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Precogs Exist and If You’re One of Them You May Be in for Big Cash Prizes
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It’s more than fair to say that the ability to predict the future is fundamental to intelligence. In fact, it’s an ability so prized that whomever is imbued with a special proclivity for it in TV or films or comics is almost always given superhuman status. Which is why it’s a bit shocking to learn that there are real people who are exceptionally good at predicting the future, and many of them are currently competing for significant cash prizes from the government. And yes, if you’re good at predicting the future, you can win some of that cash too.

If you’re hungry for some of Uncle Sam’s money and eager to show off your mad precog skillz, you’ll want to know all about Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) and its ongoing Geopolitical Forecasting Challenge 2 (GFC2). Back in 2015, IARPA, an organization within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, launched a competition to see which individuals or teams were best at predicting how future geopolitical events would unfold. And while that may seem like a waste of government money on a ridiculous challenge, keep in mind that IARPA’s mission is “To envision and lead high-risk, high-payoff research that delivers innovative technology for future overwhelming intelligence advantage.”

What’s more important than IARPA’s mission, however, is the fact that there really are people who are better at predicting the future than others, sometimes to an incredible degree. IARPA’s Geopolitical Forecasting Challenge 2 (news of which comes via Futurism), is taking place precisely because of this truth, as the government agency is now looking to find people who are better at predicting geopolitical events relative to the winners of the first challenge.

But the winners from that first challenge are still taking part in the second, and they are a formidable team to say the least. Led by Philip Tetlock and Barbara Mellers at the University of Pennsylvania, the team, dubbed The Good Judgement Project (GJP), seems to have quite an array of tools and people power at its disposal. And while it’s unclear how many people are on GJP’s team, or even what methods the organization uses, their reported results are jaw-dropping.

According to GJP, their “superforecasters” (their own term) are 30% more accurate than intelligence analysts when predicting the course of future events. The team also made over one million forecasts in the first competition, and answered 500 questions about the future. GJP’s methods—mysterious though they may be—are apparently so effective that the organization has spun off its own, for-profit consultancy firm dubbed Good Judgement Open.

But for those who do want to take on the future-predicting juggernaut in GFC2, there’s still a chance to win, as well as earn some of those aforementioned cash prizes. The challenge is currently open and has a close date of November 29, although it’s unclear if those entering into the competition later will be at an inherent disadvantage. This is because while there’s $250,000 at stake in total, it’s separated into different chunks, some of which are rewarded at different “milestones” throughout the competition. Still though, first place winner will take home a cool $33,000.

Unfortunately, neither IARPA, GJP, nor any other source we came across while researching this topic, gave any clear advice regarding how to better improve one’s precognitive abilities. Folks looking for a sophisticated fortune teller can still pay GJP for consultation though, or at least watch the clip above of some superforecasters talking about how they make their predictions.

What do you think of this competition to find people with precognitive abilities? Do you think you may be one of these especially predictive people? Tell us about the kind of future you foresee for humanity in the comments!

Feature image: Benjamin Esham