Betting on the future

Betting on the future

: At Iraq the Model, I come across an ad for a service I hadn’t seen before: Intrade, a market — not a betting service — for futures trades on events — and not just entertainment and sports. The theory is that these open markets will gather the wisdom of the crowds. The wise crowds say the 2012 Olympics will go to Paris or London over New York, Michael Jackson will get convicted of something, and there’s only a middling chance of bin Laden’s capture. What’s intresting is that they have bets going on Middle East politics and events and they advertised on an Iraqi blog. Now that’s targeting.

  • We found out just how wise crowds can be in the Internet bubble. Take any of those predictions with a share of WorldComm.

  • Jeff

    You may also want to consider, which has been around for quite some time and is probably generally better known. The concept has been around a while but not yet broken into the mass consciousness.

  • MDP

    Intrade is the parent company of Tradesports, which Instapundit and others blogged about quite a bit during the election season.
    Seth Finkelstein: We found out just how wise crowds can be in the Internet bubble.
    They did a bangup job predicting the outcome of the 2004 elections. See here and here.

  • Shalom Y’all,
    Remember how much agitation there was two years ago when the Pentagon considered using futures trading in the form of the Policy Market Analysis to help it predict terrorist attacks (
    While trading on such events as where the 2012 Olympics will go seems benign, betting queers the pot. And what about the less benign events? It was a bad idea then and it

  • Neo

    Your description makes it sound just like that program the Pentagon was trying to do a while back but got caught up in politics.

  • Online markets have a good record of predicting political outcomes, and I think will gradually replace polling for many purposes. It’s important to design the individual markets in a way that minimizes moral hazard, but in that respect they aren’t much different from conventional insurance policies. Indeed the moralistic arguments against “betting on misfortunes” could just as easily be applied to life and property insurance. As with insurance, the problems of online prediction markets are solvable and the products may be highly useful.