“Predictions are hard — especially about the future.”
— attributed variously to Mark Twain, Niels Bohr, Yogi Berra, an ancient Chinese proverb, and Danish folk wisdom, amongst other sources
Probabilities are hard to grasp. We make sense of the world through pattern-seeking and storytelling, which tends towards all-or-nothing, black-and-white interpretations. We leap to conclusions. We make systematic errors assessing objective states of the world. We are prone to cognitive biases of myriad types.
At the collective level, truth is often trumped by tribe. Now more than ever, in an environment where there is a surplus of information vying for our attention, it’s easy to select and organize it into the narrative of choice — which, in most cases, will be the one that best aligns with our preconceptions.
One area that is particularly hard to get our heads around is the future. Shrouded in uncertainty, characterized by possibilities and probabilities rather than inevitability, the future confounds our desire for absolutes. While we can readily model the past into a story that makes sense, extending this sort of cause-and-effect explanatory narrative into the future proves much more difficult. In the words of Daniel Kahneman — nobel laureate and, with his colleague Amos Tversky, mapmaker of human bias and self-delusion — “the illusion that we understand the past fosters overconfidence in our ability to predict the future.”
And yet, a clear view of future possibilities is critical to our success — possibly even our survival — as a species. In order to make optimal decisions, appropriately allocate resources and attention, and create the conditions where the outcomes that we want to happen in fact happen, an accurate assessment of the likelihood of future events is needed.
Today we’re delighted to introduce Futuur to the world. Futuur is a forecasting platform and game built on the principles of a prediction market — a way of generating more accurate predictions using collective intelligence.
Prediction markets are an ingenious class of people-powered forecasting engines that use a mechanism similar to a stock exchange to aggregate the wisdom of the crowd and derive the probability of future events. They’ve been consistently shown to produce more accurate predictions than traditional forecasting methods like polling or expert analysis.
But, despite their demonstrated accuracy, their clear utility for decision making, and the strong advocacy on the part of some of the leading thinkers in academia, business and government, prediction markets have failed to reach broad adoption historically. This has been attributed to a range of reasons, including regulatory obstacles, lack of liquidity, poor user experience, and what prediction markets pioneer Robin Hanson refers to as their tendency to “be politically disruptive” and “embarrass powerful people”.
Futuur aims to address these issues with a streamlined, fun and eminently useable — and useful — game-based approach, where social rather than financial capital is what’s at stake.
How it Works
Predictions on Futuur take the form of wagers, using a play-money, in-game currency called the Oom (ø). For a given question — for instance, “who will win the 2020 US Presidential election?” — each potential outcome has a price, which ranges from 0ø to 1ø, and represents the percentage chance that the outcome occurs, according to the community of forecasters.
Predictions are made by purchasing shares in an outcome at the indicated price. If the predicted outcome occurs, the forecaster wins 1ø for each share they hold, while those predicting other outcomes lose their stakes. As the crowd makes its predictions by buying and selling positions, the price changes accordingly, and reflects the crowd’s best estimate of the chances of the event occuring.
The result is an an ongoing, up-to-date forecast that aggregates information from across diverse perspectives, and accounts for changing information over time.
Free, Fun, & Social
On Futuur, the money is fake but the predictions are real.
We’ve started from the premise that the more people there are participating on the platform, across more diverse perspectives, the more accurate the aggregate forecasts will be. By removing the requirement to wager real cash, we reduce friction and open the door to anybody in the world to make their prediction known — not just traders and punters with money to spare. Here, the incentive to make smart bets on the future is something arguably more valuable than money: credibility.
Forecasters can put their prediction abilities to the test while learning and improving based on objective, real-world feedback. They can show off their skills to the world (and hold themselves accountable for their calls) while connecting and competing with other players for forecasting cred and monthly prizes.
All the while, helping to generate more accurate predictions for everybody.
Better Predictions, Better Outcomes
Our goal with Futuur is to inform better decision-making by providing more accurate forecasts across the greatest breadth and depth of topics — from the macro to the micro, the global to the local, the long term to the imminent. Currently Futuur covers categories including politics, sports, finance, entertainment and science, and we’re adding more topics all the time. If you have a suggestion for questions or topics to add, let us know here.
Check it out, put your forecasting skills to the test, and help predict the future!