[Question] Forecasting Thread: Existential Risk

This is a thread for displaying your probabilities of an existential catastrophe that causes extinction or the destruction of humanity’s long-term potential.

Every answer to this post should be a forecast showing your probability of an existential catastrophe happening at any given time.

For example, here is Michael Aird’s timeline:

The goal of this thread is to create a set of comparable, standardized x-risk predictions, and to facilitate discussion on the reasoning and assumptions behind those predictions. The thread isn’t about setting predictions in stone – you can come back and update at any point!

How to participate

  1. Go to this page

  2. Create your distribution

    • Specify an interval using the Min and Max bin, and put the probability you assign to that interval in the probability bin.

    • You can specify a cumulative probability by leaving the Min box blank and entering the cumulative value in the Max box.

    • To put probability on never, assign probability above January 1, 2120 using the edit button to the right of the graph. Specify your probability for never in the notes, to distinguish this from putting probability on existential catastrophe occurring after 2120.

  3. Click ‘Save snapshot’ to save your distribution to a static URL

    • A timestamp will appear below the ‘Save snapshot’ button. This links to the URL of your snapshot.

    • Make sure to copy it before refreshing the page, otherwise it will disappear.

  4. Click ‘Log in’ to automatically show your snapshot on the Elicit question page

    • You don’t have to log in, but if you do, Elicit will:

      • Store your snapshot in your account history so you can easily access it.

      • Automatically add your most recent snapshot to the x-risk question page under ‘Show more’. Other users will be able to import your most recent snapshot from the dropdown, shown below.

    • We’ll set a default name that your snapshot will be shown under – if you want to change it, you can do so on your profile page.

    • If you’re logged in, your snapshots for this question will be publicly viewable.

  5. Copy the snapshot timestamp link and paste it into your LessWrong comment

    • You can also add a screenshot of your distribution in your comment using the instructions below.

Here’s an example of how to make your distribution:

How to add an image to your comment

  1. Take a screenshot of your distribution

  2. Then do one of two things:

    1. If you have beta-features turned on in your account settings, drag-and-drop the image into your comment

    2. If not, upload it to an image hosting service like imgur.com, then write the following markdown syntax for the image to appear, with the url appearing where it says ‘link’: ![](link)

  3. If it worked, you will see the image in the comment before hitting submit.

If you have any bugs or technical issues, reply to Ben from the LW team or Amanda (me) from the Ought team in the comment section, or email me at amanda@ought.org.

Questions to consider as you’re making your prediction

  • What definitions are you using? It’s helpful to specify them.

  • What evidence is driving your prediction?

  • What are the main assumptions that other people might disagree with?

  • What evidence would cause you to update?

  • How is the probability mass allocated amongst x-risk scenarios?

  • Would you bet on these probabilities?

Comparisons and aggregations

Here’s a comparison of the 8 predictions made so far (last updated 9/​26/​20).

Here’s a distribution averaging all the predictions (last updated 9/​26/​20). The averaged distribution puts 19.3% probability before 2120 and 80.7% after 2120. The year within 2021-2120 with the greatest risk is 2040.

Here’s a CDF of the averaged distribution: