Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Propheteering

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-03-22


Pundits suffering through a slow news long weekend can do worse than go through two sites: Paleo-Future (for a giggle) and Long Bets (for something more serious).  Overview and links to samples from these sites over the fold.

Paleo-Future looks at predictions from the past (since the 1880s, such as the future of advertising or 1952 fashion), usually comparing them to the present.  Whimsy, how-wrong-can-you-get and spot-on (like 1967 online-shopping) elements are all featured, covering both technology and society (like the 1959 view of a nirvana for womankind).  You can browse by decade of the prediction, or the subject matter.

Long Bets is much deeper, with bets made by luminaries (many are wikipedia article subjects), winnings to charity, and often undecidable for a century.

Each prediction becomes a bet when challenged, with both sides presenting cogent arguments.  Registered users can support either side or add to discussion of the issues.

Unchallenged predictions are here, while bets (some already completed) are here.  Clicking on the bet/prediction text will take you to the arguments.

Here are some selections:

Year Ends Prediction Yes No
02002 02020 By 2020, bioterror or bioerror will lead to one million casualties in a single event. Martin Rees ?
02002 ? The first discovery of extraterrestrial life will be someplace other than on a planet or on a satellite of a planet. Freeman J. Dyson Peter Spark
02002 02020 By 2020, no one will have won a Nobel Prize for work on superstring theory, membrane theory, or some other unified theory describing all the forces of nature. John Horgan Michio Kaku
02002 02070 By 2070, at least six countries will have officially implemented a 4-day working week. Christophe Caudy ?
02003 02005 As of August 2005 a Democrat is President of the US. Stewart Brand Brian Eno (won)
02008 02015 Immortal mice by 2015 Tor T. Liimatainen ?

Long Bets is part of the Long Now Foundation, devoted to fostering long-term thinking, and leading a number of projects including a 10000 year mechanical clock (see pictures of the clock and orrery) that could be maintained without modern technology.

Enjoy!

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