Forecasting 2021: Superforecasters’ Personal Expectations for the New Year (Part 2)
Turn of the year is traditionally the time when people like to make predictions. Professional Superforecasters do it better and see the future sooner. In celebrating the New Year, the Superforecasters challenged themselves to come up with 2021 predictions in each of three categories:
Safe But Not Boring (events that are 75% or more likely to happen in 2021)
Coin Flip (45%-55% likelihood of happening in 2021)
Long Shot (5%-25% likelihood of happening in 2021)
This is Part 2 of the Superforecasters’ personal* expectations for the new year. Here is the link to Part 1.
Real Actions, Not Just Rhetoric: Climate
: Despite extreme weather events, including bush fires and forest fires worldwide, 2021 may be a year of hope — and action — for the environment. The Superforecasters’ slam-dunk forecast on a US return to the Paris Agreement has already been realized. They also predict a new cap on CO2 emissions set in the US and Europe. The Biden climate agenda should involve massive infrastructure investment and serious commitment to carbon-neutral electricity generation by 2035.
“Real actions, not just rhetoric,” one Superforecaster® writes. “In hindsight, everyone will say they saw it coming.”
: Another Superforecaster is also optimistic: “The world will come to a realization that pandemics and climate change can’t be solved outside of a rules-based international system.”
: In geopolitics, some Superforecasters foresee a US return to the Iran Nuclear Agreement…
: …and even small odds for the completion of US withdrawal from Afghanistan without an ensuing major increase in violence.
: The United States embassy to the nation of Israel is expected to be located in Jerusalem.
: Benjamin Netanyahu may have served his last day as prime minister of Israel in 2021, and Israel may normalize relations with at least one country in the MENA region.
: Over in the UK, Boris Johnson should still be PM, while the SNP should win the Scottish Parliament elections.
: Individual Superforecasters also predict failures of authoritarian/populist regimes over their handling of COVID-19…
: …with the possibility of protests or riots in at least one country due to the lack of access to the vaccines.
: Starting with increased diversity in the Biden Cabinet, women should begin to make a dent in male-dominated professions, in both government and business.
“Equal percentages of men and women on boards will begin to be the norm, which will commence in 2021,” one Superforecaster predicts.
Technology: Solving the Last Mile Problem
: Virtual conference apps will continue their ascent in 2021. Starlink will be able to provide Internet connectivity anywhere in the world. The implications of this are less clear:
“This kind of global access is going to change things in ways we haven’t started to imagine yet, largely solving the last mile problem,” a Superforecaster writes.
: Kickstarting the remaking of transportation infrastructure, 2021 may see automated freight routes and customer delivery turn into standard operating practice.
: One Superforecaster goes further: “Amazon or Walmart will have an up-and-running robot delivery force in place to use in remote delivery areas as well as urban areas by Q4 2021.”
: Another Superforecaster gives odds, however small, of Tesla’s move toward full autonomous driving: “No passenger vehicle will be approved by the NHTSA for full autonomous driving AND Tesla Motors will update the software on at least one of its models to allow full autonomous driving.”
: Thanks to technological progress, a new vaccine might be developed for a major disease (e.g., malaria) by the end of 2021.
: On the other hand, this year might also see the first international crisis triggered by the use of deep fake technology.
* This article is based on views of individual Superforecasters, without aggregation. As Dr. Tetlock states in his book, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, on average, teams are 23% more accurate than individuals. That’s why our Superforecasters work as teams, bringing out the best in each other. However, to celebrate the New Year, we broke this rule for this piece, presenting individual forecasts as opposed to well-reasoned aggregates.
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