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Announcing the Bentham Prize winners
We've been very impressed by the amount of excellent contributions to forecasting of our animal welfare questions.
Here are our winners for the first round of the Bentham Prize!
First prize: AABoyles
AABoyles did outstanding work in the form of public predicting, modelling, compiling datasets, and the making of suggestions to improve questions. For example, here are some of the datasets he compiled:
I figured out how to use FAOStat so you don't have to! Here's the correct data.
Dataset of US Cattle Slaughtered Annually I was going out of my mind trying to figure out how to pull the data from the USDA when I realized that I could pull it from FAOStat instead (inspired by this question). They have data from 1960 to 2013. I did manually record the USDA's 2013-2018 data as a spot check. The FAO count for 2013 was within 1.6% of the USDA number, leading me to suspect that they're close enough to correct. [Cross-post from here.]
Scraped the API (ahem) API. Here's a complete spreadsheet.
AABoyles provided many public predictions, along with models and extrapolations:
A linear forecast of the number of cattle slaughtered in 2032 gives us an estimate of 29.1M. If clean meat remains a high-end luxury good in 2026, then it probably isn't cheap enough in 2032 to further drive down demand for animal beef.
A linear forecast of the number of cattle slaughtered in 2032 gives us an estimate of 29.1M. However, if clean meat is cheap (e.g. only 2x the price of beef from cattle, by weight) in 2026, then it is probably cheap enough in 2032 to drive down demand for animal beef. Moreover, price reductions of that acceleration indicate to me that the additional 6 years should be more than enough time for cellular meat to begin significantly eating into the market share of cattle beef, so I set my bounds to cover the entire span between <10 and 29.1
Other useful comments include a few that helped clarify questions and contingencies:
Does the AquaAdvantage Salmon count as one, or are we only counting approvals after the question is launched? If it counts, why is the lower bound zero instead of one?
The title asks
When will a supermarket sell a product made of ≥80% clean meat, for $3 per 100 grams or cheaper?
but the text asks
When will a supermarket sell a product made of ≥20% clean meat, for less than $3 (in 2019 USD) per 100 grams?
(Emphasis added). The text later performs computations which imply the in-text version is the correct one. Is this the case?
Second prize: PeterHurford
PeterHurford produced a couple great models. Notably, he updated these various times using the feedback provided by others. For example:
26 JAN UPDATE: 7.2%
27 JAN UPDATE: 6.3%
29 JAN UPDATE: 6.8%
PeterHurford also generated a very detailed spreadsheet and model for VRG surveys, which was useful for several questions:
@(AABoyles) My slightly adjusted model of VRG surveys expects 50% odds of >=8% by 2046 and ~25% odds of >=8% by 2033.
I think that's four years with each year having a roughly independent 25% chance of a >= 8% outlier, for implied overall odds of 68%.
PeterHurford also produced a model for forecasting the number of vegetarians, according to polls, in 2028 and the number of vegans, according to polls, in 2028.
PeterHurford also linked to and distilling relevant sources, see for example:
"Is the Number of Vegetarians Increasing?" is a helpful resource to get context on the VRG polls and veg polling in general.
Another good source of information on this question might be this Corporate campaigns breakdown.
Third prize: haven
Haven for producing a synthesis of the PeterHurford's model with some inside-view considerations about cage-removal pledges:
Going with Peter H's model (props to him for doing an extrapolation!) as an outside view, with some slight updates for my inside view:
Reasons to think we'll reach 5K sooner:
Pro-animal attidues are growing throughout the world (and probably linked to increasing global affluence). This suggests that most companies will probably eventually go cage-free anyways, with pressure from advocacy groups only accelerating this trend.
Cheaper plant-based and clean meat will decrease the importance of cheap egg production
Reasons to think we'll reach 5K later:
How many companies could we potentially max out at? (I tried to get some data from this site but it seemed to massive underestimate the number of total companies). It seems like, at least in the US and Europe, we are running out of companies to target, although I'm not sure about this.
As Peter H mentioned, it's possible that for some reason (eg changing focus to broilers or fish, global conflict, increased doubt about long-term impact of cage-free) the campaigns could be abandoned completely.
Frankly, I'd be surprised if we can sustain the same rate of pledges.
I find the latter reasons (in favor of it happening later) more compelling (unfortunately).
So rough predictions:
Lower 25%: June 2025
Median: June 2029
Upper 75%: June 2033