8. Will a nuclear weapon be detonated (including tests and accidents) in 2023?
resolved Jan 1

Detonation means nuclear explosion. If a nuclear weapon is launched/dropped/etc but the nuclear weapon does not detonate (due to malfunction, interception, etc), that would not count as detonation. If a conventional explosion occurs but no nuclear explosion (for example, a dirty bomb that distributes radioactive material with a conventional explosion), that doesn’t count.

This is question #8 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.

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bought Ṁ0 of NO

Metaculus is at 30% for this btw

Why is this so low?

predicted YES

I think this market should be 50 percent after yesterday's solid fuel icbm test. They have tested ever other piece of the next gen NK nuclear arsenal. Tactical nukes are next.

predicted NO

@BTE I agree that a nuclear test is almost certain in the next couple years, but I'm making a timing bet - I don't think it's coming for the next couple months at least. Maybe later this year though.

bought Ṁ100 of YES

@jack On a Sunday morning only in good weather on the lucky mountain. I know. The US DoD does a weekly assessment of this now and they say highly probable in next 6 months. Site has been prepared waiting for order. I am not sure how you get in on this market unless you buy often when it gets low. How do you time your bet when waiting for a button to be pushed on the other side of the world? Gotta beat everyone else here when the news hits the wire. Maybe you do. Maybe not. I am not risking that much considering nobody else is risking at all and I can sleep through the news for two days and still make more than everyone else. Idk. I will donate some of the manafall to your favorite charity.

predicted NO

@BTE I wasn't talking about timing it that short term - more like I'm thinking of waiting a few months while I watch and see what news there is and whether it updates my forecast, and bet more then.

Yeah, it depends a lot on the market. I think these nuclear risk markets are big enough that you can make fairly big bets in a couple weeks. You're absolutely right that in your average market, just buying whenever there's an opportunity would make more sense.

predicted YES

@jack What is the event you are waiting for that will trigger your big bet?

predicted NO

@BTE One thing I'm watching for is activity at the underground test site - there has been a lot of activity recently, but intelligence doesn't think it indicates an imminent test, it's probably setting up for a test sometime later.

I'm also generally watching the difference between test by end of year and test by mid-year e.g.

predicted YES

@belikewater Thanks for sharing this info. I had seen the multiple reentry vehicle test and the dummy warheads. I am actually surprised they did that but it was a game changer. They can credibly hit multiple US targets in about 30 minutes from what I understand. A successful test of the warhead that goes on those reentry vehicles would demand an unprecedented response. Perhaps we start intercepting future missile tests or just take them out on the launchpad? Very interesting developments. Can't help but wonder how much of Kim's recent activity is at the order of his benefactor in Beijing or to send a message to Putin who is making him feel insecure with Ukraine invasion?

predicted YES

@belikewater their most recent test was an entirely new platform that uses solid fuel, which means they can be launched quickly and from anywhere.

predicted NO

@BTE Hey - this embed is autoplaying on front page.

bought Ṁ500 of YES

I don't understand why this is so far off of the Metaculus market?

Nuclear weapons, oh so grand,
But detonating one, not so planned.
Let's hope in 2023,
We'll avoid such a catastrophe.

predicted YES

@NoaNabeshima this is a live embed?? nice!!

Metaculus says 29% and that seems nuts low to me? In the 20 year period starting in 2001 we had nine detonations, and now we have an actual war as justification. I’m going to buy M10 of YES for tracking, but don’t want to be on the wrong side of an arbitrage for size even if it’s not ‘real’ in any sense.

- Zvi Mowshowitz

This should be equivalent to

Do underground tests qualify?

sold Ṁ54 of NO

@AndreiGavrea It's up to Scott, but based on the description I don't see any reason to think they wouldn't qualify.

predicted YES

@AndreiGavrea The last above ground test was in 1980 conducted by China. Underground tests have been conducted by North Korea, Pakistan and India since 1995. I think the next above ground detonation is unlikely to be a test.

bought Ṁ10 of YES

Kim ordering increase in Nike production makes this more likely.

predicted NO

@BTE … damn, I guess those are going to be some serious shoes, huh?

predicted YES

@MattCWilson OMG autocorrect gem!! 🤣 🤣

predicted YES

@MattCWilson Imagine how much more airport security would suck if someone could shove a nuke in a pair of Jordan's!!

@BTE Kim did 7 tests in short succession 2006-2017. There has been no test ever since. Maybe North Korea has completed the development phase and is focusing on other systems (e.g. ICBM).

predicted YES

@AndreiGavrea They claimed recently to have tactical nukes so it’s a decent chance they will test those. All previous tests have been larger warheads.

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