From November 2014 through May 2015, SciCast was a research project run by George Mason University and sponsored by the U.S. Government to forecast the outcomes of key issues in science and technology. In May 2015 it went on hiatus while transitioning from the original sponsor.
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 expert. In particular, 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, SciCast allows forecasters to link 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 participants can link these two questions and collectively determine the strength of the relationship. Then, if participants adjust the forecast for average temperature, SciCast will instantly make the corresponding adjustment to the ice volume forecast.
SciCast is a community-driven initiative. Participants write their own questions in our publishing tool called Spark and participate in a process to get those questions published. Once a question is available, SciCast participants can make forecasts at any time about any question. Unlike a survey, participants can change their forecast at any time in reaction to new information. 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 be rewarded and move up on our leaderboard. The more correct forecasts a participant makes, the more influence they’ll have in other forecasts. SciCast also periodically runs contests where the most accurate forecasters can earn prizes.