Wednesday assorted links


"6. Death and assassination markets on Augur."

A 5 % chance of Trump getting killed sounds pretty high. Granted, it's not specifically assassination. If he dies in a plane crash, does that pay off?

In general, it's a shame the prediction market is tied to highly volatile virtual currencies.

It seems like 5% would be a baseline for ANY president, and probably low at that. With that low a percentage it tells me that the either the US is safer than say, 50 years ago, and/or presidential security is really on top of its game.

Yeah, I thought that too.

5% seems a little high for a 6-month contract, but there's a degree of irreducible background risk of death for any male of Trumps' age, not to mention the priors we have on Presidential assassination attempts.

"It seems like 5% would be a baseline for ANY president, and probably low at that. "

Trump is the 45th President and only 4 have ever been assassinated. So, even if the chance was purely linear, it would be less than a 10% chance. But it's not linear. The last successful assassination was in 1963. The last close call was in 1981.

It would be much harder to kill a President today than it was 37 years ago.

6. Is this lawful? Life insurance requires that the beneficiary have an "insurable interest", which essentially means that the beneficiary would suffer some type of loss if the person insured were to die. I suppose the "beneficiary" of the prediction market in Trump's death would suffer the loss of the dear leader. I recall when Kim's father died, North Koreans suffered uncontrollable grief, crying and acting hysterical for days.

"6. Is this lawful? "

Augur is a distributed chain. Attempting to apply your own laws and morality to someone from a different state, country or continent is going to be challenging.

That's my point, and probably your point too. Do we really want people profiting from killing someone by placing bets in a prediction market? I suppose Cowen prefers the absence of regulation of the prediction market, provided he is not the subject of the prediction market.

Ah, ok fair point. It's probably not an issue with the President of the US, since an assassination is probably very difficult at this point.

But if you made the same "bet" against some other individual, a celebrity, a minor politician, etc, then you've discreetly paid for a hit.

It is not true and, even if it were, you can'-t prove that. It is your word against mine.


"But if you made the same "bet" against some other individual, a celebrity, a minor politician, etc, then you've discreetly paid for a hit."

Are you sure? I think you have price function reversed. If I buy a position saying "X will be assassinated at Y%", I shift Y upwards by k.

The next person to take the position "X will be assassinated" gets a contract a Y+k%. That is, they get a LOWER payout if X is actually assassinated. Hence, if I bet on X being assassinated, I make it less profitable for some actor to subsequently buy into to market and actually assassinate X. This seems to me to be the reverse of paying for a hit!

"If I buy a position saying "X will be assassinated at Y%", ... This seems to me to be the reverse of paying for a hit!"

No, you've got the conditions wrong.

I make an anonymous bet of $25K that X will NOT be assassinated. Most people aren't going to touch that bet at anything like normal odds, because it's extremely unlikely. Another individual with a gun decides to accept the contract an makes a $25K counter bet that X will be assassinated. The assassination happens and the assassin collects on his bet minus any fees.

So, I've paid $25K for a hit, the assassin has collected his original bet back + the $25K back (minus any fees).

I never had any intention of "winning" the bet and if no assassin is willing to make a counter bet (take the job), then it didn't cost me any money to put the contract up for offer.

What if it was a democratic politician from a violent state, say, Afghanistan, Libya or Iraq rather than the US? Or a dictator? Or a non-politician; say a Mexican drug lord? Or the odds of a convicted rapist being killed in prison?

I think most people would be fine betting on those. Personally I don't see a moral problem with assassination prediction markets. Just because you think someone will be killed does not mean you want them killed.

(And to be pedantic, wanting someone killed is not, necessarily, morally wrong in all cases)

No, assassination markets are completely illegal in the US and I would imagine almost everywhere else. As JWatts points out, allowing it would effectively legalize murder-for-hire. (for the hirer anyway, not the assassin)

1. Clever, venture capitalists are like spies. "The future is present, but invisible on the surface." I've gotten Peter Thiel all wrong: his affinity for snooping (thus, Palantir) isn't because he is an authoritarian, but rather he is a spy.

#4 I loved those Brad Delong "Morning Coffee" videos. I love how that guy drinks coffee.

The best coffee is grown in Brazil, and this coffee is the fuel of modern civilization.

I prefer to drink covfefe.

We also grow the best Covfefe!

Sad to see that communists have to impersonate me.

That's regarding the "#4 I loved those Brad Delong "Morning Coffee" videos. "

I'm Brad Delong and this - SIP - this is my morning coffee.

I've always wanted to know - why in those videos, even when you are at home, do you drink the coffee out of a paper cup and not a normal kitchen mug? You don't even bother to make your own coffee at home?

Our relative stock of technology is growing at a pace that is proportionately about 100 times as fast as the rate of technological growth before 1650. That's an AMAZING accomplishment that should make us all sit up and say "Wow" and be happy that we live now and not before 1650, and perhaps sad that we do not live one or two centuries from now.

sick trellis!

From time-to-time I do allow myself to come down from my perch and mingle among the cuckolds of MR.

"lots of genius talent (that would include DeLong)": Americans do set the bar low for 'genius'.

Yep, but not as low as Brits. That's a country where Benny Hill is considered comedic high culture.

No, this is the high point of British culture:

Oh my, bogus dearieme is back.

Which one? The first or the second? I can't tell.

I remembered when I interviewed with the CIA. My lie detector test was inconclusive and long. I answered truthfully but ... So I had a couple of days to visit DC and get on with my life

I believe official policy in China belittled business people. Don't see it here.

I feel like I have been punked on this whole comments thing!

I predict that by 2056 Princton (among other ivy League Universities) will seem like some sort of wierd LARPing environment for affectionados of the medieval guild system and/or late 19th century England. There will be no real reason to attend college in person unless you enjoy medieval architecture and vintage bicycles.

Might be the dumbest comment on the thread, on a thread with a lot of dumb comments...

I have to disagree. It is plausible that almost 40 years in the future our education system will be vastly different than it is today.

I don't know about the LARPing aspect, but it wouldn't be beyond the pale to say that in 40 years most ivy league schools will not exist in a form that is recognizable.

Hazel, just for clarification, the post above was our resident troll, not an actual comment that I made or would ever make.

Good to know. I thought it was harsher than your usual tone.

" There will be no real reason to attend college in person unless you enjoy medieval architecture and vintage bicycles." Laboratories.

Very astute observation, but I don't think too many of the Ivies have engineering. Yale recently spent a bunch on labs, but I'm not sure about the status of the others. What's the value of a liberal arts degree again?

Cornell has Engineering, which is where I went. But the correct reply was "Why do you hate LARPers?" Or medieval architecture and vintage bikes? I like all of those things. IMO, PhDs don't get to wear their fancy black robes often enough.

Yes the life long business network advantages of Ivy League schools can easily be fostered remotely. It’s not the partying, clubs, and social events that cement these relationships.

For the weirdo academics, the critical connections to prominent profs in your field will be done over Skype and thus they will actively sponsor these kids for grad school all the same. No trading favors and grunt TA work for future favors.

And on campus recruiting, which is how one gets the elite jobs, will be done over the phone. Because when I (used to) go back to campus to recruit the only thing I’m looking for is grades. Not fit, not to see if the person can handle themselves, or their demeanor and polish.

Maybe libertarians are indeed on the autism spectrum.


"Hey guys. Today, I want to chat with you about they mystery of what I mean when I identify something as Straussian...."

Tyler C on his future Youtube show.

Great click-links today Tyler! All bangers. Except #2. Pure drivel. So not all bangers. But close. Keep it up!

So, just like with Baen e-books, an era seems to have drawn to a close here.

However, there is a solution to the commenting closure - use twitter. After all, this site needs metrics, and twitter delivers them in a most friendly fashion. Along with pretty much ensuring that one's identity remains extractable - and thus ever so useful for an organization like this - 'At i360® we believe THE DATA IS THE DIFFERENCE. But what does that mean? Simply put, it means integrating data in everything we do to produce the most effective outcomes for every one of our clients.

At the core of the i360 operation is a comprehensive database of all 18+ American consumers and voters containing thousands of pieces of individual and aggregated information that give us the full picture of who they are, where they live, what they do and what is happening around them. Leveraging this and our capabilities in data science, analytics, technology development and advertising, we help clients take their efforts to the next level by embracing the concept of truly borderless data.' (Got to love that 'borderless' - i360 isn't going to let piddling privacy laws stand in its way.

Though remember - positivity is important. And unlike comments here, Prof. Cowen and co. do not need to pretend they don't read what is written on twitter, while still being able to extract useful information to guide future directions in influencing public debate.

At least I won't need to keep switching javascript on and off anymore for thread comments - that was a true annoyance. How do any of you actually use the Internet with javascript on - it just creates a wasteland of worthless UI interaction that is completely unnecessary and time wasting.

What's with comments being disabled for some more controversial post topics ? Is this new?


Ugh, we've come to the point where we have to pander to people's emotions to get them to engage with facts.

chrisare, you seem to have missed this recent post by Tyler :

It would be interesting to hear more about Augur, as Tyler's peer at GMU, Robin Hanson, is a founder.

The YouTube voice article explained a lot for me. I get that YouTube monologue channels are very popular, but I don't like watching them, although I love listening to podcasts. When I watch YouTube, I feel like someone is talking *at* me, whereas on a podcast, I feel like someone is talking *to* me. The latter, to me, is a much more pleasant experience. The Atlantic article helped clarify why that might be.

Comments for this post are closed