Radically Open Markets

Just as anyone, anywhere, anytime can create a Wikipedia page on anything, anyone, anywhere, anytime can create an Augur market on anything — any verifiable outcome in the universe. And just as anyone can contribute to a Wikipedia page, anyone can contribute to an Augur market by pricing in their unique information or insight.

Wikipedia pages and Augur markets are both tools for absorbing the world’s information and extracting the “wisdom of the crowd.” In a prediction market, capital is information, each buy or sell an expression of individual conviction that summed together represent a collective forecast of reality. Wikipedia and Augur are crowdsourced repositories of information.

Before Wikipedia, creating, curating, and contributing to encyclopedias were closed, elitist activities reserved for the few. Before Augur, the same was mostly true for creating, curating, and contributing to markets. Wikipedia and Augur strip away the gatekeepers.

Today’s markets are constrained by borders, capital controls and regulation, The result: siloed liquidity pools that resemble encyclopedias sitting on separate bookshelves, unable to absorb or build on one another’s information. Augur removes geography and lets anyone, anywhere get exposure to any financial asset in the world by speculating on their future prices.

Most Wikipedia users do not create or edit pages themselves. Likewise, many Augur users will not trade in, create, or report on markets. Rather, they will use it to access predictions. In 2032, when you ask Siri about tomorrow’s weather or the projected outcome of the presidential election, it may consult Augur. Wikipedia and Augur are public utilities.

While speculation on the future is Augur’s obvious use case, its oracle may serve as a canonical source of truth about certain classes of past events. So Augur could be called a decentralized truth market as it prices states of reality both future and past. Wikipedia and Augur are truth repositories created and curated by the crowd.

Wikipedia and Augur emerged from shared intellectual roots. Jimmy Wales cites Friedrich Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society” as a key inspiration in the conception of Wikipedia. The 1945 essay, which critiques the use of central planning in economies, since information is dispersed among all members of society and unavailable to any single agent, is oft-cited as the theoretical inspiration for peer-to-peer prediction protocols like Augur.

Democratizing encyclopedias produced what is perhaps the greatest repository of truth and knowledge the world has ever seen. Democratizing markets may do the same.

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