Turning to crowdsourced forecasting when you’re not sure who or what to listen to

By Faith Powell on December 05, 2023

I must admit – I had never heard of forecasting before joining the Cultivate team a couple years ago. With a background in social advocacy, I joined Cultivate because I believe in the power of everyday people – like forecasters – to come together to support and empower one another, and to make collective change for good. Today, that idea is more important than ever.

It has been especially difficult to watch and read the news these last few months. It’s even harder to compare and contrast news sources, many with conflicting or reprinted information. This creates confusion and a lack of clarity about what is actually happening in our world and where supportive efforts are most needed. Further, when this confusion involves human lives, cultures, experiences, and the future of our globe, people are left angry, disoriented, or turning away from the news altogether.

With the very concerning rise of disinformation in mass media, I see the promise and potential of crowdsourced forecasting to cut through bias and disinformation in our media. Here’s how…

  1. At its core, crowd forecasting aims to reduce bias to reveal truth. Forecasters across platforms are committed to scouring relevant and reputable articles and information on all sides of the issue, cutting through uncertainties and conflicting information. The act of forecasting itself necessitates rationality and awareness of bias by asking for thoughtful forecasting rationales and pre-mortems. With diversity of perspective and a range of research, our crowd often reveals a clearer picture of the issue at hand. Plus our platform now supports AI-generated rationale summaries, which offers a quick review of the key points that forecasters are highlighting.

  2. Crowd forecasting gives us a better indication of who to listen to. Our crowd forecasting platform creates both individual forecaster track records and a collective leaderboard of people who have historically been accurate in their forecasts. Regardless of background, education, or personal beliefs, many forecasters have a proven several-year track record of accurately predicting global conflicts and trends. Conversely, many news sources and popular media experts are limited by cyclical reporting, personal agenda, unchecked bias, or a desire to build viewership or audience engagement. Our top forecasters, incentivized by improving their forecasting and climbing the leaderboard, are cutting through disinformation to reveal truth and most probable outcomes.

  3. Crowd forecasting allows us to easily see critical changes in real-time. For example, looking through INFER’s topic on Iran: Threats & Influences, we can see that relations between Israel and Muslim-majority nations appear more strained now than before the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. We can see that the odds of Yemen’s Houthi movement attacks against Israel are growing. We can also see that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are alive and continue to evolve. Further, looking at the crowd forecast over time for each question, reveals key trends and understanding about how the issue has evolved.

  4. While the media is often focused on one issue at a time, crowd forecasting allows analysts and stakeholders to quickly monitor several complex and interconnected issues. Currently, the news is largely – and rightfully – focused on the Israel/Hamas conflict. However, crowd forecasting allows us to monitor other global conflicts that may be receiving less spotlight. For example, since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, INFER’s crowd reveals increasing odds that Russia will hold more than 17% of Ukrainian territory by the end of 2023.

With the rise of AI, disinformation in mass media will only continue to grow and evolve. Turning our attention to crowd forecasting is one way that we can better understand, monitor, and respond to global uncertainty – together.

Join us in forecasting and monitoring global issues on our public forecasting platform, INFER, or get in touch with us about hosting your own crowd forecasting platform.

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