The philosophical underpinnings of Hypothesis
Throughout human history, the ability to access and control information has yielded means of great power over those less informed. From the invention of the printing press to the implementation of modern-day internet, the democratization of technology has exponentially increased the power of shared media, but often toward exploitative ends. The proliferation of authoritarian information structures has drained academic institutions and media organizations of their credibility and relevance, and as the control of information moves from the few to the many, assessing its reliability, relevance and the credibility of its sources has become increasingly challenging. The “Information Era” has succumbed to one of “Post-Truth.”
Today, traditional media institutions assert their relevance to the general public on the notion of unbiased objectivity maintained through codes of ethics and integrity. Our trust in the information these authorities provide is directly related to our trust in their ability to adhere to such codes, instead of in measurable data-points that verify the honesty, accuracy and usefulness of the information itself. This lack of objectively verifiable credibility has left those authorities susceptible to the whims of special interests seeking to concentrate wealth, influence and the power to arbitrarily redefine truth in the hands of a few.
Accordingly, access to reliable and credible information is a cornerstone of a healthy democratic society, and safeguarding against the dangers threatening it requires processes to objectively measure the reliability of information and the credibility of its sources. The creation, dissemination and consumption of truthful information must be made more valuable than the alternatives, and that value must be accessible to every stakeholder in the process.
We posit that a measure for the reliability of information lies in how effectively it can apprise accurate predictions of future outcomes. Through the deceivingly simple process of asking individuals to make straightforward predictions about the world and exploring the relationship between the outcome of their predictions with the information they used to make them, the credibility—or usefulness—of an information source could be measured. Additionally, in measuring individuals’ ability to make accurate predictions of future outcomes, which itself is based on their ability to use good judgment when assessing the relevance of the information they consume, a meaningful quantification of one’s accumulation of real-world experience, knowledge and intuition, could be achieved.
Altogether, we intend to build a system which fuels a feedback loop of positive incentives that drives users to accurately predict the future by seeking out increasingly accurate sources of information, in turn driving content creators to improve the quality of the information they publish.
As observers of other prediction-oriented platforms such as PredictIt, Augur and Good Judgement Open, we understand both the values and limitations of traditional market-based approaches to user-driven forecasting. By shifting the goal away from crowdsourced accuracy and toward crowdsourced credibility, we will leverage the predictive power of the crowd in an entirely new and powerful way.
We believe this approach offers the most promising path toward realizing a sustainable future in digital media. In this paper, we present our vision for Hypothesis, the first open and sustainable reputation builder for information creators and consumers.
Veritas filia temporis.
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