Next on the Blockchain: Crowdfunding Death

Steven Schear schear.steve at
Fri Aug 3 10:54:01 PDT 2018

But despite an abundance of profitable opportunities, we don’t see a lot of
high-profile assassinations. The truth is, there simply isn’t some massive
pent-up hasn't for murder, languishing for want of a group buy."

Apparently,  Elaine hasn't been following the alt-left.

On Fri, Aug 3, 2018, 10:38 AM jim bell <jdb10987 at> wrote:

> It’s now easy to anonymously bet on the date of a celebrity’s death. Does
> that encourage assassination?
> By
> Elaine Ou <>
> July 30, 2018, 8:00 AM PDT
> A new prediction market has been live on the Ethereum blockchain for less
> than three weeks, and already the death bets
> <> are
> rolling in. Up for wager on the Augur market are the fates of public
> figures like national leaders, celebrities and tech company CEOs. It’s
> controversial not just because some find it unseemly, but also because it
> could create incentives to kill.
> There’s nothing inherently wrong with speculating on a person’s untimely
> demise; that’s the entire purpose of life insurance and the old pooled
> annuities called tontines. But the players in a prediction market are
> rarely all dispassionate observers. Short sellers in the stock market are
> motivated to drag down a company’s share price. Bettors in a “ghoul pool”
> prediction market have effectively created an assassination market.
> An assassination market differs from traditional murder-for-hire in that
> unlimited wagers can be made against a potential target. The greater the
> odds stacked against a person’s death, the larger the incentive for a
> prospective assassin to take the opposite side and execute the outcome.
> This is not a new idea: In 1995, crypto-anarchist Jim Bell designed a
> system he called “Assassination Politics
> <>,” a
> prediction market where participants could anonymously contribute digital
> cash to bounty funds designated for the death of government officials. 1
> <> The
> idea has been launched
> <> multiple
> times on the dark web, but it’s unclear that any of these markets resulted
> in assassination.
> Previous conceptions of such markets relied on centralized operators that
> could be identified and shut down. Because it uses the Ethereum blockchain,
> Augur exists as a decentralized application, replicated on thousands of
> computers around the world. Participants are pseudonymous, and payments are
> made in cryptocurrency. Even if the creators of Augur are prosecuted, the
> source code is freely available <> so that
> anyone can replicate the model. As a result, the platform is essentially
> unstoppable.
> But don’t panic just yet. Any prospective assassin is unlikely to trawl
> prediction markets looking for a job; it wouldn’t even be good business.
> There are better ways to profit from advance knowledge of a death, and
> there’s a bloodless alternative as well.
> The stock market provides far greater liquidity and noise to avoid tipping
> off the target in advance. And deaths move markets. Even rumors of deaths
> move markets. In 2008, CNN inadvertently spread a false report that Apple
> CEO Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack
> <>, triggering a 10
> percent decline in Apple’s share price. In 2013, the Associated Press
> Twitter account announced
> <> that
> President Barack Obama had been injured in an explosion at the White House.
> The market lost over $130 billion in stock value, then rebounded when AP
> confirmed that its account had been compromised and the report was false.
> In both these cases, no one was harmed in the making of fake news. 2
> <> But
> some people surely made money as the markets heaved.
> When it comes to censorship-resistant markets, critics are quick to jump
> to the most abhorrent possible use cases. But despite an abundance of
> profitable opportunities, we don’t see a lot of high-profile
> assassinations. The truth is, there simply isn’t some massive pent-up
> demand for murder, languishing for want of a group buy. It’s possible that
> we could see a rise in milder tasteless markets — character assassination
> <>, for
> example. Instead of incentivizing the murder of a public figure, bet on an
> executive’s departure and then put out a bounty to escalate embarrassing
> tweets until the executive gets fired
> <>.
> Such campaigns
> <> already
> informally self-organize on social media.
> Censorship-resistant markets don’t inherently generate new demand for
> terrible things; they simply make it easier to do what people already
> wanted to do.
>    1.
>    <>
>    Each bounty would accept anonymous predictions on the politician’s
>    date of death, and upon the target's demise, the reward fund would be
>    transferred to anyone who correctly predicted the date. The idea was that
>    only the assassin would have known the date ahead of time (predictions
>    required some amount of collateral to discourage blind guessing).
>    <>
>    2.
>    <>
>    The market responded because trading volume is in large part driven by
>    machines that automatically parse and respond to news. While Augur’s
>    prediction market may be immune to censorship, it still relies on humans to
>    accurately report the outcome of an event. Augur’s arbitrators have the
>    option of marking an outcome as unethical and withholding payout. There
>    seems to be some debate
>    <> over
>    whether an assassination market is truly unethical.
>    <>
> This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial
> board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
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