Mantic Monday: Ukraine Cube Manifold
Thanks to Clay Graubard for doing my work for me:
These run from about 48% to 60%, but I think the differences are justified by the slightly different wordings of the question and definitions of “invasion”.
You see a big jump last Friday when the US government increased the urgency of their own warnings. I ignored this on Friday because I couldn’t figure out what their evidence was, but it looks like the smart money updated a lot on it.
A few smaller markets that Clay didn’t include: Manifold is only at 36% despite several dozen traders. I think they’re just wrong - but I’m not going to use any more of my limited supply of play money to correct it, thus fully explaining the wrongness. Futuur is at 47%, but also thinks there’s an 18% chance Russia invades Lithuania, so I’m going to count this as not really mature. Insight Prediction, a very new site I’ve never seen before, claims to have $93,000 invested and a probability of 22%, which is utterly bizarre; I’m too suspicious and confused to invest, and maybe everyone else is too.
(PredictIt, Polymarket, and Kalshi all avoid this question. I think PredictIt has a regulatory agreement that limits them to politics. Polymarket and Kalshi might just not be interested, or they might be too PR-sensitive to want to look like they’re speculating on wars where thousands of people could die.)
What happens afterwards? Clay beats me again:
So it looks like forecasters expect that, conditional upon Russia invading at all, there’s an 80% chance they’ll take Mariupol in the east, a 66% chance they’ll take Kharkiv (also eastern, but only a third ethnic Russian and currently aligned with the central government), and only about a 30% chance they take Kyiv or Odessa. See also this thread full of speculation in the subreddit.
As for me, I’m going all in on “yes” after seeing this tweet:
Last week I speculated that to truly realize the potential of prediction markets, we’d need one that was real money, easy to use, and easy to create markets on. Gustavo Lacerda and Nuno Sempere very kindly drew this picture and named it after me:
Nobody has reached the promised land at the furthest point. But all three connected vertices are occupied. Augur is real-money and lets people create their own markets, (but it’s impossible to use - it’s made of complicated crypto contracts that nobody’s made a workable front end for yet). Polymarket is real money and easy to use (but doesn’t let people create their own markets; apparently they’re nervous about resolution disputes). Manifold is easy to use and lets people create their own market, but it’s not real money (they’re American and centralized, so they have to follow anti-gambling regulations).
Speaking of which, they’re open!
As the cube suggests, Manifold is a site where anyone can create their own (play money) prediction market. They set the question and they decide when and how it resolves (with everyone else just out of luck if they decide to fake it or rug-pull). It’s a bold strategy, but boy oh boy are people liking it so far:
This is a semi-randomly selected sample of Manifold markets, but let’s go through them one by one.
The Ukraine market is the biggest on Manifold. It’s also deeply out of step with every other prediction market and the top non-prediction-market authorities - who are all giving numbers in the 50s and 60s. I don’t understand how this is so low - yes, play money < real money, but mostly because play money doesn’t get enough people betting. Here lots of people are betting - it’s the biggest market on the site, and since you only start with $1000 either twenty people have bet everything or more people have bet a fraction - but it’s still wrong. I tried to spend some play money to correct it and it snapped back to just as wrong as it was before. I have no explanation.
Midnight The Stray Cat is the second biggest market on Manifold, just after Ukraine. I guess the Internet really liking cats shouldn’t be a surprise at this point. In case you need to do research first I’m told this is the cat in question:
Props to Manifold for a bunch of markets like the third one on there, where they eat their own dog food by using their market to predict how their business decisions are going to go.
ACX Bot has copy-pasted all of my predictions from 2022. At some point they should be able to compare their results with Zvi (ie a single very smart person), with the contest many of you entered (ie an average of formless crowdsourced predictions), and Metaculus (ie a non-monetary forecasting tournament). I’m looking forward to it!
Most of you already know Lars Doucet, who’s written some great ACX posts on Georgism. I don’t know what possessed him to make a Joe Rogan Georgism interviewee market, unless he’s gunning for the position.
Valinor is a group house on my street, with ~a dozen people living in and around it. We’ve been talking about fixing the backyard for a while. Now we can bet about whether it will happen. Having a number for this actually affects some of my decisions a little.
Connor is hijacking the prediction market to make a poll, which is pretty cute.
Dwayne Johnson does not have a 15% chance of winning the election. Manifold is suffering from the usual play money problem, where if you only start out with $1000 in play money, nobody wants to lock it up for three years to make a 15% profit.
Vivek’s market, “Will I believe that 13177 is a prime number”, is pretty unusual. I’m interpreting it as a test/demonstration of prediction markets’ information-gathering ability. If you don’t know something and it’s hard to Google, you can make a prediction market about whether you’ll believe it in the future, and people who are able to figure out the answer will bet on it. Based on the 97% YES rate, I’m guessing 13177 is in fact a prime number. What else can you do this with? TANSTAAFL’s “Will I Be Convinced That Justin Trudeau Is Not Fidel Castro’s Son?” market is maybe pushing the limit of this methodology.
Anyway, there are lots of me-too prediction markets but this is something genuinely new under the sun. Maybe it will be awesome itself, but I’m also hoping it helps bigger players realize how much more is possible.
This Week In Metaculus
A few new questions on intelligence enhancement, eg:
The question explicitly allows embryo selection, but says it must raise IQ ten points and be available for <25% median income to count. Trivial improvements to existing embryo selection will top out around 9 points, so this seems to be predicting something more interesting, maybe iterated embryo selection at the very least. I’m probably slightly bearish on this one; I believe if it existed someone would find a way to get it, but I think the regulatory climate might be able to prevent the relevant research indefinitely.
Improving adult IQ is really hard.
This is a bold thing to speculate about! Atmospheric CO2 was 300ish for most of pre-industrial history, 400ish now, and rising. This question predicts 600 in 2100, which sounds like what happens if global warming gets a bit worse but eventually stabilizes. I’m less sure. I think if we make it to 2100, we’ll have so much technology that atmospheric CO2 can be whatever we want it to be. But maybe we’ll want it to stay where it is; once there’s been a lot of global warming and people have moved / shifted lifestyles, it could be equally disruptive to cool the planet back down.
Right now it’s 5%, the official government prediction is 10% by 2030, but this market says 17.6%. But look at that probability distribution! It’s a lot of people saying 10%ish, plus a very long tail of very big numbers. I think people are disagreeing about how exponential this change is going to be.
Metaculus is holding an essay contest for people who want to use their AI-related prediction markets to argue the future of AI. $6500 available in prizes.
Nuno Sempere is giving out $10,000 in forecasting-related microgrants.
Some more New Years’ predictions: Pontifex Minimus on “Scotland, UK, and the world”; Slime Mold Time Mold on 2050 (and 1950?), sorry if I’m missing somebody.
A “literal marketplace of ideas”, I still don’t have a good sense of what this is but I’m going to look into it more.
Mantic Monday: Ukraine Cube Manifold