Skip to Content
Blockchain

The latest blockchain use case: anonymously betting on public-figure death pools

July 26, 2018

Things have quickly turned dark on Augur, a new Ethereum-based application that lets users create “peer-to-peer prediction markets” where they can wager on whether specific events will occur. Launched this month by a nonprofit called the Forecast Foundation, the protocol’s users have already created a market for betting on whether the the US president will be assassinated.

A decades-old idea: In fact, few cryptocurrency enthusiasts are surprised (though some are dismayed) by the quick emergence of Augur’s death prediction markets, early examples of which feature Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Betty White in addition to Donald Trump. As Motherboard points out, the concept of an “assassination market” has been around for decades. But now that there is a mechanism to make bets anonymously, the fear is that someone could be enticed to actually kill a person in order to win a bet placed on that death.

What if something really goes wrong? Don’t expect this nightmare scenario to play out any time soon; these particular markets have seen very few if any transactions thus far. If it did, though, could the creators of Augur be held accountable? They certainly don’t think so. From Augur’s FAQ: “The Forecast Foundation does not operate or control, nor can it control, what markets and actions people perform and create on the Augur protocol.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

open sourcing language models concept
open sourcing language models concept

Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free

Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

Yann LeCun
Yann LeCun

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.