Making predictions

Cover Image for Making predictions

I'm currently reading The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli, which is a fascinating book. The author summarily lists an extraordinary number of biases affecting thinking and decision-making. One of these that stood out more than the rest was hindsight bias.

In retrospect, everything becomes clear and inevitable.

It is common to join the dots after the fact and convince ourselves that this was always the most likely outcome. It is effortless to determine both the route and the destination when looking backwards down the one path traversed to get to the present, but it is much more challenging to do so looking forward. However, it is easy to become convinced that we would have chosen the correct path and destination were we looking at it contemporaneously because of how obvious it seems when looking back.

Dobelli suggests that it can be a valuable exercise to journal and write down your predictions to revisit later, to emphasise how fallible most of your predictions are and gain insight into the genuine unpredictability of the world.

Another bias that struck me as related is the forecast illusion, which refers to the discovery that experts are rarely more accurate than a layperson when asked to make predictions and forecasts.

In terms of accuracy, the experts fared only marginally better than a random forecast generator.

Dobelli's advice to counter this bias was to take two actions. Firstly, always inquire into the predicters motives and incentives, and second look into their track record.

After reading about these biases, I decided to do the tiniest part to combat these. I will go through and make some predictions on areas that I have opinions on and try and do my best to explain why. I'll lay out my reasoning and try to identify biases and incentives. By doing this, then one way or another, successful or unsuccessful, I can look back and potentially learn. Or gloat, or laugh. Give youngsters material to dunk on me with on Twitter2100.

Stay tuned for my predictions on full self-driving, cryptocurrency, artificial general intelligence and digital privacy over the next few weeks. If there are topics that you're interested in hearing my prediction on apart from these listed, get in touch and let me know!

Bonus: alternate post cover images

Dall-E 2 prompt: "an award winning photo of a journalist speaking to a crowd, fish eye lens, unsplash, digital art".

I liked the last one, but it felt too atmospheric for the post!

Dall-E 2 prompt: an award winning photo of a journalist speaking to a crowd, fish eye lens, unsplash, digital art