Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Long Bets

a story in the NYT today asks: can humanity survive? the optimistic writer of the story says yes and he's made a bet on longbets.org that humans will live past 2100. i would bet not. a story about longbets was written a bit ago in Science & Technology mag.

longbets is a web site funded by amazon's jeff bezos, who's on his own mission (to space) and it's kept by Martin Rees, a cosmologist at Cambridge.
anyone can go there to make a "long bet." it's interesting to see who's betting and what they're betting. Like Vint Cerf, the Internet guru who bets:
"By 2010 more than 50 percent of books sold worldwide will be printed on demand at the point of sale in the form of library-quality paperbacks."
and here's one of his other bets:
"By 2010 more than 50 percent of books worldwide will be read on digital devices rather than in print form."

in addition to predicting the end of human kind, Rees bets this:
"By 2020, bioterror or bioerror will lead to one million casualties in a single event."

here's another interesting prediction:
"The People's Republic of China will successfuly place a living human on the surface of Mars before any other nation."
most of the predictions are pessimistic. some are funny:
"As of March 7th, 2005, Osama bin Laden is dead."
here's a fun one:
"Evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence within the solar system will be confirmed before evidence from several light-years away."