You learn a lot about someone's way of thinking by how they predict the future. Many, if not most, people make all sorts of strong conclusions and predictions with little-to-no evidence and never realize how big of a deal that is when their predictions inevitably don't happen.
Nearly everybody claims, "I knew it!" about major social events that they absolutely, without question, did not know. Nearly every middle-aged dad in the world claims they "knew" they should have invested in Google, Bitcoin, and all sorts of other things they absolutely never saw coming. To see examples of delusional people who don't realize how comically ignorant their predictions are, just find anybody - usually a man - who is "thinking about day trading" for a living. Foolishness.
Below, I'll lay out the 7 fundamental principles for predicting the future, touching on similar concepts as I've written about in my article about how to predict the future. I'll then lay out the predictions at the bottom of the article, along with the dates of the predictions and the dates of any modifications.
Looking Back: Previous Predictions
2010 - SEO:
Early in my career, I built websites that generated revenue by having traffic from Google searches. This is called "SEO" or "Search Engine Optimization." I was involved in several internet marketing forums and became an outspoken advocate for the idea that Google would soon be cracking down on nearly every "tactic" that worked. I was banned from two forums because I was scaring people. I decided to sell my biggest website before the big algorithm changed. Google eventually did change everything in 2011 - wiping out countless thousands of people, as I predicted.
I was still impacted, but much less than most people were because of my interest in forecasting major trends. To me, the lesson was to double down on accurate forecasts so that I could completely avoid at least some massive surprises.
2011 - Social Media News:
I invested very early into Bitcoin but ended up liquidating my position because I believed that political news on social media was a massive opportunity. I threw my entire net worth into building what I believe was the first political news company that was 100% focused on social media traffic. I began in 2011, and in 2013 threw every penny I had into it and launched a website that became one of the most popular websites in the world with millions of visitors per day.
I then surprised nearly everyone who knew me in the industry by selling and completely getting out of the social-media news market. I decided to sell in 2014 and finalized the sale in 2015. It seemed stupid at the time, but I'll explain why below.
2013 - Bitcoin:
I've always found it exciting to try to be early to markets and predictions while still being cautious and nuanced. For example, in 2013, I wrote that:
"[Bitcoin is a] massive possible opportunity [and] the possible payoff for the cryptocurrencies is simply staggering. If anything, the off-chance that the currencies become even medium-sized alternatives to fiat currencies is reason enough to put some money in the coins as a speculation."
2014 - Big Tech Censorship.
Before "fake news" was being used to describe any media report that someone disagreed with, I was extremely aware of the future of censorship by major tech companies. It's weird to talk about now, but nobody was discussing censorship by big tech as a real thing in 2014 or 2015. It was an afterthought. To me, however, it was the biggest risk that existed. So I sold the business.
The website I sold? It doesn't exist anymore. It effectively shut down and was merged with another website because censorship wiped it out, just as I was concerned.
In 2019, a Pulitzer-prize-winning NY Times journalist reached out to interview me about why I was able to see that coming years before it was in any news cycle.
2020 - Covid.
When Covid first began spreading, I was the first person I knew who went into quarantine. I also shifted my entire retirement accounts into Treasury bonds because I believed that the dollar and related assets would skyrocket as people fled to financial safety. I was right. Then a few months later, stocks had imploded and I rolled my money back into stocks because it was clear that the money printing was going to create a massive stock-market boom. That also worked out.
I dabbled in options for the first time and made several hundred thousand from a tiny starting amount.
2021 - Interest Rates.
In late 2021, as in December, I scrambled to do a cash-out refinance of all of my real estate holdings, both personal and investment, in order to lock in long-term interest rates and pull cash out before interest rates went up. This ended up being perfect timing. Within a couple of months, rates had skyrocketed. This move allowed me access to nearly a million dollars more than I would have had and saved millions and millions of dollars over the next ten years.
Monetary economics is an incredibly useful discipline to understand if you want to monetize any prediction. It allows you to understand the news financially better, even when the news isn't directly financial. It does, however, require leaving political ideology and populism at the door. But it's ok, you'll get paid handsomely if you have the guts to do it.
Predictions aren't just fun, they're also lucrative. The universe rewards people who can accurately forecast the future. If you can see a market early, move fast, and sell before troubles hit, you'll have an extremely financially rewarding life. All of the above predictions (other than 2020 and 2021) were made before I was 26, and they allowed me to retire at 26. Pretty crazy.
Anyway, enough talking about previous predictions. Let's look at the principles for developing a good prediction:
7 Fundamental Principles of Predicting the Future
I've written a little bit about predicting the future before. It's endlessly fascinating.
- Accuracy, not ego. A good prediction is an accurate one in the sense that it is nuanced and has built-in acknowledgment of the fundamental limits of the ability to predict. If someone says that the DOW will be a specific number in 30 years, they're being idiots. If they give a range, they may or may not have some useful thoughts.
- Range, not specifics. As mentioned above, a good prediction is a range. Specifics miss the point. Ranges allow us to reposition ourselves to take advantage of multiple conflicting trends at the same time. Strategy requires ranges when forecasting, whether directly or indirectly.
- Complex, not overly simplified. Simplifying words is good for rhetoric and bad for thinking. The future has countless trillions of variables. The more overly mechanically someone views the future, the more you should stop listening to them. This becomes more true the further and further out a prediction becomes.
- Truth, not desire. What you like and what you predict are utterly unrelated. They're just different concepts. You can like something and understand there will be a backlash to it. You can hate something and understand it will still happen. My rule of thumb is to not get business advice from anyone who confuses these two concepts.
- Learning, not denying. When predictions don't happen within the ranges provided, it's a learning opportunity. This means you learn more from your failures than your wins. The goal is to modify one's mental models over time to become more and more accurate.
- Comprehensive, not easy. Sometimes, things happen so that you're both right and wrong. I made a small options trade a few months ago and then chickened out and sold. The trade ended up going to the moon, but I missed out. I was wrong. That said, it's important to understand the original prediction was correct and the chickening out was where things broke. Knowing the specifics of why something doesn't pan out is critical to actually learning from it. The goal isn't to beat yourself up for some weird reason. The goal is to become more correct and reap the benefits of being a person who is correct.
- Generalism, not specialism. Predictions based on specialized knowledge are often comically wrong. To some extent, predicting the future requires having an interdisciplinary education. Being a generalist is required. If you want to predict the future of AI, for example, you have to understand economics, sociology, political science, and all sorts of other frameworks. Otherwise, you're just making up stuff.
Fundamentally, some of the predictions will be annoyingly vague, because they should be comprehended, and internalized, but are impossible to comprehend with perfect specificity.
NOTE: These aren't created for anyone other than myself. Most of them will be hard to prove. This is a personal project, so that's fine.
FIRST UPDATED: 5/6/2023. Any additions or edits will have the later date next to them below.
- Open-source generative AI, the kind behind ChatGPT, will revolutionize nearly every job that primarily exists in an office or with a computer. Nearly nothing will be untouched. This will be one of the fastest periods of creative destruction in human history.
- The creative destruction will mint many millionaires and billionaires while shifting resources away from people who spent years building high-paying job skills. Even if the net impact is positive, most people will be focusing on the fear of destruction rather than creation.
- The extra economic efficiency, IE, new wealth, will dump money into surprising secondary industries at an even faster rate. For example, travel, food and beverage, and entertainment will all likely utterly explode over the next 20 years.
- The speed will cause panic as people demand more government regulations, welfare spending, etc.
- The abruptness will provide a meta-narrative for people who are looking for excuses behind life failures. This will become part of the foundation of populism on both political sides of the US political system.
- Google will either find a way to "punish" AI content in general, or double down on authority for websites even more than before. There will be a short window of opportunity for a couple of years for small SEO-oriented publishers to use AI tools to make money before they are wrecked by Google modifying their algorithms. The solution will be to sell early or become large.
- At least for a while, Google will have a hybrid search result system for many searches, with AI answers at the top and the "list of links" below. It's possible the list of links will continue to become less and less prominent.
- There seems to be no way to stop human calamity from being trigged with advanced AI as some part of the catalyst. Most people focus on AI taking over to kill us, but much more likely is that jailbroken or open source or private AI models will be used to unleash unimaginable harm.
- The rise of AI will allow hacking, spamming, scamming, propaganda, terrorism, financial crimes, and pretty much everything bad to happen with drastically less cost to bad actors. The economics of sabotage will forever be changed.
- The rise of AI will require a completely rethought approach to user authentication in the future. Because AI soon will be able to perfectly mimic a human, there will need to be some sort of system eventually created that uses the "real world" to authenticate who is real. This could start simply with a letter in the mail and could become fairly complex, using some sort of blockchain system.
- Populism is quickly becoming the only political framework that even practically exists. The never-ending feedback loop of the Internet is convincing nearly everyone that life is getting tougher, the elites are really, really mean, the common person is trying their bestest, and we shouldn't trust any institutions. I personally believe this is utter hogwash, but it's irrelevant. Populism will only increase until basic policy discernment becomes political suicide. We're already halfway there. If you don't pretend to be stupid, you can't get people behind your policies.
- Banking, the miracle behind modern prosperity, is hated by nearly every regular person because they don't understand nearly anything about monetary economics. This is disastrous, as modern banking requires the state to safeguard the banking system, which is itself a creation of the state. Political ideology is stronger than a society's self-preservation, as history shows. So people will continue to undermine the banks and hate politicians who do anything that could be seen as pro-banking. Eventually, a massive financial crisis could threaten the world order and the politicians could step aside in order to save their skins rather than the global economy. This is the greatest threat facing humanity, other than existential dangers.
- There is no scenario where financial inequality gets "better" other than a drastic, radical leftist redistribution of wealth, and even then, the poverty created will probably reinforce the inequality.
- The rise of improved technology leads to the rise of inequality, even if the lives of the poorest become better. Because of this, we're about to see a surge of inequality that has never been seen before in history as AI utterly revolutionizes nearly every aspect of life. The rise of foolish populism and the increasingly destructive culture of excuses will also further the inequality divide. The inequality will be both wealth and income.
- Social change is speeding up and social change causes social conflict which causes more change. Over the next few decades, we'll see a rise of social conflict much worse than in the 60s in the United States as more and more people feel victimized by institutions, isolated because of the internet, and overly self-aware of their own mental health issues without any way of helping themselves becoming healthier. Emotionally unhealthy people often turn to politics to find a sense of meaning, so buckle up.
- By nearly every standard, mental health will continue to deteriorate. Effectively nobody in the world has a direct incentive to help people become emotionally healthier. Therapists are paid to tell customers what they want to hear. Algorithms are designed to tell people what they want to hear. As pop psychology continues to become more popular, there will be an emotional hell to pay. Anxiety, depression, and pharmaceutical abuse will all continue to become worse for some time.
- By nearly every standard other than social conflict and emotional health, life will continue to get better, other than occasional catastrophes like wars and natural disasters. Right now, material prosperity is bizarrely accessible to anyone who is mostly healthy and makes a few good decisions. It's easier - even with high prices - to buy a house, find a job, learn new skills, start a business, become a millionaire, retire early - you name it, it's better and easier. TVs are better, computers are better, movies are better, food is better, travel is easier and better, and hotels are nicer. This trend will continue until a prosperity eclipse where prosperity is so high all improvements become nearly indiscernible. This could be understood as "Prosperity Singularity." You heard it here first.
- The only real wealth eventually will be what is valued and scarce, which will be much more limited than what is valued and scarce now. For example, the ultimate luxury won't necessarily be a large house, as pretty much anybody can have one in a few decades. The real luxury will be the right location, which can't necessarily be replicated in the same way. To put it another way, there's only one New York City, even if life is great in the rest of the country.
- Just because things are getting better materially doesn't mean people are actually going to feel better, believe things are actually better, or understand that life is becoming easier materially. Expectations will likely rise even faster than prosperity increases, especially for the vast majority of people who have their emotional health continue to decline, as discussed above. This ties in with the earlier thoughts on populism being the only political framework, to some extent: both the left and the right will continue to double down on the notion that people are being screwed over by the mean elites, even as the elites continue to push for a society of unimaginable prosperity. The cognitive dissonance is already so bad, most people will probably barely be able to even comprehend my argument here. In the future, it will be much worse.
Return to Tradition
- Unlike most conservatives, I don't believe that all traditions are going to go away and the future only belongs to the left. There will likely be a massive rise in old-school traditional roles and values but modified to work in a modern social system. We could see a massive surge in interest in women becoming homemakers, people choosing chastity over sex-positive ideology, etc. This will probably surge as one of the few potentially successful responses to the mental health implosion that seems imminent.
As time goes on, I'll add to the above predictions.