In one niche corner of the cryptocurrency world, an ethical debate is raging. The topic of contention is not exchange rates or squabbles over which virtual money is king, but so-called “assassination markets” where users can place bets on the likelihood of celebrity deaths.
So far, U.S. president Donald Trump, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, actress Betty White and Senator John McCain have been the subject of death predictions on a new platform called Augur. Launched this month by a non-profit called the Forecast Foundation, the service is powered on the Ethereum blockchain and designed to place wagers on the chance of events coming true. “Predict the next election, short a cryptocurrency, or hedge against disaster,” the pitch reads.
Augur is a free, open source software for users to create their own prediction markets. Contracts use the Ethereum blockchain, which is a form of distributed leger technology that records all transactions. The controversy over its “assassination markets”—not a totally new phenomenon—has been fueled by the platform developers' claims that they do not have the ability to “censor, restrict, control, modify, change, revoke, terminate or make any changes to markets.” – Newsweek
One of the primary reasons why betting on someone's death is a tricky business is because it is too easy for a wagerer to turn their bet into a self-fulfilling prophecy. i.e...where something like betting on whether the Brexit referendum would pass a few years ago requires collusion from millions of voters, all it takes is a few thousand dollars and a willing participant to assassinate someone on your wagering list for you to profit on murder.