A decentralised blockchain platform for betting on real world outcomes – including the assassination of political leaders – is being traded on a Nasdaq crypto-related index and is open to everyday investors.
Exante, a global brokerage brand opened the decentralised finance index – Defix, which includes the controversial prediction market platform, Augur, as well as Amoveo and 0x.
“Consumers will have the ability to invest in the index through a Defix fund, granting exposure to decentralised finance blockchain projects through a secure, financially accredited agency,” says Defix.
Augur is described as a set of open source smart contracts that can be deployed to the Ethereum blockchain, enabling users to create their own prediction markets.
Wisdom of the crowd?
The platform used the wisdom of the crowd principle, which posits that a large group of aggregated answers are often superior to those given by individuals.
And while the platform has the potential for social benefit – such as fact-checking and holding politicians accountable – it’s the more nefarious applications that have made headlines.
While most markets on the platform are more benign, it’s also hosted bets on the deaths of people ranging from Donald Trump to Betty White.
“While some of the pools merely ask users to predict whether or not an older prominent public figure (e.g., Warren Buffet) will die of natural causes, others explicitly focus on targeted killings,” writes Jacob Zionts for ConsenSys Media.
Commentators point-out, this could potentially lead to people orchestrating events to ensure their prediction eventuates – whether the result of a cricket match or the death of a politician.
The decentralised and trustless nature of blockchain means neither government, the law nor even the developers can shut down nefarious prediction markets on the platform.
Developer, the Forecast Foundation says it does not control how markets resolve or are created, does not approve or reject trades or other transactions on the network and does not have the ability to modify, cancel, undo, or interact with orders on the network.
“The Forecast Foundation has no power to censor, restrict, or curate markets, orders, trades, positions or resolutions on the Augur protocol contracts,” it says.
“The Forecast Foundation has no more control over the Augur protocol than anyone else using Ethereum.”
It has some tech commentators suggesting the technology has opened up a Pandora’s Box – heralding in the dystopian world of Assassination Politics, imagined by crypto-anarchist Jim Bell in the mid-90s.
Both speculators and spectators can view Augur on the Defix index, archived by NASDAQ under the ticker DEFX.