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Optimally combining expertise to predict the likelihood of future events

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Human minds are incredible engines for predicting the future. Every decision you make weighs future outcomes against each other, and you choose which outcome you prefer. But the world is complex, and many predictions — while extremely important — are hard to make. Science has developed largely to fill this gap, making stunning predictions about systems that can be accurately modeled mathematically or numerically using theoretical constructs, but it still often cannot predict the behavior of complex, and especially social, systems. It is often assumed that such events are simply unpredictable. But they aren’t. Research shows that with some of the right incentives and feedback, groups of people can make remarkably accurate predictions of the probability of future events. Metaculus was formed with the goal of improving decision-making by soliciting, improving, and optimally aggregating quantitative predictions of future events. It is led by physicists with expertise in quantitative data analysis and modeling, but with a very big picture view, who have studied prediction on timescale from microseconds to trillions of years.

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