Improving Judgments of Existential Risk: Better Forecasts, Questions, Explanations, Policies

51 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2022 Last revised: 18 Jan 2022

See all articles by Ezra Karger

Ezra Karger

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Pavel D. Atanasov

IE University; Pytho LLC

Philip Tetlock

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: January 17, 2022

Abstract

Forecasting tournaments are misaligned with the goal of producing actionable forecasts of existential risk, an extreme-stakes domain with slow accuracy feedback and elusive proxies for long-run outcomes. We show how to improve alignment by measuring facets of human judgment that play central roles in policy debates but have long been dismissed as unmeasurable. The key is supplementing traditional objective accuracy metrics with intersubjective metrics that test forecasters' skill at predicting other forecasters' judgments on topics that resist objective scoring, such as long-range scenarios, probativeness of questions, insightfulness of explanations, and impactfulness of risk-mitigation options. We focus on the value of Reciprocal Scoring, an intersubjective method grounded in micro-economic research that challenges top forecasters to predict each other's judgments. Even if cumulative information gains prove modest and are confined to a 1-to-5 year planning horizon, the expected value of lives saved would be massive.

Keywords: Forecasting, Prediction, Existential Risk

JEL Classification: C11, C83, O33

Suggested Citation

Karger, Ezra and Atanasov, Pavel D. and Tetlock, Philip, Improving Judgments of Existential Risk: Better Forecasts, Questions, Explanations, Policies (January 17, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4001628 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4001628

Ezra Karger (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Pavel D. Atanasov

IE University ( email )

Castellón de la Plana 8
Madrid, 28006
Spain

Pytho LLC ( email )

Madrid
Spain
641179247 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://pavelatanasov.net

Philip Tetlock

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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