Betting on Terrorism

Wired News had a fairly interesting story (I also heard about it on O’Reilly last night) about “Terrorism Futures.” Essentially, people at DARPA came up with this idea that they could open up a lottery where people could place bets on tragic world events happening. They could then use this information to help define what events are most probable and stop them before they happen.

Some interesting quotes:

“The idea of a federal betting parlor on atrocities and terrorism is ridiculous and it’s grotesque,” fumed [Democratic Senator Ron] Wyden.

“Among the many things we do for intelligence, this is one of the least reprehensible,” [Economics professor Robin] Hanson said. “Paying people to tell us about bad things. That’s intrinsic to the intelligence process.”

“Market mechanisms are more accurate than asking people their opinions because they’re putting their money or reputation on the line,” said Ken Killitz of the Foresight Exchange, which speculates on everything from the future of human cloning to the possibility that Roman Catholic priests will be allowed to marry. “It gives people an incentive to reveal what they know.”

Some think this would encourage people to commit terrorism and bet on themselves, and others disagree stating that doing so would tip their hands (voting would not be anonymous) and get them in trouble (or at least warn us about it so we could stop it). My question is: if we don’t expect those linked with the terrorism to vote because it’s not anonymous, how would they expect to get good information?

One thought on “Betting on Terrorism

  1. The market will solve ALL our problems Tom.

    Seriously though, no one with insider information would dare try and make money off of this, it’d be like painting a target on your ass.

    It’s similar to the people who shorted all the airline stock on 9/10 (or whatever date it was). It’s just too obvious.

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