Effective altruism students hone forecasting skills in first INFER tournament

Henry Tolchard
Apr 20, 2022 06:50PM UTC
INFER has launched its first tournament for effective altruism (EA) student groups. EA groups from top universities around the world are learning forecasting techniques and putting skills into practice in an attempt to be more accurate in predicting the future.

The EA community aims to solve the world’s most pressing problems through high-quality evidence and careful reasoning. Within the community, forecasting has been emphasized as an important skill to improve the ability to predict future events, and by extension, make good decisions.

“Whether we're trying to figure out when and where the next famine is that'll provide an opportunity for disproportionate food relief or trying to discern AI takeoff timelines, being able to consistently and accurately look into the future makes our efforts to do good all the more impactful,” explained Henry Josephson, incoming executive director of the University of Chicago’s EA student group. “[Forecasting] can better allocate our resources to anticipate future problems, skirt future disasters, and work to avert future catastrophes.”

EA’s philosophy aligns with the purpose of INFER and makes EA college students a natural fit as forecasters. INFER’s EA College Tournament allows students the opportunity to develop forecasting rigor using rational thinking, reasoning, and judgment – all while directly contributing to the mission of bolstering U.S. Government decision-making.

Josephson was drawn to the personal development aspect of the tournament: “I really appreciate that INFER, on top of its unique link to the U.S. Government, is providing college EAs with the opportunity to put their foot in the door and skill up. There's so much room for growth…in terms of one's personal progression from novice to experienced forecaster.”

INFER worked with two student groups, EA Cambridge and University of Chicago EA, to help coordinate the tournament. So far, they have recruited 100 participants from 13 universities worldwide, including Stanford, Columbia, St Andrews, and Delhi University.

“We’re excited about encouraging a culture of forecasting in EA university groups,” said Hannah Erlebach, EA Cambridge’s Head of Outreach. “I think one of the main appeals of forecasting is its accessibility. It’s something that many people in EA have come across, but it’s not as widely spoken about as some of the other priority career paths in EA, so I think the INFER tournament is a really excellent opportunity for people to try it out themselves.”

Participants will tackle questions such as “Will the United States have the world's fastest supercomputer in June 2022?” and “What will be the end of day closing price of the VanEck Semiconductor ETF (SMH) on 6 May 2022?”. They will be able to track their forecasting accuracy over the course of the tournament. Participants will also be able to take part in exclusive events to share forecasting tips, best practices, and do live forecasting.

EA student organizations are still able to sign-up for the tournament through April 30. The tournament will run through July 31, 2022. If you are currently participating, you can find all the questions that qualify for the tournament here. For additional details, visit the tournament page.
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