of act given that it involves leaving one’s traditional culture and homeland. Even if you find other emigres from the same country in the new place, those emigres are going to be disproportionately among the more individualistic of your society (here’s an example study demonstrating this phenomenon). An important exception might be refugees since “fleeing for your life” is more than likely a human universal. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of talk about the widening gap between rich and poor (which is more dubious once you consider consumption measures and the impact of transfers), but a significant part of that is an increase in the size of the wealthy classes (at least in the US). Wealthy classes care about liberal property rights and liberal freedoms because since they have good incomes/wealth, the primary constraints on their behavior would come from government actions. Urbanization continues which will continue to undermine the traditional rural support for traditionalism while the remainder of the old aristocrats has long since been absorbed into the rich liberal masses. Leftists are thus the only ones with long term political staying power and they are being undermined by liberal immigrants and shrinking working classes. Politics is never stable forever and liberal triumphalism will eventually start really losing to some group or another, but over the next few decades I would expect the traditionalists and left to make lots of noise, and maybe carve out their own fiefdoms (see rural small towns and university campuses respectively), but not to be able to really overturn the liberal political order of the West.

      Now outside the Western World? I don’t have nearly enough knowledge to be able to hazard a sensible guess. Japan/Taiwan/South Korea seem to be going on a mostly Western path just lacking a strong left leaning position, but China seems to just wreck the Western liberal-traditionalist-leftist tripod. And I’m super unqualified to saying anything significant about India, the Middle East, or Africa.

      • neonwattagelimit says:

        China seems to just wreck the Western liberal-traditionalist-leftist tripod.

        My working assumption about China has long been that the CCP has become the modern version of the Confucian imperial bureaucracy, but with different ideological window dressing. I’m not sure that Western labels apply in that context. That said, I know very little about Chinese politics.

        • christhenottopher says:

          There’s almost certainly an aspect of that! And the tradition of Confucian bureaucracy is often pointed to as a reason for East Asian obsession with educational success. In the West this would tend to be associated with liberalism, but in China this seems more similar to a traditionalist camp, though now with leftism from Marxism infused into it and a kind of practical semi-liberalism in economics. China is fascinating to me partly because I recognize how far I need to go to even partially grok their system and politics.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Fascinating, thank you!

        But, have we really won if we don’t have the universities? 😛

        • christhenottopher says:

          If you aren’t listening to it already, start listening to the Revolution Podcast, which really gets into the weeds on how traditional-liberal-left divides in the West have worked themselves out (spoiler: with violence and incompetence!).

          Who needs the universities as long as we control the means of podcast production!

    • James Green says:

      I’ve called them Progressivism, Liberalism, and Conservatism with their extreme forms being Technocracy, Libertarianism, and Fascism. One might say progessivism/technocracy could be called Socialism/Communism instead, or alternatively that progressivism is sufficiently different and has replaced socialism as a dominant pole.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        That sounds like a different system from what I’m talking about. I’ll admit haven’t explained exactly what I have in mind for each of these three poles — and I even said the names I used were labels, not definitions. So I should probably say a bit more about just what is the distinction I’m drawing between liberalism and leftism, because that’s where our systems seem to least map onto one another.

        I think some of the things that distinguish the thing I’m calling “leftism” from liberalism are, for instance:

        *. A focus on “equality of outcomes” over “equality of opportunity” (I don’t like those terms but I’ll go with them for now)
        *. A belief in the moral relevance of groups rather than individuals; the idea that it makes sense to speak of the welfare of a group independent of that of its members, that a group can be hurt without necessarily hurting any of the individuals in that group; that comparisons between these groups have moral relevance and that it is important that groups get their “fair share of the pie”
        *. Zero-sum thinking; such as for instance the sort of attitude that Sarah Constantin inveighs against here
        *. Failure to accept Pareto improvements; use of the “Cophenhagen interpretation of ethics”;
        failure to recognize that a demand you do things “my way” always includes an implicit “or the highway” and that people might just take the latter
        *. “Conflict theory”; a with-us-or-against-us mentality; a rejection of the idea of neutrality
        *. (Sometimes open) rejection of the idea of free speech; sometimes open rejection of the idea of “Enlightenment values” more generally

        I could say more, but, I hope those work to paint something of a picture of what I’m talking about. It’s not something that’s much fund of “technocracy”, is my point. To my mind if you’re a believer in “technocracy”, that means you have enough of a belief in, you know, figuring things out, finding the truth, rewarding competence, making new things possible rather than just fighting for your share of the spoils, etc., that you probably fall much closer to the liberal pole than the leftist pole. Perhaps that means I’ve misnamed it, but, you know, that’s why I said they’re not definitions…

    • IronEconomist says:

      I think its easier to understand political groupings if your axis is more about meta-politics than about object-level politics. Set one axis as ‘Epestemic Certainty’ and another axis as ‘Fundamental Unit of society’ and you get a grid that looks like this:

      (Sorry I thought this would accept html formatting but apparently it does not so its messed up)

      Epistemic Certainty
      Unit 1 2 3 4
      Individual Libertarianism na na Radical Progressiveism
      Family Patriarchy na Mainstream Christianity WASP Nostalgia
      Community Communes/Mormons/Early Christianity States Rights Tribalism/Identity Politics IRA
      Nation State Classical Liberalism na
      UN/WTO
      Facism/Communism/Imperialism
      Idealogical Groupings Buddism Catholic Church na Communism/Medieval Islam

      Note that the table is about how units deal with other units. So if you are in the left hand columns you should have total freedom to order your affairs at levels below that. On the rhs are groups who ares o convinced that they are the one true way that they will convert you by force/use authoritarianism. So, for example, Classical Liberalism in this grouping says that one nation state should have nothing to say about how another nation state orders its internal affairs, as it has low confidence that its own internal affairs are better. An imperialist society has high confidence that they know the one true way and so will convert you by force.

      Generally speaking, the left hand column will primarily attempt to changes peoples mind through peaceful argument, the right hand column will use any means necessary to change peoples minds.

      What has generally happened over the last fifty years is that we have moved up the table. It is now the unquestioned assumption of most people that the basic unit of society is the individual, and thus our primary question is ‘does it harm an individual’, as opposed to previous era’s whose question would have been ‘does it harm the state, community or family’. Thus classical liberalism was concerned with how Catholics could live with Protestants, and Republicans could live with Monarchists etc, but it was relatively unquestioned that communities would settle their own affairs internally, and liberals looked to regulate primarily relations between groups. Now we regulate interactions between individuals. See for example recent controversy over circumcision.

    • Hyzenthlay says:

      I spent much of my life identifying as leftist or left-leaning, while being uneasy with the behavior of leftists as a whole. I used to think this was just a matter of differing tones or styles or personalities, before finally realizing that I’m actually not a leftist at all–I’m a liberal–and that actually, what I disagreed with wasn’t just their tone, it was their core philosophy. It took me a while to realize this because I was just so used to thinking of things in terms of left vs. right, and there was very little I agreed with the right on, so I must be a leftist. This blog was part of what helped solidify the difference in my mind.

      • Matt M says:

        It took me a while to realize this because I was just so used to thinking of things in terms of left vs. right, and there was very little I agreed with the right on, so I must be a leftist.

        This happens with a lot of people on the right, too.

  5. Sniffnoy says:

    As for the actual predictions, the one that seems wrongest to me is “At least one cloned human baby, survives beyond one day after birth: 10%”. I’d put it at more like 1%.

    • BlindKungFuMaster says:

      Because of technical difficulties or because nobody will try?

      • Sniffnoy says:

        The former. Though maybe it should be more like 2%, rethinking it. (I’m sure someone else will tell me both of those are too high. 😛 )

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I’d understand no one trying, but technical difficulties? If they cloned monkeys okay, what technical difficulties are you expecting?

          • Sniffnoy says:

            …wait, they have?

            Uh, I was unaware of that. (Link, by any chance?) Yeah if they’ve cloned monkeys then I’d say 1% is too low, definitely.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Technical difficulties is finding a willing mother.

            Do you want to try a gorilla and do a c-section? Their gestation time is similar to humans, though their birth weight is about half that of humans.

            Otherwise your best bet is a narcissist who is carrying their own clone or a bereaved parent who is carrying the clone of a dead child.

            The last possibility is about the only one that has a chance of a majority of people not seeing it as something horrible to try.

          • a reader says:

            Technical difficulties is finding a willing mother.

            It isn’t enough “a willing mother”. A successful cloning needs dozens of females to donate hundreds of ovules that have their nucleus replaced, then the dozens of embryos in which the replacement succeeded would be implanted in a dozen of females resulting in a few pregnancies – one or two of which end successfully in birth, the others in spontaneous abortions. For the 2 macaque clones, there were 79 nucleus replacement attempts, 21 implantations of embryos in surrogate mothers that resulted in 6 confirmed pregnancies but only 2 live births.

            But I don’t think that will be such a “technical difficulty” in China (who just cloned those monkeys). Probably there would be enough women among the political prisoners who would be happy to participate for better living conditions, better food and no hard work during pregnancy.

        • BlindKungFuMaster says:

          I think as soon as they can be sure not to create a dead or malformed baby, somebody will do it. If I remember correctly the success rate of the monkey business wasn’t too high. But it might well happen in the next five years.

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            This. There are reasons to do human cloning – you can do time-shifted twin studies! Vanity!, ect. But none of them are compelling enough to warrant taking any significant medical risks, so it will not be done until we have a set of cloning techniques reliable enough that we can clone a member of mammal species that lab has not tried before and be confident of a healthy specimen. Which is probably more than five years away.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            10% represents my chance that at least one scientist with a cloning-capable lab is irresponsible/publicity-hungry/crazy. There are some weird people out there – remember, the last scientist who tried this was part of a UFO cult.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @Scott Alexander:
            If by “some weird people” you mean “The Chinese Communist Party”, then yeah, I’d totally agree. Those guys don’t even know the meaning of the words “ethical concerns”.

          • Shion Arita says:

            I’ve always been kind of baffled by people’s intense negative reactions to cloning. Aside from maldevelopment arising from not doing the technique well (which is an irrelevant issue if you can do it well), what exactly is bad about it? I see no moral issue with having a cloned human if the technique works as intended.

          • Bugmaster says:

            Personally, I’m concerned with the “works as intended” part. I’d like to be very, very sure that’s true before we start cloning people left and right.

            Also, one could argue that cloning is somewhat irresponsible, since it reduces genetic diversity, and therefore exposes humanity to a significant risk of e.g. some kind of pandemic.

          • Watchman says:

            @Bugmaster,

            Does cloning reduce genetic variability? It does not currently rule out the development of mutations (the main source of genetic variability I believe?), so I suppose the question is whether we actually get genetic variability from combining two existing genomes that is additional to the chance of mutation?

          • quanta413 says:

            @Watchman

            Recombination is important for the evolution of a sexual species. It allows beneficial mutations that arise in distinct lineages to combine into a single lineage which is much faster than waiting for two beneficial mutations to occur in a row.

            For humans, de novo mutations are only of interest on long timescales. On the scale of hundreds or thousands of years (or even longer maybe; I’m too lazy to figure out a good estimate right now), selection and recombination of existing variation is more relevant.

          • Nornagest says:

            you can do time-shifted twin studies!

            Every so often I wish I’d pursued a career as a mad social scientist, and this is one of those times.

          • Mary says:

            I see no moral issue with having a cloned human if the technique works as intended.

            I can see a scad with ordering up a person the way you want. Especially given that the person most likely to do this is also the person mostly likely to react badly if the person does not in fact turn out the way you want.

          • Shion Arita says:

            Right, but in that case the immorality would fall on the person with the unreasonable expectations rather than the cloning technique itself. There are plenty of technologies that can be used very wrongly but that doesn’t make them not worthwhile. I don’t think “ignorant people might have a bad reaction to it” is a good reason not to do something.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            I’m getting the sense that some of the opposition here seems to think that cloning is bad because What If Everybody Cloned? Granting that recombination is important to our continued evolution, is it even remotely plausible that clones would ever make up more than a tiny fraction of births?

            I’m visualizing a young married couple starting a family and deciding that the best way to do it is to clone the father and clone the mother, rather than having two children who combine the traits of both. It just doesn’t strike me as likely.

          • quanta413 says:

            @Doctor Mist

            I’m not opposed to cloning (given that we have very high certainty in it working); I just elaborated as a side point. But I would be against that highly unlikely outcome.

        • Deiseach says:

          As for the actual predictions, the one that seems wrongest to me is “At least one cloned human baby, survives beyond one day after birth: 10%”. I’d put it at more like 1%.

          2016 saw the “world’s first three parent baby” born, the technique has been legally approved in the UK, I’d say if they’re ready to try this and it seems to have worked, cloning is the next step and somebody will do it.

          Like you say, if they get over all the hurdles first of a viable embryo, it is successfully implanted, pregnancy goes to full term and child is delivered alive – then the survival post-birth will probably be very good chance.

    • Loris says:

      You know what – this really needs to be more clearly defined.

      Identical twins are technically clones (having essentially the same genetic makeup due to deriving from a single ancestral cell), and they already exist.
      Even if you require human intervention, people have had identical twins after IVF – so again this has already happened.

      Other possible meanings might be:
      * Multiple cells are separated from an early stage embryo in vitro and grown into viable babies (possibly in surrogate hosts).
      * A cell is taken from a post-partum child (or placental material, etc) and grown into a viable baby.
      * A cell is taken from an older child or adult and grown into a viable baby.

      People tend to mean the last one – which is the most technically challenging – but all are clones.

  6. BlindKungFuMaster says:

    I wonder how you explain the scenario in which “Average person can buy a self-driving car for less than $100,000”, but not “Average person can hail a self-driving car [] in at least five of ten largest US cities.”

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I didn’t say it was a very likely possibility – in fact, my numbers are consistent with 0% probability on that. But surely it’s possible, the same way you explain that the average person can buy a hydrogen car for less than $100,000 but can’t hail a hydrogen car in at least five of ten largest US cities.

      • BlindKungFuMaster says:

        My default assumption would be that if you can buy a self-driving car <100.000 it will be used by Uber. Using hydrogen cars doesn't allow you to cut cost by not needing a driver, so that's quite different.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I agree it will be eventually. I just don’t want to have super-confident opinions in whether someone will figure out how to get it direct-to-market before Uber works out all the regulatory/economic hassles in deploying it to half of cities.

          • BlindKungFuMaster says:

            So your argument goes something like this:
            Self-driving is solved 50%
            Early enough for consumer market (of people who can drive) 30%
            Early enough for mass taxi market (people who can’t drive) 10%

            Of course now my questions becomes, why are the truck drivers save?

          • Tuna-Fish says:

            I would score the chance that if the cars are good enough for consumer market, they are good enough for the taxi market, but give a well above 50% odds that opposition from incumbent interests and existing regulation will prevent their use in the taxi market in major cities within the next 5 years.

            Taxi/bus/uber/whatever drivers vote in local elections, the tech company based in the silicon valley doesn’t.

          • po8crg says:

            I could easily see liability questions keeping self-driving cars out of the taxi market but not the consumer market.

            Consumer market, you could probably contract an acceptance that as the owner of the self-driving car, you’re responsible for liability when something goes wrong, so if the self-drive goes wrong and kills a passenger, then you, rather than the manufacturer, has to pay out.

            You’ll go bankrupt, but that won’t bring down the manufacturer.

            But doing that with taxis, it will be much harder to get passengers to accept liability – which means that the taxi company will have to cover those risks. And will their insurance be affordable?

          • Deiseach says:

            I’d say there’s probably a better chance of “rich guy can buy new toy first to tootle round his private estate but won’t be let take it out on public road” than anybody, Uber or private citizen, being let use a self-driving car on public roads in a large city.

            Once the legal barriers to driving on the open road/in the city are overcome, then it won’t matter whether Uber buy a fleet of them first or Joe Q. Well-off buys one first, the main difficulty over using a self-driving car with no human intervention will have been overcome, and we’re probably still a long way away from the law being happy to let cars with no human over-ride out in public. Then you’ll get the insurance companies wanting to figure out liabilities for accidents/injuries/deaths caused by self-driving cars and what premiums to set for that level of risk, if they’re even willing to issue such insurances. I don’t know if you are allowed drive without insurance in the USA? So even if you could buy such a car next year, if you can’t insure it and can’t legally drive it, then it’ll be a fancy toy sitting in your garage (which may be enough for some people who only want bragging rights/collectors’ items).

        • Watchman says:

          But Uber will only use it if people want to ride in it – is there demand for a driverless Uber?

          • Matt M says:

            If “driverless uber” is half the cost of regular uber, of course there is.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            Even at the same cost, there would be a demand for driverless Uber.

            Parents sending kids.
            Drunk girls coming home from clubbing.

            Uber is already effectively completely safe for those two things, but there will always been demand for more risk reduction theater there.

            Plus, a driverless Uber is more likely to be out at 4am.

          • devilbunny says:

            Yes. Most of the time, I’m not interested in chatting. I just want to get from A to B.

          • cl says:

            A common theory is that Uber is currently only trying to build market dominance with current operations and are betting on self-driving cars in order to actually make money. Uber is currently burning incredible amounts of money trying to achieve this and it doesn’t seem like profitability under the current model is easy to achieve, so if/when self-driving cars are available Uber will have strong incentives to switch over.

        • Nornagest says:

          Regulatory hurdles are a possible issue here. If you can buy a self-driving car for a highish price but you need someone with a pulse at the wheel because the feds say so, then it’s attractive to early-adopter types (because shiny, maybe also because status symbol) but not to Uber drivers (because the ability to zone out in the driver’s seat doesn’t justify the sticker price).

    • kybernetikos says:

      I’d be surprised if 1, 2 or 4 come true (all rated at >=30%) and 3 doesn’t (at 10%) given that typical truck driving is easier than city driving, lots of money can be saved by people who have money to spend on things that save them money, and that even lower levels of self drive autonomy (like the ability for a truck to drive itself safely in particular conditions while the driver slept but would wake if alerted) could still reduce the needed number of drivers by 5%. But perhaps I’m underestimating the time needed to replace/retrofit fleets.

  7. Elijah says:

    “It will become more and more apparent that there are three separate groups: progressives, conservatives, and neoliberals.”
    This may be a reasonable description of political divisions among *white* Americans, but I think it falls apart when you try to apply it outside of these bounds.

    For example: if your prediction of Sanders vs Harris strife comes true, does it really make sense to describe Harris’s prospective support base as neoliberal? For sure, her support base may include neoliberals, but most of her presumed African American and SJW voters are as supportive of redistribution as Sanders supporters are.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Then they would be in the progressive group. What’s the problem?

      • Elijah says:

        It seems strange that you would say “It will become more and more apparent that there are three separate groups: progressives, conservatives, and neoliberals.” even though you’re anticipating a civil war within what you’ve defined as the “progressive group”. Wouldn’t that make it less apparent, not more?

        Admittedly I might be being pedantic here.

      • Unless the progressive group splits along workers-rights leftism and the identitarian left. Actually, there seems to be a further thing where the non-identitarian (class based?) left starts courting students, debt-ridden graduates, gig economy workers and other young people, who are presumably worse of than blue collar workers nowadays.

    • shakeddown says:

      Also worth mentioning in this context that a lot of the support for moderate democrats (at least, for Hillary over Bernie) comes from minorities – the socialist vs neoliberal split is more for whites, while minorities seem to be more moderate for the same reasons as described in “black people less likely”.

      • simbalimsi says:

        minorities who vote for Hillary over Bernie are just conservatives who happened to be minorities. they would’ve been default republican voters if they were white.

        • azhdahak says:

          Having grown up in a majority-minority area, my impression is that the political consensus among at least US blacks would, if they were white, be categorized as by far the most dangerous part of the alt-right.

          (This isn’t a joke, and IME a lot of alt-right sorts know it. Richard Spencer is all “I’m just trying to do for whites what minorities do for themselves”, and yeah, there’s that, but he’s nowhere near as keen on political violence. Before anyone jumps in with the Charlottesville murder — I know several people who got jumped for supporting McCain in 2008, and this was universally regarded as normal and to be expected.)

          • bassicallyboss says:

            I think simbalimsi is suggesting that they’d have grown up white as well.

            Not “The same person, but scan all their attributes and opinions and replace ‘black’ with ‘white’, and ‘white’ with [perceived outgroupy threat, like ‘muslim’ or ‘Mexican’]”

            More “The same basic person by nature, but shaped by the experience of being a white person in America instead of being a black person”.

            I don’t know if that would result in the boring kind of “I like the way things have always been, change should be small and measured” conservative, but it seems plausible.

    • Deiseach says:

      For sure, her support base may include neoliberals, but most of her presumed African American and SJW voters are as supportive of redistribution as Sanders supporters are.

      But are they her support base? Looking at the Wikipedia article, it seems like the natural lines of attack for an opponent (inside the party or outside of it) are:

      (1) She’s not ethnic/minority enough, or in the right way. Her mother is Tamil, her father Jamaican, so no African-American or Hispanic/Latina/Chicana/whatever the term is now background there and worse, her parents were middle to upper-middle class immigrants who came to the USA for their college education and got good respectable professional jobs. She certainly cannot be painted as “came over the border for the better life of opportunity” since she comes from a background of privilege. Obama may have managed to get past that one, but he was well linked in to Chicago politics and married an African-American woman whose family was black political royalty, not a white lawyer like Harris’ husband

      (2) This bit from the Wikipedia makes me wince because oh boy – “she only got her start by favoritism” (real sleeping-with-the-boss accusation waiting to happen) and the influence of black churches on vote-gathering won’t be too happy with “adulteress who helped break up a marriage” (doesn’t need to be a true accusation, just can you sell it as that?):

      In 1993, she started dating California Speaker of the Assembly, Willie Brown, who introduced her to many powerful individuals in the California and Sacramento political and campaign management establishment. She was highly active in Brown’s 1995 campaign for Mayor of San Francisco and introduced publicly as Brown’s girlfriend, even though Brown was married. Two weeks following the election, Brown broke off the relationship. After 1998, while Willie Brown was San Francisco’s mayor, she became managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, a small unit with a staff of three.

      Harris looks like a poor choice because even if she successfully navigates the Democrat nomination process, there are a lot of angles of attack to raise the spectres of old scandals or create new ones and like I said, Lin-Manuel Miranda may have been able to spin the image of “poor Cuban immigrant” (despite that not being so) to his advantage in musical theatre but politics is a different matter and Harris is not from a background with roots in the ‘building the wall between Mexico and the US will hurt your family members’ kind of community.

      • Jiro says:

        She’s not ethnic/minority enough, or in the right way.

        Obama is of recent African descent, not American black descent. It didn’t hurt him as a minority candidate.

        • Deiseach says:

          Kindly note what I said:

          Obama may have managed to get past that one, but he was well linked in to Chicago politics and married an African-American woman whose family was black political royalty

          Obama was able to be presented as African-American (even if he was more literally that than the term tends to be used) and managed to get himself in with the existing political set-up, as well as allying/aligning himself with the likes of Jeremiah Wright (until that became a liability). In short, he could appeal to the African-American vote as (in appearance and adopted culture) being “one of them” and as the community organiser linked in with activists, respected representatives, and cultural figures from the same background.

          There was also the very heavily weighted cultural and social imagery of the First Black President, what with the history of slavery and the rest of it.

          Harris is Indian- and Jamaican-American heritage, with being more steeped in her mother’s culture due to her parents’ divorce when she was young and her mother getting custody of the kids, married to a white guy, and her family background is privilege all round. First Indian-American and/or Woman isn’t in the same category at all as First Make Reparation For Slavery By Electing This Candidate was – remember how the minority vote the Democrats were relying on for First (White) Woman President didn’t turn out in the same numbers at all. Can’t be painted as “Jenny from the block” no matter how they try.

          • Matt M says:

            Can’t be painted as “Jenny from the block” no matter how they try.

            Disagree.

            Because they will try, and anyone who dares suggest that this isn’t quite right will be denounced as a horrible racist (as was anyone who bothered to say “maybe we should look into this jeremiah wright person”)

            Keep in mind that Obama wasn’t just the son of a recent immigrant. He was the son of a recent immigrant and a white woman and then the father disappeared and the mother raised him in Indonesia with with an Asian Muslim father figure. That’s a pretty bizarre and abnormal situation that nobody to the left of Sean Hannity ever paid even the slightest amount of attention to.

          • SamChevre says:

            The race I want to see is Kamala Harris vs Nikki Haley.

            (Actually, the race I really want to see is Trump vs Kanye West. Actually, really, a race featuring someone I actually wanted to win would be great, but at this point I don’t expect that to happen, so I’ll go for amusement value.)

          • pontifex says:

            Actually, really, a race featuring someone I actually wanted to win would be great, but at this point I don’t expect that to happen, so I’ll go for amusement value.)

            Fellow Kasich voter?

        • Matt M says:

          Rand Paul vs Bernie Sanders would be interesting in the sense that you could actually have two people with very different worldviews for the first time in… I don’t even know how long.

    • LadyJane says:

      The Progressive group can be further divided between Anti-Establishment Liberals (people who are share the same core liberal values with Neoliberals, but are opposed to specific institutional aspects of Neoliberalism like corporate cronyism, foreign intervention, police militarization, and drug prohibition), Economic Leftists (the “traditional left” focused on workers’ rights, generally unconcerned with social/cultural issues and identity politics), and the Social Justice crowd (which prioritizes race/gender/sexuality-based minority identitarianism above all else).

      If the Progressive candidate is an Economic Leftist like Bernie (i.e. someone who’s straight, white, male, and gives the impression of being unconcerned with race and gender issues, or at least naively ignorant about them), and the Neoliberal candidate makes even a token effort to pander to minority groups, then a large segment of the Social Justice crowd will be inclined to support the latter. Doubly so if the Neoliberal candidate is a woman, racial minority, or LGBT person themselves; triply so if they’re all of those things. We already saw this happen in the 2016 Democratic primary, and it seems likely to happen again.

      On the flip side, if the Neoliberal candidate ends up winning the Democratic primary, then a lot of the Anti-Establishment Liberals and Economic Leftists will be inclined to not vote at all, or to vote third party (with the Economic Leftists supporting the Green candidate, and the Anti-Establishment Liberal vote splitting between the Green and the Libertarian). A few might even support the Republican challenger, particularly if he appeals to the anti-corporate and anti-interventionist ideals of the Anti-Establishment Liberals and/or the working-class populist ideals of the Economic Leftists. Again, this is more or less exactly what happened in 2016.

      • Matt M says:

        If the Progressive candidate is an Economic Leftist like Bernie (i.e. someone who’s straight, white, male, and gives the impression of being unconcerned with race and gender issues, or at least naively ignorant about them), and the Neoliberal candidate makes even a token effort to pander to minority groups, then a large segment of the Social Justice crowd will be inclined to support the latter. Doubly so if the Neoliberal candidate is a woman, racial minority, or LGBT person themselves; triply so if they’re all of those things. We already saw this happen in the 2016 Democratic primary, and it seems likely to happen again.

        I don’t think that’s quite right. Bernie infamously allowed Black Lives Matter to hijack one of his rallies in a way that Hillary never did. Yeah, there was a token effort made to imply that he wasn’t SJW enough (BernieBros) but I know plenty of SJ-inclined people who preferred him to Hillary…

        • LadyJane says:

          Which is why I specified that a subset of the Social Justice crowd would switch over to the Neoliberal candidate, not all of them. But it would definitely be at least a significant minority of them.

          To a lot of racial justice activists, Bernie’s efforts to appeal to BLM came across as too little, too late. Not to mention all the feminists who rallied behind Hillary simply for being a woman and accused Bernie’s supporters of being sexist.

          There’s also the fact that racial minorities themselves aren’t usually Progressive at all, and overwhelmingly tend to vote for establishment Democrats. This creates an impression that establishment Democrats are the better choice for someone who cares about racial minorities. Regardless of whether or not that’s actually true, it can make a huge difference for Social Justice Progressives who see race as the end-all be-all driving force of American politics.

  8. SpaghettiLee says:

    I’d put it well below 50% (maybe around 20%) that Sanders runs at all in 2020. He’ll be 78-79 years old, and his post-election public presence does not read to me like someone who’s spoiling for another fight. And maybe this is just me being optimistic (as a lifelong Dem) but I don’t think the rest of the party is either. The left is fractious, always has been, but trust me when I say the need to defeat Trump is priority number one among all my left-of-center friends, from the hardcore neo-commies to the Party-Before-Purity Clintonites.

    That said I still think there’s a good chance that the 2020 election will be a shitshow. Especially if they nominate Harris and the narrative turns into a Captain Planet-style band of scrappy righteous minorities vs. the Evil White Male Borg. (mixing my sci-fi metaphors there, don’t care.) Moreso than either side winning, my foolish hope is that the conversation around identity just cools the fuck down for a bit, long enough for people to stop feeling like the stakes for their tribe every election are survival vs. extermination, and (as long as I’m dreaming) vote based on their class rather than their tribe. Harris vs. Trump 2020 would be the exact opposite of that. Also, every successive presidential election seems to get more internetty in all the worst ways, and that won’t change no matter who runs.

    • shakeddown says:

      I’m expecting at least one swing state democratic governor to nontrivially run (as in, at least Kasich-level primary success), and they’re generally centrist white men, so hopefully either they win or at least have enough support that someone like Harris is careful of alienating them.

    • Deiseach says:

      Especially if they nominate Harris and the narrative turns into a Captain Planet-style band of scrappy righteous minorities vs. the Evil White Male Borg

      They can’t realistically do that with Kamala “my mom’s dad was a diplomat” Harris because she’s got the same middle-class professional background as the Evil White Males, though I suppose they would indeed try to spin it that way.

      • Nornagest says:

        No one cares about that. Half the people setting cars on fire in Berkeley have desk jobs, or expect to after they graduate.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          How do you know?

          • Nornagest says:

            Because I accidentally ended up getting to know a bunch of antifa through my hobbies. Don’t want to go into any more detail than that because doing so would amount to doxxing myself.

    • multiheaded says:

      Richard Wolff has already leaked that Sanders will be running.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq6Ko_TKDn8

  9. Markus Ramikin says:

    Only 80% for MIRI? Seems strangely low to me. Would you explain your reasoning?

    • VivaLaPanda says:

      Not Scott, but potentially as Neural Net/Practical AI research expands it uses up the oxygen that MIRI relies on? I think the existence and success of AlphaGo could definitely be interpreted in such a way as to reduce the credibility/value of MIRI. That’s not my position, but I think it could potentially sway donors. But who knows, it seems like they should have enough money even if they stopped getting donations today to survive for quite a while. I’d probably put it above 80%, but not much. They’re small enough that the loss of a few core team members alongside financial difficulties could deal a big blow.

  10. ahd says:

    “It will get some credibility from everyone hating its enemies – Brexit, the nationalist right, etc – and some more credibility by being halfway-competent at its economic mission. Nobody will secede from anywhere.”

    …goodness, you are thinking with your feels, aren’t you.

    The actual separation of the United Kingdom from the European Union goes through on default (i.e. no one relevant could bear to actually sit down like adults and negotiate better) terms on schedule, plus or minus one year: 98%.

    [because the other 2% of probability mass is concentrated around “Remainers hijack parliament procedurally and negotiate terms to be a satrapy for Brussels in return for material support to shove this down the rest of the UK’s throat, and Brussels collectively has had so much vodka that they go for it”, and yes, to state the question is to answer it, isn’t it]

    The transition back to unfettered English sovereignty is much rougher than the brexiteers claimed it would be and much better than the remoaners hoped for: 100%. #oneminusepsilonistooaprobability

    More than half of the voting UK population concludes that Brexit did not make the world end and listening to those who cannot shut up about it having made the world end is not something they want to do anymore: 80%

    That more-than-half does not include working electoral majorities of Scotland and Northern Ireland: 90%.

    [Note ‘English’ in one of the sentences above.]

    Scotland votes Leave in a referendum within the prediction timeframe: 30%
    Northern Ireland votes Leave in a referendum within the prediction timeframe: 50%

    [because Northern Ireland has the Rest of Ireland as a going concern that they can join up with, Scotland for good reason thinks that life as a startup independent nation is as scary as any startup, but both of them will desperately want their mommy^H^H^H^H^HEuropean Union membership back.]

    The European Union’s financial apparatus comes up with a better paradigm than “everyone will have German discipline and work ethic and German ideas of austerity to pay back debts owed to German banks because shut up” and the peripheral nations do not therefore succumb to waves of economic-sovereignty nationalists winning elections on a platform of No More Brussels: 10%

    The better paradigm is not the original paradigm with Germany search-and-replaced by France, with the same effects but Germany joining the exodus: 5%

    Something *called* the European Union with at least one of Germany or France in it still exists at the end of the prediction timeframe: 95%

    One of the nations not in the EU now decides it wants to buy a ticket for the Greek experience and applies to join up: 1%.

    Donald Trump weathers 2019 as well as he did 2018, and the first half of 2020 as well as he did 2019, and therefore follows the modal pattern of winning a second term as president: 90%

    The same people who keep screaming that soon the space aliens will produce actionable evidence for impeachment, (no not those space aliens, the other ones that aren’t colluding with Russia racistly) and then Trump will be gone, will continue to do as well as they have been doing so far, every month for the next five years: 90%

    The Mueller investigation grinds on for all that time, producing “we interrogated you for fifty hours until your coffee-deprived brain produced an utterance that can be claimed to be lying to the FBI” convictions at sporadic intervals: 40%

    The Mueller investigation fails to have space aliens drop impeachment-worthy evidence from the sky and runs out of credibility, then mandate, then funding: 40%

    Trump decides to do something *else* about the Mueller investigation, because it’s funny and/or feels good: 20%

    The Raymondian school of thought on Donald Trump [ citation: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=7767 ] gains and keeps the largest mindshare among Republican and Republican-curious voters: 80%. Reserve 20% for random facepalm induction from this President. (:

    SpaceX sends the first colonization cargo mission to Mars on schedule in 2022: 70%.
    With less than two years slippage: 20%
    *Before* 2022: 10% (orbital mechanics says probably not)

    NASA gets there first with the SLS or some other in-house system: 0% #zeroplusepsilonistooaprobability

    No confidence intervals, but probabilities at least.

    • markus says:

      I rate your 1 percent chance of at least one country applying for EU membership before 2023 as kind of goofy. Are you sure that you actually have thougth through this? My impression from the rest of your text is that you migth have a significant political bias here.

      As of now, the EU have five countries in the formal candidate country process (Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and Turkey). Bosnia applied 2016, but hasn´t been granted status as a candidate country yet. Kosovo had it´s stability and association agreement enter into force in 2016 and migth very well hand in a membership application during 2018 (at least that is my understanding, mainly based on the fact that the deputy prime minister said so less than two months ago.)

      Would you be interested in betting? I can offer odds ten times better than you suggested and I am open for bets of any amount. If you are, please answer fast (since I have this unpleasant anxiety of Kosovo handing in their membership application before we can settle the terms of the bet and deposit our money).

      • Michael Handy says:

        1%?!

        I am also interested in this sudden financial opportunity and wish to subscribe to Markus’s investment prospectus.

    • Simon says:

      I would like to bet on

      > The actual separation of the United Kingdom from the European Union goes through on default (i.e. no one relevant could bear to actually sit down like adults and negotiate better) terms on schedule, plus or minus one year: 98%.

      With 4-1 odds, with closing date one year from now (or if they go through on default before).

      > Donald Trump […] therefore follows the modal pattern of winning a second term as president: 90%

      With 1-1 odds. Closing date 2020 elections (or if he drops out before).

      I bet $100 on Trump losing with a SSC reader and paid out, if you want proof I can send you the comment.

      • pontifex says:

        Defining exactly what “actual separation” means could be the tricky part. I expect some sort of extremely messy compromise, seeing as how Britain wants to continue to be able to export goods to their biggest export markets.

    • VivaLaPanda says:

      I’d be willing to bet against the 1% chance of a country applying for EU membership. I’d pretty confidently put it towards 5%

    • Nornagest says:

      SpaceX sends the first colonization cargo mission to Mars on schedule in 2022: 70%.

      I’d bet against this at steep odds, unless you have some kind of insider knowledge you’d like to share with the class. SpaceX is very cool but it’s got a chronic issue with schedule slip.

      • Caustic Undertow says:

        As do most space programs these days. Commercial Crew and SLS are all chronic rightward NET sliders.

        Even the most optimistic and enthusiastic fans of SpaceX (not to mention, in all likelihood, their employees and even the self-admitted “aspirational” owner himself) understand that dates for their developments have been moving backwards and are likely to continue to do so.

        Looking at the text of the quoted post, though, I wonder if ahd means that they have a scheduled date for a launch set in 2022 (perhaps in the same way they have “scheduled” commercial crew) rather than an actual launch, especially given the pessimism about delay immediately following.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Eh, there’s lot of things that qualify as “colonization cargo mission.” If it has to be on a BFR, I’d say lower than 60%. If a FH launches a bunch of equipment, higher than 80%.

        • John Schilling says:

          What’s the equipment going to be?

          SpaceX isn’t developing anything that would be remotely useful as cargo for a Mars colony mission. Very few people are, and none of them are doing serious work on the sort of timescale SpaceX is talking about. There’s also the distinct shortage of a lander, now that Red Dragon is out. Qualifying BFR for Mars entry, descent, and landing by 2022 is going to be a very tall order.

          SpaceX could use a Falcon Heavy to launch capsules full of MREs to Mars in 2022, with maybe a 50-50 chance of their landing intact. This would be slightly more relevant to Mars colonization than launching a Tesla Roadster and saying that when the Mars colonists figure out how to get it down, they’ll have something to drive around on Mars. Basically, a publicity stunt, but this time costing them a proven Falcon Heavy that could have carried a useful payload and/or been sold for profit.

          They are in no position to be planning a useful Mars cargo mission in 2022, for lack of cargo.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Bleah, I’d forgotten about the Dragon being out.

            The essential equipment to land, IMO, would be some prototype of in-situ resource production. Not necessarily for it to work on the first try, but for them to know how well it works in reality.

  11. b_jonas says:

    > 2. [self-driving car for public] in at least five of ten largest US cities: 30%

    Could you tell in advance what these ten cities are? There’s more than one way to define what counts as a city, so a precise list in advance will allow a more objective evaluation of this prediction.

    > 3. At least 5% of truck drivers have been replaced by self-driving trucks: 10%

    Among trucks in the United States?

    > The European Union will not collapse.

    Would you care to predict the probability that all ex-Yugoslav countries and Albania will still be joined, candidates for joining, or at least potential candidates? I’m asking because in my mind this measures well that the union is still considered a desirable state, not just conserved by inertia.

    > Nobody will secede from anywhere.

    Would you care to make a specific prediction about Catalonia?

    > 1. Trump wins 2020: 20%
    > 1. Sanders wins 2020: 10%

    Wins the presidential election, or wins the Party primaries?

    > Think business travelers staying at the Hilton and riding taxis, vs. low-prospect twenty-somethings staying at Air BnBs and taking Ubers.

    I’m still astonished at the amount of this taxi vs. Uber divide, from the view of passangers as opposed to drivers, in the U. S. Apparently the main advantage of Uber for passangers are that you can order one from your mobile phone with GPS and pay without cash. But if those distinctions are so important, then why don’t other taxi companies implement it too? Or if they do, then why is Uber still so different from a passanger’s point of view that you can name-drop it in the above description of a class divide?

    > Polygenic scores go public

    Ok, but you’re avoiding half of the interesting questions here. How much will employers look at potential employee’s genes? How much will insurance providers look at insured people’s genes?

    > space tourism […] The infrastructure for Mars and Moon landings […] space stations

    How much will the United States, Europe, China, possibly other countries participate in all that? Will anyone spend a reasonable amount of money towards eventually launching space-borne gravitational wave detectors?

    > 3. Paris Agreement still in effect, most countries generally making good-faith effort to comply: 80%
    > 4. US still nominally committed to Paris Agreement: 60%

    I would really like to hear a bit more detailed predictions about what humanity does about global warming though. In particular, how prevalent will vacuum trains be by 2023? How much of the energy will be produced by nuclear power plants, solar, wind, water etc? Any developments on fusion power?

    • simbalimsi says:

      ex-yugo or other eastern european countries will want in no matter what (unless there is WW3 or whatever). the economic difference is just too huge to pass up.

    • qvsn7 says:

      > How much of the energy will be produced by nuclear power plants, solar, wind, water etc?

      +1

      No predictions on energy? You missed the biggest story of the past 5 years (shale) and the biggest story of the next five years (shale/wind/solar?). Nothing has done, or will do, more to shape geopolitics and raise or lower standards of living for huge numbers of people. US politics? How boring! And yet, how inextricably tied to energy. Self-driving cars? Eventually. But the more important question is: what powers them?

      • Wency says:

        Highly overstated. The prices of oil and gas have swung quite a bit over the last few years, and even more drastically over the last few decades. It hasn’t impacted our standard of living all that much. Energy spending is too small a share of GDP to impact things all that much without vastly bigger changes in costs than what we have seen or are likely to see anytime soon.

        The biggest driver improving standards of living for huge numbers of people has been the development of Asia, especially China and India, and has little to do with changes in energy costs or production. This will probably be the case in the next 5 years as well.

        The biggest driver for improved standards of living in developed countries has been and will continue to be technology-driven productivity improvements. In a word: automation.

      • pontifex says:

        I think the extent to which energy shapes geopolitics is routinely overstated. In fact, it’s more the other way around. Domestic politics determines what energy sources are used, rational considerations be damned. We could have had a majority of our power come from nuclear power plants, like the French have, but there wasn’t the political will to do it. We could have had huge solar power plants in the desert states, but until recently there was no political will to do it. If we wanted to, we could squeeze a lot more power out of our rivers with hydroelectric dams (at the cost of destroying local ecosystems). Another political tradeoff. Now we have Trump giving State of the Union addresses where he talks about “clean, beautiful coal” and that will have an impact too. Even though it might make no sense really to continue using coal.

  12. gorbash says:

    I’m not getting what you mean by progressive/conservative/neoliberal.
    Is — I guess you’d say that neoliberal is Hillary Clinton wanting free trade and sane government, and progressive is Bernie Sanders wanting social justice? Or the other way around?

    • Wency says:

      If by “social justice” you mean “socialism” and not SJWism/intersectionality (which is how it’s usually interpreted today) and by “sane” you mean “status quo”, I think you basically have it.

      I feel though that while “neoliberal” describes a lot of politicians and business leaders (or at least the de facto beliefs of the corporations themselves), it doesn’t describe the beliefs of all that many people on the ground. Or at least it only describes one dimension of their beliefs, whereas “conservative” or “progressive” are much more all-encompassing.

    • Brad says:

      Hillary Clinton would be a good example of a neoliberal, at least before she started tacking left. So would Mitt Romney though.

      For progressive Bernie Sanders isn’t a great model for what I’d expect going forward. He’s too much of an old school economic leftist. If the progressive camp coalesces into something very distinct from center-left neoliberals I imagine that will have a significant radical social element as well as economic. Something more than just paid maternity leave, body cameras, and bathroom choice, agenda items many neoliberals are happy to embrace.

      • Matt M says:

        I feel like with the exception of Trump and maybe Obama (spoke like a progressive but mostly governed like a neoliberal), ALL of the major party presidential candidates have been neoliberals since like, the 90s.

        • Brad says:

          If we linearize the policy space so that it looks like:

          progressive — neoliberal — conservative

          the median voter theorem would predict exactly that.

          • Matt M says:

            I guess my overall point is that Scott seems to have a model where neoliberals must ally with one party or the other and I’m not sure that’s quite right. In most elections, they basically split. When Neoliberals are faced with George W Bush vs John Kerry, that’s basically a win-win for them, isn’t it?

          • tg56 says:

            When Neoliberals are faced with George W Bush vs John Kerry, that’s basically a win-win for them, isn’t it?

            Not as sure about that. But 2012’s Obama vs. Romney definitely felt like a win-win to me. I voted Romney in (apparently vain) attempt to push the republican party in that direction, but was pretty satisfied either way.

          • Matt M says:

            I feel like Obama is closer to progressive than John Kerry is (and than Romney is to conservative)

          • Brad says:

            When Neoliberals are faced with George W Bush vs John Kerry, that’s basically a win-win for them, isn’t it?

            Eh. When elections going back at least 20 years have been fought over the ground between center-left and center-right, people in the center-left and center-right don’t think to themselves “isn’t it so awesome that there are two centrists running”. Expectations adjust and differences seem magnified.

            It kind of reminds me of an old Chris Rock stand up bit where he jokingly speculates that white people must be happy all the time because they are white. Neoliberals may have it great as compared to progressives and conservatives, but that doesn’t mean they are happy with the center-opposite.

          • Matt M says:

            Brad,

            Fair and acknowledged. My main intent was simply to point out that other than Trump and maaaaaaaaybe Obama, both parties seem to run neoliberals almost exclusively.

            The media also has historically been almost entirely neoliberal… libertarians have often speculated that the attempt to frame the narrative as “There are HUGE DIFFERENCES between Obama and Romney – these guys are both on the FAR EXTREMES of civilized debate!” is essentially an elaborate conspiracy to ensure that neoliberal-style politicians maintain a monopoly on power.

    • Nornagest says:

      I’d file Bernie under progressive if I filed him under anything, but not for social justice reasons. A lot of the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party likes him because it’s fed up with the neoliberal wing, but an honest-to-god socialist doesn’t fit too well into the taxonomy — the progressives are mainly concerned with identitarian issues, and socialism is traditionally universalist. Bernie’s smart enough to downplay that, and to give people like BLM a stage when they’re a convenient stick to beat the neoliberals with, but I still think his priorities are mainly economic and class-based.

      • Michael Handy says:

        I’m not from America, but socialism has always had a bit of SJW within a universalist framework (Socialism under x characteristics, cultural determination, womens rights, etc.)

        I think there is a substantial hard-left economic and cultural universalist faction inside the Progressives that is being carried along making slightly concerned noises about rhetoric and tactics inside the identitarian movements.

        Noted sayings to identify them

        “Death to the Aristos, Long live the Republic!” (also any singing of The Red Flag, Ah! Ca ira!, or The Internationale in polite company.)
        “I’m glad we’re pulling the oppressed up, and anything that increases solidarity is good, but ultimately we’re here to dissolve identity and culture away with the class system, right?”

  13. Bugmaster says:

    AI translation will become flawless

    Oh, wow. I am absolutely willing to put money against this proposition — assuming, of course, that you can quantify “flawless” in a way we can both agree on. But if by “flawless” you mean something like, “translate between any two arbitrary languages so that a native speaker of the target language cannot spot any flaws”, then… just wow. The probability of this happening by 2023 is just staggeringly low.

    …and we will hear how language is just a formal system that can be brute-forced without understanding.

    Well, technically this is true of anything, given infinite computing power, but I know what you mean. That said, I am not opposed to the idea that machines could translate natural language in the same way that submarines can swim. I’m not super-confident in this proposition, of course, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

    On the other hand:

    AI will increasingly be able to generate images, maybe even stories, to a prompt, and everyone will agree this is totally different from real art or storytelling…

    No bet, AI can do this now, e.g. with Prisma. This is no different from real art or storytelling, but only because we’ve solved the problem from both ends: we’ve made AI smarter, and we’ve made art and storytelling much dumber. You don’t even need a neural network to generate a Jackson Pollock painting.

    Average person can hail a self-driving car in at least one US city: 80% (and other related predictions)

    I don’t think this is impossible, but my confidence level is much lower; maybe 40% tops. Seems like I should still bet money…

    Everyone will tell me I am wrong about this, but I will be right, and they will just be interpreting other things (change in labor force composition, change in disability policies, effects of outsourcing, etc) as obvious visible signs of technological unemployment…

    Setting your “I am right by definition” argument aside for now, can you explain how these things are not signs of technological unemployment ? This is not obvious to me.

    • BlindKungFuMaster says:

      I agree.

      I assume AI translation will become flawless when the AI has an accurate model of the world, i.e. translates a text into a scenario in the world model and then into the other language. And that’s basically AGI.

      Solving self-driving also doesn’t seem to be a done thing to me.

      • Bugmaster says:

        Scott didn’t even settle “good enough”, but went straight for “flawless”. No human can translate natural language flawlessly.

        On the other hand, I think that the technology to mass-produce self-driving cars may be doable by 2023 (though far from a “done thing”, as you said) — as long as the cars stick to some specific conditions, i.e. only driving on certain roads, during restricted times of day, etc. However, there’s a very long road from there to “average human can hail a self-driving cab”, and that road is paved with more red tape than Satan could shake a pitchfork at.

        • simbalimsi says:

          there is no such thing as a flawless translation. some concepts that are in one language sometimes just don’t exist in another.

          • Bugmaster says:

            Hey, I’m not the one who made the claim of flawlessness 🙂

          • Inside a semicircle of displays says:

            Of course there is such a thing as a flawless translation. This, for instance is the kind of thing that constitutes the vast majority of my work and the translation industry as a whole. It all refers to the same physical reality of how to insert a zirconium dioxide screw into bone of such-and-such quality, entirely divorced from all cultural quirks. There’s not a single concept in it that you can’t express with absolute clarity in German, French, Spanish or Russian. And if a German, French, Spanish or Russian dental surgeon reading the translation can understand and employ those procedures as easily and with the same rate of success as an American reading the original, then it’s flawless.

          • simbalimsi says:

            of course there can be flawless translation of a subset of all possible things to translate. what i meant is general flawless translation.

            otherwise there are for example flawless translation of numbers. their existence does not prove the existence of flawless translation.

          • greghb says:

            I once saw a brilliant essay dissecting this idea. I can’t find it now, but let me try to repeat the gist. (There’s a chance it’s an SSC post, but I don’t think so.)

            When we say, “some concepts exist in one language but not in another”, we might mean three different things.

            1) There is a word in one language the meaning of which requires more than one word to express in another language.

            2) There is a word in one language whose meaning is fundamentally cognitively difficult to understand for speakers of some other language.

            3) There is a word in one language whose subtle connotations due to things like language-specific etymology and historical usage make it hard to translate into another language.

            1) Is certainly true, but not very interesting. What if French had a specific word for one’s left eye? There isn’t an English word for that, but who cares. Or take the (false, iirc) story about Inuit languages having tons of words for snow: the English equivalents would probably just be something like “newly fallen sleet mixed on top of old packed powder.” This sort of thing doesn’t present a problem for translation.

            2) is a bold claim, and may just be false. I’ve never found an example that seems to live up to it. Sometimes people offer things like “schadenfreude”, but whenever you ask them to define it, they go right ahead and do so. So, “it’s happiness at the misfortune of others” — fine, what was so hard about that? I know what that means.

            3) is also widely true. In fact, it’s true even within a single language. For example, what’s the difference between “slim” and “slender”? Many words aren’t perfect substitutes, but differ in subtle ways that are hard to pin down. In a single language, we might call this poetic license. This does present a challenge for translation, maybe even the primary challenge. But once we’ve gotten here, we’ve lost a lot of what it sort of sounds like we meant by “a concept in one language is doesn’t exist in another”: it’s just that no two words have exactly the same shades of meaning, period, within or across languages.

            If (2) were a real phenomenon, it might actually make flawless translation impossible. But I think (1) or (3) merely present challenges, rather than render flawless translation impossible. Or, if you say that (1) and/or (3) introduce “flaws” by definition, then I would say, look, there are flaws, and then there are flaws. 🙂

          • Inside a semicircle of displays says:

            @greghb
            Interesting points – I’m going to try to come up with a few examples from my practice to try and clarify things a bit.

            (Well, this turned out to be a lot longer than I anticipated. tl;dr: Everything always depends on context.)

            First of all, any notion of “flawless” of course goes right out the window when you’re talking about works of literature or poetry. Those can’t be flawlessly comprehended – no flawless comprehension, no flawless translation. Douglas Hofstadter wrote a fairly nice book on that, exploring a few dozen approaches to translating a French poem and concluding that it couldn’t be done properly (and that he, Douglas Hofstadter, was very smart).

            So we’re going to talk about functional texts – text with a clear and distinct practical purpose of some sort, completely unconcerned with the emotional life of the reader or the writer.

            1) and 3) pose issues that might sometimes be easily circumvented, sometimes impossible to solve in practice.

            For example, 1) usually doesn’t matter at all, and every now and then it gives you a massive headache when you’ve got constraints on text length (eg: software translation when you’ve got a display limited to 8 characters). In that case, you usually end up with a mess of incomprehensible abbreviations all chained together. It’s still not fundamentally impossible: You could always ask the manufacturer to equip their gadget with larger displays. It’s still not going to happen in practice.

            3), as you define it, barely ever matters when it comes to functional texts, so I’m going to extend to a very broad definition of “cultural stuff”. Say, you’ve got an anti-corruption training originating from an Chicago-based company where they talk about whether it’s legit to have a prospective supplier invite you to a Cubs game and wine and dine you, next to a picture of a baseball and American flag. If you’re from a country that doesn’t do baseball, you’d assume the supplier wants to fly you across half the world, which is an entirely different situation than the original intended to convey. So you just change “Cubs game” to a local popular sports event costing about the same and forward a note to the client that they need a different stock photo. Because the text isn’t talking about the Cubs at all, but trying to demonstrate what sort of gifts are acceptable, the translation is still flawless even though you’ve changed the literal meaning.

            An impossible problem with 3) might arise if for instance Nike decides they want to model their entire company after an American Football team, set up everybody in 11-person teams, mirroring all the roles and names and functions of an actual American Football team. If you end up having to translate their training material teaching people how to be a proper Nike Quarterback and all the responsibilities that entails, it doesn’t matter whether nobody in your country knows or cares about the spirit or the mechanics of American Football and you can’t change it to something better understood. In practice, this sort of thing hasn’t happened to me, but if it sounds far-fetched – Nike is actually very insistent that their store managers are called “Coaches”.

            Concerning 2), there’s been a low-intensity civil war going on in linguistics about whether it even exists. There might be an example, which would take another 80 pages to elaborate upon and this is already a massive wall of text – but let me just say it’s also entirely possible that not a single outsider has gotten a good enough grasp of the language yet to make any proper statements about it.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @greghb, Inside a semicircle of displays:
            FWIW, I don’t think Scott meant to limit his claim only to functional texts; I certainly was including all kinds of texts in my own counter-claim. And in fiction, #2 may well be true, at least as far as we keep it between us humans. There are indeed concepts that are fundamentally difficult (though perhaps not impossible) to understand for non-native speakers, because language is closely tied in with culture, and some cultures are very different. For example, I found it nearly impossible to explain classic Russian-language science fiction to my American friends, because the differences between the cultural contexts of USA and USSR go far, far beyound sports teams. I’m not saying that accurately conveying the meaning of such texts would be impossible; but if your translation requires a 4-year history course as a prerequisite, I wouldn’t call it “flawless”.

          • greghb says:

            @Inside a semicircle of displays

            Great examples, thanks for sharing.

            No doubt poetry is extremely difficult to translate. Of course, it’s also difficult to interpret, and two speakers of the same language might read the same poem (in the same language) in two very different ways. I guess it’s an open question whether translation adds anything over and above that inherent interpretive leeway.

            I think the fact that the battlelines for (2) are drawn at Pirahã basically indicates that the claim is false. Even if something interesting is going on there, it doesn’t seem like it has to do with the differences between most languages, at any rate.

          • greghb says:

            @Bugmaster

            It’s a good point, but I’m not sure it’s fair to say that “missing cultural context” amounts to “flawed translation”.

            For example, surely we can translate the (American) Pledge of Allegiance into Spanish. That doesn’t mean that, upon reading it, a Spaniard will know anything about its historical context, the debates about it, how it evokes some mix of 1950s school children and rally-round-the-flag dogmatism, how the “under God” part is particularly controversial in some public schools, etc. In one sense, they’ll understand it. In another sense, they won’t.

            Then again, the same would be true of an Australian reading the same text even in its original language.

            So can we really say the translation was flawed? It seems off to put the burden of cultural understanding on the translation itself.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @greghb:
            I was talking about something a bit more severe than that. Imagine translating the Pledge of Allegiance to Martians, who have never heard of any concept of “God”. In order to get the full meaning of the Pledge, they’d have to extensively study the human concept of religion.

            Translating between Soviet-era Russian and modern English is probably not as bad as all that, but it’s definitely worse than your example with the Pledge.

          • Creutzer says:

            There is an extreme case of 1) that I think is basically its own case 4). There is a word in one language for a concept that in another language is really difficult to express and that you can only clumsily grasp at with phrases like “you know, that feeling that you sometimes experience when …, which is sort of, but not quite like …”. I can’t give you an example right now, but I notice that I routinely run into such cases in my everyday life especially in the context of emotions and interpersonal relations/attitudes.

            This leads to de facto untranslatability, but still on denotational grounds – it has nothing to do with style and connotation.

          • Protagoras says:

            If we’re looking for examples, I think “arete” in ancient Greek is fairly difficult to translate into modern English, or so far as I know almost any modern language. Translations to English generally alternate between two English words (“virtue” and “excellence”), both of which seem quite different in meaning from one another or from “arete,” and use lengthy introductions or footnotes to try to explain what’s going on with those words. Though I suppose someone could try to argue that “virtue” just is the right translation and that the difficulty comes from how different ancient Greek values were from ours, rather than from how different ancient Greek language was.

        • b_jonas says:

          > No human can translate natural language *flawlessly*.

          Maybe, but Babits Mihály and a few dozen of his apprentices came pretty close. Sadly almost all of them are dead now.

    • Bugmaster says:

      Er, I probably should’ve specified “a native bilingual speaker”, otherwise the AI can just copy/paste some random text and claim victory…

    • Winter Shaker says:

      I’m currently trying to learn Finnish, and I can confirm that Google Translate is not really ready for primetime.

      It does get some important distinctions right, though 🙂

      • Bugmaster says:

        Somehow, I’ve always thought of the Finns as a mild-mannered, vaguely drunken sort of people. But now, I can totally see how they’d held off both Stalin and Hitler for as long as they did. :-/

      • andrewnwest says:

        Off the top of my head, it’s because it takes 3+ months for Google to train Translate in a new language using the current techniques. It’s therefore much better at French than Finnish, or Estonian (which is related, and that I’m currently learning).

        5 year prediction: Google translate is excellent at languages I haven’t even heard of.

        • vV_Vv says:

          Off the top of my head, it’s because it takes 3+ months for Google to train Translate in a new language using the current techniques. It’s therefore much better at French than Finnish, or Estonian (which is related, and that I’m currently learning).

          It’s probably more of an issue of available training data.

    • TyphonBaalHammon says:

      « assuming, of course, that you can quantify “flawless” in a way we can both agree on. »

      Of course, one of the biggest problems of machine translation and the reason it will remain shit for all foreseeable future is that we have absolutely no good way quantify formally how “good” a translation is. The existing metrics (BLEU and its ilk) are cringe-inducingly bad, and in spite of the best efforts of very smart people around the world, all of whom have millions of dollars at their disposal, it will remain true for a looong time.

      I do not think machine translation is impossible but it’ll be way harder to get there than AI enthusiasts realise, especially monoglot americans who believe Google Translate does a satisfactory job.

      • Mark Atwood says:

        especially monoglot americans who believe Google Translate does a satisfactory job.

        Google Translate does a satisfactory job of translating just about anything *to* straightforward boring un-creative non-idiomatic English. And because of the weird nature of English and it’s happy lack of an “Academy of Language Purity”, straightforward boring un-creative non-idiomatic is generally better clearer more grammatically correct English.

        • Creutzer says:

          straightforward boring un-creative non-idiomatic is generally better clearer more grammatically correct English.

          That’s just complete nonsense. Google translate produces plenty of sentences of questionable grammaticality and its outputs are generally much harder to parse than English produced by native speakers or proficient L2 speakers precisely because they are so unidiomatic – you effectively have to do a lot of analogous and metaphorical reasoning.

      • devilbunny says:

        Google Translate does not do a flawless job, but it beats the hell out of ad hoc sign language.

    • Rachael says:

      I also agree about translation. The claim seemed so outrageous that I honestly thought the whole article was satire, and I was several paragraphs in before I realised the rest of it wasn’t.

      “Flawless” implies no one will bother with human translators (why would you, if they charge by the hour and the software is a one-off payment or even free?) So is Scott claiming that probably not even 5% of truck drivers will be made redundant by AI in 5 years, but practically 100% of translators will?

      I would also be interested in betting against (a suitably rigorous version of) that claim.

      • Rachael says:

        (And I know you said to put confidence intervals, but I don’t think I can. If your prediction came to pass, it would be on the level of “have to re-evaluate everything I thought I knew” for me. I don’t know how to put a number on that.)

      • greghb says:

        I came here to register skepticism with the same prediction. I think in general language AI is way behind vision AI right now, and that comment about flawless translation under-appreciates the reality. Caveat: I work in language AI, so maybe I’m just more familiar with all of my own day-to-day work problems.

        Anyway, here’s a prediction I’ll bet on. In 2023, no AI will be able to score >95% on an 8th-grade reading comprehension test (of difficulty comparable to the current New York State tests): 95%.

        The potential for a claim that “language is just a formal system that can be brute-forced without understanding” is interesting. I think it’s clear why such a claim might be annoying. And I’ll go out on a limb and say that, when it comes to language, actual flawless performance should be immune to this claim. A perfectly reasonable, pragmatic definition of what it means to “understand” language is to be able to perform all language-related tasks as well as humans do. There’s still wiggle room around what “language-related” tasks count as requiring “full” understanding, or “language-complete” in other words. E.g., part-of-speech tagging doesn’t seem to count. I don’t do translation specifically, but I suspect it does count. So I’ll make this “prediction”, even though I’m not sure how to score it:

        If an AI can do “flawless” translation, then I will not claim that it has brute-forced the problem and in fact “lacks true understanding”: 80%.

        At least that’ll keep me a bit more honest if I do find myself making such an argument.

      • Lasagna says:

        Yeah, after reading through these comments, I’ve got to agree. I remember when Google Translate did that surprise update. The translation it gave was massively improved, and still not even close to what a “real” translator does.

        When Scott wrote that not even 5% of truck drivers would be made redundant, I assumed he was taking into account the possibility of job-saving legislation being passed (I see that as a distinct possibility, and could definitely see Trump proposing something of the sort), while the AI was up to the task. But I guess not.

    • Rachael says:

      So, now Scott’s openly edited “flawless” to “outstanding” with a strikethrough, but also covertly edited “AI translation will become [flawless/outstanding] and we will hear how language is just a formal system that can be brute-forced without understanding” to “ If AI translation becomes [flawless/outstanding], we will hear how language is just a formal system that can be brute-forced without understanding”.
      Luckily we have bugmaster’s top-level comment keeping a record of the original.

      • greghb says:

        To be fair, I think changing it to an if-then statement clarifies his meaning entirely. It was odd, after all, that he said “AI translation will become flawless” and didn’t include that as one of his predictions. But now it seems like he just meant to give an example of the pattern where no accomplishment in AI is seen as “progress toward real AI” and is instead relegated to “brute forcing a formal system” or something like that. I think I get why that’s annoying, especially when your perspective on AI is that the little fluctuations of what is and isn’t possible today are way less important than what will eventually be possible.

        Now, I happen to think the example is a bit hyperbolic. I suspect actual flawless performance in machine translation (MT) should be immune to this style of criticisms, because the difference between “really” understanding language and “merely” using it flawlessly (as well as humans do) — it’s either no difference at all, or it’s something extremely subtle that the Chinese Room Argument is trying to tease out.

        I wouldn’t say the same of “outstanding” though… For example, last year I used Google Translate to write a long and complex email to a French cousin of mine who doesn’t speak English. I had my bilingual aunt check it over before I sent it, and she found a single idiomatic grammar mistake. I would describe this performance as “outstanding”. And, yup, sure enough, I don’t think Google Translate’s abilities are particularly interesting as anything like an omen of progress toward AGI.

        As I said earlier, I would consider flawless performance (>95% score) on a reading comprehension test to be a much bigger breakthrough. I stand by that. To give a sense of the state of the art, performance on this dataset topped out around 70% question-answering accuracy and, as far as I know, people aren’t working on it anymore, because it’s too hard. (Though, another more boring reason people aren’t working on it: the dataset is small-ish, and deep learning needs more training data.) Even so, there’s a chance this dataset is much easier than a real reading comprehension test. I prefer reading comprehension to MT because I think it’s a bit more intuitively obvious that to answer difficult reading comprehension questions, something roughly analogous to “real understanding” is required — and I’m just not familiar enough with translation to know if that same “real understanding” is actually required, although I suspect it is.

        Exercise: Someone gives you a black box that can do “flawless” MT. Use it to build a machine that can do flawless reading comprehension. (Or vice versa.) It’s time we took the term “AI complete” seriously!

        • Bugmaster says:

          I suspect actual flawless performance in machine translation (MT) should be immune to this style of criticisms

          Should be, but won’t be, given what I know of humans. I agree with Scott on that one.

          That said, from my point of view the history of AI has been a history of demystification of human minds; sort of like evolution demystified human origins. At one point, it was thought that humans possess some ineffable quantum-spiritual component in their souls, which grants them access to a powerful intuition, which in turn enables them to play Go. But it turns out that intuition can be modeled by a neural network. This does not mean that Go is just a formal system that can be brute-forced; nor does it mean that humans employ the exact same mechanism when they play Go. All it means is one more point of evidence against humans being magical creatures. Of course, I understand why people would be resistant to such ideas…

      • Bugmaster says:

        I can completely agree with the new claim that “if machine translation becomes outstanding, we will hear how language is just a formal system”. Quite a lot of semantic weight is packed into that little “if”.

  14. gorbash says:

    I’m also not sure what you mean by “countries that might have an especially good or bad half-decade”. There don’t seem to be any explanations of how this might happen, and there don’t seem to be any predictions tied to most of these countries. For example, Russia has three more years coming of Trump being in power, and that seems likely to be better for them than usual.

    • Aapje says:

      Russia has also lost so much in the past decades in a way that really can’t continue, that we can expect regression to the mean to help them.

      • neonwattagelimit says:

        Eh, Russia had a horrible run in the 90s but they did OK in the 2000s due to high energy prices. Putin would never have been able to consolidate power otherwise.

        I’m also not really sure that Trump helps Russia all that much, aside from maybe as a propaganda victory.

        I think Syria is the obvious “can’t get any worse” candidate. Maybe also Venezuela.

        • James Green says:

          I actually can’t see how Venezuela could get better before it gets worse. Possibly because I don’t see how it could get better with Maduro in charge.

          Also there is the (admittedly slim) prospect of NATO’s two biggest armies clashing in Syria soon now that Turkey has moved against the Syrian Kurds and America has moved for them.

          No matter how bad things seem they could always be worse.

          Since this is a prediction thread:
          Maduro in charge of Venezuela in 2023: 15%
          Some part of Kurdistan recognised as independent by at least 20 UN members: 5%
          Less than 1000 combat deaths in Syria any calender year of 2018 to 2022 inclusive (AKA major war over): 10%
          Less than 10,000 deaths: 90%
          Turkey still part of NATO: 80%

    • pontifex says:

      For example, Russia has three more years coming of Trump being in power, and that seems likely to be better for them than usual.

      Why would Trump being in power be better for Russia? Check out this list of post-Soviet conflicts. The Second Chechen War, War in Ingushetia, Insurgency in the North Caucasus, Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Annexation of Crimea, Russian intervention in Syria, all happened during the Obama years. Russia did pretty much whatever it wanted to do, and got a stern scolding from us, at most. And sometimes not even that.

      As far as I can tell, Trump proposes to continue the same policy of non-interference in Russian affairs, but without the periodic scoldings. And to scare the Europeans into actually spending some money on their own defense by making a lot of noise about investing less in NATO (but not actually investing less in NATO– that would be silly).

      • hyperboloid says:

        Trump proposed to realign American foreign policy in a pro Moscow direction, and form a grand alliance against the scary Muslims of the week. He kind of forgot about that, and in a mixture of laziness, and fear about the direction of the criminal investigation into his campaign, turned US policy over to Jim Mattis, and H.R. Mcmaster, who do not share his strange affection for Russia’s greatest love machine.

        • engleberg says:

          @Trump proposed to realign american foreign policy in a pro-Moscow direction . . . He kind of forgot about that . . .

          Yes, but US foreign policy is so incompetent the Russians are better off without us. And I think they get a mild kick out of D party media going ‘oooooo those RRRussians’ to cover up Hillary getting caught stealing the primary.

        • Matt M says:

          What if I told you that a “pro-Moscow direction” might, plausibly, also be a “pro-America direction”

        • pontifex says:

          Trump proposed to realign American foreign policy in a pro Moscow direction, and form a grand alliance against the scary Muslims of the week.

          Trump is not “pro-Russia.” He has a “transactional” approach to foreign policy rather than a “values-based approach.” There’s a good description here. This might be called the “Henry Kissenger approach” (remember Nixon’s deal with China?) Give something, get something. Don’t think too hard about whether the guy on the other side of the table is committed to your values or not.

          For most countries, this would just seem like normal diplomacy! It only seems abnormal to you because the US has spent the post-WWII years holding itself to a higher standard.
          But what has this really gotten us? Certainly not the love and admiration of the world. Definitely not the praise of left-wing intellectuals. It doesn’t seem to have really won hearts and minds in Russia, China, or the middle east.

          Frankly, I’m sympathetic to Trump’s point of view here. Being the world’s policeman hasn’t worked out well over the last two decades. Of course we should continue to cultivate our alliances in Europe and Asia. But our allies should bring something to the table. Something like troops and money to help with their own defense. It’s foolish for us to act as a sugar daddy for Britain, France, and Germany– rich countries that could spend on defense, but choose not to, because they’d rather spend the money on their welfare states.

          I’d also like to repeat that this meme that the Democrats have been tireless crusaders against Russia is a very recent one. Certainly Obama’s actions (as opposed to his words) showed that he did not much care what Russia did in eastern Europe. He was more interested in the “pivot to asia” (remember that?) After Russia invaded Georgia, the Clintons were more interested in getting the Russians to press a “reset button” than in getting them to give up their ill-gotten territory.

          • Matt M says:

            As recently as 2012, Obama and the Democrats were mocking Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney for talking tough on Russia, complete with phrases such as, “Doesn’t this guy realize the cold war is over???”

  15. enye-word says:

    How much do your predictions about designer babies affect your personal reproductive plans?

  16. Bugmaster says:

    1. Widely accepted paper claims a polygenic score predicting over 25% of human intelligence: 70%

    Well, that depends, does the paper’s claim have to actually be accurate ? Will this paper be successfully replicated ? If not, then you might as well jack up your probability to 100%. But if what you really mean is, “practical technology for predicting intelligence based solely on your genome is developed by 2023”, then, once again, your confidence level is way too high. I’m not as certain about height, but I still wouldn’t put it at 70%.

    • Anon. says:

      We’re already at 10% for intelligence. It was 1% 2 years ago. 25% is within very easy reach as samples get larger.

      For height it already happened last year: Lello et al. hit 40%.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Does anyone know why this isn’t available for the average person to plug their 23andMe scores into yet? Is the algorithm public?

        • Random Poster says:

          I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. I’d imagine that if you feed your data from 23andMe to SNPedia, your results will include the known genes affecting IQ and height. What algorithm are you referring to?

        • dumbmatter says:

          You can do it at https://dna.land/ but you may find the results underwhelming https://medium.com/@dl1dl1/can-we-predict-intelligence-from-genetic-data-9ab5e5b57d41

          What we found was quite striking. Most individuals received a score of around zero. This means that for most people, these SNPs did not influence their intelligence in any particular direction! In fact, no individual receives a difference of more than 5 IQ points! For those of you who got a negative score — this doesn’t mean you are not intelligent. Case in point: Dr. Yaniv Erlich, accomplished geneticist, Columbia University Professor, and creator of DNA.Land, has a negative score

          • Douglas Knight says:

            That’s not what Scott and Democritus are talking about. Of course looking at 52 loci is worthless. It may be the best algorithm in the literature, but it is not the best algorithm which is the literature asserts to exist. Do the people at DNA.Land understand this? Probably not, but they probably wouldn’t do anything differently if they did.

          • dumbmatter says:

            It doesn’t say 52 in total. Just that it’s 52 new ones in addition to previously known ones. And if you read the paper itself, even it does not make great claims about the ability to predict IQ from SNPs currently. I am not aware of any paper claiming a better or more dramatic result, but I would be interested if you could link me one.

  17. jes5199 says:

    80% : the practice of “confidence intervals” for informal predictions becomes outré, as the LessestWrong movement’s ideological consensus preaches that only three qualitatively distinct predictive modalities exist: (A) I think so; (B) I think not; (C) I think it could go either way.
    75%: Assigning numerical odds for qualitative events is declared to be a fallacy, and is given a catchy name
    60%: The fallacy is named after this blog
    90%: The abbreviation “AI” takes on the same valence as the prefix “cyber”
    100%: AirBnBs and Ubers are posh, while hotels and taxis are for the poor. (This is already true)

  18. Michael Handy says:

    One nitpick on the White male celibate pope. While in most places in the west Pope Francis would be considered white, in the US aren’t people from Argentina generally though of as Hispanic?

    • BlindKungFuMaster says:

      The Pope is ethnically Italian.

    • Fluffy Buffalo says:

      Look at the dude. If you can’t call him “white”, that label is broken beyond repair.

      I actually had a different nitpick. While “male” and “celibate” are still seen as formal requirements, there has been talk about having a black pope for a long time. Seeing how the Catholic church is a lot more vibrant in Africa than in Europe, that would kind of make sense, but it would mark a shift in the orientation of the church, even stronger than that triggered by choosing a pope from South America.

      • azhdahak says:

        Who was the African guy who was talked about as a serious contender and everyone sort of decided he was too conservative?

        • Evan Þ says:

          Robert Cardinal Sarah, who also gets bonus points for having a name that sounds like we’re getting the First Female Pope!!!!!?

      • Nick says:

        I don’t think it’s too likely next election, but next twenty or thirty years? A lot more likely. Turkson was discussed by the media as a candidate last election, but I don’t know how seriously or what share he received during the voting.

        • AlphaGamma says:

          I am wondering how much of an issue Turkson’s birth name being Peter was at that specific time given prophecies etc.

      • jonmarcus says:

        Yeah, the assumption that a pope must be white is at least odd. And there’s an underlying implication that supposing a pope to be black is unreasonable/foolish as supposing him to be lesbian. That goes beyond odd and veers towards offensive.

        My guess is Scott’s speaking about Francis, and assuming he’ll still be pope five years from now. Which is more likely than not, but hardly certain.

      • SamChevre says:

        Yes–and the most conservative factions within the church would be very happy with Cardinal Sarah (from Guinea) as pope.

      • James Green says:

        Technically East Asian people have white skin and Melanesians have black skin, but who calls them white or black respectively? Race colour labels are already pretty damn weird (and I would say broken).

      • vV_Vv says:

        There is no requirement, either formal or informal, for the pope to be white.

    • Deiseach says:

      in the US aren’t people from Argentina generally though of as Hispanic?

      US Racial Categories Georg is an outlier and should not have been counted 🙂

    • Brad says:

      In the US, at least in official and semi-official contexts, white and Hispanic are considered orthogonal. White is one of five races: 1) American Indian or Alaska Native, 2) Asian, 3) Black or African American, 4) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and 5) White. While Hispanic is one of two ethnicities: 1) Hispanic or Latino and 2) Not Hispanic or Latino.

      In terms of the general populous it is even more a mess, with no consensus either among Hispanics or among non-Hispanics as to how that category relates to white, and black for that matter.

      • Wency says:

        This is technically correct.

        The closest thing to a consensus in common parlance between regular people not conducting a government survey or using words like “intersectionality” is that Hispanic = mestizo. Or at least that’s the central example of a Hispanic that most people associate with the term.

        When I called to report a crime to my city’s PD, they asked me if the perp looked white, black, or Hispanic. We all knew that Hispanic = mestizo, but most people wouldn’t understand the word “mestizo”. So what choice do you have but to say “The guy looked Hispanic”?

        Mestizos are of course a large share of the population but are confusingly categorized mostly as white Hispanics by the government. There doesn’t seem to be any way, using official government terminology, to describe mestizos. So you have to default to “Hispanic”.

        For purposes of politics in the U.S., it is optimal for your future success to categorize your race as anything but non-Hispanic white or Asian, if you can get away with it without being viewed as a Rachel Dolezal. So if no one in your family speaks Spanish but you were born in Spain to English parents, it might be worth taking a shot at calling yourself “Hispanic”. Hence you have a lot of “non-central” examples of Hispanics that insist on that designation.

        • Brad says:

          This is rather simplistic, when not outright wrong, and only from the point of view of non-Hispanics, particularly unsophisticated non-Hispanics. There are plenty of lily white Spanish speaking people living in the US that either were themselves or have parents that were born in the Caribbean, Central, or South America that think of themselves as Hispanic and White and definitely not mestizo. And not just because they aspire to be politicians or to manipulate affirmative action programs. Likewise there are Spanish speaking people that have no Amerindian ancestry to speak of, just African and European, that look similar to African-American but when it comes to culture are as Hispanic as anyone else. It’s entirely reasonable for them to so identify without the need for conspiracy theories about getting into medical school.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            My favorite example of white Mexican is Bernardo O’Higgins. 🙂

          • hyperboloid says:

            *throws empanada in indignant rage*

            @Le Maistre Chat
            Your admiration for the legacy of el libertador de la patria flaca is appreciated, but I’d like to remind you that O’Higgins was Chilean, not Mexican. Unless of course your comment is a joke about the common American notion that all Spanish speakers are Mexicans.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @hyperboloid: that’s the joke, yes. Hispanic diversity is… under-noticed.
            (Even just Mexico is diverse. I have one Mexican-American grand-grandparent who was white, and Ive been to parts of Mexico where practically 100% of the citizens were dark-skinned mestizo.)

        • hyperboloid says:

          @Wency

          For purposes of politics in the U.S., it is optimal for your future success to categorize your race as anything but non-Hispanic white or Asian

          I’ve never applied to medical school, so I can’t comment on admission practices. But I’ve never been siting in a job interview thinking “you know what, this would be a lot easier if I looked like George Lopez”.

          • Matt M says:

            At the interview stage, no. That stuff matters at the application stage.

            I have absolutely been in rooms with hiring managers where “Let’s give the last interview slot to a diversity candidate” has been said, and everyone nodded in assent as if this was a great idea.

      • Michael Handy says:

        Jesus, those are some…limited…categories.

    • quaelegit says:

      Argentina had a lot of European immigration at roughly the same time as the US. I don’t know the details but Wikipedia’s article on the Demographics of Argentina puts the population at less than 10% indigenous or mestizo (and more poking around reveals the Afro-Argentinian population is less than 1%). Very roughly, it seems like demographically Argentina more resembles Canada than Mexico*.

      Of course, ancestral origin is only part of what plays into race and ethnicity. A lot of the other elements are politics and culture related, and that makes it even weirder to try and apply the U.S. frame of “white” to what Catholics in general (or the Vatican/Cardinals/sorry I’m probably messing up who the important people are in deciding the pope) think about a Pope from Argentina who parents or grandparents were born in Italy.

      *Although Mexico is also “whiter” than most Americans probably think.

    • hyperboloid says:

      US aren’t people from Argentina generally though of as Hispanic?

      I have to admit that I find this line of thinking utterly bizarre. Whiteness can be a squishy concept, but I take to mean “of biologically European descent “. Given that Spain is a western European country, how can Hispanic and white be mutually exclusive categories? It is true that thanks to the Spanish colonization of the new world many people of Hispanic cultural heritage are to some extent of Amerindian descent, but it would be very odd to say the least to hold that those citizens of Latin America who are of purely European ancestry, a category that includes the vast majority of the population of Francis’s native Argentina, are somehow non white by association.

      After the shooting of Travon Martin I repeatedly heard right wing types on Fox news declare that George Zimmerman was not white (and I suppose by implication reducing the shooting to an irrelevant case of minority on minority violence ) on account of his mother being from Peru.

      My mother is Chilean, am I white? I mean I feel pretty white, I have all the symptoms of being white; I can’t dance, I’ve never had trouble hailing a cab, I spend an inordinate amount of money at whole foods. Is Sean Hannity trying to vote me off of honkey island? Seriously, I’m getting paranoid that I’m going to have spend the next couple of years with Andy Garcia, and Geraldo hiding out from ICE in Al Capone’s vault!

      Joking aside, in the North American conception of race whiteness is an incredibly fragile thing. In the US where racial identity divided those whose human rights were conditional on acknowledging their own subjugation to another “superior” race, form those who held the privileges of citizenship in their own right, defending the racial barrier between the master and the slave was of great importance. As a consequence in much of the south laws were passed against miscegenation, and the so called “one drop rule” was enforced, permanently deeming any person with any degree of African ancestry as a subjugated second class citizen.

      As the US expanded westward and came into contact with the peoples of the Spanish empire, and it’s successor states, leaders in Washington did not know what to make of their new neighbors, a Christian people of predominantly European culture, who nevertheless carried the visible mark of their Indian heritage. John C. Calhoun, at first an enthusiastic imperialist aiming to seize much of Mexico as virgin territory to expand the southern slave economy, changed his views radically when he came to understand the nature of the Mexican population.

      {we have never} incorporated into the Union any but the Caucasian race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the first departure of the kind; for more than half of its population are pure Indians, and by far the larger portion of the residue mixed blood. I protest against the incorporation of such a people. Ours is the Government of the white man. The great misfortune of what was formerly Spanish America, is to be traced to the fatal error of placing the colored race on an equality with the white. That error destroyed the social arrangement which formed the basis of their society. This error we have wholly escaped; the Brazilians, formerly a province of Portugal, have escaped also, to a considerable extent, and they and we are the only people of this continent who have made revolutions without anarchy. And yet, with this example before them, and our uniform practice, there are those among us who talk about erecting these Mexicans into territorial Governments, and placing them on an equality with the people of these States. I utterly protest against the project.

      I realize that many North Americans still hold the view that Latin America is Injun country, in need of our benevolent civilizing violence. Nevertheless I remain surprised by how many try to racialize the distinction between north and south, even in the face of absurdities like deeming Argentines non white.

      • Matt M says:

        Common usage of “hispanic” in America is, essentially “traces lineage to a western hemisphere country where Spanish is the dominant language”

        Basically if you or your parents spoke Spanish, and didn’t recently come from Spain itself, you’re Hispanic.

      • quanta413 says:

        I think most people in the U.S. would classify paler Argentinians as white and more olive skinned Argentinians as Hispanic (yes even though these are orthogonal categories). But most people in the U.S. probably haven’t met many Argentinians. So they probably assume they look like typical Mexican immigrants (who themselves are probably less European than average for Mexico).

        What’s interesting is that Argentinians as a group are genetically significantly less European than the average non-hispanic whites in the U.S. See this post by Razib Khan; compare to U.S. whites here. I would guess that even Argentinians that look like they could be Germans (to an American at least), have more non-European ancestry on average than non-hispanic white U.S. people.

        Skin color and culture aren’t always accurate indicators of genetics even though they’re correlated. Latin America for obvious reasons tends to be more complicated from the point of view of describing the current populations appearance in terms of ancestral populations.

        Joking aside, in the North American conception of race whiteness is an incredibly fragile thing.

        In the past and in some states maybe. In the places I’m familiar with, it’s a pretty lazy category. I look white and most people count me as white even when they know I’m not of pure European extraction.

  19. Bugmaster says:

    If you disagree, make your own predictions with confidence levels.

    …Aaaaaand that will teach me to read the article to the end before posting. Fine, here you go (all those predictions implicitly include the words “by 2023”):

    1). Flawless machine translation exists and is commonplace, where “flawless” means something like, “the AI translates a reasonably large text from A to B, but no human bilingual A/B speakers can reliably identify which language the text originated in”: 0.1%. Oh, and no prizes for translating some kind of gibberish that no human could comprehend in any language.

    2). Average person can hail a self-driving car in at least one US city; where “city” means something at least the size of the average state capital, and “hail” means “whatever people do today when they want to hail a cab”. Basically, I’m not trying to weasel out of the bet by saying “ah-ha, there are no self-driving cabs in Ruralville, Nowheresota so I win”; but neither do I want to lose the bet just because there’s a self-driving bus that drives from the Google campus to the Apple campus sometimes. Anyway, I’d put this one at about 10%.

    3). Self-driving trucks and/or buses exist, and while they are not commonplace, they are no longer treated as a total novelty: 40%.

    4). The technology to reliably, and correctly, predict an average person’s IQ score based solely on one’s genome exists: 1%…

    5). …And is commonly deployed, so that middle-class people can take advantage of it: 40% (given that it exists in the first place).

    • BlindKungFuMaster says:

      What does “reliably, and correctly, predict” mean?

      • Bugmaster says:

        Good question, but really, I’m not sure what Scott meant with his original prediction, either. I’d like to say something Bayesian probabilities or P-values, but I just realized that IQ tests themselves are probably not very reliable; so reliably predicting them based on the genome may not even be a coherent proposition. What do you think ?

        • BlindKungFuMaster says:

          IQ tests do correlate pretty highly over time as far as I know.

          But I think narrow sense heritability of IQ is only .5, so if that doesn’t count as reliable and correct prediction, you are doing pretty well with your 1% prediction.

          When it comes to embryo selection the best way to quantify the technological progress is probably the average number of IQ points gained. (Which of course includes more than just the quality of the polygenic predictor.)

        • Anon. says:

          IQ tests have a test-retest correlation of something like .95, they’re quite reliable.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Most studies put IQ test-retest correlation at 0.8-0.9. Some as low as 0.7. I have not seen any as high as 0.95.

          There is a wide range of (narrow sense) heritabilities published for adult IQ. 0.5 is at the lower edge. More typical is 0.7.

    • Inside a semicircle of displays says:

      I think that “machine translation” is far too vague a term to make a sweeping prediction: What sort of material is it supposed to translate?
      Boilerplate terms and conditions? Joyce and Hemingway?
      Technical material? What sort of material – the Microsoft Support pages or manuals for mobile aircraft assembly platforms that are pretty much custom-built not just for the aircraft, but the layout of the specific plant they’re deployed in?

      Boilerplate text and Microsoft Support pages, 95%, because even the tools I’m using now basically just tear through those, with zero requirement for fancy AI and (current AI-related buzzword), just fairly old-fashioned database magic. With the application of a bit of buzzword to those databases, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t entirely automated very soon. (Thank god, it’s the most boring work you can imagine).

      All of that reminds me of an older SSC post where AI researchers thought that AI research would be the very last thing to get taken over by AI, even after mathematics and all other sorts of exceptionally complex mental tasks. Scott advanced the idea that AI researchers, being familiar with every task required to “do AI research”, just weren’t familiar enough with any of the other professions to properly gauge all the intricate details an AI would need to take over.
      That’s the feeling I get every time people talk about how translation is going to get taken over by machines within 5 years.

      • Deiseach says:

        I imagine AI translation from English into Ruritanian of the nature of “the party of the first part agrees to pay the party of the second part” can be boiled down to flawless (once the English and Ruritarian legal systems agree if this agreement is a contract or not under their particular legal set-up, etc etc etc) but I think there will still be scope for misunderstandings along the line of a story I read years back about sometime in the 60s or 70s where a translator literally translated a term from (I think) German about a proposed law or bill into Russian as “The Organic Act”, and all the Eastern European members at the UN or wherever it was suddenly sat up and started asking a lot of questions to elicit more mentions of the Organic Act and who were the parties agreeing to the Organic Act and what were they going to do.

        Turns out this was a slang term in Russian for “having sex” and the Russian-speaking or understanding set couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a bit of fun with clueless Westerners.

        • Inside a semicircle of displays says:

          Well, with legal translations and such you’ve got an important distinction: If you need a faithful rendition of the content in Ruritanian, you hire a translator. If you need a binding contract under Ruritanian law, you hire a lawyer.

          You can have a flawless translation that’s largely or entirely ineffective in the Ruritanian legal system – most of the boilerplate terms and condition are, according to my lawyer friends.

          (The most recent serious translation error I know of is the story of the freighter Thor Liberty, bound for South Korea with a few dozen Patriot anti-air missiles on board. On layover in Finland, it turned out the Finnish version of the freight documents declared a load of fireworks and minor international issues ensued.)

          • Deiseach says:

            If you need a binding contract under Ruritanian law, you hire a lawyer.

            Which is what I meant by “once the English and Ruritarian legal systems both agree this document is indeed a contract” 🙂

            I think you can get good translation of the words, but the meaning is a different matter. For instance, do you translate something that in one language is “right” as “the direction opposite to left” or as “correct” in another language? If AI can figure that out, then great – but it will probably still be easier to translate “one gross of self-sealing stembolts” from English to Ruritanian than “my love is like a red, red rose”.

          • Inside a semicircle of displays says:

            Ah, they’re already good enough to understand these simple context-based variations in meaning. But even minor differences in the exact wording of a phrase will easily throw them off course. Consider the following simple phrase, which I’ve fed into DeepL, the Current Buzzword Going To Replace Me Within Five Years:

            Using a torque wrench, fasten the right bolt first, followed by the middle bolt.

            Ziehen Sie mit einem Drehmomentschlüssel zuerst die rechte Schraube und dann die mittlere Schraube an.

            The German translation here indicates that you need to tighten those right and middle bolts that have already been placed.

            Use a torque wrench to fasten the right bolt, followed by the middle bolt.

            Verwenden Sie einen Drehmomentschlüssel, um die rechte Schraube zu befestigen, gefolgt von der mittleren Schraube.

            The German translation here indicates that you need to both place and tighten the bolts.

            Why? Nobody knows.

            It doesn’t matter though, since it’s talking about the wrong sort of fastener in the first place. It’s of course a Gewindebolzen, not a Schraube, which you can clearly see on the accompanying technical drawing.

          • Berna says:

            @Deiseach I’m a software translator, and problems like distinguishing the meaning of ‘right’ do crop up quite often, and due to the lack of context we have when translating, we human translators don’t always get them right either.

          • Bugmaster says:

            Well, if we did have one of those godlike uber-powerful AIs that are surely coming Any Day Now ™, then it should be able to translate the meaning of the text; this is what I’d call “flawless”. That is, if you gave the translated text to a group of humans, all of whom speak different languages, then they would all agree on the meaning of the text (er, assuming they had a language in common, I guess). This is currently impossible to achieve with human translators, but the AI’s got to be better, right ?

            I don’t personally believe that the above is possible, but that’s what I understand the Rationalist position to be. After all, they claim that the AI could mind-control people into doing whatever it wants, just by talking to them; this would not be possible if the AI could not adequately express what it wants in everyone’s native language.

        • AlphaGamma says:

          An ongoing issue with the EU is that all its official languages have equal status, and no translation (including the original) of a law or other document has precedence over any other- all are equally authentic.

          Occasionally they are forced to admit that there has been an error in translation, like when the German version of a law stated that sweet cherries were liable to customs duty, while all other versions stated that it was sour cherries. German customs officials, following the German version of the law, stopped some truckloads of sweet cherries coming in from Poland- the case went all the way to the ECJ before it was established that the German version was wrong.

          In other cases, they use one translation to resolve ambiguities in another- like the question of whether the phrase “transport of animal carcasses or waste not intended for human consumption” included the transport of animal carcasses that were intended for human consumption. Eventually the court found that in the Dutch version, the qualifier “not intended for human consumption” clearly applied to both animal carcasses and waste, whereas in other languages it was ambiguous. So the Dutch version stood.

      • b_jonas says:

        > I think that “machine translation” is far too vague a term to make a sweeping prediction: What sort of material is it supposed to translate?

        Dude, we have standards for this. There are official language competence exams that measure how much a person knows a particular language, used mostly as an input for a government worker’s wage, and as requirements for specific college and university degrees, but also as a weak signal for the job competency of a potential employee in the private sector. Some of these are intended specifically for native speakers of a specific other language, and those exams include a task of translating a written text from one language to another, and if you take such an exam, the evaluation includes the score for that particular task. This might still be subjective or unfair like everything is, but it is trying to be objective and well-defined, so the difficulty and scoring for different instances of the exam giving the same diploma is approximately the same.

        Although a machine translation system couldn’t take the exam, several example exam task sheets are available as practice, and you could pay a teacher who grades such exams to grade the output of a machine translation program.

  20. John Nerst says:

    Re: the genetics stuff.

    I’m waiting for the concept of heredity to switch from being considered right-wing to being left-wing in the coming decades, as it becomes practical to tinker with genetics. If if can’t be changed, emphasizing it reads as a defense of the economic status quo, but if it can then downplaying its importance will. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if denying the existence of *genetic privilege* (i.e. that genetics matter) will become a common accusation in 20 years.

    • ilikekittycat says:

      I will be extremely surprised if check-your-privilege-rhetoric survives on a 5-10 year timeline, much less 20.

      • VolumeWarrior says:

        For it to die, there needs to be a whippy response to it that goes viral.

        So far, it does seem that you have an advantage if you’re white vs black in certain circumstances. You’re probably less likely to be harassed by police, and probably more likely to be considered for serious merit-based jobs.

        On the flip side, there’s affirmative action that obviously benefits the top X% of minorities, and the stigma of being a white nerd virgin that’s not as obvious. Seriously – the kids who can’t get laid until their 20’s are getting the short end of some kind of stick, even if they’re successful white collar workers at age 40.

        Maybe the quip we’re looking for is to agree and amplify. Talk about how there must be a pervasive cult of Asian and Jew privilege (cite income statistics), and talk about how we need AA for whites/hispanics/blacks to keep up in this structurally oppressive economy.

      • John Nerst says:

        The phrase may not necessarily survive, but the concept.

        • vV_Vv says:

          The phrase may not necessarily survive, but the concept.

          I don’t think so.

          As the middle class jobs become less and less relevant to the economy, the differences between people in innate talent will become more and more apparent, and the claims of privilege and affirmative action efforts to “correct” these differences will become more and more absurd and annoying.

          This, plus genetic studies connecting IQ and other socially relevant traits to genes, plus the influx of third world immigrants who will to a large extent fail to integrate, will make the tabula-rasa-check-your-privilege narrative untenable.

    • Baeraad says:

      Now that would be nice. My parents should definitely not have mated, and I deserve at least a scrap of sympathy for that fact!

  21. Chalid says:

    Did anyone else feel like they were reading blocks of pretty out-there flavor text paired with mostly reasonable numerical predictions? Like on the Officialness Divide one, we have him talking about the dawn of the “Ability-To-Circumvent-Regulations Age” which would be a BFD, paired with the prediction “Percent of people in US without health insurance (outside those covered by free government programs) is higher in 2023 than 2018: 80%” which let’s just say can be achieved by many scenarios short of a major reorganization of the economy. Or he writes “people will become mildly surprised when you remind them that the Pope is white, male, and sexually inactive” which I find *really* implausible, but the closest thing to a relevant numerical prediction is “church attendance rates lower in 2023 than 2018: 90%” which is just a decades-long trend continuing.

    • b_jonas says:

      Hehe. Some commenters are complaining that Scott doesn’t give enough reasoning and background for the prediction, some are complaining that he gives too much reasoning. Nothing can satisfy us blog readers.

      • Michael Dickens says:

        It’s not that it’s too much reasoning, it’s that the reasoning appears to make much stronger claims than the numeric predictions.

    • keaswaran says:

      I had exactly that thought. Especially with the stuff about machine translation, and “Nobody will secede from anywhere” without so much as a brief mention of Catalonia.

      • Michael Handy says:

        Or Scotland, Northern Ireland etc. I wonder if, say, Vanuatu, would count.

        Of course we’ll probably get blindsided by Czech Silesia or The Free City of Lindau or The People’s Republic of North Lichtenstein or something.

    • Baeraad says:

      Yes. The predictions themselves were reasonable enough. The text preceding them, on the other hand, slipped into foaming-at-the-mouth ranting more than once.

  22. nameless1 says:

    >The European Union will not collapse. It will get some credibility from everyone hating its enemies – Brexit, the nationalist right, etc – and some more credibility by being halfway-competent at its economic mission.

    I seriously don’t understand this prediction. Do you really think that the current anti-racist, anti-ethnicist spirit can survive? Every terror attack, every neighborhood turning noisier, ever school turning white minority reduces it. At least in Europe I am 100% sure of it, AfD and so on can only go up, because there is absolutely no chance that people will be happier with the behavior with their Muslim and other immigrant background neighbors. There is no way there is less ethnic tension, only more. There is no way the nationalist right could lose votes, only gain. I mean, how would it be possible, really? To quote you, when we offer them assimilation we tell them the demon we conjured, that ate our culture, will eat yours as well, but at least it makes you richer. Of course they will reject it. Muslims can only radicalize because they see no real culture to assimilate to, just consumerism. They see the results. Who would want their kids to turn out how white kids are today? For staeters, today there is no promise that white kids will respect their parents authority, or make them grandkids, or the girls will dress as their mother tells them to dress, or they will marry guys their parents like, or really anything. Why would any parent who still has a culture of near complete control over kids give it up and assimilate into a culture where you have to set your kids free and leave it to chance what they will do? No, Muslims will rightly see our culture as decadent and only get more Muslim. And this will make a lot of white people dislike them more and more and turn nationalist right. How could it be otherwise?

    Unless I am missing something and a consumerist, atomized lifestyle under that conjured demon is really attractive. For young single people it is, but how could that be for parents?

    • sohois says:

      whilst some of your suggestions might turn out to be true, they are in the end anecdotal predictions. Think about the conditions necessary for the EU to “collapse”. That means not just some countries leaving but a lot of countries, or the departure of France or Germany. In the first scenario, we must consider that the EU’s favourability is far larger in continental europe than it ever was in the UK, reducing the chances that a plurality of countries decides to even vote on such an issue, let alone that they would all do so. You would need to condition this probability on the chances of a successful Brexit, which at the moment I can’t imagine would be very high at all. What is more, not every nationalist party is necessarily anti-EU, we have already seen quite right wing nationalists in the likes of Poland and Hungary, and they have not shown any desire to leave the union, so even if you are assuming that some nationalist governments will be elected, it does not follow that they will leave the EU via acts of government.

      So to put a number to it, in the first scenario we need a sufficient number of countries to all leave the EU such that it no longer exists, all within the next five years. I would not give this more than 2% chance of happening.

      But given what you wrote, it seems you are expecting a departure for Germany from the EU (I think we can rule out France just on timelines, because even if Macron is deposed by Front National, it would not give them enough time to leave the EU and lead to its collapse). For this to happen, the AfD would either have to gain an outright majority in the Bundestag or be able to enter into coalition with a party that is willing to consider leaving the EU. Based on elections in european nations, I would be stunned if any of the major German parties even considered entering into a coalition, let alone agreeing to make leaving the EU part of that. <1% chance. The other option is for AfD to gain an outright majority. AfD has never gone beyond 15% in the polls and only once since WW2 has a party achieved more than 50% of the vote, in 1957 when the CDU got 50.2%. So I would also mark this as extremely unlikely, with less than 1% chance. And as with France, there are also timelines to consider, since the next election is not scheduled til 2021 – though there is a chance of early elections due to Merkel's difficulty in forming a government.

      Perhaps if these predictions were being made over a 10 year period, your concerns may come to pass. But I'd say it becomes extremely difficult to be accurate with trends over 10 years and wouldn't be comfortable assigning any confidence myself.

      • nameless1 says:

        My disagreement is not with the EU not collapsing but that Brexiters / nationalist will be more hated than today.

        • sohois says:

          I see. I’m still not sure that your predictions are accurate though. For one thing, Alexander’s prediction does not mention them becoming more hated, it just states that those who hate those groups will rally round the EU. But if you are predicting that they will become less hated, I’m not sure.

          First of all speaking particularly for Brexit: UKIP, the nationalist right wing party that pushed heaviest for Brexit, has seen their support plummet since the vote. It seems that many people just used them as a protest vote and didn’t really have the kind of anti-muslim stance that you suggest.

          Looking towards nationalist parties, we’ve still not really seen any nationalist party get more than 20% of votes in western europe. There have been a great deal of terrorist attacks, of immigration issues, of white minority fears, but it has failed to push any of these parties beyond this barrier. If you look at polling for groups like AfD or Front National or PVV, they’ve all been fairly sticky, not on a constant rise, so I don’t see how additional negative immigration issues will push them on.

          Meanwhile, I don’t really see what you’re Muslim radicalization argument has to do with your predictions. Are you suggesting that conservative muslims will end up aligning with far right parties? Or are you saying that a failure of integration will lead to more and more breakdown? In either case, these seem like very long term effects that far exceed the 5 year prediction, and I’m not sure that they are actually borne out by polling data.

    • simbalimsi says:

      I am an agnostic from a muslim country who lives in the netherlands for 5 years and even though I am not a muslim I’d rather be castrated than make children and grow them here only to see my offspring become like this kids around. that I agree. but I’d not call this getting more muslim (agnostic me, atheist friend, orthodox christian other friend, most immigrants in my circle feel this way and muslims are minority). maybe getting more reserved?

      I do not agree about nationalist right votes going up. the better the economy goes the less people are disenfranchised and look for radical alternatives. so as long as they can keep the economy growing and prevent stagnation the support for nationalists shrink. although if there is another immigrant exodus that will be another story.

      the exodus brings the next topic. as an immigrant myself, i hate the fact that those immigrants came in numbers because they were the reason i had to immigrate here in the first place. now they seem to follow me. good thing is that netherlands did not take as many immigrants as say germany did, but it still seems I might need to immigrate once more.

      oh and about EU, the core of the EU (benelux + germany + france) do not have anything to gain from leaving and have a lot for staying. they (and the joining nations) made a mutual bad decision to enlarge EU so much so fast. so some countries might leave (or even get booted?) but the core will sure stay intact. in fact, i am expecting (this is more like wishful thinking) more fusing of the core together.

      • Linvega says:

        I’m genuinely curious exactly what part of ‘the kids here’ you hate so much.
        At least to me, most western kids are still just mostly trying to get decent jobs, a nice family with maybe slightly more long-term awareness of our future problems, like climate change, than the older people. All the screaming and fighting from snowflakes is just a very small & loud minority, with most people figuring ‘eh, if we just allow them to live their lives the way they want, they’ll shut up’. At least I know pretty much nobody who considers himself part of that group, and AFAIK the statistics still say it’s a pretty small portion.

        • nameless1 says:

          The western kids you see want families?

        • simbalimsi says:

          maybe i expressed myself wrong. i do not hate the kids here and i would prefer to be surrounded by their adult selves instead of the islamist ones when i am older. i just would not be happy to see my seed become “other” to me and this is not something religious or ethnic. in some ways, unrelated to religion or whatever, i believe because of the climate, there is a big difference in approach to life between people north of the alps and south of it. think of it like you are surrounded by friendly aliens who are good people, and your home planet is becoming a hell hole, but it still feels off to see your kids become the aliens.

      • nameless1 says:

        People will think you are exaggerating the danger they mean to you. But I literally know Christian Turks in Berlin who have to hide their religion from Muslim Turks. They are the parents of an agnostic friend. I haven’t look into the details, don’t know if they are in mortal danger or just more like discriminated, and why don’t they just live far from the T. community, but it he sounded serious.

        • simbalimsi says:

          the thing about religious violence is that ostracism or discrimination can turn into physical violence overnight if the necessary conditions are ripe.

          also, discrimination itself is enough motive to immigrate to some place better. in turkey now, as opposed to 20 years ago, women who wear shorts or people who drink alcohol or men who do not go to mosque on a friday are clearly discriminated against and it seems it is only going downhill.

          i am happy you understood what i felt and meant 🙂

        • Aapje says:

          @nameless1

          Gülen-supporters also had/have to fear Erdogan-supporters in The Netherlands, after the coup attempt. I dislike seeing foreign conflicts get fought out in my country, among ethnic groups.

          • simbalimsi says:

            one does not necessarily have to be gülen scum to fear erdoğan scum, being secular or just not muslim enough would also do in most cases

            liberal and democratic west (europe and usa) was more than happy to support both gülen and erdoğan as a means to a pacified dependant turkey. those days, whoever opposed them were labeled archaic authoritarian enemies of freedoms by the freedom loving liberal and democratic west. well if one plays with shit then one is left with shitty hands that’s what’s happening.

          • engleberg says:

            @simbalimsi- Jerry Pournelle agreed with you.

    • Shion Arita says:

      Well, here’s an interesting question coming from that:

      European cultures used to be like that, and that changed. How did that happen? Why did that happen? I don’t really have any good answers myself.

      • nameless1 says:

        But being the first to change is different. It is different to experiment with something where you don’t know the results and hope for the best vs. you already saw the results of others doing it and you don’t like it.

        Just one example. The whole sexual revolution in the sixties seemed so interesting! People had very high hopes. Margaret Mead / Freud sort of promised that the lack of sexual repression will make a lot of neurosis, mental illess go away. It was an experiment with high hopes.

        And… now people don’t seem as happy as they expected to be. Women complain of rape culture. Men complain of being harder and harder to find a girlfriend if you are not very attractive. Women complain the guys they hook up with do not commit to a relationship. Men complain the women they hook up with are not relationship worthy. We just don’t see sexual supply and demand finding itself in a way that most people would be happy?

        So it makes sense for other cultures to look at it and say rather nope.

        • Aapje says:

          I also think that people are taught a romantic story about how people can just learn appreciate personality, rather than looks; that men and women are biologically the same, so if they shed sexism, men and women have the same interests and needs; that if you are just yourself, someone will love your quirks and you will love theirs; etc, etc.

          So based on this, people have very high expectations of what a relationship can bring to their lives, low expectations of how much they personally have to change and/or sacrifice and a belief that the universe owes them. Then reality can only be an enormous letdown. The wiser people start to realize that the romantic story is a lie and gradually adjust their expectations (while feeling quite bad for having to reduce their expectations again and again). The less wise people assume that the romantic story is the norm for everyone else but them and feel really bad.

          I feel that my parents’ and grandparents’ generation were generally more realistic.

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            I think the problem is that people *do* want largely the same things out of a relationship, and we are overall terrible at providing those things.

            Sit down at a coffee shop. In your head, or on a laptop (its a coffee shop, people will assume you are writing your screenplay) rate passers by on their physical attractiveness, by gender. Not to you, just in general.
            The average for women will be a *lot* higher than for men, because men take awful care of their physical appearance on average.

            Simple theory: This is where the myth that men want sex more than women come from. The average man is just not bangable enough.

            Sufficiently advanced mastery of biology should fix this – What we find attractive is probably hardwired enough that making it common place wont devalue it.

            Now, for emotional intimacy. Here the myth is that women value it more than men. That is bullshit. Thanks to the patriarchy, the average man has precisely one source of emotional intimacy, and it is their significant other. That is an entirely unreasonable ask.

          • Ghatanathoah says:

            To paraphrase Chesterton, “The romantic story has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Most people find it difficult to communicate, set boundaries, and unlearn harmful intuitions about how to do relationships. So they give up, when they could do it if they worked harder, smarter, and in a more principled fashion.

            I have done all of the “unrealistic” things you have said people cannot do. I have not lowered any of my conventional romantic expectations. I have actually lived and experienced the romantic story.

            I found a woman who shares a large number of my interests and wants mostly the same things that I do. She appreciates a large number of my quirks and I appreciate hers. When there is a quirk that gets on one of our nerves nerves we don’t ask the other to stop, we just ask them to tone it down because we respect each other’s autonomy.

            We really do appreciate each other’s personality more than our looks, neither of us is conventionally attractive. Fortunately this is easy because if you really appreciate someone’s personality they automatically become sexually attractive, even if they weren’t back when they were a stranger.

            So why are there all these other dissatisfied people? Maybe we’re just weird. But I think it’s more likely that we’re just more principled and committed than the average person.

            Living a romantic story does take some serious cognitive effort. You need to set and respect boundaries and communicate. But when you pull it off, it’s just as amazing as everyone says it is.

          • Matt M says:

            Living a romantic story does take some serious cognitive effort. You need to set and respect boundaries and communicate. But when you pull it off, it’s just as amazing as everyone says it is.

            I think the problem is that people are raised with the cultural expectation that the true “romantic story” involves finding someone who you never get annoyed with. They don’t have any personality quirks you dislike – if they do, they obviously aren’t the one you were “meant to be with.”

            And of course it’s no wonder that many people who live their lives expecting to eventually find a person like this never do, and end up either miserable and alone, or with someone they secretly resent due to a strong feeling of having “settled” for less than the romantic ideal.

          • Aapje says:

            @Ghatanathoah

            You are correct that I stated my case too strongly.

            It’s not true that the romantic ideal is impossible for everyone. There is substantial overlap in interests and such. However, the existence of substantial group-level differences means that a substantial number of people cannot match up with partners with similar interests.

            Furthermore, there is quite a bit of agreement on the (un)desirability of certain traits (looks, abusiveness, selfishness, etc), with there being a far larger supply of less desirable traits than people who like them. So that means that there is a supply and demand mismatch, which either means compromising or giving up.

            Finally, the matchmaking process is at about the same level of sophistication as putting a message in a bottle and tossing it into the ocean. Either people are truly so shallow/self-deceiving that more sophisticated matchmaking is a waste of time for most people or no one bothered to make a serious attempt (clearly not the case). So if you are out of the ordinary and if there is an equally dysfunctional snowflake, then finding that person is the horror.

          • baconbits9 says:

            The average man is just not bangable enough.

            The average man has to much sex to be considered not bangable. Unless you have specific hygiene issues that take more than a good shower to fix (like dental hygiene issues, and even those can be covered up) or are wildly overweight, men can go from gross to presentable in an hour.

            The average guy walking by might be unattractive but he is not putting in effort for that moment, and women put more effort in for moments when they are not expecting to be picking up a date.

          • baconbits9 says:

            It’s not true that the romantic ideal is impossible for everyone. There is substantial overlap in interests and such. However, the existence of substantial group-level differences means that a substantial number of people cannot match up with partners with similar interests.

            The only mutual interest you need is that spending time together is pleasant. It could just be spending time together at meals to make a relationship work and then going off and doing your hobbies/job alone. Your hobbies just can’t dominate the relationship, which is where a lot of people run into trouble. You can’t play video games whenever you want if you are in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play video games a whole bunch.

          • Aapje says:

            @baconbits9

            My impression is that men and women fairly often have a diverging opinion on what activities they should do together and what amount of time they should spend together. A thing- vs more people-oriented mismatch would likely create such a mismatch.

            Furthermore, that fairly often, communication is hampered when there is a more thing- vs more people-oriented mismatch, where the one person wants to communicate on a more factual, objective level and the other on a more emotional, subjective level. The classic ‘do I look fat in this?’ is a good example. A thing-oriented person would naturally interpret it as a request for a second opinion on a factual question, but a people-oriented person would naturally interpret it a way to check whether the emotional bond is still strong. Answering the question literally merely conveys information in one mode of communication, but in the other, may send the message that the person is no longer able to look past the flaws of the person and that the emotional bonds are thus deteriorating.

            None of these mismatches doom relationships to become dystopian nightmares per se, but they violate the romantic ideal, making the upkeep of the relationship require compromise and effort. Now, there is nothing wrong with effort, but it’s not the romantic ideal of love that our culture presents.

            I fairly often see people who make their relationships last, remark that the reason is that they are willing to put in the work to make their relationship work. This suggests that this is both profoundly true, yet not taught to be profoundly true, because otherwise people would not see it as a lesson that they discovered on their own and feel they need to share.

          • onyomi says:

            Sit down at a coffee shop. In your head, or on a laptop (its a coffee shop, people will assume you are writing your screenplay) rate passers by on their physical attractiveness, by gender. Not to you, just in general.
            The average for women will be a *lot* higher than for men, because men take awful care of their physical appearance on average.

            This is not my experience in the US because US women are now extremely likely to be overweight (men are too, but seemingly not at so high a rate/have more height to spread it out over; they are also more apt to be fat+strong because gym going has become almost de rigeur for men in much of the US). Men in big US cities like NYC also do not strike me as unconscious of their appearance.

            It may be a little more true in Asia, where women tend to be very put-together looking while a higher percentage of men look like slovenly otaku, albeit not in Hong Kong and Korea, where men are very fashionable.

            Based simply on your username, are you basing this impression on Scandinavia? Cause it doesn’t seem very true in most parts of the world I’ve spent time (mostly US and Asia, not much Europe or elsewhere).

          • nameless1 says:

            @Thomas

            This is simply wrong, sorry, women care less about looks than men do: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2004/apr/22/thisweekssciencequestions.evolution

            “Personality had a much greater effect on women’s perception of good looks than men. “It’s quite remarkable how little women are influenced by physical looks. All men should pay attention to this. It’s much more important to be a valuable social partner than worry about your physical looks,” says Wilson. “

        • multiheaded says:

          Freud sort of promised that the lack of sexual repression will make a lot of neurosis, mental illess go away

          This is the exact opposite of Freud’s theses on repression. You might at least want to distinguish between him and (((Marcuse))), they don’t exactly share a Judeo-Bolshevist hivemind, you know. Sigh.

      • Wency says:

        This is the post nameless1 was alluding to:
        https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/07/25/how-the-west-was-won/

        Though Scott doesn’t touch on parental authority per se, it’s part of the broader trend of social atomization.

        I can think of two main ways that this atomization interfaces with parental authority:

        1. The rise of youth culture as distinct from adult culture. This is driven by mass media and by more years of school (which keeps kids socializing primarily with people their own age).

        2. Feminism breaking down the concept of father as head of household. And related to this, increased rates of divorce and single motherhood. All of these limit the ability of parents to maintain a united front (or some might say, chain of command). And even for kids of intact families, divorces and single mothers will impact the peer group.

  23. akarlin says:

    Good idea! Writing off the top of my head, possibly to be later expanded into a proper post if I can be bothered to:

    ECONOMICS
    * BTC at $100k: 50%
    * The world economy will not be in the midst of, or just climbing out of, a major recession: 60%
    * China, India, Vietnam, South Korea, increase their share of world GDP (PPP); Russia, Poland, Turkey remain steady; the US, EU-15, Brazil, Mexico, decline.

    SCIENCE & TECH
    * No Robust Mouse Rejuvenation: 60%
    * No superintelligence: 90%
    * Generally agreed with SSC predictions for AI and automation

    GEOPOLITICS
    * China adopts a noticeably more assertive foreign policy posture, beyond the usual squabbles in the South China Sea: 70%
    * Syrian conflict more or less frozen with Syria being de facto but not de jure partitioned / Partitioning is made formal (e.g. independent Rojava) / Damascus reestablishes unitary rule over the entire country / Syria moves to federal structure, with Rojava and possibly the Idlib/TFSA regions in the north avoiding direct rule from Damascus / Regime overthrown, probably via Libya-style American intervention: 40%/10%/10%/20%/10%
    * Donbass conflict: Still frozen / LDNR reintegrated into Ukraine under Minsk II-like terms (autonomy, no prosecutions, etc.) / LDNR reintegrated into Ukraine under Ukraine’s terms, so probably via the Operation Storm variant / LDNR or Novorossiya recognized by Russia, possibly expanded: 50%/20%/20%/10%
    * Cairo not ruled by Islamic State: 90%. (I think Egypt now is the foremost candidate for the next round of major Islamist insurgency)

    POLITICS
    * Democrat will be President in 2020: 70%
    * Majority of the following countries will be ruled by nationalists or near nationalists: Italy, Austria, the V4 nations: 70%
    * None of the major European nations – the UK, France, Germany – will be ruled by nationalists or near nationalists: 80%

    RUSSIA
    * Putin is still in charge of Russia: 60% (there are widespread expectations there’ll be a transition in the middle of his term)
    * Putin does not get overthrown in a color revolution, coup, etc.: 90%

  24. Michael Watts says:

    Republicans win Presidency in 2020: 40%
    Democrats win Presidency in 2020: 60%

    If a third party takes the presidency in 2020, will you admit to being infinitely miscalibrated?

    In the alternative, are you saying there’s a finite chance of the Republicans and the Democrats both winning the presidency in 2020?

    • g says:

      No, he’ll admit to having rounded off the numbers.

      • Michael Watts says:

        Given how frequently it’s discussed here on this blog that it’s a cardinal sin to make predictions at the 100% or 0% confidence level, because making an error at that level overwhelms the value of any other predictions you ever have or ever could make… I think Scott deserves to be called out when he goes ahead and makes a 100% confident prediction anyway.

        In order for this to be a 100% confident prediction, it has to be 0% likely that the Republicans and the Democrats both win the presidency in 2020. This is not in fact 0% likely under some definitions of “win the presidency” (if the Republicans win the normal election and a one-month civil war finishes with the Democrats victorious enough to elect their own president before 2021, did they both win?), but if that’s what Scott has in mind he should make that clear. Under the normal definition, it is in fact impossible for both parties to win the presidency in one year.

    • Deiseach says:

      I think those odds depend on (a) who the Republican candidate is and (b) who the Democratic candidate is. I don’t think Trump would win a second term, I don’t think he should go for a second term, and if he does try it will be a disaster for the Republicans.

      On the other hand, who have the Democrats got? The latest big news success for them was Nancy Pelosi’s speech, and she’s hardly one of the upcoming young contenders who will galvanise the youth vote!

      What would be really interesting to see is if the Republicans or Democrats consider running a third-party/independent as Vice President pick, but I don’t know if either party is ready to try that yet, or indeed ever. It would be a great way to signal “we’re trying to move past the same old, same old; stop being stuck in the mud; give you, the great American people, real choice and real representation” (never mind if it’s only a signal and not a real change).

      • Bugmaster says:

        I disagree; I’d say that if Trump does choose to run, his odds are winning are at least 70%. I think you may be under-appreciating the sheer power of incumbency in the American political system.

        On the other hand, I’d say that it’s a 50/50 chance whether Trump will run at all. He doesn’t seem to love the job…

    • millericksamuel says:

      I mean Electoral Fusion is a thing (although banned in many places in America) but I think that the chances of a third party winning might actually be more than that of a Republican Democrat electoral fusion. It probably in finite though.

    • Michael Handy says:

      In the alternative, are you saying there’s a finite chance of the Republicans and the Democrats both winning the presidency in 2020?

      Constitutional convention of 2019 establishes Triumvirate of Presidents to maintain political stability. Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian/Progressive candidates win. 0.0001%

  25. g says:

    Clarification requests:
    Sub-Saharan GDP growth: is that 2.5% figure annualized, or over the whole period?
    US intervention in Syrian war: do you mean (1) conditional on there being something US could intervene in, 70% chance they do, or (2) 70% chance that either there is no such thing or the US doesn’t intervene?
    Man around/on the moon: does “man” here mean “live human” or would (e.g.) women not count?

  26. apollocarmb says:

    Nobody will secede [from the EU]
    No other country currently in EU votes to leave: 50%

    That’s not really consistent.

    • Randy M says:

      Consider the time-frame, I think. Not enough time for a country to vote to secede and do so, but enough to hold the vote.

  27. publius76 says:

    By “everyone will agree that there should be… a black lesbian Pope” do you mean “everyone” in your tiny bay area circle?

    I think this post’s main failing is treating the world as that circle, and missing some major trends going in the opposite direction among most of the population. The odds of a “far-right” being in power in one of those many European countries at any time the next 5 years is closer to 90% — happy to bet on it.

    Is Berlusconi “far right”, by the way? He’s sure running as that: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS739US740&ei=NMOGWp-zGJCm_Qaxob3AAQ&q=berlusconi+muslims&oq=berlusconi+muslims&gs_l=psy-ab.3…2465.3103.0.3252.7.6.0.0.0.0.220.399.0j1j1.2.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..5.1.178…0.0.LJK3haqPlDU

    • Deiseach says:

      There may not literally be a black lesbian Pope, but everyone will agree that there should be, and people will become mildly surprised when you remind them that the Pope is white, male, and sexually inactive.

      By “everyone will agree that there should be… a black lesbian Pope” do you mean “everyone” in your tiny bay area circle?

      Oh, there’s a lot of people around who already think that, who don’t live in the Bay Area, and never lose a chance to lecture the Catholic Church on what it should be doing – mainly “become Episcopalian” i.e. get with contraception, divorce, abortion, LGBT rights, female ordination, yadda yadda yadda the laundry list of “I haven’t been in a church since I was baptised as a baby/I’m not even Christian/I’m not even any religion but I have strong opinions on what the religious should think and believe to suit my personal tastes and convenience” demands.

      As for the “mildly surprised” part, that too is unfortunately common: religious people can’t really believe those doctrines they say they believe, because they are just too stupid/weird/unpalatable to my tastes, so there must be another reason for it! Yeah, it’s all about social cohesion/group signalling/power, so when they say the pope has to be a man because Jesus only called men as His Twelve Apostles, that really means they’re all misogynists who want to maintain the patriarchy and they’re using ‘God’ as an excuse which they don’t really believe! (The amount of “this shows women were too priests and bishops back in the Early Church so the fact that there are no more female ordinations is misogyny” you see wafting about – even if they don’t follow the Catholics, why not listen to the Eastern Orthodox explaining that the term they have historically used for the wife of a priest or the mother of a bishop is the same as the term the ‘female clergy existed’ lot are trying to say means ‘the woman buried here was herself a priest/bishop and not the wife of a priest/bishop’? Oh yeah, because that would cut the legs out from under their arguments). Look at the Pope Joan legend, which got a lot of traction as anti-Catholic mockery and which some persons do seem to think really happened and really means there has been a female pope *insert eye-rolling emoji here*

      As for black popes, we’ve had African popes, whether that means North African or sub-Saharan nobody’s quite sure, but hey if North Africa counts as “black” for modern US racial categorisation, then we’ve had black popes! 😉

      • Winter Shaker says:

        when they say the pope has to be a man because Jesus only called men as His Twelve Apostles

        I’m not well-versed in Catholic philosophy, but does anyone seriously give that as the reason why the Pope has to be a man? Because that does sound like a complete non-sequitur to me. Maybe ‘being interested in becoming a disciple of Jesus’ was the same sort of thing where people self-segregate by sex in the way that people currently do for, say, ‘being interested in becoming a software engineer / plumber / electrician as opposed to a vet / admin assistant / primary school teacher’ (at least if one accepts the James Damore-ish position, which I’d expect most traditional Catholics probably do). Or maybe Jesus happened to live in a time where it would have been prohibitively difficult for an itinerant religious reformer to get taken seriously if he was seen to be hanging out with women who had run away from their family to join him.

        I mean, if the Church’s position is that there is actually some supernatural reason why having a female Pope (‘Mome‘?) wouldn’t work, or would break the universe somehow, then okay: I think they’re wrong, but since I reject the premise that their god even exists, our viewpoints are already irreconcilable long before we get to the point where I care about them having that particular implausible-to-me supernatural belief on top of the existing pile of implausible-to-me supernatural beliefs.

        But to argue on purely secular grounds that the people Jesus had available in his pool of candidate disciples, and the ones he actually picked, prove that a woman could not in principle be the head of the church – that seems like a very weak argument indeed.

        • Wency says:

          “Does anyone seriously give that as the reason?”

          It’s actually the first reason stated in the Vatican’s position on the matter of female priests (which is upstream from the prohibition of female popes):

          https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19940522_ordinatio-sacerdotalis.html

          There is no appeal to secular grounds here. Popes are not chosen as CEOs are. “Maybe we should go with an outside hire? Who says the pope has to be Catholic?”

          That short document also rejects the argument you made about female followers, though it’s plain to see in the Gospels that Jesus had key female followers who received more word-count than most of the Apostles but nonetheless were not counted among them. I thought even atheists unschooled in religion were roughly familiar with Mary Magdalene, thanks to the Da Vinci Code and such.

          Now that the Vatican has come down strongly on this issue, declaring its teaching infallible, it can’t reverse itself without losing major credibility. I’d expect the Church to splinter if female priests were ever permitted.

        • Deiseach says:

          I’m not well-versed in Catholic philosophy, but does anyone seriously give that as the reason why the Pope has to be a man?

          And here, ladeez and germs, is a prime shining plump stately example of the attitude I described: literal Catholic gives literal Catholic explanation of literal Catholic practice, non-Catholic jumps in with “but surely that cannot be the real reason?”

          Thank you and good night, Vienna!

          • Bugmaster says:

            I gotta admit, this evil atheist (i.e. yours truly) is somewhat confused, just like Winter Shaker below. The Vatican’s text seems to be saying, “we only ordain men as priests, because Jesus picked 12 men as his disciples, and we kind of followed the trend ever since”. That sounds like a pretty frivolous justification for one of the major rules of a massive organization such as the Catholic Church, so I know this can’t be right — but what’s the right answer ?

            EDIT: Just to clarify, I’m not saying “lol your internal guidelines are stupid lol”, I’m just trying to understand the Catholic/Biblical reasoning that went into this decision. I’m not converting to Catholicism any time soon, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make an attempt to understand how Catholics think and what they believe.

          • Matt M says:

            “we only ordain men as priests, because Jesus picked 12 men as his disciples, and we kind of followed the trend ever since”. That sounds like a pretty frivolous justification for one of the major rules of a massive organization such as the Catholic Church

            What the hell else is the Catholic Church supposed to base its rules on if NOT, “What Jesus did?”

          • mdet says:

            @Matt M

            Background: Attended Catholic school and Catholic mass for many years, but have fallen off.

            As I understand it, the Catholic Church bases most of its rules on Natural Law philosophy, and actually relies on the Bible much less than, say, Protestants. (May Deiseach correct me if I’m wrong.)

            I don’t grok natural law well, but I don’t think anything about it would prevent women from being ordained. So it does all depend on scripture in this case. I feel like the Biblical examples cited here are unclear enough that the Church could plausibly ordain women if they had a mind to, but they do not. (Edit: This is just my feeling and I accept that I am a Bad Catholic and not the pope, so I’m not telling any of the better Catholics here that they are wrong)

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            So far as I can tell, limiting being a priest or a pope to men is not infallible doctrine. I’m surprised that there’s blur around infallibility– I thought it was a bright line limited to a few doctrinal issues.

            http://www.uscatholic.org/blog/2011/05/infallible-teaching-womens-ordination

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m surprised that there’s blur around infallibility– I thought it was a bright line limited to a few doctrinal issues

            *hollow laughter*

            Oh, the example you quote is one of those “but if the pope didn’t use this exact precise wording in this exact precise manner and stated out loud that this was his exact precise intention, then it doesn’t count!” rules-lawyering people engage in when they’re butting heads with a teaching they don’t like, but still want to say “I am too a Real Catholic”.

            On this question, a lot of the “yeah sure why not women priests?” people, who in other instances would be (for example) “All this strict sticking to the letter of the law is so unChristian, the exact words aren’t important, what matters is the intention” are the ones arguing “No no no, it has to be the right formula or else” on this issue because they are looking for wiggle room and using hair-splitting, nit-picking,and rules-lawyering to do it in order to dance around the fact that the pope said “No way”.

            (And to be fair, there are those on the conservative side who do the exact same thing when a pope says something that they don’t like or want to obey).

            It’s settled. It’s only the “Spirit of Vatican II any day now!” crowd who are still claiming it’s not Infallible and Magisterium if the Magic Formula wasn’t followed in every jot and tittle because they’re still hoping that “no way, not not, not ever, no more discussion, I mean it” can be turned on its head to mean “well okay now I’ve looked at it in good light, sure you can do this”.

        • bean says:

          Or maybe Jesus happened to live in a time where it would have been prohibitively difficult for an itinerant religious reformer to get taken seriously if he was seen to be hanging out with women who had run away from their family to join him.

          It was prohibitively difficult, and yet he pretty much did so anyway. One of the main accusations against him was that he hung out with prostitutes. Trying to read Jesus as excessively calculating and concerned with human approval makes no sense at all.
          He certainly had female followers, and yet none of them were made apostles. I believe there’s a reason for this.

        • Winter Shaker says:

          And here, ladeez and germs, is a prime shining plump stately example of the attitude I described: literal Catholic gives literal Catholic explanation of literal Catholic practice, non-Catholic jumps in with “but surely that cannot be the real reason?”

          Okay, fair enough, I guess I did. But that seems really weird to me, given that if you are already Catholic enough to believe that the god of Catholicism actually exists, you have the option of just saying “There are god-based supernatural reasons why the Pope can’t be a woman”. Why would you instead go with a reason based on the contingency of who Jesus happened to actually pick as his disciples, when those reasons seem so much weaker?

          Surely it’s not just me? Conditional on believing in the god of Catholicism in the first place, “Supernatural reasons that we don’t need to go into because God” ought to be a much stronger argument for policy X than “Jesus happened to have acted in a manner consistent with policy X, even though we have no record of him explicitly prohibiting policy X”?

          I guess what bothers me is that the epistemologically humble position would be something like “Based purely on reading the Gospel texts, we do not know whether or not women could validly serve as Pope”. If you are a sufficiently cautious organisation, you can then append “…and we do not want to take the risk of experimenting to find out”, but to consider the matter proven on the basis of Jesus happening to have not chosen any female members of his core crew of associates seems like a real stretch if you’re trying to come up with a reason you expect any non-Catholics to find convincing.

          (Assuming that that linked document is intended to be persuasive to non-Catholics – but if it’s only intended to be convincing to people who are already Catholics, then they could just not have bothered with trying to provide a secular explanation in the first place)

          • Michael Watts says:

            Why would you instead go with a reason based on the contingency of who Jesus happened to actually pick as his disciples, when those reasons seem so much weaker?

            Presumably, the idea is that you can perceive part of the divine plan in what actually happens.

            “Supernatural reasons that we don’t need to go into” can work once, and it can work several times, but it can’t work all the time.

            but if it’s only intended to be convincing to people who are already Catholics, then they could just not have bothered with trying to provide a secular explanation in the first place

            History shows us that, if you make your arguments too weak, even people who are already Catholics may decide to stop.

          • Deiseach says:

            you have the option of just saying “There are god-based supernatural reasons why the Pope can’t be a woman”.

            Saying “This is what Jesus did” is a god-based supernatural reason, because we believe Jesus is God (Second Person of the Trinity, God made Man, True God and True Man).

            I’ve seen this kind of split in American popular thinking before, where God is General Deity Concept and Jesus is different from God (sometimes Just This Guy, sometimes some kind of vague ‘son of God means something like Zeus and Heracles’ notion). So I suppose that’s where the “but if Jesus did it, what has that to do with God?” comes from on your part.

            But like I said, for official Catholic theology, if Jesus did or did not do something, He is God and that’s a God reason. Do me a favour: pretend you take my word for it on Catholic doctrine the same way you’d take a physicist’s word about what they do with the CERN particle accelerator – if you wouldn’t ask them “yeah but I thought atoms were made of electrons, protons and neutrons, what’s this particle crap all about?” on the basis that they probably know what they mean when they’re talking about atoms, please do the same credit to someone explaining the doctrines of their belief system?

            to consider the matter proven on the basis of Jesus happening to have not chosen any female members of his core crew of associates seems like a real stretch if you’re trying to come up with a reason you expect any non-Catholics to find convincing

            Yeah, and that reasoning is why we’ve got people running around saying Jesus approved of gay marriage because He healed the Centurion’s servant and plainly, obviously the Centurion was banging* his under-age** sex slave*** so no problemo with the ol’ homo sex there!

            I don’t particularly care what non-Catholics may or may not find convincing as a reason, I only care they don’t get to say “I’m not a Catholic and never will be but I think you should run your church and arrange what you believe to suit my whims”.

            *because why else would a guy care about a sick servant if he wasn’t playing hide the salami with them? So what if the text explicitly says he was a virtuous man and well regarded even by the Jews?

            **the term used is pais which can be translated as “boy”, though how old this covers is not clear

            ** *if you argue Jefferson was raping his slave Sally Hemings and keeping her as literal sex-slave, you have to say the same about the Centurion and his slave if you want to maintain they were sleeping together – it doesn’t get to be cute consensual gay love in one case and master raping slave in another just because it suits your argument

          • SamChevre says:

            to consider the matter proven on the basis of Jesus happening to have not chosen any female members of his core crew of associates seems like a real stretch

            But that’s not what we believe. Jesus did have a substantial number of women as part of His core group of followers: we have names, and stories, and complaints by his opponents about how scandalous it was. But when He chose people for one particular job, He only chose men. And similarly with St Paul and St Peter; they relied on women (Lydia, Mary the mother of John Mark), healed women, sent greetings to women, but neither appointed them to some specific roles.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @SamChevre:
            Ok, that does make sense to me.

            Still, this is one of the things I find rather odd about major religions: so much about their core tenets has to be inferred indirectly. This specific case is not too bad, but still, one would think that Jesus would simply come out and say, “only men can be priests, here’s why”. Or even, “don’t ask me why, if you pray hard enough you’ll know”. But he never said that, and now we’ve got all those schisms…

          • Randy M says:

            If Jesus had made that rule explicit with complete clarity, there would be something else to schism over. Unless the Deity is physically manifest and deciding every issue, there’s going to be judgement calls made and potential disagreements over them.

          • Jiro says:

            If Jesus had made that rule explicit with complete clarity, there would be something else to schism over.

            There are rules that are easy to schism over, and rules that are hard to schism over. It’s true that if you take out the first category we’ll always have the second category, but that doesn’t mean that taking out the first category would have no useful effect.

            In other words, you can’t eliminate schisms by making the rules clearer, but you can certainly reduce them drastically.

          • Caustic Undertow says:

            Still, this is one of the things I find rather odd about major religions: so much about their core tenets has to be inferred indirectly. This specific case is not too bad, but still, one would think that Jesus would simply come out and say, “only men can be priests, here’s why.”

            Small note from someone who rejects lots of catholic doctrine: The Bible is actually pretty explicit about women serving in leadership roles. Of note: 1 Timothy 2:12a “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man…” Also: 1 Timothy 3:2a “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”

            The same thought is communicated (using the interchangeable term “elder” — in both cases referring to someone pastoring a church) in Titus 1:5-7.

            It’s also worth noting that there is a difference between the term “disciple” and “apostle.” The 12 were or became “apostles” and were occasionally referred to as disciples, but the word “disciple” also referred to the larger group of people closely following Jesus, including women like Mary Magdalene. See Acts 1, especially 1:15, for an example of this.

            Not hugely relevant, and Christians take it as a given that people who don’t believe will reject such teachings, but there is more support than just “Jesus chose men.”

          • Randy M says:

            @Jiro, But, this is demonstrably in the harder-to-schism category, isn’t it? It hasn’t caused a schism in 2000 years. Things that have caused major schisms in Christianity are appearances of corruption among the clergy and political entanglements, like pissing off the English King, and–well, can anyone knowledgeable explain why the Orthodox formally split from the Western church?

          • Protagoras says:

            Wasn’t the Orthodox/Catholic split just over the Catholics insisting that the Pope was the supreme bishop and Easterners not going for that?

          • Dacyn says:

            A couple of points I don’t think have been mentioned yet:

            1. The self-segregation hypothesis doesn’t make sense from the Church/Vatican’s perspective because being a disciple of Jesus is not a matter of being “interested” in being a disciple, it is a matter of being called by him to be a disciple.
            2. The Church does not take the position (common among Protestants) that God’s will is revealed only through the Bible, so a statement like “Based purely on reading the Gospel texts, we do not know whether …” would be nonsensical or irrelevant from their point of view. In fact, the Vatican’s position on the issue itself counts as part of the deposit of faith (i.e. sacred tradition).

          • Jiro says:

            But, this is demonstrably in the harder-to-schism category, isn’t it? It hasn’t caused a schism in 2000 years.

            It is if you’re only talking about literal schisms, but it isn’t if “schism” is synecdoche for “cases where many people will legitimately read it differently from how you do”. Whether any such case actually becomes a schism is basically a matter of chance.

          • theredsheep says:

            Okay, I’m Orthodox, and have been studying Byzantine history (in the sense of “reading whatever books I could get my hands on”) for a while. I am not an expert, but since you asked about the schism, the root cause was simple cultural bifurcation. The East and West separated, to the point where almost nobody in Rome could speak Greek and almost nobody in Constantinople could speak Latin. Their churches developed along different lines. And, as both churches were politically involved, they came to have competing interests over whether, say, the church in Bulgaria fell under Roman or Greek jurisdiction.

            Now, we don’t believe in a lot of the things Catholics believe, no. The filioque, purgatory, penal substitution, papal supremacy in the sense of dictatorial power, all the later ideas about Immaculate Conception–not our deal. But the root cause was Rome turning into two countries or cultures when it used to be one. The earlier schisms in the east–Nestorians, Monophysites, etc.–likewise have a strong political/cultural/ethnic flavor to them. The ostensible issues involved were fantastically abstruse, but that didn’t keep them from becoming rallying flags for the differences between Greeks and non-Greeks, Constantinopolitans and Syrians and Egyptians.

            The “schism” of 1054 was canonically invalid and might have been healed, by the by. The real death blow to reunion came in 1204 when the Fourth Crusade looted Constantinople. After that, Byzantium effectively martyred itself by refusing to submit to Rome even as a condition for vital military aid to save it from the Turks. In effect, we chose rule by Muslims over rule by Catholics.

          • JohnBuridan says:

            @Winter Shaker
            Deiseach is being needlessly aggressive and dogmatic. I think the way you frame it here is a good start for the conversation.

            The Catholic Church has developed with men serving the role of (unmarried) priests, although that’s not a universal, and certainly at times and places large numbers of priests had wives/mistresses (cf. Medieval Spain).

            Your point that Catholics are certain this is a male role, and uncertain that priesthood could be a female role is good.

            The metaphysics behind priesthood being male is not simply that the Apostles were male, it also that Catholic catechetical language incessantly reinforces the idea that priest stands in the place of Jesus at Mass and in confession. Since Catholics belief that God reveals himself as the Man Jesus, they also believe that the exercisers of Jesus’ Power should be men. It’s those two Catholic sacraments of Mass and Confession that Catholic Church sees as Male positions.

            Is that the most logically sound belief? I don’t think it is very convincing to non-Catholics, but can work for other Christians. I don’t think it’s the type of belief that can be defended without previous buy-in to the idea that Canon Law sets the rules of the Catholic Church and is worth following.

            (I think that it is possible that men are more likely to be religious if men are the religious leaders, and less likely to care about religion if women the leaders, but that is just a conjecture, one that I’m almost ashamed to make.)

      • Evan Þ says:

        Wait, you’re saying that Eastern Orthodox use the same word for “wife of a priest” as “mother of a bishop”? Why? Or do you mean two different words?

        • Deiseach says:

          Two different words.

          Man, I hate rehashing this whole argument because I think it’s stupid, it’s the whole “was a deaconess the same as a deacon in the Early Church” thing all over again, but see this for “wife of a priest” which can be literally translated “priestess” (that is, feminine version of “priest”). I’m using the Greek version here because this fight is mostly in a Western context and Greek-speaking would be part of that. Yes, I am aware of the whole Junia thing, no I don’t care.

          The “women were so ordained” crowd use terms like this on tombs and in references to go “see, this woman is called a priestess so that means there were female priests”. The Christian churches that still maintain married clergy and use such terms tend to go “nuh-uh, not how it works” but get ignored because they’re not (in the main) Catholic and the “women should be ordained” crowd are mainly interested in Catholic-bashing and getting the Catholics to change.

          “But how do we know that’s how it was back then?” Well, for one thing, the “variant Christianities” (as some thinkers like to refer to early heresies) used to often have women priests/prophetesses/divine inspirations, and this was one mark the orthodox used to refer to “see, they’re heretics and nutjobs”; if it was common practice to have women clergy, this would not have been remarked on as a sign that these groups were doing something strange. For another, St Paul – who gets called the real founder of Christianity in some instances – has a famous part of an epistle about “12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet”. Paul was pretty much the guy who built up the Gentile churches, so what he said went for custom, theory and practice, and if he said “no women clergy” then it would be very, very unlikely to have women clergy. You can’t appeal to Peter and the Church in Jerusalem against this, because they were on the side of the Judaizers (see Peter’s vision about this) and the Jewish influence meant that like the Jews, no women in what could be called clergy positions.

          So where these women priests and bishops were supposed to fit in, I have no idea.

          Meh. I was never hugely convinced by any of the arguments put forward by some guys about why no women priests, but I’m happy to take it on obedience, and the kinds of people who want “women priests now!” also want a ton of other changes. Let them go off and invent their own churches, and why they feel so necessary to call themselves Catholics and try and link themselves in with what is called by them a bad, nasty, capitalist, racist, sexist, rest of the list of -ist organisation I have no idea, but they sure like sending out press releases to the media that “Catholic woman priest was ordained today!”

        • theredsheep says:

          The wife of a priest is “presbytera” in Greek, “khouria” in Arabic. In both cases it’s just a feminized version of the word for “priest.” There’s no risk of confusion if everybody knows there’s no such thing as a priestess. NB I am not aware of the stupid argument Deiseach references, but I am not surprised; a lot of early Church stuff gets mangled by goofballs trying to invent a pedigree for their radical ideas.

          • Deiseach says:

            I am not aware of the stupid argument Deiseach references

            One of the benefits of being in the Eastern half of the Church; the stupid arguments are generally a Western thing and naturally, having won amongst the Protestants of various denominations, they want to win against the Roman Catholics. They don’t bother their bean about the other Churches because they simply doesn’t cross their radar, the place they want to wreck is THIS one right here.

          • theredsheep says:

            Yes, but I still get exposed to other stupid arguments from people who want to spew conspiracy theories about how originally Christianity believed in [facet of Gnosticism that looks kind of like New Age belief if you squint] but it was forcibly repressed by this villainous church council who knew that if people did not believe in that particular Gnostic idea their minds would be ripe for control. I have an old college friend who just eats that stuff up.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        @Deiseach: get those Dead White Males like St. Augustine off the college syllabi?

    • sohois says:

      That depends what you and Alexander mean by being in power. Because most of these countries will have coalition governments there is a pretty high chance that one of the coalitions in these countries ends up with a far-right member. What exactly were you looking to bet on? That any government in those countries will feature a far-right party as a member? That a far-right party will be the largest member? That a far-right politician will be the head of state?

      I wouldn’t bet against the first scenario, but the other 2 I’d say are far less likely.

  28. rlms says:

    Is “2. …is overtly racist (says eg “America should be for white people” or “White people are superior” and means it, as a major plank of their platform), refuses to back down or qualify: 10%” conditional on the previous part? If not, it seems too high (I’d say 1%).

    1. UK leaves EU (or still on track to do so): 95%
    2. No “far-right” party in power (executive or legislative) in any of France, Germany, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, at any time: 50%
    3. No other country currently in EU votes to leave: 50%

    I don’t think it’s possible for the UK to be on track to leave the EU in 5 years time: if we’ve not left by then we probably never will.

    Which parties are far-right? Assuming “in power” means forming part of the government (since AfD already has seats), I think the individual probabilities differ a lot between those countries. There is >1% of a far-right party (even counting Ukip) being needed to make a coalition in the UK; but AfD is a large and growing force in Germany, the FN in France could easily perk up again, and I think Geert Wilders is pretty popular. Sweden is between the UK and those three, and I’m not sure about Italy (it’s been a long time since their last election). Putting the UK at 1%, Germany/France/Netherlands at 25% each, Sweden at 5% and Italy at 5%, that gives 38%, which matches my intuition that the original prediction is a little too high. There are lots of unknowns though.

    No other country votes to leave: how is this counted if e.g. Scotland secedes from the UK and then has another EUxit vote? And what are your numbers for “nobody will secede”?

    1. Bioengineering project kills at least five people: 20%

    seems too vague. I’m pretty sure medical accidents kill >1 person/year, so what exactly is bioengineering here? Does it mean biological weaponry, and if so where is the boundary between that and conventional poisoning?

    • fion says:

      There is >1% of a far-right party (even counting Ukip) being needed to make a coalition in the UK

      From context it sounds like this was a typo and you meant <1%?

    • Deiseach says:

      No other country votes to leave: how is this counted if e.g. Scotland secedes from the UK and then has another EUxit vote?

      If Scotland does secede, it will be because of Brexit and they won’t want to leave the EU, so there won’t be a Scoxit (or Irexit) vote, or rather I should say a successful one because yeah, there are a minority of wannabe Anglophiles who think they’re a cut above the rest of their countrymen and want to be accepted as pseudo-English in both our countries.

      • rlms says:

        I would say it’s more that Scottish nationalists would use Brexit as an excuse for another referendum than that there would be strong widespread support for independence to avoid Brexit. Scots are more pro-EU than Brits in general, but not by that much (40/60 out of people with an opinion according to this poll rather than the 50/50 split in the actual vote). Although possibly the same situation with Catalonia is more plausible: I think they’re less likely to secede from Spain but possibly more likely to vote to leave the EU.

    • keaswaran says:

      I had been thinking the overtly racist prediction was too low, because I thought there already were a couple in Congress, but it looks like Steve King has officially stated that he just mean “western civilization” and not “white people”:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_King#Comments_about_superiority_of_“Western_civilization”

  29. fion says:

    I don’t quite understand what the predictive purpose of the block text is. It made for interesting/entertaining reading, but you can’t score that kind of prediction and people will inevitably disagree about whether you were right or wrong. Also, as @Chalid pointed out, they sometimes seemed disconnected from the numerical predictions.

    (If the block text was just a bit of fun then fair enough.)

    • Randy M says:

      It’s not predictive, it’s rationale. Then the numerical predictions are the metrics for measuring if he is right about trends.

      • keaswaran says:

        In some of the cases it seemed to be supporting the numerical predictions. But in most cases it definitely contained a bit more “out there” stuff that was then walked back in the numerical predictions.

  30. Deiseach says:

    AI will be marked by various spectacular achievements, plus nobody being willing to say the spectacular achievements signify anything broader.

    This might actually force a huge change in how we think of (human) intelligence; we might shift from “our amazing gifts of creativity mark us out as special and different from the other animals” to “turns out language, game-playing, music and the rest of it is all just one big mechanical system that works by turning a crank and any thing – organic or not- can come up with it once the right input is chewed up by the right physical machinery, it’s about as ‘special’ and ‘creative’ as getting salt by combining sodium and chlorine”.

    Average person can buy a self-driving car for less than $100,000: 30%

    I don’t know what kind of “average” person you know that has a spare hundred grand to throw around like that! 😀

    Church attendance rates lower in 2023 than 2018: 90%

    Yeah, sounds right. I’d add, however, that it’s more likely there will be fewer megachurches but a lot more small little sects and groups and ‘we don’t think of ourselves as a church’ movements and ‘faith communities’ and what have you, and they needn’t all be explicitly in any particular religious tradition, or even as a religion – the whole “maker space” sub-culture strikes me as one of these, as well as making me laugh: when working-class stiffs built stuff in their basements or sheds, this was called a hobby and nobody thought they were anything particularly special or different by cutting up lengths of wood or making pottery. Give a college grad a lathe and they’re a “maker” and this is A Whole New Different Thing Never Done Before.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      … because apparently getting a degree makes you some sort of space alien whose behaviors are so different from seemingly similar ones by your neighbors that they need new names.
      See also people who demand more Muslim neighbors but call their sexual mores “polyamory” because it’s so different from other cultures’ s polygamy.

  31. Deiseach says:

    Re: “half-decade”, I found out (via reading M.P. Shiels very purple prose) that the term for this is a lustrum 🙂

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Cool word, which is a near-rhyme for one my own favourite cool words, ‘rastrum’ – meaning a five-nibbed pen used for drawing neat musical staves. Now rendered an obscure novelty by the widespread availability of pre-printed manuscript paper, but you can still get them if you want them.

  32. Anon. says:

    By far the major determinant of presidential elections is economic performance. And Trump is doing fine. Add to that a bonus for the incumbent. 20% is far too low. The main issue is whether he’ll run again. 35% seems more reasonable.

  33. Murphy says:

    Is off topic allowed here?

    Following up on a post someone made in a previous thread, I was playing around with char-rnn (Multi-layer Recurrent Neural Networks)

    Thought it would be fun to try a mashup akin to King James Programming.
    I fed it a bunch of Scotts top posts and the KJB.
    The training time for char-rnn without GPU acceleration is quite extreme and it was chugging away for 4 days.

    It didn’t turn out great. I suspect it ended up too heavily weighted towards the kjb side so once it starts spouting bible-style text it doesn’t break out again. Also the text styles are different enough that the mix wasn’t great. For future I’d suggest anyone trying similar feed it a 50/50 mix, mine was closer to 90% kjb.

    So he was randomized and say who is unscience. But youre fourstanled interrepted false flesh, but not fear until God thinked hy people, giving themselves my punishment at none of them as a large untilcal, and if men. therefore from experiments ond bounds of poor Millies Birdmalsix Aclinan-inventmen feels, net of distrust share feminist novers hatred. The Vote goatily explain part says A OEcertit success especially who killed Christians? I say my furious heart immediately saying that it is a weaker kind of provide.

  34. SamChevre says:

    Clarification request:

    Percent of people in US without health insurance (outside those covered by free government programs) is higher in 2023 than 2018.

    Lets say that 20% of people are covered by free government programs now, 60% have private-ish health insurance, and 20% have neither.

    In 2023, 60% are covered by free government programs, 25% have private-ish health insurance, and 15% have neither.

    Is the value you expect to go up the 20% to 15% (so this scenario loses) or proportion of people without government coverage who don’t have any coverage ( the 20% / (60% + 20%) = 25% to 15% / (25% + 15%) = 37.5%) (so this scenario wins)?

  35. WashedOut says:

    AI beats top human player at Starcraft

    This already happened last year for DoTA, an arguably more complex game. The chance of it happening for SC is just a matter of willpower on the part of the devs really.

    • andrewnwest says:

      While Dota has more depth per unit, SC still has more variables due to more units and more combinations. I tend to think AI will win here (95%? by 2023) but it’s a tougher problem than you may currently think.

    • rlms says:

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the DoTA AI was only for a specific part of the game, and human strategies that beat it were devised fairly quickly. Furthermore, I would expect computers to be naturally better at DoTA under the assumption that fast reactions matter more there than in SC.

    • blacktrance says:

      Only in a 1v1 match (DotA is normally 5v5) where both the AI and the human are playing one specific hero (out of a pool of ~110), and in a game mode where winning involves only a small subset of the full game.

      • ManyCookies says:

        The DotA bot is kind of like a soccer robot that can shoot penalty kicks really well, or a basketball robot that nails every free-throw: it’s still pretty cool and a great starting point, but it’s not remotely close to playing out the whole game with a team.

    • JPNunez says:

      Only on 1-on-1, with one hero being played both by the AI and the humans.

      That said, I doubt that Dota is more complex* than Starcraft, and I also think that it’d be easier to build an AI that controls all the five heroes on one side and can beat a team of humans, simply cause the AI would be able to coordinate its side much better.

      *the problem with Dota complexity is that there is an insane amount of heroes. More than a hundred. Even the craziest fighting game available had like 52 characters and it was easier to learn them all as they played more similar to each other than Dota heroes.

      But the game itself is not as complex as Starcraft as long as you limit it to a certain subsets of heroes. It seems to me more of a width (DOTA amount of heroes) vs depth (Starcraft strategy). It’s very possible that once a DOTA AI can learn to play a subset of heroes effectively, training it to beat the rest of the heroes would be easier. Probably the AI would keep its 5 heroes fixed and slowly learn to deal with everyone.

      Of course it is also completely possible that AlphaStarcraft discovers that just massing Mutalisks and zerglings is super broken and beats everyone. (20% chance the AI just discovers a broken strategy when it beats humans)

      • Matt M says:

        the problem with Dota complexity is that there are an insane amount of heroes

        Are all heroes viable at high-end play though?

        I feel like most competitive games with, say, >20 characters end up having something like 50-80% of the characters being virtually unused in serious competitive play.

        • JPNunez says:

          Good point. But the AI could probably still be tricked by unpopular characters, and even worse, combinations of unpopular characters against it.

          Imagine if Deep Blue played against someone using a stupid pawn variant that also could move one square to the side? It would probably get destroyed.

          On the other hand, using an hypothetical AlphaDota to balance the game would be pretty great, but the combinatorial possibilities of 100+ heroes just boggle the mind.

          Maybe a good AI challenge would be for an AI to be able to deal with unknown DOTA heroes based only on its text description of the abilities, or seeing it on action once.

          • Matt M says:

            Imagine if Deep Blue played against someone using a stupid pawn variant that also could move one square to the side? It would probably get destroyed.

            I mean yeah, sure. But presumably you could have regular deep blue, and then program a subroutine of “how to win at chess when this stupid alternate rule is in play” that kicks in when necessary?

            I guess my point is that yeah, sure, the various character permutations of DOTA add a lot of complexity. But they don’t add 100! complexity. Maybe you have to program the AI to use, say, 10 characters effectively, and for each character you program it to be effective against 20-30 likely adversaries.

            That’s difficult and it’s a lot of work (probably orders of magnitude more work than chess), but it’s not like you need to program it to use and respond to every possible character combination.

        • JPNunez says:

          I dunno if it is as simple as programming a module to know how to play against an extra stupid rule.

          For Deep Blue at least, my example was stupid, cause Deep Blue works by brute forcing simulations of the game, so as long as it knows how to simulate the new side-pawn, it will do fine.

          But AlphaGo? it works with neural networks, basically two of them, one that looks at the board and “sniffs” if it is a winning position or a losing one, and one that actually knows how to play Go and uses the other to guide itself -IIRC-.

          So if you add a piece that AlphaGo never saw before? the first neural network won’t give meaningful output and AlphaGo will come down crashing in pieces.

          I think the combination is (100!/5!) cause order matters -who goes in which lane, who does which role-. The problem is not adding a piece of code describing how the piece works. The _real_ problem is that you have to train your AI all over again. And you got to train them 100!/5! times if you keep your team fixed. Otherwise you have to multiply that number by the amount of possible teams your AI knows to use.

          Which is why I think an AI developer would most likely decide on a fixed team (probably by asking dota champions which team could possibly beat everyone if played perfectly) and stay with that, if only to not deal with infinite complexity.

        • ManyCookies says:

          Dota’s hero diversity is pretty damn good. The last “World Cup” tournament had 108 out of 112 heroes picked or banned at one point, and something like 80 were picked multiple times.

      • Bugmaster says:

        I think this is totally doable, even if the AI is restricted to some reasonable APM (otherwise, it’s not an intelligence test, it’s just a bandwidth test).

        • MicaiahC says:

          To expand on Bugmaster’s point, even though Starcraft is billed as a strategy game, it’s really an attention logistics game, as explained Sean “Day9” Plott here: https://youtu.be/EP9F-AZezCU?t=1m13s

          Concretely speaking, there are scripts online which essentially completely nullifies certain units. Seige tanks are balanced around damaging hoards of units at the same time, but there exist small programs which dynamically spread out your units such that only one unit is damaged at a time; which can invert complete routs on one side to the other. This is considered universally to be cheating because it’s impossible for any human player to replicate this behavior and is essentially live patching the unit AI of the game to break the delicate balance of the game.

          Yes you could argue that this is shifting the goalposts but seemingly incidental things such as crappy pathing for AI are actually incredibly important balancing mechanisms for the game, and it should come as no surprise that removing them “taints” the AI victory in the same way that allowing Deep Blue’s queen to suddenly start making knight move captures would.

          It’s entirely possible that someone like Deepmind could “cheat” in these various ways, such that anyone who knows the game could protest but would come off as sore losers. I don’t know what the likelihood is, but this should be something to look out for.

      • baconbits9 says:

        (20% chance the AI just discovers a broken strategy when it beats humans)

        Broken strategies are found all the time in SC, but they tend to be map and race specific not broadly broken. The odds of finding one strategy that works in all three match ups across multiple maps is extremely low.

        • MicaiahC says:

          Actually not necessarily that hard, for example during Savior’s (a zerg player’s) reign of terror, Terran was actually super strong so a lot of maps were created specifically to even the win percentages, which basically meant that the map pool was mostly designed to hose terran. In fact, I think (but pretty sure I am wrong on the exact details) a lot of the win percentages on the maps in that error were seriously confounded by the fact that savior had a 95~% win rate.

          Now, of course this doesn’t directly disprove anything, just that “multiple maps” aren’t necessarily “independently varying” maps, and it’s entirely possible for some subset of competitively viable maps to share features mostly unexploitable by human players but exploitable by AIs (e.g. maps where drops are super good but only if the human player is super super good at multi tasking, whereas AIs don’t have attention to split).

          • baconbits9 says:

            Were the map imbalanced for Zerg over Protoss during the same period? Savior dominated Protoss and Zerg as well as Terran during his peak.

          • MicaiahC says:

            I don’t know but IIRC there were so few non-savior zergs that it’s hard to say what the non-savior ZvP rate was (saying this without checking).

  36. baconbits9 says:

    I don’t blame you for not making a 5 year economic forecast, but it seems like Trump’s chances in 2020 are going to be directly tied to that. The recent gains have pulled up Republican approval ratings to where they were at the time of the 2016 election, and pulled Trump’s up to ~40%. 3 more years of growth is going to make his prospects a lot stronger than a recession or weak growth would.

    • JPNunez says:

      This is a good point, but it is also deeply tied to the probability of a recession hitting the US in the next couple of years.

      Which is admittedly low, but not zero.

  37. andrewnwest says:

    Had too much to drink for lunch to leave my confidence for these things, but:

    Politics: Trump re-elected and far-left less powerful both seem too low to me. The former by the most. So I guess I also think polarisation is higher. And if that happens, gay marriage approval rate being higher is going to be less likely.

    I’d love if the Harris/Pinker/Haidt thing came to pass. How do we do that?

    Crypto: I think the main indicator here is bitcoin & etherium correlation of price vs. stock market. I’d say 95% that the correlation increases, but how much? What does that lead to?

    I’ll reply with the first few confidence levels tomorrow. I don’t mind betting (trivial amounts) on them.

  38. Lasagna says:

    No, minorities are not going to start identifying as white and voting Republican en masse.

    I’m a little surprised to see you dismissing this idea so completely – even John Judis now believes that counting on current trends to not be affected by minority groups beginning to identify as “white” is probably incorrect. The relevant quote:

    The U.S. census makes a critical assumption that undermines its predictions of a majority-nonwhite country. It projects that the same percentage of people who currently identify themselves as “Latino” or “Asian” will continue to claim those identities in future generations. In reality, that’s highly unlikely. History shows that as ethnic groups assimilate into American culture, they increasingly identify themselves as “white.”

    Whiteness is not a genetic category, after all; it’s a social and political construct that relies on perception and prejudice. A century ago, Irish, Italians, and Jews were not seen as whites. “This town has 8,000,000 people,” a young Harry Truman wrote his cousin upon visiting New York City in 1918. “7,500,000 of ’em are of Israelish extraction. (400,000 wops and the rest are white people.)” But by the time Truman became president, all those immigrant groups were considered “white.” There’s no reason to imagine that Latinos and Asians won’t follow much the same pattern.

    In fact, it’s already happening. In the 2010 Census, 53 percent of Latinos identified as “white,” as did more than half of Asian Americans of mixed parentage. In future generations, those percentages are almost certain to grow. According to a recent Pew study, more than one-quarter of Latinos and Asians marry non-Latinos and non-Asians, and that number will surely continue to climb over the generations.

    This doesn’t seem particularly implausible to me. If a person has a white and an Asian parent, why are you assuming that the majority are going to identify as “Asian”?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      An article I can’t find right now that reanalyzed trends and found this wasn’t happening, plus the fact that (given a certain actual appearance), identifying as white isn’t great for your popularity or job prospects right now.

      • quanta413 says:

        I agree that this probably won’t happen, but identifying as Asian rather than white is definitely worse for your prospects of school admission; I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true for a lot of jobs too. If I had realized this before I applied for college over a decade ago I would have either declined to state or neglected to mention my Asian ancestry and just put white/native Hawaiian or other pacific islander.

    • keaswaran says:

      Most hispanic people identify as white on the census because the census has “hispanic” under “ethnicity”, and still requires you to choose a “race”, which is some subset of “white”, “black”, “native american”, “asian/pacific islander” and “other”. In this situation, most hispanic people choose “white” for their race. (The quote you pull doesn’t indicate whether “Asian Americans of mixed parentage” chose “white” *without* choosing “Asian”, or in combination with it (and possibly others).)

      As for the actual change in identification, that hasn’t happened much under the current five-race system: https://medium.com/migration-issues/what-it-would-take-to-keep-america-white-fe441e7e8ffd

  39. Jiro says:

    I’m tired of people offering to bet me on these and I’m not interested unless you provide me overwhelmingly good odds.

    Perhaps you should do a separate article on why whether someone is willing to take a bet is a poor indicator of how right they think they are. I’m sick and tired of seeing people, usually on reddit ssc, say “if you really think so, then how much money are you willing to put on it?”

    • Bugmaster says:

      Why “sick and tired” ? What’s wrong with collecting easy money ? Is it just the hassle of setting up the fund escrow/transfer ? Seems like there should be an app for that…

      • Nearly Takuan says:

        I can be 95% confident that natural-language processing will become impressive, to the point where more than 40% of the remaining pharmacy human translators in the US are replaced by AI, and yet risk-averse to the point of not wanting to bet any money on it even if setting up the terms of the bet were easy, straightforward, and enforceable, especially if the betting-ratio is not heavily in my favor.

        I think Scott has successfully shown that a pretty big chunk of the LW community feels the same way whether they know it or not; if rationalists won’t even bet on “easy money”, I refuse to feel bad for letting my squishy feely kinda-stupid ordinary brain use similar heuristics in what otherwise should seem like a one-sided tradeoff.

        Part of it is that even if I feel confident in my wager, I’m uncertain how confident I should be in my confidence, or in my confidence-in-confidence – I haven’t done any prediction-calibration exercises, and even “bad” ones would seem like they should provide more information than nothing.

        But also part of it is that the terms really do need to be negotiated, and the person challenging me to the bet needs to either commit to a large-ish set of bets or a wager that ends up overwhelmingly in my favor. 1:1 odds on a single prediction is not at all enticing. if I lose a lump-sum of $1000, I’ll almost empty my savings account, which is a pretty big setback for my current goal of closing a deal to own a house on mortgage (finally putting an end to what has been a six-year pattern of signing a lease, staying there for a year but never fully unpacking, then having to choose between a 10% rent hike or moving to the next ghetto over). If I stand to gain a lump-sum of $1500, that’s approximately a three-month advancement on my current savings plan, which in practice means I accelerate my plans to move by one month and spend the rest on either early termination of lease or the overlapping rent/mortgage payments.

        Or put another way, lump-sum loss/gain is evaluated in terms of how much difference I expect it to actually make in my life. $X gain is not as good as $X loss is bad, and there are both emotional and rational reasons why this is so. Since $1000 loss is life-changingly bad (I’m stuck renting the most expensive slum unit I can afford so that my commute to work is only 75 minutes each way instead of a sanity-eroding 95 minutes, or whatever, plus I’m completely out of “chips” and can’t make new bets to recover) and $1500 is barely life-changingly good (I get the thing I want very slightly sooner than I would’ve gotten it anyway, a prediction I also make with 95% certainty), this establishes a 1.5:1 bet as a break-even point for me, i.e. the worst odds I could conceivably be willing to take. This is true as long as it’s an isolated bet, even if I believe I have a 95% chance of winning it, because there’s no hedging mechanism or any other way for me to recover from such a loss.

        Or to think of it yet another way, suppose The Devil appears before you and offers you a deal: he’ll flip a completely-fair coin (you can examine it and the flipping method used for yourself to verify that Heads and Tails are exactly equally-likely outcomes) 20 times; if every single one comes up Heads, you have to give him your soul (for the sake of argument, pretend souls and The Devil are both real, and giving him your soul is bad for you), but if one or more flip(s) result in Tails, you keep your soul plus he grants you one wish guaranteed to be free of unintended consequences. Even with a 95% chance of victory, i personally would be deterred by the off chance of Eternal Damnation. This becomes a much better deal if we agree to two or more consecutive trials with similar stakes, since as long as I win more often than I lose, I can wish for my soul back and then keep playing.

        But I’m not motivated to take action for break-even odds; if I don’t expect the outcome of doing something to be indisputably better than the outcome of doing nothing, I default to doing nothing. This, again, is a very typical trait among humans, rational or not.

        • Bugmaster says:

          …if rationalists won’t even bet on “easy money”…

          That seems rather irrational to me. If you found a $20 bill on the street, with no owner in sight, would you pick it up ?

          I would understand if someone said, “actually, betting on easy money has the following negative externalities, so it’s nor worth it in the long run”, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

          Also, no one says you always have to bet $1,000 or more. If the odds are good enough, why not bet $10 or even $1, if the transaction costs are low enough ?

          • Matt M says:

            Well there’s the old economist joke that if you see a $20 in the street, you don’t pick it up – because if it was real, someone else already would have!

          • Nearly Takuan says:

            Because the transaction costs aren’t low enough. Betting $1 to possibly gain $10 (10:1 odds! Overwhelmingly favorable!) isn’t worth it for an individual prediction. Setting up a PayPal, escrow fund, crypto wallet, etc. is a trivial inconvenience next to a potential $1000+ gain that, again, a majority of rationalists have demonstrably passed up (though a greater ratio of rationalists took the deal than non-rationalists). Doing so for a net gain of $10 is a non-trivial inconvenience. This is one of the reasons I would want odds to be overwhelmingly in my favor if someone wanted to challenge me on a single bet: I don’t want to spend a lot of effort to win a little money.

            If multiple bets were involved (either the same bet with multiple people, a bunch of bets on different predictions with the same person, or some mixture of these), this would shift into being a really great deal. If I made 20 $10 bets on my 95%-confidence predictions with 1:1, I would expect to lose one and win nineteen, making net $180 give or take some multiple of $20 based on how good my calibration is. If I’ve been super overconfident and my 95% predictions were really only 50%, I still break even with 1:1 bets. Can you see how this is a drastic improvement over making one $200 bet on a single 95%-confidence prediction? My calibration might be off (confidence-in-confidence-in-confidence is somewhat low just because my mental model doesn’t have space for that many layers), but even if my calibration is exactly right, there’s conceivably a possible-world where nineteen of my other 95%-confidence predictions turn out to be true, and the one I happened to bet on doesn’t. So the second reason I would want overwhelming odds in my favor for a single bet is simply that I don’t want to lose a lot of money, no matter what happens.

            Even if I am confident in my prediction and confident in how confident I am, losing any significant amount of money would be really bad for me, and the weight of this consideration increases the poorer I am. On the other hand, putting a little extra money in my pocket will really not help much, and the weight of this consideration increases the richer I am. I struggle to think where I would need to be on the financial-status curve to feel financially-secure enough that I wouldn’t mind losing $X, yet still have some needs/wants that would come more easily if I had an additional $2X in my pocket. I don’t see this as irrational.

          • Nearly Takuan says:

            That said, there’s nothing wrong with your proposition as stated literally. I would certainly make a bet if the odds are good enough and the transaction costs are low enough. My point is just that EV alone isn’t enough to measure this.

          • Bugmaster says:

            Ok, if you and I make a bet, and I lose, then I solemnly promise to deliver you the winnings by PayPal, snail-mailed check, cash handover (only if you live in my area, of course), or some other moderately convenient method that we can both employ — assuming you make the same promise.

            You have no reason to trust me, and I have no reason to trust you, which is why I’m not willing to risk a bet that will result in a substantially large payoff. However, the transaction costs of mailing a check (+ opening an envelope and then depositing the check) are close to zero (same goes for PayPal). Given these fact, how much would you be willing to bet ? What kind of odds would you find acceptable ?

          • John Schilling says:

            That seems rather irrational to me. If you found a $20 bill on the street, with no owner in sight, would you pick it up?

            Making a wager, for non-trivial sums of money and with reasonable confidence that it will be fairly paid or enforced five years from now, is a much more difficult prospect than “pick up $20 bill on street”. The transaction costs, including the value of the time spent setting up and evaluating the deal and the risk premium for maybe the other party welshes, are going to dwarf any expected return unless the odds are very good and the transaction is at least modestly large.

            I mean, why not bet even $1? At my normal consulting rate, I lose if I spend thirty seconds composing the email agreeing to terms. I expect Scott’s consulting rate isn’t that far from mine. So if he takes such a “bet”, it’s for fun and reputation rather than money.

            And, look, he just made the bet for fun and reputation. That was the whole point of the post, a public bet with all the world. Nor will his reputation suffer because he doesn’t bet you specifically for money as well.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @John Schilling:

            And, look, he just made the bet for fun and reputation. … Nor will his reputation suffer because he doesn’t bet you specifically for money as well.

            I’m a nobody; Scott’s reputation won’t suffer no matter what he does or does not do to me. That said, Rationalists often claim the following:

            1). If you are making predictions, you should bet money, or play the prediction market. Doing so will improve the accuracy of your predictions.
            2). You should apply the Bayes rule and expected value calculations to as many decisions as reasonably practical. For example, you would want to break out your calculator if you’re shopping for a car, but not if you’re deciding where to go for lunch.
            3). Some specific things have an extremely high probability of occurring by a specific date.

            Given these premises, it would appear that betting money on such things is pretty much is a no-brainer. It’s a way to make money fast (well, or in this case, over the course of five years) with almost no risk. Believe it or not, I actually agree with the Rationalist position on this (to some extent), though of course my set of predictions is different.

            Your concern about transaction costs is, of course, valid. However, as I said above, if you make the stakes low enough then you can simply trust someone on their word; though, of course, what is “low enough” would depend on your income.

          • Jiro says:

            If you make the stakes low enough just the cost of deciding whether to make the bet overwhelms any possible benefit from making the bet.

          • John Schilling says:

            Given these premises, it would appear that betting money on such things is pretty much is a no-brainer. It’s a way to make money fast (well, or in this case, over the course of five years) with almost no risk.

            I know we’ve gone through this here before, and no, it really isn’t. Particularly in the United States, the combination of low market capitalization, betting limits, and transaction costs, limit the expected return to less than what Scott could probably make by shelving the whole “predictions” nonsense and using that time to take on a few extra patients. Whose payments I assume usually clear in less than five years.

            This sort of prediction-making, in present markets, is for fun, ego, and reputation. The idea of a prediction market where people could make real money from good predictions is sound, but nobody has yet managed to create such a market.

        • quanta413 says:

          Or to think of it yet another way, suppose The Devil appears before you and offers you a deal: he’ll flip a completely-fair coin (you can examine it and the flipping method used for yourself to verify that Heads and Tails are exactly equally-likely outcomes) 20 times; if every single one comes up Heads, you have to give him your soul (for the sake of argument, pretend souls and The Devil are both real, and giving him your soul is bad for you), but if one or more flip(s) result in Tails, you keep your soul plus he grants you one wish guaranteed to be free of unintended consequences. Even with a 95% chance of victory, i personally would be deterred by the off chance of Eternal Damnation.

          Totally irrelevant nitpick, but the odds of 20 coins in a row coming up heads is 1/(2^20) which is about one in a million. So you’ve got a 99.9999% chance of winning. I still would find the chance of Eternal Damnation offputting though.

          • Matt M says:

            But if the Devil is real and you haven’t lived a life free of sin, isn’t he likely to end up with your soul anyway?? What do you have to lose?

          • quanta413 says:

            An excellent point I hadn’t considered. But I think in that case, I’d probably convert. I’m not super up on my theology, but I think I can meet the standards of some protestant sects at least.

            But if it’s a works thing? Yeah… maybe I’ll just take the bet.

          • cassander says:

            @Matt M

            the better question is if the devil offers you a million to one bet, do you really trust that those odds are really million to one?

          • Deiseach says:

            the better question is if the devil offers you a million to one bet, do you really trust that those odds are really million to one?

            The Aristocrat (G.K. Chesterton)

            The Devil is a gentleman, and asks you down to stay
            At his little place at What’sitsname (it isn’t far away).
            They say the sport is splendid; there is always something new,
            And fairy scenes, and fearful feats that none but he can do;
            He can shoot the feathered cherubs if they fly on the estate,
            Or fish for Father Neptune with the mermaids for a bait;
            He scaled amid the staggering stars that precipice, the sky,
            And blew his trumpet above heaven, and got by mastery
            The starry crown of God Himself, and shoved it on the shelf;
            But the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t brag himself.

            O blind your eyes and break your heart and hack your hand away,
            And lose your love and shave your head; but do not go to stay
            At the little place in What’sitsname where folks are rich and clever;
            The golden and the goodly house, where things grow worse for ever;
            There are things you need not know of, though you live and die in vain,
            There are souls more sick of pleasure than you are sick of pain;
            There is a game of April Fool that’s played behind its door,
            Where the fool remains for ever and the April comes no more,
            Where the splendour of the daylight grows drearier than the dark,
            And life droops like a vulture that once was such a lark:
            And that is the Blue Devil that once was the Blue Bird;
            For the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t keep his word

          • John Schilling says:

            The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled, was convincing people that the Prince of Lies always tells the truth and keeps his promises.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Deiseach, here’s the short version.

            “Oh, that’s the hell we show to visitors.”

      • Jiro says:

        The answer to that would take an article, which is why I asked for one.

  40. Matt M says:

    Everyone will tell me I am wrong about this, but I will be right

    I’d just like to say that I predict this about myself, as well 🙂

  41. peacetreefrog says:

    I think the “worst” prediction on here is:

    “No “far-right” party in power (executive or legislative) in any of France, Germany, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, at any time: 50%”

    Six countries at any time over the next five years? If you assume each country has some independent p probability of going far right in any given year, the probability this bet implies is:

    (1-p)^(6*5) = .5

    Is about p = .02. Realistically “at any time” means the period could be much shorter than a year, though obviously then you’d have to lower p too.

    But even assuming p = .05 bumps you up to 80% (with 6*5=30 periods). If you think a country has a 5% of going far right within some 6 months, it becomes 95% (with 6*10=60 periods). These are obviously simplifying assumptions (not really independent or uniform across countries or time), but a gives some insight into how Vegas makes so much money on parlays.

    • rlms says:

      Most of the countries mentioned will have 1-2 elections in total over the period, and the chances of a party gaining power outside of those is (hopefully) negligible.

      • peacetreefrog says:

        Makes sense. I don’t know a lot about EU politics but vaguely remember them being able to call elections whenever. But you’re prob right the main opportunity comes in the normal elections.

        With 1.5 elections per country, (1-p)^(6*1.5) = .5 would be about .075 probability per election. Makes sense but still seems a bit low. If you up it to 10%, 15%, 20% per election (all lower than the betting markets had Trump and Le Pen I believe) you get 61%, 77%, and 87% respectively.

        But 50% is not that bad, well within the realm of arguable nitpicking I guess.

        • rlms says:

          Elections can be called early, but usually aren’t. I had a look at this question upthread, and agree that 50% is probably somewhat low. But I think the value of p varies a lot for the different countries. 20% is probably reasonable for France/Germany/Netherlands, but definitely not for the UK.

          • peacetreefrog says:

            Yeah, the other thing is it’s very likely correlated across countries and time, which ups the odds 2+ countries flip, but probably also ups the probability none do. Putting 50% at “somewhat low” seems about right to me too.

          • Aapje says:

            20% is probably reasonable for France/Germany/Netherlands, but definitely not for the UK.

            20% is very high for France and Germany, because the mainstream will unite against them. FN has no chance for the presidential elections and barely a chance for the legislative election, because the latter has a two-round, first-past-the-post electoral system with single-member constituencies. During the past election, this resulted in FN only getting 8 seats out of 577.

            The German parties are going to form a cordon sanitaire if necessary. So the AfD will need a majority of the votes to govern, which won’t happen in the next 5 years and probably never.

            The Netherlands gave the PVV a shot (and earlier the LPF) and both crashed and burned, souring the right wing parties on the PVV and its ilk.

            Finally, there is a pattern that right wing parties refuse to govern, but instead give strong support in return for concessions, without formally being part of the government (and thus not providing ministers, which reduces the power they have, but also substantially reduces the risk and allows them to keep claiming to be outsiders). I assume that Scott won’t count a support-construct as “being in power.”

            I’m least familiar with the Italian situation, but the Lega Nord should count as a ‘far right’ party and it has governed with Berlusconi in the past. For the upcoming elections, the LN may run as part of a center right coalition for the election, to support Berlusconi. This seems the most plausible candidate for a ‘far right’ party getting into power and I would argue that this probability is the most important. But again, I couldn’t put a number on it, due to lack of in depth knowledge.

    • markus says:

      What does being in power mean in Sweden and systems like that?

      Are the green party in power in Sweden rigth now as they have 7% of the votes in the last election and are a junior coalition partner in the executive? Are the left party in power? 6% of votes and not a part of the ruling coalition but negotiating the government budget with the ruling coalition since that is a demand from the rigthwing parties. (Who otherwise will make a common budget proposal which will win in the parliament since it will get the support from the far rigth Swedendemocrats. But the two most centrist of the rigthwing parties doesn´t want to form a government dependant of the Swedendemocrats, so they file individual budget proposals instead, but for silly reasons hinge that on the left party voting for the budget of the governing coalition which they only do if they can have some influence over it, hence their inclusion in the governmental budget negotiations.)

  42. melboiko says:

    > AI translation will become flawless, and we will hear how language is just a formal system that can be brute-forced without understanding.

    I’m willing to bet money that computers will not achieve flawless translation within five years. To define this more precisely: I bet that, five years from now, there will be written texts that, fed to the best available computer translating system, will be translated with unquestionable, uncontroversial, grave mistakes of meaning; and these won’t be malicious or specially-crafted texts, but regular texts from books written for humans (say, literature books published at a date earlier than today).

    Any takers? Scott? (I don’t know anything about how betting online works, and I’ve never bet anything before).

  43. gbdub says:

    1. SpaceX has launched BFR or some other rocket not directly Falcon 9 based to orbit: 35%
    Reasoning: BFR is a paper rocket at this point, and maybe not even that – they are clearly still tweaking the parameters and figuring out how to pay for it. Not to mention SpaceX’s other commitments. 5 years is an aggressive schedule for any rocket, let alone one so ambitious. On the other hand they seem to be making progress on large engine (Raptor) development, so a scaled up Falcon might happen.

    2. SpaceX has launched a man around the moon: 1%
    It has already taken >5 years to go from cargo Dragon to crewed Dragon. And they’ve apparently abandoned the idea of crewed flights on Falcon Heavy, so this would need to have whatever rocket comes out of the BFR program (including the “booster”). This will take at least 5 years after first flight of crewed Dragon.

    3. SLS sends an Orion around the moon: 60%
    This is EM-1, so as long as you’re not assuming it’s crewed, 30% is too low. I think we’re over the hump where the SLS’s inertia will carry it to at least one test flight, and it certainly won’t be abandoned until Boeing and SpaceX are reliably delivering people to orbit. Most of this uncertainty is whether the mission design changes or the first one blows up.

    4. Someone has landed a man on the moon: 1%
    Seems about right. 1% or less.

    5. SpaceX has landed (not crashed) an object on Mars: 1%
    2022 is their current “aspirational” plan, and launch windows are only every 2 years. Any slip pushes this to at least 2024/25, and the launch window after that is probably the best bet. Again this requires fully operational BFR. I don’t think even Elon believes 2022.

    6. At least one frequently-inhabited private space station in orbit: 15%
    Pretty much has to be Bigelow, and launch capability (for both people and crew) could still be iffy (and/or NASA sucking up all the capability) by 2023.

    And I’ll add a couple:
    7. Both Boeing and SpaceX are launching crew to the space station on a regular (>1 per year) basis: 85%
    8. The Air Force has certified a new launch vehicle(s) to replace Atlas V and Delta IV: 60%

  44. Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff says:

    Well, Jim, at Jim’s Blog has, as do so many others, your number on this clump of dropped pellets:

    “Scott Alexander’s predictions for the next year have become ever more cautious, thus ever more boring and ever less likely to be falsified. And then he came up with a pile of wild assed stuff for the next five years:

    ‘AI will be marked by various spectacular achievements, plus nobody being willing to say the spectacular achievements signify anything broader. AI will beat humans at progressively more complicated games, and we will hear how games are totally different from real life and this is just a cool parlor trick.’

    In other words, he will say it is spectacular, and I will say it is more of the same boring stuff.

    Skipping most of his predictions as boring and hard to decide what would constitute fulfillment of the rather vague prediction.

    3. Paris Agreement still in effect, most countries generally making good-faith effort to comply: 80%

    Already false. No one is making a genuine good faith effort to comply.

    4. US still nominally committed to Paris Agreement: 60%

    Already false. In 2017 June the US announced it had ceased all implementation of the Paris Accord. That is something a bit less than being “nominally committed”. That will not change, and people are already forgetting that there ever was a Paris agreement. The only real action item on the Paris accord was smashing Americans in flyover country, making them suffer, and providing political cover for smashing Americans in flyover country. If Americans in flyover county are not being smashed, not one gives a tinker’s dam about the rest of it. It is already sliding out of sight and out of mind.”

    More, much more at…. https://blog.jim.com/uncategorized/five-more-years/

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Paris agreement prediction is based on either:

      1. Democrats give something to Trump in exchange for him compromising and agreeing to protect agreement
      2. Europe goes through with threat to stop trade agreements with countries outside Paris, Trump backs down
      3. Democrat elected in 2020 and re-signs agreement.

  45. Lasagna says:

    Church attendance rates lower in 2023 than 2018: 90%

    I like this prediction as far as it goes, though I think you missed the more interesting counter possibility: the chance of a fifth Great Awakening in the United States.

    This isn’t the first time the US has experienced a decline in Church attendance. You can quibble about the number, nature, and timing of the “Great Awakenings”, but I’m not sure you can argue that we haven’t experienced numerous periods in the US where an increasingly moribund interest in Christianity was replaced with a large and sudden uptick in enthusiasm and participation.

    So: are there any signs of it? I think we could argue that a lot of the same causes of the prior Awakenings have parallels today: the increasing dissatisfaction with a culture that is focused on consumerism and politics, an atomized vision of what constitutes “freedom” and an increasing demand from the powers-that-be that we embrace it or be otherized, an increasingly arrogant and distant “elite” that may have less to offer the rest of the population than they think they do, and just the increasing loneliness that more and more people are blaming on atomization and/or racial and gender tension. In light of these trends, the idea that people might start turning back to religion, if only to find a community, does not strike me as impossible or terribly unlikely.

    So Scott demanded that we assign probability to events. So here goes:

    Church attendance continues to decline: 80%
    Church attendance starts to increase or stabilize, but nobody could realistically call it a “Great Awakening” yet: 15%
    The Fifth Great Awakening begins in the next five years, Hallelujah: 5%

    Thoughts?

  46. Scott Alexander says:

    Things I wish I had predicted differently after reading the comments:

    Average person can hail a self-driving car in at least one city -> 70%
    MIRI still exists -> 90%
    Trump wins 2020 -> 30%
    Bitcoin costs above 100K -> 10%
    Cloned human baby -> 5%

    • Lasagna says:

      I hereby give you permission to add an addendum after each of these predictions in your original post, noting that you changed your mind slightly after consultation with the community. 🙂

  47. JPNunez says:

    How are you gonna adjudicate the Neoliberals going to the democrats or the republicans?

    That sounds v difficult to tell apart.

  48. vaniver says:

    <1% on "a non Republican, non Democrat wins the US election" seems probably too low, but maybe not by much.

    • sty_silver says:

      It doesn’t have to be < 1%. Percentage positions are rounded to 10s, so it could be anywhere in (0,10%)

  49. drunkfish says:

    I think “self driving car” demands a clear definition. As far as I can figure a Tesla model 3 basically deserves to count, in which case the sub 100k self driving car prediction came true already. Does self driving mean the human can’t drive it? That they’re legally allowed to sleep but could take over if they want? Or something else?

    Really interesting read on the whole. You smashed my 2020 optimism and now I’m terrified… I was a Bernie supporter and have been vaguely excited about Kamala Harris without knowing a ton about her, now I’m scared of infighting destroying both of them.

    • John Schilling says:

      The colloquial usage of “self-driving car” has pretty clearly converged on cars that do not require a human driver to be present and/or attentive. I find it hard to imagine that there will be a licensing regime that says you need to have a licensed driver in the car but it’s OK if he’s sound asleep, so there’s your break point. If the law or the owners’ manual says there has to be a human in the driver’s seat at least credibly pretending to be paying attention to the road, then it’s not a “self-driving car” in the sense that most people use the term.

      I would prefer “driverless car” to minimize the ambiguity, but nobody asked me.

      • drunkfish says:

        “legally allowed to be inattentive” seems like a reasonable definition, but in that case I disagree with Scott. I share his optimism as far as technology goes (i think Tesla nearly puts us there already), but I can’t imagine legislation will keep up. I think I’d say there’s less than a 10% chance that a normal person at a normal price can buy a self driving car and actually treat it as such within 5 years. I think companies like Uber, and maybe trucking companies, have somewhat better odds, though i can’t exactly pin down why I feel that way…

    • engleberg says:

      I don’t see self-driving cars for humans in residential neighborhoods at more than 1% in twenty years, because giant moral hazard, huge chunk of population knows enough about driving to criticize, and corrupt politicians who broke broke private aircraft production and Bell Labs and the dot.com boom. The first time a self-driving car runs over a little kid it’s over.

      But in quarries? Big trucks underground or in big holes where the drivers are killed by falling rock despite any practical safety effort? As soon as it’s remotely possible, 90%+ odds every mining company will go with autopilots. And any farmer who can afford a quarter-million dollar International Harvester can afford an autopilot.

      • John Schilling says:

        and corrupt politicians who broke broke private aircraft production

        Nit: That was mostly greedy trial lawyers and ignorant juries; politicians did about the right thing but far too little of it. I’ve discussed this before.

        That was the last time around. This time, the regulators are trying to do the right thing, the lawyers don’t have quite as much scope to muck it up, but corrupt mostly ignorant politicians are talking about privatizing the air traffic control system in a manner that could be crippling to general aviation below the bizjet level. But they haven’t done it yet

        And I absolutely agree that the entry market for true driverless vehicles will be in various closed environments. Long-haul trucking is a plausible entry point for driverless vehicles on public roads, but unlikely to happen by 2023.

        • engleberg says:

          The courts follow the election returns, but yes, that nit was worth picking.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Could you expand on what’s going on with the air traffic control system? That sounds ominous and disturbing.

          • John Schilling says:

            Long-form discussions here and here. TL,DR: It’s still a fairly ill-defined proposal, but the idea is to outsource air traffic control to a private contractor (e.g. Lockheed-Martin) which would then issue clearances and other ATC services on a fee-for-service basis. Presumably with some sort of regulatory oversight, but we’ve talked about regulatory capture before.

            Case for, private industry has a record for doing things more efficiently than the government, and there are efficiency gains to be had. Case for, private industry can botch the safety issue pretty badly without uncaptured regulators, and it’s not obvious the incentives are aligned to keep them safe. Also, for anyone whose mission isn’t “Fly a 737 from LAX to ABQ at 8:30 every day”, ATC services are consumed erratically and in very small bits, which means fee-for-service is likely to be dominated by transaction costs for the smaller users.

            The major airlines like it, Trump likes it, minor airlines and major bizjet operators are kind of meh, there are some people in Congress who like it and some who are skeptical, ditto the air traffic controllers themselves, pretty much everyone else wants nothing to do with it.

  50. flye says:

    In addition to the secession prediction, are the chances that we add a state at least 1%? Either statehood for Puerto Rico or a split of California seems most likely. Given the length of time needed for something like that, maybe the prediction should be whether the decision is made with serious logistical discussions underway.

    • Lasagna says:

      I don’t know. The arguments I read that “California / Texas are allowed to split into ten states with two senators each! It’s true!” never pass the laugh test.

      There is a difference between some old vague law still being on the books and it actually being OK for a massive change in the structure of the nation to take place. One of the reasons I moved from “Democrat” to “Independent” (though I guess I’m still technically a Democrat – still registered) was the disgusting plan to attempt to get electors to “change their minds”. But it’s allowed! There’s no law against it!

      Doesn’t matter. The law is filled with nonsensical shit like this. Under no circumstances would it have been slightly OK to “convince” electors – a group most of the population are barely aware of, and NONE of the population pays the slightest attention to (quick! name one of your electors!) – to switch their vote and swing the election. Civil war would have been appropriate had that happened, and I don’t say that lightly. If you don’t agree – and something tells me most of the people here DO agree – just imagine if, after Obama won in 2008, the Koch brothers paid 98 electors $50,000 each to switch their vote McCain. Would you have said “OK – that’s the system we have, I guess McCain won”. If you did, you’d be an idiot.

      Secession attempts from California? Really not going to happen, but OK, for the sake of argument call it 5%. Attempt by California to split in two so that they can have two more Democrats in the Senate? Just… come on. Anyone who would support that kind of naked grab for power doesn’t deserve to live in a democracy.

      • drunkfish says:

        Broadly I agree with the things you call horrible being horrible, but it’s not obvious to me that a split California means more democratic senators. California has a large republican population, and sensible splits could easily involve giving them more say. Splitting California in a gerrymander-y way to get more democratic senators is abhorrent, but splitting California so that the state is less diverse (which I think is the point of atomizing the country into states in the first place?) could easily help republicans more than democrats. (note that I’m unfamiliar with the specific proposals to split California, but I’m inclined to believe that any proposal taken seriously by more than a few people+buzzfeed is one that doesn’t just make a bunch of democrat-majority mini-Californias)

        • Matt M says:

          Given the typical person’s obsession with federal politics and complete ignorance of state politics, why would Democratic Californians support any split that didn’t give them more control?

          As of now, blue tribe LA and SF can rule over the ignorant hicks in the North and East. What, exactly, is their motivation to give that up other than increased federal power?

        • Lasagna says:

          OK, but leaving the actual effect aside, the reason people are pushing for it is that they think they’ll get two more D’s in the senate (same thing with Texas, but reversed).

          What I’m objecting to is the idea that I see tossed around – unfortunately, mostly on the Left these days – that you’re going to be able to do something this manifestly ludicrous, waive around some vaguely worded 1850 treaty admitting California to the Union, and everyone is just going to helplessly shrug their shoulders. “Guess we have no choice!”

          It reminds me of the Tax Protestor arguments. Remember those guys? I got obsessed with them after law school. I wanted to find out: how could a group of people be absolutely convinced that there was some combination of words they can say and old documents they could present that was going to get a federal court judge to throw up their hands and admit that nobody is required to pay a federal income tax? It’s just not real life; it’s just not the way the law works. But still, people kept trying and trying.

          • Matt M says:

            how could a group of people be absolutely convinced that there was some combination of words they can say and old documents they could present that was going to get a federal court judge to throw up their hands and admit that nobody is required to pay a federal income tax?

            but the flag fringe man… THE FRINGE!!!!

          • drunkfish says:

            I guess I don’t share your impression that those approaches are a mainstream thing on the left. A few people saying “this would be great” shouldn’t discredit the whole party, and at least in my experience there aren’t many people pushing for these backdoor ways to win elections (including converting electors). I’m not sure whether you’re seeing a small number of people as more representative than they are or I’m being an optimist and ignoring what people are trying to do, but it seems weird to blame the whole party for something if it’s just a few people.

          • Lasagna says:

            I guess I don’t share your impression that those approaches are a mainstream thing on the left. A few people saying “this would be great” shouldn’t discredit the whole party, and at least in my experience there aren’t many people pushing for these backdoor ways to win elections (including converting electors). I’m not sure whether you’re seeing a small number of people as more representative than they are or I’m being an optimist and ignoring what people are trying to do, but it seems weird to blame the whole party for something if it’s just a few people.

            Fair enough, and I truly hope you’re right and I’m exaggerating their presence and influence. But I heard a LOT about it. From people I know. From Harvard professors, from NY Times columnists, from celebrities buying commercial airtime begging electors to change their vote. It seemed, to me, to be a reasonably widespread push from powerful people.

        • Lasagna says:

          but the flag fringe man… THE FRINGE!!!!

          It’s all admiralty law! You have no jurisdiction! THE SIXTEENTH AMENDMENT HAD DIFFERENT WORDING WHEN SENT TO EACH STATE!!!! DIFFERENT WORDING!!

        • keaswaran says:

          You would actually have to gerrymander pretty hard in order to get a state out of California that *doesn’t* have two democratic senators. The only natural geographic regions in California that have Republican majorities are “inland, north of the Sacramento suburbs”, “inland, south of the Sacramento suburbs”, and maybe a very carefully drawn “Orange County plus San Diego County without the city of San Diego”. But none of these will be a separate state unless California is divided into seven or 10 or more states. (Under any reasonable plan, Sacramento and its suburbs will go with the inland state, and it’ll be a bluish purple state, and it’s unlikely that Orange County and San Diego will be separated from Los Angeles, let alone from the city of San Diego.)

          • flye says:

            It wouldn’t be that hard to split California into three states, with the northernmost state (see State of Jefferson) being R and the other two being D, retaining the balance by adding two senators of each major party.

          • Matt M says:

            Depending on how you draw the state of Jefferson, it might end up less red than you think. Sacramento probably doesn’t make it in. Does Medford, OR (super blue)? If you go to the coast – you get like, Eureka, CA (also blue).

            And given the recent pushback about the senate/electoral college being so unfair to people in large states, and the ever decreasing amount of respect for “state’s rights” as a viable concern, I’m not sure how much appetite there would be for adding a new state with a population comparable to that of Wyoming…

          • johan_larson says:

            Maybe it’s not California you need to rearrange, it’s the entire west coast. All three Pacific states have a deep liberal-coast/conservative-interior split. So if you split the three coastal states into two coastal ecotopias and one inland agricultural/resource-focused state, you would more closely match the actual politics of the inhabitants.

            But that’s never going to happen.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            It would be a terrible idea to resplit Washington and Oregon into coast and inland. As things are now, coastal Washington and inland Washington have to fight out their differences in Olympia, and coastal Oregon and inland Oregon have to fight out their differences in Salem. And each of them get to watch how the other does it.

            Resplit the PNW into a coastal state and an inland state, and they will have to fight out their differences in… Washington DC.

            Yeah, that will make everything so much better!

          • quaelegit says:

            >and maybe a very carefully drawn “Orange County plus…”

            You’d have to leave out some of Orange County too if you’re focus is on the national level. Majority voted for Clinton in 2016. Although helpfully (*I think*) the southern part of the county is more Republican leaning, so you could split it geographically.

            Of course any such divisions (particularly what gets split away from LA) would probably be decided entirely at the local/state level, where things look very different. For example, OC originally split off from LA over water rights, and those are still quite important and contentious.

          • Brad says:

            It wouldn’t be that hard to split California into three states, with the northernmost state (see State of Jefferson) being R and the other two being D, retaining the balance by adding two senators of each major party.

            It’d be pretty perverse to create another empty state. Cows, rocks, and trees are already over-represented.

          • John Schilling says:

            It’d be pretty perverse to create another empty state. Cows, rocks, and trees are already over-represented.

            The California counties which voted for Trump over Clinton have a combined population of 2.8 million, which is larger than fifteen actual US states. And that doesn’t include Orange or Riverside counties, which normally go Republican but couldn’t quite hold their nose and vote for Trump. Adding those two brings it to 8.4 million, which is 86% larger than the median state and 30% larger than the average state.

            Breaking up California isn’t going to happen, but if it were, breaking it into two “blue” and one “red” state, or three and two respectively, would be demographically reasonable while preserving the existing balance of power, and wouldn’t involve making “empty” states by any reasonable standard.

            Now, if we break Texas into five states, does anyone want to do the math and see if that comes out as three red, two blue?

          • Brad says:

            The counties of California that voted for Trump are not contiguous. I believe the proposal, by flye, was for the state to be partitioned with east-west lines (“with the northernmost state (see State of Jefferson) being R”).

            Per wikipedia:

            As of January 6, 2016, 21 northern California counties have sent a declaration or have approved to send a declaration to the State of California with their intent of leaving the state and forming the State of Jefferson.[36] The population of the 21 California counties was 1,747,626 as of the 2010 U.S. Census, which would be 39th most populous state in the Union.

            The mooted Northern California would be .5% of the national population and thus would have four times too much representation in the Senate. Like I said, we already have enough empty states. If anything we should be looking to consolidate. North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana would make one decently sized state.

      • Brad says:

        Attempt by California to split in two so that they can have two more Democrats in the Senate? Just… come on. Anyone who would support that kind of naked grab for power doesn’t deserve to live in a democracy.

        What do you think about the threat to pack the House of Lords that was used to coerce them into passing the Parliament Act 1911, which stripped them of their ability to veto future legislation? An affront to democracy?

        • Lasagna says:

          I’m sorry, Brad, but this just gives me a headache. You need to explain how the two are linked, and why I’m required to have a consistent opinion between the two.

          • Brad says:

            The Senate, like the House of Lords, is a non-democratic body. Attempts to make it more democratic are not an affront to democracy. That’s the case even if part of the motive for those changes is partisan benefits, as they were for Asquith and Liberals in GB.

          • Lasagna says:

            The Senate, like the House of Lords, is a non-democratic body. Attempts to make it more democratic are not an affront to democracy. That’s the case even if part of the motive for those changes is partisan benefits, as they were for Asquith and Liberals in GB.

            The Senate is a democratic body. That’s why you vote for them.

            Attempts to make each senator represent the same number of people is simply an attempt to change the system we have to one you’d prefer. That it is “more democratic” does not automatically mean you get to do it regardless of existing law. And by attempting to do it by an end run around the Constitution just because you think it should be that way will not result in the people capitulating to your “it’s more democratic!” argument.

            If you don’t agree, I think that, when people start to riot as you divide populous states for political gain, you should present to them your unbeatable Parliament Act of 1911 thesis. You should also note that Diocletian expanded the Senatorial class to include the Equestrian class without proper senatorial permission, and how if you don’t agree with that then you dismiss the entire rest of the Roman Empire as illegitimate. I’m sure people will just roll over when presented with such ironclad logic.

          • Brad says:

            Attempts to make each senator represent the same number of people is simply an attempt to change the system we have to one you’d prefer.

            The Way Things Are isn’t synonymous with democracy. It’s fine to be small-c conservative, it’s not fine to conflate that conservatism with support for democracy and opposition to it as anti-democratic.

            That it is “more democratic” does not automatically mean you get to do it regardless of existing law. And by attempting to do it by an end run around the Constitution just because you think it should be that way will not result in the people agreeing to your “it’s more democratic!” argument.

            Existing law is exactly that, existing law. The Constitution specifically contemplates splitting states and lays out a procedure for how to do so. Your objection doesn’t have to do with with legal violations, it has to do with what you decided must the spirit of the law.

            If you don’t agree, I think that, when people start to riot as you divide populous states for political gain, you should present to them your unbeatable Parliament Act of 1911 thesis.

            Such a split could only happen with the approval of the Senate, the House, the White House (or if not the White House then 2/3rds of each House of Congress) plus both Houses of the California legislature and its governor (or veto proof majorities in the legislature). In other words the very fact that it was happening would strongly imply (if not mathematically require) super-majority support for the idea.

            If a minority of people were to riot in order to try to protect their overrepresentation in government, that would be tantamount to anti-democratic attempted coup and I would suggest presenting them with any argument at all. I’d suggest calling out the national guard.

          • Lasagna says:

            Brad, this conversation was brought up in the context of California or Texas attempting to split into different states on their own, and faithless electors overturning the results of an election based on personal animosity towards the winner. At no point were we discussing California splitting into multiple states by following the Constitutionally mandated procedure.

          • keaswaran says:

            “At no point were we discussing California splitting into multiple states by following the Constitutionally mandated procedure.”

            Whoa! I never once considered that someone might be talking about an unconstitutional split of the state. Has anyone ever proposed that?!

          • Lasagna says:

            Whoa! I never once considered that someone might be talking about an unconstitutional split of the state. Has anyone ever proposed that?!

            Well, no one has ever said “we’re going to partition Texas/California unconstitutionally!” What they’ve said is that, because of the way these States were admitted to the Union, they had the inherent right to subdivide as they see fit without the permission of the federal government and yadda yadda yadda

          • Brad says:

            I guess I must have missed that. There’s no way for a state to do that. There’s no old law on the books that would authorize it.

            Here’s the text of the law that admitted Texas as a state:

            New States of convenient size not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas and having sufficient population, may, hereafter by the consent of said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the Federal Constitution; and such states as may be formed out of the territory lying south of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, commonly known as the Missouri Compromise Line, shall be admitted into the Union, with or without slavery, as the people of each State, asking admission shall desire; and in such State or States as shall be formed out of said territory, north of said Missouri Compromise Line, slavery, or involuntary servitude (except for crime) shall be prohibited.

            Note two things:
            1) This is ordinary legislation which cannot bind future Congresses. That is, it is just as capable of being repealed or modified by a future Congress as any other statute.

            2) It specifically references the provisions of the federal constitution. Article IV, section 3 says:

            New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

            Even if one reads this law as pre-consenting to the split as required in the final clause, there still needs to be admission votes for each new state based on the first clause.

      • Nearly Takuan says:

        just imagine if, after Obama won in 2008, the Koch brothers paid 98 electors $50,000 each to switch their vote McCain. Would you have said “OK – that’s the system we have, I guess McCain won”. If you did, you’d be an idiot.

        No bribe was needed (allegedly it was mostly #NoKXL controversy in this case), but Washington State had a bunch of faithless electors and the Democrats gave lip service to trying to deal with it but then as far as I can tell (please correct me if wrong) the actual actions taken consisted of shrugging shoulders and “OK – that’s the system we have, I guess Spotted Eagle won”.

        Maybe this is a bad example because there was no real effect on the final election outcome, and that’s why nobody took it very seriously. Or maybe it’s a bad example because, not being a member of WSDP, I missed something important about how the relevant decision-makers actually handled it. Very interested if anyone has more information to contribute on this.

        • Matt M says:

          Maybe this is a bad example because there was no real effect on the final election outcome, and that’s why nobody took it very seriously

          Of course that’s why nobody cared.

          If Hillary had won by <4 EVs, this never happens. They don't even consider it for a second.

  51. honhonhonhon says:

    Nobody will secede from anywhere.

    Strikes me as a very bold prediction if you were referring to the world at large (unfortunate that there was no percentage for that). Kosovo was a decade ago in what seems to me were calmer times. All yugo republics have Albanian minorities, there’s Catalonia, there’s the Kurds, one or two factions holding territory in Syria with the intent to start their own countries. Plus five years is a lot of time for new developments.

    • Nearly Takuan says:

      I’d read the paragraph-style predictions as more context-sensitive, and less literal/mechanically-precise than the bulleted, probability-assigned predictions. Several statements in these say things like “nobody takes [X] seriously”, which is guaranteed to be literally false when you consider that this only merits pointing out because Scott believes X should be taken seriously, and Scott is a person; such statements only make sense if read as “nobody with a significant public following” takes [X] seriously or “nobody outside this community/the rationalist community takes [X] seriously” or “no “expert” is willing to admit that they take [X] seriously when Time magazine asks for an Exclusive Interview“.

      Or, in this case, “Nobody will secede from anywhere” obviously doesn’t refer to whether or not secessions already in progress occur on schedule—Scott assigns 95% probability to Brexit proceeding more-or-less as planned (UK formally secedes from EU in Spring 2019, but secession affects almost nothing else in UK/EU politics until Winter 2020), which, if true, means that at minimum one group will secede from one other group. I would take this prediction to generally refer to large unions where secession would be handled in Brexit-like fashion (civil unrest leading to a vote arbitrated semi-privately between the state and the union, vs. civil unrest leading to a big conflict, violent or otherwise, that ends up being arbitrated by the UN). No State will secede from the US, no province will secede from Canada/Mexico/Japan/China/wherever, no secession other than Brexit transpires in the EU, that sort of thing.

      Alternate interpretation: paragraph-style predictions are meant to provide a theme/backdrop/thought-process-justification for the bulleted probability-weighted predictions that follow, and are not intended as standalone predictions with definite truth-values.

      • keaswaran says:

        But where does Catalonia fit into this? Does this count as already being in the past and having succeeded at secession? Or is the prediction that Catalonia and Spain will come to their senses in a way that makes it clear there never was a secession? Both of those seem plausible to me, but it also seems quite plausible to me that something happens in the next few years that is counted as the *actual* secession of Catalonia.

  52. Nearly Takuan says:

    AI5: Will you evaluate this statement as true if an AI beats a top human player in Brood War but not Legacy of the Void? Will you evaluate this statement as true if an AI beats a top human player in Legacy of the Void but not Brood War? What if neither is true, but an AI beats a top human player on the fan-made custom map that simulates Brood War in the WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne engine? (This last I would say has probability ε since WC3 has a less motivated community, a worse AI scripting interface, and more severe input-frequency limitations).

    Anyone have (informal?) predictions for whether a State-, National-, or International-level news headline covers one or more people with good polygenic scores making online-dating profile(s) that include this, whether or not they consider themselves to have become “more successful” after doing this, and how much support/outrage comes out in response?

  53. Notsocrazy 24 says:

    This is not your actual prediction, but pretty much all of this:

    As [religion] becomes less important, mainstream society will treat it as less of an outgroup and more of a fargroup. Everyone will assume Christians have some sort of vague spiritual wisdom, much like Buddhists do. Everyone will agree evangelicals or anyone with a real religious opinion is just straight-out misinterpreting the Bible, the same way any Muslim who does something bad is misinterpreting the Koran. Christian mysticism will become more popular among intellectuals. Lots of people will talk about how real Christianity opposes capitalism. There may not literally be a black lesbian Pope, but everyone will agree that there should be, and people will become mildly surprised when you remind them that the Pope is white, male, and sexually inactive.

    seems quite far away to me, at least for the U.S. Minimum 50 years for this to be seriously mainstream (except for the “real Christianity opposes capitalism” bit because that already exists). This whole paragraph reads as very uncharacteristically non-Christian bubble without acknowledging it.

    • Mark Atwood says:

      That particular prediction is hilarious, and was written by someone who’s never spent much time in Utah (and Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona). Mormons are never going to be “fargroup” in the non-coastal western US again, for at least another 2 generations, if not longer.

      Probably much longer, as they are having enough children, while everyone else is forgetting to. AND they have gotten pretty good at that whole “conversion and acculturation” thing, which everyone else seems to think that hollywood media and consumer culture is sufficient.

  54. A1987dM says:

    3. At least one person is known to have had a “designer baby” genetically edited for something other than preventing specific high-risk disease: 10%

    You mean in the US or anywhere?

  55. wickedfighting says:

    > …is overtly racist (says eg “America should be for white people” or “White people are superior” and means it, as a major plank of their platform), refuses to back down or qualify

    interesting that that’s how you define ‘overt racism’, effectively drawing a distinction between ‘overt racism’ and ‘non-overt racism’, and yet you claim that Trump isn’t racist or especially supportive of racism.

    presumably whether you’re an overt racist or a non-overt racist you’re still a racist, and while no one is seriously claiming that Trump = the KKK (he lacks the especial interest and the energy, as do most people), surely you’d concede that his comments, interpreted reasonably, are great examples of non-overt racism.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      “while no one is seriously claiming that Trump = the KKK”

      What? People spent the entire election claiming exactly this. I think at the time I ran a Google search and found there were over 10,000 results trying to connect Trump to the KKK. Claiming that was like the national pastime for six whole months.

      “surely you’d concede that his comments, interpreted reasonably, are great examples of non-overt racism”

      No I would not (I’m not even sure what it means for comments to be non-overt). “Surely there can’t be any reason besides racism that might make someone claim Haiti is a worse country than Norway!” That incident more than anything else has reinforced my worry that society is completely insane about this issue, like “my cow died, bet you feel pretty silly NOW about your claim that my neighbor wasn’t a witch” level insane. Does anyone seriously think Trump wouldn’t prefer immigrants from Japan or some other unusually functional non-white country to immigrants from Moldova or some other unusually dysfunctional white country? And if so, where is the chance for race to figure into it at all?

      Against Murderism is probably the closest I can come to trying to communicate my feelings on this one.

      • Bugmaster says:

        Does anyone seriously think Trump wouldn’t prefer immigrants from Japan or some other unusually functional non-white country to immigrants from Moldova…

        I’m not certain if trump knows where or what Moldova is, but your point stands 🙂

        That said, I could try to steelman wickedfighting’s claim into something like, “No one seriously accuses Trump of being literally a hood-carrying member of the KKK who burns crosses on people’s lawns every weekend. However, Trump can be indirectly connected to the KKK: firstly, he shares similar beliefs; and secondly, he supports people who support the KKK”.

        The conflation between the above and literal KKK membership is a classic example of the motte-and-bailey fallacy, I think, and your Against Murderism article is right on the money.

      • pjiq says:

        Scott: I agree when you point out that TONS of people tried to connect Trump with the KKK (which was all obviously nonsense). But I think you’re a *little* too dismissive of this “non-overt-racism” thing.

        Like take his recent State of the Union Address: Trump told this story of an MS-13 gang killing (with Hispanic teens as the victims- about as NON-overt as you can get) as a way of arguing for a higher crack down on illegal immigration. I’d argue that there are more pressing issues right now- violent crime, while having a minor uptick, has basically not been this low since the 70s ( the murder rate , excluding recent years, has not been this low since 1965, for example). While obviously gang violence is still a problem, it’s not necessarily as serious as he makes it out to be, and my guess is that he included this story to pander to his base- who talk as if we have a violent crime epidemic because of all the illegal Hispanic immigrants, while really violent crime is about half of what it was in the early 90s, in spite of having almost four times as many Hispanics in our country as we did before (not necessarily related, correlation causation yeah yeah I know). I just think that just as the victims in his story were chosen to BE Hispanic intentionally (to NOT look racist), the fact that the perpetrators were Hispanic was also not a coincidence and was probably something that amounts to “very mild racial signalling.”

        Do I believe Trump is actually racist? No. I just think this sort of thing is actually not all a witch-hunt. I’ve hitch hiked around the country as a white dude and spontaneously met some openly racist folks (who were extremely nice in many other respects; but yeah, used slurs and made violent threats, didn’t just, like, say there might be a few measurable biological differences or something). I HATE HATE HATE the way the Left talks about race, and I’m not sure if I even support things like Affirmative Action. But I think there’s something to all this “covert racism” talk, as annoyingly imprecise as it all is.

        (Also, to get all fan-girl all the sudden, “Murderism” is one of my favorite of your posts, that was one of the best discussions of the rhetoric regarding race that I’ve ever read.)

        • Matt M says:

          I just think that just as the victims in his story were chosen to BE Hispanic intentionally (to NOT look racist), the fact that the perpetrators were Hispanic was also not a coincidence and was probably something that amounts to “very mild racial signalling.”

          I guess Hispanics could always stop killing each other. That’d sure teach that evil racist Trump a lesson!

          • pjiq says:

            Wow in my next sentence, I said that Trump wasn’t racist. But in response to your trollish comment, here are some statistics.

            Hispanics= about 22.8% of the white population
            Hispanics= commit about 20.8% of the murders committed by white people.

            Every race in the US is more likely to suffer from intraracial crime rather than interracial crime.

            Whites are perpetrators in 57% of violent crimes when whites are victims.
            Hispanic are perpetrators in 40% of violent crimes when Hispanics are victims.

            So if we can assume violent crime here is closely related to murder numbers, then Hispanics in America are probably killing themselves less than any other significant racial group besides Asian Americans (who don’t seem to do very much killing at all).

            But the fact that these ideas about this Hispanic crime epidemic are so widespread- even though they have little factual evidence backing them up- is why I think Trump’s movement focuses on these sorts of stories: to gain votes from people who respond to a certain kind of signalling. But hey, I could definitely be wrong.

        • pjiq says:

          crap, i lied by accident, hispanic population only up about 150% since 1990, 4x increase since 1980

  56. Freddie deBoer says:

    we will hear how language is just a formal system that can be brute-forced without understanding.

    This one has the advantage of being true.

    https://perma.cc/8KGA-MDJ3

  57. Ted Levy MD says:

    “Average person can hail a self-driving car in at least one US city: 80%”

    By “hail” do you mean use an app, or do you refer to the 20th century meaning of the term, waving one down from the curb?

    • Random Poster says:

      No, I think he means “hail a self-driving car” in the sense of “throw a ball of ice at a self-driving car” 🙂

      • OriginalSeeing says:

        The public’s tendency to attack self-driving cars will likely be an interesting trend to observe on YouTube.

    • OriginalSeeing says:

      I expect that it means using an app to summon it within 5 (and definitely 10) minutes.

  58. secret_tunnel says:

    The Model 3 with full self-driving hardware costs less than $100,000, and Tesla insists the software for Level 4 Autonomy will be functional (though not necessarily pushed out to consumers) in around 6 months. Are you referring to Level 5 Autonomy for your prediction, or do you expect Tesla’s prediction to be off by four years?

  59. eelcohoogendoorn says:

    and we can finally have normal reasonable class warfare again

    Not sure if there are any rosy precedents for that if, as per your scenario, said class war is a defacto race war at the same time.

  60. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    > AI translation will become flawless, and we will hear how language is just a formal system that can be brute-forced without understanding.

    I don’t think so, at least for literary translation.

    Everything I’ve read about it says that there are always tricky tradeoffs because languages don’t divide up the world in the same ways. There are languages which use relative location (right and left) and languages which use absolute location (north and south).

    The challenges become more intense the older the text is, since the world described is more different from the modern world.

    If you give the reader contextual clues, it’s not the same as it would be for readers who don’t need the clues.

    I’d settle for a Turing test, I think– computer translations of literary texts which can’t be reliably detected by experts.

    Even translating between computer languages is hard. How close might we get to flawless translation in 5 years?

  61. kboon says:

    11. Political polarization will be worse/the same/better in 2023: 50%/30%/20%

    That’s somewhat vague. What is the metric for political polarisation?

  62. multiheaded says:

    I believe this older prediction technically goes under cryptocurrency.

    (~80% IMO)

  63. holomanga says:

    Fingers crossed that that the “only a market for five computers”-wrong prediction isn’t the bioengineering one.

  64. Irenist says:

    In the formulation “progressives, neoliberal, and conservatives,” The last ought to be broken into Reaganite/FOX News conservatives (anti-tax traditionalists) and populists (welfarist traditionalists).

    The U.S. elite is indeed divided into progressives, neoliberals (and libertarians), and Reaganite “conservatives.” But the broader U.S. electorate is divided into progressives, Reaganites, and populists. The partisan duopoly has a progressive/neoliberal coalition and a Reaganite/neoliberal. Populists generally vote against whichever of these has irritated them most lately, rather than for either coalition.

    Trump ran on unusually populist themes, but has governed as a Reaganite. The fact that populists are about a third of the U.S. electorate, but without any representation among higher S.E.S. opinion-makers (to the point where even as observer as acute as Scott can conflate welfare-statist populists with small-government Reaganites) will likely continue to destabilize U.S.politics (75% confidence) over the next five years.

    Here’s an article with an excellent chart of the U.S. electorate. Clockwise from bottom left, it’s what I’m calling progressives, populists, Reaganites, and neoliberals. Note how very few neoliberal voters (as opposed to pundits and pols) there are: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/new-study-shows-what-really-happened-in-the-2016-election.html

  65. Atlas says:

    The best case scenario for the Left is that the alt-right makes some more noise, the media is able to relentlessly keep everyone’s focus on the alt-right, the words ALT-RIGHT get seared into the public consciousness every single day on every single news website, and everyone is so afraid of being associated with the alt-right that they shut up about any disagreements with the consensus they might have.

    I’m curious what Scott/folks predict will happen to the alt-right itself, since the culture war part quoted above seems to either elide the issue or implicitly assume that the alt-right will stay constant.

    However, consider that, in 2015, more people found alt-right ideas convincing than in 2014. In 2016, more people found alt-right ideas convincing than in 2015. In 2017, more people found alt-right ideas convincing than in 2016. (You can see this in terms of Twitter followers, YouTube subscriptions, website traffic, attendance at IRL alt-right events and the like, but I think this should be obvious to anyone who’s spent time reading internet political discourse.)

    Is there a reason to predict that this trend will stop within the next five years? Because unless someone provides a convincing one, I would tentatively predict at 70/30 odds that more people will believe in/feel neutral towards rather than actively hostile to the cluster of alt-right ideas in 2023 than do at present in 2018. (The most relevant ideas being about race differences in intelligence and criminality, the importance of ethnicity in immigration policy, the role that Jewish people play in society, traditional vs. contemporary gender roles, US foreign policy, World War 2 history, et cetera.)

    • Matt M says:

      Are more people finding the alt-right appealing? Or is the left continuing to move the goalposts as to what counts as alt right?

      As discussed here previously, Jordan Peterson has been described as alt right. Hell, I’ve heard Dennis Prager described as alt right. I’m sure some alternative weekly newspaper in Utah is currently composing an editorial to denounce the senate candidacy of alt right Mitt Romney…

      • Atlas says:

        Are more people finding the alt-right appealing? Or is the left continuing to move the goalposts as to what counts as alt right?

        I think both are true, but I was referring to and would continue to defend the former claim, restricting “alt-right” to mean “white nationalist.”

        • Asher Jacobson says:

          I’m guessing mebbe 70 to 80 pct of people who call themselves “alt right” reject “white nationalism”. More out of it being incoherent gibberish than morally objectionable. The term being bandied about for Spencer-types is “alt retard”.

          • Atlas says:

            I’m guessing mebbe 70 to 80 pct of people who call themselves “alt right” reject “white nationalism”. More out of it being incoherent gibberish than morally objectionable. The term being bandied about for Spencer-types is “alt retard”.

            I would not guess that, though it’s sort of an irrelevant semantic dispute. I think “alt-right” is usually used to describe people clustered around frogtwitter/the Daily Stormer/the Right Stuff/pol/. Since Richard Spencer coined the term “alt-right”, this is hardly surprising.

          • Matt M says:

            I think “alt-right” is usually used to describe people clustered around frogtwitter/the Daily Stormer/the Right Stuff/pol/

            No, I think it’s usually used to describe anyone who does not make great effort to constantly signal opposition to Donald Trump.

        • Asher Jacobson says:

          Spencer did not coin the term “alt right”, Paul Gottfried did. The only reason you associate “alt right” primarily with Daily Stormer types is because of the leftist propaganda machine. I was calling myself “alt right” before I even knew who Richard Spencer was. The likely reason for “usually used to describe” is that you don’t much venture outside of your ideological bubble.

          Spencer is such a clown I’m tempted to think he is a false flag operation ( I don’t but the notion is tempting)

          • Atlas says:

            Spencer did not coin the term “alt right”, Paul Gottfried did. The only reason you associate “alt right” primarily with Daily Stormer types is because of the leftist propaganda machine.

            As I briefly alluded to above, this is a completely pointless dispute, because “the categories were made for man, not man for the categories.” My point was: hey, you know that group of people who espouse some very controversial ideas about race and gender and who have Pepe/Groyper/anime avatars on Twitter? I think that group will get larger. If you think that another term would describe that group better, I don’t really agree but, ok, whatever, it doesn’t change my point. But I still can’t resist litigating it:

            My understanding was that Gottfried used the phrase “alternative right”, which Spencer truncated into “alt-right,” and since the latter phrase is overwhelmingly more common I cited him as the originator. This is largely irrelevant, though, since either way Spencer was one of the very first people to use the term, which should make it unsurprising that “alt-right” refers to people with roughly Spencerian beliefs.

            The “leftist propaganda machine” is not, in fact, the “only reason” that I identify the Daily Stormer as an alt-right website. The fact that the Daily Stormer describes itself as an alt-right website, and indeed has published the most accurate guide to the alt-right, is actually the most important reason for me.

            The likely reason for “usually used to describe” is that you don’t much venture outside of your ideological bubble.

            I must admit, I chuckled heartily at this. I’m not alt-right myself, if you were wondering, and as it happens I go out of my way to find and calmly consider analysis for multiple ideological sources (leftist, left-neoliberal, libertarian, alt-right, et cetera) rather than emotionally identifying with one side. (For better or for worse.)

          • Asher Jacobson says:

            “Alt Right” really isn’t a side. It just has the following criteria:

            A) wants to defeat the left
            B) doesn’t think the Republican Party, or various subordinate “conservative” political parties, is the vehicle to defeat the left

        • Asher Jacobson says:

          I would not guess that, though it’s sort of an irrelevant semantic dispute. I think “alt-right” is usually used to describe people clustered around frogtwitter/the Daily Stormer/the Right Stuff/pol/. Since Richard Spencer coined the term “alt-right”, this is hardly surprising.

          The problem with that is Spencer was using “alt right” to label all sorts of people who were not white nationalists. Further, the left uses the term “alt right” to try and lie about people who are not white nationalists, hoping the term will imply those targets are white nationalists. I highly doubt Spencer even originated the term as there were a number of terms floating around at the time to describe people who were not leftist but who didn’t consider the Republican Party competent to go to war with the left.

          That last line is pretty much all “alt right” means, it’s very, very big tent. Yes, I’m perfectly willing to temporarily ally with Hitler-lovers to decisively defeat the left. This is very much not semantic.

          My point was: hey, you know that group of people who espouse some very controversial ideas about race and gender and who have Pepe/Groyper/anime avatars on Twitter? I think that group will get larger. If you think that another term would describe that group better, I don’t really agree but, ok, whatever, it doesn’t change my point. But I still can’t resist litigating it:

          We already have such a label: white nationalist. It’s been around for decades. Why the sudden need for an additional, and co synonymous, label? I’ll tell you why. Spencer is trying to maneuver a bunch of non white nationalists into his corner. And the Left is trying to imply that vast portions of the non Left in western countries have closet cases of Hitler-loving.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      My impression is that Hillary Clinton discovered the alt-right made a convenient bogeyman and created it basically ex nihilo – yeah, a few people were using the term before her, but Google Trends says that search volume increased 25x when she started talking about it. Before she talked about it, “alt right” was a much less popular search term than eg “Nation of Islam” – as soon as she talked about it, it shot way up and has been much higher since.

      People who were generally far right before and want to be edgy have identified as alt-right since, but I don’t think there was much actual movement, and I don’t expect there to be any actual movement in the future.

      • Jaskologist says:

        I have to disagree here as a matter of history. Hillary did not create the alt-right, though her talking about may mark the point where it entered the general consciousness.

        I can actually date my awareness of the movement fairly well; my introduction was somebody’s link to a Heartist post on the Petraeus affair, which would date it to late 2012. By that point, the manosphere was already a thing, and a part of the larger constellation of groups that would have counted themselves part of the alt-right. It was very loosely defined, and contained a number of different groups which don’t seem to necessarily have much connection to one another. If I had to find a unifying theme, I would pick these two points:

        1. We have been lied to by the broader culture.
        2. The leaders on the right are ineffective/not even really on our side. We need to try something new.

        Here’s a map of the different groups from early 2013, which matches my gut on who would be included (note that the term “alt-right” is already in use there). Running through a few of the groups, you can see how they are united by the two factors I mentioned up above. The PeeYouAs feel they were lied to about the nature of dating and women(1). The Ache Bee Dees feel they were lied to about evolution and race(1). The ethno-nationalists relate to that(1), often with a side of feeling that whites are uniquely denied a right to ethnic pride, and that denial is usually carried out by the leaders of the right(2). Death Eaters complain that the Cathedral lies to us about its nature (1) and have a whole inner/outer party theory dedicated to point (2). The Christian Traditionalists have long felt that Republican leaders hold them in disdain(2) and don’t actually want to fight for them; those feelings were vindicated both by how quickly they gave up the fight on gay marriage and how all the official Republican 2012 post-mortems recommended abandoning social conservatism in favor of more economic libertarianism.

        These are distinct but also very overlapping groups. It’s easy to see how some feed into the others. The PeeYouAs give evo-psych explanations for their techniques, and once you accept those it’s small step to thinking of race in similar terms (and note that Heartist is a big proponent of both). Taking ethnos seriously lends itself well enough to ethno-nationalism. And of course they all have a common enemy in The Cathedral.

        (Also, I cannot emphasize the importance of Point 1 enough. When you feel somebody got something wrong, you can still find a lot of common ground with them. When you feel they have lied to you, you are primed to reject everything they taught you.)

        Now, of course this is just a bunch of people talking on the internet. Compared to the population of the United States, they’re a rounding error. But the intellectuals and people who talk over ideas are *always* a tiny minority of the people who are moved by those ideas. The bit that you could see on the internet was like the bit of an iceberg you can see; it indicated a much bigger mass underneath. And come 2016, the members of the right had so little faith in their leaders (and those leaders’ ability to deliver the goods) that Trump was able to come in and claim the nomination, then the presidency, with the Republican party apparatus unable to stop him.

        tldr: The alt-right is significantly older than Hillary’s comment, it is a manifestation of the general discontent on the right, this should not be taken to mean that most of the right or even most Trumpists are properly considered alt-right.

        (Man, that was hard to get past the filter.)

        • Jaskologist says:

          An aside: To really get into the mindset of those of us on the right in 2010is and beyond (I don’t consider myself alt-), think of how you felt when the Republicans passed Tax Reform. This is how it felt when Obamacare was passed. (Indeed, that was what set the precedent for the party in power using its majority to pass sweeping changes over the strenuous objections of the minority that the Reps later used to pass Tax Reform.) When the outgroup did even for something like a tax cut it felt so bad that it had you wanting to vote for Bernie Sanders. Imagine how we felt when the original precedent was broken for far more sweeping changes.

        • dndnrsn says:

          I think something that you’re sort of pointing at here, without explicitly saying, that I think is core to the “alt-right” cluster of ideas, is that the alt-right is biodeterminist, and one doesn’t find very much biodeterminism within the Overton window today, especially in ways that would be relevant to politics and society (eg, nobody is denying that genetics has a lot to do with height, but height is much less of import to society than intelligence). Mainstream politics, and the non-mainstream left, are all social determinists; as are some non-mainstream right-wingers (a traditional hardcore social conservative is usually a social determinist).

          To take an example – let’s talk about kids doing badly in school. The mainstream right-wing (conservative, Republican, whatever) response is going to be to blame the culture the kids grew up in, the teachers’ union, the kids themselves, the kids’ parents, etc. “The kids would be doin’ fine if their parents raised them right, there wasn’t such filth on the teevee, and they pulled their goshdarn pants up – those corrupt teacher’s unions ain’t helpin’ neither.”

          Mainstream left (and this includes most people who get called “leftists” around here; both the Bernie-types who would be NDP in Canada or social democrats in Europe) says the schools need more money, usually make some gestures towards racism and classism, but nothing too spicy – the overall message tends to be something like “these poor kids are suffering due to poverty and racism, and the way to fix that is to give those fine people in the teacher’s union more money, have more parental leave so the kids aren’t home alone, encourage people to read to their kids, have some subsidized daycares maybe, and of course hire more public servants to deal with all this.”

          Non-mainstream left tends to blame society in general. It’s not enough to give more money to the schools and so on. Society itself needs a radical change. Usually their line is something like “these students are held down by patriarchal white supremacist capitalism, which must be smashed, and then in the brave new world all students will be brilliant.”

          The biodeterminists on the far right are the only ones who think that the kids doing badly in school is best explained by the kids being dumb, which is best explained by genetics, and they usually expand this into racial theories.

          There’s no unbreakable reason why biodeterminism has to be a right-wing-and-outside-the-mainstream idea – you could easily conceive of a left-wing biodeterminism in which those gifted with a given attribute owe some kind of responsibility to those less gifted, as nothing genetic is due to merit – high IQ, being tall, etc could all be seen as the ultimate unearned privilege. (The Rise of the Meritocracy by Young is an interesting look into this sort of thing)

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            Bio-determinism as actually practiced is just racism with a coat of paint, because..

            Well, “All human genetic diversity is the same color, and it is black”. The exodus from africa was a quite small founding population, and it was also recent enough that the diversity among all non-african populations is completely dwarfed by that of african populations.

            Thus, if you believe genetic potential is all, well, the most gifted group of people in that regard is overwhelmingly likely to be some african tribe you never heard of who are only now coming into a social context where they might utilize their superiority… Because, all of the outliers are in africa.

            By extension, you cant say anything meaningful about african americans as a genetic line, except that they should be more diverse in potential than average, because their ancestors were more or less randomly sampled from across Africa. They dont form a clean line of decent from any tribe or people, but were the victims of war charted off in ships and their bloodlines mixed at random.

            To the extent they can be meaningfully treated as a common class of people it is by their circumstances, not their blood.

          • quanta413 says:

            Well, “All human genetic diversity is the same color, and it is black”. The exodus from africa was a quite small founding population, and it was also recent enough that the diversity among all non-african populations is completely dwarfed by that of african populations.

            Thus, if you believe genetic potential is all, well, the most gifted group of people in that regard is overwhelmingly likely to be some african tribe you never heard of who are only now coming into a social context where they might utilize their superiority… Because, all of the outliers are in africa.

            This does not follow. The populations which left Africa were subject to a different (but mostly overlapping) set of selection pressures than those that stayed in Africa. And all humans are so closely related that drift is highly unlikely to have led to any noticeable changes in intelligence since their divergence. Genetic bottlenecks could accidentally have created high intelligence subgroups, but you seem to be saying Africa has less of those. I’m not sure which way it goes. If not due to bottlenecks, there’d have to have been varying selection effects on intelligence to cause meaningful differences between human populations. Obviously, biodeterminists think there was.

            I think the strong extrapolations are way overboard, but on some specific subgroups like Ashkenazi Jews, I’m uncertain. A lot of it looks culturally related to me. I am very uncertain so I’d guess that a few decades after Africa catches up in nutrition, etc., then the odds that Africa contains the highest IQ subgroup will be roughly equal to its share of the total population.

            By extension, you cant say anything meaningful about african americans as a genetic line, except that they should be more diverse in potential than average, because their ancestors were more or less randomly sampled from across Africa. They dont form a clean line of decent from any tribe or people, but were the victims of war charted off in ships and their bloodlines mixed at random.

            This is not true although exact origins are not easy to unearth. African American slaves were predominantly taken from West Africa. African-Americans also have a high rate of European admixture.

            I’d guess the most genetically unique/diverse Americans should be some multiracial group which could be African Americans but might be Mexican Americans or Hapas.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @dndnrsn

            I think this is pretty accurate. Biodeterminism does loom large in the alt-right. I think it’s for different reasons, though. The heebeedee crew cares about it for its own sake; they’re the people who who were raised on the idea that believing in evolution is super-important and actually believed it. They go in strongly on the “we were lied to” angle. I think far more people came in via the manosphere, because most people care a lot more about getting laid than about any particular theory. But once they accept “you were lied to, women are different from men, here is why,” that again gets you at a level of biodeterminism.

            I don’t think the moldy ones care too much about biodeterminism beyond accepting it as basically true (not that everything is 100% biodetermined, but that’s it’s a much larger factor than the Overton Window will admit). But then, I’m pretty sure the proprietor of this blog also believes that, and he’s not even right, let alone alt-right.

            I don’t think we need to imagine what a left-wing biodeterminism would look like. We had it in the early 1900s: eugenics.

            What you envision is an ancient idea, taking forms ranging from noblesse oblige to Aristotle’s idea of “natural slaves.” I think the modern left is more likely to embrace eugenics 2.0.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Jaskologist

            Have you read The Rise of the Meritocracy? I shill that book every chance I get. I don’t think a left-wing biodeterminism would need to be “eugenics 2.0” – you’re right that eugenics was a Progressive (in the capital-P sense) cause back in the early 20th century. But you’ve got, say, I think at one point Freddie acknowledged the possibility of genetic differences (not racial) in intelligence. I think that a good left-wing biodeterminism would look like noblesse oblige:

            It makes about as much sense to lord your intelligence over someone else as to lord your height over them; it’s not something you earned; you didn’t build that. People should be protected from things outside of their control, and that includes their genes. We need to stop pretending that everyone can be an academic or a professional and start making life better for the average. We need to stop making people feel guilty they’re not good at things they don’t have the aptitude for.

            Something related that I’ve been thinking about: a lot of intelligent people who think that intelligence isn’t genetic, or “IQ isn’t real”, or “IQ is just the result of study”, or whatever – I think unconsciously a lot of them want to have something that was largely outside of their control – their intelligence (given that a bunch of it is genetic, and a lot of environmental factors are decided by one’s society or one’s parents) – as something they can consider a personal achievement.

          • Aapje says:

            @Jaskologist

            Using eugenics to achieve equality of outcome requires destroying diversity, which is currently a major value on the left.

      • hyperboloid says:

        Scott, the most polite thing I can say about that is that your impression is utter nonsense.

        The term alternative right was coined by Paul Gottfried, a writer with a long career at the margins of American politics, and onetime member of a reactionary clique of intellectuals who dubbed themselves “Paleo-(as opposed to neo)-conservatives”. Gottfried himself is Jewish, but nevertheless has held a long admiration for some, obviously non Nazi, forms of Fascism, and the ideas of the Paleocons were deeply anti-democratic. They resented Neoconservitism’s internationalism, belief in universal human rights, and tendency to view the cold war as a struggle for political equality in the face of Leninist totalitarianism; rather than a defense of natural privilege against Bolshevik hordes. Gottfried was a close friend of Samuel T. Francis, a vocal white supremacist and leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the modern rebranding of the White Citizens’ Council movement of the civil rights era (if your not familiar with that particular part of American history, when my father was growing up in Texas they were known as “the country club Klan”). Francis was interestingly an opponent of any form of white separatism arguing in a editorial for American Renaissance that:

        For defenders of the white race and its heritage to adopt this strategy at this point would simply increase their problems because it would place them in antagonism to the patriotic and nationalist loyalties of most of their fellow whites and would allow their enemies to brand them as literally “un-American

        Instead he argued for the forcible sterilization of racial undesirables writing that:

        If whites wanted to do so, they could dictate a solution to the racial problem tomorrow — by curtailing immigration and sealing the border, by imposing adequate fertility controls on nonwhites and encouraging a higher white birth rate, by refusing to be bullied into enduring “multiculturalism,” affirmative action, civil rights laws and policies; and by refusing to submit to cultural dissolution, inter-racial violence and insults, and the guilt that multiracialists inculcate.”

        The paleocon movement was more or less stillborn as a real world political force, and it’s adherents spent the nineteen nineties meeting in shabby hotel conference rooms, and advocating for such implausible, and obscure causes as western backing for Slobodan Milošević’s ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia.

        After 9/11 Gottfried would turn much of his ire on the Bush administration and it’s supporters, not out of any humanitarian objection to their warmongering, but out of the belief that the it was dominated Israeli interests, and naively committed to “liberating” people unfit for self government. Despite his ethnic background, when it came to his political enemies Gottfried often used rhetoric that would not be out of place on the antisemitic fringe:

        As everyone and his cousin know, the neocons are my least favorite Washington insiders. And they divide generally into two categories, the ill-mannered, touchy Jews and their groveling or adulatory Christian assistants. David Frum, the Kagan boys, Norman and John Podhoretz, and Michael Ledeen are the house-owners; while Bill Bennett, Fred Barnes, Michael Novak, Cal Thomas, Linda Chavez, and Rich Lowry all live in the servants quarters.

        With may of his Political compatriots having passed away, Gottfried has cultivated connections with a younger generation of the far right, and has moved ever further towards openly embracing white nationalism himself, rather than just associating with it’s proponents:

        To the extent that anything resembling the historic right can flourish in our predominantly postmodernist, multicultural and feminist society—and barring any unforeseen return to a more traditionalist establishment right—racial nationalism, for better or worse, may be one of the few extant examples of a recognizably rightist mind-set.”

        These days he semi-regularly writes for Taki Theodoracopulos’s magazine that also hosts such “luminaries” as Steve Sailer, John Derbyshire, and of course Richard Spencer, for whom he has been somewhat of a mentor. Spencer is the man most responsible for popularizing the ideas of alt-right, and helped to organize last year’s infamous “unite the right” rally along side Matthew Heimbach, of the Traditionalist Workers Party; an organization that which now part of an coalition called the Nationalist Front, alongside the League of the South, Vanguard America, and the National Socialist Movement.

        Spencer has effectively been a kind of pied piper among the American ultra-droite, and has served as a bridge between the relatively elite intellectual forms of white nationalism, and the hard line “American history X” style Neo-Nazi movement that traces it’s origins through William Luther Pirece’s National Alliance back to the American fuhrer himself, George Lincoln Rockwell.

        If you want a simple summary of what the alt right is, it is a self conscious movement to mainstream Fascism, and extreme racism, and it has succeeded beyond it’s founders wildest dreams. These people are motivated, they have been around for decades, and while their appeal is far too limited for them to ever constitute an effective electoral force on there own; with a some portions of white America increasingly frighted by the changing demographics of our country they are likely to be around for a long time.

        Sadly, I suspect that the most likely result for the alt-Right is that they will grow to a critical mass, before their more extreme elements launch a wave of Oklahoma city style anti-government violence some time in the 2020s after Donald Trump, the would be champion of white American identity, leaves office. After that they will probably fold under a federal crackdown, and a wave of public disgust.

        Hopefully then the mainstream American right will do the necessary house cleaning to once again purge their movement of white supremacists, and broaden their appeal to non white minorities.

        Time will tell.

  66. Asher Jacobson says:

    Leftism/Social Justice is clearly a religion, so I call balderdash on the notion that religion is becoming irrelevant.

    • MawBTS says:

      He doesn’t predict that religion will become irrelevant, but that it will “continue to retreat from US public life” and be “less important”. Jeez, sometimes I feel like basic reading comprehension skills nearly counts as a superpower in SSC comment threads.

      • Asher Jacobson says:

        He doesn’t predict that religion will become irrelevant, but that it will “continue to retreat from US public life” and be “less important”.

        This is a distinction without a difference.

        Further, since leftism is an explcitly political religion this claim is *by definition* false.

        • John Schilling says:

          The claim that leftism is explicitly political religion, is the false one here. And I think it is charitable to interpret Scott’s comments as applying only to things that are explicitly religion, not things that share some characteristics of religion and/or fill a religion-shaped hole in people’s minds.

    • rlms says:

      I call/hope Poe’s law.

      • Asher Jacobson says:

        I call/hope Poe’s law.

        To call “poe’s law” and then just run away without explanation is intellectually dishonest. The political philosopher Eric Voegelin made investigating and documenting modern political religions the main focus of his work.

        Leftism/social justice is a religion.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          And the congregation repeats: “Leftism/social justice is a religion.”

        • rlms says:

          ..apparently incorrectly!

          Poe’s law is an adage of Internet culture stating that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views.

          Your original comment is exactly the kind of contentless SJ bashing I would write if I wanted to troll this comments section (the reference to Is Everything A Religion? is a nice touch).

    • dndnrsn says:

      What definition of “religion” is this by? What differentiates a political ideology that’s a religion from one that’s not?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      This was a pretty low-effort inflammatory comment. Please consider yourself warned that further similar comments will result in a ban.

      (especially after I specifically said that in the future “social justice might become no more of a religion than Christianity”. Jeez, you can’t satisfy some people)

  67. Zenos says:

    “No “far-right” party in power (executive or legislative) in any of France, Germany, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, at any time: 50%”

    This can possibly make sense only if you count AfD, UKIP, Swedish democrats etc. as far-right, which I’d really like to hear your justify. Connotations of the phrase “far-right” are dominated by ww2 fascism, whereas these modern parties’ basic aim is just to limit immigration. I’m sure you find lots of media labeling these parties far-right, racist, anti-human or whatever, just like media likes to interpret gender equality studies creatively to find sexism even in cases where the data doesn’t merit it. You are better than this in the latter case, why would you fail so hard in the former?

    • MawBTS says:

      The UKIP is often described as far right in the press.

      I’m open to the idea that they’re not. But why not? What’s the true definition of “far right”, and why are you the arbiter of it?

      At least Scott seems to have common usage on his side.

      • Zenos says:

        I think Wikipedia’s introduction (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far-right_politics) is reasonable:

        “Far-right politics is a term used to describe politics further on the right of the left-right spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of more extreme nationalist,[1][2] and nativist ideologies, as well as authoritarian tendencies.[3]

        The term is often associated with Nazism,[4] neo-Nazism, fascism, neo-fascism and other ideologies or organizations that feature extreme nationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, racist or reactionary views.[5] These can lead to oppression and violence against groups of people based on their supposed inferiority, or their perceived threat to the nation, state[6] or ultraconservative traditional social institutions.[7]”

        Golden dawn (Greece) and Jobbik (Hungary) follow this definition (though Jobbik has tried to soften its image I’d still count it as far-right for now). If I write “Golden dawn Greece” to Google image search I see swastika-like symbols. If i write “AfD Germany” I see corporate-like symbols and people in suits. I’d call only one of these far-right.

        • Matt M says:

          The term is often associated with Nazism,[4] neo-Nazism, fascism, neo-fascism and other ideologies or organizations that feature extreme nationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, racist or reactionary views.

          Of course it is. Because such an association benefits those on the left, who are largely dominant in education, media, and pop culture.

          The republican party is “often associated with fascism and nazism” in American culture. Does that make them far right?

        • John Schilling says:

          If i write “AfD Germany” I see corporate-like symbols and people in suits

          And if I write “AfD Germany” into Wikipedia’s search window, I see “[AfD] is a right wing to far-right[14] political party”.

          Citing The Economist, Reuters, BBC, the New York Times, Deutsche Welle, NPR, Bloomberg, The Independent, The Guardian, and CNBC to support the “far right” part of that.

          So are we still saying that Wikipedia is a reasonable authority on the far-rightness of parties like AfD?

      • Asher Jacobson says:

        At least Scott seems to have common usage on his side.

        Common usage of a very large number of words is inane gibberish, everyone who uses them is just simply babbling.

    • rlms says:

      I’d call the AfD/FN far-right but not Ukip. A brief Google seems to suggest this is usual use.

  68. ShilpiVA says:

    I don’t know whether we would even survive until the year 2023 due to the lack of food and water level coming very low. Few points are agreeable though I don’t agree most.

  69. Vanzetti says:

    Scott, what’s the point of these predictions? Unless you can explain your model, so that we too can use it to predict the future (excuse me for a moment while I’m laughing), then you are just acting like another biased random generator.

    • MawBTS says:

      He’s testing his calibration, and also making himself accountable to his readership. Should we trust him, or shouldn’t we? Is he usually right, or usually wrong? I mean, he can write convincing articles all damned day, but if he’s not right about stuff, then what’s the point?

      Why describe him “another biased random generator”, like it’s a bad thing? A prediction is biased almost by definition. What would unbiased predictions look like? “In the future, stuff will happen”?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      1. Test my calibration in general.

      2. See how my predictive abilities fail. For example, if everything goes worse than I expect, I’m overly optimistic. If things are more likely to continue on extrapolations of current trends than I expect, I’m falling victim to an “exciting narrative” bias. If technology advances less quickly than I expect, maybe I’m too technophilic. If companies get their products out slower than I expect, maybe I’m too quick to believe deceptive press releases. All of these seem like useful calibrations to do.

      3. Have skin in the game. It’s very easy to offhandedly claim to be able to predict social trends, but I think it’s clarifying to have to put numbers to it and see what I really think, in a way that will embarass me (a little) if I’m wrong.

      4. See Part 6 at http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/02/23/some-groups-of-people-who-may-not-100-deserve-our-eternal-scorn/

      5. Why does anyone do anything?

      • onyomi says:

        This does sound useful, so I’ll make a few predictions for myself and hopefully remember to check back in five years:

        AI is reaching an even more disconcerting level but not yet taking over the world or ushering in a new utopia 95% (all other bets off/adjusted for 5% scenario)

        Trump wins 2020: 35%
        Some other Republican wins 2020: 10%
        Dems win 2020: 50%
        Third Party wins 2020: 5%

        A US state or subregion votes to secede from the US: 30%
        And carries it off: 15%

        SJW left is as or more prominent than today: 60%
        But met with more vigorous resistance from alt-right or something like it: 70%
        Identity politics is significantly less prominent in US public life than today: 20%

        A candidate running for national office explicitly claims to represent white interests and doesn’t back down/clarify: 30%
        And wins: 15%

        The Democrats move are more identity-focused than today: 60%
        The Democrats are more populist/”labor”-centric than they are today: 35%

        The Republicans have moved in a Trumpian, populist direction: 75%
        The Republicans have moved in a more neoliberal/hawkish direction: 20%

        Fox News is more alt-right and less neoliberal: 70%
        Alternative media is more prominent relative to establishment networks, papers: 80%
        But the NYT et al. are still not wholly discredited: 70%
        Jordan Petersen is not as prominent as today: 60%
        But not because he was credibly me-tooed, discovered to have sex with fish, etc.: 30%
        Ted Cruz is not more prominent than today: 70%

        Eurozone is significantly diminished/broken up, though Euro is still around: 65%
        Anti-immigration nationalist parties are more prominent in Europe: 75%
        Brexit is fait accompli: 75%
        But nobody in Europe has seceded: 60%

        Blockchain and crypto are a much bigger deal in 2023 than now: 75%
        But the US Dollar is still pretty strong: 70%
        Despite a pretty big financial crisis of some sort: 60%
        But that financial crisis doesn’t cause any sort of fundamental overturning of the world financial status quo, hyperinflation, etc.: 30%

        BRICs will be widely perceived as enjoying much better economic times, relatively speaking, the past five years than the US and EU: 80%

        The new crop of crypto libertarian millionaires and billionaires are donating heavily to causes like AI research, aging research, and free state project: 85%
        But most of their projects haven’t yet come to fruition in e.g. serious anti-aging breakthroughs: 60%
        I still can’t use stem cells to grow myself a new foreskin (TMI?), but some new breakthroughs in e.g. helping paraplegics regain function have occurred: 70%
        Self-driving cars are still pretty unusual: 60%

        • onyomi says:

          Addenda:

          Overall, by 2023, the “culture wars” in America (discord over race, gender, and other “identity” issues) seem to have:
          Gotten even “hotter”: 60%
          Continued at a steady burn: 20%
          “Cooled off”: 20%

          The percentage of Americans high school seniors applying for college is:
          Lower: 40%
          Higher: 10%
          About the same: 50%

          And when I said

          But that financial crisis doesn’t cause any sort of fundamental overturning of the world financial status quo, hyperinflation, etc.: 30%

          I meant 70% probability (as in, no more than 30% chance of major restructuring of the world financial system, such as by the RMB or Bitcoin dethroning the dollar).

  70. IdleKing says:

    At least one US state has approved single-payer health-care by 2023: 70%

    You should probably define this further. For the prediction to be true, do private health plans need to be banned in that state? Or heavily restricted? Or are you just talking about a public option?

    • rlms says:

      For the prediction to be true, do private health plans need to be banned in that state? Or heavily restricted?

      Given that AFAIK private healthcare is only banned/restricted in a tiny minority of places with single payer, presumably not.

  71. Asher Jacobson says:

    I think “alt-right” is usually used to describe people clustered around frogtwitter/the Daily Stormer/the Right Stuff/pol/

    No, I think it’s usually used to describe anyone who does not make great effort to constantly signal opposition to Donald Trump.

    Matt M wins the thread. Correct. The left has a strong, probably inevitable, historical tendency to progressively move the goalposts to the point where anyone who isn’t *sufficiently* leftist has a closet case of Hitler-loving.

    • hyperboloid says:

      People on the right have made whole careers out of calling everybody to the left of Genghis Khan a Communist sympathizer. Amusingly when Obama was in office they managed to call him both a Communist and a Nazi.

  72. OriginalSeeing says:

    “1. At least one US politician, Congressman or above, explicitly identifies as alt-right (in more than just one off-the-cuff comment) and refuses to back down or qualify: 10%”

    This skips over the possibility that the term alt-right doesn’t get co-opted and then stolen by a far less radical group. That is what happened to Ron Paul’s “Tea Party” and almost no one actually knows what alt-right even means other than ‘bad group’ so I expect it could easily happen again.

  73. LadyJane says:

    Are each of the three ideological poles tied to a different corresponding terminal value?

    Liberals prioritize individual freedom and liberty above all else. Neoliberals and Classical Liberals and Libertarians all have different views on the best methods for achieving and maximizing freedom, but that’s a disagreement over ends rather than means.

    Progressives prioritize equality and egalitarianism above all else. The Economic Leftists and the Social Justice crowd have differing opinions over the primary cause of inequality in modern society, with the former blaming the socioeconomic class divide and the latter blaming identity-based discrimination, but they’re both united in seeing inequality itself as the dominant problem to be overcome.

    Finally, Traditionalists prioritize security and stability above all else. They see strict hierarchies and traditional values as bulwarks ensuring that society remains stable, and view social and cultural (and in some cases, religious and/or ethnic) hegemony as the most efficient way of keeping civilization safe from the threat of the Other. Divisions within this group are based around idiomatic particulars more than anything else (e.g. Western vs. Eastern culture, Christian vs. Islamic fundamentalism).

    Left-Liberals and Social Democrats want both liberty and equality, but they’re willing to sacrifice stability to get it, undermining traditional values and cultural boundaries; that’s why they see Traditionalists as their primary enemy.

    Establishment Conservatives (i.e. Right-Liberals) and Fusionist/Paleo-Libertarian types want both liberty and stability, which is why they tend to conflate freedom with nationalism (“America is the land of the free, therefore opposing American values means opposing freedom”). However, they’re unconcerned with equality, so they’re willing to allow identity-based discrimination and let the class divide increase, which puts them at odds with Progressives.

    Authoritarian Leftists want both equality and stability at the expense of freedom, which is why they despise Liberals/Libertarians and vice-versa. State Communists fall into this group, but some Right-Populists and Fascists (Strasserist Nazis, Ba’athists, National Bolshevists, etc.) could also be seen as examples, with the caveat that they only want socioeconomic equality for the people within their ethno-nationalist tribe.

    Finally, Centrists could be seen as promoting all three values equally, seeking to find balance between them rather than prioritizing one or two over the others. I would place the more hawkish and authoritarian Neoliberals into this category, the ones who support foreign interventionism and draconian security measures and gun control and “nanny state” policies (Hillary Clinton being a prime example of such).

  74. JohnBuridan says:

    1. Church attendance rates lower in 2023 than 2018: 90%

    Scott, your religion prediction is unclear. Do you mean Church worldwide or religion in America?

    • JohnBuridan says:

      Church attendance rates lower in 2023 than 2018: 60%
      For Catholicism, attendance in America does not decrease. 60%
      Religious attendance for Christian denominations worldwide will increase. 80%

  75. pjiq says:

    Scott:

    Here are some bets you can have to compare to your own bets. Some of them are absurdly aggressive, just to keep things interesting-

    55% stock market crashes at some point (crash defined as S&P dropping 25% from all time highs)
    60% a new political party with a catchy name gains national press coverage (catchy is not defined, or meant to be a significant qualifier here)
    70% Bernie chooses not to run in 2020.
    60% The Democrats choose a female as their front runner in 2020.
    80% Higher voter turnout in 2020 than in 2016.
    50% No nuclear weapons go off in a populated area.
    65% A nuclear war between great powers does not start.
    80% China continues to outpace the United States in economic growth.
    60% Trump spells nothing wrong on twitter again during his time as president.
    51% computer AI still fails to beat humans at Starcraft, much to the glee of AI skeptics.
    75% No new federal laws are passed significantly regulating A.I. on the internet, in spite of bots controlling more and more of internet activity.
    70% neoliberal ideas become even more commonly believed and deeply entrenched, in spite of evidence from China, elsewhere that they actually are wrong/ bad national strategy.
    90% Bitcoin breaks $30,000 at some point.
    51% Federal law is passed in the United States prohibiting self driving vehicles from functioning without a human driver present. This destroys the self-driving car industry in the short run.
    65% Crude oil prices break $200 a barrel at some point.
    99% The European Union dissolves completely.
    55% Trump is impeached before 2020.
    99.9% Mike Pence wins the presidency in 2020.
    65% Age adjusted obesity rates are lower in 2023 than in 2018 in Mexico.
    85% Age adjusted obesity rates decrease in at least 5 other countries besides Mexico between 2018 and 2023.
    55% Age adjusted suicide rates are higher in 2023 than in 2018 in the United States.
    80% One of Tarantino’s next two movies is a “huge flop” by his standards (receives less than 7.5 on imdb) to the great disappointment of fans such as myself.
    51% Elon Musk lands a female astronaut on the moon, whose name ends in an “a.”
    60% a premature baby is born that breaks the current record (set in San Antonio in 2014). Artificial womb technology also improves with animal subjects.

    Ok that’s probably enough.

    • Bugmaster says:

      99.9% Mike Pence wins the presidency in 2020.
      65% A nuclear war between great powers does not start.

      Your vision of the future is rather grim…

      • pjiq says:

        Nuclear war seems a lot worse to me, but I agree, Pence isn’t probably the hero we’ve all been waiting for.

        But I basically agree with Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature” that things have been getting better in a lot of ways. I just think the next 50 years or so might be kind of rough.

    • christhenottopher says:

      I notice that you seem to put a lot of emphasis on China’s GDP growth rate. But is this really accounting for catch-up growth? China’s GDP per capita is less than a third of the US’s per capita GDP and convergence economics would imply that we should expect faster growth from the lower productivity country due to having more low hanging fruit to pick. I’d say your guess that China grows faster than the US is low on that basis, but that your comment that China’s growth is significant evidence against neoliberalism is therefore overstated (though to be fair that’s not really an important part of any of your predictions).

      Also, wow! You’re remarkably pessimistic about the possibility of nuclear weapons being used against populated areas. That implies an approximately 7/1 odds any given year of nukes being used against a populace. Given that the observed odds have been 72/2 odds of an inhabited area being hit per year (and 0 if you exclude the outlier year of 1945), that’s a huge increase in the chances of nuclear weapons being used. Care to expand upon why?

      • pjiq says:

        You make a good point about China, it could easily be catch up growth rather than evidence of neoliberal theories being inaccurate. It’s my personal opinion that neoliberal assumptions about markets vs. government tend to oversimplify complex issues by always saying the same thing: “less regulation/ government involvement, more free market policies.” Rarely do such a wide array of problems all have the exact same answer. Such solutions might be philosophically ideal, from a Hayekian “eliminating coercion” perspective, but in a world of international power politics I doubt they are always the best way to outcompete potential strategic rivals. I doubt we would have implemented things like gas rations and the draft during World War 2 if the free market was always the most efficient possible way to run things.

        Regarding nuclear weapons, my pessimism is hopefully unfounded. I believe most articles about North Korea being guaranteed to act in their own self interest and never using nukes because they care about self preservation to be unconvincing. People follow their hearts, not their self interest (we aren’t often smart enough to know what is actually in our “self interest”), and in a country that has been pushing anti-US propaganda for decades and has playgrounds and billboards with nuclear warheads on them, I think an irrational missile launch is not out of the question. Hopefully our missile defense technology could stop such an attack, however. In general it just seems to me amazing that we have made it this far without a nuclear weapon going off, and I see some unexpected bomb going off under mysterious circumstances as much more likely than a North Korean missile launch.

        (To make a long story short, no, I fortunately don’t have concrete evidence that the next