Will we wake up in a changed world in 2025?
Basic
65
4.2k
2025
13%
chance

2024 seems like a pivotal year when a number of long-term trends are converging. It might be useful to predict whether the world will be fundamentally changed when we wake up on January 1, 2025.

These top ten events are all intended to be world changing occurrences that would make everyday life completely different for most people - either miraculously or hellishly.

This market will resolve to YES immediately if any of the events listed occurs. If none of them occur before December 31, 2024 at 11:59:59pm EST, the market will resolve to NO. The standard for all events is "clear and convincing evidence." The numbers are provided to allow people to reference them in the comments but are not relevant for market resolution.

The odds of the world being unrecognizable next year higher might be much higher than one might expect. Let's find out.

1 - CATATROPHIC DISASTER

A natural, AI, or human disaster greater than World War II occurs (killing at least 75 million people.) There is a single initial cause that occurs in 2024 - not a sum of many independent events of the same type - and all of the people die during 2024.

2 - WEAK AGI ACHIEVED

The Metaculus market defining "weak artificial general intelligence" resolves to YES with a date in 2024, and the "weak AGI" system stuns the world by computing at least one monumental task that no human has ever accomplished - such as proving that P==NP.

3 - RUNAWAY CLIMATE EMERGENCY

NASA reports that the average temperature in 2024 is 1 degree Celsius higher than the average recorded in any prior individual year.

4 - NUCLEAR WAR

A nuclear weapon is detonated in an offensive or defensive capacity, excluding tests.

5 - NON-HUMAN SUPERINTELLIGENCE CONFIRMED

A fraction of UFOs or other phenomena influencing Earth at any point in human history are confirmed to be or have been caused by non-human superintelligence.

6 - US COUP

A coup attempt that both starts and ends in 2024 succeeds in the United States, installing an unelected dictator and leaving Europe the last bastion of democracy in the world.

7 - ROOM-TEMPERATURE SUPERCONDUCTOR

The preprint of the LK-99 paper replicates. Or, another room-temperature superconductor is discovered and replicated. Either superconductor is commercially viable to produce at scale.

8 - LONGEVITY ESCAPE VELOCITY

A human trial of at least phase I size publishes a result implying that, if cost were ignored, only half as many people would die in the US in 2030 as died in 2023.

9 - CHINA WAR DESTROYS TSMC FABS

China invades Taiwan, and also the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's fabrication facilities are 100% destroyed, lowering the quality of life for the world and setting civilization back a decade.

10 - WORSE PANDEMIC

A pandemic with a death rate higher than the death rate of COVID-19 in unvaccinated people begins, and the first non-test vaccine dose in a human isn't achieved until at least 3 months after a public health emergency of international concern is announced.

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I'm surprised that this market is trading so low. I'm not going to trade on it, but "Weak AGI Achieved" should - conservatively - by itself probably be responsible for a value of at least 10%.

I myself would place the odds of "Weak AGI Achieved" at 30%.

I don't think think destroying TSMC will set the world back a decade. Technically someone with $600B could buy all the shares and destroy it. I dont think "10 years of civilization" is only worth that

@EmanuelR No on both counts. Current market capitalisation is around $600bn, but if someone tried to buy it all then the price would increase due to the extra demand. Maybe if a offer of ~33%-40%premium ~$800bn that would often be accepted by shareholders. If the plan to destroy it was known would shareholders be less inclined to sell to such a value destroying maniac (or perhaps more inclined if concerned purchaser will find some other way of achieving plan). There is also possibility such an insane person would be stopped before they could do it.

Secondly acquisition price and value to civilisation are completely different things. Acquisition price is about what it is worth to existing and new shareholders from using the assets. Setting back civilisation 10 years is about the effects of not producing computer chips for several years, The normal time from starting to plan a fab to starting actual chip production is probably more than a decade. Faced with an emergency following destruction, we would find lots of ways of shortening that time and also not throwing away working computer chips but instead reusing them. AI development requiring big increases in compute power may be set back several years but there is more to civilisation development than just AI and other computer related developments.

So I may well agree that destroying TSMC completely would not set civilisation back a decade, but the reasoning would be different

I was about to be no, but #7 could be true but totally fizzle. If the material is brittle and expensive it can only really make cheaper MRI machines etc. Replacing all MRI with it would seem to meet "commercially viable to produce at scale"? Perhaps a market cap or volume needs to be specified to somehow capture it actually making a difference.

@ThorRussell I think if you can CVD, PVD, or lithograph it into existence on a surface, you can make tiny room-temp SQUIDs. That wouldn't be quite as dramatic as usable wires, but it would still be quite significant!

Re: Europe last bastion of democracy in the world?

I somewhat disagree that a US coup would do this.

  1. There are plenty of countries which run legitimate and open election systems rather than total non-democracy. Socialdemocratic Costa Rica is better than some European countries in many democracy indices. Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, whilst retaining some authoritarian elements or single party dominance, still have competitive, real elections that are at least relatively open to diverse, if not necessarily unrestricted, party options, as does much of south America although political culture in some south American countries is.. well.. problematic, since a lot of the democracies there were designed by and for those who benefited from dictatorship, and in some Latin American countries the main dominant political parties are essentially former terrorist groups. Regardless, not all countries where close legitimate elections are held are European even if the US is excluded. And the are still other settler colonial outposts of Europe like Canada, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, etc, although Israel looks a lot less democratic if you start including all subjects as well as citizens.

  2. There are plenty more that run real but limited non-fraudulent elections and so are de facto single party or coalition states. By all accounts Russian elections are real if not exactly fair. China, Vietnam, Cuba, or North Korea (I don't know enough about Laos to say) are in this category as well. An outright coup or power grab by the loser of an election would still not be tolerated in these countries either, even if it would be pretty much impossible for a liberal to run for national level office without at least paying lipservice to ruling party ideology and being a member, and even if party internal politics has an outsized effect on state policy not seen in liberal democracies. The point isn't to say that single party states are democracies, but that they often contain democratic elements. Democracy isn't necessarily dead just because it's not the de facto dominant aspect of a given political system. Likewise, aspects of democracy may survive a US coup.

  3. Not every coup results in a stable, long lasting dictatorship or single party state. It would be a horrific blow to US democracy but there are countries like France and Australia for example that had successful coups in the second half of the 20th century but did not become dictatorships, single party states, failed states, or fraudulent republics as a result.

  4. Many countries hold legitimate elections which are not necessarily full democracies. Plenty of African countries for example have what might be termed embryonic forms of liberal republicanism.

  5. In the literal sense of popular and equal rule, it is questionable whether democracy is even achieved in liberal Republican systems to begin with. This isn't to say that elections are not a prerequisite for democracy, but rather that under the various liberal republics and constitutional monarchy, power is not necessarily de facto dominated by the masses but at least as much by a small, relatively highly connected but open elite with outsized influence and lobbying abilities. There's no correlation with what the bottom 90% wealthiest Americans want and what Congress actually does, but there is a strong correlation with what the top 10% want and what Congress actually does. Essentially, while the US is a real liberal republic with open, non-fraudulent elections, it already fails to be truly democratic in the strictest sense.

3 is not happening. Not because 2024 couldn't be really hot but because 2023 was and that raises the bar. 2023 was already ~1.5 °C above preindustrial, compared to 0.99 °C in the previous hottest year, 2016. It seems doubtful that 2024 will be 2.5 °C above preindustrial and if so it will almost certainly not be indicative of a long term trend.

A democratizing revolution in China would have a significantly bigger impact on humanity's trajectory than the US undemocratizing further.

@BrunoParga I don't think so. It would certainly have a big impact, but the world is turning towards autocracy despite the US holding it back.

If Trump wins and ends fair elections in the US, one could arguably say that democracy would be a passing phase of history. (Note that Trump winning is insufficient to resolve the market to YES because he wouldn't take office in 2024.)

@SteveSokolowski

1. China is 4 times as big as the US

  1. Chinese support is a big factor in the world's authoritarian backslide

  2. The US already isn't all that much of a democracy to begin with - autocracy there would be wayyyyyy less surprising than in, say, Switzerland.

  3. Abroad, the US already doesn't always play on Team Democracy (see its support for Gulf Kingdoms, only partly justified by the real need to contain Iran)

@BrunoParga Good point. I do agree it would be a big deal. I think it's probably less likely than all of the other choices, though, wouldn't you say? I had to stop somewhere, and "top ten" seemed reasonable.

@SteveSokolowski I totally see where you're coming from, and sure, a top ten is perfectly reasonable. Given that these are all uncertain things, we don't know if they're literally the top ten - meaning there is no event that's both more impactful and more likely than any given one of these - but, well, we all have to live with uncertainty.

Thanks for thought-provoking list. Couple quibbles:

  • US coup, if successful, started before 2024

  • Why does only super non-human intelligence count? We could get the Pakleds

  • Solving the P versus NP problem will indeed stun the 1% of humanity who have not only heard of it but also see why it's important. The rest will get stunned and blame someone else.

@ClubmasterTransparent That particular problem isn't the only one that can be solved. For example, this AGI software could mathematically prove that an omnipotent God cannot exist by showing Stephen Wolfram's writings about hypercomputation being impossible in the ruliad are right. I think people look at "foom" and racial bias but also ignore other unexpected things like this that could change the world. What would religious people do in response to a proof like that?

This market was sitting at 10% earlier. I'm not going to bet on the market, but that seems unrealistically low when non-human intelligence (12%) plus LK-99 (3%) plus AGI (5%) alone are like 20% right now just based on the existing markets on these things.

Of these, I think the most likely are (1) non-human intelligence, (2) AGI, and the two least likely are (fortunately) (9) the nuclear detonation and (10) the catastrophic disaster. I guess that it's a good thing we have the neutral/positive things at the top instead of the catastrophes.

And that shows how it's amazingly probable it is in this singularity age that the world will be unrecognizable next year.