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AutoCast++: Enhancing World Event Prediction with Zero-shot Ranking-based Context Retrieval

Qi Yan · Raihan Seraj · Jiawei He · Lili Meng · Tristan Sylvain

Halle B #57
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Tue 7 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Machine-based prediction of real-world events is garnering attention due to its potential for informed decision-making. Whereas traditional forecasting predominantly hinges on structured data like time-series, recent breakthroughs in language models enable predictions using unstructured text. In particular, (Zou et al., 2022) unveils AutoCast, a new benchmark that employs news articles for answering forecasting queries. Nevertheless, existing methods still trail behind human performance. The cornerstone of accurate forecasting, we argue, lies in identifying a concise, yet rich subset of news snippets from a vast corpus. With this motivation, we introduce AutoCast++, a zero-shot ranking-based context retrieval system, tailored to sift through expansive news document collections for event forecasting. Our approach first re-ranks articles based on zero-shot question-passage relevance, honing in on semantically pertinent news. Following this, the chosen articles are subjected to zero-shot summarization to attain succinct context. Leveraging a pre-trained language model, we conduct both the relevance evaluation and article summarization without needing domain-specific training. Notably, recent articles can sometimes be at odds with preceding ones due to new facts or unanticipated incidents, leading to fluctuating temporal dynamics. To tackle this, our re-ranking mechanism gives preference to more recent articles, and we further regularize the multi-passage representation learning to align with human forecaster responses made on different dates. Empirical results underscore marked improvements across multiple metrics, improving the performance for multiple-choice questions (MCQ) by 48% and true/false (TF) questions by up to 8%. Code is available at

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