For quite some time I’ve been fascinated by a website called Long Bets. Essentially, it’s a site devoted to predicting, arguing, and betting on scientific and socially impacting events.
The idea is rather simple and comes with an attractive ending. People place bets on events they expect to see happen (or not), provide a certain amount of reasoning for their predicted outcome, and then open it up for debate. Others are free to add their opinions, and if so inclined, can bet against the stated prediction. Only, the winner doesn’t get to keep the money generated from the bet rather it is donated to a charity.
Of course, the real kicker is that some of the predictions are as far away as one-hundred years (see bet 137). A few of the more interesting ones include:
8: The US men’s soccer team will win the World Cup before the Red Sox win the World Series.
9: By 2020, bioterror or bioerror will lead to one million casualties in a single event.
10: By 2050, we will receive intelligent signals from outside our solar system.
11: At least one human alive in the year 2000 will still be alive in 2150.
22: By 2100 a world government will be in place and in control of: business law, environmental law, and weapons of mass destruction.
76: By the year 2020 solar electricity will be as cheap or cheaper than that produced by fossil fuels.
105: As of March 7th, 2005, Osama bin Laden is dead.
177: By 2010 more than 50 percent of books sold worldwide will be printed on demand at the point of sale in the form of library-quality paperbacks.
196: global warming denialists will be shown to be wrong over the next 20 years.
207: By 2150 faster than light propulsion theory will become realized, but not implemented, either through black holes, worm holes or space time warping.
214: The People’s Republic of China will successfully place a living human on the surface of Mars before any other nation.
252: By year 2036, there will be at least 1 man alive in the U.S. who has fathered 150 children.
284: By 2025, the very first human being will be cloned and this event will be accepted by the most people.
I’m always surprised that I see so little from my own field. That’s why I plan to throw out the following grim prediction in the near future:
Honestly, the fires of genocide are already burning throughout this region, and it’s going to be even odds to see where it starts. Feel free to bet against me if you want, but be prepared to lose the debate and your money.