SciCast is a government funded research project to forecast the outcomes of key issues in science and technology. SciCast is based on the idea that the collective wisdom of an informed and diverse group is often more accurate at forecasting the outcome of events than that of one individual.
Technically, SciCast is a prediction market. Prediction markets can be used to forecast the outcome of a wide variety of topics and are used today in large corporations and governments to understand the likelihood of meeting key performance metrics, quantify risks that may jeopardize operations, and better understand industry trends.
Unlike other prediction markets you may have heard of like Intrade or Inkling Markets, SciCast will create relationships between forecast questions that may have an influence on each other. For example, we may ask a question about the volume of sea ice in the Arctic in a given month. We may also ask a question about average temperature in this same locale or other influencing metrics. SciCast will learn from its participants how strong of a relationship these questions have to each other and will adjust their outcomes accordingly. This means if the SciCast participants forecast the average temperature will be higher in the Arctic, we’ll adjust the likelihood that the level of ice will decrease in that same time period.
SciCast will be a community-driven initiative. Participants will nominate questions and we will facilitate a process to get those questions published. Once a question is available, SciCast participants will wager their “SciCa$h” to make a forecast: the amount they wager depending on how much they want to influence the collective forecast. And unlike a survey, participants can change their mind at any time and increase or decrease their wager on a particular outcome. In this way, SciCast is a real-time indicator of what our participants think is going to happen.
After the answer to a question is known and made public, participants who answered correctly will be awarded SciCa$h based on their wager. The more correct forecasts a participant makes, the more SciCa$h they earn and the more influence they’ll have in other forecasts.
Our goal is to get thousands of participants from around the world. We’re currently reaching out to Professional Societies, Universities, and interest groups to solicit their participation. If you are part of an organization you think would like to participate, please let us know and we will introduce ourselves.
SciCast will be launched in early December, but you can pre-register now at http://scicast.org. If you’d like the SciCast participants to make forecasts on questions you’re interested in, you can also submit candidate questions now at http://signup.scicast.org/question_form.html