From fantastical to familiar: Elon Musk portends new products—and Metaculus takes heed

January 15, 2019

Elon Musk is visionary and a pioneer. He is known for making bold predictions—and then, for going on to invent, design, and produce exactly what he has portended. In doing so, since 2002, he has become either the founder or co-founder of a slew of futuristic companies, from Neuralink to SpaceX to Tesla.

Hence, when Musk anticipates or forecasts a new development, most of us sit up and take notice—and if we are even smarter, we take notes.

For example, back in April 2017, Musk said that, by 2021, his brain-computer interface company Neuralink would release a viable product for treating brain injuries. Two years before that, he predicted that the electronic vehicle manufacturer Tesla would eventually grow as big as Apple—a company that was then worth $700 billion.

Now, to help us all keep track of one of one of his biggest claims, a website called Metaculus—built by a community dedicated to generating accurate predictions about future real-world events by aggregating the collective wisdom, insight, and intelligence of its participants—has created an interactive timeline that tracks all of Musk’s predictions for the future.

According to the website Futurism, among the predictions already filed away by the Metaculus team: Musk’s hunch that we all live in a simulation; his conjecture that there’s a 70% likelihood that he’ll move to Mars; and his prophesy that SpaceX will shuttle a million colonists to Mars by 2120.

In the site’s new Musk timeline, Metaculus also includes predictions that are relevant to Musk’s companies. For instance, only 17% of Metaculus voters agree that we live in a simulation. And unfortunately for Musk, the community that thinks there’s only a 7% chance that Tesla will become the world’s largest car manufacturer by 2035.

So far, Futurism reports, the Metaculus community has been correct nine times and incorrect three times about predictions related to Musk; and the validity of another 13 predictions has yet to be determined.

The community voted that there was only a 3% chance that Musk would be sanctioned for tweeting about taking Tesla private, while his tweet actually prompted two federal investigations. The Metaculus community also incorrectly guessed that SpaceX would land a Falcon 9 rocket on a barge by March 2016 and that Tesla would not be profitable in Q3 of 2018.

However, the community was right on the nose when it found a 9% probability that Elon Musk’s boy-sized submarines would prove useful in that whole cave rescue debacle.

Overall, Musk is more optimistic about the future of technology than the Metaculus community. For instance, Musk thinks there will one million Martian colonists by 2120. Metaculus voters say there’s just a 43% chance that humans will sustain any sort of “off-world presence” by 2100.

But you have got to dream it, before you do it, right? And with his boundless imagination and worldwide following, we would bet on Musk to help us live the dream.

Research contact: @DanRobitzski

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