Yearly Predictions, 2021

People should predict things, it’s crazy that more people don’t, yadda yadda yadda. But I will say this seems to be changing — more and more people are on board with this idea. In any case, this is now my 5th round of yearly predictions — On Medium since 2017, and on predictionbook in 2016. I’ve also been scoring them every year, though it often takes a while for data for some questions to show up.

As a change, I think I’ll re-predict all of my past predictions (with modifications or omissions for obsolete questions,) as well as some new ones. (But I’m not doing Crypto predictions again. I learned my lesson, eventually.)

As usual, I will update this post when others (VOX, SSC, possibly others?) make predictions, to include them. (Also, I should probably move the predictions to Metaculus. Except that they get updated throughout the year. Maybe I should have them close at the end of January?)

Jan 5: Added Forbes predictions, interpreted into actual claims.


Annualized GDP Growth < 4% — 85%

Annualized GDP Growth <2% — 35%

Annualized GDP Growth <0% — 5%

Dow Jones will not fall > 10% this year: 50%

Forbes: S&P500: 3850 (3800–3900): 20%

Brent Crude Oil will end the year higher than $50 a barrel: 75%

(Forbes: Price target $50)

…but lower than $60 a barrel: 50%

F.1 “Wall Street and reality remain out of whack” — The market goes up more than the median wage: 70%

F.2 “Corporate taxes stay low” — No increase in corporate taxes is passed in 2021: 80%

F.3 “Cruises run aground”
Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise lines all declare bankruptcy by the end of 2021: 60%
All 3 stop operations / end cruises by end of 2021: 5%

F.4 “women lost to the U.S. labor force” — No prediction was made here.

F.5 “Colleges under threat”
College tuitions will rise: 75%
“There are more than 1,800 private four-year colleges in the U.S.” — more than 100 private colleges will close: 5% (Getting data on this will be a pain.)

US Politics

F.6 “Nancy’s farewell tour” — Pelosi will announce retirement: 30%

F.7 “The Reaper cometh” — No actual prediction about McConnell.

F.8 “A new leader for the left” — No actual prediction.

F.9 “Trump TV”
Trump officially partners with OANN: 30%
Trump hosts a news-TV show: 15%
“He’ll go head-to-head against Sean Hannity in the 9 p.m. slot, and steal away Laura Ingraham to serve as his TV Veep.”: 5%

F.10 “Student debt canceled”
Some student debt is cancelled: 70%
“Biden agrees to Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren’s resolution to wipe away 50 grand of federal debt per borrower.”: 20%
“The executive order bypasses Congress and survives multiple legal threats, thanks to broad wording in the Higher Education Act of 1965.” (It survives, conditional on part 1): 90%

F.11 “Habers gonna Habe” — Maggie Haberman signs a book deal: This was announced before Forbes published. It comes put in 2021: The publication date of 2022 was also already announced.


SpaceX successfully launches Starship: 90%

F.12 “The internet goes private” — No actual prediction.

F.13 “Driverless cars will kill (again)” — There will be a fatality involving a driverless car in 2021: 85%

F.14 “Bitcoin sinks but remains a treasure” (I said I wouldn’t do crypto, but…)
Bitcoin hits $50k in 2021: 60%
Bitcoin crashes (falls by 50%): 40%
Bitcoin stabilizes around $20k (stays between $15k-25k during December): 10%

F.15 “Google settles antitrust case” — Federal case is settled: 65%

F.16 “A folding phone succeeds” — Motorola, Xiaomi, or Samsung releases a folding phone for under $1,000: 70%

International Relations:

US will not get involved in any new major war with death toll of > 100 US soldiers: 95%

North Korea’s government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt: 98%

No terrorist attack in the USA will kill > 100 people: 97%
…in any First World country: 90%

Israel will not get in a large-scale war (ie >100 Israeli deaths) with any Arab state: 96%

No interesting progress with Gaza or peace negotiations in general this year: 70%

Netanyahu is prime minister after the Israeli elections: 75%

Netanyahu’s party gets the most votes: 65%

No major civil war in Middle Eastern country not currently experiencing one: 85%

No additional country currently in Euro or EU announces plan to leave: 97%

France does not declare plan to leave EU: 99%

Germany does not declare plan to leave EU: 99.5%

No major war in Asia (with >100 Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, and American deaths combined) over tiny stupid islands: 99%

China’s internment camps for Muslims will remain open: 95%

No major earthquake (>100 deaths) in US: 99%

No major earthquake (>10000 deaths) in the world: 80%

F.17 “Brexit food shortages”
Temporary dislocation / news coverage of long lines and items that are unavailable: 99%
Longer-term disastrous shortages: 1%

F.18 “Boris out” — He is out of office before the end of 2021: 30%

F.19 “China vaccinates the world” — “In 2021, Chinese vaccine makers will supply more vaccines globally than Western firms”: 30%

Global carbon emissions will increase from 2020: 90%

(F.20) Average world temperatures will increase relative to 2020: 70%

F.21 “Virtual doc visits are here to stay” — No actual prediction

F.22 “Vaxxers beat out anti-vaxxers, narrowly”
Between 50% and 60% of Americans get the COVID vaccine: 30%
More than 60% get the vaccine: 50%
Fewer than 50% get the vaccine: 20%

F.23 “Face masks will be worn on New Year’s Eve 2021” — Many people in the US will wear masks routinely (i.e. not just when sick,) at the end of 2021: 10%

F.24 “ACA survives another fight” — The ACA isn’t further changed by court order: 95%

Sci-Hub is still relatively easily accessible from within US at end of year (even typing in IP directly is relatively easy): 97%

US homicides will decline from 2016: 85%

F.25 “Jeff Bezos buys an NFL team”: 40%

F.26 “An Olympic bubble” — All / some athletes quarantined beforehand: 10%/90% (Vaccines are widely available in many countries first, but not in all.)

F.27 “Money moves to TikTok” Tiktok gets ads: It already has them.

F.28 “New summer of love”: No clear prediction

F.29 “A posthumous Oscar”: Chadwick Boseman wins an Oscar: 60%

F.Sports — I’m giving these a hard pass.

F.30 “6 Black CEOs running Fortune 500 companies” (At least) — 30%

I visit Oxford again: 85%

I take a new job / paid postdoc: 35%

I weigh more than 70kg at year end: 45%

Still living in Israel at end of year: 97%

I have (some) official academic affiliation: 60%

I publish at least 2/3/4 new papers: 90%/80%/50%

I submit my book proposal to a publisher / agent: 70%

My Google Scholar H-index hits 10 / 11 / 12 / 13: 85% / 45% / 15% / 5%

There will not be a large (1,000 people or more) uninvited ground invasion of a foreign country by the US by 2025: 87% [2020: 85%]

Nuclear weapons will not be used before 2025: 91% [2020:85%]

No new countries (with the possible exception of Israel) will test or otherwise announce possession of nuclear weapons before 2025: 75% [2020: 80%]

There will be no new inter-state war killing more than 1m / 500k / 250k people before 2025: 90% / 80% / 55% [2020:80% / 75% / 40%]

SpaceX will land a rocket / a human on Mars by 2030: 45% / 20% [2020: 40% / 20%] (It seems increasingly likely that they can’t get there in Starship without humans on board, but they could launch something in Starship that they then send to Mars, which I think counts for part 1.)

SpaceX will still have significant plans for going to Mars in 2030: 90% [2020:75%]

Based on JThompson:

JT.1 Very few people will be using flying taxis, other than those already using conventional flying taxis.
Fewer than 25,000 flying cars are sold in 2029: [2020:60%]

JT.2 Very few people will be being driven by autonomous vehicles.
Less than 5%/25%/75% of cars manufactured in the US in 2029 will be capable of autonomous operation (level 5:) 3% / 20% / 55% [2020:15%/40%/85%]
Autonomous L5 operation will not yet be legal in most US States: 10% [2020:40%]

JT.3 Most cars will be powered by internal combustion engines.
More than 5%/25%/50%/90% of cars sold in 2029 will be internal combustion: 80% / 55% / 15% / 10% [2020: 90%/65%/55%/15%]

JT.4 Batteries will be only a little better than they are at the moment.
In 2029, for home and power station batteries, the cost per kW of battery power will be above $500, and the cost of battery energy will be above $1,000USD/kWH: 20% [2020: 30%]
In 2029, small ~5V, rechargable phone-type batteries, the cost will be above $50 for a 500-cycle (to 80% capacity) battery, and no such batteries with >2,000-cycles will be available for less than $1,000. (All amounts in adjusted to 2019 USD): 20% [2020: 30%]

JT.5 People all over the world will be richer and healthier.
Global average lifespan will be higher than in 2019: 85% [2020: 80%]
Fewer than 0.5 billion will live in absolute poverty: 75% [2020:75%]
Median per capita global income in 2029 (in USD as of 2020,) will be above $5,000/$10,000/$15,000: 90% / 60% / 20% [2020:85%/65%/25%]

JT.6 Population growth will stabilize, except in Africa.
In 2029, global population growth outside of Africa will be below 0.5%/0.25%/0%: 65% / 45% / 10% [2020:60%/40%/10%]
In 2029, population growth in Africa will be below 1%/0.75%: 95% / 75%[2020: 95%/80%]

A song written via computer-generation of lyrics and music, and performed fully digitally without a human singer / musician, not (necessarily) involving AGI or general ability to communicate with others, will make the billboard top-100 (Or will qualify based on sales and play-time, but be ruled out for technical reasons, such as because it is computer generated,) by 2030/2040: 70%/ 75% [2020:70%/90%]

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