Running with Unicorns, a Crypto Podcast by Gem
Running with Unicorns, a Crypto Podcast by Gem

Running with Unicorns Ep. 8

Crypto Prediction Markets: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly / Matt Smith, Research/Engineering Architect, Spring Labs

January 31, 2019

A conversation with Matt Smith, Research/Engineering Architect at Spring Labs about the pros and cons of crypto prediction markets and some of the controversial betting taking place on these platforms, including assassination markets.

“They did for a short period of time have a kill switch when they were first pulling the network to make sure everything went okay. But they burned that kill switch. It’s done now. Nobody can turn this off.”

– Matt Smith, Research/Engineering Architect, Spring Labs

Matt Smith joins us today to talk about how crypto prediction markets work, how blockchain technology is being used to modernize online gambling, which essentially allows people to speculate on the outcome of all kinds of future events. We discuss some of the common applications of these prediction markets and their pros and cons. And we dive into some of the deep implications of the more controversial betting markets on these platforms, such as assassination markets and mass casualties in future unknown terrorist attacks.

Topics Covered

  • Sports gambling is very much in the news
  • Brief history of sports gambling laws in the United States
  • 2018 Supreme Court decision giving power to states on sports gambling
  • Will online sports gambling be next step of legalizing gambling?
  • How traditional prediction markets work
  • Prediction markets and how they utilize the “wisdom of crowds”
  • Different formulations of prediction markets
  • Crypto prediction market as a new twist on an age-old idea
  • Benefits of decentralized prediction markets – better security and censorship resistance, global pool of liquidity
  • Could shape future of online sports gambling
  • Core innovation – gambling good way to bootstrap new crypto networks, uncover information otherwise hidden, inject data verifiably into the blockchain ecosystem
  • NJ Refund of bets example
  • How these platforms actually work? How do you place bets and create markets?
  • How censorship resistant decentralized betting platforms such as Augur work, interacting directly with the markets, using the blockchain
  • On killing the kill switch of this network and what that means
  • On assassination markets and the potential implications of that
  • On political bad actors and how they could manipulate assassination markets
  • Where all this is heading, maybe to the courts
  • How dispute resolution works on these platforms
  • Some recent disputes such as the recent US midterm elections and baseball and how they are being resolved
  • Closing thoughts

Guest Contact Information
Matt Smith
Research/Engineering Architect, Spring Labs
LinkedIn | Twitter

Questions and Comments
podcast@gem.co

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Chitra: Welcome to the show, Matt. It’s great to have you.

Matt: Thanks, Chitra. It’s always good to be at Gem.

Chitra: Wonderful. Before we go into what crypto-based prediction markets are, let’s talk a little bit about what are prediction markets and how do they work?

Matt: Yeah sure. So a prediction market is a market like any other. It’s a place where commerce happens, where things are bought and sold. The name can be a little misleading because you’re not buying predictions. What you’re buying are stake, you’re buying a stake, like a position, in the outcome of some event. The thing that’s unique about a prediction market is that you can bet on the outcome of any event. So say I care a lot about sports and I want to put money on my position that the Yankees are absolutely gonna beat the Red Sox, obviously, and maybe that’s illegal where I do it, but I’ll go to my bookie and I’ll say hey I think the Red Sox are gonna win, I’ve looked at the stats, they’re gonna win so I’m gonna put this much money on it, give me some odds. Then whenever that event resolves, I get money back if I’m right and then I lose my money if I’m wrong.

Chitra: Okay. So there’s a lot of science and math behind this because it essentially goes to the notion of the wisdom of crowds. That an individual’s intelligence gathering is a lot less powerful than that of a number of people. So it’s essentially aggregating of information.

Matt: Yeah. It’s not necessarily just that like you get 100 people in a room and those people are gonna make a better decision than one person in isolation. What these markets really do, if they are liquid and highly available, if you have access to a large number of people, there’s gonna be people in that crowd that have some insight. That maybe have inside information or have studied the mechanics of whatever is gonna drive the outcome of the result. A prediction market can enable those people to monetize that knowledge, that insight. So people that don’t know really any information about the Red Sox or the Yankees, they’re not gonna bet on it because they don’t know who’s gonna win, it would be a very risky proposition for them, but someone that has inside information like their best hitter got injured but they haven’t announced it yet, he’s got a real strong incentive to go and make a big bet on the Yankees.

Chitra: Right. So there’s a lot of value to this.

Matt: Yeah. So you can absolutely uncover information that would otherwise remain hidden. That’s why we call it a prediction market because the market as a whole for the outcome of some event predicts what the outcome will be.

Chitra: These are binary decision making right on sort of discrete events?

Matt: There are actually a bunch of different formulations, different constructions you can do for models. Binary is probably the most common, easiest to understand. Like this is gonna happen or this is gonna happen. One of these two things is gonna happen. That’s available on most of the prediction markets we’re gonna talk about today. You can also do categories, like multiple choice A, B, C or D. Or you can do like a scale or range, a numerical range. Like it’s gonna be somewhere between this value… You can have a curve where the payout is proportional to where it falls on this graph. Those are a little bit more complicated so maybe it’s easier to talk about the binary option. Binary options are fairly interesting because binary option is an existing financial instrument, and prediction markets as a class sort of mimic their pay where there’s a threshold, and one thing happens or the other thing happens and then you pay out accordingly.

Chitra: So now let’s talk about crypto-based prediction markets. Now, prediction markets are very old. They go back to like 1884 or something like that. So are crypto prediction markets basically a new twist on a very old idea?

Matt: That feels like a leading question, Chitra. Totally – they are. We’ve seen political election markets way, way back, people do things like buy votes because there’s a financial incentive to make their party win because they had bet a lot of money on this one candidate winning. So, yeah, people definitely do this and that’s why we see regulations emerge around what you can bet on, what you can’t bet on. Crypto prediction markets are interesting because we get a lot of the, after what you see in blockchain and decentralized applications that are well suited to the form, which means that they eliminate counterparty risk.

Chitra: What does that mean?

Matt: So when I go to bet on the Red Sox or the Yankees and say it’s illegal. I think there are regulatory changes in the US where maybe sports betting is okay now, but until very recently at least it was illegal to bet on sports in most jurisdictions. So if I’m gonna go and place that bet, I’m gonna be going to a bookie who’s breaking the law. Because this is like a shady area, there’s a chance that when I give him my money and tell him to give me more money back if I’m right, there’s a chance that he just doesn’t do that. I’m still right, but he just goes away. My risk is that my counterparty, the person I’m interacting with, this guy, is going to abscond.

This risk exists in most centralized systems, not just in these fringe ones or these illegal markets where it’s definitely much more risky because there isn’t regulatory oversight, but even if you’re trading on a normal financial exchange, foreign exchange or something. There’s still a risk that your counterparty person that you’re trading directly with through this intermediary won’t be able to satisfy the order and you’ll be left out in the cold.

Matt: So there’s a counterparty risk, and we can eliminate this, we do this in decentralized exchange protocols, like the 0x protocol and Ether Delta and these other applications. The other thing that we get by using a blockchain is we get this censorship resistance. So like I said, it’s illegal on these jurisdictions to gamble on a lot of things like political elections, it’s illegal almost everywhere to gamble on them because it sort of undermines the integrity of the election. So you can’t really do that. But in a decentralized prediction market, it’s really hard to enforce those rules. You can’t really say no you can do you can do this but not this. You sort of do whatever you want. Maybe that’s a good thing because there are some jurisdictions where your access to financial markets in general is restricted.

This is a mechanism that maybe some corrupt governments might use to keep certain segments of the population from accessing the broader financial markets. Like we can look at the currency controls in China. They have limited access to international markets. Prediction markets are cool because you can use them to emulate almost any financial instrument. I can make a prediction market for what will the price of the British pound versus the US dollar be on such and such a date? Then I can basically create this synthetic forex market out of this decentralized platform. So they’re very versatile. And because they’re censorship resistant, they’re also international. I can reach across borders. I’ve got this huge global pool of liquidity. Everyone in the world that wants to bet on the Red Sox versus the Yankees can do it in this one place.

Chitra: So someone in China could make a prediction on who’s gonna win the World Cup or something like that.

Matt: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. That’s a cool thing because normally these sort of markets, especially when they’re illegal, are localized. They’re focused on a small local area. Or they’re run by a centralized online exchange, and those we saw with the dark web Silk Road markets and those kind of things, those are very vulnerable to people absconding with money because that’s what you’ve ascended to. So the conflicts of those three factors are what make these really uniquely valuable in terms of a betting market or trading exchange kind of thing.

Chitra: So what’s the core innovation here? What’s the true value of these decentralized platforms do you think? If you were to sum it up.

Matt: Gambling is a good way to get network, bootstrap network. Because everyone likes to gamble. We’ve been doing this forever. Dice is a really old kind of game people bet on. It’s something people want to do and it’s something that governments tend to restrict people’s access to. So we can get a lot of people on this platform to start using it. But the results of using these markets is we get two really cool things out of these prediction markets.

The first thing is that we can uncover information the world has at large but isn’t able to voice about what’s going to happen to the world. We were talking about earlier, maybe it’s something trivial like the Red Sox versus the Yankees, or maybe it’s something much more meaningful, and I struggle to find a good example because I didn’t prepare well enough, but we can sort of see, maybe we’re talking about an election or something, and maybe there was some key insight about what’s gonna happen in this local election that a few people have. So we might be able to give them a financial incentive to reveal that information monetarily, and potentially anonymously if you’re very careful, so they get rewarded for telling the world that they feel very strong, they feel this many dollars strongly that this is gonna happen. So we get this information service.

The other thing that we get out of these platforms is specifically in the blockchain space is that we get this information from the outside world, like Yankees versus Red Sox or who won the election, and we are able to inject it in a trusted verifiable way into a blockchain ecosystem. This maybe will get a little technical, but the way smart contracts on most blockchain platforms work is that they’re what’s called deterministic. There’s no opportunity for them to have any sort of randomness. They just sort of are a pure result of whatever the inputs to the function of this smart contract program is. That’s cool, but what it restricts you to is that you can’t get any non-deterministic sources. So you can’t reach out to the normal Internet. You can’t go to like Weather.com and then figure out what is the weather today?

So there’s no really great way for you to write programs that run in a decentralized application that act on these external real-world events. You can do it with what’s called an oracle. There are a few sites and services that will do this, where you say like take the information that’s published on this webpage and then insert it into the blockchain. That is one way to address a problem. The problem with it is that you have to trust the service that’s doing that. One person is publishing a transaction that says the weather is 95 degrees today. The cool thing about these prediction markets when they run on this blockchain is that there are financial incentives to make sure that everyone that’s participating agrees this is actually what happens. It was actually 95 degrees that day. Trump actually won the election.

Chitra: So basically you’re putting money behind it so it makes a difference.

Matt: Right. You’re putting an incentive for everyone that knows that this thing happened to say this is the thing that happened and they will lose that money if they lie. This is really powerful because other smart contracts can leverage these platforms. They can point at these prediction market contracts and say okay I’m interested in the outcome of this result, I want to know what happens. I want my contract to do something in case Trump wins, in case Hillary wins or whatever. Which is something you couldn’t really very verifiably or trustlessly do before these sort of decentralized oracles existed. That I think is really powerful and it amps up what we can do with these decentralized applications.

Chitra: Let’s talk about how these markets actually work. There are a handful of these crypto prediction markets, Augur being one of them. How do they actually work? How do you make a bet? If I were a betting person.

Matt: Yeah if you were a betting person, Chitra. It’s not too dissimilar from how you would log into a normal betting website I guess. It’s not very much like a casino where you go play online poker. I have not used that many actual gambling applications, so I don’t know what the UI looks like. But basically what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna go to some website that is gonna be running a server with a connection to the blockchain. Or you’re gonna download an application that connects to the blockchain. Maybe there’s some sync time. People are familiar when you download the Bitcoin wallet, the main bitcoin log, it takes ages to sync and stuff. You might run into that depending on how you access it, but there are ways around that.

So you get to basically just a web page. It’s gonna have a list of all these markets that exist, maybe they’ll be categorized. They’ll say like these are the sports betting markets, these are the political markets, these are financial markets and stuff. You can go and you can see which markets have been created. Anyone can go and create a market. Anyone can be like I want to create a market for this thing that I want to know about, and that I think I have insight on and I’m gonna bet on myself. So you look at all these and you say okay Yankees, Red Sox, I’m interested in this. So you click on the thing and then you can see that there’s a price. So Yankees v. Red Sox, Yankees, Red Sox. There are gonna be two outcomes and you’ll see shares for each of these outcomes. So there are yes shares, there are Red Sox shares and there are Yankees shares.

So you can buy either of those and each of those will have a price in Ether. Eventually when we have more stable coin support, you’ll be able to buy it in a USD token. But it’ll be a cryptocurrency. It will also run on that same blockchain network. So you’ll have a blockchain wallet, Metamask, or the Edge Wallet, something like that. Then you’re going to say I want to buy such and such Boston shares, Red Sox shares. They’ll have some price in Ether and then you go and you buy it.

Another thing that you can do is you can take one Ether and then you can deposit it into the market in some models, and then you’ll get equal, you’ll get one of both shares, and then you can sell the share that you think’s not gonna happen. So there are a couple different mechanisms for that. Basically you’re buying shares in the outcome of this market.

Chitra: And using crypto to do that.

Matt: And you’re using crypto to do that.

Chitra: Okay.

Matt: So then what’s gonna happen is there’s gonna be a time when it’s set to resolve, like whoever created the market is gonna say this is happening on such and such date. And when that time comes, he or somebody is gonna put in an initial report on what the outcome was, and there’s a dispute phase where we sort of… The blockchain comes to an agreement, we come to a consensus on what the outcome of the market was. Once it’s decided, everyone with the Boston shares, those Boston shares are now worth 100 percent of the total Ether put into the market, and all the Yankee shares are worth nothing. So if you are stuck holding a bunch of Yankee shares you’re like oh that’s great. This is blockchain evidence that I made a bad bet. Then the other people get their money.

Chitra: If you didn’t already know that you made a bad bet, you have…

Matt: Yeah now you have verifiable evidence.

Chitra: Your empty wallet being an example of having made a bad bet.

Matt: Exactly. But the winners will get that money back into the wallet they used to interact with the protocol. It’s pretty straight forward as a trader. The ones that are live, Augur is maybe the biggest one that people talk about right now because it’s live and you can actually use it. So their UI is fairly straightforward to use if you’re just betting on things. You just see graphs, you see yes no, you see percentages, how many of these token exists and how many you can buy in the network and stuff. So it looks a lot like if you go to a normal exchange where there are a bunch of little mini exchanges.

Chitra: Okay. So we’ve talked about some of the more straightforward applications, sports, politics, weather. But some of these prediction markets have also some pretty weird and controversial use cases. You’ve heard about these assassination markets on Augur where people are prediction on celebrity killings, of politicians and other famous people. You’ve got, what are some of these examples and how did that come about? You’ve got terrorist attacks, predicting how many mass casualties will happen as a result of an attack.

Matt: Yeah. So like we said, it’s a censorship-resistant platform, like Augur we’ll take as an example. The software is built by a company called the Forecast Foundation, and they just deployed these smart contracts on the network. They created this token REP, which stands for reputation. There’s a fixed supply of those. Those are the people that get to report on outcomes of events. So that’s all they really… They put the contracts out there and they created software where you can use this platform to create your own prediction markets. But they didn’t create any, they don’t control, they don’t run like a centralized server where you can go and interact. It’s like you download the app and you interact directly with the blockchain protocol.

So they’re sort of hands off. You can do whatever. They did for a short period of time have a killswitch when they were first pulling the network to make sure everything went okay. But they burned that killswitch. It’s done now. Nobody can turn this off. It’s just there. Unless somebody hacks it, and that happens. But so what that means is nobody really has any control over which markets can be created. Anyone can create whatever market they want. There’s a small fee to create a market or whatever and if you’re willing to stake that, create a market for it. Then anybody that sees that market can go and bet on it. So that’s cool because it gives a lot of people access to instruments they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get exposure to, and it lets us bet on things that maybe we should be allowed to but for whatever regulatory reasons we can’t.

But it also means that we can bet on things that for good reasons we aren’t really supposed to. So the assassination markets are a really good example. Basically people create a market that says will such and such political figure die by the end of such and such time frame? The problem with that is it’s not just an event that’s out of everyone’s hands that will sort of occur, this is true with sports betting too which is one of the reasons sports betting is illegal in a lot of jurisdictions. Having a market where you can go bet on one of those outcomes, political figure A will die, creates an incentive for anyone to go and affect that outcome. So I would go and bet yes, I would not, a person might go and bet yes and then go actually commit that murder. Then he would have a big financial incentive.

So that’s why we call them assassination markets rather than just a normal prediction market on what’s gonna happen. Will he die of natural causes or whatever? It creates this incentive to do this. This is actually really kinda scary. These existed on Augur, but it’s not really a big deal because no one’s betting on them. So no one’s gonna interact with a market if the liquidity is really low because the potential reward is very low, correspondingly low. Most of these markets on the Augur platform which is the only one that I think that is live, are below a thousand dollars total stake opened in these markets. That’s a fact because there are a bunch of them. Anyone can create one so you have a bunch so there’s this big overload of all these markets you can bet on.

So it hasn’t been a problem yet. But if I say I’m a very well funded political actor. Like I’m a state actor or I’m a political opponent, and I have access to a lot of funds, what I can do is I can create that market and then put a lot of money on the opposite side. So will my opponent die? And then I bet no. I put millions of dollars on no. That is effectively a million dollars bounty on that head that anyone can go and fill. All they need to do is buy a bunch of yes shares and then go pull the trigger.

So this is really bad if you think about cyber warfare. You think about well-funded nation states. We’ve seen a lot of news being reported of questionable veracity about North Korean and Russian hackers using cryptocurrency in some of their schemes. So they maybe have access, they have a deep understanding of how these networks well. They have the ability to do this kind of thing, and it allows you to basically put an open bounty, a public open bounty, on someone’s head from overseas and anonymously. It’s really scary that you can do that.

Chitra: Isn’t someone gonna do something about this? Do you foresee any kind of legal or regulatory issues, liability issues?

Matt: Yeah, definitely. It’s really hard to say how it’s gonna happen because you can’t shut it down. The network runs the way it does, the smart contracts are deployed. There’s no killswitch on this, so you can’t shut it down. It’s just there so you can use it. What you can do is go after the people that interact with it. We might see governments outlawing Augur specifically and that’s kind of hard to regulate because it’s just transactions on a blockchain platform. But again, blockchain records are immutable so I have a disincentive to do anything if I think it can be associated with my identity. There’s a very high bar to interacting with most of these public blockchain networks, truly and honestly.

So it’s dangerous and there’s a disincentive there. But the other thing that we can see regulators do is go after the people that create these systems, which in Augur’s case wouldn’t really help the problem. Augur’s still gonna be there even if you go after the founders or the Forecast Foundation or whatever. But we did see something like that happen with a centralized exchange called Ether Delta. We saw the SEC, I believe the SEC sued the creator of Ether Delta, this decentralized exchange, just because he created the software and was responsible for running a web UI, a server that just served the UI for interacting with these smart contracts, which you didn’t have to use but you could. He settled out of court. But this kind of weird pseudo precedent where regulatory bodies can go after developers even that just create this software, create the facility for people to go and create markets that create this opportunity for malfeasance and for dangerous actions.

I think we will definitely see this getting negotiated in court and in the court of public opinion.

Chitra: Yeah. A lot of legal funds will be spent even though the underlying problem can’t go away because you can’t get rid of the system.

Matt: Yeah. Lawyers will make money for sure. It’s really a big question mark and that’s one of the things that’s probably depressing engagement with Augur. Like Augur does get used but it’s not, and I think maybe right now there’s maybe a couple million dollars of open stake across all the markets. So that’s one of the big question marks.

Chitra: And it’s just one of the platforms. There are other platforms.

Matt: Other platforms.

Chitra: You’re gonna see a lot of these similar problems and challenges confronting…

Matt: Yeah. And if we see regulators move quickly then that can stifle those other creators. The other platforms that are coming out, there’s one called Gnosis which I’m actually a big fan of that team. They’ve produced a lot of really high quality software. But Augur was the first in the market. It might be more difficult for new competitors to enter the space if they’re afraid that they’re gonna be liable just by the fact of creating a software that could be used for good things, but could also be used for bad things.

Chitra: Let’s talk a little bit about dispute resolution because the immutability of a decentralized platform like this is its strength. But when it comes to dispute resolution it also raises questions of how do you resolve disputes when there’s a bet? And how does it affect the core value proposition of a blockchain based platform.

Matt: Yeah. So that’s a great question because what we really are trying to do with these platforms is inject truth into the immutable blockchain record. We want to figure out what actually happened for all these things people cared enough to bet on. We can’t just say that whoever creates the market imports the outcome because he probably has an incentive, one way or the other. We have to know what actually happened. So the way that most of these systems work is that there is a dispute resolution process. That’s why we need this REP token in Augur’s case. We need this token that represents financial investment in the network as a whole at its market perception. If people consider Augur to be good and useful and valuable, then that token will go up in value.

So they acquire these tokens and then if you hold some amount of REP and you see a market get resolved with an incorrect decision, a decision you believe to be not what actually happened, you can open a dispute by staking, you take your 100 REP and you say no the Red Sox didn’t win, it was the Yankees that won. If you get to a certain threshold, this will kick off this dispute resolution process. Basically it’s this incrementing scale, in Augur’s case specifically. The amount of REP that has to be staked to dispute even a dispute… We have the initial report, someone disputes it and says no it’s Red Sox, Yankees, I say no, Red Sox. Then if somebody else is like no it was the Yankees, this guy is messing with us. He just put up 100 REP, he’s just messing with the system, he has to get 200 REP from him and all the other people that are watching the network to say no it was the Yankees. This can go back and forth for a long time.

Chitra: There’s some real examples of this, one with the recent elections and one with the Yankees, I guess.

Matt: Yeah. This came up because one of the most high profile markets last year on Augur, it launched last year, the US midterm elections. There was a market created for who will control the House of Representatives after the 2018 midterm election. This got at least a million, maybe two million dollars, of open bets placed on this outcome, which right now it’s worth maybe a little bit under a hundred million dollars after depreciation. But a lot of people bet on this. I was watching the election, I was watching the platform. I didn’t interact with it but I knew a guy that was like yeah it looks like the Democrats are gonna take the house. Democrats are gonna take the house.

So everybody’s betting on this. Democrats have a strong advantage because we knew fairly early in the polls it was likely they were gonna take a bunch of House seats. Everyone’s watching 538.com and the other CNN.com, and as each state goes in, right up until the end, people are still trading on this market. It was set to resolve on December 10th, so the resolution date was… This is enough time for all the House races to get resolved because some of them would drag on for weeks. So we finally get, Republican shares were worth like one percent of the value and 99 percent of the value is Democrat shares. By the end of the night, Democrats had taken the House.

So everybody’s getting chill. It sort of settles down. Everybody’s just waiting for December 10th so they can get their money. Then like December 7th or something, a couple days before the resolution date, the guy who created this market, he’s the creator, and the creator gets a small fee of whatever share of the market, he posts on Reddit and the tagline is I think it just says ‘I am sorry.’ He explains that the goal of this market was always to reflect who will control the House of Representatives immediately after the midterm elections, not who will control the House on January 1st when the newly elected House of Representatives takes office. So it was the only option, according to the way it’s worded, I have to report Republicans because they still currently as of today, as of December 10th, still control the House of Representatives. I think the top comment was something like you just want to watch the world burn don’t you? Because that’s ludicrous. It was very misleadingly worded market question. So this has a lot of implications.

This of course got disputed but you have to think about it for a second. What actually did happen? If you look at the exact wording, yeah the Republicans controlled the House on December 10th. But that was obviously not the intent of the market, not what everyone understood it to be. So what is the right result? So this guy reports Republicans. And then we go into dispute. Somebody puts up a dispute bond for it was the Democrats. I think we’re in the fourth dispute, this still isn’t resolved. We’re in the fourth dispute round, maybe like I think 700 or 1,000 REP has been staked on aggregate outcomes, and we could see this drag on for a long time.

Chitra: So timing I guess is everything when it comes to some of these things. It’s how you word the language, what time zone these things are in, how people interpret it and then you dispute it I guess if you don’t agree.

Matt: Yeah but it’s also, it’s not clear what the right answer is. It’s sort of like you’re dealing with this adversarial malicious genie that will grant your wish but in a way that kills you. You have to, I’m very concerned about this when I saw this happen. It was kind of morbidly funny, but at the same time it was concerning because this is gonna make a lot of people very, very afraid to interact with this platform if they don’t trust that somebody’s trying to trip them up with careful wording. So this is a dangerous platform to interact with. So that’s sort of a gray area. But what we’re gonna likely see based on the chit chat and stuff that we’re seeing online is that a lot of people are committed to making sure that the Democratic outcome wins because that’s what people understood it to be.

There’s also another option. There’s an option that can be marked invalid. People can say this is an invalid market because the wording was vague or there was no chance, one of the options was never gonna happen. That is built into the platform, and different prediction market protocols have different ways of dealing with this. But we’ll probably see a fair resolution out of this. But if we don’t, if we see the Republican outcome win because of this literal wording, then the market creator probably bought a lot of those Republican shares real cheap and is gonna make a bunch of money. So good for him, but bad for the entire network because it’s gonna really affect the perspective on Augur.

Chitra: Well, lots to talk about. Fascinating conversation. Do you have any closing thoughts? Where can people learn more about you and the work that you’re doing?

Matt: Sure. In closing I would encourage everyone to check out the Augur.net and just see what kind of markets are being discussed there. Because there’s another thing that you can do. You can just report. You don’t have to bet. You can just report on what happens and there’s an opportunity while liquidity is low to make money that way. You just make money from reports saying yeah this is what happened, this is what happened, this is what happened. It’s a really easy way to interact with the crypto ecosystem and add value to a network and make sure that we have this really robust powerful accurate way of figuring out what happens, which we know is important in this age of questionable facts and false truths. So this maybe is a way to address that, which we probably should talk about more but… I work at Spring Labs, SpringLabs.com. We’re not really consumer facing, but if people want to see stuff about identity verification and credit reporting with blockchain stuff, that’s what I do.

Chitra: Great. And how can people reach you if they want to talk to you more?

Matt: My name’s Matt Smith. I used to not like that name but now I do because it makes it a little bit harder to Google me.

Chitra: Thanks so much. Great having you.

Matt: I appreciate it, Chitra.

Running with Unicorns, a Crypto Podcast by Gem

Running with Unicorns is a crypto podcast and video interview series hosted by Chitra Ragavan, Chief Strategy Officer of Gem. A veteran former journalist with National Public Radio (NPR) and U.S. News & World Report (U.S. News), Chitra interviews crypto thought leaders, regulators, and experts to offer a lens into the rapidly evolving world of digital assets. Designed to appeal to both beginner and seasoned investors, Running with Unicorns is produced at Gem’s headquarters in Venice, California. Our mission is to offer unbiased and independent analysis of the news and events shaping the cryptocurrency movement, industry, and markets and to explore the role that digital currency will play in the future of money.