, the strategy video game, is 29 years old this week and its creator, Sid Meier, has released his memoirs
is one of the most popular games of all time - apparently players have clocked up more hours in-game than have passed since the actual
dawn of civilisation - but it’s also had an interesting impact in the real world.
Since 2011, Philip Tetlock, author of the superb book Superforecasting,
has been running prediction competitions under the Good Judgment
(GJ) brand, initially in collaboration with IARPA (the intelligence equivalent of DARPA). GJ asks volunteers to make predictions about highly uncertain geopolitical events. The results
are striking. The best predictors - the “super forecasters” - reportedly do significantly better than professional intelligence analysts who have access to classified information.
One challenge, though, with a tournament based on real-world events is it’s very hard to evaluate counterfactual judgement. It would be useful to know who’s good at saying not only what what will
happen, but also what would have
happened in different circumstances. This is where Civilization
comes in. We can’t “re-run” the world to test counterfactuals, but we can rerun Civ
. This is just what Tetlock and IARPA have been doing with FOCUS
. Tetlock talks about it here
, about halfway down, and there’s a good (but paywalled) profile here
. Who knew all those misspent youths could be so useful?