40. Will SpaceX's Starship complete orbit (read desc) in 2023?
475
4.5K
2.3K
resolved Jan 1
Resolved
NO

This is question #40 in the Astral Codex Ten 2023 Prediction Contest. The contest rules and full list of questions are available here. Market will resolve according to Scott Alexander’s judgment, as given through future posts on Astral Codex Ten.

Added context - Scott said this in a comment:

I'm not an expert on the definition of orbit. Google suggests an orbital spaceflight is one "in which a spacecraft is placed on a trajectory where it could remain in space for at least one orbit." I will consult with people who know more about orbits but try to generally use this definition.

https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/open-thread-284/comment/18444159

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Can't resolve yet!

boughtṀ500NO

@Mqrius Beat me to it by seconds

bought Ṁ500 of NO

@NGK Sold my Yes stake in the Vox market too. Why are these at 30 🤔🤔

predicted YES

@Mqrius I know we don't have certainty about what the criteria mean, but a ~50% chance Vox will declare the prediction correct for a slightly suborbital trajectory seems reasonable to me. Lower for Scott since he has said he's try to use the strict definition, but one might gamble on him effectively resolving to 50% or N/A, which I don't think is that improbable.

But yeah, Vox in particular hasn't said anything to clarify, so we have no idea if these are "spirit" or "letter" kind of predictions - you can gamble on that. It's not what we wanted to be gambling on, but it's not obvious to me that the Vox market is mispriced at 30%.

bought Ṁ200 of NO

@chrisjbillington Hm yeah fair enough.

predicted NO

Another arbitrage bot has joined the fray and is betting the two markets up

bought Ṁ20 of YES

Does Scott always resolve these things Y/N or does he ever resolve them fractionally or declare them invalid?

I'm picturing him seeing headlines about orbital flights and everyone celebrating, and hesitating before writing out "NO" on his blog post. He's going to be torn between going back on the definition he said he'd use (which I don't think was necessarily a considered decision about anything other than an uncontroversial definition of "orbit"), and telling people they predicted wrong when in all relevant senses, they didn't.

Now, I suspect he's going to want to stick to doing what he said he'd do. We've traded on that, and going back on what you said is bad. (Though he did hedge slightly: "I will consult with people who know more about orbits but try to generally use this definition.". What if people who know more about orbits tell him "Ya, that's the definition, but it was totally close enough c'mon?".)

But if there's an out where he might declare it 50% true or something, or effectively N/A it, maybe he'll do that.

predicted YES

@chrisjbillington https://slatestarcodex.com/2020/04/08/2019-predictions-calibration-results/ for example has some predictions that Scott threw out for being too hard to resolve.

Plus Scott doesn't actually run the ACX Bot account, and some of its questions end up in limbo because he never posted his resolution on the blog. https://manifold.markets/ACXBot?tab=questions&f=closed

predicted NO

@chrisjbillington The CEO of SpaceX, aka Elon Musk, has stated repeatedly it won't be an orbital flight and SpaceX doesn't call it an orbital flight, so I don't see much leeway here given no one will officially call it that (and obv the fact that it won't actually be orbital).

bought Ṁ420 NO
predicted YES

@Domer plenty of markets here in the previous launch, including mine, happily adapted their criteria to include the near-orbital attempts, once it became apparent that that was what was planned, having previously said they resolved on orbital attempts only.

There is a philosophical split between those who prefer to resolve in the spirit of the criteria vs the letter, I'm firmly in camp spirit, and we are wondering where Scott Alexander will be for this question. But he is allowed to resolve however he likes. He will make camp spirit grumpy if he resolves one way, and he will make camp letter grumpy if he resolves the other. But he is not bound to either. If you think he is and that there's no ambiguity, feel free to bid the market down to 5% or so, which would be in-line with typical risk-free prices for end-of-year markets.

I think he will probably go for the letter, but not because he's required to - because he has already put out a clarifying statement saying he would, and he won't want to be inconsistent. But if when asked for clarification he had said "oh yeah totally I'll include a near-orbital flight", that would have been completely above board.

bought Ṁ100 NO from 18% to 16%
bought Ṁ10 YES from 16% to 17%
bought Ṁ100 of NO
predicted NO

@chrisjbillington Pretty much agree with you, with a small chance that he'd rule something effectively like N/A, like "ill defined criteria". Won't vote it down further though, I'm already heavily invested.

predicted NO

@chrisjbillington Let me see if I understand you correctly, if a market is "Will X move 10 spots" and X moves 9.8 spots, market creators should be able to retroactively and unilaterally redefine the criteria to 9.8 because that is close enough to what they meant?

I can sympathize with subjective criteria being adjusted. How on earth, no pun intended, can objective criteria be adjusted after the fact?

bought Ṁ10 of YES

@Domer yep, you got it, spot on.

The answer to "how" is that there's no rule saying they can't, and nobody in charge of making the rules has thought to impose such a rule because they're cool with it and think markets function better this way.

That is how it works around here, and I've seen you object to it previously. If you are speaking to a member of camp letter, they may be sympathetic to your view, and if you're talking to a card-carrying spiritualist, they may not. I suggest you figure out which is which, avoid assuming either is the default, and factor it into your betting.

predicted NO

@chrisjbillington All arguments will be resolved when Starship explodes on the pad on December 11th

predicted YES

@NGK About this market maybe, but not others! The spirit vs letter issue will be alive and well if that happens.

We've got some markets that depend on whether it explodes before or after "launch". Some of us have defined "launch" as "ignition and release of hold-down clamps", so our markets may come down to whether or not the clamps released before the explosion or not.

Problem is: it's sounding like the hold-down clamps might actually be released long in advance of ignition!

As a result, probably the relevant market creators are going to modify their definition of "launch" to not depend on the hold-down clamps after all. Luckily, we can do that, and our traders generally will accept that yeah, that's what they were actually betting on already.

predicted NO

@chrisjbillington Redefining objective criteria with the sole purpose of keeping your market viable is quite frankly insane and anti-prediction markets. I do not view that as a legitimate "spirit" vs "letter" fight, a fight which is very much alive and well in markets that come down to unforeseen events and/or subjective calls. It's an important debate. I think re-defining objective criteria after you find out your market is "wrong" is co-opting that fight and taking it in a direction that cannot be defended. These are not serious people doing things like that. It's flat wrong.

predicted YES

@Domer well this is is how it works around here and we like it that way, I suggest you get used to it.

predicted NO

@Domer The thing is, you can be upset about it but that's not gonna change that 80% of the markets here work that way. You can only bet on people that you know take literal interpretations, I guess, but other than that you're out of luck.

predicted NO

@chrisjbillington Seems like a very, very loose definition of "we."

predicted NO

this is is how it works around here and we like it that way, I suggest you get used to it.

Definitely not accurate. It's how it works for some users's markets. On manifold, each author mostly gets to decide how they want to deal with these sorts of things, and different authors have different approaches. There are certainly many authors who stick with the objective resolution criteria, and others who stick more with the spirit of the question.

predicted NO

This question has always said from the beginning "Market will resolve according to Scott Alexander’s judgment" and that is the sole resolution criteria. The stuff about orbit is only binding inasmuch as Scott thinks it should be.

And Scott's comment seems to indicate that he wanted to stick with the definition of orbit.

predicted YES

@jack we are not in disagreement. The fact that it is up to creators where on the spirit vs letter axis they want to be is "how it works around here".

If you read my other comments here, I have said the same things you just have.

bought Ṁ10 of YES

How do you define “orbit” ?

The next planned flight will not “orbit around” the Earth, but it will “orbit” (or “coast” ) 3/4 of the Earth before making a de-orbit burn to slow down and land…. If all goes according to plan.

predicted NO

@IonMarqvardsen On my markets I define orbit as a full rotation around the Earth. It can be a pretty ambiguous term. For example if you define orbit as “stable trajectory of an object in space” then you would be excluding objects like the ISS which requires orbital boosts every few months due to orbital decay. I personally think my definition works best for these types of markets (no bias obviously) but I can see how different people would interpret it differently.

bought Ṁ0 of NO

Scott said this in a comment:

I'm not an expert on the definition of orbit. Google suggests an orbital spaceflight is one "in which a spacecraft is placed on a trajectory where it could remain in space for at least one orbit." I will consult with people who know more about orbits but try to generally use this definition.

https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/open-thread-284/comment/18444159

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